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Date Title Questioner
28 Jan 2020, 3:44 p.m. National Federation of SubPostmasters: Expenditure Mr Kevan Jones

Question to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much has been spent from the public purse on supporting the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters in the last 10 years.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

Postmasters are the backbone of the Post Office network and it is clearly vital they have a body that represents their interests.

Since 2015 National Federation of Sub-Postmasters have been funded by a grant provided by Post Office. This equates to £1.5 million per annum for its annual operations and £1 million per annum for specific projects established to support postmasters. The annual grant is paid on a quarterly basis. Individual project grants will be paid in line with the requirements of the specific projects. Any grant funding to the NFSP is paid from POL's own commercial revenues.

Prior to the Grant Agreement in 2015, NFSP received an annual payment of £175k from the Post Office along with occasional payments for specific projects. The rest of NSFP’s funding came from members’ subscription payments.

28 Jan 2020, 3:44 p.m. Post Office: Public Appointments Mr Kevan Jones

Question to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who the non-Executive Member on the board of Post Office Limited from her Department is.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Secretary of State delegates the role of Shareholder Representative on the Post Office Board to UK Government Investments (UKGI). Tom Cooper (Director, UKGI) is the current Shareholder Non-Executive Director on the Post Office Board.

UKGI, as the Shareholder Representative, oversees corporate governance, strategy, and the stewardship of the Post Office’s financial and other resources on behalf of BEIS. As well as the seat on the Post Office Board, UKGI Shareholder NED also sits on the Audit and Risk Committee.

The shareholder team monitors financial and operational performance of the business against the long-term strategy, holding the business to account in delivering against its commercial and policy objectives. UKGI are also responsible for ensuring the business is provided with sufficient investment and subsidy funding to achieve its target of being commercially sustainable in the longer term, whilst meeting its social obligations, particularly around minimum network coverages requirements.

Finally, UKGI advises ministers on both commercial and policy issues, supporting them in Parliament and with the wider set of stakeholders who have an interest in Post Office matters.

There are no plans to review these duties.

27 Jan 2020, 5:49 p.m. Special Educational Needs and Disability Fiona Bruce

Question to the Department for Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department has taken to support young people with special educational needs and disabilities to gain (a) internships, (b) apprenticeships and (c) employment opportunities.

Answer (Michelle Donelan)

Preparation for adulthood, including employment, is a key aspect of the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) system. The SEND Code of Practice sets out that all children and young people with SEND should be prepared for adulthood, including employment, and that this preparation should start early. Schools and colleges should work with children, young people and their families to agree clear outcomes including sustainable paid work and should provide careers guidance and supported work experience.

Work-based learning, including traineeships, is available for all young people aged 16 to 19, and up to age 25 if the young person has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.

Supported internships are open to young people with EHC plans aged 16 to 25 who need more help to make the transition into employment.

In December 2017 the Department for Education provided £9.7 million to local authorities to train job coaches and establish supported internship forums. The number of young people undertaking a supported internship has been rising annually. The most recent report was in January 2019 and showed that 1,646 children and young people with EHC plans were undertaking supported internships, an increase from 1,214 from the same time in 2018, 715 in 2017 and 65 in 2016.

Our delivery partner, The National Development Team for Inclusion is funded to provide flexible support across regions, working with Local Authorities and learning providers to ensure quality preparation for adulthood provision, including preparation for employment. We have funded a range of materials which can be found at the following link: https://www.preparingforadulthood.org.uk/downloads/employment. We have also funded Mencap to help colleges arrange work experience placements for learners with SEND.

The government is also committed to ensuring that apprenticeships are available to all young people, including those with SEND. To increase accessibility, we have adjusted the minimum English and maths requirements for apprentices with SEND who have an EHC plan or legacy statement, but who are otherwise able to meet all the occupational standards of their apprenticeship. We are working with local partners to test new policies and deliver more apprenticeships for individuals with SEND. The Department for Education have already begun taking forward the recommendations from Mencap’s July 2019 report on ways to make apprenticeships more accessible for people with SEND.

When an apprentice does need additional support, our funding system helps training providers to put this in place. Currently £150 a month can be claimed to fund a range of support for apprentices with additional educational needs. Additional funding is available if the actual cost of support is greater, up to a maximum of £19,000 per year. Apprenticeship starts by apprentices with a SEND are now at their highest proportion for the last 9 years. In 2018/19 they accounted for 12% of apprenticeships starts, compared to 11.6% in 2017/18.

27 Jan 2020, 5:29 p.m. A1: Lincolnshire Sir Greg Knight

Question to the Department for Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the timeframe is for the completion of the roadworks and temporary lower speed limit on the A1 south of Grantham; and what steps he has taken to ensure the timely completion of this work.

Answer (George Freeman)

The Spittlegate Scheme is being promoted by Lincolnshire County Council and delivered by a private developer under a Section 6 agreement. Highways England is supervising the works, but it is wholly funded and promoted by the County Council. The scheme involves the construction of a new grade separated junction on the A1, referred to as Spittlegate. The works on the A1 will form part of the Grantham Southern Relief Road.

The 50mph temporary speed limit is required for safety reasons, both for road users and the workforce during the construction of the works. Highways England worked closely with the Council to ensure that the works were planned in a way to minimise the impact on road users.

Further information on the status of the scheme, including its timeframe for delivery, can be found on the County Council’s website: https://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/major-projects/grantham-southern-relief-road

27 Jan 2020, 3:52 p.m. Social Security Benefits: Appeals Gordon Henderson

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions

What steps she is taking with the Secretary of State for Justice to reduce the waiting time for welfare benefit tribunal appeals.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

DWP is working with the Ministry of Justice to develop a new digital system with a view to enabling swifter processing of appeals and a better service for all parties to the proceedings. Personal Independence Payment, Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit claimants can now submit their appeal online.

27 Jan 2020, 3:44 p.m. Disability: Medical Examinations Holly Mumby-Croft

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions

What steps she is taking to (a) reduce the number of assessments undertaken by people with disabilities and (b) ensure adequate support for those people.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

We have made improvements to reduce assessments for Work Capability and Personal Independence Payment. This includes reducing review frequency for pensioners and people with severe or progressive conditions. We are also exploring our manifesto commitment to ensure a minimum award review duration for PIP awards. The planned Green Paper will continue to look at how we can further improve the experience for people with health conditions and disabilities.

27 Jan 2020, 2:51 p.m. NHS: Pensions Neale Hanvey

Question to the HM Treasury

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the effect of NHS pension rules on trends in the level of recruitment and retention of NHS staff.

Answer (John Glen)

The Government is listening carefully to concerns raised by senior doctors and NHS employers about the effect of limits on pensions tax relief. As part of a wider drive to ensure the NHS has the staff it needs to meet demand and transform care, the Government is carrying out an urgent review of the pensions annual allowance taper problem that has caused some doctors to turn down extra shifts for fear of high tax bills. Ministers at HM Treasury and the Department for Health and Social Care have met the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the British Medical Association as part of this review.

The review is also considering the responses to the Department for Health and Social Care’s consultation on pension flexibility. The review will report at Budget.

In addition, in September 2019 guidance was issued by NHS Employers informing employers of the short-term approaches that they could take to mitigate the effect of pension tax on their workforce this tax year. The NHS has also implemented an immediate measure to preserve clinical capacity amid the increased pressure on services during the winter period. This has enabled NHS employers to compensate NHS clinicians for the effect on their pensions of annual allowance charges incurred in 2019/20.

24 Jan 2020, 5:41 p.m. Department for Education: Climate Change Darren Jones

Question to the Department for Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of climate change on the work of his Department; and what steps he is taking in response to that effect.

Answer (Nick Gibb)

The Department of Education is supporting sustainability both through the content taught to students, and through supporting our schools to become more sustainable institutions.

It is important that young people are taught about climate change and sustainability. Topics related to this are included in both the science and geography curriculum and qualifications. For example, in primary science pupils are taught about how environments can change as a result of human actions. In secondary science, pupils are taught about the production of carbon dioxide by human activity and the effect this has on the climate. This is expanded on in GCSE science where pupils will consider the evidence for additional anthropogenic causes of climate change. As part of GCSE geography pupils will look at the causes, consequences of and responses to extreme weather conditions and natural weather hazards. In 2017, we also introduced a new environmental science A level. This will enable students to study topics that will support their understanding of climate change and how it can be tackled.

In addition, sustainability content will be included in T levels, new post-16 technical study programs. In setting outline content, the T level panels of employers and industry experts must consider the inclusion of sustainability as relevant to their sector. For example, in Construction, T level students will be required to learn about renewable energy and emerging technologies to support energy efficiency.

The Department support sustainability through our capital funding and programmes, both to reduce carbon and save schools money on energy. Schools can use their condition funding to invest in improving energy efficiency. Furthermore, interest free loans for energy efficiency projects in maintained schools are available through the Government backed Salix finance scheme. Salix loans have also been made available to academies through an annual application process. More broadly, we are working with colleagues across the Government on carbon reduction and energy efficiency and developing thinking on how future capital programmes can contribute further.

During procurements, Department for Education considers how this might improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the area, where this is relevant to the subject matter of the contract.

From April, the Department will begin implementation of new government guidance on Social Value, which requires central Government Departments to take account of social impact as part of the award criteria where this is linked to the subject matter of the contract and proportionate. This may include reducing environmental impacts.

24 Jan 2020, 5:28 p.m. Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Climate Change Darren Jones

Question to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the effect of climate change on the work of her Department; and what steps she is taking in response to that effect.

Answer (Nigel Adams)

DCMS is committed to helping tackle climate change. The UK is a world leader in cutting emissions while growing the economy. Our world-leading net zero target will require transformation across the economy. HMG will set out further plans to deliver net zero throughout 2020 ahead of COP26, including plans on energy and heat in buildings. HMG is leading from the front, reducing emissions from the government estate and delivering on the Greening Government Commitments.

DCMS works closely with the Electronic Communications Resilience and Response Group (the industry run group which represents all the major Telecoms operators and leads on resilience activity and best practice); this group has produced reports on climate change adaptation and we have worked closely with them and with Defra colleagues to develop a template which will enable a sector wide response to the third adaptation reporting round which closes at the end of 2021.

24 Jan 2020, 2:56 p.m. Department for Transport: Climate Change Darren Jones

Question to the Department for Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of climate change on the work of his Department; and what steps he is taking in response to that effect.

Answer (George Freeman)

The Department for Transport (DfT) works closely with its operators on risk assessment and mitigation measures for transport infrastructure. DfT contributed to the Government’s National Adaption Programme 2018 and Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017. These two documents set out Government’s adaptation measures and predicated climate change impacts nationally. DfT is continuing to work with transport operators and delivery partners to increase climate resilience in the planning and design of transport infrastructure and will keep incorporating adaptation into its strategies.

Government is committed to delivering a net zero emission transport system, which will deliver wider benefits for the UK and its citizens, as soon as possible. These benefits include improved air quality and public health, new opportunities for economic growth and high-quality jobs in clean growth, as well as a sustainable and more efficient transport system. The forthcoming Transport Decarbonisation Plan will set out our bold and ambitious policies for transport to ensure the transport sector plays its part in ending the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050.