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Written Question
Employment
Wednesday 18th May 2022

Asked by: Matthew Offord (Conservative - Hendon)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of the Plan for Jobs in supporting people into work.

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

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is committed to supporting everyone who has been affected by the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the labour market. Throughout the pandemic the UK Government has provided historic levels of support to the economy – a total of over £370 billion. This includes key DWP programmes as part of the Plan for Jobs, such as Restart and Kickstart alongside other measures to boost work searches, skills, and apprenticeships. Our support was in addition to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furlough) and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Our Plan for Jobs is complemented by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), which will help to level up and create opportunity across the UK. As part of Plan for Jobs in England over 162,000 jobs have been started through the Kickstart programme. Data for the financial years 2020/21 and 2021/22 shows that as of 27 March 2022, there was a total of 149,980 starts to a Sector Work Academy Programme (SWAP) nationally. We have also launched Way to Work - a concerted drive across the UK to help half a million currently out of work people into jobs by the end of June 2022.

Employment is growing in England – up 30,000 on the quarter and 310,000 on the year to stand at 27.510 million in Dec 2021-Feb 2022, according to ONS figures. Employment in England is up from a low in the pandemic of 27.186 million - though it is below its pre-COVID level, underlining the need for Way to Work to support more people into jobs.

We want everyone to be able to find a job, progress in work and thrive in the labour market, whoever they are and wherever they live.


Written Question
Employment Schemes
Thursday 28th April 2022

Asked by: Bim Afolami (Conservative - Hitchin and Harpenden)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the impact of the Government's Plan for Jobs on (a) Hitchin and Harpenden and (b) England.

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

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is committed to supporting everyone who has been affected by the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the labour market. We want everyone to be able to find a job, progress in work and thrive in the labour market, whoever they are and wherever they live. To meet demand for Jobcentre’s services and to ensure that people looking for work receive the right support, DWP successfully recruited 13,500 new Work Coaches across the country.

Throughout the pandemic the UK Government has provided historic levels of support to the economy – a total of over £400 billion. This includes key DWP programmes as part of the Plan for Jobs, such as Restart and Kickstart alongside other measures to boost work searches, skills, and apprenticeships. Our support was in addition to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furlough) and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Our Plan for Jobs will be complemented by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), which will help to level up and create opportunity across the UK. As part of Plan for Jobs in England 137,600 jobs have been started through the Kickstart programme – with 11,600 of these being in the East of England.

We have also launched Way to Work - a concerted drive across the UK to help half a million currently out of work people into jobs by the end of June 2022.

Data for the financial years 2020/21 and 2021/22 shows that as of 27th March 2022, there was a total of 149,980 starts to a Sector Work Academy Programme (SWAP) nationally.

The employment rate in Hitchin and Harpenden has grown in recent years. Data from the independent Office for National Statistics shows that the employment rate was 81.8% in Hitchin and Harpenden in the latest data (covering Jan 2021-Dec 2021) compared to 75.8% before the pandemic (January 2019-December 2019).

Employment is growing in England – up 30,000 on the quarter and 310,000 on the year to stand at 27.510 million in Dec 2021-Feb 2022, according to ONS figures. Employment in England is up from a low in the pandemic of 27.186 million - though it is below its pre-COVID level, underlining the need for Way to Work to support more people into jobs.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Fraud
Thursday 24th March 2022

Asked by: Matthew Offord (Conservative - Hendon)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much expenditure by her Department that was identified as fraudulent was repaid to her Department in each of the last three years.

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

The Department publishes Fraud and Error estimates, as shown in the link, which include data on how much money was potentially lost to Fraud in each of the last 3 years. Fraud and Error in the benefit system is rare, but we know that organised criminals and opportunists sought to exploit the extraordinary circumstances of a global pandemic for gain. We took steps to stop this and estimate that we prevented nearly £3bn of additional fraud and error in 2020/21.

fraud-and-error-stats-release-2020-2021-estimates-tables-xls.xlsx (live.com)

These same statistics also indicate how much money was repaid by way of benefit debt. The totals include debts incurred through Fraud, Claimant Error, and where appropriate, Official Error.

The repayment figures are:

20/21: £0.8bn (£0.5bn Housing Benefit and £0.3bn other DWP benefits)

19/20: £1.0bn (£0.6bn Housing Benefit and £0.4bn other DWP benefits)

18/19: £1.1bn (£0.7bn Housing Benefit and £0.4bn other DWP benefits)

The slight fall in 20/21 was due in part to debt recovery being paused for three months from April 2020, so that Debt Management staff could support processing of the substantial rise in new Universal Credit claims, following the outbreak of coronavirus.

Note that other benefits recovered by DWP, including Tax Credits and Advances, are not included in these totals.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Fraud
Thursday 24th March 2022

Asked by: Matthew Offord (Conservative - Hendon)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much expenditure by her Department was identified as fraudulent in the last three years.

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

The Department publishes Fraud and Error estimates, as shown in the link, which include data on how much money was potentially lost to Fraud in each of the last 3 years. Fraud and Error in the benefit system is rare, but we know that organised criminals and opportunists sought to exploit the extraordinary circumstances of a global pandemic for gain. We took steps to stop this and estimate that we prevented nearly £3bn of additional fraud and error in 2020/21.

fraud-and-error-stats-release-2020-2021-estimates-tables-xls.xlsx (live.com)

These same statistics also indicate how much money was repaid by way of benefit debt. The totals include debts incurred through Fraud, Claimant Error, and where appropriate, Official Error.

The repayment figures are:

20/21: £0.8bn (£0.5bn Housing Benefit and £0.3bn other DWP benefits)

19/20: £1.0bn (£0.6bn Housing Benefit and £0.4bn other DWP benefits)

18/19: £1.1bn (£0.7bn Housing Benefit and £0.4bn other DWP benefits)

The slight fall in 20/21 was due in part to debt recovery being paused for three months from April 2020, so that Debt Management staff could support processing of the substantial rise in new Universal Credit claims, following the outbreak of coronavirus.

Note that other benefits recovered by DWP, including Tax Credits and Advances, are not included in these totals.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Coronavirus
Monday 7th March 2022

Asked by: Philip Davies (Conservative - Shipley)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will take steps to ensure that her Department and its agencies remove all internal covid-19 related policies, restrictions and mask mandates.

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

On 21 February 2022, the Government published their COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19. This document sets out how and when the remaining restrictions will be lifted in England. Government guidance was subsequently amended, including the Working Safely guidance.

We continue to follow specific devolved administration guidance for Wales and Scotland.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Coronavirus
Tuesday 1st March 2022

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to mandate individual risk assessments for all employees in her Department before they return to the workplace following the easing of covid-19 restrictions; and how many individual risk assessments for people returning to work have been conducted by her Department as of 21 February 2022.

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

DWP has maintained its services throughout the pandemic with Jobcentres remaining open for anyone who needed face-to-face support and whom we could not help in any other way. When DWP returned to its standard opening hours within our jobcentres in April 2021, we launched a template to support one-to-one discussions between managers and colleagues about returning to the workplace. This template is a document for managers and colleagues to capture key information from these discussions, providing support for conversations about the barriers and concerns that may arise for colleagues in returning to the workplace.

The template covers a number of important considerations and topics relating to the health and safety of our colleagues, and includes reasonable and workplace adjustments, risk assessments for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic colleagues, mental health support, caring requirements, and wellbeing issues such as referrals to occupational health. The one-to-one template links to a suite of products and supporting mechanisms available to all colleagues across DWP, and has been widely publicised in various communications and channels since its launch. The one-to-one process is focussed on the individual, and was not centrally monitored.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Long Covid
Monday 21st February 2022

Asked by: Jonathan Ashworth (Labour (Co-op) - Leicester South)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent estimate her Department has made of the number of people claiming disability benefits or universal credit who are experiencing long covid; and what plans her Department has to undertake future monitoring of the number of people receiving support from her Department who are experiencing long covid.

Answered by Chloe Smith - Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)

The Department publishes monthly Official Statistics on the number of people entitled to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) by main disabling condition. The Department also publishes quarterly National Statistics on the number of people entitled to, and in payment of, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Attendance Allowance (AA) by main disabling condition. Statistics are available to October 2021 for PIP, and August 2021 for DLA and AA on Stat-Xplore. Guidance for users is available here.

From March 2021 PIP, DLA and AA cases were able to have the disability or main disabling condition classified as "Coronavirus covid-19". These cases are long covid / post-covid syndrome cases, rather than initial covid-19 infection. Any individuals with long covid as their primary reason for claiming PIP, DLA or AA prior to March 2021 will not be classified as "Coronavirus covid-19". These cases will remain classified according to the disability recorded that links with the claimant’s functional needs.

For PIP statistics, the PIP Cases with Entitlement dataset allows you to view the number of PIP cases with entitlement split by disability. Coronavirus-19 can be selected by expanding ‘Infectious disease’ then ‘Viral diseases’. For DLA and AA, the respective DLA and AA: Cases with Entitlement – Data from May 2018 datasets have a category within the disability filter called ‘Infectious diseases: Viral disease - Coronavirus covid-19.’

Please note that data is based on primary disabling condition. This is as recorded on the administrative systems for PIP, DLA and AA. Claimants may often have multiple disabling conditions upon which the decision is based but only the primary condition is available for statistical purposes and shown in these statistics.

The information requested for Universal Credit is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost. There are currently no plans to provide such a breakdown.

Other people receiving support with long covid may include those receiving Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), however information is currently only available for high level medical conditions on Stat-Xplore and analysts are investigating if lower level conditions, including "Coronavirus covid-19", can be recorded and reported in the future.


Written Question
Remote Working: Immunosuppression
Tuesday 8th February 2022

Asked by: Andrew Gwynne (Labour - Denton and Reddish)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans her Department has to communicate with employers on advice for immunosuppressed people to continue to work from home.

Answered by Chloe Smith - Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)

In December 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care and UK Health Security Agency released guidance on COVID-19: guidance for people whose immune system means they are at higher risk . This included advice to work from home if possible. If a person is unable to work from home, they should speak to their employer about what temporary arrangements they can make to reduce that person’s risk.

In order to inform employers of this, the Health and Safety Executive updated it’s guidance Protect vulnerable workers - Working safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to include a section on workers who are immunosuppressed and the advice mentioned above.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Coronavirus
Tuesday 1st February 2022

Asked by: Andrew Gwynne (Labour - Denton and Reddish)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance has been issued to clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable people who may be required to attend a mandatory face to face appointment with the Department for Work and Pensions.

Answered by Maggie Throup - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)

People previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to follow general guidance, while considering additional precautions to reduce their risk of infection. Updated public health advice was issued on 24 December 2021 for those previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable, which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

We have also issued guidance for people whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious outcomes from COVID-19, which is available at the following link:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-people-whose-immune-system-means-they-are-at-higher-risk/covid-19-guidance-for-people-whose-immune-system-means-they-are-at-higher-risk

We will continue to keep this guidance under review.


Written Question
Urban Areas: Retail Trade
Thursday 27th January 2022

Asked by: Stuart Anderson (Conservative - Wolverhampton South West)

Question to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy:

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support the growth and sustainability of independent shops, cafes, and restaurants on high streets.

Answered by Paul Scully - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

In July 2021, the Department launched the first-ever hospitality strategy to support the reopening, recovery and resilience of England’s pubs, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs. We have also launched the Hospitality Sector Council to oversee the delivery of the strategy, including working with the sector to make hospitality a career option of choice and looking at the labour and skills shortages.

In order to help address the immediate challenges of labour shortages in the hospitality sector, the Department for Work and Pensions is working hard to fill ongoing vacancies by using work coaches to help find local talent, and Plans for Jobs programmes, such as Kickstart and Sector-based Work Academy Programmes.

The Department for Education has also added hospitality and catering qualifications to the Free Courses for Jobs, as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee. Additionally, we are increasing employer-led apprenticeship funding to £2.7 billion by 2024-25, extending the £3,000 incentive payment for every apprentice a business hires up until 31 January 2022, and improving the apprenticeship system for employers.

On 15 July, we published the Build Back Better High Streets Strategy, where we committed to continue working with the retail sector, and the Retail Sector Council in particular, on its long-term strategic needs to ensure that businesses are profitable, resilient, innovative and support local economies in socially and environmentally responsible ways.

On 20 January, BEIS and HMT jointly launched Help to Grow Digital, a UK wide Government scheme offering eligible small and medium sized businesses access to digital technology to supercharge their business growth and help drive our recovery from coronavirus.

On 18 August, the Retail Sector Council launched a national online initiative to help small independent retailers (SMEs) cut their carbon footprint and become more environmentally friendly. Green Street is an informative and accessible Hub, built by retailers for retailers to encourage planet friendly shopping.