Stuart Anderson Portrait

Stuart Anderson

Conservative - Wolverhampton South West

3 APPG memberships (as of 17 Nov 2021)
Armed Forces Covenant, Black Country Economy, Reserves and Cadets
3 Former APPG memberships
Black Country, British Sikhs, Veterans
Armed Forces Bill Select Committee
22nd Feb 2021 - 22nd Feb 2021
Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill
22nd Feb 2021 - 22nd Feb 2021


Select Committee Meeting
Tuesday 7th December 2021
13:45
Select Committee Meeting
Tuesday 7th December 2021
14:30
Defence Sub-Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: The Treatment of Contracted Staff for The MoD’s Ancillary Services
7 Dec 2021, 2:30 p.m.
At 2.30pm: Oral evidence
Richard Holroyd - Managing Director at Capita Defence Fire and Security
Alex Clark - Chief Fire Officer at Capita Fire and Rescue
View calendar
Select Committee Meeting
Tuesday 14th December 2021
14:00
Defence Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Space Defence
14 Dec 2021, 2 p.m.
At 2.30pm: Oral evidence
Major Tim Peake CMG - British ESA Astronaut
At 3.30pm: Oral evidence
Justin T. Johnson - Senior Vice President at Meta Aerospace
View calendar
Division Votes
Wednesday 1st December 2021
Finance (No. 2) Bill
voted No - in line with the party majority
One of 302 Conservative No votes vs 2 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 212 Noes - 306
Speeches
Monday 29th November 2021
Oral Answers to Questions

I welcome the Minister’s response on how we are making the system more responsive to local residents, but what steps …

Written Answers
Thursday 2nd December 2021
Schools: Defibrillators
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to increase the availability of defibrillators at …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
None available
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
Monday 1st March 2021
7. (ii) Other shareholdings, valued at more than £70,000
Until 18 May 2020, Travel Safety Ltd, a company which provides technology to help companies keep their staff safe while …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Stuart Anderson has voted in 400 divisions, and 2 times against the majority of their Party.

24 Jun 2020 - Demonstrations (Abortion Clinics) - View Vote Context
Stuart Anderson voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 43 Conservative No votes vs 56 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 213 Noes - 47
27 Apr 2021 - Delegated Legislation - View Vote Context
Stuart Anderson voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 77 Conservative No votes vs 222 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 431 Noes - 89
View All Stuart Anderson 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)
(11 debate interactions)
Johnny Mercer (Conservative)
(8 debate interactions)
Vicky Ford (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
(7 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Cabinet Office
(82 debate contributions)
Home Office
(18 debate contributions)
Ministry of Defence
(16 debate contributions)
Department for Education
(8 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Stuart Anderson's debates

Wolverhampton South West 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 Wolverhampton South West signature proportion
Stuart Anderson has not participated in any petition debates

Latest EDMs signed by Stuart Anderson

Stuart Anderson has not signed any Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Stuart Anderson, 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.


Stuart Anderson has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Stuart Anderson has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Stuart Anderson has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

Stuart Anderson has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


362 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
16 Other Department Questions
9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to protect residents from excessive increases in council tax payments.

Council tax levels are set by local authorities, although the Secretary of State determines referendum principles to ensure that residents can have the final say over excessive increases. The provisional local government finance settlement will set out full details of the proposed referendum principles for 2022-23. The settlement and referendum principles will be subject to agreement by Parliament in the usual way. Local authorities maintain locally designed council tax support schemes to help people facing financial difficulty.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that there is a sufficient local provision of graveyards and cemeteries in place and that those sites are kept maintained and secure.

The Department does not hold data on the local provision of graveyards and cemeteries. Local authorities play a vital role in providing essential services to their communities, and they are best placed to determine local provision.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
27th Oct 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what steps have been taken to help ensure that people from ethnic minority backgrounds are represented at COP26.

We want a broad range of diverse voices at COP26. This includes Indigenous Peoples, women, people with disabilities, youth, older persons, faith and frontline groups. This is to amplify and learn from those most affected by climate change and to inspire increased climate ambition.

In line with the UK’s commitment to inclusivity, we are determined to ensure Glasgow is as inclusive as possible - despite the challenges presented by COVID-19. Through our diverse programme of events, as well as the efforts we have put into getting delegates to Glasgow, all participants will be able to benefit from the very best in climate leadership. To facilitate participation:

  • We offered free vaccinations to those from other countries who could not otherwise access them.

  • We provided free visas to registered attendees with UNFCCC accreditation.

  • We funded the required Managed Quarantine for delegates coming from ‘red list’ countries.

  • We also worked with transit countries for Pacific Small Island Development States (SIDs) to identify solutions to overcome barriers to travel.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department has taken to (a) increase the number of conservation areas and (b) protect those areas from excessive development.

The designation of conservation areas is a matter for local planning authorities. They are required by law to determine from time to time whether any part of their area should be designated as a conservation area. The planning system protects conservation areas in a number of ways – as designated heritage assets, the National Planning Policy Framework gives them strong policy protections; the demolition of unlisted buildings within them requires planning permission; permitted development rights (which allow certain development without a planning application) are more restricted and there are protections for trees within them.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what recent discussions her Department has had with the Ministry of Defence on ensuring women can access careers in the Armed Forces.

Equality Hub Ministers have frequent discussions with Ministerial colleagues from across government on a range of equalities issues.

The Ministry of Defence aims to significantly improve the recruitment and retention of women in the Armed Forces with the ambition to achieve 30% inflow of women by 2030. To realise this goal, the single Services have taken a range of steps to improve the experience of women in the Armed Forces, as they continue to do for all serving personnel. This includes all roles being open to women, targeted programmes to increase the recruitment of women, introducing flexible service, flexible and parental leave, the provision of sanitary boxes, and reviewing women specific combat requirements.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what initiatives have been put in place to support urban areas to develop allotments and community gardening initiatives.

The Government recognises through our National Planning Policy Framework the important role that allotments can provide in enabling and supporting healthy lifestyles within our communities. The Framework is clear that local planning policies should be based on robust and up-to-date assessments of the need for open space and opportunities for new provision, which can include allotments, and their plans should then seek to accommodate this.

Our National Model Design Code states that as part of open space design for large developments there should be the consideration of allotments and community growing projects for food production, learning and community engagement.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps he is taking to promote house ownership.

We are committed to helping make the dream of home ownership a reality and offer several schemes to support this. For example, our recently launched First Homes programme offers discounts of at least 30% to first time buyers, and our Help to Buy scheme and Shared Ownership also offer routes into home ownership.

More detail on all of these schemes and others are available on the Government’s home ownership website: www.ownyourhome.gov.uk.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
22nd Sep 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what recent discussions she has had with Ministerial colleagues on improving social mobility in the most deprived parts of the country.

Levelling up is at the heart of the Government’s agenda to build back better after the pandemic. Responsibility for driving forward the levelling up agenda has recently moved to the new Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to embed levelling up commitments and create tangible improvements in every part of the UK.

The Minister for Women and Equalities announced the Equality Data Programme to ensure that geographic and socio-economic inequality is considered, alongside other factors, when identifying barriers to opportunity. Furthermore, since April, the Social Mobility Commission has been sponsored by the Equality Hub in the Cabinet Office, so that it can play a wider role in tackling socio-economic inequality.

Additionally, the Government will publish a landmark Levelling Up White Paper later this year, setting out bold new policy interventions to improve livelihoods and opportunity in all parts of the UK.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to support the (a) public and (b) private sector to renovate derelict buildings into community hubs.

In July, my department launched a 4-year UK-wide £150 million Community Ownership Fund to support voluntary and community organisations to bring buildings such as community hubs at risk of loss into community ownership. The fund enables groups to bid for up to £250,000 of match funding. These buildings can be publicly or privately owned, and funding can be used to support renovation as part of an asset purchase. The second round of the Community Ownership Fund will be launched in December and third round in May 2021.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what progress the Social Mobility Commission has made on levelling up life chances across the country; and what steps she is taking to implement the recommendations made by that Commission.

The Social Mobility Commission (SMC) is an advisory body required by statute to do three things: 1) monitor progress on social mobility outcomes across the UK in an annual report 2) undertake research to inform recommendations for how government might improve social mobility in England and 3) share knowledge about how social mobility can be improved more widely.

The SMC has taken recent steps to improve how it delivers against these statutory objectives, including:

  • Producing a body of research work to help national and local leaders understand and address regional disparities in a more effective way through reports including, 'The long shadow of deprivation' (2020), and 'Moving out to move on' (2020).
  • Translating the insights from its reports into comprehensible actions that young people can take to improve their own outcomes.
  • Establishing an employers’ programme which has been successful in driving change in how employers both recruit and promote people from working class backgrounds.

The Commission’s work is an important part of the data-driven approach within the Equality Hub in the Cabinet Office. The Hub will consider its research and recommendations, with a view to using its evidence to inform the wide-ranging programme of work across Government to level up the country.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what steps he is taking to ensure that schools are represented at COP26.

All young people, including those of school-age, are an important voice and we recognise they are calling for urgent action, which is why we have established a dedicated COP26 youth engagement team in the Cabinet Office, who are ensuring youth voices are heard at COP26.

In the run up to the conference in November, the UK COP26 Presidency launched the Together for our Planet Schools Pack which was sent to approximately 30,000 schools across the UK. The pack is designed to engage students on climate action and help them to learn more about COP26.

At the conference itself, the UK COP26 Presidency is delighted to host Youth & Public Empowerment Day on Friday 5 November. We will also be reaching out to local school groups as part of our wider engagement activity to participate within a focused programme of activity in the UK-managed Green Zone at COP26.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps the Government is taking to (a) combat period poverty and (b) enable young people to help tackle that issue.

The Period Poverty Taskforce has begun a programme of work to tackle stigma and shame surrounding menstruation; established research priorities to improve the evidence surrounding period poverty and menstrual stigma in the UK and has begun to identify access barriers and the groups that are most affected by them. In addition to this, The Department for Education launched a new scheme which makes free period products available in state-funded primary schools, secondary schools and colleges in England, to ensure that menstruation does not present a barrier to young people’s learning.

The work of the Taskforce was paused on 20 March 2020 in light of COVID-19 to allow the GEO secretariat to be redeployed to respond to the pandemic, and to ensure that we were not asking businesses to volunteer resources at this difficult time. Further announcements on the plans and the work of the Taskforce will be made in due course.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what support the Government has made available to help ensure that the mental health conditions of armed forces veterans are not perceived by employers as career limiting (a) in and (b) out of the armed forces.

Veterans offer huge skills, talents and economic potential to society, including employers. One of the commitments in the Government’s Veterans Strategy Action Plan, published in January this year, is to tackle the outdated and incorrect perceptions that some in society hold about veterans. We are working closely with the business community - for example Deloitte’s Veterans Work programme, and research organisations such as the Forces in Mind Trust - to identify perceived barriers and break them down by showcasing the incredible achievements of veterans, including those who, like people from across society, have been affected by mental health challenges.

Alongside this the Government works closely with employers, for example through the MOD’s Career Transition Partnership, to provide a platform which brings together those leaving the Armed Forces and employers seeking to access the talent of the Armed Forces community together. Many people serve full and exceptional careers in the Armed Forces whilst successfully managing mental ill-health. However, there are instances where the severity of mental ill-health means serving in the Armed Forces is no longer a viable option. Transition and welfare support is available for those who are discharged as a result of mental ill-health.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what opportunities the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities plans to make available to people in (a) Wolverhampton South West constituency and (b) the rest of the UK to engage with the work of the Commission.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which was established on 16 July of this year, has set out an ambitious plan of engagement and analysis to deliver against its terms of reference.

The Commission intends to engage with individuals and organisations nationwide in order to deliver its work, and has already held initial meetings with some of the key stakeholders, delivery partners and agencies for employment, education, health and criminal justice.

Its work will be crucial in informing and improving the national conversation on race and also demonstrates this government’s mission to level up opportunity for everyone - whatever their background. Further updates on the Commission's progress will be posted on its website in due course.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps she is taking to encourage diversity in senior professions in relation to (a) age, (b) class, (c) ethnicity, (d) gender and (e) sexuality.

This Government is actively working on these issues. To encourage greater age diversity in workplaces, we have published a strategy 'Fuller Working Lives: A Partnership Approach', which aims to increase the retention, retraining and recruitment of older workers by bringing about a change in the perceptions and attitudes of employers.

On levelling up opportunity regardless of social class, the Social Mobility Commission’s latest report (published on 10 June 2020) recognises progress in improving life chances for poorer groups and keeping disadvantaged pupils in education for longer. In line with that, we have launched a £1 billion package to directly tackle the impact of lost teaching time due to COVID-19, including a £350 million National Tutoring Programme targeted at those children and young people who need the most help.

On gender and ethnicity in senior professions, we support the business-led voluntary Hampton-Alexander and Parker Reviews respectively. The FTSE 100 and 350 have achieved their 33% women on boards targets and there are now only two all male boards, against 152 in 2011. We also support the Financial Reporting Council’s efforts to improve the quality of company diversity reporting, including by ethnicity.

Finally, in relation to sexuality, in Autumn 2019, we brought together participants from over 150 businesses to share experiences and best practice in making workplaces genuinely LGBT-inclusive and we are exploring what more can be done to tackle LGBT workplace discrimination.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Attorney General, what steps he is taking to strengthen young people's (a) engagement with and (b) understanding of (i) the work of the Crown Prosecution Service and (ii) other services provided by his Department.

The CPS has a strong record of outreach programmes to engage young people in its work, and to promote career opportunities, including through apprenticeships.

The CPS has over 400 apprentices currently enrolled onto programme across England and Wales and has a strong record of consistently meeting the apprenticeship targets as set out by Cabinet Office. At the end of June 2021, CPS was at 4.9% apprenticeship starts against the 2.3% target. 49% of the apprentices are aged 16 to 24 years old and 4% are aged under 19 years old.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department is taking to support veterans with housing needs.

This year, we have committed £750 million to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping - aiming to end rough sleeping within the parliament.

I am committed to providing veterans with a gold standard of support; that means services that are easily accessed and which meet veterans needs. We have already taken steps to improve veterans access to social housing, removing the local connection requirement and giving vulnerable veterans priority access, and I look forward to announcing further steps later this year when I publish the Veterans Strategy Action Plan.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent progress the Government has made on the Places for Growth programme.

As part of Budget 2020, the Government committed to moving 22,000 Civil Service roles out of central London within the next decade. These roles will be moving to locations across the UK, including Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff, Darlington and Wolverhampton. 11 departments have announced their location plans so far.

Places for Growth is working closely with Government departments as part of the Spending Review and has early commitments to move up to 15,000 Civil Service roles by 2024/25. Additional plans for the relocation of roles will be finalised in the coming weeks.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
12th Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the timeframe is for publishing the White Paper on Devolution in England.

We will publish a landmark Levelling Up White Paper later this year, articulating how bold new policy interventions will improve opportunity and boost livelihoods across the country as we recover from the pandemic.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps are being taken to support the mental health needs of veterans.

The majority of veterans successfully access mental health services available to the general population. For those who require bespoke treatment, NHS England’s Op COURAGE brings together three NHS England veterans’ mental health services into a single pathway with a common point of access. £17.8m has been provided for these services this financial year, and an additional £10m has also been allocated to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to distribute to charitable projects supporting veterans’ mental health needs.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what plans he has in place to estimate the proportion of people who have passed away from covid-19 compared with other primary causes.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to help support historical buildings to become carbon neutral.

As set out in the recent Heat and Buildings Strategy, the Government is committed to decarbonising all homes and buildings in line with the Government’s Net Zero emissions target.

The Government recognises this includes ensuring that more historic buildings have the right energy efficiency measures and low carbon heat. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, recently published the Planning for the Future White Paper, committing to reviewing and updating the planning framework for listed buildings and conservation areas, to ensure their significance is conserved while allowing, where appropriate, sympathetic changes to support their continued use and address climate change.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to help (a) promote awareness of the services offered by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACSA) and (b) ensure ACAS is easily contactable.

The Department has worked closely with Acas to promote their services through awareness campaigns, including a joint campaign on social media and radio aimed at vulnerable workers and recently publicising the launch of Acas’s disability hub on their website. Additionally, BEIS funds Acas to provide support and guidance on workplace matters, which any member of the public can access through its website and by contacting their helpline between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what incentives the Government has put in place to encourage businesses to contribute towards the Government's Net Zero by 2050 carbon emissions target.

Businesses have significant power to drive change towards achieving our domestic net zero goal both through reducing their own emissions is important, but also their role in designing the ground-breaking new technologies, world leading products and innovative approaches to reach net zero, with the private sector providing much of the investment needed.

The policies and spending brought forward in the Net Zero Strategy mean that since the Ten Point Plan, £26 billion of government capital investment for the green industrial revolution has been mobilised. The Strategy will leverage up to £90 billion of private investment by 2030.

The UK’s industrial sector plays both an essential role in the economy and is a major source of CO2 emission. The Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy, published in March 2021, and expanded in the Net Zero Strategy, sets out how industry can decarbonise in line with net zero, while transforming industrial regions by attracting inward investment, future-proofing businesses, and securing the long-term viability of jobs.

The Net Zero Strategy sets out the Government’s intention to work with businesses to produce their own business specific plans, while also encouraging businesses to take action in the run up to COP by joining the global ‘Race to Zero’ campaign, which already includes over half of FTSE 100 companies.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to encourage start-ups in green growth sectors such as carbon capture.

Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) is integral to the UK’s Green Industrial Revolution. Building on the UK’s industrial strengths and capabilities, we are leading efforts to establish this critical technology.

In July this year we launched call 1 of a CCUS Innovation 2.0 competition[1] to:

  • support cost reductions in carbon capture, usage and storage;
  • to help UK industry to understand the opportunity for deploying next generation carbon capture technology on industrial, waste, or power generation sites for 2030;and
  • made available £19.5m of grant funding available as part of CCUS Innovation 2.0, eligible to small and medium enterprise (SME) applicants.

In order to support green growth sectors, since 2012 we have now run 8 rounds of the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund (EEF)[2].

The EEF seeks the best ideas, irrespective of source, across these energy technology areas from the public and private sector. It particularly aims to assist small and medium-sized enterprises, including start-ups, and those companies that are selected will receive additional funding for incubation support.

We also launched a £70 million Direct Air Capture (DAC) and Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) Innovation competition in 2021.

The programme is currently in Phase 1 of the programme and has 23 innovation projects developing a range of technologies.

[1] CCUS Innovation 2.0: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ccus-innovation-20-competition

[2] Energy Entrepreneurs Fund: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/energy-entrepeneurs-fund

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support start-ups in the manufacturing sector.

The Government is committed to supporting UK manufacturing businesses, including start-ups and recognises the vital role they play in the UK economy, by driving innovation, exports, job creation and productivity growth.

We are committed to supporting manufacturers to take advantage of innovative technology and we recently announced £8 million in new government funding for the Made Smarter Adoption programme to help Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) increase productivity, competitiveness and drive up efficiency by adopting industrial digital technology, building on the success of our Made Smarter North West Pilot.

The Government’s business support schemes have been put in place to help eligible businesses to get through the pandemic, from all regions and backgrounds. Information on these schemes and other resources is available via the free Business Support Helpline.

The Start Up Loans Company, part of the Government-owned British Business Bank, provides loans and pre- and post-application support to new entrepreneurs, including a year of free business mentoring for successful applicants. Since 2012, over 86,000 Start Up Loans worth over £769 million have been issued to new entrepreneurs. We are also investing £147 million through the Made Smarter Innovation programme to help forward-thinking UK manufacturers create new, green products and processes, slash carbon emissions, drive up productivity and create thousands of highly skilled new jobs across the country.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that people can easily access advice on home insulation measures and services.

The Simple Energy Advice Service (SEA) provides impartial and tailored advice to help people improve their household’s energy efficiency and make their homes greener. SEA consists of an easy-to-use website supported by a call centre and the website has been accessed by over 1.5 million users. The Government is currently undertaking user research into improving the service.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) also published an EPC Action Plan detailing a series of commitments to engage consumers to support policy and drive action. The Government is also working with Local Authorities through the Local Energy Programme to develop support for retrofit programmes by addressing local barriers to clean growth activity.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
16th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of services delivered by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

BEIS officials review Acas’ performance on a regular basis as set out in the ‘Acas Framework Document’. This document sets out the broad framework within which Acas operates including the performance expectations for the services they deliver.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what incentives are being put in place to encourage the transition to electric vehicles.

The Government had already committed £1.5 billion to support the early market and remove barriers to ZEV ownership. Alongside the new phase out dates for new petrol and diesel cars and vans, we pledged a further £2.8 billion package of measures to support industry and consumers to make the switch to cleaner vehicles. This includes up to £1 billion to support the electrification of UK vehicles and their supply chains.

The Government will provide £1.3 billion to support the continued roll-out of chargepoint infrastructure at homes, workplaces, residential streets and across the wider roads network, to provide motorists with confidence to purchase an EV. Government and industry have already supported the installation of nearly 25,000 public charging devices. This includes more than 4,500 rapid devices – one of the largest networks in Europe.

Government grants for plug in vehicles continue to be available to help reduce the up-front purchase price of electric vehicles, with total money committed at £582 million for cars, vans, motorcycles and taxis to 2022/23.

The March 2020 Budget included the extension of favourable benefit in kind tax rates for zero emission vehicles out to 2025: company car tax is 1% in 2021/22 and 2% in 2022/23 through to 2024/25; and all zero emission cars are exempt from vehicle excise duty (VED).

Local Authorities may also provide additional incentives such as free parking and exemption from the congestion charge.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent estimate he has made of the number of high street shops which have been empty for more than twelve months.

BEIS does not hold this data but in 2019 the Local Data Company’s report on Retail & Leisure Market vacancies put the 1 year+ vacancy rate at 7.4%. ONS data indicates that there were nearly 320,000 retail units in the UK in 2019 which suggests around 22,700 stores had been vacant for a year or more. This represents the most recent estimate available.

In order to mitigate against a rise in the number of vacant units, the Government has introduced a range of measures to protect businesses that are struggling to pay their rent due to Covid-19. We have extended the moratorium on commercial landlords’ right to forfeiture for the non-payment of rent to the 25 March 2022 and we will introduce legislation to help landlords and tenants resolve historic Covid-19 rent debt through binding arbitration if necessary.

We continue to reduce the financial burden on retailers by providing eligible retail properties in England with 66% business rates relief for the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022, capped at £2 million per business for properties that were required to be closed on 5 January 2021, or £105,000 per business for other eligible properties.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what advice and support is available to help homeowners increase their household energy efficiency.

Our Simple Energy Advice Service (SEA), which was launched in 2018, provides impartial and tailored advice to help people improve their household energy efficiency and make their homes greener and cheaper to run. The SEA, which consists of an easy-to-use website supported by a call centre which members of the public may contact for digital assistance, has been accessed by over 1.4 million unique users since its launch.

Homeowners may also refer to the advice provided by their Energy Performance Certificate, which are tailored to the characteristics of the property following an assessment of the building and recommend measures to improve household energy efficiency.

At a local level, the Government has supported skills development and advice provision through a number of local supply chain demonstration pilots, which tested new approaches to supporting home energy retrofit in the able-to-pay sector in England and recognise the importance of locally provided advice. We are also working with Local Authorities through the Local Energy Programme to develop support for local retrofit programmes by addressing local barriers to clean growth activity.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what funding the Government has allocated to new carbon capture technologies.

Research and innovation into CCUS has been a key priority for the UK. Between 2004-2019 the UK has provided over £295m in public funding for CCUS Research and Innovation. In the BEIS Energy Innovation Programme (2011-2016) more than £41m was provided to CCUS innovation projects. These were funded by the Call for CCUS Innovation, Carbon Capture & Utilisation Demonstration (CCUD) programme and the Energy Entrepreneur Fund (EEF) scheme.

Under the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (2021-2025), the BEIS CCUS Innovation 2.0 programme is seeking to fund next generation CCUS technology with up to £20m available.

The Carbon Capture and Storage Infrastructure Fund (CIF) which is expected to support Transport & Storage and Industrial Carbon Capture was first announced at the Budget in March 2020, and its allocation of £1bn was confirmed at the Spending Review in November 2020.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that contracts of employment take into consideration the mental health needs of employees.

Under health and safety legislation, employers have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees; Under equality legislation employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees, which can include those with mental health needs.

The Government is working to equip employers with the knowledge and confidence to manage health and disability in the workplace. This includes advice on creating inclusive workplaces and working practices and help providing modifications and adjustments where needed to support individual employees, covering both mental and physical health conditions.

In 2019, Public Health England published a series of toolkits in partnership with Business in the Community to help every organisation support the mental and physical health of its employees. Government continues to work with Business Leaders via the ‘Thriving at Work Leadership Council' to break down stigma and also promotes mental health resources available at the Mental Health at Work website. The Department for Work and Pensions’ Disability Confident scheme will continue working with employers to actively promote best practice in supporting the mental and physical health of employees.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what financial support the Government is providing to low-income households that need new or replacement boilers.

The Energy Company Obligation scheme (ECO), worth £640 million per annum, sets an obligation on larger energy suppliers to install energy efficiency and heating measures in the homes of low income and vulnerable households in Great Britain. A capped amount of replacement boilers is allowed, though there is no cap when certain insulation measures are installed alongside.

Under the current iteration of ECO, over 157,000 boilers had been installed up to the end of December 2020.

Furthermore, under the Warm Home Discount (WHD), the Industry Initiatives element of the scheme allows suppliers to support low income and vulnerable households through a range of measures, including replacement boilers in certain circumstances.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to support hair and beauty businesses in Wolverhampton South West constituency.

We have put in place one of the most generous packages of support in the world worth over £280 billion. For Hair and Beauty businesses, this includes business rates holidays, various loans schemes and the extended furlough scheme. Closed businesses such as hairdressers, like those in your constituency, can also receive a grant of up to £3,000 a month and a one-off payment up to a maximum £9,000.

I meet with the sector regularly to understand the impact of the pandemic on businesses.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will take steps to extend the range of roles that are eligible for the right to reasonable time off work to carry out public duties.

The Government is keen to see greater corporate responsibility on the part of employers and encourages the public sector, charities and businesses to consider their impact on society. Employer-supported volunteering can help to build stronger communities and a stronger economy, by helping charities and community groups to do more and by creating a more motivated and productive workforce.

Employees have the right to reasonable time off work to carry out specified public duties such as those of a magistrate or a local councillor. There are currently no plans to extend the range of roles.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to help reduce the cost of utility bills for vulnerable people experiencing financial hardship.

The Government and regulators have worked with regulated industries to support consumers who are struggling financially.

Examples of the support provided include in the financial services sector, where the FCA advises that consumers can apply, until the end of March, for payment deferrals including on mortgages, loans, credit cards, overdrafts, and motor finance. In the energy sector, BEIS secured a voluntary agreement with energy companies to support their customers impacted by Covid-19 and struggling with energy bills, including taking action to keep households on supply. Ofcom has also recently asked telecoms providers to bring in further support, including proactively engaging with those in debt, and waiving penalty charges.

Details of the support available to consumers struggling to pay their essential bills can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/advice-for-people-who-are-struggling-to-pay-essential-bills-because-of-coronavirus.

The Government has also through the COVID Winter Grant Scheme provided £170m to local authorities in England, to provide support for vulnerable households particularly affected by the pandemic, and help with the cost of food, energy, water bills and other essentials.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will take steps to roll out lateral flow testing to support the safe re-opening of venues in the night-time economy.

The Government recently (10 January 2021) announced the expansion of rapid, regular testing to include people without symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), which is now available across the country. The offer is currently targeting people who are unable to work from home during the national lockdown. The Government will keep under review any further expansion to support wider sectors. All coronavirus business support information is available on GOV.UK.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to put in place a long-term funding strategy for energy efficiency beyond the Green Homes Grant.

The Ten-Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution committed to the extension of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) by a further 4 years from 2022 to 2026. The successor ECO scheme from 2022 will require larger energy suppliers to improve the energy efficiency of homes, focusing on those less able to pay across Great Britain.

The 2019 Conservative manifesto committed to a £3.8billion Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF). A £50 million SHDF Demonstrator was launched in 2020 to test innovative approaches to retrofitting social housing at scale and upgrading the energy performance of poorer-performing homes. A further £60 million has been allocated to continue the development of the SHDF in the next year.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what additional support the Government is providing to local authorities to ensure the provision of accessible electric vehicle charge-points in built-up areas.

The Government is investing over £2.8bn‎ across the whole of the UK to help people buy zero emission vehicles and accelerate the roll out of charging infrastructure. The Government’s On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) has supported over 60 local authorities to fund more than 2,000 chargepoints for residents who do not have off-street parking. The doubling of funding for the ORCS to £20 million announced last year by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport will allow local authorities to install up to 7,200 charging devices, making charging at home and overnight easier for those without an off-street parking space. Government recognises the need to address non-financial barriers faced by Local Authorities and provides regularly updated guidance on chargepoint procurement and installation via the Energy Savings Trust.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the statutory provision for time off to fulfill public duties to (a) charity trustees and (b) other roles.

Employer-supported volunteering can help to build stronger communities and a stronger economy, by helping charities and community groups to do more and by creating a more motivated and productive workforce. Employees have the right to reasonable time off work to carry out specified public duties such as those of a magistrate or a local councillor. Whilst there are currently no plans to assess the current provisions, the Government is keen to see greater corporate responsibility on the part of employers and to encourage the public sector, charities and businesses to consider their impact on society.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many jobs the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution will create in Wolverhampton South West constituency.

As we rebuild, we must build back better, greener, and faster. This means supporting green jobs, levelling up, accelerating our path to net zero, and creating long-term advantage for the UK.

Spanning clean energy, buildings, transport, nature and innovative technologies, the Ten Point Plan will mobilise £12 billion of government investment to unlock three times as much private sector investment by 2030. In doing so we will plan will we will support a further 90,000 green jobs across the UK by 2024, and up to 250,000 by 2030, building on the 460,000 jobs that already exist in the low carbon economy today.

Support for green jobs across the UK, including the West Midlands, will be delivered by:

  • Investing £1 billion to make our homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient, supporting around 50,000 jobs across the UK
  • Doubling the Green Recovery Challenge Fund with an extra £40 million
  • Backing our world-leading automotive sector, including in the West Midlands and North East and Wales to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, and transforming our national infrastructure to better support electric vehicles. To support this acceleration, nearly £500 million will be spent in the next four years for the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries, and other strategic technologies as part of our commitment to provide up to £1 billion, boosting international investment into our strong manufacturing bases such as in the Midlands and North East, and safeguarding 169,000 jobs in the automotive sector.

The Ten Point Plan is the foundation towards a green industrial revolution in the UK. We will set out further measures as we run up to COP26 to support the growth of the low carbon economy – starting with the Energy White Paper.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has in place to ensure that (a) vulnerable and elderly people who have difficulty using technology and (b) other vulnerable and elderly people are able to access Green Homes grants.

For elderly or vulnerable homeowners who are unable to apply to the scheme digitally, an assisted digital route has been made available by the scheme administrator. More information can be found on the Green Homes Grant Contact Us page, with a phone lines for scheme application (0300 131 0053) open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday. Furthermore, the Simple Energy Advice (SEA) website, used to find accredited installers for measures under the scheme, also offers a non-digital route for elderly and vulnerable homeowners to search for suitable installers. Homeowners can contact 0800 444 202 between 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday.

Outside of the voucher scheme, support is available to vulnerable and elderly households on low incomes via the £500m Local Authority Delivery (LAD) element. Local Authorities have a comprehensive understanding of their local community and are able to identify vulnerable households through a variety of referral routes, such as a ‘cold home referral’ from the health and charity sectors.

Lastly, we are working closely with other governmental departments, such as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Office for Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), to help raise homeowners’ awareness of the scheme.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that fireworks are not sold to people under 18 years of age.

It is illegal to sell fireworks or sparklers to any person under the age of 18 years and all premises supplying fireworks are required to display a notice highlighting it is illegal to sell fireworks to under 18’s or for those under 18 to possess fireworks in a public place.

Local Authority Trading Standards have powers to enforce the law and work with businesses to help them comply. The Government has worked with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute to provide training to front-line officers on firework enforcement. The maximum penalty for supplying fireworks to a person under 18 is a fine or three months imprisonment.

The Government launched an awareness campaign on 20 October to promote the safe and considerate use of fireworks, and we have partnered with organisations including retail bodies to ensure retailers understand their responsibilities when selling fireworks.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that fireworks are used safely in (a) private homes and (b) commercial settings (i) on 5 November and (ii) during the traditional firework period.

There is a comprehensive regulatory framework in place for fireworks to reduce the risks to people and disturbance to animals. Existing legislation controls the sale, availability and use of fireworks, as well as setting a curfew and noise limit.

In order to further promote the safe and considerate use of fireworks, we launched a public awareness campaign on fireworks on 20 October, where we have partnered with stakeholders including animal welfare organisations and retail bodies.

People must follow the national coronavirus restrictions or those relevant in their local area. Information on the national and local COVID alert levels across the UK can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress he has made on the distribution of Green Home Grants.

The Green Homes Grant opened to applications on the 30 September 2020. As of 2nd November 2020, 31,279 grant applications have been received. BEIS will continue to monitor application data as the scheme progresses.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what funding his Department provides to service stations in (a) the UK and (b) Wolverhampton South West constituency for installing electric car charge-points.

The Government has published a vision for rolling out high-powered chargepoints across the motorway and A-road network in England. Today, a driver is never more than 25 miles away from a rapid chargepoint anywhere along England's motorways and major A roads.

By 2023, we aim to have at least six high-powered, open access?chargepoints (150 to 350 kilowatt capable) at motorway service areas in England, with some larger sites having as many as 10 to 12. By 2035, we expect the number to increase to around 6,000 high-powered chargers across the network.

This vision will be supported by a Rapid Charging Fund, which was announced at Budget as part of a £500 million commitment for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. To target spending from this Fund effectively, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles has commenced a comprehensive review of electric vehicle infrastructure to complete later this year.

Highways England has now completed its commitment to ensure there is a rapid chargepoint every 20 miles along 95% of the Strategic Road Network by March 2020. The management of motorways and major roads is a devolved matter and the UK Government is working with partners in the Devolved Administrations to ensure that there are coordinated plans in place for the development of a rapid charging infrastructure across the UK.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what financial support is available to encourage businesses to manufacture environmentally friendly product packaging.

The Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging programme will tackle the challenge of plastic pollution in the environment through the development of a more sustainable plastic packaging value chain in the UK. We will invest £60 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which is expected to be matched by funding of up to £149 million from industry over the next 5 years.

This support will encourage businesses to develop more environmentally friendly packaging as well as novel infrastructure to recycle it at the end of its life. This investment will drive research and innovation to develop more sustainable materials and packaging designs, business models which drive the adoption of reusable and refillable packaging, new recycling processes and infrastructure to deliver a reduction in the negative environmental impacts caused by plastic packaging.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what financial support is available to businesses which operate childcare activity groups in rented spaces and who have lost income as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government put forward a package of support to help businesses with their ongoing business costs in recognition of the disruption caused by Covid-19. This included the?Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF).?This funding was provided to support the smallest businesses and small businesses in some of the sectors?hardest hit by the measures taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

In addition, on?1 May,?the Government announced the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund. This scheme was intended to support small businesses?in some of the hardest hit sectors?that were previously outside the scope of the Small Business and Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grant Funds.

We asked local authorities to prioritise the following types of businesses for grants from within this funding pot:

  • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces. Examples could include units in industrial parks, science parks, and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment.
  • Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment.
  • Bed & breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of business rates.
  • Charity properties in receipt of Charitable Rate Relief, which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.

Local authorities have been responsible for defining the precise eligibility for this Fund?and?may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need,?subject to those businesses meeting the specific eligibility criteria.

Guidance for Local Authorities was published 13 May: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-business-support-grant-funding.

Businesses which were not eligible for or have not received grant funding should be able to benefit from other measures in the Government’s unprecedented package of support for business:?https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what financial support is available to help with (a) repairing flat roofs and (b) other energy efficiency initiatives for an apartment complex for people who do not receive support from the social security system.

The Green Homes Grant voucher scheme is available to homeowners and landlords for grant funding towards energy efficiency measures and low-carbon heat, covering up to two thirds of the cost up to a maximum of £5000.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to encourage environmentally-friendly industry and manufacturing in the (a) Wolverhampton South West constituency and (b) UK.

Achieving Net Zero remains a priority and the Government will consider how transitioning to a carbon neutral economy, creating new sources of competitive advantage in green manufacturing and sustainable business, will feature in a post-COVID-19 economy. We recognise that policies and measures to support low carbon technologies can be drivers of economic growth and new jobs in the Wolverhampton South constituency and across the UK, for example electric vehicle manufacturing in the Midlands.

The Government has just launched the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, a scheme set up to help businesses with high energy use to reduce energy bills and cut carbon emissions. This scheme will support businesses to invest in energy efficient, low carbon technologies and in doing so help to place industry on a path to a low carbon future.

The Industrial Clusters Mission will establish the world’s first net-zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040 and at least one low-carbon cluster by 2030. To kick start the Mission, we will be investing up to £170 million via the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge (IDC) fund to support the deployment of low-carbon technologies and enabling infrastructure in one or more clusters.

The Made Smarter Review found that greater adoption and innovation of industrial digital technology in UK manufacturing could deliver a 4.5% reduction in CO2 emissions and over £10 billion in reduced resource costs. Through our Made Smarter programme, we are investing up to £167 million to support digitalisation in UK manufacturing and through which we are already seeing examples of the role digital technology plays in increasing the resilience of firms in the sector.

Finally, the BEIS Local Energy Programme is designed to maximise local contribution to clean growth, decarbonisation, and to help reach net zero targets. The programme works with Local Enterprise Partnerships, Local Authorities and Communities in England to drive development of clean growth as a key part of Local Industrial Strategies and support local clean growth investment. The key focus is mobilisation of green finance to support projects at local level that wouldn’t otherwise happen. The Local Energy Programme, which includes the Midlands Energy Hub, addresses barriers to clean growth activity and equips areas to drive private sector investment into clean growth across a pipeline of local projects.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
10th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to encourage businesses to allow flexible working during the covid-19 outbreak.

Since Covid-19 measures were introduced many more people have been working from home with many businesses rapidly adapting to remote working, using new technology and finding new ways of working. The Government is keen to do more to promote flexible working in all its forms.

All employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employer have the right to request Flexible Working. In our manifesto we said that, subject to consultation, we would introduce measures to make flexible working the default.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to support the disability sports sector.

The Government’s sport strategy, 'Sporting Future'', stresses the importance of helping under-represented groups and isolated communities, including disabled people, to take part in sport and physical activity.

Sport England, DCMS's arm’s length body for grassroots sport in England, launched their ten year strategy earlier this year, ‘Uniting the Movement’. The strategy reinforces their commitment to tackle inequalities in sport and physical activity, and provide opportunities to people that have traditionally been left behind, including disabled people. Sport England have also ensured that each of their programmes impact directly on disabled people, along with specific initiatives like the 'We Are Undefeatable' campaign, the Tackling Inequalities Fund and partnerships with groups such as Disability Rights UK, Activity Alliance, Aspire, Sense, International Mixed Ability Sport.

In addition, we are committed to championing disability sport at the highest levels, with continued support for Paralympic sports through UK Sport funding. We support the hosting of major sporting events in the UK such as the Rugby League World Cup in 2022, which will, for the first time in the event’s history, concurrently host the Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair tournaments. We are also hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham which will be the most inclusive Games ever, featuring the largest ever integrated para sport programme and which builds on the Games’ ambition of being the ‘Games for everyone’. We have also ensured the continued visibility of the Paralympics by adding the games to the list of protected sporting events that must be available to free-to-air broadcasters.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to embed physical activity over the course of people's lives.

Sports and physical activity are crucial for our mental and physical health. The Chief Medical Officer is clear that being physically active is important to long-term health and crucial for keeping people healthy. That is why we made sure that people could exercise throughout the national restrictions and provided an unprecedented £1 billion of financial support to sport and leisure organisations during the pandemic.

The government launched its sports strategy, Sporting Future in 2015 and we’ve achieved a huge amount since then. Sport England has allocated over £1.5 billion to nearly 5,000 organisations across the UK. Sport England has also published its new ten year strategy which focuses on driving up activity levels and helping to improve physical and mental health. We want to see physical activity embedded in people’s lives, with children doing at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, and adults 2.5 hours a week.

At the recent Spending Review, £205 million was announced to build or transform up to 8,000 state-of-the-art community football pitches and multi-use sports facilities across the UK. Earlier this month, we announced £30 million for PE teacher training and to open up school facilities to provide access to the wider community. This was in addition to, £30 million package to renovate 4,500 park tennis courts across the country.

The government believes these steps will help ensure that everyone can keep active throughout their lives.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what financial support is available to help museums and other historic sites undertake upgrades or expansion projects.

Historic England, funded by DCMS, is the government's statutory advisor on heritage and tasked with protecting the historical environment of England by preserving and listing historic buildings, ancient monuments and advising central and local government. Historic England currently offers c. £11 million per year for capital works to heritage sites across the country, through their Repair Grants for heritage at risk.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund is an arms length body of DCMS and distributes both Lottery player funding and government funding. The National Lottery Heritage Fund has a range of grants open to both museum and heritage organisations from £3,000 - £5M, which includes grants for maintenance and capital projects.

National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England also offer support by distributing grants via the government funded Culture Recovery Fund which includes a significant allocation for capital funding to cultural and heritage sites. In 2021/22 £33.6 million is available through the Grants for Programmes of Major Works and Additional Repair Grants for Heritage at Risk schemes.

Investment is also being made in vital infrastructure, repair and maintenance work for museums.

The Museum Estate and Development Fund (MEND) will provide £18.8m in capital funding grants of between £50k-£5m for infrastructure, repair and maintenance work in regional accredited museums.

In addition, over the past three years, government has distributed £131m capital funding among DCMS-Sponsored bodies, including the national museums and galleries, to enable them to carry out essential estates maintenance and improvement works.

22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what support is available to assist with the upkeep of places of worship to prevent the need for major remedial works.

We recognise the importance of carrying out routine repairs and maintenance in order to reduce the need for major remedial works in places of worship, and the great challenge to raise funding to carry out this work, particularly at the present time. Listed places of worship represent some of the nation's finest heritage, and we support them through the DCMS run Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme, which makes grants equal to the VAT paid on maintenance and repairs. The scheme will continue to benefit listed places of worship across the country, all of which have provided a much needed space for rest, contemplation and well-being during these difficult times, when they have been able to be open.

Listed places of worship may also benefit from the latest round of Cultural Recovery Funding with the £300 million package announced in June representing the latest and final tranche of funding for the CRF. The National Lottery Heritage Fund is distributing £40m in partnership with Historic England, based on criteria set by DCMS.

There are a number of sources of funding available for places of worship. The National Lottery Heritage Fund supports a broad range of projects that connect people and communities to the national, regional and local heritage of the UK. This includes historic buildings, monuments and the historic environment. This funding can be used for repairs and conservation.

21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to enhance online safety.

In May we published the Online Safety Bill in draft. This is a major milestone in the development of a new regulatory framework to keep users safe online. For the first time, tech companies are going to be accountable to an independent regulator to keep their users safe. The draft bill will be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny in this session, with the Joint Committee due to report by 10 December.


We are also taking steps to educate and empower users to make more informed and safer choices online. In July we published the first government Online Media Literacy Strategy, which sets out the government’s approach to improving media literacy capabilities among internet users in England. The Media Literacy Strategy will promote media literacy as a complementary tool to the new regulatory regime, providing coordination to the main organisations seeking to empower users with the skills and knowledge they need to stay safe online.

17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with representatives of the youth sector on ensuring that the Youth Investment Fund tackles local priorities.

Ministers and officials are in regular contact with the youth sector during the development of the Youth Investment Fund. Officials are working with representatives from the youth sector and young people to shape the design and delivery of the fund. Feedback from the sector on previous funding programmes such as the Youth Covid Support Fund has also been key to development of the Youth Investment Fund. This will ensure a delivery model that is inherently placed based and locally led, achieving maximum impact for young people in left behind places.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with the BBC on the reform to the over 75's TV Licence concession.

The government regularly meets the BBC to discuss a wide range of issues, including the over 75s concession. The government remains deeply disappointed with the BBC’s decision to restrict the over 75 licence fee concession to only those in receipt of pension credit. We recognise the value of free TV licences for over-75s and believe they should be funded by the BBC.

However, the Digital Economy Act 2017 provides that the future of the concession is the responsibility of the BBC, not of the government. The BBC must ensure that it supports those affected by its decision, and it must look at how it uses its substantial licence fee income to support older people.

26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that football supporters from (a) Wolverhampton and (b) the West Midlands are consulted as part of the review of football governance.

The Government has made it clear that fans will be at the heart of the governance review. Football begins and ends with fans, and the Chair of the review, the Honourable Member for Chatham and Aylesford, is committed to ensuring that their voices will be heard.

We are currently working on the next steps for the review, but rest assured, fans from all parts of the country will have a chance to input into the review.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking support the tourism and wider visitor economy to reopen safely as covid-19 restrictions are eased in (a) Wolverhampton South West constituency and (b) throughout the West Midlands.

My Department is taking a number of steps to encourage tourism across the country once restrictions are eased, including in Wolverhampton and the West Midlands.

The Global Travel Taskforce last year committed the Government to publish a Tourism Recovery Plan in support of the sector. The Government intends to set out proposals in the Spring, including plans for a marketing campaign to welcome visitors back to the UK as soon as it is safe to do so.

We are working with VisitBritain, VisitEngland and local partners to champion the UK’s diverse tourism offer through the Escape the Everyday campaign.

We will continue to work with industry to provide assurance regarding when people can safely visit attractions - as demonstrated through the We’re Good to Go industry standard, which has been used by over 45,000 businesses, including many in the West Midlands.

The March Budget included £700m of extra funding to support our world-leading arts, culture and sporting institutions - protecting the venues which make the UK an attractive destination to visit.

In total, over £25bn has been provided to the tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors in the form of grants, loans and tax breaks.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to enhance local networks through which people are signposted to positive social action and volunteering opportunities.

Volunteers have been critical to the ability of local communities to respond to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Local networks between councils, community groups, the voluntary sector and individual citizens have enabled an army of volunteers to step up and help during a time of national crisis.

Through the Covid-19 response, the government has funded the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership to help charities - large and small - to work together to identify and reach communities most in need, signposting volunteering needs and opportunities across a network of more than 200 organisations. Over £6million of funding for the Partnership has so far been committed up to 30th June 2021 with an option to extend should the need continue.

The government will continue to draw upon the lessons of volunteering, both from the Covid-19 period and more broadly, to develop current and future policy.

8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the timeframe in which successful applicants to the Culture Recovery Fund have to spend their funding; and whether he plans to make further rounds available to help people to safely recover and reopen after the covid-19 outbreak.

Last year the government announced the unprecedented £1.57 billion support package for the culture sector, of which over £1 billion has now been allocated to over 3,000 arts and culture organisations across the country. This funding is supporting the arts and culture sector up and down the country to survive the pandemic.

In order to support organisations as they prepare to welcome back audiences and visitors between April and June of this year, a second round of the Culture Recovery Fund has been announced. Over £300m of grants and £100m in repayable finance are available during this second round to support the costs organisations face.

An assessment was made of the merits of extending the timeframe in which successful applicants to the Culture Recovery Fund can spend existing funding. Relevant Arms Length Bodies have now contacted all recipients from the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund to confirm that they can request permission to use unspent funds from their round one awards until June 2021 on any eligible costs set out in guidance for the first or second rounds of the fund. We continue to keep the situation under review in order to provide as much support as we can to the sector.

4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that companies and regulators work more closely together to tackle online abuse and enhance online safety.

Online abuse of any kind is unacceptable. In December we published the full government response to the Online Harms White Paper, which set out the new expectations on companies to keep their users safe online. Under the new laws, all companies will need to take swift and effective action against criminal online abuse.

My department is also working closely with the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum established by the CMA, ICO and Ofcom to ensure effective coordination between regulators on cross-cutting digital issues.

15th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that elderly people are able to access online services safely.

The Government supports the provision of basic digital skills training for adults in community settings through the Adult Education Budget. We have introduced new essential digital skills qualifications (EDSQs) based on new national standards for essential digital skills. Adults with no or low digital skills can study essential digital skills qualifications for free.

Public libraries are also a vital component in tackling digital exclusion. There are around 2,900 public libraries in England providing a trusted network of accessible locations offering free Wi-Fi, computers, and other technology. The library staff, supported by volunteers, have been trained on digital skills to enable them to provide library users with support in using digital. Their vital role has been recognised in exceptions to tier and national restrictions, where after the first lock-down public libraries have been permitted to allow people to use library buildings for public PC use to access essential public services.

As set out in the Full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper Consultation, the Government is developing an Online Media Literacy Strategy. This Strategy will explore the existing media literacy landscape, and ensure a strategic and coordinated approach to media literacy education. We are committed to ensuring that the Strategy is inclusive and supports all users, including older people, to improve their media literacy levels. The Strategy will be published in Spring 2021.

8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to tackle loneliness in winter 2020-21.

This government is committed to tackling loneliness. We have delivered millions in funding, are encouraging organisations to take action and are aiming to reduce the stigma of loneliness through our campaign ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’.

We announced a £7.5 million funding package to tackle loneliness in late December, which is in addition to the £24 million we have already provided this financial year to organisations which support people experiencing loneliness or social isolation. We have also launched the £4 million Local Connections Fund, made up of £2 million from government and £2 million from the National Lottery Community Fund, supporting small local organisations tackling loneliness.

We established a Tackling Loneliness Network, bringing together over 70 organisations across public, private and voluntary organisations to share expertise and develop innovative ways to tackle loneliness.

The ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’ campaign continues to share practical tips and signpost support. Our winter calendar, which ran throughout December, had over 12 million impressions on social media, with a range of corporate and third sector partners promoting our messages on their channels.

6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what support is being made available to (a) photographers and (b) other freelancers who work primarily in the wedding, conference, and events sector in response to the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown; and what his Department's long-term strategy is regarding support for people who work in that sector.

We are aware that the wedding, conference and events sectors have been severely impacted by Government measures to control the spread of Covid-19. We have introduced a range of support measures to assist businesses and individuals during this period, including various government-backed loans and business grants. Self-employed individuals can seek support through the self-employed support scheme.

The Chancellor also announced that Local Authorities in England will be given an additional £594 million discretionary funding to support their local businesses. This builds on the £1.1 billion discretionary funding which local authorities in England have already received to support their local economies and help businesses impacted.

It is up to each local authority to determine eligibility for the Additional Restriction Grant based on their assessment of local economic need; however, we encourage local authorities to support businesses which have been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, but which are ineligible for the other grant schemes.

We continue to engage with stakeholders, including through the Tourism Industry Council and the Events Industry Senior Leaders Advisory Panel, to monitor the situation facing the sector and to assess how we can support its long term recovery. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy is engaging with representatives from the wedding industry to discuss the longer-term reopening of that sector.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to tackle false advertising on online shopping websites.

DCMS is considering how online advertising is regulated in the UK through our Online Advertising Programme (OAP). This work will look at the extent to which the current regulatory regime is equipped to tackle the challenges posed by the rapid technological developments seen in online advertising.

Our aim is to foster fair, accountable and ethical online advertising that works for citizens, businesses and society as a whole.

This work will complement other reviews in this area, including work by the CMA, the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.

15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to support businesses in the events and conference sector which have been affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government remains committed to working towards achieving football stadiums’ maximum socially distanced capacity as soon as it is safe to do so.

From Wednesday 2 December, it has been possible for fans to be readmitted to sports grounds where local COVID alert levels allow. The Government continues to be in close contact with the Sports Technology Innovation Group, formed of sporting bodies and health experts, and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority to assess the latest thinking and high-tech solutions that could enable further spectators to return.

We will continue to work with both bodies, alongside the football authorities, to determine the next steps in viably increasing spectator capacities without compromising public safety.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with the West Midlands Combined Authority on maximising opportunities for trade, tourism and investment in the region ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The Government is working in partnership with the West Midlands Combined Authority to deliver a Tourism, Trade and Investment Programme to run alongside the Commonwealth Games. The Government is investing £21.3m into the programme with an additional £2.6 million provided by the West Midlands Combined Authority.

The Tourism, Trade and Investment Programme aims to attract investment, businesses and visitors to the region. More generally, the Government is working with all delivery partners, including the West Midlands Combined Authority, to ensure the region maximises the national and international economic opportunities of hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the time trial race for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games starting and ending at West Park in Wolverhampton, what steps the Government plans to take to help Wolverhampton benefit from increased tourism and trade from that event.

Birmingham 2022 will be the biggest sporting event ever held in the West Midlands. With the potential to attract a global audience of 1.5 billion and around 1 million tickets available, the Games provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase the best the West Midlands has to offer to the rest of the world. Hosting the start and finish of the time trial race offers Wolverhampton a unique chance to set out a spectacular experience for both visitors and those watching on TV.

In order to maximise the economic benefits of hosting the Games, the government is investing £21.3 million into a £24million Tourism, Trade and Investment Programme which aims to attract investment, businesses and visitors to the region and ensure we deliver a Games legacy for Wolverhampton and other towns and cities across the region.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with youth sector representatives on the Youth Investment Fund.

Ministers and officials are in regular contact with the youth sector

Ministers continue to regularly engage with senior sector leaders, attend roundtables and hold conversations on the impact of Covid on the youth sector and young people, and the development of the Youth Investment Fund.

Officials hold fortnightly meetings with senior representatives from the Back Youth Alliance, a coalition of leading national youth organisations, as well as meeting with the sector to discuss specific issues.

13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking to improve online safety (a) in general and (b) for people in protected characteristic groups.

The Government is firmly committed to making the UK the safest place to be online, Under the new online harms legislation, companies will need to have robust systems and processes in place to keep their users safe, including those in protected characteristic groups.

Further details will be included in the full government response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation, which we will publish later this year.

5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what his timeframe is for making available funding from the Youth Investment Fund; and what categories of youth provision he plans to prioritise.

DCMS officials continue to assess how COVID-19 is impacting on young people and youth services. We will continue to engage with the youth sector as plans for the Youth Investment Fund develop, and expect to publish further details in due course.

16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) Wolverhampton Wanderers and (b) other UK football supporters are able to access football matches during the period when they cannot watch in person as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government was pleased to see both the Premier League and English Football League announcements on widening broadcasting coverage for upcoming games.

All Premier League matches in September will be broadcast live, while the EFL announced that, while stadiums remain closed, every EFL game that has not been selected for live coverage will be streamed on club websites.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government plans to take to (a) ensure the democratic accountability of football club owners to fans and supporters (I) at AGMs and (ii) more widely, (b) improve processes of due diligence of prospective owners of football clubs and (c) enhance the local ownership of football clubs throughout the UK.

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

The Government’s Expert Working Group on football supporter ownership and engagement in 2016 set out a number of recommendations to encourage greater engagement between supporters and those that run their club, while also helping to remove barriers to supporter ownership. The Premier League and English Football League now require clubs to meet with supporters at least twice a year to discuss strategic issues, giving fans the opportunity to shape the direction of the club.

The Government has also committed to undertaking a fan led review of football governance, which will include consideration of the Owners’ and Directors’ test. We are currently deciding the scope and structure of the review.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what funding his Department makes available to communities to promote exercise and fitness.

Sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active. It is important that exercise facilities remain accessible for people from all backgrounds as we make efforts to return to normality after the Covid lockdown period.

Once lockdown was announced, Sport England launched a successful online campaign ‘Join the Movement’ specifically aimed at promoting exercise and fitness in and around the home.

Sport England has announced a £210 million package of financial support to help community sports and exercise clubs through this crisis.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the financial sustainability of (a) civil society organisations and (b) charities in (i) Wolverhampton South West and (ii) England during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has made available an unprecedented £750 million package of support, specifically for charities, social enterprises and the voluntary sector. This will ensure charities and other civil society organisations, including those at risk of financial hardship, can continue their vital work during the Covid-19 outbreak.

£200 million of this money is being distributed by the National Lottery Community Fund through the Coronavirus Community Support Fund which is mainly targeting smaller and local VCSE organisations. Under the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, a total of 518 awards valued at £12.36 million has been allocated to organisations in the West Midlands, as at 28th August 2020.

£360 million has been allocated by central government departments with £200 million of this directly supporting hospices across the country. From this money, a total of 40 awards to the value of £3.1 million have been allocated to organisations in the West Midlands, as at 28th August 2020.

A further £4.8 million will be distributed to the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership - a group that comes together to improve national and local coordination before, during and after emergencies - to help strengthen the voluntary sector’s response to coronavirus and future emergencies.

To support the BBC’s 'Big Night In', the Government matched the generous donations of the public across the country with grants to the National Emergencies Trust working in Partnership with the UK Community Foundations (£20million) and to the remaining £17million being shared by Comic Relief and Children in Need. £1.14 million from the National Emergencies Trust grant was allocated to the Heart of England Community Foundation. Under the National Emergencies Trust, Comic Relief and Children in Need grants, a total of 125 awards valued at £723,029 have been made to organisations in the West Midlands as at 28th August 2020.

The ‘Community Match Challenge’ which is matching funds raised by philanthropists, foundations and grant making organisations will further support small to medium sized organisations from across the country working with those who are most vulnerable and have been hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak. This Fund closed for bids on 2nd August and the outcome will be announced shortly.

In addition to the £750million, a further £150m has been unlocked from dormant bank and building society accounts which will be directed to charities, social enterprises and individuals.

Finally, civil society organisations and charities can access additional business support measures including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Bounce Back Loans.

14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans the Government has to commemorate VJ Day in 2020.

On 15 July, the Government launched its website to help the public mark the 75th anniversary of Victory Over Japan Day on 15 August. Further information on how to get involved will be made available shortly at https://ve-vjday75.gov.uk/

18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking support (a) theatres, (b) museums and (c) other tourist attractions in Wolverhampton after the covid-19 outbreak.

In order to support the sustainability of the Arts sector, including theatres and museums, DCMS has worked closely with Arts Council England (ACE) to provide a tailored package of financial support. In March, ACE announced a £160m emergency response package to complement the financial measures already announced by the Government and to ensure immediate resilience of this vital sector.

This package includes £140 million of support for artistic organisations including theatres and museums; and £20 million of financial support for individuals, including self-employed theatre practitioners, so they can better sustain themselves, and their work, in the coming months. More than 9000 individuals and organisations have been successful in applying for this emergency funding. Additionally, the National Lottery Heritage Fund launched the £50 million Heritage Emergency Fund, and Historic England has launched two £2 million Emergency Funds.

The Secretary of State, myself and officials continue to consult the Art and Tourism sectors extensively to ensure we fully understand the impacts of Covid-19 and remain well placed to respond as it develops.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on preparations for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Birmingham 2022 will be at the heart of a memorable summer of sport and a year of national celebration in 2022. We will continue to work with our partners to closely monitor the situation over the next two years and ensure we can deliver a fantastic Games in 2022.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make it his policy to establish an online Coronavirus charity support finder to signpost Government financial support that is available.

The £750 million funding package announced by the Government on 8 April is to ensure charities providing frontline services to vulnerable people affected by the pandemic can continue their vital work. £360m is being distributed via individual government departments based on evidence of service need. Up to £200m of this will directly support hospices and be administered by the Department of Health and Social Care. Departments are using a range of approaches to allocating funding in order to meet identified needs quickly, including bidding processes and awarding funding directly. Applications are now open for funding for the distribution of food to vulnerable people, safe accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse, armed services charities, and charities working to tackle loneliness and homelessness. Further information has been released on gov.uk.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will publish an online resource signposting charities to these funding opportunities available for applications through government departments. We expect this resource to be published shortly.

22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to increase the availability of defibrillators at school sites.

All new and refurbished state funded schools are required to have at least one defibrillator installed on their premises, and we encourage all other schools to include defibrillators as part of their first aid equipment.

Defibrillators are currently available for schools and other education providers in the UK to purchase through the NHS Supply Chain’s defibs4schools programme at a reduced cost. These arrangements are available to all UK schools, including academies and independent schools, sixth-form colleges, further education institutions and early years settings.

The department wants as many schools as possible to have this equipment and we are exploring all available options to see what more we can do.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to promote awareness of vocational career routes in schools.

The department is determined to take action so that all young people can learn about the high-quality opportunities that technical education and apprenticeships can offer. Through the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, we aim to strengthen the Baker Clause so all pupils will have the opportunity to have encounters with providers of approved technical education and apprenticeships.

We expect to see schools setting up career events, assemblies and options evenings so that providers can talk to pupils about what they offer and what it is like to learn in a different environment. The school must prepare and publish a policy statement setting out the circumstances in which education and training providers will be given access to pupils and ensure that this is followed. The policy statement must include:

  • Any procedural requirement in relation to requests for access
  • Grounds for granting and refusing requests for access
  • Details of premises or facilities provided to a person who is given access

As well as steps taken to ensure compliance with the Baker Clause, we are making sure that all government careers information is available in one place to enable people to make informed decisions on the education, training and employment options that are right for them. This will include information on routes into apprenticeships, including higher and degree apprenticeships, and T Levels via an improved course directory accessible via the National Careers Service website.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that families have access to wrap-around childcare, including after-school clubs.

​Ensuring parents can continue to access childcare remains a priority for the government. The department recognises the important role wraparound childcare, such as before and after-school clubs, plays in providing additional childcare options to parents and carers, as well as providing enriching activities and promoting the wellbeing of children. We have prioritised these childcare settings to help them remain open throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, and continue to encourage schools to ensure they are offering this provision.

Parents have the ‘right to request’ wraparound childcare, and the department has published guidance for schools on how to respond to such requests which is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/778997/Rights_to_request_guidance-2019.pdf. Schools should not refuse a request without a reasonable justification.

All local authorities also have a legal duty to ensure there are sufficient childcare places, so far as is reasonably practicable, for working parents in their area with children aged 0-14, or up to 18 for disabled children. Parents may contact their local Family Information Service who can give provide advice on childcare providers in their area.

In addition, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on 27 October, that the department will be providing over £200 million a year for the continuation of the Holiday Activities and Food programme, which provides enriching activities and healthy meals for disadvantaged children during school holidays. Local authorities will be able to use the funding for this programme, which is delivered through grants, to arrange childcare provision.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support the additional needs of children with special educational needs in the recovery from the covid-19 outbreak.

Since June 2020, we have announced more than £3 billion to support education recovery in schools which includes support for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), 16-19 providers and in early years settings to help pupils make up education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Our recovery programmes have the flexibility to support those pupils most in need, including children with SEND, with additional funding provided for those interventions that the evidence tells us will have a significant impact, high quality tutoring and great teaching.

We have consistently prioritised children who attend specialist settings by providing additional uplifts both in the 2020 Catch-up Premium and in the 2021 Recovery Premium and providing the flexibility to deliver provision based on pupils’ need. Additionally, specialist settings received an uplift to deliver the summer schools programme.

We have also ensured that settings have the flexibility to target this to meet the needs of their pupils and students. In addition, we continue to work hard to ensure children and young people are given access to therapies and equipment so that the right support is in place for all children and families, including addressing the backlog in assessments, we are providing over £42 million in 2021-22 to continue funding projects to support children with SEND. This investment will ensure that specialist organisations around the country can continue to help strengthen local area performance, support families, and provide practical support to schools and colleges. This includes £27.3 million to the Family Fund in 2021-22 to support over 60,000 families on low incomes raising children and young people with disabilities or serious illnesses.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support the delivery of (a) adult education and (b) other lifelong learning programs.

We are continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) (£1.34 billion in 2021/22). The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to level 3, to support adults to gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship or further learning.

Starting this year, the government is investing £2.5 billion in the National Skills Fund in England.

Since 1 April this year, the government is supporting any adult who does not have A-level equivalent or higher qualifications, to access over 400 fully funded level 3 courses, with Free Courses for Jobs. This offer is a long-term commitment, backed by £95 million from the National Skills Fund in year one.

Complementing this support for adults, Skills Bootcamps offer free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. We are now expanding the Skills Bootcamp programme across the country during the 2021-22 financial year, with £43 million from the National Skills Fund.

As part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, from 2025 we will introduce a Lifelong Loan Entitlement equivalent to four years of post-18 education. People will be supported to study throughout their life, with the opportunity to train, retrain and upskill as needed in response to changing skills needs and employment patterns. It will help transform post-18 study, delivering greater parity between further and higher education.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what duties the Free Speech and Academic Freedom Champion will have to ensure adequate community engagement.

The Director for Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom will be responsible for overseeing the performance of the Office for Students’ (OfS) freedom of speech functions, including the monitoring and enforcement of freedom of speech registration conditions, the new complaints scheme and the new duties on students’ unions under the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill. Further details of the role will be available when the position is advertised in due course.

The OfS is anticipated to consult on regulatory changes, to develop the new complaints scheme and to draft guidance.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what financial assistance is available to support schools and colleges with the cost of essential maintenance work.

The Department has allocated £11.3 billion in capital funding since 2015 to improve the condition of the school estate, including £1.8 billion committed in this financial year. Allocations are informed by consistent data on the condition of the school estate.

Schools, and those responsible for school buildings, access condition funding through different routes depending on their size and type. Local authorities, large multi-academy trusts and large voluntary-aided school bodies, receive an annual formulaic school condition allocation to invest in the schools for which they are responsible.

Smaller multi-academy trusts, stand-alone academies, voluntary-aided schools not in large voluntary-aided school bodies and sixth form colleges are able to bid to the Condition Improvement Fund each year. All schools also receive funding to spend on their own capital priorities through an annual devolved formula capital allocation. Capital funding beyond the 2021/22 financial year will be determined at the Spending Review.

In addition, the Department delivers major rebuilding and refurbishment programmes centrally. My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, announced a new, 10 year School Rebuilding Programme last June, which will replace school buildings in poor condition with modern, energy-efficient designs. The Department has announced the first 50 schools to benefit from this, as part of a commitment to 500 projects over the next decade. We expect to confirm a further 50 projects this year and plan to consult on the approach to prioritising future projects later in 2021.

25th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to enhance access for veterans to a higher education.

The Department for Education co-funds two schemes with the Ministry of Defence (MOD). The Service Leavers Scheme (or Publicly Funded Further Education/Higher Education Scheme) and the Armed Forces Bereavement Scheme contribute to the delivery of the joint cross-government strategy of support for Service Leavers and their families as part of the Armed Forces Covenant, which emphasises the mutual obligation between the nation, the government and the Armed Forces. The Department for Education provides a grant of £5 million to MOD to support the higher education (HE) aspects of these schemes for study in England.

Furthermore, my right hon. Friend, Prime Minister, announced in September 2020 the government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee, which promises to help people across England get the skills they need at every stage of their life. As part of this, the ‘free courses for jobs’ offer, which started in April 2021, gives an estimated 11 million adults in England who are 24 and over, and do not yet have A levels or equivalent qualifications, the opportunity to take their first level 3 qualification for free.

The Publicly Funded Further Education/Higher Education Scheme provides service leavers access to a first full level 3 (GCE A Level or vocational equivalent), or a first HE qualification (a foundation degree or first undergraduate degree or equivalent) with tuition fees funded to a maximum of £9,250 per year of study. Full details of this scheme can be found at the Enhanced Learning Credits Administration Service website: www.enhancedlearningcredits.com.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to help schools (a) set up and (b) grow onsite libraries.

The Department believes that all pupils deserve to be taught a knowledge-rich curriculum that promotes the extensive reading of books and other kinds of texts, both in and out of school. School libraries complement public libraries in allowing pupils to do this. It is for individual schools to decide how best to provide and maintain a library service for their pupils, including whether to employ a qualified librarian. Many head teachers recognise the important role school libraries play in improving literacy and encouraging pupils to read for pleasure and ensure that suitable library facilities are provided. These may take different forms and could be a book corner in a school classroom, rather than a separate space.

The Department is also committing £1.8 billion this financial year in capital funding to help maintain and improve the condition of school buildings, including primary school libraries. Local authorities, academy trusts, and other responsible bodies are best placed to prioritise capital allocations according to local need, including on library facilities where that is the priority.

7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to improve literacy rates among primary school-aged children.

The Government continues to drive improvements in literacy levels by ensuring high quality systematic synthetic phonics teaching in all our schools to give all children the firm foundation on which to progress through school, and to help them develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information.

England achieved its highest ever score in reading in 2016, moving from joint 10th to joint 8th in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) rankings. This improvement is largely attributable to increases in the average performance of lower performing pupils and boys. These are the first international assessment results from the cohort of pupils who benefited from the changes in primary curriculum and assessment introduced since the 2010 election.

In 2019, 82% of pupils in Year 1 met the expected standard in the phonics screening check, compared to just 58% when the check was introduced in 2012. For disadvantaged pupils, this has gone from 45% in 2012 to 71% in 2019. Furthermore, 2019 results showed that by the end of Year 2, 91% of pupils met the expected standard in the phonics screening check.

In 2018, the Department launched a £26.3 million English Hubs Programme to improve the teaching of reading. This focuses on supporting children making the slowest progress in reading, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and is providing intensive support to over 875 partner schools. We have since provided a further £17 million in this school-to-school improvement programme, which focusses on systematic synthetic phonics, early language, and reading for pleasure.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the English Hubs programme has continued to offer support and training to schools across the country by bringing much of their offer online. This has involved opening virtual training and professional development events to a wider pool of schools and distributing materials targeted specifically at remote education and recovery. The English Hubs have adapted to providing intensive support remotely and have delivered more than 1,400 days of specialist phonics training to over 875 partner schools this academic year.

27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that school-aged children have access to affordable extra-curricular sports activities.

It is up to schools to decide what sport and extra-curricular activities to offer to their pupils. The Government is committed to ensuring all children have access to high quality clubs, competitions and activities outside school, which are easy to find and participate in, and support their recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. That is why £10.1 million of extra funding was recently announced to support schools to open their sports facilities outside of school hours, allowing them to work with local sports clubs to provide children with an increased selection of high quality extra-curricular activities. On top of wider economic support, the Government has announced a £100 million support fund for local authority leisure centres to ensure facilities remain available once public health restrictions are lifted. Sport England has provided £270 million directly to support community sport clubs and exercise centres through the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ministers recently hosted a roundtable with National Governing Bodies of Sport to discuss increasing opportunities for children to get active, including taking part in extra-curricular sport. This resulted in the launch of the new Active Recovery Hub. The hub provides schools and parents with activities from over forty sport providers to keep children of all ages active, including hundreds of ideas for extra-curricular activities.

The Department is also ensuring children have the opportunity to take part in extra-curricular sport during the school holidays. The Holiday Activities and Food Programme will provide children with the opportunity to take part in a range of engaging activities, including sport. We will also be providing funding to secondary schools to deliver a short summer schools programme blending academic education and enrichment opportunities, such as sport.

26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that schools deliver adequate financial education, including on debt management.

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

15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of increasing the length of time students spend in general education to ensure that (a) students with learning disabilities and (b) other students are not disadvantaged by the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on their development and progression.

The Government is committed to helping all children and young people make up education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Department has appointed Sir Kevan Collins as Education Recovery Commissioner to oversee a long-term plan. Sir Kevan will engage with parents, pupils, and teachers in the development of this broader approach and review how evidence-based interventions can be used to address the impact the COVID-19 outbreak has had on education. We will share further details in due course.

9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to support students experiencing hardship as a result of the outbreak of covid-19, with particular reference to (a) term-time accommodation costs and (b) income lost from possible redundancies.

The government is aware of the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 outbreak will have on some students. We have made an additional £70 million of student hardship funding available to higher education (HE) providers this financial year. The new funding means that universities are able to help students impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, for example those facing additional costs for alternative accommodation, loss of employment, or extra costs to access their teaching online.

Providers will have flexibility in how they distribute the funding to students, in a way that will best prioritise those in greatest need, including those that have already applied for hardship funding previously but now need additional support. The funding can be distributed to a wide population of students, including postgraduates (whether taught or research) and international students.

This money is in addition to the £256 million of Student Premium funding HE providers are able draw on this academic year towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment, and mental health support, as well as to support providers’ access and participation plans.

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

We know that not all students will face financial hardship. The current measures aim to target support for students in greatest need and the government continues to monitor the situation going forward to look at what impact this funding is having.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what financial support and assistance is available to people who plan to train as teachers in (a) religious studies and (b) other humanities subjects at (i) undergraduate and (ii) postgraduate level.

All trainee teachers on both undergraduate and postgraduate initial teacher training (ITT) courses are able to apply for student finance, regardless of the subject they train to teach. The only ITT courses that are ineligible for student finance are employment based courses, where trainees earn a salary whilst they train.

Providing they are eligible, trainee teachers in subjects such as religious education and other humanities can access a tuition fee loan, so they do not have to pay the fee upfront. They can also receive a means tested maintenance loan of up to £12,382 to support their living costs. Additional means tested funding is available from Student Finance England for trainees in particular circumstances, including those with children, adult dependants, or a disability.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of (a) extending the PE and sport premium and (b) making available equivalent funding to all school age groups.

Physical education (PE) and school sport plays an important role in supporting children and young people to be physically active during the current COVID-19 restrictions. That is why the Department confirmed that the primary PE and sport premium would continue at £320 million for the 2020/21 academic year. The premium can be used to support remote teaching of PE as well as teaching in school.

To support sport and physical activities to resume, the Department has additionally announced £10.1 million of funding for the 2020/21 academic year to help school sports and swimming facilities to open outside of school hours.

The Department is considering arrangements for the primary PE and sport premium for the 2021/22 academic year and will confirm the position as soon as possible. The Department is working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Department of Health and Social Care on how to support better PE, sport and physical activity provision for all children and young people, including in secondary schools, as part of the continuing work to deliver our joint schools sport and activity action plan, published in 2019.

12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what Government support is being provided to ensure that children with special educational needs can access (a) specialist playgrounds and (b) play centres that cater for children with sensory needs in their local area.

We continue to prioritise support for children and young people with special educational needs, including those with sensory needs, and their families. Children and young people with an education, health and care plan should be allowed to continue attending their education setting if their parent wants them to (or, for post-16 provision, if the young person wants to attend). This will mean that those children and young people can continue to access sensory support at their school or college.

Parents and carers may continue to access respite care to support them in caring for their disabled children during the national lockdown, including both services which care for children away from home and care which is delivered in the family home. Guidance for parents on early years providers, schools and colleges, which sets out that respite provision for families of disabled children can continue to operate, 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.

In terms of access to specialist playgrounds, under national lockdown rules, outdoor playgrounds can remain open. The full guidance for this can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-playgrounds-and-outdoor-gyms/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-playgrounds-and-outdoor-gyms.

We are also providing £40.8 million for the Family Fund this year to support over 85,000 families on low incomes raising children with disabilities or serious illnesses. This includes £13.5 million to specifically address needs arising from the COVID-19 outbreak. These grants can be used to purchase a range of things including sensory toys and equipment.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what financial support his Department provides to non-maintained nurseries.

Nurseries, childminders and pre-schools, who have provided crucial support throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, are now more vital than ever.

We have provided extra security to nurseries and childminders that are open by paying local authorities for the autumn term for childcare places at the level we would have funded before COVID-19 – regardless of how many children were attending.

Early years settings will continue to benefit from a planned £3.6 billion spending in the 2020-21 financial year on our early education entitlements, paid to local authorities to create free early education and childcare places for children.

On SEND, the £14.4 billion funding package we announced for schools in total across three years between 2019-20 and 2022-23 - includes over £730 million additional funding to be allocated in 2021-22 for high needs, which covers children and young people aged 0 to 25. The additional high needs funding will bring the total high needs budget to over £8 billion next year.

In 2019 the government pledged a new £1 billion fund to help create more high quality, affordable childcare, including before and after school and during the school holidays. We are already delivering on this pledge with a £220 million Holiday Activities and Food Programme to provide enriching activities and a healthy meal for disadvantaged children in the Easter, Summer and Christmas holidays in 2021.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced at the Spending Review a £44 million investment in 2021-22, for local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers for the government’s free childcare entitlement offers. This will pay for a rate increase that is higher than the costs nurseries may face from the uplift to the national living wage in April.

We continue to ensure early years providers can access the package of additional support provided by the government, which includes business rates relief, income support and job retention schemes.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that people have access to flexible adult learning courses during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department wants to ensure that a wide range of opportunities are available to adults to meet their future skills needs.

We are continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB), worth £1.34 billion in the 2020-21 financial year. The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to level 3, to support adults to gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship, or further learning. Our funding rules allow for flexibility in course delivery, and providers already offer shorter/more flexible courses. More information about the AEB is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/adult-education-budget-aeb-funding-rules-2019-to-2020.

As part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee recently announced by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, the department is launching skills bootcamps, which will be available in 6 areas across the country. The bootcamp training courses will provide valuable skills based on employer demand and are linked to real job opportunities, helping participants to get jobs, and employers to fill much-needed vacancies. The department is planning to expand the bootcamps to more of the country from spring 2021, and we want to extend this model to include other technical skills training. More information about the launch of skills bootcamps is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/major-expansion-of-post-18-education-and-training-to-level-up-and-prepare-workers-for-post-covid-economy.

In April 2020, the department introduced the Skills Toolkit, an online platform providing free courses to help individuals build the skills that are most sought after by employers. We have recently expanded the platform so that people can now choose from over 70 courses, covering digital, adult numeracy, employability, and work readiness skills, which have been identified as the skills employers need the most. These courses will help people stay in work, or take up new jobs and opportunities. More information about the Skills Toolkit is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-free-online-learning-platform-to-boost-workplace-skills.

Through our lifelong loan entitlement, the department will also make it easier for adults and young people to study more flexibly. This will allow people to space out their studies across their lifetimes, transfer credits between colleges and universities, and enable more part-time study.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has put in place following the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to support employers in (a) retaining and (b) upskilling workers (i) now and (ii) in the future.

The government is providing £2.5 billion (£3 billion when including Barnett funding for devolved administrations), for the National Skills Fund.

The National Skills Fund will support adults to learn and reach their potential in the labour market.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, recently announced that for adults who do not currently have a level 3 qualification, the government will be fully funding their first full level 3 through the National Skills Fund. We will target this level 3 entitlement at subjects and qualifications with economic value and the strongest alignment with government priorities, to ensure the best possible returns for individuals, employers and the nation.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, also announced the launch of our new digital bootcamps, in 6 areas, to support local regions and employers to fill in-demand vacancies. The bootcamp training courses will provide valuable skills based on employer demand and will offer a fast track to a job interview on completion. Pending the success of the initial bootcamps, we are planning to expand the digital bootcamps to more of the country from Spring 2021 and we also want to extend this model to include other technical skills training.

The government remains committed to consulting on aspects of the National Skills Fund to ensure that we develop a fund that helps adults learn valuable skills and prepare for the economy of the future. We are continuing to review the ongoing implications of the COVID-19 outbreak and we are considering the most appropriate time and approach we can take to launch the consultation, ensuring we have meaningful discussions with employers, providers and users.

Alongside the National Skills Fund, the department has been working to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. In his Summer Economic Update, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced investment of over £500 million to deliver a package of support for people to access the training and develop the skills they will need to go on to high-quality, secure and fulfilling employment. The Skills Recovery Package included:

  • Apprenticeships: A new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire who is aged 24 or below, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire who is aged 25 and over, from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021.
  • Traineeships: £111 million to triple the scale and reform traineeships for those aged 16 - 24 (25 with an Education, Health and Care plan): with additional funding available to providers in 2020-21 to support 30,000 new places. We have also introduced, for the first time, payments of £1,000 per trainee for employers who offer new or additional work placements (up to 10 trainees).
  • Careers information, advice and guidance: £32 million over 2 years to help 269,000 more people of all ages receive advice from the National Careers Service.
  • Sector-based work academy programme (SWAP): £17 million to triple the number of SWAP placements in 2020/21, enough funding to support an extra 40,000 job seekers with additional training opportunities and the chance of a job.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer also announced a new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people aged 16 to 24 claiming Universal Credit. Funding available for six-month job placements will cover 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week – and employers will be able to top this wage up. Employers can apply next month and the scheme will start in autumn. There will be no cap on the number of places available.

The government appreciates the importance of adult education to improving people’s life chances. We will continue to explore options within adult education to aid the post COVID-19 recovery.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to improve diversity among (a) students and (b) academic staff in higher education.

It is crucial that we tap into the talent the UK has to offer and that higher education is available to all who are qualified by attainment to pursue it.

The government brought forward sweeping reforms of higher education to promote equality of opportunity through the Higher Education and Research Act (2017). This includes a mandatory condition of registration which requires all higher education providers in England registered with the Office for Students (OfS) to publish data including the number of applications for admissions, offers made and acceptance rates broken down by gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background. The OfS has issued guidance to higher education providers on how to comply with the transparency condition.

Higher education providers wishing to charge higher level tuition fees must have an Access and Participation Plan agreed by the OfS. Through these plans, providers set out the measures they will take to ensure that students from disadvantaged backgrounds and unrepresented groups can access and succeed in higher education. Ambitious new five-year Access and Participation Plans have been agreed for 2020-21 to 2024-25, which include targets and measures to close long standing gaps in equalities.

Recent data shows that the black ethnic group have seen the greatest proportional increase in progression rates to higher education by age 19 – from 44.1% in 2009-10 to 59.1% in 2018/19.

The OfS has also made available online an interactive dashboard of data, which will help to evaluate access and participation at specific universities and colleges. The dashboard can be used to compare different student groups (for example, disabled students or students by their ethnic background) and their peers, and reveal gaps in access, continuation, success and progression. More information is available at:
https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/data-and-analysis/access-and-participation-data-dashboard/.

Higher education providers are independent and autonomous institutions and are responsible for their own decisions on employment issues. We expect providers, like all employers, to give due consideration to their obligations under the Equality Act 2010 and the way their employment practices affect different sections of their communities and staff at different stages of their careers.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what after-school support is available for the children of parents who are returning to work following the outbreak of covid-19.

As of 4 July, providers offering out-of-school activities and wraparound care to children, such as after-school, breakfast, and extracurricular clubs, have been able to open for both indoor and outdoor provision with safety measures in place.

Out-of-school and after-school provision will continue to be permitted to operate both on or away from school premises during the autumn to support working parents and carers. We have updated the COVID-19 guidance for providers of holiday and after-school clubs and other out-of-school settings. The guidance outlines the protective measures that settings should put in place to minimise the risk of infection and transmission of the virus, and to operate as safely as possible when all children return to school. The guidance is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/protective-measures-for-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he has taken to ensure that children and young people have been receiving healthy and nutritious meals during the 2020 school summer holidays.

We knew that some families would face increased pressure on household budgets over the summer due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We therefore established the COVID-19 Summer Food Fund to provide supermarket vouchers for children who receive benefits-related free school meals.

Families were free to select the most appropriate food and drink for their child. When selecting products, we encouraged families to consider health and nutrition and signposted that the School Food Standards act as a useful guide. There were a number of online resources available to support families in preparing healthy and nutritious food, including on the NHS Eat Well website and recipes produced by the Change4Life campaign.

In addition, our £9 million Holiday Activities and Food Programme worked across 17 local authority areas, providing thousands of children with access to healthy meals and enriching activities. Family Action and Magic Breakfast also continued to offer healthy meals through our National School Breakfast Programme during the summer holidays in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

These schemes were part of a wider package of government support, which included a £63 million fund for local authorities to help those struggling financially due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. This allowed local authorities to provide financial help to those facing severe hardship to allow them to pay for food and other necessities.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress the Government has made on allocating funding through the Holiday Activities and Food scheme.

The Holiday Activities and Food programme are integral to our approach to provide healthy food to children over the summer. It will ensure thousands of disadvantaged children have access to healthy meals and holiday activities in summer 2020 – building on the success of the 2018 and 2019 programmes – and remaining committed to supporting children and families through the disruption caused by COVID-19.

On Monday 22 June the Department for Education published an announcement with the details of the Holiday Activities and Food programme and the areas that were successful in receiving the funding for 2020. Grant funding was allocated based on a competitive bidding process. The successful bidders and areas are:

  • StreetGames (Newcastle, North East region);
  • Gateshead Council (Gateshead - North East region);
  • Edsential (Cheshire West and Chester, Halton, Wirral - North West region);
  • Spring North (Blackburn with Darwen - North West);
  • Leeds Community Foundation (Leeds and Bradford - Yorkshire & the Humber region);
  • Voluntary Action Sheffield (Sheffield - Yorkshire & the Humber region);
  • Suffolk County Council (Suffolk - East of England region);
  • Mayor’s Fund for London (Lambeth and Southwark - London);
  • Tower Hamlets Local Authority (Tower Hamlets - London);
  • The Romsey School (Hampshire, Southampton, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight - South East region).
Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the quality of education for children receiving remote tuition due to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department is continuing to assess the impact of school closure on children and young people’s educational attainment.

We have published a comprehensive range of advice and guidance to support schools during this time. This includes a list of high-quality online resources, which have been assessed with support from some of the country’s leading educational experts, to help pupils learn at home.

We have worked with schools to produce case studies guidance on remote education practice. This guidance provides an opportunity for schools to learn from each other's emerging practice as they develop their own approaches.

We are supporting sector-led initiatives such as the Oak National Academy. This new enterprise has been created by 40 teachers from schools across England. It will provide 180 video lessons for free each week, across a broad range of subjects, for every year group from Reception through to year 10. By 28 June, 4.1 million unique users had accessed the Oak National Academy website and 14.7 million lessons had been viewed.

Additionally, the BBC has developed resources for families as part of a comprehensive new education package, which is now available on TV and online at BBC Bitesize.

We have committed over £100 million to boost remote education, this includes: providing devices and internet access for those who need it most, ensuring every school that wants it has access to free, expert technical support to get set up on Google for Education or Microsoft’s Office 365 Education, and offering peer support from schools and colleges leading the way with the use of education technology.

We expect all pupils to return to school in the autumn, and the Department published guidance on 2 July. Given the possibility that groups of pupils need to self-isolate, such as for a local lockdown, all schools will also be expected to have remote education contingency plans in place by the end of September. The guidance sets out what is expected from schools for their remote education provision.

22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department is providing to (a) students who are home schooled to access exam centres for exams taking place in summer 2020 and (b) teachers at those exam centres facilitating those exams.

Following the cancellation of this year’s exams, the exam boards will be providing students with calculated grades, wherever possible. No exams will take place in summer 2020.

There will be an opportunity for students to sit exams in the autumn term, if they feel their calculated grade does not reflect their ability. There will also be a small group of students for whom there is not enough evidence for a calculated grade to be derived in the summer, including some home educated students. It is particularly important that these students are able to achieve grades through the additional exam series.

We have published guidance that sets out our expectation that the exam centre that submitted entries for students for exams in summer 2020 should enter them in the autumn if they wish to take exams, or take responsibility for ensuring that they have somewhere appropriate to sit their exams in exceptional cases where attending the original centre is not the best option for the student. This arrangement extends to all students who wish to take exams in the additional autumn series, including those who are home educated.

22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support people who do not have a support network to access childcare as they return to work as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

From 1 June, early years settings have been able to welcome back all children.

Local authorities are responsible for ensuring that there are sufficient childcare places and we continue to liaise with local authorities to obtain information about the supply and demand for childcare. Anyone who needs help or advice in accessing registered childcare should contact their local authorities.

Guidance for parents and carers about opening from 1 June can be found at:

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/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what (a) financial and (b) educational support is provided to postgraduate students whose education has moved online.

This is a difficult and uncertain time for students, but we are working with the sector to make sure all reasonable efforts are being made to enable students to continue their studies.

Eligible students studying designated postgraduate courses online are entitled to apply for a postgraduate loan. The rate of loan is the same for all students.

Higher education providers are working to ensure that learning and teaching continues and is completed through the use of online teaching and other digital delivery. Providers will contact students to tell them how this will affect their studies.

The Office for Students, the higher education regulator in England, has produced guidance on practical ways in which students can complete their studies whilst ensuring quality and standards are upheld. This covers teaching, learning and assessment during this difficult time - further details are available here: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/publications/guidance-for-providers-about-quality-and-standards-during-coronavirus-pandemic/.

The government is also working closely with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, the professional bodies and the Office for Students to ensure students continue to leave university with qualifications that have real value, reflect their hard work and allow people to progress.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he has taken to ensure that (a) children from disadvantaged families and (b) other children have adequate access to food during all school holidays.

I refer the hon. Members to the answer I have given today to Question 54195.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has plans to reimburse students that have paid deposits on (a) private and (b) university housing for the 2020-21 academic year and whose education may be disrupted as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

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

The government encourages universities and private hall providers to be fair in their decisions about accommodation charges for this period.

Information published by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) gives guidance (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cma-to-investigate-concerns-about-cancellation-policies-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic/the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-consumer-contracts-cancellation-and-refunds) on the COVID-19 outbreak’s effects on consumer contracts and may be helpful to students, including those who have already paid deposits for accommodation.

The guidance sets out the CMA’s view on how the law operates to help consumers understand their rights and to help businesses treat their customers fairly. Students may be entitled to refunds from certain accommodation providers depending on the terms of their contract and their particular circumstances. If students need help, organisations such as Citizens Advice offer a free service, providing information and support.

Students who have already signed an accommodation contract for next year and, because of COVID-19, think it may no longer fit their requirements, should talk directly to their housing provider.

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

We have worked closely with the Office for Students to enable higher education (HE) providers to draw on existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. As a result, providers will be able to use the funding worth around £23 million per month for June and July, towards student hardship funds.


We have also asked that HE providers pay particular attention to the additional financial hardships that are being faced by student staff who have been reliant on income from campus-based jobs at this time.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that (a) vulnerable pupils and (b) pupils living with vulnerable relatives are supported when schools re-open following covid-19 lockdown measures.

Keeping people safe continues to be the government’s main priority. We have been clear that the wider opening of schools must be done in a way that is measured, reduces risk, is guided by science, and ensures that safety remains the absolute priority. We published guidance for parents and carers to help them prepare for the opening of schools and educational settings to more pupils from 1 June.

The guidance is clear that children and young people who are considered extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding should continue to shield and should not be expected to attend. Clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) people are those considered to be at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. A minority of children will fall into this category, and parents should follow medical advice if their child is in this category. Children and young people who live in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding should only attend school if stringent social distancing can be adhered to, and where the child or young person is able to understand and follow those instructions. If a child or young person lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable), including those who are pregnant, they can attend their education or childcare setting. The guidance for parents and carers is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/reopening-schools-and-other-educational-settings-from-1-june#should-i-keep-my-child-at-home-if-they-have-an-underlying-health-condition-or-live-with-someone-in-a-clinically-vulnerable-group.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans there are for integration of key worker children and other children when they return to school after the covid-19 lockdown measures are eased.

As a result of the huge efforts everyone has made to adhere to strict social distancing measures, the transmission rate of COVID-19 has decreased and the Government’s five tests have been met. Based on all the evidence, the Department 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. From 15 June, secondary schools can invite year 10 and 12 pupils (years 10 and 11 for alternative provision schools) back into school for some face-to-face support with their teachers, to supplement their remote education, which will remain the predominant mode of education for these pupils this term. Priority groups can continue to attend full-time.

The Department has published a range of guidance for schools and nurseries to help them prepare for wider opening, including guidance on implementing protective measures and a planning guide for primary schools. These are available on GOV.UK:

This guidance sets out a range of principles for creating small, consistent groups to lower the risk of transmission. Children of critical workers and vulnerable children who are in reception, year 1 or year 6 should be included in groups with their own year group, up to a maximum size of 15 pupils. Vulnerable children and children of critical workers in other year groups should also be split into small groups of no more than 15.

5th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to ensure university students are not financially penalised due to a delay to the academic year as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Students will continue to receive payments of maintenance loans for the remainder of the current academic year.

Universities offering good tuition online will continue to charge fees. However, the government has been clear that if universities want to charge full fees, they will have to ensure that good-quality courses are delivered which are fit for purpose and help students progress towards their qualifications.

The government’s clear expectation is that providers should make all reasonable efforts to enable students to complete their studies. If institutions are unable to facilitate adequate online tuition then they should seek to avoid charging students for any additional terms they may need to undergo as a consequence – therefore avoiding effectively charging them twice.

If students are concerned, there is a process in place. They should first raise this with their university. If their concerns are unresolved, students can contact the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to promote entrepreneurship programmes for 2020 graduates at higher education establishments during the covid-19 outbreak.

The UK is home to leading universities that generate many of the skills that our economy needs.

The higher education sector plays an important role in teaching a broad range of skills in undergraduate and postgraduate study (for example, in relation to problem solving, analytical thinking, collaboration, teamwork, management and entrepreneurship), which enables millions of people to fulfil their potential. Responsibility for entrepreneurship programme falls to universities as autonomous institutions that set their own curriculum in line with wider regulatory steers and it is for them to determine the support and skills that their graduates need.

There are a range of master’s courses available to students that have entrepreneurship on their curriculum. Postgraduate loans are available to eligible students studying for designated master's courses on a part-time or full-time basis.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of replacing tuition fees with a teaching grant for courses taken by (a) health professionals and (b) other key workers.

The government subsidises the costs of higher education through the teaching grant and write-off of unpaid tuition fee loans, which ensures a sustainable system. Nurses and other healthcare students are currently eligible for a range of financial grant support in addition to tuition fee and living cost loans. There is also a range of additional support and bursaries for students in other professions where they are considered to be critical workers.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has plans to introduce financial support for independent schools affected by the covid-19 outbreak which are not eligible for the business interruption loan scheme.

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

Our latest guidance setting out the financial support that is available to independent schools is set out below: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care#independent-schools.

The guidance clarifies that this financial support includes the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which many independent schools will be eligible to apply for, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for furloughed workers and the Statutory Sick Pay relief scheme for non-public sector employers.

These are rapidly developing circumstances. We continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

24th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he is taking steps to ensure that online access to learning is put in place for pupils and students at schools and higher education institutions that have not developed online resources; and if he will make a statement.

The Department is committed to ensuring that children can continue to learn at home in these very difficult circumstances. We recognise that many schools and colleges have already shared resources for children who are at home, and we are grateful for this.

The higher education regulator in England, the Office for Students, has produced guidance on practical ways in which university students can complete their studies whilst ensuring quality and standards are upheld.

The Government is working closely with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education to ensure students continue to leave university with qualifications that have real value, reflect their hard work and allow people to progress.

The Department has issued guidance for schools which signposts to an initial list of free online resources identified by educational experts and teachers. Many other suppliers have also helpfully made their resources available for free. The guidance is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources.

The Department has also issued information, guidance and support to parents and carers of children who at home, which is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/supporting-your-childrens-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

Leading state schools have collaborated to open The Oak National Academy, which was launched online on 20 April. This new initiative is led by 40 teachers who have assembled video lessons and resources for any teacher in the country to make use of if they wish to do so. 180 video lessons will be provided each week, across a broad range of subjects, for every year group from Reception through to Year 10. Additionally, the BBC has developed resources for families as part of a comprehensive new education package, which is now available on TV and online.

Devices will be ordered for the most disadvantaged children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for examinations in Year 10, for those who receive support from a social worker, and for care leavers.

Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and children in Year 10 do not have internet connections, we are working to provide 4G connectivity to them so that they can study at home.

Local authorities, trusts and other relevant organisations overseeing schools have been given guidance on how to place online orders for Government-funded and allocated devices for eligible children and young people.

The Department is also working with major telecommunications providers to exempt certain educational resources from data charges, so that this does not add to household expense.

22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to protect communities against the risk of flooding.

This Government is acting to drive down flood risk from every angle. We are investing a record £5.2 billion in around 2,000 new defence schemes. This investment will better protect 336,000 properties from flooding and coastal erosion. We also announced £170 million to accelerate the building of 22 flood schemes across the country - on top of our record £5.2 billion investment in flood and coastal defences.

In July 2020, we published a long-term Policy Statement which sets out our ambition to create a nation more resilient to future flood and coastal erosion risk. The Policy Statement includes five policies and over 40 supporting actions which will accelerate progress to better protect and prepare the country against flooding and coastal erosion. A year on from its publication, we published an update on the significant progress that has been made to deliver these commitments and the further steps that we are taking to strengthen action. These include:

  • The Government published its Investment Plan which sets out what will be achieved from the record investment of £5.2 billion, how the portfolio of projects will be developed to improve the country's flood and coastal defences, and how the investment will be managed.
  • The Government committed to allow insurers to help flooded households to make their homes more resilient to future flooding using products such as air brick covers, flood doors and flood resistant plasterboard - and benefit from discounted insurance premiums if they have resilience measures installed.
  • The Government published a review of policy for development in areas at flood risk. The review has found that there are robust measures in place to protect people and property from flooding and has identified opportunities to further strengthen the system. The Government is taking forward new actions in response to these findings.
  • The Government published a report setting out the progress that has been achieved against the Surface Water Management Action Plan and a response to the independent review into the arrangements for determining responsibility for surface water and drainage assets.
  • In addition, the Government published the terms of reference for a new advisory group which will be established by the end of 2021 and will bring together key bodies to inform the government's future policy proposals for reform to local flood risk management planning by 2026.

Taken together, these actions will help to create a thriving and resilient nation which is on the right footing to better manage and adapt to the risks of flooding and coastal erosion now, and in the future, reducing the risk of harm to people, businesses and communities.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to reduce the amount of single-use plastics.

The Government's 25 Year Environment Plan sets out our ambition to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042. The Resources and Waste Strategy, published December 2018, sets out how we want to achieve this and move towards a circular economy where resources are kept in the system for as long as possible.

In October 2020, we introduced measures to restrict the supply of single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds. The single-use carrier bag charge, which has led to a 95% reduction in the use of single-use carrier bags by the main supermarkets, has also been increased to 10p and extended to all retailers. We will be consulting later this year on banning a range of single-use plastic items, including single-use plastic plates, cutlery, and polystyrene cups. We will continue to review the latest evidence on problematic products and materials to take a systematic approach to reducing the use of unnecessary single-use plastic.

Our Environment Bill will enable us to change significantly the way that we manage our waste and take forward a number of proposals from the Resources and Waste Strategy, which will reduce consumption of single-use plastic further. The Bill includes key powers to create Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes; introduce Deposit Return Schemes (DRS); and establish greater consistency in the recycling system. Furthermore, from April 2022, plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled content will be subject to a tax of £200/tonne. Further details on the development of this tax can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/introduction-of-plastic-packaging-tax/plastic-packaging-tax#detailed-proposal.

The Government has put together a package of over £100 million for research and innovation to tackle the issues that arise from plastic waste. £38 million was set aside through the Plastics Research and Innovation Fund, the last funding competition of which opened in June 2020. The Government has also committed £60 million of funding through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, alongside a £150 million investment from industry, towards the development of smart, sustainable plastic packaging (SSPP), which will aim to make the UK a world leader in sustainable packaging for consumer products.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made on the resilience of food supply chains to (a) supermarkets and (b) high street food stores.

The UK has a high level of food security built on diverse and robust supply chains, from strong domestic production and trade with a range of stable sources. The food industry is experienced in dealing with disruptions to food supply, as we have seen throughout the Covid-19 response.

In addition, the Government has well-established ways of working with the food industry to ensure that food supply, which is one of the UK's Critical Infrastructure sectors, can continue to operate. This includes extensive and ongoing engagement with food retailers in preparedness for, and response to, potential food supply chain disruptions and continuing to work with businesses to minimise disruption from the issue of staff having to isolate.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps are being taken to consult communities on recommendations from Henry Dimbleby’s independent review of the food system.

We would like to thank Henry Dimbleby and his team for their work on this independent review examining our food system and the vital role it plays in all our lives. We will consider the review carefully, and respond with a White Paper in the next six months, which will set out the Government's ambition and priorities for the food system.


As we develop the White Paper we are committed to listening to opinions from stakeholders across the food system, and will engage in dialogues with a wide range of interested parties.


As was the case following the first report from this review, we will also work collaboratively across Government, through regular inter-Departmental meetings of officials and Ministers that will draw upon the input from external engagement.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to strengthen local sustainable food supply chains.

As a Government, we have a manifesto commitment to get people both at home and abroad lining up to buy British. We will always champion our farmers and producers, supporting them to grow more of our great British food, and to provide a reliable and sustainable food supply to the British public.

By showcasing the UK’s excellent food and drink, we will encourage consumers to explore more of our regional products, including our iconic geographical indications (GIs), such as Vale of Evesham Asparagus.

We will be consulting on a refreshed version of the Government Buying Standards for Food this summer. We will be seeking views on how the standards can promote even greater uptake of local, sustainably produced food by public procurers and their suppliers. We are also working closely with the Crown Commercial Service to develop a trial in the South West region which will create new and exciting routes into public sector food procurement for high quality, sustainable and locally sourced food and drink.

Sustainability and achieving the net zero target are priorities for Government. We are therefore developing a range of measures which will enable farmers to optimise sustainable food production, reduce emissions from agriculture, and allow consumer choices to drive those changes. These measures include the Agriculture Act, our future farming policy, our forthcoming Food Strategy White Paper and the 25 Year Environment Plan.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to encourage communities to engage in (a) tree planting and (b) community garden initiatives.

We are committed to increasing tree planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by the end of this parliament. We will take steps to improve public access to trees and woodlands in a responsible way, encourage community-led tree planting and invest in partnerships with communities and local government.

This includes steps to empower local authorities to support communities in tree planting. Local tree and woodland strategies offer an opportunity for local communities to decide where new trees will be planted and how existing trees will be protected.

We are opening the Local Authorities Treescape Fund, to work in partnership with Nongovernmental Organisations, local landowners, and community groups to deliver strategic planting and natural regeneration of trees outside of woodlands for the benefit of local communities and nature.

We are also supporting a number of initiatives to inspire communities to engage with tree planting and community gardens:

  • The Queen’s Green Canopy Project will see communities, charities, schools, and local councils planting trees across the UK in celebration of the Queens Platinum Jubilee.
  • The ‘Plant for our Planet’ initiative has also been introduced to encourage individuals, communities, and businesses to help protect the natural world, either by starting a new activity or by joining an existing project.

The National Planning Policy Framework already makes clear that planning policies and decisions should aim to achieve healthy, inclusive and safe places which enable and support healthy lifestyles, especially where this would address identified health and wellbeing needs, for example through the provision of safe and accessible green infrastructure. The Government also recently sought views on the draft National Model Design Code, and supporting Guidance Notes, which sets out how local design codes may specify levels of green infrastructure provision, including allotments, community gardens and street trees, as a critical component of well-designed places that provide multiple benefits for biodiversity, nature, recreation, climate change resilience and health and wellbeing.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what safeguards are in place to ensure that companies who are granted wildlife licences by Natural England carry out an acceptable standard of work under those licences; and what compensation is available to help protect consumers against excessive expenses in the event that those services so provided are not adequate.

Wildlife licensing authorities assess applications to conduct otherwise unlawful activities impacting protected species. The assessment of an application focuses on the justification for the activity and the consequences for the protected species. It is commonplace for this assessment to consider the suitability of an applicant for a licence to conduct the proposed works, as this is relevant to the conservation and welfare of protected species, but the emphasis is on the consequences for the wildlife, and not the service provided by that person or company.

There are no provisions within wildlife legislation in England concerning compensation for inadequate service for activities conducted under a wildlife licence. Anyone engaging the services of a third party to conduct licensed works is encouraged to check the experience and qualifications of service provider and to get more than one quote for the work. It is also worth considering employing a member of a relevant professional body as membership of such bodies is typically subject to professional standards and may include recourse to a complaints procedure regarding the conduct of members.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he has taken to strengthen protections for bees and other pollinators since the end of the transition period.

Pollinators are a priority for this Government and we remain committed to working with our many partners to further the goals set out in our National Pollinator Strategy. We continue to take a range of steps to restore habitats, reduce pressures on pollinators, and maintain healthy bee populations.

We recently launched the next round of Countryside Stewardship for agreements starting in January 2022. Countryside Stewardship continues to support land managers in delivering environmental benefits to their land. We are also introducing new schemes that will pay farmers to improve the environment, through paying for measures such as integrated pest management and other actions that support biodiversity, including pollinators

We now operate an autonomous GB pesticides regime and will continue to ensure that decisions on the use of pesticides are based on careful scientific assessment of the risks, with the aim of achieving a high level of protection for people and the environment. Pesticides that pose unacceptable risks, including to pollinators, are not authorised. We have also just consulted on the revised National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides and are analysing the responses. The draft plan lays out how we intend to support the uptake of integrated pest management, and how we can further minimise risks to pollinators.

In light of the changes to honey bee import rules, we are listening to beekeepers and their associations as part of our monitoring of the new arrangements. Guidance on the new rules was published prior to the end of the transition period and updates have been made in response to questions raised. Regular discussions take place with colleagues in the Devolved Administrations, with the aim of maintaining suitable trading arrangements for the UK beekeeping sector.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to encourage the growth of local hospitality-based businesses that specialise in healthy vegan and vegetarian eating options.

We are keen to ensure we have a vibrant and diverse hospitality sector.

As such, we are continuing to work across the entire hospitality sector with the aim of ensuring it is in a strong position to restart as soon as the conditions are right to ease restrictions.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to encourage (a) growth and (b) production of food in the UK for the domestic market.

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

The Government published ‘The Path to Sustainable Farming: An Agricultural Transition Plan 2021 to 2024’ on 30 November. As we set out in this document, by the end of the agricultural transition we want to see a renewed agricultural sector, producing healthy food for consumption at home and abroad, where farms can be profitable and economically sustainable without subsidy.

‘The Path to Sustainable Farming’ provides detail on our plans to support farmers to increase their productivity in an environmentally sustainable way, including through the Farming Investment Fund. This will provide targeted support to businesses so that they can invest in equipment, technology, and infrastructure that will improve their productivity and deliver environmental and other public benefits.

The document also describes our plan to hugely increase the money available to farmers and land managers to invest in the environment through our Environmental Land Management scheme. These measures will ensure that food production today, does not come at the expense of food production tomorrow and that by having healthier soil, and cleaner and more plentiful water, we will have a more resilient base for food production.

This country has a proud agricultural heritage, and is fortunate to have the climate, landscape, and entrepreneurial farmers and growers to enable production of a diverse and delicious range of fruits and vegetables all year round. We produce 64% of our entire food supply need, and that increases to 77% for indigenous food that we can grow or rear here in the UK for all or part of the year. These figures have been steady over the past 20 years.

Consumers also have access to food products that cannot be produced here, or at least not on a year-round basis, through international trade. This supplements domestic production, and also ensures that any disruption from risks such as adverse weather or disease does not affect the UK’s overall security of supply.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to improve animal welfare standards.

This country has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world. Having modernised standards for dog breeding, pet sales and other licensed activities involving animals, the Government is planning further improvements in a number of areas, some of which are manifesto commitments. On 30 November we published plans to deliver a better and fairer farming system in England that will help farmers adapt and plan for the future.

The proposals will transform the way we support farmers, in the most significant change to farming and land management in 50 years. This includes the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, which we are co-designing with industry, to promote the production of healthier, higher-welfare animals at a level beyond compliance with current regulations. A consultation on plans to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening was launched on 3 December along with proposals to better protect animal welfare during transport.

On 6 December we launched a call for evidence exploring options consistent with World Trade Organisation rules to address the shark fin trade. The UK has a strong track record in marine conservation and has been pressing for stronger international action to protect sharks against unsustainable fishing practices and shark finning. We want to better understand shark fin trade and its impacts both in the UK and overseas.

We are also committed to legislating for animal sentience, to tackling puppy smuggling, to banning primates as pets and to increasing the maximum custodial penalty for animal cruelty from six months’ imprisonment to five years. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, currently before Parliament, will achieve this increase and has the support of Government as it makes its way through Parliament.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what his timeline is for the second part of the National Food Strategy; and how members of the public can engage with that strategy.

In 2019, Defra commissioned Henry Dimbleby to carry out an independent review of the food system. Part Two of the independent review is expected to be published in Spring 2021 and the Government has committed to responding to this final report with a Food Strategy White Paper within six months.

The independent review held a call for evidence in autumn 2019 and received a large number of responses from the public. The review also held a public dialogue process throughout 2020, engaging with 200 members of the public from five geographic locations to understand their values and priorities relating to the food system. It will continue to undertake a wide-ranging engagement programme as part of its development process.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that untreated sewage is not released into (a) rivers and (b) other inland waters.

During periods of significant rainfall untreated sewage diluted by rainwater will discharge through storm overflows to avoid streets, premises and sewage treatment plants from being flooded. Water companies are committed in the 5-year business planning period (2020-2025) to a significant programme of improvements to the monitoring and management of storm overflows at a cost of around £1.2 billion. This includes over 700 schemes to provide environmental improvements by reducing spills from frequently spilling overflows. As part of this investment, ‘Event Duration Monitoring’ is currently being installed on most storm overflows to improve our understanding, and to trigger investigations and improvements by water companies when overflows operate too frequently.

I recognise that there is more to do with regards to the management of sewage pollution. I met water company CEOs in September and made clear that the volumes of sewage discharged into rivers and other waterways in extreme weather must be reduced. To achieve this, I have set up a new Taskforce bringing together Government, the water industry, regulators and environmental NGOs. This Taskforce will set out clear proposals to address the volumes of sewage discharged into our rivers. The Taskforce is also exploring further short-term actions water companies can take to accelerate progress on storm overflows.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he has taken to support (a) litter picks and (b) other community-based anti-litter schemes.

The Government continues to use its influence to support national clear-up days, which help to empower and engage communities in tackling this problem and to change attitudes towards littering.

This month, we are encouraging as many people and businesses as possible to participate in the Great British September Clean and Great British Beach Clean, while following Government guidance on staying safe outside your home.

Community-based anti-litter projects have also been supported through the Litter Innovation Fund, which was launched in 2018 to pilot and evaluate innovative new ways to tackle litter. This was jointly funded by Defra and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. A total of 28 small-scale local anti-litter projects were awarded through the scheme, which was unfortunately disrupted earlier this year due to coronavirus restrictions.

Reports from the first-round projects, and the list of successful applicants in the second round, are available from the Waste and Resources Action Programme’s website: www.wrap.org.uk/content/litter-innovation-fund.

Defra also support several anti-litter campaigns, including the national “Keep It, Bin It” and “Love parks” campaigns run by Keep Britain Tidy, and our own “Respect the outdoors” campaign which launched this summer.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to encourage tree planting in schools.

Since 2016 our Trees for Schools programme, delivered in partnership with the Woodland Trust and England’s Community Forests, has given hundreds of thousands of primary aged school children the chance to plant, care for and learn about trees. Over 1 million new trees have been planted in school grounds and communities, often in our most urban and deprived communities. This contributes to our 25 Year Environment Plan commitment to connect more people with nature.

We are currently consulting on a new England Tree Strategy and would welcome views as part of that on what more we can do to connect people, especially children, with trees and woodlands in the future.

https://consult.defra.gov.uk/forestry/england-tree-strategy/

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that future trade deals deliver high standards of food produce for people (a) in Wolverhampton South West constituency and (b) throughout the UK.

Our manifesto made a clear commitment that in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards. The Government has already published a suite of documents which set out the UK's approach to trade deals with the US, Japan and Australia and New Zealand, which all reaffirm this commitment. The EU Withdrawal Act will transfer all existing food safety provisions, including existing import requirements, onto the UK statute book. The Government will stand firm in trade negotiations to ensure any future trade deals live up to the values of farmers and consumers both in Wolverhampton South West and throughout the UK.

The Government has in place a range of stakeholder and expert groups to feed into our policy development on trade. These include the Strategic Trade Advisory Group, the Agri-Food Expert Trade Advisory Group, which are subject to regular review, as well as the various supply chain advisory groups such as the Arable Group, Livestock Group and Food and Drink Panel.

We are on the side of UK farmers in trade negotiations, which is why in addition to these groups we announced last week that we will establish a Trade and Agriculture Commission. This will ensure that the UK’s trade policy fully considers our agricultural industry and our commitment to maintain our high standards.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the recent increase in water consumption by households across Wolverhampton compared to normal levels of consumption; and what assessment he has made of the reasons for that increase.

We know that demand for water has increased in the recent months. Three main factors have contributed to this:

  • A period of significantly less rainfall than average
  • Hot weather
  • Behavioural changes as a result of lockdown, such as recreational use of water and personal hygiene

Severn Trent is the water supplier for Wolverhampton. The CEO of Severn Trent Water attended the National Drought Group chaired by the Environment Agency on 5 June 2020 to discuss the current risks and approaches to the dry weather and water demand management.

The link to their annual performance report, which includes information on consumption, for 2019 is: www.stwater.co.uk/content/dam/stw/regulatory-library/STW-Annual-performance-report%202018-19.pdf

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to ensure that air quality levels in (a) Wolverhampton South West and (b) the rest of England remain lower than they were prior to the covid-19 outbreak.

Air pollution poses one of the biggest environmental threats to public health. Our ambitious plans to decarbonise transport, improve air quality and support more active forms of travel have not changed, including the £3.8 billion we are already investing to clean up our air. Our recent rapid call for evidence will ensure we can fully understand the impact that coronavirus is having on changes in air pollution emissions, concentrations and exposure. Wolverhampton is part of the 2017 UK plan to tackle roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations; for Wolverhampton this includes the retrofitting of existing bus fleet and implementation of traffic management measures.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to provide support to key workers who have pets at home while they are at work during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government's message to the public is clear: stay alert, control the virus and save lives. Dog walking businesses, home boarders and dog day care providers play a key role in ensuring the welfare of the nation's pets and can operate within the strict advice on social distancing and hygiene.

The Canine and Feline Sector Group, which advises both the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England and Defra Ministers, has issued its own guidance to pet businesses on how they can continue to operate under current restrictions and in line with guidance around social distancing and hygiene: www.cfsg.org.uk/coronavirus/SiteAssets/SitePages/Home/CFSG%20Animal%20Business%20Guidance%2007.04.20.pdf.

If key workers need further help in meeting the welfare needs of their animals, they are advised to contact their relevant local authority which will be coordinating volunteers to help during this difficult time.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to increase awareness of the role of Trade Envoys and business opportunities in new and emerging markets.

The Prime Minister’s Trade Envoys support British business overseas and help attract investment into the UK. The programme works in collaboration with other trade promotion activities of the Department’s, focusing on emerging and high growth markets where additional senior interactions can be valuable. We engage with key stakeholders, chambers of commerce, trade associations and business organisations to ensure they are aware of Trade Envoys and have access to them.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
28th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps the Government is taking to help support international collaboration in green growth sectors.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) plays a critical role in delivering the UK’s ambitious domestic and international climate goals. DIT is using its international trade and investment levers to increase green investment, low-carbon supply chains, and clean exports. Our ambitious Free Trade Agreements and bilateral relations are reducing barriers to green trade.

To support the UK’s COP26 presidency, DIT’s global network is working with international businesses, investors, and government partners. This builds on the recent Global Investment Summit where the UK hosted the world’s leading businesses and investors to encourage collaboration and increase investment across green industries.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what support and advice his Department provides to small and medium sized businesses to export to (a) Commonwealth countries and (b) non-Commonwealth countries.

The Department for International Trade provides a range of support and advice services for SMEs looking to export both to the Commonwealth and beyond. These include a domestic network of International Trade Advisers (ITAs); hubs in Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh and Darlington; sector specialists in our Export & Investment teams; grants from the Internationalisation Fund; in market advice from the Enhanced International Support Service; webinars, workshops and virtual events from the Export Academy; financial exporting support from UKEF’s specialist Export Finance Managers; and local market connections provided by DIT staff in 119 different countries around the world.

DIT is running the export and investment programme for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022 and uses Commonwealth events to promote closer trading ties among the businesses of member states.

5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what safeguards are in place to ensure that the (a) price of drugs and (b) NHS including its services and patient data are not compromised in future trade deals.

The NHS, the price it pays for drugs and its services are not for sale. The United Kingdom’s published objectives for negotiations with new trade partners make it clear that we will not agree measures that undermine HM Government’s ability to deliver on our manifesto commitments to the NHS.

The United Kingdom’s trade agreements do not undermine the safeguards that we have in place around health and care data. HM Government is clear that health and care data should only ever be used and/or shared where used lawfully, treated with respect, held securely and where the right safeguards are in place. The United Kingdom’s high standards of data protection will be maintained.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps the Government is taking to support the West Midland's economic recovery from the covid-19 outbreak through exports.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) delivers a range of export services across the West Midlands. These include: providing support in accessing international opportunities; participation in trade missions; providing export credit and insurance through UK Export Finance (UKEF); access to DIT’s international network; and support provided by experienced International Trade Advisers (ITAs). These advisers are also helping West Midlands companies to cope with the impacts of Covid-19 and their preparations for EU transition.

As I announced last month, as part of our response to Covid-19, the Export Growth Plan has additional measures supporting the West Midlands including a new Internationalisation Fund through ESIF providing grants to SMEs, the recruitment of additional ITAs and a new Export Academy providing training and expertise for exporters.

24th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to encourage train operators to operate more affordable and flexible services.

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, published May 2021, contains a number of passenger-focused reforms that will bring in improved services and encourage the use of rail. The Spending Review 2021 confirmed £5.7bn of funding over three years to support essential rail services, and will see Government investing £360m in modernising ticketing and retailing systems, delivering a major overhaul to the way in which rail travel is bought and paid for.

There are a number of railcards available that offer discounts against most rail fares. We have saved a generation of passengers at least a third off their fares through the 16-17 and 26-30 railcards and went even further in November 2020 by extending these savings to former servicemen and women through a new Veterans Railcard.

We have introduced flexible season tickets across England this year; tickets launched on the 21 June and became available for use on the 28 June. This is a national product, priced to provide better value and convenience for commuters travelling two to three days a week.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
17th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Government is taking to support recruitment and retention in the transport logistics industry.

We have taken decisive action to address the acute HGV driver shortage, with 30 specific measures taken by the Government already. These include providing support and training for new HGV drivers, expanding HGV driver testing capacity and improving licencing processes. We are also investing £32.5 million in improving roadside facilities for hauliers. We will continue to encourage the road haulage industry to make employment as an HGV driver more attractive.

Furthermore, in partnership with the Freight Council and our Future of Freight programme, we are working with industry to identify how recruitment and retention across the entire freight and logistics sector can be improved for the long term.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
29th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to encourage the transition to active travel options, such as cycling and walking.

The Department is investing an unprecedented £2 billion in active travel over the course of this Parliament. This is the biggest ever boost for walking and cycling and it will enable delivery of the Prime Minister’s long term cycling and walking plan, Gear Change, published in July 2020.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that (a) roads are adequately maintained and (b) potholes are fixed promptly.

The Department is providing over £5 billion of investment for highways maintenance to eligible local highways authorities in England, outside of London, over this Parliament.

Well-planned maintenance to prevent potholes and other defects from forming in the first place is vital, and the Department advocates a risk-based, whole life-cycle asset management approach to all aspects of the local highway network.

To assist local authorities in treating potholes and other road defects, the Department worked with the Association of Directors, for Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) to publish Potholes: a repair guide.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much his Department has spent on the development of local cycle lane networks in the last five years.

At the time of the February 2020 report to Parliament on the delivery of the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS), published at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/936926/cycling-and-walking-investment-strategy-report-to-parliament-document.pdf, a total of around £2.4 billion of investment in cycling and walking was projected over the five years from 2016/17 to 2020/21. Over half of this funding has gone into providing better infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians. A further £250 million of active travel funding was provided in 2020/21 at the start of the pandemic. The details of how the funding was allocated over the years 2019/20 and 2020/21 will be set out in the next CWIS report to Parliament in due course.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to help ensure that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency respond to enquiries in a timely manner.

Throughout the pandemic the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s contact centre has actively managed its operation and flexed the services for customers in line with the available resources. This has included procuring the use of an additional building to increase the number of staff able to take calls within the social distancing guidelines. To help respond to more enquiries, remote working has been increased with staff handling email, webchat, social media and more recently, telephone customer contacts.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent steps have been taken to tackle pavement parking.

The Department carried out a public consultation on this which closed on 22 November 2020. We have been carefully considering the 15,000 responses which have been received and will publish the consultation response in the autumn.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to tackle neighbourhood (a) speeding and (b) traffic issues.

The Government believes that any form of dangerous or inconsiderate driving behaviour is a serious road safety issue. All available research shows a link between excessive speed and the risk of collisions.

We expect all drivers to observe the speed limit, and enforcement is a matter for the police. Policing of our roads, and how available resources are deployed, is the responsibility of individual chief officers, taking into account the specific local issues.

Last July, the Department for Transport launched a Call for Evidence as part of a wider Roads Policing Review: a thorough examination of roads policing in England and Wales and its relevance to road safety. Responses to the Call for Evidence have been analysed and the Government response is currently being prepared for publication this summer. The response will address the key points raised by respondents, including feedback on speed enforcement.

Tackling neighbourhood traffic issues is the responsibility of local councils, and the Department for Transport publishes guidance to help them. Local Transport Notes summarise the latest and most important ideas about traffic management issues and can be viewed at www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-transport-notes.

Councils, as traffic authorities, have a statutory duty under the Traffic Management Act 2004 to manage their networks with the aim of ‘securing the expeditious movement of traffic’. They are free to make their own decisions about the streets under their care and are responsible for ensuring that their actions are within the law. Councils are accountable to their electorate for their decisions and their performance and councillors are responsible for ensuring that local decisions about street infrastructure take account of the needs and opinions of local people.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what long term investment he is making in community transport infrastructure to support the mobility of elderly and disabled people across the West Midlands.

The Government understands that community transport operators provide vital services particularly for older and disabled people, linking them with their communities, helping take them to shops, work, school, and medical appointments.

Bus Service Operator Grant (BSOG) is paid annually to operators of community transport services (as well as eligible bus services), to recover fuel costs. Community Transport operators receive approximately £2.3 million BSOG funding per year to support these vital services.

Since January 2014, around £43 million of BSOG is also paid annually to local authorities to support socially necessary bus services that are not commercially viable. In 2020 – 2021, Transport for West Midlands received £ 1,792,259 and Coventry City Council received £58,686 of BSOG funding.

We also continue to make investment in step-free access to railway stations through our Access for All programme across the country, with £350 million provided for this between 2019 and 2024. In the West Midlands, this includes providing an accessible route at Smethwick Rolfe Street station and tactile safety strips on platforms at Wolverhampton.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what funding his Department has made available from the public purse to support cycle (a) hire and (b) repair programmes in the West Midlands.

On 7 February 2020, the Department published a detailed breakdown of annual investment in cycling and walking from 2016/17 to 2018/19, which includes information on how much funding has been provided to local and combined authorities in the West Midlands over that period. Copies of the report and other associated information are available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/investment-schedule-in-cycling-and-walking-interventions.

Under the Active Travel Fund, the Department made available around £17 million to Transport for the West Midlands (TfWM) in 2020/21 for schemes to boost cycling and walking. It is up to TfWM to determine in discussion with its seven constituent authorities where this funding is spent. In the current financial year the Department will be providing both revenue funding and capital funding to local authorities for active travel schemes. TfWM is due to receive £1.9 million of revenue funding to support local capacity building and behaviour change initiatives such as cycle hire and repair schemes.

The Department will make a further announcement in due course about TfWM’s capital funding allocation for 2021/22.

In 2020/21 the Department also made available over £20 million nationally for the Fix Your Bike voucher scheme and for pop-up “Dr Bike” maintenance stations.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans the Government has to enhance the connectivity of the Wolverhampton South West constituency to the rest of the rail network.

I understand that my Hon. Friend has submitted a bid to round three of the Restoring Your Railway Ideas Fund to reopen a station in the Tettenhall area. Outcomes will be announced this summer.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the Government has provided financial assistance to help support taxi and private hire vehicle drivers who have lost earnings during the covid-19 outbreak with (a) overhead, (b) maintenance and (c) licensing costs.

The Government has announced several measures available to UK businesses, including the taxi and private hire sector, to support them through this challenging time. The majority of taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers are self-employed and can therefore apply for grants through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). Over the first three rounds of the scheme, a total of up to £21,570 has been made available. HMRC will announce details of the fourth grant on 3 March 2021.

Owners, operators and drivers of taxis and PHVs may also be eligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) or the coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS).

In addition, some local authorities are using discretionary grants to support local businesses, including taxi and PHV businesses. Owners, operators and drivers of taxis and PHVs should contact the relevant local authority regarding these schemes.

The Government has launched a ‘support finder’ tool (https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder) to help businesses and self-employed workers quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment has been made of the potential merits of providing compensation to learner drivers whose theory test certificate has expired before the completion of their driving course due to the covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

There are no plans to make compensation available to those whose theory test certificates have expired. The cost of paying any compensation would fall to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and subsequently to other feepayers were the DVSA to put in place arrangements to pay it. This would be unfair to the other fee payers who would not benefit from the arrangement.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to (a) improve road safety for pedestrians and (b) tackle pavement parking.

The Department recently consulted on proposed changes to The Highway Code which include clarifying existing rules on pedestrian priority on pavements, and providing more clarity on the need for drivers and riders to give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross the road. The consultation closed on 27 October with over 20,000 responses received and we are currently undertaking a full analysis of all replies.

The Department also carried out a public consultation on possible solutions to the complex pavement parking problem, which closed on the 22 November with over 15,000 responses received. The Department is now carefully analysing the responses and the results will inform future policy decisions.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much funding Wolverhampton has been allocated for active travel options; and what projects the funds are being spent on.

Under the Active Travel Fund, the Department has made available around £17 million to Transport for the West Midlands (TfWM) this financial year for schemes to boost cycling and walking.

It is up to TfWM to determine in discussion with its seven constituent authorities where this funding is spent. The Spending Review last month confirmed that a further £257 million would be made available for cycling and walking schemes in England next financial year. The Department will make a further announcement in due course about how that funding will be split between different schemes and different regions of the country.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will take steps to increase the (a) line speed and (b) services on the Birmingham-Black County-Shrewsbury route.

The Department is working with local stakeholders such as Midlands Connect to consider the suitability of options to reduce rail journey times on the section of line between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury.

Since the pandemic began West Midlands Trains has been operating one train per hour between Birmingham and Shrewsbury, with extra services at peak times, alongside the hourly Transport for Wales service. My officials are working with West Midlands Trains, Network Rail and the West Midlands Rail Executive to assess options for the best future service pattern to balance frequency, capacity and reliability for the route given the uncertainty in passenger demand caused by the pandemic.

In addition, Avanti West Coast provides a direct peak time return service from Shrewsbury and Telford to London via Birmingham.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the merits of Network Rail's proposal in the Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy to electrify the Birmingham-Black Country-Shrewsbury route.

The Department will consider the recommendations of TDNS carefully and will develop individual electrification schemes where appropriate, ensuring that they are deliverable and provide value for money for taxpayers.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has for investment in the Birmingham-Black Country-Shrewsbury Line.

Midlands Connect are developing proposals to improve journey times between Birmingham and Shrewsbury. We expect to receive a business case in due course.

Proposals are also being developed to improve the service using existing infrastructure, including adding an additional London to Shrewsbury via Birmingham service on a Sunday morning from May 21 and an extra Shrewsbury to London via Birmingham return service on Weekdays and Saturdays from December 2022. These proposals are subject to an assessment of COVID impacts.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans his Department has to help ensure that people in Wolverhampton South West constituency can access safe cycling and walking travel options.

The Government is investing £2 billion in cycling and walking schemes this parliament, supported by a new long-term vision to deliver better streets for cycling published in July.

£3,850,997 million was allocated to the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority area in June from tranche 1 of the Active Travel Fund. Tranche 2 allocations will be announced shortly. Decisions on allocating the remaining funding this parliament will be confirmed in due course.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what safeguards are in place to ensure that e-scooters used on roads and highways have been legally approved.

The Department is running trials of rental e-scooters to assess their impacts when used on the road and cycle lanes. All e-scooters used in the trials must have approval from the Department – all other e-scooters remain illegal. We have set high standards, which includes having suitable lighting and braking, and passing stability tests designed to replicate use on uneven road surfaces.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) guidance on social distancing due to the covid-19 outbreak is being enforced on public transport and (b) reports of breaches from members of the public are taken seriously and investigated.

The Department’s Safer Transport guidance and communications strongly advise passengers to maintain their distance where possible. Social Distancing is not required by law, however on 13 October 2020, Ministers from the Department for Transport met with transport sector representatives from all modes, and discussed the need for a renewed focus on enforcement and compliance with Coronavirus regulations and guidance.

According to British Transport Police (BTP) and Transport for London (TfL) data, over 165,000 interventions were made by officers against passengers refusing to comply with facial coverings regulations in the period up to 8 October. 7,731 passengers were prevented from boarding a service and 5,891 were directed to leave a service. BTP, TfL and police forces across the country issued 608 fixed penalty notices in the same period.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what guidance his Department has published on using motorway lanes safely.

Highway code rules for Motorways (253 to 273) include rules for signals, joining the motorway, driving on the motorway, lane discipline, overtaking, stopping and leaving the motorway. The relevant advice on using motorway lanes safely is covered in the Highway code rules 264 to 266.

Highways England provides information and helpful guidance on using motorways safely on its website page ‘Safer Driving On Motorways’ which can be found at: https://highwaysengland.co.uk/road-safety/

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to (a) increase the number of electric vehicles on the UK's roads and (b) ensure the adequate supply of electricity for those vehicles.

The Government is investing?around?£2.5bn?,?with grants available for ultra-low emission vehicles, as well?as funding?to support charge point infrastructure at homes,?workplaces,?on residential streets?and across the wider roads network. The Government consulted on bringing forward an end to the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans, from 2040 to 2035, or earlier if a faster transition appears feasible. The responses are helping to inform our thinking on what further appropriate measures to achieve a faster transition will need to be. The Transport Secretary has also announced that the Government will consult on measures to improve the consumer experience of using the public charging network, so that charging an electric vehicle is as straightforward as refuelling a conventional vehicle today.

The Government and Ofgem are considering the implications of electric vehicle policy for the energy system. We are engaging with stakeholders, including network companies, to ensure that increasing demand can be accommodated whilst minimising the impact on businesses, workers and consumers across the UK, building on the significant demand and supply-side measures in place. The impacts presented in the National Grid’s latest Future Energy Scenario are readily manageable by the electricity system. The capacity market is our principal tool for ensuring we have sufficient generation capacity to meet demand on an annual basis. It should be possible to manage additional demand arising from greater uptake of EVs through adjustments to the amount of capacity secured in the four-year period ahead Capacity Market auctions. The electricity market is already set up to promote investment in generation capacity to meet demand; for example, the Contracts for Difference scheme facilitates significant investment in low-carbon generation. This complements numerous measures to ensure a smarter, more flexible energy system, increasing the efficiency of the electricity system to prepare for electric vehicles.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that people using public transport wear appropriate face coverings during the covid-19 outbreak.

Since the introduction of mandatory face coverings on public transport and in transport hubs in England from 15 June, the Department for Transport has taken a series of steps to ensure people comply with the legislation and wear appropriate face coverings.

To help introduce this policy, we focused on informing the public of the new requirements. The Department ran a successful communications campaign through its social media channels and produced a range of materials, including posters, videos and guidance, to support operators in conveying the new rules and exemptions from the policy to passengers.

With regards to enforcement, the regulations made under the Public Health Act 1984 include new powers for operators to deny access to a service, or direct someone to leave a service, who is not wearing a face covering without a valid exemption. There are also powers for the police, British Transport Police and Transport for London authorised personnel to issue a fixed penalty notice of £100. As the Prime Minister announced on 13 August 2020, we are bringing forward stronger enforcement measures which mean fines for repeat offenders double at each offence, up to a maximum value of £3,200.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that public transport is accessible to people with disabilities during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government remains as committed to delivering inclusive transport for all passengers as they were before the COVID-19 pandemic. Our expectation is that transport operators should continue to assist disabled passengers who need assistance. I made this clear in my open letter to the rail industry on 8 April 2020 (www.gov.uk/government/speeches/letter-from-the-rail-minister-to-the-rail-delivery-group-on-maintaining-accessibility-during-the-covid-19-outbreak).

We have also made clear to local authorities that the Public Sector Equality Duty still applies and that they must continue to consider the needs of disabled people. An accessible public realm is vital to enabling disabled people to access public transport. On 9 May the Department published statutory guidance to local authorities on reallocating road space which makes clear that authorities must consider the needs of disabled people and those with other protected characteristics when making changes to their transport networks (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reallocating-road-space-in-response-to-covid-19-statutory-guidance-for-local-authorities/traffic-management-act-2004-network-management-in-response-to-covid-19). Public Sector Equality Duty requirements apply to temporary measures as they do to permanent ones.

I am meeting regularly with key disability stakeholders, including Disability Rights UK, Scope, Guide Dogs and Transport for All, to hear directly from them about the experiences of disabled people using transport. This engagement helps the Department take action quickly if we find that passengers are not receiving the assistance to which they are entitled. Many stakeholder groups have also developed their own “model guidance”, which we have shared with Train Operating Companies.

The Government has launched an active communications campaign which advises people about exemptions to the face coverings rules for disability and health reasons. The publication reminds people that not all disability is visible and includes a non-compulsory exemption card should people want to use it.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to help drivers involved in non-fault accidents penalised by insurance companies.

The setting and the adjustment of premiums following a claim are commercial decisions for individual insurers based on their underwriting experience and the Government does not generally intervene or seek to control the market.

The motor insurance market is very competitive and we encourage policyholders to shop around to find the best deal. Many insurers will offer considerable discounts to attract new customers and it is possible that a driver might find a better offer if he or she fully explains the circumstances of a no fault claim.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what progress he has made on the roll-out of e-scooter trials in the West Midlands.

The Department is accelerating trials of rental e-scooters that will assess their safety and the impacts they have on the road. We will soon lay regulations to enable trials. We are working with local authorities to develop their delivery plans for trials, including with authorities in the West Midlands.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the proposals on (a) e-scooters and (b) other transport modes in his policy paper Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy on pedestrian safety.

We have recently published a call for evidence as part of the Future of Transport Regulatory Review. The call for evidence does not make specific proposals but seeks to gather evidence about the impacts e-scooters and other types of transport may have.

We have not yet made an assessment on pedestrian safety as a result of e-scooters and similar new vehicles. This will be done as we bring forward proposals and will be informed by the current call for evidence and, in due course, a number of real world trials.

Safety will always be our top priority when considering whether new vehicle types may be used on the road in this country.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to support people in financial hardship with utility bill payments in winter 2021-22.

The Department for Work and Pensions is providing three primary sources of support with the cost of energy bills this winter - Winter Fuel Payments, Cold Weather Payments, and the Household Support Fund – in addition to more general support, such as Universal Credit.

The aim of the Winter Fuel Payment, which is worth up to £300 per year, is to help older people with the cost of heating their homes in the winter. Over 11 million pensioners benefit from Winter Fuel Payments at an annual cost of £2bn.

The Cold Weather Payment scheme helps vulnerable people in receipt of certain income-related benefits to meet the additional costs of heating during periods of severe cold weather, between 1st November and 31st March. Cold Weather Payments are targeted at those in receipt of eligible benefits with a pension element, or disability component, or where there is a child under five in the household. Between 1 November 2020 and 31 March 2021 the Government made £98.8 million in payments to those in need.

The Warm Home Discount Scheme supports over 2 million low income and vulnerable customers each year with direct assistance with their energy costs. Energy suppliers provide rebates on energy bills currently worth £140 per household each winter. This year (2021/22), the scheme is projected to be worth £354 million.

We also recognise that some people may require extra support over the winter as we enter the final stages of recovery, which is why vulnerable households across the country will now be able to access a new £500 million support fund to help them with essentials. The Household Support Fund will provide £421 million to help vulnerable people in England with the cost of food, utilities and wider essentials. The Barnett Formula will apply in the usual way, with the devolved administrations receiving almost £80 million (£41m for the Scottish Government, £25m for the Welsh Government and £14m for the NI Executive), for a total of £500 million.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to help reduce the number of people not in (a) employment, or (b) training across (i) the constituency of Wolverhampton South West, (ii) the West Midlands and (iii) the UK.

Through our Plan for Jobs, we are targeting tailored support schemes of people of all ages to help them prepare for, get into and progress in work. These include: Kickstart, delivering tens of thousands of six-month work placements for Universal Credit claimants aged 16-24 at risk of unemployment; we have also recruited an additional 13,500 Work Coaches to provide more intensive support to find a job; and introduced Restart which provides 12 months’ intensive employment support to Universal Credit claimants who are unemployed for a year. Our Plan for Jobs interventions will support more than two million people.

DWP offers significant support to unemployed people across Great Britain to access employment opportunities through our network of Jobcentres. Our Work Coaches provide support on finding a job, help with retraining or skills advice, CV, job applications and access to new vacancies we record every day, in addition to signposting to the Find a Job service.

In Wolverhampton, the Youth Hub, based at ‘The Way’, opened on 5th October 2021. DWP Work coaches, in collaboration with City of Wolverhampton Council and a range of partners such as Black Country Impact and Princes Trust, provide bespoke support to customers to move closer to work or opportunities. Across The Black Country district, we regularly host and support Jobs fairs that aim to provide the greatest opportunity for our claimants to find work.

The DWP Support for Schools programme has a relationship with a number schools across the Wolverhampton borough. The team provides advice on routes into traineeships and apprenticeships, promoting the parity of vocational and academic pathways into work. They also provide advice on local labour market including employability and soft skills that employer’s value, for example team working and commitment.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that people over the age of 50 can access personalised (a) financial and (b) careers advice.

In 2019, the government launched an online Mid-life MOT to encourage individuals to optimise re-skilling prospects and improve health and longer-term financial resilience. The Mid-life MOT acts as a vital prompt to engage more people in planning more actively for later life – both for work and retirement. It provides individuals in their 40s, 50s and 60s with signposting to information and guidance on wealth, work and wellbeing, providing a holistic assessment to ensure that individuals can plan for the later life that they want. We continue to work with organisations, and with employers, on how they can offer the Mid-life MOT.

The government also ensures that all savers have access to free, impartial financial guidance as they approach retirement. Pension Wise, part of the Money and Pension Service (MaPS), is available from age 50 and helps consumers understand their options and make informed decisions when accessing their pension savings. MoneyHelper Pensions, also provided by MaPS, provides guidance on all areas of UK pensions to the public regardless of age.

DWP published its consultation on draft regulations implementing a stronger nudge to pensions guidance in July 2021. These regulations propose requiring occupational pension schemes to ensure that members who wish to access their pension have either received, or opted out of receiving, pensions guidance.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that mental health is included in the decision-making processes on provision of social security.

The impact of a claimant's mental health is taken fully into consideration when deciding on their entitlement to health and disability benefits. Decision makers receive mental health awareness training, have access to guidance and to the support of healthcare professionals when considering entitlement to benefit. The Green Paper on health and disability benefits, which was published on 20 July, explores how the welfare system can better meet the needs of disabled people, including those with mental health conditions, now and in the future, to build a system that enables people not only to receive the benefits to which they are entitled but to live independently, and move into work where possible.

28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent estimate her Department has made of the number of young people resident in the Wolverhampton South West constituency who are informal carers; and what steps her Department is taking to ensure that those young people receive adequate welfare support.

The Government recognises and appreciates the vital contribution made by informal carers, including younger carers, who provide invaluable support for relatives, partners, friends and neighbours who are ill, frail or disabled.

Carers aged 16 and over can apply for Carer’s Allowance if they meet the qualifying conditions, such as providing 35 hours of care or more a week, and not being in full-time education. As of November 2020, there were 75 carers aged 16 to 25 in the Wolverhampton South West constituency that were receiving Carer’s Allowance. There will undoubtedly be other young carers in the constituency who are not receiving benefits, but the department does not hold any information on them.

As well as Carer’s Allowance, carers have access to the full range of social security benefits according to their circumstances.

The Government is also committed to making sure young carers are not left behind and to do so in a way that supports their own health and wellbeing. Under the Children’s and Families Act 2014, young carers are entitled to a young carers assessment. And, the Government’s focus on supporting carers during the pandemic has included: providing over £11 million to the “See, Hear, Respond” programme to support young carers; guidance tailored to carers; actions to help carers self-identify; and ongoing to work to help carers access the support they need.

19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many youth employability coaches will be based in the City of Wolverhampton.

We do not publish YEC numbers by area, but I can confirm that Wolverhampton does have Youth Employability Coach representation within its Jobcentres.

Youth Employability Coaches are providing flexible support to young people with significant complex needs and barriers to help them move into employment and offering six weeks of in-work support when they start work. This support is one element of the DWP Youth Offer, alongside the Youth Employment Programme and Youth Hubs designed to support young people enter the labour market.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will ensure that there are sufficient local employment and training opportunities for people with severe learning disabilities once they have completed further education.

The increased number of work coaches recruited under our Plan for Jobs will enable us to continue supporting those with complex needs, and to work with partners to ensure they get the help they need. People in particular disadvantaged groups will continue to benefit from support via the increased Flexible Support Fund.

The Intensive Personalised Employment Support Programme (IPES) started on 2 December 2019. It provides highly personalised packages of employment support for disabled people who want to work but have complex needs or barriers and require specialist support to achieve sustained employment.

25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support is in place to ensure that older workers have access to the skills and training required to participate effectively in the future workforce.

The Department is committed to supporting over 50s jobseekers, and a range of special support is available for this group. As part of the 50 PLUS: Choices agenda we have created a network of 50 PLUS Champions (formerly Older Claimants Champions) throughout all of the 37 Jobcentre Plus districts, who work collaboratively with Work Coaches to raise the profile of over 50s claimants, highlighting the benefits of employing them and sharing best practice.

DWP is also piloting 50+ mentoring circles in England to address any confidence barriers experienced by over 50s claimants and to support them in moving into new jobs, particularly where their sectors have been adversely affected by COVID-19.

More broadly, the department is supporting people of all ages back in to work through the Plan for Jobs. This provides new funding to ensure more people of all age groups get tailored Jobcentre Plus support to find work, including through building new skills. This includes £895m for 13,500 additional Work Coaches; a £150m increase in the Flexible Support Fund to help those facing redundancy; and £10m for the Job Finding Support Service which will provide tailored one-to-one job finding support online to the recently unemployed.

The Government also aims to increase Sector-based Work Academy programme placements, which provide unemployed participants of all ages with training, work experience and a guaranteed interview for a real job. We are also investing £238m into Job Entry: Targeted Support (JETS) to offer enhanced support to those who have been made unemployed for three months.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to increase the uptake of carer's allowance.

1 million carers were entitled to Carer’s Allowance in 2010/11. By 2025/26 we forecast that this will have increased to just over 1.5 million.

Information on Carer’s Allowance is widely available, including online through Gov.uk. Organisations supporting carers, and other stakeholders and partners, also make information available on carers benefits, including Carer’s Allowance.

Carer’s Allowance can be applied for online and since this option was made available in October 2013 over 1.5 million people have applied that way. Since April 2020, over 90% of Carer’s Allowance applications have been made online and over 90% of those customers have said they are happy with the online service.

16th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment has been made of the access of carers to employment opportunities; what potential barriers to working have been identified; and what steps she plans to take to tackle those barriers.

Many carers experience considerable challenges balancing work with caring responsibilities. This can have a big impact on their careers and limit their participation in the workplace. The impact falls disproportionately on women, who make up 60 per cent of carers.

Regulations for flexible working arrangements may be particularly beneficial for carers, the Government has made a clear commitment to encourage flexible working, and will be consulting on making it the default position. The Government has also consulted on proposals to introduce a new employment right to one week’s additional leave for unpaid carers, to support those with caring responsibilities balance employment. The consultation received a significant number of replies, and the Government will issue its response in due course on the way forward.

Carers are being particularly impacted by COVID-19 and the government is committed to promoting the benefits of retaining them in the workforce, for both carer and employer. To support carers to remain in work during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department have been working with employer organisations to encourage employers, including small and medium sized enterprises, to retain employees who are carers, hosting a series of webinars delivered by the Business Champion for Older Workers and Employers for Carers. Carers can also access other resources, for example the Business in the Community (BITC) Supporting Carers toolkit, or COVID 19: Supporting Carers in the work place, published in March 2020.

For those who become unemployed, The Government’s Plan for Jobs provides new funding to ensure more people, including those aged over 50, get tailored Jobcentre Plus support to help them find work and to build the skills they need to get into work. As part of the Jobcentre Plus offer for over 50s, we are also providing dedicated support through 50 PLUS Champions, and mentoring circles to ensure they fully benefit from the Plan for Jobs package and existing Jobcentre Plus support.

Jobcentre Plus is geared-up to offer advice to those claiming welfare benefits. They also offer on a voluntary basis, to all carers working less than 16 hours per week and irrespective of benefit status (subject to any existing conditionality): adviser support; access to the Flexible Support Fund; and payment for replacement care, childcare, travel and course costs to allow the carer to undertake approved activity or interviews with Jobcentre Plus, providers or employers.

26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps are being taken to support bereaved partners who were not married or in a civil partnership.

We intend to take forward a Remedial Order to remove the incompatibilities from the legislation governing Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Support Payment by extending these benefits to cohabitees with children. The Order will be laid before the House in due course.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress she has made on delivering the Kickstart scheme for young people in the Wolverhampton South West constituency.

As of 19/01/2021 over 100,000 jobs have been approved for the Kickstart Scheme. We are not yet able to break starts data down to constituency level.

Our local Job Centre networks are working with employers and Gateways in all areas, including Wolverhampton South West, to encourage more Kickstart jobs to be created and offering support to help them do so.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many job work coaches her Department is planning to deploy in in Wolverhampton.

The Department currently has 131 Work Coaches allocated to two Wolverhampton Jobcentres, with a 55 further new entrants due to be deployed by early 2021.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking with Birmingham 2022 and the West Midlands Combined Authority to ensure that the Commonwealth Games generates local opportunities for employment and training.

DWP and WMCA are working closely with Birmingham City Council and the Organising Committee for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to secure new opportunities for residents. WMCA have recently launched a Commonwealth Games Jobs and Skills Academy to link local residents to the thousands of training, volunteering and employment opportunities expected to be generated through the Games.

The Jobs and Skills Academy will be supported by a joint team of DWP and WMCA staff who will work closely with Games contractors, local authorities, local Jobcentres and the region’s college and provide network to match local people in to the opportunities generated.

To date, we have already supported a number of local residents into construction training and jobs linked to the Games and WMCA has invested over £1m in higher level skills training to help local businesses prepare for Games related opportunities.

DWP are supporting through the secondment of staff to support the Academy and in considering the opportunities our Flexible Support Fund may offer to engage with communities to break down barriers to accessing these opportunities

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to encourage eligible people to apply for pension credit.

While over 1.5 million pensioners currently receive Pension Credit, the Government wants to make sure that all pensioners eligible can claim the Pension Credit to which they are rightly entitled.

In February we launched a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of Pension Credit and help dispel some of the misconceptions that people might have about Pension Credit eligibility. We are also continuing to work with our stakeholders to help spread the messages from the campaign.

Our online Pension Credit toolkit (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pension-credit-toolkit) has been updated with the recent awareness campaign materials to supplement the resources it already contains for those working with pensioners, such as guides and information designed to help older people understand how they could get Pension Credit.

In May this year we launched an online claim service for Pension Credit to supplement the existing telephone and postal claim services (https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit). The online service enables pensioners to apply for Pension Credit at a time that best suits them.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to help ensure equity of employment opportunity in Wolverhampton South West constituency.

DWP offers significant support to unemployed people across Great Britain to access employment opportunities through our network of Jobcentres. Our work coaches provide support on finding a job, help with retraining or skills advice, CV, job applications and access to the new vacancies we record every day, as well as signposting to our new Jobhelp website.

The Department is working closely with other government departments, external organisations and local partners to support people into work. The Kickstart scheme was recently announced to help young people aged 16-24 find 6-month work places in Wolverhampton. We have also partnered with employers in the area to deliver Mentoring Circles and Sector-based Work Academy Programmes.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of increasing the level of the cap on the carer's allowance income threshold to help support greater participation in the workforce.

Carer’s Allowance (CA) does not have a general income test. Rather it has a weekly earnings limit which acts as the test as to whether the carer is in gainful employment or not (this is a basic qualifying condition for CA).

Whilst the Government does not link the earnings limit to any other particular factor, it does keep it under regular review and increases it when it is warranted and affordable. The increase in the CA earnings limit from £123 to £128 a week in April 2020 was in line with average earnings growth.

DWP is undertaking research into carers employment and potential barriers to working. We will look at any findings from the research and other evidence with an open mind when the level of the earnings limit is next considered.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that older workers are able to contribute to the economic recovery from the covid-19 outbreak.

DWP has been working with employer organisations – including CIPD, British Chambers of Commerce, ACAS, Local Enterprise Partnerships and the Government Business Champion for Older Workers – to reach small and medium enterprises by hosting webinars to spread important messages about the need to support their older workers in order to retain them in the workforce and maintain their well-being and productivity.

Government has also provided £1.2bn to enhance work search support service in Great Britain, which includes doubling the number of frontline Work Coaches in Jobcentre Plus by the end of the financial year, increasing the flexible support fund, extending the rapid response service, increasing the number of Sector Based Work Academies, and expanding the work and health programme.

Government recognises the importance of planning effectively for the future and in encouraging productive workplace conversations. We therefore support the mid-life MOT and launched a webpage in 2019 which offers support to those considering a change in career in its stock-take across the key areas of work, health and finances.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of universal credit applicants who (a) do not have access to a computer and (b) are self-isolating due to the covid-19 outbreak.

Our Universal Credit Claimant Survey from June 2018 found that 96 per cent of claimants have regular access to the internet. Of these, 9 in 10 claimants have access at home via a computer or through a mobile phone. This can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-full-service-claimant-survey

For those claimants who are unable to access or use our digital services, there is assistance available to make and maintain their claim using the Freephone Universal Credit helpline.

Running alongside the national Jobcentre offer from 1 April 2019 is the Citizens Advice Help to Claim which support claimants in making a Universal Credit claim. Help to Claim offers tailored, practical support to help people make their claim up to receiving their first full correct payment on time. It is widely available online, through a freephone number and face to face through local Citizens Advice services.

Information on the number of Universal Credit applicants who are self-isolating due to Covid-19 is not available.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to provide welfare support to people with carers having to shield themselves during the covid-19 outbreak; and if she will make a statement.

DWP has now introduced two important temporary measures to help unpaid carers through the current emergency:

  • unpaid carers will be able to continue to claim Carer’s Allowance if they have a temporary break in caring, because they or the person they care for gets coronavirus or if either have to isolate because of it. (Under normal rules there are restrictions on breaks in care, but these have been lifted.); and
  • providing “emotional support” (rather than just more traditional forms of care) to a disabled person will also now count towards the Carer’s Allowance threshold of 35 hours of care a week. This recognises that the nature of caring might have to change during the current emergency.

If there are particular circumstances that mean that someone who was providing care for a disabled person ceases to be paid Carer’s Allowance or the Universal Credit carer element, then, depending on their circumstances and the benefits they claim, the disabled person may be able to receive an additional amount of benefit, specifically designed to help with the costs of care.

20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has plans to provide financial support for burial costs to people in financial hardship with relatives who have died as a result of covid-19.

The Government provides support to bereaved families in a number of ways. The Funeral Expenses Payments scheme provides a significant contribution towards the cost of a simple, respectful funeral arranged by recipients of certain income based benefits or tax credits. The scheme pays necessary burial and cremation costs in full, as defined by legislation, plus up to £1000 for other expenses such as the cost of a coffin, church and funeral director fees, which was increased from £700 on 8 April. Scotland has a similar scheme, the Funeral Support Payment scheme. Support for funeral costs for all young people under 18 is provided by the Children’s Funeral Fund for England, with similar schemes in Scotland and Wales. Interest-free Social Fund Budgeting Loans and Universal Credit Budgeting Advances can also be used for funeral expenses. Further financial support is available through Bereavement Support Payments which help working age people whose spouse or civil partner dies.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to (a) promote awareness of different types of cancer and (b) encourage people to seek early help.

In October 2020, NHS England and NHS Improvement and the former Public Health England launched the ‘Help us help you’ campaign to encourage people to come forward with symptoms that could be a sign of cancer and reassure them that the NHS is open.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are planning a new campaign in the first quarter of 2022 to address the barriers to people presenting with symptoms of cancer and are developing plans to raise awareness of key cancer symptoms in 2022/23.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support is available for (a) young carers and (b) people who have become carers during the covid-19 outbreak.

Local authorities have a duty to assess the needs of young carers, under the Children and Families Act 2014, which has remained in place throughout the pandemic. Local authorities must ensure young carers are identified and referred to appropriate support if needed and that the young carer is not taking on excessive or inappropriate care and support responsibilities. Adult carers also have legal rights to an assessment of and support for their needs where eligible from their local authority under the Care Act 2014.

We have also provided funding to a number of charities to support carers, produced guidance for carers, provided access to personal protective equipment and priority access in phase one of the COVID-19 vaccination programme. In addition, we have invested nearly £5 billion towards education recovery, which includes £1 billion for schools to support young carer’s mental health and wellbeing alongside academic recovery. We will work with the sector, including unpaid carers, to develop our future plans to support carers and will publish further detail in a white paper for reform later this year.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance his Department has issued to (a) healthcare practitioners and (b) other relevant figures to support the transition from child to adult mental health support services.

While the Department has not issued such guidance, in January 2015, NHS England published a model specification for transitions from child and adolescent mental health services, to support better planning and delivery by local providers.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support elderly residents with the cost of domiciliary care.

From October 2023 the Government will be introducing a far more generous means testing regime which will allow more people to be eligible for some state support towards the cost of their domiciliary care. In addition, there will be a new £86,000 cap on the amount required to pay towards the cost of care.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to reduce waiting lists for child and adolescent mental health services.

We are investing an additional £79 million in 2021/22 to significantly expand children’s and young people’s mental health services. This will allow approximately 22,500 more children and young people to access community health services and 2,000 more to access eating disorder services as well as accelerating the coverage of mental health support teams in schools and colleges.

We remain committed to the aim of the NHS Long Term Plan to invest at least a further £2.3 billion a year into mental health by 2023/24. This will see an additional 345,000 children and young people a year accessing National Health Service-funded mental health support. In addition, NHS England and NHS Improvement have consulted on the potential to introduce a new waiting time standard for children and young people presenting to community-based mental health services, to receive care within four weeks from referral. This consultation closed on 1 September 2021 and the outcomes will inform a recommendation to Government in due course on whether and how to implement this new access standard.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help improve access to defibrillators in (a) schools and (b) the wider community.

Since May 2019 new and refurbished schools are required to have at least one automated external defibrillators (AED) as part of the Schools Rebuilding Programme and Free Schools Programme. Schools outside that criteria are encouraged to purchase an AED, as part of their first aid equipment. The Government has published guidance on how schools can buy, install and maintain an AED at a reduced cost through the NHS Supply Chain’s defibs4schools programme.

The NHS Long Term Plan sets out an ambition to ensure fast and effective action that will help save lives of people suffering a cardiac arrest. A national network of community first responders and defibrillators will help save up to 4,000 lives each year by 2028. This will be supported by educating the general public, including young people of school age, about how to recognise and respond to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the number of pharmacists who have become independent prescribers.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is the independent regulator of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacies in Great Britain. The GPhC’s register, which pharmacists must apply to for an annotation to be added to their register entry before practising as an independent prescriber, shows that as of June 2021 there are 9,252 independent pharmacist prescribers in England

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that integrated care systems are democratically accountable.

Integrated care boards (ICBs) will be democratically accountable for National Health Service spend and outcomes via NHS England to the Government and ultimately to Parliament.   Both ICBs and integrated care partnerships (ICPs) will work to create a culture of ‘mutual accountability’ between partner organisations in healthcare, public health and social care, working closely with local government.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to scale up domestic manufacturing of (a) medicines and (b) covid-19 vaccines.

In April 2021, the Government launched the £20 million Medicines and Diagnostics Manufacturing Transformation Fund to incentivise companies to invest the United Kingdom. In addition we are working with industry on building robust and resilient UK supply chains for the future. We have invested over £350 million to secure and increase our capabilities to manufacture vaccines in order to respond to COVID-19 and future pandemics.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what financial support is available to help run day centre provision and other activities for elderly people.

Under the Care Act 2014, decisions on how care is commissioned is devolved to local authorities, who are responsible for shaping their local markets to ensure that all people have a range of high-quality, person-centred care and support options available to them.

We are providing councils with access to over £1 billion of additional funding for social care in 2021-22. This will support local authorities to maintain care services, including day services, while keeping up with rising demand and recovering from the impact of COVID-19. We have provided over £2 billion for adult social care, in addition to over £6 billion which has been made available to local authorities to address pressures on their services. We have encouraged local authorities to allocate funding from the £1.49 billion Infection Control Fund to support the resumption of community and day support services.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support for prescription costs is available to people with (a) Turner Syndrome and (b) other long-term medical conditions.

Approximately 89% of prescriptions are dispensed free of charge and extensive arrangements are in place to ensure that prescriptions are affordable for everyone. A broad range of prescription charge exemptions are in place, for which those with Turner Syndrome and other long-term conditions may qualify. To support those with the greatest need who do not qualify for a prescription charge exemption or the NHS Low Income Scheme, pre-payment certificates are available. A holder of a 12-month certificate can get all the prescriptions they need for just over £2 per week.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to reduce waiting times for child and adolescent mental health services.

The Department is piloting a four week waiting time for access to specialist mental health treatment for children and young people in 12 areas of England as an integral part of the implementation programme for the Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision Green Paper. The pilots will inform a recommendation to the Government on the potential development of access and waiting-time standards for all children and young people who need specialist mental health services.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to level up mental health and wellbeing services in the City of Wolverhampton.

The Black Country and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) advises that across Wolverhampton, all registered patients have access to mental health and wellbeing services. A Joint Public Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Wolverhampton has been developed by the local authority and the local CCGs covering all tiers of service provision and support for all ages.

There is programme of work to put in place a common and standard service in the Black Country to eliminate any variations in existing mental health delivery.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure the equitable distribution of mental health and wellbeing services across the city of Wolverhampton.

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

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to develop holistic treatment for people living with dementia.

Personalised care and support planning is supported by ‘Dementia: Good Care Planning – information for primary care and commissioners’ which sets out the development of care and support planning following an initial holistic assessment of a person’s health and well-being needs within the context of their whole life and family situation. The guide is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/dementia-good-care-planning-information-for-primary-care-and-commissioners/

This holistic approach is also set out in ‘Dementia wellbeing in the COVID-19 pandemic’ resource which sets out the adjustments and amendments needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/C0747_Dementia-wellbeing-in-the-COVID-19-pandemic.pdf

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether Integrated Care Systems will be required to evaluate the effectiveness of local measures introduced to tackle obesity.

Integrated care boards will be directly accountable for the spend and performance of the services they commission, including local measures to reduce obesity.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of (a) access to weight management services and (b) home working during periods of national restrictions as a result of the covid-19 outbreak on the prevalence of obesity.

Public Health England (PHE) has conducted qualitative research on the changes to weight management services during the first lockdown period. The research found that the COVID-19 pandemic had reduced access to weight management services with face-to-face services suspended. The impact of remote provision on client engagement and uptake appeared to be variable in England. PHE currently has no data available on the impact of the pandemic on population obesity prevalence as data collection on national surveys has largely been suspended due to the pandemic.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to Public Health England's, Health Matters: Prevention - A Life Course Approach, published in May 2019, what steps his Department is taking to promote regular (a) physical and (b) mental exercise.

In summer 2020, Public Health England launched the ‘Better Health’ programme with a high-profile television, radio and digital campaign to support the nation to take simple steps to look after their physical and mental health. The Better Health programme directs people to evidence-based apps and tools to support them make and sustain changes to improve their health. This includes the NHS 12-week Weight Loss app, Couch to 5K, Mind Plan and Active 10.

In 2019, the United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers issued guidelines on the amount and type of physical activity we should aim to do at each stage of our lives. The guidelines reinforce the importance of muscle strength and cardiovascular activities across all age groups for better physical as well as mental health and wellbeing.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what funding is available to local community groups as part of the Government's strategy to encourage healthy and active lifestyles.

This information is not collected centrally.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve public confidence in the covid-19 vaccination programme.

The Department, the National Health Service and Public Health England, are providing advice and information at every possible opportunity to support those getting the vaccine and those who have questions about the vaccination process. Our communications include targeted information and advice via TV, radio and social media. This has been translated into 13 languages. Print and online material has also been made available, including interviews, and practical advice has appeared in hundreds of national, regional, local and specialist titles.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS are holding regular meetings with local authorities, faith leaders and black, Asian and minority ethnic organisations to provide advice and information about COVID-19 vaccines and how they will be made available. New campaigns will help tackle vaccine misinformation online through a series of shareable videos.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing changes to the means test for adult social care to allow for the (a) effects of inflation and (b) current interest rates.

The means test threshold is reviewed on an annual basis. The next review is due in January 2022.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what his timeframe is for bringing forward legislative proposals to reform the funding of adult social care.

We are committed to bringing forward a proposal for social care this year to ensure that everyone is treated with dignity and respect and to find long term solutions for one of the biggest challenges we face as a society.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what effect the proposed transition to Integrated Care Systems in England will have on the national provision of weight management services.

Local authorities and clinical commissioning groups are responsible for commissioning weight management services. Integrated Care Systems (ICS) are an opportunity for collaborative working between National Health Service organisations, local authorities and other system partners. ICS guidance set out that NHS organisations, in partnership with local councils and others, should take collective responsibility for managing resources, delivering NHS care, and improving the health of the population they serve. NHS England is working closely with ICS to support their ambitions around obesity.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support is in place for young people who require physiotherapy sessions additional to those commissioned by Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Physiotherapy services are primarily commissioned by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). Physiotherapy services are commissioned across primary, secondary and tertiary care, taking place in the community, general practitioner practices, patients’ homes, acute hospitals, schools, nurseries in addition to other high street settings.

Outside of the CCG arrangements, NHS England is responsible for specialised commissioning – which can include specialist rehabilitation for young people with complex rehabilitation needs. Local authorities can fund physiotherapy services, both in education and also via personal care budgets. Schools can directly employ physiotherapy services, and this is indeed the case in some Special Educational Needs schools. Physiotherapists could be employed directly out of personal healthcare budgets. Local authorities can also offer physiotherapy as part of wider health and wellbeing schemes, targeted at both their young and adult populations.

Physiotherapy provision can also be accessed via private practitioners, or via the third sector, including charity and voluntary organisations.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of (a) BAME and (b) other stillbirths in the West Midlands region.

All maternity services have been asked to ensure that continuity of carer (CoC) is rolled out to women from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and for women from the most deprived communities. The overall target for March 2021 is 35% of all women should be on a continuity pathway with at least as many women from the BAME communities and the most deprived communities receiving CoC as white women.

Every maternity service in the National Health Service is actively implementing elements of the Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle which comprises four key elements of care to support providers, commissioners and healthcare professionals to take action to reduce stillbirths.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that people (a) from a BAME background and (b) who are more vulnerable to covid-19 receive the vaccination in a timely manner.

On 13 February the Government published the United Kingdom COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake Plan, which aims to improve uptake across all communities on a national scale, including those from black, Asian or other minority ethnic backgrounds and those who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. The plan takes a local, community-led approach, with support provided from the Government, NHS England and NHS Improvement and local authorities to coordinate and enable action.

On 25 January we released £23.75million funding to support our Community Champions Scheme. Through the Community Champions scheme councils and voluntary organisations will deliver a wide range of measures to communicating accurate health information. The funding is specifically targeted at areas with plans to reach groups such as older people, disabled people and people from ethnic minority backgrounds who according to the latest evidence are more likely to suffer long-term impacts and poor outcomes from COVID-19. Each of the sixty councils in receipt of funding have developed their own plan to improve communications with these groups including helplines, school programmes, workplace engagement, phoning those in at risk groups as well as training sessions to help people provide information and advice. On 24 February 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine deployment programme, working with partners, made available an extra £4.2 million initially, to further support and enable locally led community engagement in all areas with health inequalities to support those who are most vulnerable to get their vaccine.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 15 September to Question 82393, which (a) Ministers and (b) officials his Department is engaging with on the implementation of the Government's obesity reduction strategy, and if he will make a statement.

Ministers and officials across Government work very closely on reducing obesity and implementing the measures set out in ‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’. Areas of collaboration include the Department working with:

- HM Treasury on fiscal measures including the soft drink industry levy;

- the Department for Education on early years, school food and sports in schools;

- the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on advertising restrictions, the Nutrient Profiling Model, and broader sport and physical activity policy;

- the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government on planning;

- the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on food labelling including the marketing and labelling of infant foods, the National Food Strategy and the Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering Services;

- the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on regulatory measures impacting businesses;

- the Department for Transport on promoting active travel and the living streets project;

- the Department for Work and Pensions on food poverty; and

- the Department for International Trade on front-of-pack nutrition labelling.

We will continue to consider the views of a wide range of stakeholders and experts as we implement the obesity strategy and will continue to listen going forwards.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 15 September 2020 to Question 83952, for what reason funding is not being made available to help small businesses and voluntary groups support of the Government's obesity reduction strategy; and if he will make a statement.

Local authorities and clinical commissioning groups are responsible for commissioning weight management services.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 15 September 2020 to Question 82393, what (a) research and (b) evidence his Department is using to inform policy on the expansion of weight management services.

We are using a range of evidence including published literature and considering the evidence and views of expert stakeholders, including patient groups. We will continue to consider the views of a wide range of stakeholders and experts as we develop our plans for implementing the obesity strategy including the expansion of weight management services and we will continue to listen going forwards.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what financial support from the public purse is available for UK medical research charities.

The United Kingdom is home to globally-recognised medical research charities, which are an integral part of our world-leading life sciences sector. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Department of Health and Social Care officials are working closely with medical research charities to understand the impact of the pandemic, identifying how we can work together, and ensure patients benefit from charity-funded research.

The Sustaining University Research Expertise (SURE) Fund aims to help to sustain the research capacity?of the university research base as a whole. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are asking universities in receipt of SURE funding to demonstrate how these funds are being utilised to sustain research in areas typically funded by charities and business. Charities also have access to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, will pay no business rates for their shops for the 2020 to 2021 tax year and can get a Business Interruption Loan.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what safeguards have been put in place in the logistics supply chain to ensure that a vaccination for covid-19 when approved, can be (a) quickly and (b) efficiently distributed.

The Government has asked the National Health Service to be ready to deploy any safe, effective vaccines when available. As part of the extensive planning, the NHS is working with all stakeholders, including the United Kingdom logistics industry, to be ready to mobilise when a vaccine becomes available. This includes working with partners to ensure there is dedicated logistics to support the national effort.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what funding he plans to allocate to improve access to affordable physiotherapy.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have been clear in their guidance that non-COVID-19 health services such as physiotherapy should be maintained as far as possible. The ‘Help Us to Help You’ campaign is underway to encourage the public to access the NHS services they need. Anyone who is concerned or needs treatment should come forward.

To further support the National Health Service, the Government is providing an additional £3 billion of funding, which includes funding for continued access to independent sector providers to carry out routine NHS treatments and procedures for non-COVID-19 health services, including physiotherapy. Furthermore, the five-year GP Contract announced funding for 20,000 new primary care healthcare professionals, such as physiotherapists. By 2024, all adults in England will to be able to see a musculoskeletal first contact physiotherapist at their local general practitioner (GP) practice without being referred by a GP.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that elderly and vulnerable people can access urgent dental and GP appointments during the winter months.

General practice continues its vital role in supporting high-risk patients with ongoing care needs, including those who have been in the ‘shielding’ cohort, those who may need to shield in future, care home residents and those needing COVID-19 aftercare and support.

NHS England and NHS Improvement guidance on COVID-19 states that all general practitioner practices must offer face-to-face appointments at their surgeries as well as using remote triage and video, online and telephone consultation wherever appropriate – whilst also considering those who are unable to access or engage with digital services.

Practices continue to undertake routine and preventative work including vaccinations and immunisations and screening, as well as supporting their more high-risk patients with ongoing care needs.

National Health Service high street dental services are able to offer face-to-face care and there are currently no plans to restrict NHS dental provision during the winter months. NHS England and NHS Improvement issued guidance setting out the priority order in which patients should be seen – focused on urgent treatment, particularly vulnerable groups and then routine care which is overdue.

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, pursuant to the Answer of 15 September 2020 to Question 83952, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of allocating funds to small businesses and voluntary groups as part of the Government's tackling obesity strategy.

There has been no central assessment of the potential merits of allocating funding to local groups, small businesses or voluntary groups as part of the Government's strategy to reduce obesity. We have invested £3.279 billion in local authority public health services through the Public Health Grant in 2020/21, in addition to what the National Health Service spent on preventative interventions such as our world-class immunisation and screening programmes.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 15 September 2020 to Question 83952 on Obesity, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of allocating funding to local groups tackling obesity.

There has been no central assessment of the potential merits of allocating funding to local groups, small businesses or voluntary groups as part of the Government's strategy to reduce obesity. We have invested £3.279 billion in local authority public health services through the Public Health Grant in 2020/21, in addition to what the National Health Service spent on preventative interventions such as our world-class immunisation and screening programmes.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve the (a) accuracy and (b) speed of results to people through the test and trace system.

Turnaround times for most testing routes continue to fall, with 97.6% of in-person test results returned the next day after the test was taken. Of those people who took their tests in-person, at either a local or regional test centre, 97.6% received their results the following day, while the median turnaround time for home test kits was just 35 hours.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will put incentives in place to encourage young people to pursue careers in front-line medical services.

The Government has introduced a number of initiatives to encourage demand from all sectors of society, including young people, to train to pursue careers in medical, and wider healthcare professions.

The Government has funded an additional 1,500 medical school places in England, which saw five new medical schools open as part of this expansion. One of the criteria for universities securing additional training places included the need to demonstrate that these universities were widening access and increasing social mobility.

A new financial support package of at least £5,000 has been made available from September 2020 to all eligible pre-registration nursing, midwifery and most allied health students, and most allied health students, at English universities.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to encourage the BAME community in (a) Wolverhampton and (b) England to access dementia-related care when needed.

The Government is committed to delivering high quality care and support for every person with dementia regardless of age, background or culture, and central to this is the provision of personalised care.

NHS England and NHS Improvement published Phase 3 of COVID-19 response in which they asked all trusts and partners to address inequality in the National Health Service provision and outcomes including an urgent action to restore NHS services inclusively, so that they are used by those in greatest need.

Nationally, media spend has been upweighted to target black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) audiences including press, radio, digital display and social.

We have also provided financial support to the Race Equality Foundation to provide additional services to BAME communities with dementia during the COVID-19 pandemic. The money is part of a UK-wide £750 million package of support for the voluntary sector announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in April.

Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group works with the Wolverhampton Mental Health Stakeholder Forum to engage with BAME and community groups to influence ongoing work with commissioners and providers to support the development of culturally competent services and pathways.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans are in place to increase the number of biomedical testing laboratories in the West Midlands to expand the national and regional capacity for identifying and responding to (a) existing and (b) future health threats.

The Department has announced a new laboratory based in Leamington Spa opening in 2021, cementing the United Kingdom as a world leader in diagnostics. When at full capacity, the laboratory will be able to process up to 300,000 polymerase chain reaction tests per day.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that all care workers have adequate supplies of personal protective equipment in (a) Wolverhampton South West constituency and (b) across the UK.

Across the United Kingdom, everybody working on the frontline deserves to have the equipment they need to do their job safely. A large number of Government departments are working together to make sure that happens. Amid unprecedented global pressures on supply chains over 3.5 billion items of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been delivered to frontline workers thanks to the efforts of the Government, the National Health Service, industry and the armed forces to massively scale up distribution networks.

We have significantly strengthened and diversified our supply chains for PPE – looking to new suppliers abroad as well as boosting our domestic manufacturing capability. This has helped to build resilience into the future. We have moved from an emergency situation a few months ago to a stable position, which allows us to prepare for any second spike or a new wave in the autumn or winter.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has in place to ensure that the mental health and wellbeing of people (a) in and (b) leaving social care is supported over the long term.

Local authorities must promote wellbeing when carrying out any of their care and support functions relating to an individual.

The promotion of Wellbeing (also known as the Wellbeing Principle) is the principle duty of the Care Act 2014. The Care Act guidance states that the care and support system works to actively promote wellbeing and independence, and does not just wait to respond when people reach a crisis point.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support he is providing to children in the high-risk vulnerable category who were advised to shield during the beginning of the covid-19 outbreak with any mental health issues they may have upon returning to school.

Shielding for the clinically extremely vulnerable has been paused since the start of August in most of the country. Shielding is still advised in specific areas of the country where prevalence of the virus is higher.

We are taking action to ensure that children and young people have access to support in schools. Our £8 million Wellbeing for Education Return programme will provide schools and colleges all over England with the knowledge and access to resources they need to support children and young people, teachers and parents. On 8 September, the Government extended Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters webpage with content specifically for children and young people and their parents and carers. The campaign will raise awareness of the guidance and tools available to support mental wellbeing and ensure children and young people who need urgent support are directed towards the right services.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support is providing to people with mental health conditions as an alternative to medically prescribed drugs.

The most appropriate form of treatment for an individual patient is a matter for clinicians and patients, based on each patient’s individual clinical circumstances.

Over 1 million people with mental health conditions are now accessing psychological and talking therapies through Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services each year. Under the NHS Long Term Plan, the Government is committed to an additional 380,000 people per year being able to access National Institute for Health and Care Excellence-approved IAPT therapies by 2023/24.

In addition, we are developing new and integrated models of primary and community mental health care which will give 370,000 adults with severe mental illnesses greater choice and control over their care and support them to live well in their communities by 2023/24.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what financial support is available for small businesses and voluntary groups to support the Government's obesity reduction strategy.

There are no current plans to allocate funding to small businesses and voluntary groups to support the obesity strategy.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department takes to ensure that independent pharmacists are able to obtain essential medicine at fair and reasonable prices.

The Department relies on competition to keep the prices of unbranded generic medicines down. This has led to some of the lowest prices in Europe and allows prices to react to the market. In an international market this ensures that when demand is high and supply is low, prices in the United Kingdom can increase to help secure the availability of medicines for UK patients. The costs of branded medicine are controlled by the 2019 Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access and the statutory scheme for branded medicines.

We are clear that companies should not capitalise on the current COVID-19 situation by charging unjustifiably high prices for certain drugs or devices. Concerns about potential drug pricing abuses are a matter for the Competition and Markets Authority.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what funding his Department plans to allocate to the NHS to deliver the Government's new obesity strategy, announced on 27 July 2020; and if he will make a statement.

Through the obesity strategy we are committed to expanding weight management services and will provide further details on this later in the year.

We are already backing all National Health Service organisations with significant funding commitments including the Chancellor’s latest fund for the healthcare response to COVID-19, which stands at £31.9 billion for this year alone. This is in addition to the Long Term Settlement that will see NHS funding increase by £33.9 billion by 2023-24.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to ensure that people who require outpatient services have access to them as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

As outlined in the latest guidance issued to local National Health Service providers and commissioners on the next phase of the NHS response to COVID-19, trusts and systems are now expected to deliver 100% of their last year’s activity for first outpatient attendances and follow-ups (face to face or virtually) from September, through the balance of the year. This is to be done by re-establishing (and where necessary, redesigning) services to deliver through their own local NHS (non-independent sector) capacity.

To reduce infection risk and to support social distancing, clinicians have been advised to consider avoiding asking patients to attend physical outpatient appointments where a clinically appropriate and accessible alternative exists. The guidance is available via the following link:

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

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what safeguards he is putting in place to ensure that vulnerable and elderly people have access to GP surgeries during and following the covid-19 outbreak.

General practice continues its vital role in supporting high-risk patients with ongoing care needs, including those who have been in the ‘shielding’ cohort, those who may need to shield in future, care home residents and those needing COVID-19 aftercare and support.

Following NHS England and NHS Improvement guidance issued on 31 August on moving to Phase 3 in the response to COVID-19, all general practitioner practices must offer face-to-face appointments at their surgeries as well as using remote triage and video, online and telephone consultation wherever appropriate – whilst also considering those who are unable to access or engage with digital services.

In addition, general practices should restore activity to usual levels where clinically appropriate, and reach out proactively to clinically vulnerable patients and those whose care may have been delayed.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what meetings he has had with (a) Ministers, (b) officials in other Departments, (c) NHS England, (d) patients and (e) other stakeholders on the development of a new plan to reduce obesity prevalence.

We published ‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’ on 27 July. The strategy demonstrates an overarching campaign to reduce obesity, takes forward actions from previous chapters of the childhood obesity plan and sets our measures to get the nation fit and healthy, protect against COVID-19 and protect the National Health Service.

Our policies are informed by the latest research and emerging evidence, including from debates in Parliament and various reports from key stakeholders including the Health and Social Care Select Committee. We have also captured analysis from the National Institute for Health Research Obesity Policy Research Unit, which was established as part of our initial childhood obesity plan, through £5 million investment over five years.

There are ongoing discussions between Ministers and officials as part of developing and delivering the obesity programme.

‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’ is available at the following link:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/tackling-obesity-government-strategy/tackling-obesity-empowering-adults-and-children-to-live-healthier-lives

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to undertake (a) a public consultation and (b) focus group meetings with patients on the development of a new plan to reduce obesity prevalence; and if he will make a statement.

We published ‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’ on 27 July. The strategy demonstrates an overarching campaign to reduce obesity, takes forward actions from previous chapters of the childhood obesity plan and sets our measures to get the nation fit and healthy, protect against COVID-19 and protect the National Health Service.

Our policies are informed by the latest research and emerging evidence, including from debates in Parliament and various reports from key stakeholders including the Health and Social Care Select Committee. We have also captured analysis from the National Institute for Health Research Obesity Policy Research Unit, which was established as part of our initial childhood obesity plan, through £5 million investment over five years.

There are ongoing discussions between Ministers and officials as part of developing and delivering the obesity programme.

‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’ is available at the following link:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/tackling-obesity-government-strategy/tackling-obesity-empowering-adults-and-children-to-live-healthier-lives

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to ensure all personnel in hospitals wear appropriate personal protective equipment.

The Government is committed to ensuring that frontline staff in hospitals are equipped with the right personal protective equipment (PPE) not only for their protection, but to enable them to continue to deliver the first-class level of care that is amongst the best in the world.

Since 25 February 2020 the Department has distributed over three billion PPE items for use by health and social care services in England. Over 31 billion items of PPE have been ordered overall from United Kingdom-based manufacturers and international partners to provide a continuous supply in the coming months.

We have published and continually updated our guidance on who needs PPE and when they need it, and the routes to ensure those who need it can get it at the right time, including hospital personnel.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what financial support is available to organisations and charities that help people with cancer.

We recognise that many charities are facing difficult decisions at the exact time their services are needed most and on 8 April 2020 the Chancellor announced £750 million to support the charity sector in response to COVID-19.

The Department does not routinely provide financial support to charities. However, of the £360 million allocated by central Government as part of that announcement, £200 million is for hospices and £22 million for health and social care charities. The £22 million includes the following cancer charities who were awarded grants in July:

- Jo’s Cervical Cancer - £435,000;

- Blood Cancer UK - £341,000; and

- Anthony Nolan - £325,000.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to ensure a successful transition of young people from children's hospital services to adult's hospital services during the covid-19 outbreak.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have been working with key stakeholders during the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure that children and young people continue to access high quality care


On 16 March 2020 NHS England and NHS Improvement released clinical guidance for managing paediatric patients during the COVID-19 pandemic that included principles set out in the NHS Long Term Plan for moving to a 0-25 age model of care and supporting older patients in children’s units if required.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to ensure the (a) safety of patients in hospitals who have been advised to shield and (b) continuity of care for patients in hospitals with dementia and Alzheimer's disease who require personal assistance from relatives or informal carers during and following the covid-19 outbreak.

National Health Service guidance states that wherever care at home is not possible, providers should ensure safe care for patients who are shielding in infection-controlled clinical settings, in line with the latest infection prevention and control guidance. This guidance includes details on how providers can ensure the safety of patients in hospitals and minimise the risk of infection and can be found at the following link:

www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2020/06/C0583-nhs-update-on-shielding-june-2020.pdf

NHS England and NHS Improvement’s guidance on ‘Visiting healthcare inpatient settings during the COVID-19 pandemic’ advises that patients, including people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, may be accompanied in hospital where appropriate and necessary to assist with the patient’s communication and/or to meet the patient’s health or social care needs. This guidance is available at the following link:

www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/visitor-guidance/

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has made to ensure that there are adequate supplies of anaesthetics to support local NHS services (a) during the covid-19 outbreak and (b) after the end of the transition period.

As part of our concerted national efforts to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are doing everything we can to ensure patients continue to access safe and effective medicines, including anaesthetics. The Department is working closely with the pharmaceutical industry, the National Health Service and others in the supply chain to help ensure patients can access the medicines they need, and precautions are in place to reduce the likelihood of future shortages.

The United Kingdom is now in a Transition Period until 31 December 2020 after leaving the European Union on 31 January on the basis of a deal. The issue that now faces both us and the EU is what kind of trading relationship, and other forms of cooperation, we will have in future. During this Transition Period, it remains our objective to negotiate a future relationship with the EU and in our respective published negotiating documents, we have both stated objectives to reach an agreement on trade in goods. The UK’s published approach sets out how we want to facilitate trade in medicinal products, and support high levels of patient safety.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to ensure that all hospitals are adequately supplied with personal protective equipment for (a) staff, (b) patients and (c) visitors.

Providing hospitals with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and protecting the general public from COVID-19 is the Government’s primary concern. Since 25 February we have delivered over 2.3 billion items of PPE across the health and social care system within England, plus tens of millions more will have been distributed by the devolved administrations.

Guidance on PPE for hospital staff, patients and visitors has been published online. Existing guidance covers the wearing of masks for use in clinical settings, both where COVID-19 is confirmed and where it may be present. Staff in non-clinical settings should wear surgical masks, either Type 1 or Type 2. Patient and visitors face coverings can be cloth and/or homemade. However, where applicable, visitors to high risk COVID-19 areas of the hospital or visitors of patients with confirmed COVID-19 must wear appropriate PPE as per the current infection prevention and control guidance.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much and what financial support is in place for non-clinical and therapeutic settings treating patients with (a) MS, (b) cancer and (c) strokes with (i) mental health interventions and (ii) pain relief.

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are responsible for commissioning care and prevention services for patients with multiple sclerosis, cancer and strokes. In doing so, CCGs need to ensure that the services they provide, including those in non-clinical and therapeutic settings are fit for purpose, reflect the needs of the local population and are based on the available evidence and take into account national guidelines


In addition to CCG funding of NHS services, on 22 May, the Government announced £22 million of funding for health and social care charities, many of whom provide non-clinical and therapeutic support services to patients with these conditions. The Department is engaging with the relevant charities directly to ensure the money goes out to the charities as quickly as possible.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support his Department has put in place to ensure that vulnerable people that do not have internet access are able to access urgent dental treatment.

Internet access is not required to access dental care. Patients who need urgent dental treatment should contact their usual dental practice by phone or, if they do not have a regular practice and/or it is out of hours, can telephone NHS 111. Practices have been gradually restarting face to face care from 8 June. Patients needing urgent dental care will therefore either be offered care at their usual practice or telephone triaged to one of the over 600 urgent dental care centres NHS England set up during the peak of the pandemic and which remain open for urgent dental treatment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support is available to vulnerable people that require urgent dental treatment but have no access to the internet.

Internet access is not required to access dental care. Patients who need urgent dental treatment should contact their usual dental practice by phone or, if they do not have a regular practice and/or it is out of hours, can telephone NHS 111. Practices have been gradually restarting face to face care from 8 June. Patients needing urgent dental care will therefore either be offered care at their usual practice or telephone triaged to one of the over 600 urgent dental care centres NHS England set up during the peak of the pandemic and which remain open for urgent dental treatment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to enable people aged over 65 years old that do not have access to the internet to order home testing kits.

Tests can be booked by calling 119 in England and Wales or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland from any telephone.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to provide mental health support for non-clinical front line workers helping to tackle the covid-19 outbreak.

‘Our Frontline’ - a collaboration between Mind, Samaritans, Shout and Hospice UK - provides information, emotional support and access to a crisis text service for people working on the frontline.

In addition, the Department has commissioned NHS England to develop a comprehensive emotional, psychological and practical support package for all NHS staff, including non-clinical frontline workers, during and following the COVID-19 response. This currently includes: free access to well-being apps, a confidential staff support helpline, and a dedicated helpline offering bereavement support. The Department is working to extend this package of support to the social care workforce.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the level of health of people reliant on care provided by domiciliary care staff; and what protection is being provided to those staff visiting multiple private homes in one day.

We do not currently hold data on trends in the level of health of those receiving domiciliary care. NHS Digital do however collect and publish an annual survey on the quality of life of individuals in state funded domiciliary care, their satisfaction with services, and other important outcomes which is available at the following link:

https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/adult-social-care-outcomes-framework-ascof.

Care staff visiting multiple private homes in one day should receive personal protective equipment (PPE) from the care provider they work for in line with the latest government recommendations. To support staff in using this equipment, Public Health England published tailored guidance on the use of PPE in domiciliary care on 27 April. This is available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/882376/Domiciliary_guidance_England.pdf.

It includes clear guidance and illustrative case studies that explain how care workers visiting multiple homes in one day should use PPE.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to provide simultaneous sign language interpretation at the Government's daily covid-19 briefing.

The Government is committed to ensuring deaf people can fully participate and play a full role in society. We support initiatives aimed at improving understanding of the needs of deaf people and how the barriers they face can be removed, as well as giving deaf people more say in how they access services.

We worked with the BBC to introduce a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter on Monday 16 March to accompany the Prime Minister’s daily COVID-19 press conference. The BSL interpreter is available on the BBC News Channel and BBC iPlayer. We intend to continue to work with the BBC to ensure there is a BSL interpreter in our daily updates on COVID-19 and are prioritising the exploration of additional methods to ensure that all disabled people have access to pertinent communication in accessible formats.


Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessments he has made of the adequacy of support provided for care homes to provide sufficient food to residents during the covid-19 pandemic.

The United Kingdom’s food supply chain remains resilient and the Environment Secretary continues to meet regularly with representatives of the food industry to ensure people can get the food and groceries they need.

The Cabinet Office, working in partnership with the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, have launched Food2Care as a response to reports of care home owners’ concerns about food availability from supermarkets, and the increased risk of introducing Covid-19 into their residential premises if kitchen staff have to make regular shopping trips.

Foodservice wholesalers know the product and menu requirements care homes have, and they work every day with the manufacturers to meet the needs of residents. They can help design meals and menus, and they know what other similar businesses are buying. They have temperature-controlled delivery vehicles and online ordering platforms and experienced telephone sales teams.

Catering packs are larger than supermarket ones and come with nutritional and allergen information. Distributors can provide advice and Government guidance on food storage and preparation – everything care homes need to ensure their residents and teams are fed during these unprecedented times. More information can be found at the following link:

www.food2care.co.uk

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to encourage international collaboration on nature recovery programmes.

Protecting and restoring nature is a core theme of the UK's COP26 presidency. At the World Leaders Summit, leaders agreed to work together to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 through the Glasgow Leaders Declaration, which has now been signed by more than 130 countries, covering over 90% of global forest cover. During the COP fortnight, we will also be highlighting the Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade Dialogue to promote sustainable development and trade while protecting forests and other critical ecosystems; the Sustainable Agriculture campaign; and the 'Call for Ocean Action' towards ocean health and resilience.

These initiatives are part of the Government's wider efforts to put biodiversity on a path to recovery. Last year, we championed the Leaders Pledge for Nature, which aims to galvanise more political commitment and which 93 countries have signed to date. The UK has signed up to the goal to conserve or protect at least 30 per cent of the world's land and at least 30 per cent of the world's ocean by 2030, and to support our ambitions for nature, the Government has committed to invest at least £3 billion of our ODA budget over the period 21/22-25/26.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to strengthen cultural exchange programmes across the Commonwealth.

Cultural exchange, including the delivery of in person and digital programmes across the arts, education and English in over 50 Commonwealth countries is facilitated through our diplomatic missions and the British Council, as the UK's international organisation for cultural relations. In 2020/21, funding of £25.4 million to the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, further supported educational and cultural exchange in the Commonwealth. In 2022, Her Majesty The Queen's Platinum Jubilee and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games provide valuable opportunities to strengthen cultural relations across our Commonwealth family. Ahead of the Games, the Commonwealth Connections Project will twin 60 schools across the West Midlands with schools in other Commonwealth countries, encouraging these young people to explore shared Commonwealth values; whilst an exciting Commonwealth Games Cultural Programme will boost collaborations between artists in the West Midlands and Commonwealth countries.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to strengthen connections to the Commonwealth among young people.

As Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, we have championed the voice of its young people and supported enhanced participation in decision-making, including through national youth networks. At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2018, the UK announced a new £5m contribution to the Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships endowment fund, supporting the creation by 2025 of 150 new scholarships which enable Commonwealth students to study in one another's countries.

The FCDO continues to fund the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission, in 2020/2021 contributing over £25m to support over 700 new awards for individuals from Commonwealth countries to study at UK universities. In addition, the UK's Chevening scholarship supported 450 scholars from the Commonwealth to study for a Master's degree at UK universities. The FCDO's £1,030,661 annual contribution to the Commonwealth Youth Programme supports a range of youth-centric pan-Commonwealth initiatives, showcasing and celebrating the achievements of young people in driving democracy and development. It also provides technical assistance for national and regional youth policies and programmes. The Government of Rwanda have identified Youth as one of its five policy pillars for the upcoming Kigali CHOGM. The UK is working to encourage Leaders to reaffirm their commitment to ensuring that all girls and boys get 12 years of quality education.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
2nd Mar 2021
What steps he is taking to strengthen health systems in developing countries.

The UK has been at the forefront of the international response to COVID-19, pledging up to £1.3 billion to address the health, humanitarian, and socio-economic impacts. We are working to strengthen global health security against future pandemics through the Prime Minister’s Five-Point Plan, and to end preventable deaths of mothers, new-born babies and children. We recently announced £340 million core contribution to WHO (2020-24), to support WHO’s work including on maternal and child health and strengthening health systems.

The UK is also a leading donor to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and Gavi which are helping to keep essential health services going during the pandemic. Our investments in the Global Financing Facility are helping strengthen health systems alongside the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when his Department plans to publish the proposed health systems strengthening position paper.

We expect to publish a health systems strengthening position paper this year. This approach will form a central part of the government's wider effort towards ending the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children, and strengthening global health security. It will take account of the lessons learnt from the response to COVID-19, and the need to build resilient health systems for the future.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to help protect human rights and the right to peaceful protect (a) in India and (b) around the world.

Respect for human rights and democratic freedoms underpin the UK's foreign policy. UK Ministers and officials have regular and frank discussions about the full range of human rights concerns, wherever they occur, and we use our bilateral relationships, our development programmes, and our presence in multilateral institutions to drive progress. In discussions with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ministers and officials raise the most pressing human rights issues of the day. We also set out concerns on a wide range of countries at every session of the Human Rights Council. The UK co-sponsored a resolution on Peaceful Protests at the 44th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

We engage with India on a range of human rights matters, including at ministerial level. On his visit to India in December 2020, the Foreign Secretary discussed human rights with the Minister of External Affairs, Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to help tackle the persecution of religious minorities abroad.

The UK remains deeply concerned about the severity and scale of violations and abuses of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in many parts of the world. The UK is committed to defending FoRB for all, and promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities. Where we have concerns, we raise them directly with governments, including at Ministerial level.

In 2019, the Bishop of Truro released a report commissioned by the then FCO with recommendations to improve the lives of people persecuted for their religion, faith or belief. Of the 22 recommendations, we have fully delivered 10, made good progress on a further 8, and we are confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the independent review in 2022.

The Minister responsible for Human Rights, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon has underlined the UK's commitment to FoRB, including in November 2020 at the Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Ministers' Forum of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance. On 20 December 2020, the Prime Minister appointed Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton, as his Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief. Mrs Bruce will work with ministers, officials and others to deliver the Government's goal of seeing everyone, everywhere able to have and practise a faith, belief, or no religious belief, in accordance with their conscience.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
6th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what plans his Department has to repatriate people with non-UK passports that have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

From the outset, our priority for the charter flight programme has been getting British travellers home. But after we launched the charter flight programme, it became clear that there are people with indefinite leave to remain (ILR) who normally reside in the UK, and want to get back, particularly in countries such as India and Pakistan. So where possible, we are working to help vulnerable UK residents with ILR. This is beyond the scope of our standard consular assistance, which is usually just for UK nationals. But these are exceptional times. We are seeking to help vulnerable people with ILR wherever possible, provided that they have lived in the UK within the last year.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
5th Nov 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the impact of business rates on new shops setting up in high streets and city centres.

Business rates is a tax that applies to all non-domestic properties in England.

Throughout the pandemic the Government has provided unprecedented business rates support to eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England worth £16 billion in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

The business rates review confirmed a new temporary relief worth almost £1.7 billion for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in 2022-23 which, together with SBRR, will result in over 90% of retail, hospitality and leisure businesses receiving at least a 50% reduction in their business rates bills.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure access to cash withdrawals.

The Government is committed to legislating to protect access to cash and ensuring that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable in the longer term.

On 1 July, the Government published a consultation on access to cash, setting out proposals for new laws to make sure people only need to travel reasonable distances to pay in or take out cash.

These measures build on legislative changes by the government to support the widespread offering of cashback without a purchase by shops and other businesses made as part of the Financial Services Act 2021. The financial services industry is already seeking to take advantage of these changes to the benefit of cash users; working with retailers to get this service rolled out to local communities.

The Government also supports industry initiatives to provide access to cash, such as measures in place to protect the availability of free-to-use ATMs, and continues to be fully supportive of the Post Office Banking Framework Agreement, which 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.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent steps he has taken to tackle tax evasion.

Since 2010, the Government has introduced over 150 new measures to tackle tax avoidance, evasion and other forms of non-compliance, and has secured and protected over £250 billion in tax revenues that would have otherwise gone unpaid. These efforts have helped to reduce the tax gap to a record low of 4.7% for the year 2018-19.

At Spring Budget 2021, the Government announced a further 14 measures to tackle tax non-compliance, forecast to raise £2.2 billion over the next five years. The Government remains committed to reducing the tax gap and will bring forward further measures in the autumn.

2nd Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent fiscal steps he has taken to support businesses in the social enterprise sector.

The Government recognises the important social and economic contribution that social enterprises are making across every industry in this country.

Last year, the Government made available an unprecedented £750 million package of support, specifically for charities, social enterprises and the voluntary sector, along with an additional £150 million from dormant bank and building society accounts. This funding has helped over 13,000 organisations continue to deliver vital services for those most affected by the pandemic.

In addition, at Budget 2021 the Chancellor extended the Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) for two years until April 2023. This ensures the scheme will continue to incentivise individuals to invest in social enterprises, while also allowing more time for the Government to assess the most effective way to support the social investment sector sustainably. Since SITR was launched in 2014-2015, social enterprises have raised funds of £15.8m through the scheme, with £3.3m raised in 2019-2020.

30th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect of the level of business rates on retail unit vacancy.

Eligible businesses in the retail sector have paid no business rates in the 15 months to 1 July 2021, and over 90% of businesses will have their rates bills cut by 75% across the year in 2021-22. The Government has also decided to freeze the business rates multiplier in 2021-22, saving businesses in England an estimated £575m over the next five years.

The Fundamental Review of Business Rates will consider ideas for reform on all elements of the business rates system and the Review will conclude in the autumn.

10th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on confidence among high street businesses and shoppers of extending business rates relief for the hospitality, retail, and leisure sector for an additional year.

The Government has taken the unprecedented step of providing over £10 billion in business rates relief this year for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties.

As announced at the Spending Review, to support businesses the Government will freeze the business rates multipliers for one year and will announce any decisions on future rate reliefs in the New Year.

2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to tackle the effect of covid-19 outbreak on levels of household debt in (a) Wolverhampton South West constituency and (b) the UK.

The Government has delivered unprecedented support for living standards during this challenging time, protecting livelihoods with the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and temporary welfare measures.

The Government has extended the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme until 31 March 2021. Eligible employees will continue to receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The Government has increased the overall level of the third grant under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to 80 per cent of average trading profits, meaning that the maximum grant available has now increased to £7,500.

The Government has provided Local Authorities with £500 million to support people who may struggle to meet their council tax payments this year. The Government expects that this will provide all recipients of working age local council tax support with a further reduction in their annual council tax bill of £150 this financial year.

These measures are in addition to the changes this Government has made to make the welfare system more generous, worth over £7 billion according to recent OBR estimates. This includes a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element, and a nearly £1 billion increase in support for renters through increases to Local Housing Allowance rates.

We have also worked with mortgage lenders, credit providers and the Financial Conduct Authority to ensure the financial sector provides support for people across the UK to manage their finances by providing payment holidays on mortgages and consumer credit products.

The Government has also provided unprecedented support for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This support includes the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme, Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme, Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Future Fund which, as of 15 November, have collectively supported over 1.4 million businesses with facilities worth in excess of £65bn. The Chancellor has announced that the Government has extended the application deadline for these schemes to a single date, 31 January 2020, meaning that even more businesses will have access to financial support.

To help people in problem debt get their finances back on track, an extra £37.8 million support package is being made available to debt advice providers this financial year, bringing this year's budget for free debt advice in England to over £100 million.

In May, the Government also announced the immediate release of £65 million dormant assets funding to Fair4All Finance, an independent organisation that has been founded to support the financial wellbeing of people in vulnerable circumstances. The funding is used to increase access to fair, affordable and appropriate financial products and services for those in financial difficulties.

From May 2021 the Breathing Space scheme will offer people in problem debt a pause of up to 60 days on most enforcement action, interest, fees and charges, and will encourage them to seek professional debt advice.

Data on levels of over-indebtedness in Wolverhampton South West was last published in 2018 by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), who continue to fund local delivery of debt advice through Wolverhampton Citizens Advice. MaPS will be publishing updated figures in 2021.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support is available for small brewers experiencing financial hardship as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises that breweries have been acutely disrupted by recent necessary restrictions to the hospitality businesses they supply. That is why the Government has extended the unprecedented package of support measures, to protect businesses and jobs. This includes:

  • An extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until 2 December
  • Cash grants of up to £3,000 per month to help businesses that are closed with their costs, including paying their supply chains
  • £1.1 billion of Discretionary Grant funding for local authorities to target support to the businesses that are most important to their local economy
  • Plans to extend existing loan schemes to the end of January and an option to top-up Bounce Back Loans
  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all eligible retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in England until the end of March, worth £10 billion in tax foregone.

Small breweries have and will continue to benefit directly from Government support schemes, and indirectly from the support offered to the pubs and restaurants they supply, protecting jobs in the industry. The Government is continuing to collect evidence on the impact of the pandemic on the sector and to work with businesses and representative groups to inform our efforts to support this sector.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what support is available for self-employed people who have taken out business loans and are continuing to experience financial hardship as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises the impact that the changing path of the virus has had on the self-employed and has taken action to increase the level of assistance available.

The Government has confirmed that it will provide further taxable grants through the SEISS Grant Extension. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced today that the third grant will cover 80% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits for 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2020, and capped at £7,500 in total. This provides equivalent support to the self-employed as is being provided to employees through the Government's contribution in the CJRS. The fourth grant will cover a three-month period from 1 February 2021 until 30 April 2021. The Government will review the level of the fourth grant and set this in due course.

Furthermore, the Chancellor previously announced approved additional funding to support cash grants of up to £2,100 per month for businesses who may be adversely affected by the restrictions in high-alert level areas. These grants will be available retrospectively for areas who have already been subject to restrictions, and come on top of higher levels of additional business support for Local Authorities moving into Tier 3 which, if scaled up across the country, would be worth more than £1 billion. These grants could benefit about 150,000 businesses in England, including hotels, restaurants, B&Bs and many more businesses which are not legally required to close but have been adversely affected by local restrictions nonetheless.

For those requiring further assistance, a comprehensive package of financial support is available. The Government has temporarily increased the Universal Credit standard allowance for 2020-21 and relaxed the Minimum Income Floor for the duration of the pandemic meaning that where self-employed claimants' earnings have significantly fallen, their Universal Credit award will have increased to reflect their lower earnings. In addition to this, the self-employed also have access to other elements of the package, including Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, and mortgage holidays.

2nd Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what support he plans to make available for previously furloughed employees in the night-time industry and other sectors which are not yet safe to re-open according to covid-19 regulations.

The Government recognises the extreme disruption the steps necessary to combat COVID-19 are having on businesses and workers in the night-time economy across the UK. On 9 October, it was announced that where the Government has had to go further and close business premises in some areas, the Job Support Scheme is being expanded to protect jobs and UK businesses. The scheme will cover businesses that are legally required to close their premises as a direct result of coronavirus restrictions set by one or more of the four governments in the UK. The Government will provide employers with a grant for employees unable to work, covering two thirds of their usual wages, subject to a cap. Support will be available to eligible businesses from 1 November.

The Government has built flexibility into the Job Support Scheme to provide emergency short-term support for jobs and businesses, which forms part of the Government’s wider package of measures to support businesses adjusting to the impact of coronavirus. The Government will continue to work with businesses and representative groups to ensure that support provided is right for the night-time industry and other affected sectors.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support his Department is providing (a) nightclubs and (b) other business operating in the night time economy that have paused trading for a prolonged period of time as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is aware of the intense disruption to businesses in the night time economy caused by the pandemic, and has sympathy with all those affected. Businesses in this industry are currently able to benefit from the Government’s unprecedented package of support:

  • All retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses are benefitting from 100% business rates holiday for the entirety of the 2020-21 financial year, and if those businesses occupy a premise with a Rateable Value less than £51,000 they were also eligible for a cash grant from their local authority.
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Bounce Back Loan Scheme remain open and are ensuring that eligible businesses which are facing cash flow difficulties can access finance.
  • The Job Retention Scheme will remain open for firms to use until the end of October.
  • Finally, the Government has introduced a ban on evictions of commercial tenants for non-payment of rent, and has extended this until the end of September, and has published a Code of Practice to support best practice among landlords and tenants.

Government have implemented a cautious and phased approach to reopening the economy, guided at all times by medical and scientific experts. It is Government’s objective to return to our way of life as soon as possible, and we are continuously reviewing our guidance, considering both the risks to public health and to the economy. However, nightclubs continue to present a risk to public health, and these venues should remain closed or be supported by their local authority to adapt, for example by temporarily repurposing their premises.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support is available to (a) workers on zero hour contracts and (b) agency workers who have been advised to continue to self-isolate during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has committed to an unprecedented package to support individuals through this difficult time. This includes the introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention and Self-Employment Income Support Schemes, as well as injecting an additional £9 billion into the welfare system according to Office for Budget Responsibility estimates.

If an employee earns average weekly earnings of at least £120 per week, they will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they have been ill or self-isolating; this includes agency workers and those on zero-hour contracts. The Government is committed to supporting individuals financially through this difficult time. For that reason the Government has changed the rules so that SSP is now payable from day 1, not day 4 for COVID-19 cases.

It is important to note that SSP is a statutory minimum and employers, who are responsible for paying SSP, will often pay more than this. More than half of employees receive more than this when they are off sick so many people will not see any fall in income during their isolation period.

The welfare system is best placed to provide support for those not eligible for SSP. This group will benefit from changes to the welfare system to support the most vulnerable. These changes include a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit (UC) standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element, and a nearly £1 billion increase in support for renters through increases to the Local Housing Allowance rates for UC and Housing Benefit claimants.

In addition, the Department for Health and Social Care recently launched a trial for a new payment for those self-isolating in the highest risk areas in England. Starting with a trial in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham, individuals will be eligible if they are unable to work from home while self-isolating. This payment is in addition to the welfare safety net and SSP, providing a further incentive to self-isolate.

It will be available to people currently receiving at least one of the following benefits: Universal Credit, Working Tax Credits, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit, or Housing Benefit.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support is available during the covid-19 outbreak for directors of limited companies who are (a) paid in dividends and (b) not eligible for universal credit.

Directors of limited companies who pay themselves a salary through their own company are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The CJRS is available to employers, including owner-managers, and individuals paying themselves a salary through a PAYE scheme are eligible. Where furloughed directors, including companies with a sole director, need to carry out particular duties to fulfil their statutory obligations, they may do so provided it is no more than would reasonably be judged necessary for that purpose.

They may also be able to benefit from other elements of the comprehensive package of support for individuals and businesses. This package includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at

www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

As the economy reopens, it is right that state support is reduced and the focus shifts to getting people back to work. On 8 July, the Government introduced the new Plan for Jobs which will make available up to £30 billion to assist in creating, supporting and protecting jobs. The Plan includes the Kickstart Scheme, reduces the level of VAT for the hospitality and accommodation sector, and creates jobs through £8.6 billion of infrastructure, decarbonisation and maintenance projects. More information can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-plan-for-jobs-documents/a-plan-for-jobs-2020.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support is available for self-employed publicans who are not eligible for (a) universal credit and (b) the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme is just one element of a comprehensive package of support available for individuals and businesses that publicans can benefit from. This package includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

As the Government now begins to re-open the economy, it is right that state support is reduced and the focus shifts to getting people back to work. On 8 July, the Government introduced the new Plan for Jobs which will make available up to £30 billion to assist in creating, supporting and protecting jobs. For example, it is supporting jobs through the Kickstart Scheme, protecting jobs by reducing the level of VAT for the hospitality and accommodation sector and creating jobs through £8.6 billion of infrastructure, decarbonisation and maintenance projects. This is alongside many other measures that will help support people and kickstart the economic recovery. More information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-plan-for-jobs-documents/a-plan-for-jobs-2020

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what (a) rent assistance and (b) other forms of financial support is available for market traders and stallholders who have been adversely affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has delivered one of the most generous and comprehensive packages of support globally, with a total fiscal response of close to £200bn. Many of the measures introduced, including loan schemes, tax deferrals, Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme remain open and have been designed to be accessible to businesses in most sectors and across the UK.

Eligible market stalls with a rateable value could also benefit from flat rate payments of £10,000 under the grant scheme for the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors. Moreover, in recognition that some market traders were excluded from this grant fund because of the way they interact with the business rates system, the Government encouraged Local Authorities to include these businesses as a priority group for the Discretionary Grant Fund.

In terms of rent assistance, the Government encourages tenants to continue to pay their rent in full where they are in a position to do so, although we recognise that others may not be in this position. We welcome the fact that many local authorities and other operators have been able to be flexible in their approach and negotiate suitable arrangements including rent concessions for a significant number of market traders in support of the industry, recognising the financial strain the pandemic has placed on their finances.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to (a) backdate the stamp duty holiday for people who have recently purchased a property and (b) provide financial support to people who have recently moved home with reduced disposable income to spend on renovations.

To boost the housing market and confidence, the Government has decided to cut Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) by temporarily increasing the nil band rate of SDLT to £500,000. This applies from 8 July 2020 to 31 March 2021 and will not be backdated.

Property sales which have exchanged but not yet completed will still be eligible to take advantage of the Stamp Duty holiday.

The Government has also confirmed a range of other housing announcements, including a new £2bn ‘Green Homes Grant’ for homeowners and landlords.

7th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will allocate funding for financial support for people who are moving homes whose household income has been adversely affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has introduced a temporary increase to the Nil Rate Band of Residential SDLT from £125k to £500k. This will apply from 8 July 2020 until 31 March 2021 and will mean that nearly 9 out of 10 people getting onto or moving up the property ladder will pay no SDLT at all, saving on average £4,500. The Government has also raised the Local Housing Allowance rate to the 30th percentile, providing additional financial support for private renters. These measures, alongside other interventions in the Plan for Jobs announced by the Chancellor on 8 July, mean that people can be more confident to move.

2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to provide additional financial support to disadvantaged areas in Wolverhampton South West constituency; and what steps he is taking to tackle levels of unemployment in that constituency area.

The government recognises that every region and community will be feeling the impact of this crisis and remains committed to helping the unemployed return to work and supporting those most vulnerable to job losses.

The Government has taken unprecedented steps to support people and businesses around the country, including in Wolverhampton. This includes the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme, where in the West Midlands as of 31 May, we have supported about 697,000 jobs. We have also supported 185,000 self-employed in West Midlands through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, with claims for grants worth £521m. Local Authorities have also paid out about £10.57 billion of business grants from the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund – including over £1bn to around 88,600 business premises in the West Midlands (by 28th June). We have also allocated £58m of the hardship fund to the West Midlands.

Looking ahead, the government has allocated up to £124.1 million to fund shovel-ready projects across the West Midlands to help provide a boost to the local economy and create jobs. This investment is being targeted on areas that are facing the biggest economic challenges as a result of the pandemic. We have allocated £84m through the Brownfield Fund to deliver much needed new homes in the West Midlands while protecting greenfield sites from unnecessary development. We have also allocated £12.75 million accelerated funding from the Towns Fund to kick-start activity in towns and high streets in 15 towns across the West Midlands including Wolverhampton, helping them to meet immediate challenges from the pandemic.

We will continue to work closely with local areas to make sure that individuals and businesses are directed to the right support during this difficult period

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to improve economic opportunities across the UK after the lifting of lockdown restrictions due to the covid-19 outbreak.

We recognise that every region and community will be feeling the impacts of this crisis. This is why the Government has put in place unprecedented support to protect workers and businesses across the country. As we move forward, the government will continue to engage local leaders and to level up opportunity across the UK.
Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, what support he plans to provide for self-employed people who (a) do not have tax returns for the financial year 2018-19 and (b) are not eligible for universal credit.

It has not been possible to include those who began trading after the 2018-19 tax year in the SEISS. This was a very difficult decision and it was taken for practical reasons. As the Chancellor highlighted when announcing the SEISS, in order to ensure that the scheme is deliverable, only those who are already in self-employment and had a tax return for 2018-19 are able to apply. Unlike for employees, self-employed income is not reported monthly, but at the end of each tax year on the individual’s Income Tax Self Assessment return. This means that the most reliable and up-to-date record of self-employed income is from 2018-19 tax returns.

The Government recognises that those who started trading more recently will not have submitted a tax return for the 2018-19 tax year, and it has considered alternative approaches. This included using tax returns for 2019-20, now that these can be submitted to HMRC.

However, there would be significant risks for the public purse if the Government relied on 2019-20 returns for the SEISS, as this would create an opportunity for fraudulent activity.

18th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support is available for currency exchange bureaus affected by covid-19.

The Government has announced unprecedented support for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency including almost £300 billion of guarantees – equivalent to 15% of UK GDP. Currency bureaus, along with other businesses, may benefit from a range of support measures including:

  • Small business grant funding (SBGF) of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
  • The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBL) for small and micro enterprises
  • VAT deferral for up to 12 months
  • The Time To Pay scheme, through which businesses in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, can receive support with their tax affairs
  • Protection for commercial leaseholders against automatic forfeiture for non-payment until June 30, 2020

The Business Support website provides further information about how businesses can access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, and how to apply - https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
21st Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of reviewing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in the event of future lockdowns to offer rotating short-term funding to avoid employers furloughing all staff simultaneously.

The arrangement between workers and their employers remains subject to negotiation. To be eligible for the scheme, each employee must be furloughed for a minimum of 3 weeks at a time. This is consistent with public health guidance seeking to minimise the number of people outside their homes on a regular basis. There is no restriction on the number of times an individual could be furloughed or the maximum period, other than the life of the scheme. Employers may also be able to benefit from other schemes and measures such as the VAT deferral and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme. Further details can be found online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme in place for 4 months starting from 1 March 2020, but it may be extended if necessary and employers can use this scheme anytime during this period. The Government will make future decisions on the scheme taking into account further developments such as the forthcoming review of non-pharmaceutical interventions.

18th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to enhance identification checks for commercial institutions reviewing credit applications to reduce fraud.

It is important that banks and other lenders identify their customers for their own commercial purposes and as part of the fight against financial crime. Firms are required by law to identify and verify their customers’ identity when they establish a business relationship. Each firm will then have their own policies on identification, and on the circumstances in which other checks should be undertaken. Firms are assisted in making such policies through industry-produced guidance notes. The Government also issues good practice guidance on Identity Proofing and Verification of an Individual.

Given the unprecedented situation resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government is alert to the issue of fraud and so continues to work closely with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), industry, and the National Economic Crime Centre to ensure that businesses, individuals, and families are not the target of fraudulent activities.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
17th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when the public consultation on the revised national police funding formula will open.

The government recognises that the current police funding formula is out of date and no longer accurately reflects demand on policing.

A review of the funding formula is now underway, and we are working closely with the policing sector and relevant experts to develop proposals for new funding arrangements. A full public consultation will take place before any new funding arrangements are put in place.

We have previously confirmed our intention to complete this work before the next General Election.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to efficiently provide conclusions to asylum cases in response to submissions of further evidence.

The Home Office has taken several measures to increase decision outputs and reduce decision waiting times for Asylum Further Submissions.

This includes increasing the number of decision makers, with significant further recruitment planned, improvements to training and streamlining of processes, including digitalisation and development of an enhanced electronic casework system.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
2nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to promote awareness among, and increase the number of, licensed premises that accept the PASS CitizenCard as a suitable form of identification when alternatives such as provisional driving licence cannot be presented.

The Government and Police fully support the Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) and encourages all shops and licensed premises to accept PASS accredited cards as proof of age.

Home Office officials continue to work closely with the PASS Board and Age Verification Providers Association in the development of technical standards for digital proof of age PASS accredited cards that would expand their use through technology such as smart phones.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to increase police visibility and trust in local communities.

The Government is delivering on the people’s priorities by recruiting an additional 20,000 police officers and putting violent criminals behind bars for longer.

To the end of September this year, Police forces in England and Wales have recruited an additional 11,053 police officers as part of the police uplift programme, 55% of the 20,000-recruitment target by 2023.

Whilst decisions about the deployment of officers are a matter for Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables, these decisions are expected to be informed by local need.

The Beating Crime Plan published on 27 July laid out the Government’s plan for tackling crime and its commitment to reconnect the police with the public. It can be found at:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1015382/Crime-plan-v10.pdf

The police's ability to fulfil their duties is dependent on their capacity to secure and maintain public trust and support for their actions, as part of the model of policing by consent. That is why the Government will also be looking carefully at strengthening the system of local community scrutiny and the value and use of body-worn video.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
23rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what guidance she has provided to local authorities on effectively tackling (a) anti-social behaviour and (b) other low-level crimes.

The Government is committed to tackling and preventing anti-social behaviour (ASB) and crime. We know the serious impact that anti-social and criminal behaviour has on both individuals and communities.

We have provided the police, local authorities and other local agencies with a range of tools and powers that they can use to respond quickly and effectively to all forms of ASB through the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. These powers are deliberately local in nature, and it is for local agencies to determine whether their use is appropriate in the specific circumstances.

In January of this year we updated the statutory guidance to support local agencies to make effective use of these powers and take the multi-agency approach that is needed to tackle and prevent anti-social behaviour, in a way that takes account of the needs of the victim and the community. The revised guidance can be found at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/956143/ASB_Statutory_Guidance.pdf

The Beating Crime Plan published on 27 July laid out the Government’s plan for tackling crime and its commitment to working with local agencies and partners to drive down anti-social behaviour using the full range of powers and tools in the 2014 Act. It can be found at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1015382/Crime-plan-v10.pdf

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps are being taken to enhance community trust engagement with local policing teams.

The police's ability to fulfil their duties is dependent on their capacity to secure and maintain public trust and support for their actions, as part of the model of policing by consent.

That is why the Government is committed to giving police the resources they need to support local communities, including the recruitment of an additional 20,000 police officers by March 2023. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the police have now recruited an extra 9,814 officers, 49% of the 20,000-officer target. (as at 30 June 2021), and have therefore exceeded the first target of 6,000 additional officers by March 2021.

The first round of the Safer Street Fund was launched on 26 January 2020, providing £25m to support areas in England and Wales disproportionately affected by neighbourhood and acquisitive crimes, such as burglary and theft. This money has been invested in well evidenced crime prevention measures, including improved street lighting and home security. A second one-year, £20m round of the Safer Streets Fund was launched on the 28 January 2021, to support even more local areas disproportionately affected by neighbourhood crimes. 50 successful projects across England and Wales were announced on 3 June.

On 15 March 2021, an additional £25m was announced to run a further round of the Safer Streets Fund, bringing total investment into the Safer Streets Fund to £45m over the 2021/22 financial year. For round three of the Fund, there is a shift of focus to championing creative and innovative methods to improve public safety in local areas, with a particular focus on women and girls’ safety and feelings of safety, as well as funding more traditional crime prevention interventions such as improved streetlighting and CCTV.

The Government has put in place measures to ensure that policing is subject to appropriate levels of transparency and accountability. This includes regular inspections by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), publication of data on the use of police powers and strengthening the police complaints and discipline systems.

The Government will also be looking carefully at strengthening the system of local community scrutiny and the value and use of body-worn video.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
11th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to protect consumers from scams, fraud, and rogue trading on the doorsteps of private homes.

Fraudsters are sophisticated and will exploit any vulnerabilities they can, especially as more of us find ourselves at home and online.

The Government recognises the serious risks presented by scams and fraud and the huge financial and emotional impact they can have on victims. We are working collaboratively with law enforcement and the private sector to reaffirm messages to consumers setting out how they can protect themselves from fraud, scams, and rogue traders.

We know one of the best ways to deal with these crimes is for consumers to be well-informed on how to protect themselves. This is why we published guidance on how to spot potential frauds and the steps to take to avoid them. This advice can be accessed at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-fraud-and-cyber-crime.

Alongside this, consumers can also keep abreast of scam and fraud trends through alerts provided by Action Fraud, the national reporting service for fraud and cybercrime, via their website:

www.actionfraud.police.uk/news

Further details can be found through the ScamSmart campaign run by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) at:

https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart.

We continue to encourage anyone who has been a targeted by fraud to report it. Action Fraud can be contacted by phone on 0300 123 2040 or through their website:

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime.

This information is being used by the City of London Police alongside crime reports to identify, disrupt and stop fraudsters. Any contact with rogue traders should also be reported to Trading Standards at

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/report-to-trading-standards/

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
21st May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to improve community safety.

This Government is committed to cutting crime and delivering the safer streets that the public deserves.

The Government is also committed to recruiting 20,000 additional police officers by March 2023 and despite the challenges of COVID-19, as at 31 March 2021, 8,771 officers were recruited through the Uplift programme. Deployment of the new officers will be a matter for Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables but their presence should contribute to making streets safer.

The Safer Streets Fund was launched on 26 January 2020, providing £25 million in 2020/21 to support 52 areas across England and Wales persistently and disproportionately affected by neighbourhood and acquisitive crimes, like burglary, robbery and theft. The fund is being used by Police and Crime Commissioners to invest in well evidenced, physical crime prevention measures, such as improved street lighting and CCTV.

On 28 January 2021, we launched a second £20m round of the Safer Streets Fund, for 2021/22. This second round will give funding to Police and Crime Commissioners and Local Authorities to invest in crime prevention, both in commercial and residential areas.

We have also announced we are investing a further £25 million in the Safer Streets Fund for the 2021/22 financial year, building on the £45 million already committed between 2020 and 2022. This additional funding will look to deliver innovative and evidence-based crime prevention measures in public spaces, with a focus on ensuring women and girls feel safe in the public domain.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to improve police presence and trust in local communities.

The Government is committed to giving police the resources they need to tackle the scourge of crime, including supporting police forces to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers by March 2023. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the police have now recruited an extra 8,771 officers, 44% of the 20,000-officer target, and have therefore exceeded the first target of 6,000 additional officers by March 2021. The police workforce is now more representative of the communities it serves than ever before, with the latest data showing the highest proportion of black, Asian, and minority ethnic and female officers since records began.

In 2021-2022, we are providing £425m to spend on the recruitment of 6,000 additional officers by 2022. Of this, PCCs will receive £415m for territorial policing and Regional Organised Crime Units.

The police's ability to fulfil their duties is dependent on their ability to secure and maintain public trust and support for their actions, as part of the model of policing by consent.

That is why the Government have put in place measures to ensure that policing is subject to appropriate levels of transparency and accountability. This includes regular inspections by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), publication of data on the use of police powers and strengthening the police complaints and discipline systems.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
19th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of powers available to local authorities to tackle anti-social behaviour that occurs between private dwellings.

It is important that local authorities have the powers they need to tackle all local issues quickly and effectively. That is why we introduced a range of flexible tools and powers to tackle anti-social behaviour through the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The powers in the 2014 Act are deliberately local in nature and it is for local authorities to determine how best to respond to each individual case. The powers support appropriate action to resolve housing-related anti-social behaviour, including through setting restrictions or positive requirements on individuals.

The Government updated statutory guidance in January 2021 to emphasise the importance of focusing on the impact of anti-social behaviour on victims and further to support local authorities to make effective use of these powers.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what funding the Government makes available for locally-led projects that aim to tackle anti-social behaviour and create safer communities.

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 provides the police and local authorities with flexible tools and powers they can use to respond quickly and effectively to anti-social behaviour. The powers in the 2014 Act are local in nature, and it is for local agencies to determine whether their use is appropriate in the specific circumstances.

It is for Chief Constables and PCCs, as operational leaders and elected local representatives, to decide how best to respond to local crime priorities but to help ensure that the police have the resources they need, we have given them the biggest funding increase in a decade and are recruiting 20,000 additional officers by March 2023, which provides extra resource to protect the public and keep us safe.

Our £25m Safer Streets Fund is also supporting areas that are disproportionately affected by acquisitive crimes, and through effective crime prevention measures, such as improved streetlighting and CCTV, many of the projects are also helping to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will bring forward legislative proposals to strengthen police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments at the earliest opportunity so that local authorities do not have to fund enforcement and alternative provision projects.

As we set out in the briefing accompanying the Queen’s Speech in December 2019, it is our firm aim to bring forward legislation this session.

The Home Office launched a public consultation in November 2019 to seek views on how we could strengthen the police’s powers to tackle unauthorised encampments. We will publish a response to that consultation in the usual way.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what incentives her Department has put in place to increase the diversity of local police officers.

Policing remains an attractive and well-paid career, with a pension that is among the best available.

Every force should be striving to become representative of the communities it serves. We have been clear that the uplift in officers is a once in generation opportunity to improve diversity. We are supporting forces with a variety of attraction and recruitment strategies, whilst delivering a campaign that’s been designed to reach the widest and most diverse audience possible.

Some forces have made significant improvements in the rate of black, Asian and minority ethnic joiners through successful positive action measures. Information is available on police.uk that shows the ethnicity and gender representation for each police force compared to local force area populations. This allows the public to hold forces to account.

The Government has also supported innovative schemes, such as Police Now, which are making the police workforce more diverse than ever before; showing that we can attract the brightest and best into policing, whilst introducing new perspectives from some of the country’s most challenging neighbourhoods.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
13th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what the remit is of the Government's review of the restrictions on asylum seekers' right to work; and when the Government plans to publish the outcome of that review.

Asylum seeker right to work is a complex issue. A review of the policy is ongoing, and we are considering the evidence put forward on the issue. The findings of the review will be announced once the work has been completed.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans she has to restart refugee resettlement schemes.

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) related restrictions and pressures, both overseas and in the UK, resettlement activity is currently paused. We continue to evaluate how to respond given these restrictions and pressures, but we expect to resume refugee resettlement activity when safe to do so.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what additional financial and other support she is putting in place to ensure that UK Visas and Immigration office staff are able to process all inquiries promptly.

There are a variety of measures in place to ensure that UK Visas and Immigration office staff are able to process MP enquiries promptly.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic a dedicated telephone and email enquiry line has been created to ensure customers can get access to necessary information quickly. All calls are monitored and themes drawn out to ensure insight is feedback into the system, supporting staff to answer queries accurately and promptly.

UKVI has also maintained and proactively updated the gov.uk help pages to help aid self-serve to ensure more queries can be resolved without needing to directly contact the Home Office.

Performance against service standards in dealing with inquiries is regularly monitored and the Home Office will take further steps if necessary to ensure they are maintained.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to support communities in tackling anti-social behaviour (a) during and (b) following the covid-19 outbreak.

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 provides the police, local authorities and other local agencies with a range of flexible tools and powers that they can use to respond quickly and effectively to anti-social behaviour. These powers and tools continue to be applicable during this period.

The powers in the 2014 Act are local in nature, and it is for local agencies to determine whether their use is appropriate in the specific circumstances as they are best-placed to understand the needs of their community and the most appropriate response.

The 2014 Act also introduced specific measures designed to give victims and communities a say in the way that complaints of anti-social behavior are dealt with. This includes the Community Trigger, which gives victims of persistent ASB the ability to ask for a formal case review.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what progress she has made on compensating victims of the Windrush scandal; and what the deadline is for applications to the Windrush Compensation Scheme.

The latest set of data relating to the Windrush Compensation Scheme (WCS) was published on 27 August and is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/windrush-compensation-scheme-data-august-2020. This covers data up until the end of July 2020.

These show a clear increasing trajectory of payments: £1,053,223 was paid up to 31 July 2020, of which £298,112 was paid in the most recent month.

We are processing claims and awarding compensation as quickly as possible. The first payment was made just four months after the scheme was launched and we are making interim payments where parts of a claim can be resolved more easily than others.

However, each person’s claim is deeply personal and requires detailed consideration to understand their individual circumstances and experiences. Some individuals’ experiences are more complex than others and it is right we take the time to ensure these are considered carefully. We have also put people at the heart of the Scheme. We want each person to get the maximum compensation to which they are entitled, and we will work with individuals to support them in this. This holistic approach necessarily takes time but ultimately is beneficial to individuals.

In February this year we extended the duration of the Windrush Compensation Scheme by two years. The scheme will now be open for claims until April 2023.

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what support she is providing to victims of domestic abuse.

We are acutely aware of the need to put victims at the heart of our approach to tackling domestic abuse at this time. We are working closely with domestic abuse charities to monitor and assess impacts and needs.

The Government has posted advice regarding national helplines on gov.uk to guide victims to the most appropriate support for their individual needs (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-abuse-how-to-get-help ). This has been extensively promoted through our awareness raising campaign #YouAreNotAlone.

The Home Office has announced £2m of funding to help bolster helplines at this time; £1.2m of this has already been allocated to provide Covid-19 support. This is in addition to the £750 million funding package announced by the Chancellor, £76 million of which will support survivors of?domestic abuse, sexual violence and modern slavery?as well as ensure that vulnerable children and young people continue to get the help they need. From this funding the HO launched a £2m fund for national and regionally based domestic abuse organisations. £793,000 of this has already been allocated to 13 organisations and additional bids are currently being assessed.

Our Domestic Abuse Bill, which recently completed its Commons stages, will help to better protect and support the victims of all forms of domestic abuse and help bring perpetrators to justice.

As part of its ongoing support work for victims of domestic abuse the Home Office has also provided £1.1 million funding in 2020/21 to support seven national helplines providing support to victims of domestic abuse and sexual abuse, as well as £3 million to specialist services for children affected by domestic abuse, as a continuation of the Children Affected by Domestic Abuse fund.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure that large social gatherings in houses do not take place during the covid-19 social distancing restrictions.

The police have the power to issue Fixed Penalty Notices where individuals are found in contravention of social distancing regulations. First time offenders may receive a Fixed Penalty Notice of £100 (reduced to £50 for early pay-ment), with fines increasing up to a maximum of £3,200 for subsequent of-fences. Latest data, published by NPCC on 15 May, shows a total of 13,445 FPNs have been issued between 27 March and 11 May. In addition, 799 FPNs have been issued in Wales taking the total for England and Wales to 14,244 for the period 27 March to 11 May.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Office, whether the automatic visa extension for frontline health workers extends to people employed in the NHS as healthcare assistants.

The Government has announced we will extend the visas for a range of healthcare professionals working for the NHS and independent health and care providers, where their current visa expires before 1 October. This offer also applies to their families. The 12-month extension is automatic and free of charge and those benefitting will not have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. Details of immigration changes, including the extended list of healthcare professionals covered by this offer, relating to COVID-19 can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-immigration-and-borders.

We are continuing to work hand in hand with the Department of Health and Social Care on how we can best support frontline health and care workers.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans she has for people whose travel visas and work permits in the UK are expiring and whose countries are in lockdown.

The Home Office has put in place a range of measures to support those affected by the covid-19 outbreak. No individual who is in the UK legally and whose visa expires between 24 January 2020 and 30 May 2020 will be regarded as an overstayer or suffer any detriment in the future if they cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19. Their visa will be extended to 31 May 2020. Individuals must update their records online using the e-form published on Gov.uk. Individuals do not need to do anything else once they have submitted the online e-form and their status in the UK is secure from the point they have submitted.

These are unprecedented times and we may make further adjustments to requirements where necessary and appropriate, to ensure people are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what initiatives he has introduced to support the recruitment and retention of women in the armed forces.

The Ministry of Defence aims to significantly improve the recruitment and retention of women in the Armed Force; our ambition is to achieve 30% inflow of women by 2030. To realise this goal, the single Services have taken a range of steps to improve the experience of women in the Armed Forces, as we continue to do for all serving personnel. This includes all roles being open to women, targeted programmes to increase the recruitment of women, introducing flexible service, flexible and parental leave, the provision of sanitary boxes, and reviewing women specific combat requirements. We are committed to building on these improvements to give women greater confidence that a career in the Armed Forces is a fantastic opportunity and will not be limited by outdated or regressive policy.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)
20th Sep 2021
What steps his Department is taking to support the families of armed forces personnel.

Families are at the heart of the Defence Community. Our assistance to them includes, wraparound childcare and children’s education partner employment. The Armed Forces Families Strategy, to be published this autumn, will provide a cross-Government policy framework to support outcomes for families.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)
17th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to safeguard defence supply chains from foreign threats.

The Integrated Review committed Her Majesty's Government to acting to address growing risks around economic security. The Defence & Security Industrial Strategy identified the MOD component to tackling these risks including assessing and monitoring threats to defence supply chains, including foreign threats. The MOD’s Defence Commercial monitor the resilience of key UK defence suppliers, and industry wide supply chain issues and risks and have established a new Directorate of Economic and Investment Security to support the new National Security Investment (NSI) Act and which will lead in the MOD on reviewing foreign investment into UK companies

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he is taking to encourage more organisations to sign the Armed Forces Covenant.

The Armed Forces Covenant applies throughout the UK and is delivered across all sectors of society. Every Local Authority in Great Britain has signed the Covenant and over 7,000 organisations have pledged support. Signing up to the Covenant is encouraged on a national and local level. Defence Relationship Management works closely with businesses and other organisations to encourage them to sign the Covenant and uphold their pledges. The Ministry of Defence works closely with local authorities to support their delivery of the Covenant. We promote the Covenant through regular communications and engagement activities, such as conferences and events. Signing the Covenant also provides the signatory with the opportunity to be recognised by the Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) award. To date, 494 organisations hold the ERS Gold Standard for partnering with Defence.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)
11th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the UK's armoured vehicle capability can withstand threats posed by hostile states.

The objective of the Army's modernisation programme is to create a fleet of, digitised platforms able to deal with future challenges that will adapt to emerging threats through iterative enhancements and upgrades.

Modernised Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV), networked and integrated into a wider system that includes precision deep fires, air defence, and layered Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), will transform the way we fight and provide the necessary core for a world-class, credible force especially when we work alongside our NATO allies and partners. Significant additional investment is being made into AFVs including in capabilities designed to enable them to deal with threats posed by hostile states.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
19th Jul 2021
What steps his Department is taking to increase the supply of affordable new homes.

This Government cares deeply about building more homes. Since 2010, we have delivered over 1.8 million new homes, including 542,400 new affordable homes, so homes are there where people need them.

We are investing in supply, with over £12 billion in affordable housing over five years, the largest investment in a decade, and £7.1 billion in the National Home Building Fund, to unlock up to 860,000 homes over the lifetime of the projects, including much-needed new homes on brownfield land.

As set out in the Planning for the Future White Paper, the Government will speed up the planning system, enabling us to build homes more quickly.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of repurposing empty high street units as community advice centres.

We have reformed the Use Classes Order to provide greater flexibility to enable a wide range of uses which attract visiting members of the public, such as offices and shops for example, to change to other uses without the need for a planning application.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what incentives are in place to encourage landlords to adopt the Government's new model tenancy agreement.

The Model Tenancy Agreement is the Government's suggested contract for assured shorthold tenancies in the private rented sector and is publicly available on the gov.uk website. It is free to download, and is also referenced in the 'How to Rent' guide and the 'How to Let' guide.

Whilst landlords are not obligated to use the Model Tenancy Agreement in order to agree a tenancy, the Government will continue to consider how best to encourage usage of the Model Tenancy Agreement.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
18th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to increase access to green spaces for people who live in built-up areas.

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of green space for our communities, particularly for our physical and mental health. Between 2017 – 2019, Government has made £16.3 million available to support parks and green spaces including those in urban environments. This includes the Future Parks Accelerator, a joint National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Trust programme to support a cohort of 8 local authority areas to transform their parks estates, testing and learning from new and innovative models of parks management and funding to create more sustainable parks estates for the future. The learning from the programme will be shared widely across the parks sector to help local authorities to develop sustainable plans for their parks estates.

As we look to recover from the pandemic, my Department is working across Government, particularly with the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, on a cross Government approach to increase access to green space.

16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to support a brownfield first policy in planning.

The National Planning Policy Framework expects local authorities to make the most of brownfield land for development. Local authorities are best placed to assess potential sites, and each authority now publishes a register of brownfield suitable for new homes. We have introduced Permission in Principle, an extra route to planning permission for land on these registers, giving certainty from the outset that the principles of a redevelopment scheme are acceptable.

This Government is putting significant investment into brownfield redevelopment through the £4.1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund, the £4.95 billion Home Building Fund, and the £400 million Brownfield Housing Fund. Local authorities not eligible for support from the latter have been able to bid for assistance from the Brownfield Land Release Fund. This is designed to unlock brownfield sites and release serviced plots on local authority owned land. There is tax relief on work to decontaminate land, and we have reformed permitted development and Use Class rules so yet more homes can be created on previously developed land.

I am delighted that the University of Wolverhampton is the location of the National Brownfield Institute, which I was pleased to visit and which received support from our Getting Building Fund. This new policy institute will inform and guide brownfield regeneration, carry out research and testing, and give specialist advice on contaminated land, re-purposing sites, and innovative construction such as modular homes.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what requirements are in place to ensure that local people are fully consulted prior to previously developed land that is part of the green-belt is built on.

Applications for development on previously developed land in the Green Belt are subject to the statutory publicity requirements as outlined in article 15 of The Town and Country Planning (Development Procedure) (England) Order 2015. Local planning authorities must give notice by site display in at least one place on or near the land to which the application relates or by serving the notice on any adjoining owner or occupier. The Government is committed to protecting and enhancing the Green Belt in line with our manifesto. The National Planning Policy Framework outlines strong protections for Green Belt land, making it clear that most new building is inappropriate in Green Belt, and should be refused planning permission unless there are very special circumstances.

Where an application is a departure from the local plan they must also advertise in a local newspaper and publish information about the application on their website. A local planning authority may not determine an application until the period of public consultation, a minimum of 21 days, has been completed but they can extend this period of time if necessary. Local planning authorities also have discretion to undertake additional publicity on a case by case basis and may take into consideration the level of public interest in an application.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the date parameters for eligible planning permissions and the date of the extension.

The Business and Planning Act 2020 introduced measures to extend unimplemented planning permissions and listed building consents in response to the unprecedented effects on the development sector last year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have no plans to extend these measures.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to support constituents in applying for community funding via the schemes administered by his Department.

At Budget, the UK Government launched three new investment programmes to support communities across the country.

The UK Community Renewal Fund aims to support people and communities most in need across the UK to pilot programmes and new approaches and will invest in skills, community and place, local business and supporting people into employment. Details on how to apply can be found in the prospectus published at Budget. In Great Britain, the lead authority of each of the 100 priority places will receive capacity funding to help them with the required bid coordination and appraisal for that place.

The £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund will invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK. The prospectus published at Budget provides guidance for local areas on how to submit bids for the first round of funding for projects starting in 2021-22. Capacity funding will also be allocated to the local authorities measured as highest need in England, and all local authorities in Scotland and Wales to build a new relationship with the UK Government. This will support the relevant local authorities to develop bids and ensure that investment is targeted where it is needed most.

The new £150 million Communities Ownership Fund will help ensure that communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can support and continue benefiting from the local facilities, community assets and amenities most important to them. The first bidding round for the Community Ownership Fund will open in June 2021. A full bidding prospectus will be published alongside this, which will be the key reference document for communities in developing and submitting bids

10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to build more affordable homes and reduce social housing provider waiting lists.

The Government is committed to increasing the supply of affordable housing and is investing over £12 billion in affordable housing over 5 years, the largest investment in affordable housing in a decade. This includes the new £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme, which will leverage up to £38 billion of private finance and provide up to 180,000 new homes across the country, should economic conditions allow.

Approximately 50% of the homes delivered will be for affordable home ownership, supporting aspiring homeowners to take their first step on to the housing ladder. We will also deliver more than double the homes for social rent compared to the current programme, with around 32,000 social rent homes due to be delivered.

Furthermore, our £9 billion Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme, running to 2023, will deliver approximately 250,000 new affordable homes.

Since 2010, we've delivered over 517,100 new affordable homes, including over 365,800 affordable homes for rent, of which 148,000 homes for social rent.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what financial support is available to (a) community support groups that meet in premises that form part of places of worship and (b) to support places of worship that have lost income due to having suspended rent payments for community groups that have continued to use their premises during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises the impact that the pandemic has had on a wide range of community and voluntary groups, including faith groups and places of worship.

Throughout the pandemic – even during the most severe periods of national restrictions – the Government has sought to ensure that key support groups, of up to 15 people, have been able to continue to meet in places of worship and other community venues, to provide mutual aid, therapy and other vital forms of support to those most in need.

As part of the response to the impact of COVID-19, the Government made available a package of support specifically for charities and businesses. Places of worship that are also registered charities have been able to apply to a number of these schemes on the basis of being impacted organisations themselves, to support their work delivering community services in response to the pandemic. This included the Government’s £750 million package of support specifically for charities, social enterprises and the voluntary sector. Many places of worship who employ people have also benefitted from the Government’s furlough scheme, which was recently extended to the end of September 2021 where needed.

The Government continues to engage regularly with a range of faith leaders and community groups – including through our Places of Worship Taskforce and regular roundtable meetings with major faith groups - to better understand how the Government can support them to respond to the pressures they face at this time.

I encourage places of worship and community groups to monitor the Government’s web pages that offer information on the schemes currently available, and new schemes when they are launched, such as: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/financial-support-for-voluntary-community-and-social-enterprise-vcse-organisations-to-respond-to-coronavirus-covid-19.

2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what progress has been made on plans to relocate civil servants from his Department to Wolverhampton.

As we build back better, we are going to revitalise town and city centres and make them great places to live and work, driving investment and new jobs. Wolverhampton is a wonderful city with a proud history and bright future. MHCLG is committed to moving civil service roles out of London and more details of our plans will be announced shortly.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what progress has been made on the Independent Faith Engagement Review; and when his Department plans to publish the results of that review.

In October 2019 the Government announced that Colin Bloom had been appointed as the Faith Engagement Adviser at the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government.

As Faith Engagement Adviser, Colin Bloom is leading a review into how the Government should best engage with faith groups in England.

In October 2020 Colin Bloom launched a Call for Evidence, posing a series of questions about the Government’s engagement with faith groups. The Call for Evidence closed on the 11 December and received over 20,000 responses, demonstrating the timely nature of this review.

The review is ongoing, and will be published in summer 2021.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to (a) support the recovery of the construction sector and (b) build new houses in the West Midlands.

The recovery of the construction sector following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is primarily a matter for BEIS. However, in respect of the housebuilding sector specifically, my department has:

  • made it clear that the housebuilding sector, in line with the wider construction sector, should continue to operate where it is able to do so safely;
  • together with the Home Builders Federation, developed the Charter on Safe Working Practice on housebuilding sites (endorsed by six of the nine regional mayors and combined authorities), which is critical to public safety;
  • published detailed guidance on how to work while minimising the risk of transmission; and
  • provided for builders to seek more flexible construction site working hours with their local council, such as staggering builders’ arrival and finish times.

In addition, the Housing Secretary, Executive Chairman of the Home Builders Federation and Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders have written to the housing industry to make clear that house building – and the supply chains that support it – should continue working securely.

The Government is committed to supporting the supply of new homes, delivering around 244,000 last year; the highest in over 30 years. We are bringing forward an ambitious near £20 billion investment, including our new £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme which could deliver up to 180,000 new homes for affordable homeownership and rent if economic conditions allow, and over £7 billion over the next four years through our National Home Building Fund, to unlock up to 860,000 homes through the provision of infrastructure and diversifying the market.

This Government is committed to building the homes we need and prioritising brownfield development, particularly for the regeneration of our towns and cities like those across the West Midlands.

In 2018, the Government granted the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) up to £100 million from the Land Fund, backing the Mayor’s commitment to deliver 215,000 homes across the region. The Land Fund supports WMCA to acquire and de-risk land around priority sites, delivering c.8k homes.

We have also awarded WMCA £108 million from the Brownfield Fund, empowering and supporting the Mayor to bring forward the redevelopment of brownfield sites across the region – including Longbridge in Birmingham.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has been made of the potential merits of extending all planning permissions for projects which have been halted due to the covid-19 outbreak.

To ensure that unimplemented planning permissions and listed building consents do not lapse unnecessarily due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has brought forward measures through the Business and Planning Act 2020 to extend planning permissions in England which have lapsed or are at an increased risk of lapsing during this period. Planning permissions that have lapsed or are due to lapse between 23 March and 31 December 2020 will receive an extension to 1 May 2021. This is an important step in supporting the construction industry and sustaining jobs.

The legislation allows for certain dates to be extended by regulations, including the dates for eligible permissions and the extension period. The use of this power is being kept under review.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to reduce the number of empty shop units in (a) Wolverhampton South West constituency and (b) the UK.

This Government is?fully?committed to supporting the businesses and communities that make our high streets and town centres successful as the nation responds to the?impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Since March,?the Government has implemented a range of measures to support commercial property tenants, and help prevent further empty shops. The objective of these measures is to preserve tenants’ businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic and to give time and space to landlords and tenants to agree reasonable adjustments to rent and lease terms,?including terms for the payment of accumulated rent arrears.

Our immediate response to?Covid-19?builds on an ongoing programme of interventions. This includes the £3.6 billion Towns Fund, where we brought forward over £80 million funding this year to support immediate improvements in 101 towns selected for deals. Wolverhampton is shortlisted for the Future High Streets Fund, and was one of 101 towns invited to put together proposals for a town deal.

Government is also providing support through the High Streets Task Force, helping places like Wolverhampton to develop data-driven innovative strategies to tackle issues such as empty properties and connect with relevant experts. The High Streets Task Force is rolling out its expert, training and data offer across the country, and has launched a range of online support.

Government has also recently consulted on further reforms to planning procedures in town centres as set out in the white paper ‘Planning for the Future’, which sets out how Government will streamline and modernise the planning process to be more responsive to community needs and provide more homes in and around town centres and high streets.

2nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether his Department is conducting any reviews or site surveys to investigate whether any brownfield sites could be transformed into nature reserves or green areas.

Each brownfield site has its own characteristics: some brownfield will be important to nature conservation or as green infrastructure. My department does not provide site-specific advice, but our National Planning Policy Framework expects every local authority to identify, protect and enhance wildlife habitat and ecological networks, and seek opportunities to secure accessible green spaces that will benefit the community. There is no presumption that all brownfield sites should be built on. It is the local authority which is best placed to determine what purposes a particular site should serve, after consulting local people and, where appropriate, expert bodies such as Natural England or the Wildlife Trusts.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of converting brownfield sites into green spaces and parks.

The National Planning Policy Framework (2019) makes it clear that high-quality open space and accessible green infrastructure are vital for our physical and mental health. Each piece of previously developed land has its own characteristics, and the Government expects local authorities, in consultation with local people, to consider and plan how a particular brownfield site might best be re-used. Some brownfield sites have taken on importance as wildlife habitat, which should be protected and enhanced; other brownfield may be in the right location for a new park. Our focus is on using as much suitable brownfield as possible for new homes in layouts and settings that incorporate, from the outset, new green space, trees and other green infrastructure. Best practice is illustrated in the recent National Design Guide to creating beautiful, enduring and successful places.

In October 2019 the Secretary of State announced a £1.35 million investment in a new Pocket Parks programme, and we provided funding to 68 successful applicants. Covid-19 has delayed some action by applicants, but the Department has now given backing to 352 pocket parks in total. The funding allows recipient groups to transform neglected urban spaces – not just brownfield but other unused and unloved plots of land - into thriving green havens the whole community can enjoy.

In the last two years we have also made more than £16 million available to support parks and green spaces including:

  • £9.7 million for the Local Authority Parks Improvement Fund;
  • £5.1 million for the Pocket Parks and Pocket Parks Plus programmes;
  • £1.41 million to pilot new management and funding models for parks through the Future Parks Accelerator programme and to support the Parks Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne;
  • £55,000 to fund a Parks Action Group Coordinator;
  • £30,000 on work with Natural England to develop new standards for green spaces; and
  • a £130,000 Community Empowerment Programme encouraging local people to get involved in stewardship of community parks and green spaces.
Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to ensure that Wolverhampton South West constituents are consulted on future local planning decisions.

The planning reforms set out in the Planning for the Future White paper will make it simpler, quicker and more accessible for local people to engage with the planning system. The best way to bring forward new, significant development is by improving community engagement and input at an earlier stage in the planning process.

At the plan making stage, people will have the opportunity to comment on local plans and have their say on the location and standard of new development. This will give certainty to local communities that development will be in the areas best identified for growth. There will still be the opportunity for people to comment on planning applications where these are required.

Constituents of South West Wolverhampton will be able to have their say on the emerging Black Country Plan, which covers all the Black Country Local Authorities and is currently being produced. A draft of the Plan will be ready next year and residents are strongly encouraged to have their say once it is available for comment.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to (a) enable the use of derelict buildings for housing developments and (b) reduce waiting times for people applying for social housing allocations.

Brownfield Housing Fund

The Prime Minister recently announced that seven Mayoral Combined Authorities, including the West Midlands Combined Authority, are each receiving a share of the £400 million Brownfield Housing Fund. The fund will bring under-utilised brownfield land back into use, including derelict buildings and vacant land, to help unlock 26,000 homes, contributing to the levelling-up of our country.

Social Housing

The Localism Act 2011 gave local councils power to manage their own waiting lists, so they can decide who should qualify for social housing in their area and develop solutions which make best use of the social housing stock. Since 2012, the social housing waiting list in England has reduced by 37 per cent.

The Government is committed to increasing the supply of affordable housing and has made £9 billion available through the Affordable Homes Programme to March 2022 to deliver approximately 250,000 new affordable homes. The existing Affordable Homes Programme?will be extended by one year. This will save homes that would otherwise have been lost following site closures due to Covid-19.

We have announced the details of a £12 billion investment in affordable housing to March 2026. This includes the new Affordable Homes Programme of £11.5 billion to deliver up to 180,000 homes should economic conditions allow. In total, this five-year programme represents the highest single funding commitment to affordable housing in a decade. Further details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/jenrick-unveils-huge-12-billion-boost-for-affordable-homes

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what support and guidance is available for childcare providers that use multi-purpose community spaces to help them safely re-open from September 2020 as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government published the Covid-19: Guidance for the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities with the purpose of helping managers and users of community centres and village halls navigate and find government produced advice that maybe relevant to their individual circumstances.

As signposted to within the Covid-19: Guidance for the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities, when state schools in local areas reopen for all pupils in the autumn term 2020, wraparound providers, to include those based in a multi-purpose setting, should implement the Department for Education’s ‘protective measures guidance’ for providers of before or after school clubs, and other out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. The guidance has been updated to include specific content on what measures providers should put in place to reduce the risk of infection and transmission of the coronavirus virus between children, staff and parents who attend their settings.

Simon Clarke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has in place to provide for additional home insulations to meet the target for net zero emissions by 2050.

The Government is committed to meeting its target of net zero emissions by 2050 with homes switching to low carbon heating and better energy efficiency playing an important part. It continues to be the Government’s ambition to improve as many homes as possible to EPC C by 2035


Our Heat and Buildings Strategy, to be published in due course, will set out the immediate actions we will take for reducing emissions from buildings.

The Government recently announced the £2 billion ‘Green Homes Grant’, under which homeowners and landlords in England can apply for a voucher to fund at least two thirds of the cost of hiring tradespeople to upgrade the energy performance of their homes. This could support more than 100,000 green jobs, upgrade more than 600,000 homes across the country, and save households hundreds of pounds a year on their energy bills.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps the Government is taking to ensure new builds in city centres are well connected with green spaces.

The National Planning Policy Framework encourages development that promotes health and well-being and provides a high standard of amenity for existing and future users. The Framework is clear that planning policies should assess the need for different types of open space in each area, and then seek to accommodate it. In addition, the National Design Guide shows how high quality and attractive open spaces can be integral to new development, to encourage physical activity and promote health, well-being and social inclusion, and local areas should consider this is drawing up plans for their city centres.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what financial support will be available for places of worship that have been adversely affected by the covid-19 outbreak to (a) continue their pastoral support in communities, (b) recover loss of income from rented spaces and (c) safely reopen.

Faith communities have a long history of service supporting many of the most vulnerable members of our society. The rapid response during the current pandemic has been no different and the government values the work being done to support those in need.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government play a facilitative role in ensuring government understands the needs of faith communities and the challenges they may be currently facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to work closely with a range of faith groups to understand how government can support them in light of the pressures they face at this time.

Faith organisations can access a range of government-backed financial support measures. Places of worship may be eligible for payment under the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund. Local authorities are responsible for defining precise eligibility for this fund and may choose to make payments to organisations based on local economic need, subject to meeting the specific eligibility criteria.

The Government has also announced a range of funds available to charities, including the Coronavirus Community Support Fund to support organisations providing essential services for vulnerable people affected by the current crisis.

Further information about the range of financial support available and how to apply can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/financial-support-for-voluntary-community-and-social-enterprise-vcse-organisations-to-respond-to-coronavirus-covid-19.

The Government is also considering what else is needed to ensure that families and friends of those deceased get the support they need - particularly during this very difficult time. We are committed to ongoing engagement with the bereavement support sector and will continue to work closely to assess how we can support charities in doing their important work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of 4 July, places of worship are open for communal worship with social distancing in place. ?We are pleased to be able to allow weddings and other life cycle events to also now take place. We have published guidance detailing how this can be done safely which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-from-4-july/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-from-4-july.

12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what (a) guidance and (b) financial support is available to help places of worship safely resume their activities after the covid-19 situation.

We have published guidance for the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic. This includes guidance to assist places of worship to prepare to reopen for individual prayer from 13 June in a manner that is safe and in line with social distancing guidelines.

We will continue to review when it might be safe to ease other restrictions on places of worship, including for communal prayer. This is subject to the five tests for easing measures and further detailed scientific advice. We expect that places of worship will not be permitted to open for communal prayer until 4 July at the earliest.

MHCLG continues to play a facilitative role in ensuring Government understands how it can support faith groups to respond to the pressures they face during this period and throughout the Government's recovery strategy.

There are a range of Government-backed financial support measures that places of worship can access.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme are both available to registered charities, and therefore places of worship registered with the Charities Commission. Any organisation, including a place of worship, that is unable to pay any HMRC bill due to COVID-19 should contact the HMRC Coronavirus helpline. If charities or places of worship are VAT registered, they are also able to use the VAT deferral scheme.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme provides support for any entity with a UK payroll - small or large, charitable or non-profit - to be reimbursed 80 per cent of furloughed worker wages by HMRC, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

However, we know that some charities cannot furlough staff as they are contributing to the frontline response. There is a substantial package of targeted support for charities on the frontline of responding to COVID-19. Further details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/financial-support-for-voluntary-community-and-social-enterprise-vcse-organisations-to-respond-to-coronavirus-covid-19#further-financial-support.

11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what financial support is in place for private landlords that have contracts with students and are now experiencing loss of income.

The Government has published guidance for landlords and tenants who may be affected by current events, which is available on the GOV.uk website. This guidance makes clear that tenants should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms in their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability, and that rent levels agreed in the tenancy agreement remain legally due. The Government encourages landlords to take a pragmatic, flexible approach and have a frank and open conversation with their tenants at the earliest opportunity, to allow both parties to agree a sensible way forward.

We understand that some students are facing financial difficulties as a result of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Students will have received scheduled payments of loans towards their living costs for the remainder of the 2019/20 academic year, and we understand that many universities maintain hardship funds, which can be used where necessary. The process for issuing loans for the next academic year, 2020/2021, will proceed as normal.

To support landlords who are experiencing a temporary loss of income, mortgage lenders have agreed to offer payment holidays of up to three months where this is needed due to coronavirus-related hardship, including for buy-to-let mortgages. On 2 June, the Financial Conduct Authority confirmed that borrowers can apply for an extension to any holiday already taken while extending the window for new applications to 31 October. Landlords should contact their lender at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss if the payment holiday is a suitable option for them.

We have also amended the coronavirus regulations to make clear that people who wish to move home can do so. Landlords can now advertise and let properties where they are empty, or the current tenants have agreed to move. Landlords are also encouraged to contact their local authority homelessness departments or private rented sector procurement team who can discuss renting their property to a homeless household which may guarantee an income during this time.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps the Government will take to support economic growth in Wolverhampton after the covid-19 lockdown restirctions are eased.

The Government has announced a package of support for businesses to help with their ongoing business costs in recognition of the disruption caused by Covid-19. This includes the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, which as of 31 May, have paid out £38.3 million to 3,388 businesses and the recently announced Discretionary Grant Fund which will help support businesses who have fallen between support programmes at this difficult time by providing an additional £2,301,000.

Wolverhampton City Council will shortly be receiving £234,000 towards supporting their local high street get safely back to business and preparing for the reopening of non-essential retail. This is in addition to Wolverhampton being selected as one of the 100 places who are able to bid for investment from the £3.6 billion Towns Fund with the aim of driving the economic regeneration of places to deliver long term economic and productivity growth, and the shortlisting of the city for the Future High Streets Fund, with the aim of supporting transformative and structural changes to overcome challenges on our high streets. The Towns Fund and Future High Streets Fund will have an important role to play in supporting economic recovery as we move beyond the immediate crisis.

Across the Black Country, £217.75 million growth deal funding continues to support the delivery of projects aimed at job creation and growth which will be even more important as we move towards recovery of the economy and aims to create up to 5,000 jobs, delivering 1,400 new homes and generating up to £310 million in public and private investment. We continue to work closely with the Mayor for the West Midlands and other local partners to understand the impact of Covid-19 on local economies and how we can best support recovery and renewal.

Simon Clarke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that local and traveller communities are consulted on the designation of traveller transit sites.

Local planning authorities are required to engage a wide section of the community in preparing local plans that designate new traveller transit sites. To support plan-making, the Planning Policy for Traveller Sites is clear that local authorities should pay particular attention to early and effective community engagement with both settled and traveller communities.

Where planning applications are submitted, there are opportunities for views to be expressed and influence decisions on proposals for future development. In reaching a decision, a council must take these views into account alongside the local plan and all other relevant considerations.

12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he is taking to build trust in the criminal justice system among young people.

The Government is taking action to reduce crime and put victims at the heart of the criminal justice system, and we listen closely to young people’s voices and perspectives as we do so.

The Beating Crime Plan sets out a clear plan for less crime, fewer victims and a safer country, including for example £45m for specialist teams to support young people at risk of involvement in violence to re-engage in education, as well as new plans to support victims including tackling violence against women and girls and child sexual exploitation.

On engagement we are making the system more representative of our diverse society and work with the Youth Justice Board’s Youth Advisory Network Ambassadors to understand children’s concerns and inform policy.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether he has made an assessment on the adequacy of the three-year time limit for medical negligence cases.

The Government believes the current 3 year time limit for bringing a medical negligence claim is fair and proportionate given the flexibility built into the legislation. This provides for the 3 year limitation period for personal injury claims to be waived by judges in appropriate cases using their discretion under section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980. Judges have guidance on what should be taken into consideration when considering applications for an extension.

In addition, the 3 year limitation period can apply in appropriate cases from the ‘date of knowledge’ of an injury (for example in the case of a delayed diagnosis) which can be later than the date of the alleged negligence.

James Cartlidge
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice) (and Assistant Government Whip)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of resources available to effectively tackle court backlogs in the recovery from the covid-19 outbreak.

We have taken decisive action to ensure the courts have sufficient resources to tackle our outstanding caseloads in the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

We spent over a quarter of a billion pounds on recovery last financial year, making court buildings safe, rolling out new technology for remote hearings and recruiting an additional 1,600 HMCTS staff. We will run each Crown Court site to its fullest, with no limit on sitting days this financial year, so more cases can be heard and waiting times can come down. Following the lifting of social distancing restrictions, we are in the process of fully reopening our existing physical estate. We have also extended 32 of our Nightingale courtrooms until March 2022 to maximise our sitting capacity this year.

James Cartlidge
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice) (and Assistant Government Whip)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent steps he has taken to help ensure the accessibility of affordable civil legal aid.

We have already made a number of changes to ensure that civil legal aid remains accessible to those who need it. For example, in May last year we removed the mandatory element of the Civil Legal Advice telephone gateway.

In addition, in December last year we brought forward legislation improving financial eligibility for civil legal aid. We laid legislation which removed the £100,000 cap on the amount of mortgage debt that can be deducted from the value of a person’s property in the means test. This means all mortgage debt will be deducted from a property’s value when assessing eligibility for civil legal aid. This legislation also enables the Legal Aid Agency to disregard some compensation and ex-gratia payments for the purposes of assessing legal aid eligibility. These changes will widen access to civil legal aid.

We announced a comprehensive review of the means test for legal aid in the Legal Support Action Plan in 2019. The review is assessing the effectiveness with which the means test protects access to justice, particularly for those who are vulnerable. As part of the review, we are considering the full range of means-testing criteria, including the income and capital thresholds for civil legal aid. We plan to conclude the review in late Spring 2021, at which point we will publish a full consultation paper setting out our future policy proposals in this area. We will seek to implement any final recommendations as soon as practicable following public consultation.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he is taking to support people who are in need of urgent priority court hearings.

Urgent priority court hearings are going ahead, and work has been prioritised to ensure justice systems remain open to the most vulnerable. Whether and how cases are listed is a judicial decision. HMCTS, together with the judiciary, has ensured priority case types continue to be dealt with, such as those held in police or prison custody, applications for Domestic Violence Protection Orders, and applications relating to public health concerns. Case prioritisation is under constant review. In addition, we have been a rapidly expanding our use of technology so that more video and audio hearings can take place across the justice system, subject to judicial discretion.

Users can be assured that where their case has been adjourned that the department will do all it can to support the judiciary in listing the case when the situation allows for it.

We’re doing everything possible to ensure any potential negative impacts are identified and mitigated for vulnerable users, by putting the right support in place for them.

We work with the advice sector to fully understand the impacts on vulnerable people, reasonable adjustments, and reflecting up to date advice from the sector in our processes for court users to join hearings and in related staff guidance.

We are pleased that the courts are now in a position, with approval from Public Health England and Public Health Wales, to take some first steps towards the resumption of jury trials.

Our priorities are to protect the safety of our staff, the judiciary, legal professionals and all courts and tribunal users while continuing to provide access to justice – in particular for the most time-critical and sensitive cases.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
2nd Dec 2020
What recent discussions he has had with (a) Cabinet colleagues and (b) the Northern Ireland Executive on a timeframe for bringing forward standalone legislative proposals on vexatious claims against veterans who served in Northern Ireland.

The Government has been clear that it will bring forward legislation to address the legacy of the Troubles which focuses on reconciliation, delivers for victims, and ends the cycle of investigations that has failed victims and veterans alike.

We remain committed to making progress, and engaging with the Irish Government, the Northern Ireland parties, and stakeholders from across the community on this issue.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
30th Sep 2020
What recent discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Executive on a UK-wide approach to tackling covid-19.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is in regular contact with the First and Deputy First Minister for Northern Ireland.

The Government and devolved administrations continue to work closely together to ensure a coordinated approach across the United Kingdom, such as the four nations approach to PPE and the National Testing Initiative.

Each devolved nation has its own unique set of circumstances and it is only right that devolved nations take the approach that is right for them at the right time.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
16th Sep 2020
What progress his Department has made on City and Growth deals in Wales.

The City and Growth Deals are progressing well. Cardiff has several exciting projects in the pipeline and I was pleased to approve and visit Swansea Bay’s Pembroke Dock Marine and see the progress on Swansea’s Digital District for myself. North Wales’ Full Deal Agreement and Mid Wales’ Head of Terms are also expected by the end of the year.

David T C Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Wales Office)