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Written Question
Poverty
19 Jan 2022

Questioner: Rachael Maskell (LAB - York Central)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to prevent people from falling into (a) food and (b) fuel poverty.

Answered by David Rutley

This Government is wholly committed to supporting low-income families, including through spending over £110 billion on welfare support for people of working age in 2021/22 and by increasing the National Living Wage by 6.6% to £9.50 from April 2022.

With the success of the vaccine rollout and record job vacancies, our focus now is on continuing to support people into and to progress in work. Our multi-billion-pound Plan for Jobs, which has recently been expanded by £500 million, will help people across the UK to find work and to boost their wages and prospects.

In addition, Universal Credit recipients in work are now benefitting from a reduction in the Universal Credit taper rate from 63% to 55%, while eligible in-work claimants can also benefit from changes to the Work Allowance. These measures represent, for the lowest paid in society, an effective tax cut of around £2.2 Billion in 2022-23, and are now benefitting almost two million of the lowest paid workers by £1000 a year on average.

We recognise that some people require extra support over the winter, which is why vulnerable households across the country can access a new £500 million support fund to help them with essentials. The Household Support Fund provides £421 million to help vulnerable people in England with the cost of food, utilities and wider essentials. The Barnett Formula applies in the usual way, with the devolved administrations receiving almost £80 million.

To support low income families further we have increased the value of Healthy Start Food Vouchers from £3.10 to £4.25, helping eligible low income households buy basic foods like milk, fruit and vitamins, and we are also investing over £200m a year from 2022 to continue our Holiday Activities and Food programme which is already providing enriching activities and healthy meals to children in all English Local Authorities.

DWP administers the Cold Weather Payment scheme, which provides £25 extra a week to vulnerable people in receipt of certain income-related benefits, when the average temperature has been recorded, or is forecast to be, 0 degrees Celsius or below over 7 consecutive days at the weather station linked to an eligible person’s postcode.

Some customers in receipt of Universal Credit may be entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment if they or their partner reached state pension age on or before 26 September 2021.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy administers the Warm Home Discount Scheme for low income and vulnerable customers. It gives 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 will be worth £354 million.

The Energy Price Cap will continue to protect consumers, ensuring they pay a fair price for their energy this winter.

Further detail on all three schemes can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment

https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment

https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme


Written Question
Fuel Poverty
19 Jan 2022

Questioner: Rachael Maskell (LAB - York Central)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of people unable to afford to cook food from their local foodbanks

Answered by David Rutley

Food banks are independent, charitable organisations and the Department for Work and Pensions does not have any role in their operation. There is no consistent and accurate measure of food bank usage. We take the issue of food security seriously and understand the data limitations in this area, and thus from April 2021 we introduced a set of questions into the Family Resources Survey (FRS) to measure and track food bank usage.

This Government is committed to supporting those on low incomes, and continues to do so through many measures, including through spending over £110 billion on welfare support for people of working age in 2021/22 and by further increasing the National Living Wage by 6.6% to £9.50 from April 2022.

Universal Credit recipients in work can now benefit from a reduction in the Universal Credit taper rate from 63% to 55%, while eligible in-work claimants will also benefit from changes to the Work Allowance. These measures represent an effective tax cut for those on low incomes of around £2.2 billion in 2022-23, and will benefit almost two million of the lowest paid workers by £1000 a year on average.

We recognise that some people may require extra support over the winter, which is why vulnerable households across the country are now able to access a new £500 million support fund to help them with essentials. The Household Support Fund provides £421 million to help vulnerable people in England with the cost of food, utilities and wider essentials. The Barnett Formula applies in the usual way, with the devolved administrations receiving almost £80 million.

To support low income families further we have increased the value of Healthy Start Food Vouchers from £3.10 to £4.25, helping eligible low income households buy basic foods like milk, fruit and vitamins, and we are also investing over £200m a year from 2022 to continue our Holiday Activities and Food programme which is already providing enriching activities and healthy meals to children in all English Local Authorities.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Terminal Illnesses
19 Jan 2022

Questioner: Jessica Morden (LAB - Newport East)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Written Statement of 8 July 2021, HCWS166 on Disability Benefits, whether the Government plans to bring forward legislative proposals to implement the replacement of the current 6-month rule for access to benefits under the special rules for terminal illness with a 12-month, end of life approach, for the personal independence payment and attendance allowance in the next Queen's Speech.

Answered by Chloe Smith

The Department is committed to supporting people nearing the end of their lives. We plan to amend legislation to implement changes to the Special Rules for Terminal Illness across five DWP benefits, beginning with Universal Credit alongside Employment and Support Allowance this year. This will be followed by Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment when Parliamentary time allows.


Written Question
Fuel Poverty
19 Jan 2022

Questioner: Rachael Maskell (LAB - York Central)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has made additional financial support available for claimants of (a) universal credit and (b) other legacy benefits in response to the increase in energy costs.

Answered by David Rutley

DWP administers the Cold Weather Payment scheme, which provides £25 extra a week to vulnerable people in receipt of certain income-related benefits, when the average temperature has been recorded, or is forecast to be, 0 degrees Celsius or below over 7 consecutive days at the weather station linked to an eligible person’s postcode.

Some customers in receipt of Universal Credit may be entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment if they or their partner reached state pension age on or before 26 September 2021.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy administers the Warm Home Discount Scheme for low income and vulnerable customers. It gives 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 will be worth £354 million.

The Energy Price Cap will continue to protect consumers, ensuring they pay a fair price for their energy this winter.

Further detail on all 3 schemes can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment

https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment

https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme

We recognise that some people require extra support over the winter, through the final stages of recovery, which is why vulnerable households across the country are now able to access a new £500 million support fund to help them with essentials. The Household Support Fund is providing £421 million to help vulnerable people in England. The Barnett Formula applies in the usual way, with the devolved administrations receiving almost £80 million.


Written Question
Fuel Poverty
19 Jan 2022

Questioner: Rachael Maskell (LAB - York Central)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential impact of rising energy costs on people who claim (a) universal credit or (b) other legacy benefits.

Answered by David Rutley

DWP administers the Cold Weather Payment scheme, which provides £25 extra a week to vulnerable people in receipt of certain income-related benefits, when the average temperature has been recorded, or is forecast to be, 0 degrees Celsius or below over 7 consecutive days at the weather station linked to an eligible person’s postcode.

Some customers in receipt of Universal Credit may be entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment if they or their partner reached state pension age on or before 26 September 2021.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy administers the Warm Home Discount Scheme for low income and vulnerable customers. It gives 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 will be worth £354 million.

The Energy Price Cap will continue to protect consumers, ensuring they pay a fair price for their energy this winter.

Further detail on all 3 schemes can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment

https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment

https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme

We recognise that some people require extra support over the winter, through the final stages of recovery, which is why vulnerable households across the country are now able to access a new £500 million support fund to help them with essentials. The Household Support Fund is providing £421 million to help vulnerable people in England. The Barnett Formula applies in the usual way, with the devolved administrations receiving almost £80 million.


Written Question
Fuel Poverty
19 Jan 2022

Questioner: Rachael Maskell (LAB - York Central)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of people who are unable to adequately heat their homes as a result of poverty (a) nationally and (b) in York.

Answered by David Rutley

National Statistics on the number and percentage of people in poverty are published annually in the “Households Below Average Income” publication. This can be found at:

Households below average income: for financial years ending 1995 to 2020 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Data for Figures on material deprivation can be found in tables 4_8db_BHC and 48db_AHC in the children_hbai_detailed_breakdown file and population figures can be found in table 3_1ts in the population-hbai-timeseries-1994-95-2019-20-tables file. Data for York is unavailable due to insufficient sample size.

DWP administers the Cold Weather Payment scheme, which provides £25 extra a week to vulnerable people in receipt of certain income-related benefits, when the average temperature has been recorded, or is forecast to be, 0 degrees Celsius or below over 7 consecutive days at the weather station linked to an eligible person’s postcode.

Some customers in receipt of Universal Credit may be entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment if they or their partner reached state pension age on or before 26 September 2021.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy administers the Warm Home Discount Scheme for low income and vulnerable customers. It gives 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 will be worth £354 million.

The Energy Price Cap will continue to protect consumers, ensuring they pay a fair price for their energy this winter.

Further detail on all 3 schemes can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment

https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment

https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme

We recognise that some people may require extra support over the winter, which is why vulnerable households across the country are now able to access a new £500 million support fund to help them with essentials. The Household Support Fund provides £421 million to help vulnerable people in England with the cost of food, utilities and wider essentials. The Barnett Formula applies in the usual way, with the devolved administrations receiving almost £80 million.


Written Question
Food Poverty
19 Jan 2022

Questioner: Rachael Maskell (LAB - York Central)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent estimate she has made of the the number of people in receipt of either (a) food bank or (b) other emergency food supplies.

Answered by David Rutley

Food banks are independent, charitable organisations and the Department for Work and Pensions does not have any role in their operation. There is no consistent and accurate measure of food bank usage. We take the issue of food security seriously and understand the data limitations in this area, and thus from April 2021 we introduced a set of questions into the Family Resources Survey (FRS) to measure and track food bank usage.

This Government is committed to supporting those on low incomes, and continues to do so through many measures, including through spending over £110 billion on welfare support for people of working age in 2021/22 and by further increasing the National Living Wage by 6.6% to £9.50 from April 2022.

Universal Credit recipients in work can now benefit from a reduction in the Universal Credit taper rate from 63% to 55%, while eligible in-work claimants will also benefit from changes to the Work Allowance. These measures represent an effective tax cut for those on low incomes of around £2.2 billion in 2022-23, and will benefit almost two million of the lowest paid workers by £1000 a year on average.

We recognise that some people may require extra support over the winter, which is why vulnerable households across the country are now able to access a new £500 million support fund to help them with essentials. The Household Support Fund provides £421 million to help vulnerable people in England with the cost of food, utilities and wider essentials. The Barnett Formula applies in the usual way, with the devolved administrations receiving almost £80 million.

To support low income families further we have increased the value of Healthy Start Food Vouchers from £3.10 to £4.25, helping eligible low income households buy basic foods like milk, fruit and vitamins, and we are also investing over £200m a year from 2022 to continue our Holiday Activities and Food programme which is already providing enriching activities and healthy meals to children in all English Local Authorities.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Terminal Illnesses
19 Jan 2022

Questioner: Jessica Morden (LAB - Newport East)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, further to her Department's announcement on 8 July 2021 that it would scrap the six-month rule for access to benefits under the Special Rules for Terminal Illness, if the Government will bring forward legislative proposals to implement this change for the Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance in the next Queen's Speech.

Answered by Chloe Smith

The Department is committed to supporting people nearing the end of their lives. We plan to amend legislation to implement changes to the Special Rules for Terminal Illness across five DWP benefits, beginning with Universal Credit alongside Employment and Support Allowance this year. This will be followed by Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment when Parliamentary time allows.


Written Question
Poverty
19 Jan 2022

Questioner: Rachael Maskell (LAB - York Central)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking through the welfare system to tackle (a) food and (b) fuel poverty.

Answered by David Rutley

This Government is wholly committed to supporting low-income families, including through spending over £110 billion on welfare support for people of working age in 2021/22 and by increasing the National Living Wage by 6.6% to £9.50 from April 2022.

With the success of the vaccine rollout and record job vacancies, our focus now is on continuing to support people into and to progress in work. Our multi-billion-pound Plan for Jobs, which has recently been expanded by £500 million, will help people across the UK to find work and to boost their wages and prospects.

In addition, Universal Credit recipients in work are now benefitting from a reduction in the Universal Credit taper rate from 63% to 55%, while eligible in-work claimants can also benefit from changes to the Work Allowance. These measures represent, for the lowest paid in society, an effective tax cut of around £2.2 Billion in 2022-23, and are now benefitting almost two million of the lowest paid workers by £1000 a year on average.

We recognise that some people require extra support over the winter, which is why vulnerable households across the country can access a new £500 million support fund to help them with essentials. The Household Support Fund provides £421 million to help vulnerable people in England with the cost of food, utilities and wider essentials. The Barnett Formula applies in the usual way, with the devolved administrations receiving almost £80 million.

To support low income families further we have increased the value of Healthy Start Food Vouchers from £3.10 to £4.25, helping eligible low income households buy basic foods like milk, fruit and vitamins, and we are also investing over £200m a year from 2022 to continue our Holiday Activities and Food programme which is already providing enriching activities and healthy meals to children in all English Local Authorities.

DWP administers the Cold Weather Payment scheme, which provides £25 extra a week to vulnerable people in receipt of certain income-related benefits, when the average temperature has been recorded, or is forecast to be, 0 degrees Celsius or below over 7 consecutive days at the weather station linked to an eligible person’s postcode.

Some customers in receipt of Universal Credit may be entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment if they or their partner reached state pension age on or before 26 September 2021.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy administers the Warm Home Discount Scheme for low income and vulnerable customers. It gives 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 will be worth £354 million.

The Energy Price Cap will continue to protect consumers, ensuring they pay a fair price for their energy this winter.

Further detail on all three schemes can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment

https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment

https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme


Written Question
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
17 Jan 2022

Questioner: Karin Smyth (LAB - Bristol South)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the number of people placed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme whose income fell below the Lower Earnings Limit and as a result have gaps in their National Insurance contributions that will affect their state pension entitlement.

Answered by Guy Opperman

Where the furlough scheme operated, individuals may have also been entitled to claim Universal Credit. Those eligible for Universal Credit will have had a National Insurance credit applied to their record for this period, protecting their future State Pension entitlement. There may also be people whose total income across a tax year meant that they received a National Insurance qualifying year, even if there were periods where their earnings were below the Lower Earnings Limit.

There are a wide range of National Insurance credits available, ensuring people can achieve the best possible State Pension outcome when they reach State Pension age.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Disability
17 Jan 2022

Questioner: Navendu Mishra (LAB - Stockport)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what procedures are in place to ensure people with hidden disabilities are assessed accurately in telephone assessments when making (a) a personal independence payment and (b) universal credit claim.

Answered by Chloe Smith

All Healthcare Professionals (HPs) have extensive and rigorous training in undertaking assessments.

Each referral is initially reviewed by a HP, if there is sufficient supporting evidence to provide paper based advice to the department, the HP will assess the claimant on this evidence alone. If they cannot, the claimant will be invited to attend a telephone, video or face to face assessment.

All claimants, including those with hidden disabilities, are assessed in accordance with the PIP Assessment Guide for Providers or Work Capability Assessment Handbook.

We have continuously improved our processes and guidance to minimise the number of customers for whom a telephone or video assessment is not suitable. In such instances, these claimants will be prioritised for a face to face assessment.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Disqualification
12 Jan 2022

Questioner: Kate Osamor (LAB - Edmonton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what financial support is available to claimants whose benefits have been suspended under the Risk Review process.

Answered by David Rutley

Any decision to suspend a claim to benefit by the Risk Review Team is not made lightly and includes an assessment of a person’s personal circumstances. Suspension of benefit is a last resort and is based on the risk that a person may not be entitled to benefit.

Where a claim is suspended, we are unable to make any alternative payments. In law, there is no right of appeal against a decision to suspend payment of benefit.

If it is determined there is entitlement to Universal Credit, following the receipt of additional information and evidence from the claimant, the suspension would be lifted immediately and we would always aim to pay benefits at the earliest opportunity, including any arrears that may be due.

Where a review determines there is no entitlement to Universal Credit an outcome decision will be made to that effect. This decision can be appealed.

We make all claimants aware of the evidence we need and the consequence of failing to provide it within prescribed timescales. For any Universal Credit claim that is suspended as a consequence of the Risk Review Team activity, the claimant is notified by journal and text messages, along with a means by which they can contact the Department and speak to the agent responsible for that case. At no time should claimants be unaware of the action they need to take and how they may contact us to provide evidence.

The length of time a review may take to complete is largely dependent on the engagement of the claimant and the timely provision of any information requested. Claimants are asked to provide requested information within a 14-day window for digital submissions, extended to 28 days if they have indicated a postal submission. Once a customer engages with us, the time taken to complete a review is case specific, dependant on the information provided. Once entitlement is established, payments are put into payment as soon as possible.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Disqualification
12 Jan 2022

Questioner: Kate Osamor (LAB - Edmonton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what information the Risk Review Team shares with claimants whose benefits have been suspended under the Risk Review process.

Answered by David Rutley

Any decision to suspend a claim to benefit by the Risk Review Team is not made lightly and includes an assessment of a person’s personal circumstances. Suspension of benefit is a last resort and is based on the risk that a person may not be entitled to benefit.

Where a claim is suspended, we are unable to make any alternative payments. In law, there is no right of appeal against a decision to suspend payment of benefit.

If it is determined there is entitlement to Universal Credit, following the receipt of additional information and evidence from the claimant, the suspension would be lifted immediately and we would always aim to pay benefits at the earliest opportunity, including any arrears that may be due.

Where a review determines there is no entitlement to Universal Credit an outcome decision will be made to that effect. This decision can be appealed.

We make all claimants aware of the evidence we need and the consequence of failing to provide it within prescribed timescales. For any Universal Credit claim that is suspended as a consequence of the Risk Review Team activity, the claimant is notified by journal and text messages, along with a means by which they can contact the Department and speak to the agent responsible for that case. At no time should claimants be unaware of the action they need to take and how they may contact us to provide evidence.

The length of time a review may take to complete is largely dependent on the engagement of the claimant and the timely provision of any information requested. Claimants are asked to provide requested information within a 14-day window for digital submissions, extended to 28 days if they have indicated a postal submission. Once a customer engages with us, the time taken to complete a review is case specific, dependant on the information provided. Once entitlement is established, payments are put into payment as soon as possible.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Disqualification
12 Jan 2022

Questioner: Kate Osamor (LAB - Edmonton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether claimants who have had their benefits suspended under the Risk Review process are able to request a reconsideration of that decision or appeal against it.

Answered by David Rutley

Any decision to suspend a claim to benefit by the Risk Review Team is not made lightly and includes an assessment of a person’s personal circumstances. Suspension of benefit is a last resort and is based on the risk that a person may not be entitled to benefit.

Where a claim is suspended, we are unable to make any alternative payments. In law, there is no right of appeal against a decision to suspend payment of benefit.

If it is determined there is entitlement to Universal Credit, following the receipt of additional information and evidence from the claimant, the suspension would be lifted immediately and we would always aim to pay benefits at the earliest opportunity, including any arrears that may be due.

Where a review determines there is no entitlement to Universal Credit an outcome decision will be made to that effect. This decision can be appealed.

We make all claimants aware of the evidence we need and the consequence of failing to provide it within prescribed timescales. For any Universal Credit claim that is suspended as a consequence of the Risk Review Team activity, the claimant is notified by journal and text messages, along with a means by which they can contact the Department and speak to the agent responsible for that case. At no time should claimants be unaware of the action they need to take and how they may contact us to provide evidence.

The length of time a review may take to complete is largely dependent on the engagement of the claimant and the timely provision of any information requested. Claimants are asked to provide requested information within a 14-day window for digital submissions, extended to 28 days if they have indicated a postal submission. Once a customer engages with us, the time taken to complete a review is case specific, dependant on the information provided. Once entitlement is established, payments are put into payment as soon as possible.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Disqualification
12 Jan 2022

Questioner: Kate Osamor (LAB - Edmonton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the time frame is for the Risk Review Team to finish reviews of benefits it has suspended.

Answered by David Rutley

Any decision to suspend a claim to benefit by the Risk Review Team is not made lightly and includes an assessment of a person’s personal circumstances. Suspension of benefit is a last resort and is based on the risk that a person may not be entitled to benefit.

Where a claim is suspended, we are unable to make any alternative payments. In law, there is no right of appeal against a decision to suspend payment of benefit.

If it is determined there is entitlement to Universal Credit, following the receipt of additional information and evidence from the claimant, the suspension would be lifted immediately and we would always aim to pay benefits at the earliest opportunity, including any arrears that may be due.

Where a review determines there is no entitlement to Universal Credit an outcome decision will be made to that effect. This decision can be appealed.

We make all claimants aware of the evidence we need and the consequence of failing to provide it within prescribed timescales. For any Universal Credit claim that is suspended as a consequence of the Risk Review Team activity, the claimant is notified by journal and text messages, along with a means by which they can contact the Department and speak to the agent responsible for that case. At no time should claimants be unaware of the action they need to take and how they may contact us to provide evidence.

The length of time a review may take to complete is largely dependent on the engagement of the claimant and the timely provision of any information requested. Claimants are asked to provide requested information within a 14-day window for digital submissions, extended to 28 days if they have indicated a postal submission. Once a customer engages with us, the time taken to complete a review is case specific, dependant on the information provided. Once entitlement is established, payments are put into payment as soon as possible.