Department for Work and Pensions

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is responsible for welfare, pensions and child maintenance policy. As the UK’s biggest public service department it administers the State Pension and a range of working age, disability and ill health benefits to around 20 million claimants and customers.



Secretary of State

 Portrait

Thérèse Coffey
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Shadow Ministers / Spokeperson
Labour
Jonathan Ashworth (LAB - Leicester South)
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Liberal Democrat
Wendy Chamberlain (LDEM - North East Fife)
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

Labour
Baroness Sherlock (LAB - Life peer)
Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

Liberal Democrat
Baroness Janke (LDEM - Life peer)
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

Plaid Cymru
Hywel Williams (PC - Arfon)
Shadow PC Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

Democratic Unionist Party
Sammy Wilson (DUP - East Antrim)
Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

Scottish National Party
David Linden (SNP - Glasgow East)
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)
Junior Shadow Ministers / Deputy Spokesperson
Labour
Matt Rodda (LAB - Reading East)
Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) (Pensions)
Vicky Foxcroft (LAB - Lewisham, Deptford)
Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)
Alison McGovern (LAB - Wirral South)
Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)
Karen Buck (LAB - Westminster North)
Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)
Ministers of State
Chloe Smith (CON - Norwich North)
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State
Mims Davies (CON - Mid Sussex)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
Guy Opperman (CON - Hexham)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
Baroness Stedman-Scott (CON - Life peer)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
David Rutley (CON - Macclesfield)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
Scheduled Event
Wednesday 19th January 2022
09:00
Work and Pensions Committee - Oral evidence - Select & Joint Committees
19 Jan 2022, 9 a.m.
Children in poverty: No recourse to public funds
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Scheduled Event
Monday 7th February 2022
14:30
Department for Work and Pensions
Oral questions - Main Chamber
7 Feb 2022, 2:30 p.m.
Work and Pensions (including Topical Questions)
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Debates
Thursday 13th January 2022
Select Committee Docs
Wednesday 2nd February 2022
00:00
Call for Evidence
Call For Evidence
Select Committee Inquiry
Wednesday 15th December 2021
Protecting pension savers – five years on from the pension freedoms: Saving for later life

This inquiry is looking at saving for later life and what more needs to be done to help people plan …

Written Answers
Tuesday 18th January 2022
Jobcentres: Industrial Health and Safety
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to protect Job Centre …
Secondary Legislation
Thursday 25th November 2021
Occupational Pensions (Revaluation) Order 2021
Section 84 of the Pension Schemes Act 1993 (c. 48) requires certain pensions and other benefits under occupational pension schemes …
Bills
Wednesday 8th September 2021
Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Act 2021
A Bill to make provision relating to the up-rating of certain social security benefits payable in the tax year 2022-23.
Dept. Publications
Tuesday 18th January 2022
09:30
Treaty
Tuesday 12th February 2019

Department for Work and Pensions Commons Appearances

Oral Answers to Questions is a regularly scheduled appearance where the Secretary of State and junior minister will answer at the Dispatch Box questions from backbench MPs

Other Commons Chamber appearances can be:
  • Urgent Questions where the Speaker has selected a question to which a Minister must reply that day
  • Adjornment Debates a 30 minute debate attended by a Minister that concludes the day in Parliament.
  • Oral Statements informing the Commons of a significant development, where backbench MP's can then question the Minister making the statement.

Westminster Hall debates are performed in response to backbench MPs or e-petitions asking for a Minister to address a detailed issue

Written Statements are made when a current event is not sufficiently significant to require an Oral Statement, but the House is required to be informed.

Most Recent Commons Appearances by Category
Dec. 13
Oral Questions
Jan. 13
Urgent Questions
Dec. 16
Written Statements
Nov. 17
Westminster Hall
View All Department for Work and Pensions Commons Contibutions

Bills currently before Parliament

Department for Work and Pensions does not have Bills currently before Parliament


Acts of Parliament created in the 2019 Parliament


A Bill to make provision relating to the up-rating of certain social security benefits payable in the tax year 2022-23.

This Bill received Royal Assent on Wednesday 17th November 2021 and was enacted into law.


A Bill to make provision about pension schemes

This Bill received Royal Assent on Thursday 11th February 2021 and was enacted into law.

Introduced: 23rd September 2020

A Bill To make provision relating to the up-rating of certain social security benefits.

This Bill received Royal Assent on Monday 23rd November 2020 and was enacted into law.

Department for Work and Pensions - Secondary Legislation

Section 84 of the Pension Schemes Act 1993 (c. 48) requires certain pensions and other benefits under occupational pension schemes to be revalued by the final salary method (which is dealt with in Schedule 3 to that Act). For the purpose of the revaluation of benefits payable to or in respect of persons who attain their scheme’s normal pension age in 2022, and as required by paragraph 2 of Schedule 3 to that Act, this Order specifies the necessary revaluation percentages for each of the revaluation periods between 1st January 1986 and 31st December 2021. It is not necessary to specify a lower revaluation percentage for revaluation periods which start before 1st January 2009.
These Regulations provide for the changes to the work allowance and taper rate in universal credit announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 27th October 2021.
View All Department for Work and Pensions Secondary Legislation

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).

Trending Petitions
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10,978 Signatures
(1,541 in the last 7 days)
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164 Signatures
(158 in the last 7 days)
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2,487 Signatures
(118 in the last 7 days)
Petitions with most signatures
Petition Open
10,978 Signatures
(1,541 in the last 7 days)
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8,148 Signatures
(None in the last 7 days)
Petition Open
2,487 Signatures
(118 in the last 7 days)
Petition Debates Contributed

The government should implement an immediate Universal Basic Income trial for all UK residents to ensure home and food security through the coronavirus Covid-19 crisis, to support the needs of those that need to self-isolate as well as the public health at large, and the wider economy.

View All Department for Work and Pensions Petitions

Departmental Select Committee

Work and Pensions Committee

Commons Select Committees are a formally established cross-party group of backbench MPs tasked with holding a Government department to account.

At any time there will be number of ongoing investigations into the work of the Department, or issues which fall within the oversight of the Department. Witnesses can be summoned from within the Government and outside to assist in these inquiries.

Select Committee findings are reported to the Commons, printed, and published on the Parliament website. The government then usually has 60 days to reply to the committee's recommendations.


11 Members of the Work and Pensions Committee
Stephen Timms Portrait
Stephen Timms (Labour - East Ham)
Work and Pensions Committee Chair since 29th January 2020
Desmond Swayne Portrait
Desmond Swayne (Conservative - New Forest West)
Work and Pensions Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Chris Stephens Portrait
Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)
Work and Pensions Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Ben Spencer Portrait
Ben Spencer (Conservative - Runnymede and Weybridge)
Work and Pensions Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Selaine Saxby Portrait
Selaine Saxby (Conservative - North Devon)
Work and Pensions Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Nigel Mills Portrait
Nigel Mills (Conservative - Amber Valley)
Work and Pensions Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Steve McCabe Portrait
Steve McCabe (Labour - Birmingham, Selly Oak)
Work and Pensions Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Neil Coyle Portrait
Neil Coyle (Labour - Bermondsey and Old Southwark)
Work and Pensions Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Siobhan Baillie Portrait
Siobhan Baillie (Conservative - Stroud)
Work and Pensions Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Shaun Bailey Portrait
Shaun Bailey (Conservative - West Bromwich West)
Work and Pensions Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Debbie Abrahams Portrait
Debbie Abrahams (Labour - Oldham East and Saddleworth)
Work and Pensions Committee Member since 2nd March 2020
Work and Pensions Committee: Upcoming Events
Work and Pensions Committee - Oral evidence
Children in poverty: No recourse to public funds
19 Jan 2022, 9 a.m.
At 9.15am: Oral evidence
David Rutley MP - Minister for Welfare Delivery at Department for Work and Pensions
Will Quince MP - Minister for Children and Families at Department for Education
Tom Pursglove MP - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Home Office
Alison Samedi - Deputy Director, Compliant Environment and Enforcement Unit at Home Office

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50 most recent Written Questions

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Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department

5th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many work coaches there are at each job centre in the UK, broken down by job centre.

The total Staff in Post (SIP) for all Work Coach activity has been provided broken down by district. As of January 2022, the total number of Work Coaches in our Jobcentres is 27,049 SIP. It is not possible to give an exact number for each Jobcentre because Work Coaches work across whole of their district and sometimes beyond.

The standard DWP definition of Work Coach activity includes Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) activity. Also included here are a number of staff carrying out related activities including those in temporary Work Coach Team Leader roles.

JCP District

SIP

Avon Somerset and Gloucestershire

836

Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire

654

Berkshire Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire

637

Birmingham and Solihull

946

Black Country

761

Central Scotland

343

Cheshire

359

Cumbria and Lancashire

840

Devon and Cornwall

691

Dorset Wiltshire Hampshire and Isle of Wight

1024

Durham and Tees Valley

626

East Anglia

814

East London

1257

East Scotland

467

Essex

738

Greater Manchester

1384

Kent

631

Leicestershire and Northamptonshire

612

Lincolnshire Nottinghamshire and Rutland

767

Mercia

717

Merseyside

874

National

111

North and Mid Wales

347

North East Scotland

483

North East Yorkshire and Humber

582

North London

1026

Northern Scotland

150

Northumberland Tyne and Wear

699

South East Wales

547

South London

1314

South West Scotland

395

South West Wales

518

South Yorkshire

651

Staffordshire and Derbyshire

749

Surrey and Sussex

877

West London

1152

West Scotland

404

West Yorkshire

1066

Grand Total

27049

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the Health and Safety Executive has considered making risk assessments, including protective barriers, vehicle run-off zones and noise distancing, a mandatory requirement at temporary motorsport events, including grass track meetings on farmers' fields.

There is already a legal requirement to assess risk at motorsport events by identifying control measures, such as protective barriers, run-off zones and noise control. This includes temporary events such as those taking place upon farmer’s fields. Employers and organisers of such events are subject to wide ranging duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Section 2 (relating to duties owed to employees) and Section 3 (a duty to ensure the safety of persons not employed by the dutyholder, such as spectators or members of the public).

The Health and Safety Executive has produced the guidance publication HSG112 “Management of Health and Safety at Motorsport Events, HSG112. Whilst this publication has a focus upon the professional sport, the information within it is of use to those planning and controlling smaller temporary events.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps the Government is taking to support people unable to work as a result of having long covid.

The DWP offers financial support through Universal Credit and New Style Employment and Support Allowance for people affected by the pandemic, including those with long-COVID, if they satisfy eligibility criteria. In addition, people with long-COVID may be eligible to Personal Independence Payment.

Employers are legally required to pay Statutory Sick Pay to eligible employees who are off work sick including where sickness absence is due to long-COVID. Some employers may also decide to pay more, and for longer, through Occupational Sick Pay.

Furthermore, the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC), who advise the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions regarding Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB), are investigating whether long-COVID can be prescribed as an occupational disease for the purposes of IIDB.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to protect Job Centre staff's health and wellbeing when (a) conducting face-to-face appointments and (b) ensuring local work from home covid-19 guidance is followed.

DWP takes the health, safety and wellbeing of colleagues very seriously and all of our offices are COVID secure. We have a suite of Health & Safety risk assessments in place developed following extensive consultation with departmental trade union representatives that cover all of the measures in place to protect staff and customers. These risk assessments are regularly reviewed, for example following changes to government guidance, including that from the respective governments in the devolved nations.

In addition, DWP offers a comprehensive Employee Assistance Programme that offers short and long-term support for any physical or mental health issues that staff face.

DWP also has a network of Mental Health First Aiders on hand across all parts of the DWP to offer immediate emotional support and also to signpost to expert support.

The DWP’s network of Wellbeing Advocates are a community of staff representing all grades, job roles and geographical areas who regularly cascade key Wellbeing messages and support packages to their local teams and sites who also provide an invaluable service in feeding back to the central Wellbeing team on challenges that their colleagues are facing.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when she plans to publish statistics on the number of people who have moved into secure employment as a result of their participation in the Restart scheme.

The Restart Scheme started in July 2021 and offers a 12 month period of enhanced support to participants. The main objective for the Restart Scheme is to secure sustained employment for participants, which is achieved when a participant reaches a level of earnings equivalent to 16 hours per week at National Living Wage for 6 months, within 18 months of starting on the Scheme. This means it will take time before job outcome data is sufficiently robust and representative of Scheme performance.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many social care providers have signed up to provide placements as part of the kickstart scheme.

I refer the Honourable Member to the answer given for PQ 87676 for a recent breakdown of Kickstart jobs made available and started by sector. This shows that as of 5th December 2021, 4,740 Kickstart jobs within the social care sector were made available for young people to apply to and that 1,840 Kickstart jobs had been started by young people.

Kickstart jobs are categorised by the nature of the role rather than the sector of the employer. This means for example, that an administrative job within the social care sector would be categorised as ‘administrative’, rather than ‘social care’. Therefore, it’s likely that there are a number of other jobs with social care providers that have been categorised within other sectors.

We do not centrally collate information regarding jobs filled or advertised in the social care sector. To gather this would require each Kickstart application to be reviewed to ascertain the principle activities of each employer, which would incur disproportionate costs.

Kickstart jobs are additional and must not displace existing opportunities within the wider labour market. We continue to support employers to fill available jobs including those within the care sector for the remainder of the Kickstart Scheme.

More widely, DWP are working with the social care industry, and the Department of Health and Social Care, to provide our Work Coaches with the knowledge they need to identify suitable candidates and to develop relationships with social care employers in their local areas. As a result, local jobcentres are now directly connecting with employers in their area, to discuss their recruitment needs.

Although care is taken when processing and analysing Kickstart applications, referrals and starts, the data collected might be subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large-scale recording system which has been developed quickly. The management information presented here has not been subjected to the usual standard of quality assurance associated with official statistics, but is provided in the interests of transparency. Work is ongoing to improve the quality of information available for the programme.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the potential for the Government's Kickstart scheme to fill vacancies in the social care sector.

I refer the Honourable Member to the answer given for PQ 87676 for a recent breakdown of Kickstart jobs made available and started by sector. This shows that as of 5th December 2021, 4,740 Kickstart jobs within the social care sector were made available for young people to apply to and that 1,840 Kickstart jobs had been started by young people.

Kickstart jobs are categorised by the nature of the role rather than the sector of the employer. This means for example, that an administrative job within the social care sector would be categorised as ‘administrative’, rather than ‘social care’. Therefore, it’s likely that there are a number of other jobs with social care providers that have been categorised within other sectors.

We do not centrally collate information regarding jobs filled or advertised in the social care sector. To gather this would require each Kickstart application to be reviewed to ascertain the principle activities of each employer, which would incur disproportionate costs.

Kickstart jobs are additional and must not displace existing opportunities within the wider labour market. We continue to support employers to fill available jobs including those within the care sector for the remainder of the Kickstart Scheme.

More widely, DWP are working with the social care industry, and the Department of Health and Social Care, to provide our Work Coaches with the knowledge they need to identify suitable candidates and to develop relationships with social care employers in their local areas. As a result, local jobcentres are now directly connecting with employers in their area, to discuss their recruitment needs.

Although care is taken when processing and analysing Kickstart applications, referrals and starts, the data collected might be subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large-scale recording system which has been developed quickly. The management information presented here has not been subjected to the usual standard of quality assurance associated with official statistics, but is provided in the interests of transparency. Work is ongoing to improve the quality of information available for the programme.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will publish opening dates for each of her Department's confirmed temporary job centres.

The Department has published the list of temporary Jobcentres on https://www.gov.uk/guidance/temporary-jobcentres-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic and, in the next week, opening dates will be included for those sites that have already opened. The Department will continue to update https://www.gov.uk/guidance/temporary-jobcentres-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic as more sites open. The date a site opens is dependent on a number of factors including, but not limited to, lease signing dates, planning approvals and completion of the building work required.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential for the kickstart scheme to fill vacancies in the haulage sector.

I refer the Honourable Member to PQ 87676 for a recent breakdown of Kickstart jobs made available and started by sector. This shows that as of 5th December 6,260 Kickstart jobs were made available within the delivery and storage sector (the nearest applicable sector category), and 3,180 of these jobs had been started by young people.

Kickstart jobs are categorised by the nature of the role rather than the sector of the employer. This means for example, that an administrative job within the haulage sector would be categorised as ‘administrative’, rather than ‘haulage’.

Kickstart jobs are additional and must not displace existing opportunities within the wider labour market. We continue to support employers to fill available jobs including those within the haulage sector for the remainder of the Kickstart Scheme.

More widely, DWP are working with the haulage industry, and the Department for Transport, to provide our work coaches with the knowledge they need to identify suitable candidates and to develop relationships with key employers in their local areas. As a result, local jobcentres are now directly connecting with employers in their area, to discuss their recruitment needs enabling them to provide young people with the skills and knowledge they need to enter the sector.

Although care is taken when processing and analysing Kickstart applications, referrals and starts, the data collected might be subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large-scale recording system which has been developed quickly. The management information presented here has not been subjected to the usual standard of quality assurance associated with official statistics but is provided in the interests of transparency. Work is ongoing to improve the quality of information available for the programme.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jan 2022
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.

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.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jan 2022
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.

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.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to introduce a secure electronic system that will enable British citizens living overseas to submit documentary evidence as proof of entitlement particularly in relation to pensions.

DWP already uses a secure electronic system to allow customers to upload certain categories of evidence to the department.

We have been carrying out extensive research to expand this capability to cover other services such as pensions. Our expectation is that this capability will possibly be available towards the end of the next financial year 2022/3.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what procedures are in place to ensure people with uncontrolled epilepsy are assessed accurately when making a personal independence payment claim.

All Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Health Professionals (HPs) complete training on neurological conditions, including epilepsy. HPs maintain knowledge through Continuing Professional Development Activity.

All claimants, including claimants with epilepsy are assessed in accordance with the DWP PIP Assessment Guide.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure equal employment opportunities for disabled people in Newport West constituency.

This Government is committed to improving the lives of disabled people and delivering the most ambitious disability reform agenda in a generation. DWP delivers a range of national programmes, as well as initiatives in partnership with the health system, to support disabled people to stay in or move into work. These include the Work and Health Programme and Intensive Personalised Employment Support.

In Jobcentre Plus throughout the Newport West constituency, Work Coaches, aided by Disability Employment Advisers, tailor support to claimant’s individual needs, taking account of local provision, training, and employment opportunities.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will extend full statutory sick pay to self-employed people who are required to self-isolate as a result of covid-19.

No. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is paid for by employers and there is no mechanism to include the self-employed in SSP.

The Government does have a wider safety net to ensure self-employed people are supported through the welfare system.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the public health benefits of extending full statutory sick pay to self-employed people who have to self-isolate as a result of covid-19.

No. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is paid for by employers and there is no mechanism to include the self-employed in SSP.

The Government does have a wider safety net to ensure self-employed people are supported through the welfare system.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she has taken to increase health and safety enforcement in response to the omicron variant of covid-19.

In 2021/22 the Government provided an additional £14m to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to continue its’ programme of spot checks on compliance, to ensure businesses are protecting workers from COVID-19. The focus of the compliance checks is reviewed and adapted in line with Government advice and the different approaches taken in England, Scotland and Wales; most recently, in response to the omicron variant.

Businesses must still control the risks and review and update their risk assessments, taking into the account their statutory obligations, the public health guidance in their own nation, and the requirement to consult their workers.

Since the start of the pandemic, HSE has carried out more than 380,000 interventions to check how businesses are implementing measures to reduce transmission of COVID-19 at their sites. Where contraventions are identified and to ensure standards are being met, inspectors continue to take enforcement action, in line with HSE’s published Enforcement Policy Statement

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reasons the number of complaints made about her Department accepted by the Independent Case Examiner has increased over the last 12 months.

The Independent Case Examiner (ICE) plays an important role in responding to complaints about the Department, where the customer remains dissatisfied with DWP’s final response, and there are a variety of factors that can influence the numbers of complaints accepted by the ICE office.

As yet, it is too early to draw any firm conclusions about what may have caused any increase in complaints being accepted by ICE over the last 12 months, but we continue to monitor escalation rates closely and work with the ICE office to identify and address potential drivers.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the total floor area of her departmental estate was in each year from 2010-11 to 2020-21.

Total DWP Floorspace (NIA m2) Managed Estate including Arm’s Length Bodies’.

Source: Cabinet Office: State of the Estate report (parliamentary report) published on Gov.uk.

Year Area m2

2010 1,856,832

2011 1,788,883

2012 1,799,716

2013 1,720,464

2014 1,646,766

2015 1,592,693

2016 1,563,185

2017 1,561,604

2018 1,577,606

2019 1,399,875

2020 1,380,476

2021 1,379,939

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of mental health and wellbeing support available in the workplace; and what steps her Department is taking to encourage businesses to improve workplace mental health support.

The Government has taken steps to encourage businesses to improve workplace mental health. For example, the Disability Confident scheme provides employers with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to understand health and disability issues, including mental health, in the workplace. As of 31 December 2021, Disability Confident employers reported over 11m paid employees working in their businesses.

To support mental health and well-being, the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service is available for those who need mental health support whilst in employment. The support can be accessed remotely, and is delivered by external partners, Remploy Employment Services and Able Futures, who offer individualised workplace support from experienced mental health practitioners. The support and advice is available for up to nine months and can offer coping strategies, a step-by-step support plan, advice on adjustments, and support for employers to enable them to fully understand the person’s condition.

In addition, in March 2021, the Government published the COVID-19 Mental Health and Wellbeing Recovery Action Plan. This acknowledged the important role that employers play in creating workplaces in which employees with health conditions, including mental illnesses, can stay and thrive in work. We are supporting employers in this, particularly with our commitment to develop a new digital service, designed directly with small and medium-sized businesses to provide employers with better-tailored and integrated information about health and disability at work. An early version of the service is currently in private live-testing.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent estimate she has made of the number of people living in (a) poverty and (b) relative poverty in (i) York and (ii) York Central constituency.

The latest information on the number and proportion of children who are in low income families in York and York Central constituency, covering the six years, 2014/15 to 2019/20, can be found at: Children in low income families: local area statistics 2014 to 2020 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

National Statistics on the number of people in low income are published annually in the “Households Below Average Income” publication. Data for York and York Central constituency is unavailable due to insufficient sample size.

Latest statistics for the number of people who are in low income in Yorkshire and the Humber and England, covering 2019/20, can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-for-financial-years-ending-1995-to-2020 in population-hbai-timeseries-1994-95-2019-20-tables data table 3.20ts (absolute low income, before and after housing costs) and 3.18ts (relative low income, before and after housing costs).

This Government is wholly committed to supporting those on low incomes, and continues to do so through many measures, including by 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.

As our recovery gathers pace and with record vacancies, our focus now is on continuing to support parents into and to progress in work. This is because we know that work, particularly where it is full-time, substantially reduces the risks of child poverty and improves long-term outcomes for families and children. 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.

Universal Credit recipients in work can now benefit from a reduction in the Universal Credit taper rate from 63% to 55%, and an increase in the work allowance by £500 per year meaning that working households will be able to keep substantially more of what they earn. These measures effectively represent a tax cut, worth around £2.2bn a year in 2022-23, for the lowest paid in society 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 (£41m for the Scottish Government, £25m for the Welsh Government and £14m for the NI Executive), for a total of £500 million. City of York Council are receiving £1,037,906.47of this funding.

To support low-income families further we have also 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 investing over £200m a year to continue our Holiday Activities and Food programme, which is already providing enriching activities and healthy meals to children in all Local Authorities in England.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many children in (a) York and (b) York Central constituency are living in (i) poverty and (ii) relative poverty.

The latest information on the number and proportion of children who are in low income families in York and York Central constituency, covering the six years, 2014/15 to 2019/20, can be found at: Children in low income families: local area statistics 2014 to 2020 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

National Statistics on the number of people in low income are published annually in the “Households Below Average Income” publication. Data for York and York Central constituency is unavailable due to insufficient sample size.

Latest statistics for the number of people who are in low income in Yorkshire and the Humber and England, covering 2019/20, can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-for-financial-years-ending-1995-to-2020 in population-hbai-timeseries-1994-95-2019-20-tables data table 3.20ts (absolute low income, before and after housing costs) and 3.18ts (relative low income, before and after housing costs).

This Government is wholly committed to supporting those on low incomes, and continues to do so through many measures, including by 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.

As our recovery gathers pace and with record vacancies, our focus now is on continuing to support parents into and to progress in work. This is because we know that work, particularly where it is full-time, substantially reduces the risks of child poverty and improves long-term outcomes for families and children. 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.

Universal Credit recipients in work can now benefit from a reduction in the Universal Credit taper rate from 63% to 55%, and an increase in the work allowance by £500 per year meaning that working households will be able to keep substantially more of what they earn. These measures effectively represent a tax cut, worth around £2.2bn a year in 2022-23, for the lowest paid in society 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 (£41m for the Scottish Government, £25m for the Welsh Government and £14m for the NI Executive), for a total of £500 million. City of York Council are receiving £1,037,906.47of this funding.

To support low-income families further we have also 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 investing over £200m a year to continue our Holiday Activities and Food programme, which is already providing enriching activities and healthy meals to children in all Local Authorities in England.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the impact of the Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021 on support for disabled people in Newport West constituency.

As set out in the Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021, Newport West will benefit from UK Government support that applies in all parts of Wales, from targeted UK Government investment in the local area, and from funding that the UK Government provides to the Welsh Government.

The UK Government set out a range of policies that will apply in all parts of Wales. This includes increasing the National Living Wage, cutting the Universal Credit taper rate, increasing the Universal Credit work allowances, investing in R&D, funding the commitment to recruit additional police officers, and freezing fuel duty. These will help a wide range of people including disabled people.

In addition, the Government published the National Disability Strategy in July 2021 which aims to break down barriers and extend opportunities for disabled people in all parts of the UK. The strategy respects and showcases the diversity of approaches across the UK on disability, in relevant policy areas which are devolved. Reflecting those devolved areas, each nation has - or is in the process of developing - its own disability strategy.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has had any discussions with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the potential merits of increasing statutory sick pay to rates paid in other economically developed countries in order to encourage workers who need to self-isolate to do so.

The government has put in place support to help individuals to comply with public health advice on self-isolation. This includes extending Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to those who are sick or self-isolating due to coronavirus. SSP is also payable from the first day of absence, rather than the fourth, where an employee is sick or self-isolating due to coronavirus.

Alongside this we have always made sure there are no financial barriers to self-isolating, by providing the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment which has been extended until the end of March 2022.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential effect of increasing statutory sick pay on the ability of workers to self-isolate when necessary.

The government has put in place support to help individuals to comply with public health advice on self-isolation. This includes extending Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to those who are sick or self-isolating due to coronavirus. SSP is also payable from the first day of absence, rather than the fourth, where an employee is sick or self-isolating due to coronavirus.

Alongside this we have always made sure there are no financial barriers to self-isolating, by providing the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment which has been extended until the end of March 2022.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 29 November 2021 to Question 80980 on Offshore Industry: Continental Shelf, what the percentage increase was in the maintenance backlogs based on the data provided to the HSE.

The data provided to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) indicates that there has been a distinct increasing trend in maintenance backlogs. Operators record and classify their maintenance backlog figures according to their own safety management systems. There is no legal requirement for operators to be record it in a particular way. This means that it is difficult and potentially misleading to compare the maintenance figures for different operators in absolute terms. What is clear though is that there is a clear trend of an increase in maintenance backlog among UKCS operators. HSE’s focus is on how effectively operators risk manage their backlogs until they have dealt with them.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average response time for answering personal independence payment new claims calls was in each month from December 2020 to November 2021.

Thank you for your question the following table presents Personal Independent Payment (PIP) New Claims (NC) Monthly Management Information for period December 2020 to November 2021.

The table details on a month by month basis for the above noted period the total number of calls answered for the service and the average speed to answer (ASA) for those calls, the ASA data is presented in minutes and seconds.

Month

Average speed of answer (min:sec)

Total Calls Answered

Dec-20

00:36

45,298

Jan-21

02:50

64,403

Feb-21

03:41

62,357

Mar-21

02:16

96,578

Apr-21

02:59

78,690

May-21

05:06

78,075

Jun-21

06:52

89,427

Jul-21

03:28

87,532

Aug-21

02:56

86,099

Sep-21

07:48

93,654

Oct-21

12:38

91,025

Nov-21

08:06

101,186

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the annual (a) staffing and (b) resource level was in the HSE Energy Division in each year since 2016 to date.

The annual staffing in the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Energy Division and the full-time equivalent number of personnel engaged in Offshore regulation is as follows:

.

April 2016

April 2017

April 2018

April 2019

April 2020

April 2021

Headcount

221

201

193

190

197

187

Full-Time Equivalent

201.7

190.9

186.1

183.6

189.8

179.4

Due to changes in HSE’s IT and reporting systems over time, the 2016 figures were calculated in a different way from the subsequent years and so may not represent a like-for-like comparison.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claims suspended under the Risk Review process have been reinstated as of 24 December 2021.

Approximately 3% of cases reviewed under the Risk Review Process between May 2020 and the beginning of January 2022 have been re-instated.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claims were issued with a negative decision on the grounds that the claimant failed the habitual resident test, as a proportion of total claims, in each month from January 2014 to December 2021.

The table attached gives relevant proportions and volumes of total Universal Credit (UC) claims that failed their Habitual Residency Test (HRT) in each month from June 2015 to September 2021.

The Department currently holds information for HRTs failed by UC claimants from June 2015 to September 2021.

Notes:

  1. Numbers failing the HRT are updated monthly and retrospectively as outcomes are resolved. Current numbers and the proportions on which these are based may therefore be different from those shared at an earlier time for the same period.
  2. The rise in numbers failing the HRT since 2015 reflects the gradual roll out of UC and rising UC caseload.
  3. Only single-person claims were included on the early UC caseload until December 2018 when the UC full service began rollout.
  4. Proportions in table attached are based on unrounded numbers.
  5. Any numbers shown below 100 are rounded to the nearest 10.
  6. Any numbers shown above 100 are rounded to the nearest 100.
David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of removing the two-child limit from universal credit as recommended by the Social Mobility Commission in its State of the Nation 2021 report.

No assessment has been carried out since the Social Mobility Commission’s report. However, latest figures from April 2021 indicate that over 50% of those households with three or more children who are in receipt of Universal Credit, are not affected by the two-child policy, with over 4% of those being in receipt of an exception. Statistics relating to this policy are published annually, most recently on the 15 July 2021, and are available on GOV.UK.

Statistics from the Office for National Statistics show that in 2020, of all families with dependent children, 85% had a maximum of two in their family. For lone parent families, this was 83%.

The government therefore feels it is proportionate to provide support through Universal Credit for a maximum of two children. A benefits structure adjusting automatically to family size is unsustainable.

On 9 July 2021, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment in the judicial review of the two-child policy. The court found the two-child policy lawful and not in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights

This policy ensures fairness by asking families on benefits to make the same financial decisions as families supporting themselves solely through work. We recognise that some claimants are not able to make the same choices about the number of children in their family, which is why exceptions have been put in place to protect certain groups.

.

Exceptions to the two-child policy are any child in a household who is:

  • Adopted, when they would otherwise be in Local Authority care;
  • Children living long term with friends or family, who would otherwise be at risk of entering the care system;
  • A child born to a young person under 16, who is living with their parents or carers (until they make a separate claim upon turning 16);
  • Third and subsequent children who are:

- additional children in a multiple birth;

- likely to have been born as a result of non-consensual conception (which for this

purpose includes rape or where the claimant was in a controlling or coercive

relationship with the child’s other biological parent at the time of conception).

More information regarding this policy and its exceptions, can be found on GOV.UK.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many benefit claims were suspended under the Risk Review process as of 24 December 2021.

Since the Risk Review Team was created in May 2020, latest published figures show there have been 3,999,004 claims made to Universal Credit.

As of 24th December 2021, 149,763 have been suspended under the Risk Review Process, a percentage of 3.74%

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 8 December 2021 to Question 84427 on Social Security Benefit: Disqualification and with reference to the 149,057 cases that were suspended under the Risk Review Process, what steps her Department has taken to ensure the process of suspension does not result in the discrimination of claimants and is compliant with the Equality Act 2010.

The Risk Review Team does not capture demographic data on any claims they suspend. All claims subject to the Risk Review Process are suspected of fraud. This is not linked to nationality.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the majority of claimants who have had their benefits suspended under the Risk Review process are Bulgarian nationals.

The Risk Review Team does not capture demographic data on any claims they suspend. All claims subject to the Risk Review Process are suspected of fraud. This is not linked to nationality.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
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.

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.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
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.

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.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
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.

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.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
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.

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.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of implementing a feature on calls relating to (a) universal credit and (b) employment support allowance where in the event that the caller does not progress with automated telephony services they are automatically transferred to a human operator.

All except two of the many freephone lines that DWP provides operate with a menu of options for customers to select before the call is routed to a human operator. The two lines which operate differently with a form of automation are the Benefit Enquiry Line and the Jobcentre Enquiry Line. These freephone lines use a function called Natural Language Call Steering which, if the customer is not understood, does not understand the question, or chooses not to speak, will revert to a menu of options before transfer to a human operator.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has made an assessment of the risk to job centre staff of covid-19 transmission as a result of continuing face-to-face services for all appointments during the covid-19 outbreak.

DWP takes the safety of colleagues and customers very seriously and all of our offices are COVID secure. We have a suite of Health & Safety risk assessments in place developed following extensive consultation with departmental trade union representatives that cover all of the measures in place to protect staff and customers. These risk assessments are regularly reviewed, for example following changes to government guidance, including that from the respective governments in the devolved nations.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that staff working in (a) Jobcentres and (b) other offices of her Department are protected from covid-19 transmission.

DWP takes the safety of colleagues and customers very seriously and all of our offices are COVID secure. We have a suite of Health & Safety risk assessments in place developed following extensive consultation with departmental trade union representatives that cover all of the measures in place to protect staff and customers. These risk assessments are regularly reviewed, for example following changes to government guidance, including that from the respective governments in the devolved nations.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent discussions she has had with stakeholders on merging personal independence payments into universal credit.

The Health and Disability Green Paper aimed to explore ways to improve the design of the benefits system and posed illustrative ideas, such as a single benefit covering both PIP and UC, to generate discussion.

During the consultation period we held more than 40 events with stakeholders to hear their views on the proposals in the Green Paper, including on options for simplifying the benefits system.

Although the formal consultation period has now ended, we will continue to engage stakeholders regularly, particularly on the broader aspects of the paper that focus on future reform.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of financial support available to people who operate and require the use of medical equipment within their homes.

We are committed to supporting disabled people and people with health conditions to realise their potential and live independently. Dedicated financial support for equipment at home is available to some disabled people and can be explored through Apply for equipment for your home if you're disabled - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) or Financial help if you're disabled - GOV.UK.

The Department recognises the extra costs disabled people can face in their everyday lives. Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment are intended to help with these extra costs. Claimants are able to use their benefit according to their own priorities. These benefits are tax-free, non-contributory and are uprated annually in line with inflation. They are paid in addition to other benefits which someone may be able to receive.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to promote awareness of (a) winter fuel payments and (b) associated welfare provision.

Winter fuel payments are supporting over 11 million pensioners with their energy bills. We are also continuing to encourage those eligible for Pension Credit to make a claim. Pension Credit provides invaluable financial support for vulnerable pensioners. Around 1.4 million eligible pensioners across Great Britain receive some £5bn in Pension Credit, which tops up their retirement income and is a passport to other financial help such as support with housing costs, council tax, heating bills and a free TV licence for those over 75.

Cold Weather Payments are also available and help vulnerable people in receipt of certain income-related benefits to meet additional heating costs, during periods of unseasonably cold weather between 1 November and 31 March. This includes older people in receipt of Pension Credit.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is responsible for the warm home discount scheme and the majority of those in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit receive their rebate automatically without needing to claim.

Details of 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

The Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Act 2021 introduced a double lock and allowed the Government to increase pensions by the higher of inflation or 2.5%. From April 2022 state pensions will be increased by 3.1% and this represents an additional £4bn spend on pensioner benefits in 2022/23.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps is taking to increase participation in the Access to Work programme amongst disabled people in Wales.

Over the last 12 – 18 months, significant work has gone into increasing awareness and take up of Access to Work (AtW) amongst disabled people in Wales.

Upskilling sessions have taken place with Work Coaches, Armed Forces Champions, Schools Advisors and Prison Work Coaches, to support them in their discussions with disabled customers about moving closer to or into the workplace.

We have supported external organisations in Wales, including the NHS, Headway and Epilepsy UK, providing greater awareness of the AtW scheme. The DWP Health Model Offices in Wales is trialling a “Health Adjustment Passport”, using the passport to start conversations about disability with prospective employers, including support available through AtW.

The AtW team are supporting “DWP Wales Area Health Plans” to provide even more intensive support to reduce the disability employment gap and increase take up of AtW.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 29 November 2021 to Question 80980 on Offshore Industry: Continental Shelf, if she will publish the types of enforcement action the HSE took where backlogs were not being manged safely; and if she will provide to which installations those actions applied.

HSE does not record its enforcement actions specifically in relation to “maintenance backlogs”. A search of HSE’s database has revealed that since the start of the initial pandemic lockdown in March 2020, there have been 112 interventions that have looked at maintenance management, including backlog, and have resulted in enforcement action in the form of letters and notices. A table showing the actions in relation to installations and their duty holders is attached.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 29 November 2021 to Question 80980 on Offshore Industry: Continental Shelf, if she will provide the duty holders that worked with HSE on alternative ways of carrying out safety critical maintenance work; and what the outcomes were of that work.

Although many duty holders undertook extended maintenance shutdowns in 2021, these were often not enough to eliminate the backlog issues. As well as through its day-to-day regulatory activities, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also impacts on offshore safety through membership of working groups. One of these is the Asset Integrity Task Group (AITG). AITG members include Apache, BP, CNOOC, CNR, Repsol Sinopec, TAQA as well as the Oil and Gas Authority and Oil and Gas UK. The AITG’s current key focus relates to addressing asset integrity issues, including maintenance backlog, through a more effective focus on Process Safety Leadership. The offshore industry signed up to improving its approach to Process Safety Leadership at the Oil and Gas UK’s Health & Safety Conference in 2019.

Outcomes of HSE’s working on alternative means than traditional shutdowns to address maintenance backlogs, include the recognition by industry that a move towards more sustained asset integrity campaigns for late life installations is required. Potential solutions include increasing the size of the offshore workforce using flotels or jack-up drilling rigs in accommodation mode alongside production installations and more frequent maintenance campaigns; more extended shutdowns and Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSOs) being taken off station for extensive maintenance that cannot be done offshore.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 8 December 2021 to Question 84427 on Social Security Benefit: Disqualification, how many of the 149,057 cases that were suspended under the Risk Review Process remain suspended as of December 2021.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many benefit claims that have been suspended under the Risk Review process have been closed under suspicion of fraud as of 24 December 2021.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

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