Written Question
Poverty: Children
23 Oct 2020, 1:26 p.m.

Questioner: Jon Trickett

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an assessment of the implications for her policies of the finding by the End Child Poverty Campaign that eight out of the 10 local authorities in which child poverty increased between 2014 and 2019 are in the North of England.

Answer (Will Quince)

We have examined, from what has been published, Loughborough University’s methodology for estimating housing costs by constituency. We are unable to assess how robust the method for modelling local housing costs is and we do not know the process used for calibrating the local measures with regional level statistics on child poverty from Households Below Average Income.

National Statistics on the number and percentage of children in low income are published annually in the “Households Below Average Income” publication. These remain the most accurate published measurements of low income. The latest HBAI statistics (2018/19) show that since 2009/10, 100,000 children have been lifted out of absolute poverty (both before and after housing costs) and levels of combined material deprivation and low income for children are at their joint lowest level.


Written Question
Universal Credit
22 Oct 2020, 5:41 p.m.

Questioner: Thangam Debbonaire

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to Answer of 13 July 2020 to Question 69600 and Answer of 1 July 2020 to Question 63208, what progress has been made on implementing the decision of the court of appeal on 22 June 2020 on universal credit systems taking account of the day that a monthly salary is paid.

Answer (Will Quince)

On 20th October I laid secondary legislation in response to the Court of Appeal Judgment made on 22 June in the case of Johnson, Woods, Barrett and Stewart, which concerned claimants who receive two calendar monthly payments of earnings in one Universal Credit assessment period. This will allow us to reallocate a payment of earnings reported via the Real Time Information service to a different Universal Credit assessment period, either because it was reported in the wrong assessment period or (in the case of calendar monthly paid employees) it is necessary to maintain a regular payment cycle. This will mean that claimants who are paid calendar monthly will therefore have one salary payment taken into account in each assessment period. It also means that certain claimants will also benefit from any applicable work allowance.


Written Question
Food Banks
22 Oct 2020, 5:38 p.m.

Questioner: Rushanara Ali

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what representations she has received from food bank providers on levels of demand for emergency food assistance in the last six months.

Answer (Will Quince)

The Department engaged with food bank providers throughout the Covid pandemic and will continue to do so.

The Department quickly introduced welfare changes worth over £9 billion and worked closely with other departments on the cross-government Task Force on Food and Other Essential Supplies for Vulnerable People, led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.


Written Question
Universal Credit
22 Oct 2020, 5:35 p.m.

Questioner: Rushanara Ali

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential effect on poverty levels of reintroducing universal credit sanctions and conditionality in the next six months.

Answer (Mims Davies)

New and updated claimant commitments for Universal Credit claimants have been reintroduced from 1 July 2020 in a phased approach and as capacity allows. Only once a new or updated claimant commitment has been agreed, can claimants receive a sanction if they fail to meet those commitments without good reason.

Work Coaches are empowered to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that conditionality is tailored to a claimant’s individual circumstances, that only realistic and reasonable requirements are set, and that they can apply easements and take additional steps to help protect the most vulnerable.


Written Question
Employment: Females
22 Oct 2020, 5:31 p.m.

Questioner: Cat Smith

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what specific steps she is taking to support women and girls facing multiple disadvantage into employment.

Answer (Mims Davies)

Jobcentre Plus provides a range of support to people with multiple barriers to employment. Work Coaches provide support tailored to the individual, referring as appropriate to specialist provision such as the Work and Health Programme and local partner support, often funded by the department’s Flexible Support Fund. This support is being strengthen further by the Chancellor’s Plan for Jobs package, including the Kickstart Scheme, and the new Youth Offer.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Living Wage
22 Oct 2020, 5:30 p.m.

Questioner: Kirsten Oswald

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, on what date her Department became a Living Wage Employer.

Answer (Mims Davies)

In April 2016, the government introduced a higher statutory minimum wage rate for all employees over 25 years of age - the National Living Wage. All employers in the UK are required to pay the National Living Wage. The Department for Work and Pensions pays all employees, regardless of age, at least the statutory National Living Wage which is revaluated each April. From April 2020 the rate increased to £8.72 per hour.

The Living Wage Foundation is an initiative by Citizens UK which advocates employers paying an alternative hourly rate known as the Living Wage. Employers can apply to be accredited Living Wage employers. DWP is not an accredited Living Wage employer.


Written Question
Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit: Coronavirus
22 Oct 2020, 5:17 p.m.

Questioner: Matt Western

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential effect of reducing universal credit and working tax credit by £20 a week in April 2021 on (a) working age and (b) child poverty.

Answer (Will Quince)

The Government introduced a package of temporary welfare measures worth around £9.3 billion this year to help with the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. This included the £20 weekly increase to the Universal Credit Standard Allowance rates as a temporary measure for the 20/21 tax year.

Future decisions on spending will be made by the Chancellor at the next appropriate fiscal event, and Parliament will be updated accordingly.


Written Question
Pensions: Ethnic Groups
22 Oct 2020, 2:05 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Taylor of Warwick

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the ethnicity pension gap; and what steps, if any, they are taking to reduce it.

Answer (Baroness Stedman-Scott)

Automatic enrolment has reversed the decline in workplace pension saving. Latest figures show that over 10 million workers have been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension by more than 1.7 million employers to date. By 2019/20 an estimated extra £18.8 billion a year was estimated to go into workplace pensions as a result of this policy.

The level of earnings at which workers are automatically enrolled (the earnings trigger) is subject to an annual statutory review. An analysis of the equalities impact always forms part of the review, as does an assessment of reducing the trigger to the National Insurance threshold. Analysis for the 2020/21 thresholds showed that 14 per cent of those made eligible by freezing the trigger were from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups.

Eligible employee participation continues to increase across all ethnic groups but gaps persist.

The White ethnic group has had the highest participation rate since the introduction of automatic enrolment in 2012 and had an average participation rate of 81 per cent over the period 2016/17-2018/19. This compares to the lowest, Pakistani and Bangladeshi group at 61 per cent. However, between the 2011/12-2013/14 period and 2016/17-2018/19 there were large increases among all ethnic groups. The Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic group shows the largest increase from 36 per cent to 61 per cent.

Our aim remains to help BAME workers and others achieve greater financial resilience for the long term. Our ambition, set out in the 2017 Automatic Enrolment Review: Maintaining the Momentum, is to remove the lower earnings limit and lower the age threshold for workplace pensions, in the mid-2020s, to increase the amount of savings people can build up for their retirement.


Written Question
Occupational Pensions: Insolvency
22 Oct 2020, 2:03 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Sikka

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is (1) the number, and (2) the value, of Defined Benefit Pension Schemes rescued by the Pension Protection Fund after a pre-pack administration.

Answer (Baroness Stedman-Scott)

This data is not readily available and so has been collated manually by the Pension Protection Fund for the last three years. From January 2020 to October 2020, the defined benefit pension schemes of 13 companies have undergone a pre-pack administration through the Pension Protection Fund. The aggregate value of the Section 75 debts of these pension schemes amounts to £196 million. Section 75 debt corresponds to the amount needed to secure a buyout for scheme members to receive their full benefits and provides a picture of the liability taken on by the Pension Protection Fund.


Written Question
Universal Credit
22 Oct 2020, 1:08 p.m.

Questioner: Sir Mark Hendrick

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of reducing the five-week wait time for universal credit claimants to receive their first payment.

Answer (Will Quince)

No such assessment has been made and no-one has to wait 5 weeks for a payment.

New Claims Advances are available which allow claimants to receive up to 100% of their estimated Universal Credit payment upfront so that new claimants will receive their annual award over 13 payments during their first year, instead of 12. They are paid quickly and these can be applied for online or over the phone. The upfront payment phasing can be spread over a two-year cycle from October 2021, as was announced in the Budget 2020.


Written Question
Universal Credit: Coronavirus
21 Oct 2020, 3:10 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Roberts of Llandudno

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to maintain the £20 increase to the weekly standard allowance of Universal Credit, made during the COVID-19 pandemic, indefinitely.

Answer (Baroness Stedman-Scott)

The Government introduced a package of temporary welfare measures worth around £9.3 billion this year to help with the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. This included the £20 weekly increase to the Universal Credit Standard Allowance rates as a temporary measure for the 20/21 tax year.

Future decisions on spending will be made at the next appropriate fiscal event, and Parliament will be updated accordingly.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Coronavirus
21 Oct 2020, 2:20 p.m.

Questioner: Anneliese Dodds

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the Government's plans are for how shielding people can access benefits after the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Those who receive a notification that they need to shield will remain eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from their employer, and New Style Employment and Support Allowance, subject to the wider eligibility criteria. Where an individual’s income is reduced while off work sick and they require further financial support, for example where they are not eligible for SSP, they may be able to claim Universal Credit, depending on their personal circumstances.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Disability
21 Oct 2020, 2:18 p.m.

Questioner: Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 16 October 2020 to Question 102871, what the next steps are for the Green Paper on disability benefits; and what her timetable is for those next steps.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

We have held a series of events across the country where local disability organisations and disabled people have shared their experiences of DWP services and priorities for future changes. We are continuing this engagement throughout the Autumn to help shape the Green Paper content and make sure we are addressing the right issues in the health and disability welfare system. This engagement will continue following the publication of the Green Paper.

Given the necessary focus on the departmental response to COVID-19, we are working to a longer timescale than previously anticipated but we remain committed to publishing and will update the House in due course.


Written Question
Local Housing Allowance: Young People
21 Oct 2020, 2:15 p.m.

Questioner: Caroline Lucas

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions she has had with the Chancellor on the potential merits of removing the Shared Accommodation Rate exemptions for homeless young people and care leavers under-22 during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Will Quince)

There are currently no plans to remove the existing exemptions from the Shared Accommodation Rate.

The Government remains committed to supporting homeless young people and care leavers and extending the exemptions to the shared accommodation rate by October 2023. The changes will require amendments to legislation as well as local authority and universal credit IT systems therefore they will take time to implement.

In the meantime, for individuals who may require more support and whose circumstances may make it difficult for them to share accommodation, Discretionary Housing Payments are available. We have provided £180m in Discretionary Housing Payment funding to local authorities to support vulnerable claimants with housing costs in England and Wales for 2020/21.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Disability
20 Oct 2020, 6:13 p.m.

Questioner: Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answers of 19 March 2020 to Questions 27016 and 27017, on Employment: Disability, whether her Department has (a) noted and (b) made use of Acas and the Equality and Human Rights Commission Guidance for employers to help them avoid claims for disability discrimination against them; whether her staff have been provided with the EHRC guidance entitled: A guide to help employees including disabled staff challenge discrimination at work; and whether her (i) Ministers and (ii) senior staff have been provided with EHRC guidance entitled A guide to help employers understand their responsibilities to provide disabled staff with additional support and workplace adjustments.

Answer (Mims Davies)

The Department has noted the ACAS and EHRC guidance available on those organisations’ websites; we promote and link to ACAS and EHRC resources from pages on our Intranet, together with a range of internal resources to support both staff and managers but we do not provide specific ACAS or EHRC documents to individual staff.

Our resources are designed to provide information, guidance and tools on the subjects of rights and responsibilities under the Equality Act, disability discrimination and workplace adjustments amongst others.

We make all of these resources, together with tailored support offered by the DWP Workplace Adjustment Team, available to everyone within the department to help them understand how disabled staff are best supported and the Departmental process to obtain workplace adjustments.


Written Question
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
20 Oct 2020, 6:10 p.m.

Questioner: Bell Ribeiro-Addy

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to prepare her Department for a rise in (a) unemployment and (b) benefit claims at the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Answer (Mims Davies)

The Department has taken swift action in response to the pandemic, supporting millions of families across the country to claim Universal Credit and we stand ready to help those in need.

We are already supporting people into work through our Plan for Jobs and will continue to do so. Kickstart will provide high quality paid work placements for thousands of young people and our new Job Entry Targeted Support and the Job Finding Support Service will provide targeted support for the newly unemployed. We are also doubling the number of Work Coaches across our nationwide network of Jobcentres to ensure claimants have access to personalised support so they can move back into employment.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Disability
20 Oct 2020, 6:08 p.m.

Questioner: Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 19 March 2020 to Questions 29978, on Department for Work and Pensions: Disability, what the terms of reference are for the review; what progress has been made on it; who is conducting it; and when it will be published.

Answer (Mims Davies)

Our plans for an ACAS led review, under an independent chair have been disrupted by the need to put in place an immediate COVID response. We remain committed to undertaking this review and ACAS remains committed to supporting the work. Government Internal Audit Agency is conducting a preparatory review of our internal process, that is due to end in November and will feed into the review process and enable us to best determine the terms of reference.

We have retained since March our focus on supporting all colleagues including those with disabilities, to deliver their best while working with us. COVID has provided a specific context to our ongoing efforts and the need to support and enable all colleagues to work safely from offices and from home - which we have done.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Coronavirus
20 Oct 2020, 5:57 p.m.

Questioner: Stephen Farry

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of reforming the welfare system in response to the (a) economic and (b) social challenges arising as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Will Quince)

No such assessment has been made of reforming the Welfare system.

Universal Credit has stood up to the challenge of the COVID-19, whereas the previous legacy benefit system would have buckled under the pressure. Millions more are able to access welfare which is fairer and more generous than the legacy benefit system. It is a modern, flexible, personalised benefit responding effectively to economic conditions. It replaces six outdated and complex benefits with one – helping to simplify the benefits system, providing support in times of need and making work pay.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Children
20 Oct 2020, 5:35 p.m.

Questioner: Rushanara Ali

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent estimate she has made of the number of families with children affected by the benefit cap.

Answer (Mims Davies)

The available information on the number of households, receiving Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, who were affected by the Benefit Cap, by Family Type, is published and can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html


Written Question
Employment Schemes: Coronavirus
20 Oct 2020, 5:30 p.m.

Questioner: Mr Barry Sheerman

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the number of people that will be retrained by Government schemes after the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Answer (Mims Davies)

No assessment has been made of the number of people who will be retrained by Government schemes after the end of the Job Retention Scheme.

We have a range of schemes available to support individuals to gain the skills they need to find work as the economy recovers from the Coronavirus crisis. We are establishing bespoke opportunities, working with employers and training providers to support claimants to fill job vacancies and pivot into new careers.

DWP are increasing participation in our sector-based work academy programmes including in priority areas, such as construction, infrastructure and social care. And, following announcements made by the Chancellor in July on the Government’s Plan for Jobs, the Department for Education is delivering a range of incentives to employers so that more people can boost their skills by taking on an apprenticeship or traineeship. Additional investment in the National Careers Service will also help more people access the support they need to retrain.


Written Question
Universal Credit: Coronavirus
20 Oct 2020, 4:01 p.m.

Questioner: Claire Hanna

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to extend eligibility for the childcare element of universal credit to parents and guardians in the event that they lose employment as a result of covid-19 restrictions after 31 October 2020.

Answer (Will Quince)

Universal Credit claimants who cease employment and have pre-existing childcare arrangements, will be eligible for reimbursement of up to 85% of their childcare costs as part of their Universal Credit award for the assessment period in which they cease work and the subsequent assessment period.

If Universal Credit claimants are on the Job Support Scheme and satisfy both the work condition and childcare costs condition they are eligible to continue to have up to 85% (subject to the maximum limits) of their childcare costs reimbursed if:

  • they have a contract of employment and are still being paid;
  • childcare is being provided during that assessment period.

Help with upfront childcare costs for starting work is available through a non-repayable Flexible Support Fund (FSF) award for eligible UC claimants up to the limits set. This does not apply for claimants already in work. We have issued guidance to Work Coaches in Jobcentres to ensure that eligible claimants who require help with upfront childcare costs in order to start work are directed to the governments FSF. The FSF received an additional £150m this financial year to help support UC claimants to move closer to, or in to, work. Budgeting advances are also available to eligible UC claimants who require help with upfront costs, repayable over the following 12 months.

In addition, UC claimants who lose their employment may be entitled to request a change of circumstances advance. This advance is available if a claimant’s award is likely to significantly increase with their next payment to address any short-term costs that arise in the meantime. Change of circumstances advances can be repaid over a maximum of six months, with a three month deferral available in exceptional circumstances.


Written Question
Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit: Coronavirus
20 Oct 2020, 3:36 p.m.

Questioner: Siobhain McDonagh

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on (a) extending the £20 uplift to universal credit and working tax credit beyond April 2021 and (b) extending that uplift to people on legacy benefits.

Answer (Will Quince)

The Government introduced a package of temporary welfare measures worth around £9.3 billion this year to help with the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. This included the £20 weekly increase to the Universal Credit Standard Allowance rates as a temporary measure for the 20/21 tax year.

Future decisions on spending will be made at the next appropriate fiscal event, and Parliament will be updated accordingly.


Written Question
Universal Credit: Coronavirus
20 Oct 2020, 3:36 p.m.

Questioner: Sir Alan Campbell

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to extend the £20 uplift to universal credit.

Answer (Will Quince)

The Government introduced a package of temporary welfare measures worth around £9.3 billion this year to help with the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. This included the £20 weekly increase to the Universal Credit Standard Allowance rates as a temporary measure for the 20/21 tax year.

Future decisions on spending will be made at the next appropriate fiscal event, and Parliament will be updated accordingly.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Medical Examinations
20 Oct 2020, 2:13 p.m.

Questioner: Rushanara Ali

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what her plans are for the future of face-to-face assessments for welfare payments.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

The health and safety of our claimants and staff is our key priority. We suspended all face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits in March. This temporary suspension, brought in to protect people from unnecessary risk of coronavirus at the outset of the pandemic, remains in place, and is being kept under review in line with the latest public health guidance.

We continue to do telephone-based assessments, and as usual also undertake paper-based assessments where possible. Any re-introduction of face-to-face assessments would involve additional Covid-related safety measures, and guidance for claimants and assessment providers to ensure compliance with the relevant public health guidance.


Written Question
Severe Disability Premium
20 Oct 2020, 2:08 p.m.

Questioner: Ruth Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect on disabled people of the decision to convert the severe disability premium transitional payment into a transitional element.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

SDP transitional payments are part of the wider transitional protection framework. It had always been the intention to convert SDP transitional payments in this way as soon as we had developed the capability to do so safely and effectively. The aim is to create fairness between those former SDP recipients who have moved or will move to UC via natural migration and those who will move to UC later under managed migration, as well as to create a single, consistent system of transitional protection.

When the SDP transitional payment is converted to a transitional element, the additional money received by claimants will be the same amount. It will then be subject to change in the same way as transitional protection for those claimants moved to UC under managed migration. This moves these claimants towards the same level of financial entitlement as new UC claimants in the same position.