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Written Question
Droughts and Water Supply
Monday 4th July 2022

Asked by: Virginia Crosbie (Conservative - Ynys Môn)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the UK's resilience to drought; and what steps he is taking to help (a) ensure that water companies (i) do not over-abstract from boreholes and (ii) repair infrastructure leaks and (b) encourage reductions in water waste.

Answered by Rebecca Pow - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The Environment Agency's National Framework for Water Resources, published in March 2020, sets out the strategic water needs for England up to 2050 and beyond, taking account of climate change and population growth. The Framework sets out how we will reduce demand, halve leakage rates, develop new supply infrastructure, move water to where it is needed, increase drought resilience of water supplies and abstract water sustainably, including from boreholes. Water companies are now preparing their statutory Water Resources Management Plans for consultations, late in 2022. The plans will show how water companies will deliver secure water supplies sustainably, over at least a 25 year period. The statutory plans are reviewed annually, to ensure they are maintained.

The proposed new legally binding target under the Environment Act 2021 aims to support the sustainable use of water further by reducing the public demand for water.

This will be enabled through the policies set out in the Written Ministerial Statement on reducing demand for water, including the introduction of mandatory water efficiency labelling and further work to reduce water use in new developments and retrofits.


Written Question
Bus Services and Rapid Transit Systems: Finance
Monday 4th July 2022

Asked by: Sam Tarry (Labour - Ilford South)

Question to the Department for Transport:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has plans to extend additional covid-19 bus and light rail funding after October 2022.

Answered by Trudy Harrison - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The Government has provided over £2 billion of support through emergency and recovery grants to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on bus and light rail services. A further £184 million in funding has been provided to continue supporting the sector following the Covid-19 pandemic until October 2022 to give services the maximum amount of time to recover.

The Government has also provided over £2.5 billion in new funding to support improvements to bus services and are on track to meet the commitment of £3 billion invested in buses in this Parliament. This includes over £1 billion in new funding for bus transformation deals to deliver London-style fares, infrastructure, and service improvements. It is expected that the local authorities who have been awarded indicative funding allocations to deliver their Bus Service Improvement Plans as announced in April should receive final allocations in October to coincide with the end of recovery funding.


Written Question
Respiratory System: Infectious Diseases
Monday 4th July 2022

Asked by: Daisy Cooper (Liberal Democrat - St Albans)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what measures his Department is putting in place to help support primary care settings to quickly and effectively access diagnostic testing platforms as part of their approach to managing respiratory infections.

Answered by Maria Caulfield - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)

Throughout the pandemic, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has made COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and lateral flow device (LFD) tests available for primary care, as clinically required. The UKHSA continues to provide LFD and PCR testing for individuals in high-risk settings, including in primary and community care.

Multiplex testing is available to primary and community care services through National Health Service laboratories, which accelerates access to diagnostics and enables effective management of respiratory infections. While the UKHSA keeps the deployment of multiplex testing in primary care settings under review, there are no current plans for its provision in primary care settings.


Written Question
Universal Credit
Monday 4th July 2022

Asked by: Stephen Timms (Labour - East Ham)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the oral evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee of the Change Director General and Senior Responsible Owner for universal credit, on 24 November 2021, Q34, HC728, how many cases of the 90,000 estimated as not correct have been identified through reverification as not correct; and in how many of those cases has mandatory reconsideration been applied for.

Answered by David Rutley - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

In March 2020 the Department introduced a temporary verification easement to Universal Credit claims to support people during the height of the pandemic. This easement meant the Department successfully paid an additional 2.4 million claims during the early months of the pandemic.

We reported last year on how we were reviewing cases paid under these temporary verification easements, known as “Trust and Protect”, and were re-applying these specific checks. The number of cases where evidence has been reviewed under this process has now risen from the figure of 900,000 previously reported to 1.1 million.

Of that number, 125,000 cases have been found to have an element of incorrectness that has affected the original entitlement decision. Decisions made as a result of this exercise have generated c14,500 (12%) Mandatory Reconsideration requests. (This data is based on internal and emerging internal management information and therefore has not been subject to the same degree of scrutiny and quality assurance as an official statistic.)

The learning from this work is informing the new Targeted Case Review exercise announced in the ‘Fighting Fraud in the Welfare System’ plan (published May 2022) which will review over 2 million UC claims over the next 5 years.


Written Question
State Retirement Pensions: USA
Monday 4th July 2022

Asked by: Rachael Maskell (Labour (Co-op) - York Central)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether there is a specific process for working between the US and UK in order to have US accrued benefits recognised by the State Pension Scheme.

Answered by Guy Opperman - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

When a customer makes their claim to UK State Pension and advises that they have worked in the USA the International Pension Centre will take the necessary steps to obtain USA insurance records and calculate the best payable rate of State Pension for the customer using both UK and USA insurance.

To qualify for a full UK State Pension a customer must have at least 35-years of paid or credited UK National Insurance contributions.

To qualify for any UK State Pension a customer must meet the Minimum Qualifying Period of 10-years of paid or credited National Insurance contributions. Satisfying the Qualifying Period enables a customer to receive 1/35 of the full UK State Pension for every year of contributions on their National Insurance record.

When a customer does not meet the Minimum Qualifying Period and has worked and paid insurance in the USA we can use these records to help satisfy the 10 year Minimum Qualify Period. However, it is important to understand the payable rate of their UK State Pension will only be calculated based on the number of years of contributions on their UK National Insurance record.

The UK has a Reciprocal Agreement with the USA which allows for insurance paid in the USA to be considered when establishing a customer’s entitlement to the UK State Pension.


Written Question
Developing Countries: LGBT+ People
Monday 4th July 2022

Asked by: Ben Bradshaw (Labour - Exeter)

Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to her Department’s International Development Strategy, what plans she has to work with local LGBT+ groups; and if she will reverse the reduction in funding for LGBT+ rights in low and middle-income countries as set out in the Global Resources 2019-2020 report on Government and Philanthropic Support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Communities.

Answered by Vicky Ford - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The UK is committed to championing LGBT+ rights internationally and supporting those who defend them. Ministers and our overseas missions work closely with governments and civil society partners to advance LGBT+ equality, and promote the implementation of new laws and policies that better protect LGBT+ people from violence and discrimination.

Since 2018, the UK committed over £11 million in programmes to support the promotion and protection of LGBT+ rights. On 24 June, the Prime Minister announced a further £2.7 million of UK funding to support LGBT+ grassroots human rights defenders, and advance equality and freedom across the Commonwealth. This includes the vital work of organisations such as The Commonwealth Equality Network, Kaleidoscope Trust, and Human Dignity Trust.


Written Question
Evusheld
Monday 4th July 2022

Asked by: Lord Mendelsohn (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the approval of Evusheld by the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on 17 March, when they plan to announce their policy on the provision of Evusheld; and if they are not yet ready to make an announcement, what progress they have made on developing the clinical commissioning policy for Evusheld.

Answered by Lord Kamall - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)

The UK Health Security Agency has tested the efficacy of Evusheld against the Omicron variants and initial data for BA.1 and BA.2 has been shared with AstraZeneca. The Department and the National Health Service are identifying appropriate patient cohorts and approaches to the potential deployment of pre-exposure prophylaxis. We have asked clinicians to advise on the most appropriate option for the NHS in line with all available data, the public health situation and other treatments available. However, we are unable to confirm a specific timetable for decisions for a commissioning policy for Evusheld.


Written Question
Government Departments: Buildings
Monday 4th July 2022

Asked by: Rachel Hopkins (Labour - Luton South)

Question to the Cabinet Office:

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will publish the Property Sustainability Board’s meeting minutes from 1 January 2020 to 22 June 2022.

Answered by Jacob Rees-Mogg - Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government efficiency)

I will place a copy of the terms of reference and meeting minutes in the library of the House.


Written Question
Pharmacy: Health Services
Monday 4th July 2022

Asked by: Rachael Maskell (Labour (Co-op) - York Central)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of empowering pharmacists to conduct wider health interventions.

Answered by Maria Caulfield - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)

The Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) 2019-2024 sets out the ambition for community pharmacy to be better integrated in the National Health Service, provide more clinical services and contribute to improving public health and prevention.

Under the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service, staff in general practices and NHS 111 can refer patients to community pharmacies for advice and treatment of minor illnesses. The Blood Pressure Checks Service enables community pharmacists to identify undiagnosed cases of hypertension in the community and offer blood pressure checks. Under the Discharge Medicines Service, hospitals can refer patients recently discharged to a community pharmacist for support with their medication. All pharmacies are now also Healthy Living Pharmacies and have trained Health Champions on site who engage in local community outreach to improve health and reduce health inequalities. We are currently negotiating with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee on the expanded and additional services to be introduced in the fourth year of the CPCF.


Written Question
Members: Correspondence
Monday 4th July 2022

Asked by: Louise Haigh (Labour - Sheffield, Heeley)

Question to the Home Office:

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when she plans to respond to the email correspondence of 20 June 2022 from the hon. Member for Sheffield Heeley, reference LH20974.

Answered by Kevin Foster - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

The Home Office responded to the Hon. Member’s correspondence on 28 June 2022.