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Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Telephone Services
27 Jan 2021, 5:40 p.m.

Questioner: Stephen Timms

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the letter of 15 January 2021 from the Permanent Secretary to the Work and Pensions Committee, in each month from August 2020 to December 2020 how many call attempts to her Department’s debt management service (a) were made, (b) were blocked and (c) were not blocked but were not answered.

Answer (Will Quince)

The table below illustrates the extent of the telephony traffic in Debt Management since August 2020.

Call attempts

Calls answered

Calls blocked

Calls not answered

August

153,800

102,400

22,200

29,300

September

282,100

127,900

101,600

52,600

October

221,800

147,500

41,800

32,500

November

605,300

149,600

413,700

42,000

December

278,900

122,600

129,400

26,900

January (to 11/01/21)

46,500

42,700

100

3,700

*Figures are rounded to the nearest 100

In November 2020, there was a temporary spike in the number of calls received due to the recommencement of debt recovery, following a pause due to the outbreak of Covid-19. It should be noted that the number of blocked calls does not represent individual customers and that the volume will be substantially distorted by repeat attempts.

We have since updated our telephone messaging and guidance for call handlers as well as redeploying trained staff from clearing work to answering calls.

In addition, DWP expects to deploy approximately 450 new staff to the network in the next three months.


Written Question
Work Capability Assessment: Surveys
27 Jan 2021, 5:14 p.m.

Questioner: Navendu Mishra

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will change the timing of Maximus' customer satisfaction survey for claimants undergoing assessments for work capability assessments.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Assessment providers are monitored and managed against a range of measures, including customer satisfaction. It is essential we receive ongoing feedback from customers and we invite a random sample of customers to provide feedback on the service they receive each month.

There are currently no plans to change the timing of the customer satisfaction survey.


Written Question
Children: Maintenance
27 Jan 2021, 5:08 p.m.

Questioner: Navendu Mishra

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the total amount of debt being permanently written off is following the Government's recent review of Child Support Agency historic cases.

Answer (Guy Opperman)

The Child Support Agency (CSA) has ceased collection of historical debt on 577,900 cases. This comprised of 410,400 cases which were held on CSA systems and 167,500 cases which were held on Child Maintenance Service (CMS) systems.

These cases had system records showing a total debt value of £1,926.6 million. £1,483.2 million from cases held on CSA systems and £443.4 million from cases held on CMS systems.

This information is available in the public domain at

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-support-agency-quarterly-summary-of-statistics-september-2020-experimental


Written Question
Directors: Universal Credit
27 Jan 2021, 5 p.m.

Questioner: Fay Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of ensuring that directors of limited companies are eligible for universal credit.

Answer (Will Quince)

Universal Credit (UC) will be paid to eligible adults and the entitlement calculation will be based on their family circumstances.

For the purposes of UC, a person trading through a company as a company director in a position analogous to a sole trader or partner, is treated in the same way as a person who has not set up a company to conduct their business.


Written Question
Supported Housing: Third Sector
27 Jan 2021, 4:26 p.m.

Questioner: Jess Phillips

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will clarify whether registered charities or voluntary organisations providing exempt accommodation under The Housing Benefit and Universal Credit (Supported Accommodation) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 can be connected to profit making organisations.

Answer (Will Quince)

In order to meet the definition of exempt accommodation in Housing Benefit legislation, the provider of the claimant’s accommodation must be a non-metropolitan county council in England, a housing association, registered charity or voluntary organisation.

Exempt accommodation providers can work with third parties such as leasing properties from them. Local authorities will consider this when assessing the Housing Benefit claim and deciding whether the conditions set out in the legislation have been met. Additionally, registered charities are regulated by the Charity Commission (in England and Wales) whilst voluntary organisations such as community interest companies have their own regulators that oversee their activities.


Written Question
Kickstart Scheme
27 Jan 2021, 3:53 p.m.

Questioner: Fay Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reason businesses that are not registered with Companies House are unable to access the Kickstart scheme.

Answer (Mims Davies)

Companies not registered with Companies House are still able to access the Department for Work and Pensions’ Kickstart Scheme by applying through a Gateway which can place the Kickstart participant on the Gateway’s PAYE scheme - such as the one set up in partnership between the Federation of Small Business and Adecco Working Ventures.


Written Question
Employment Services: Young People
27 Jan 2021, 3:52 p.m.

Questioner: Seema Malhotra

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the answer of 4 November to Question 109371 on Employment Services: Young People, by what date she plans to have established 116 youth hubs.

Answer (Mims Davies)

Further to my answer on 20 January 2021 the timeline for opening Youth Hubs is dependent on COVID restrictions. We are working with local partners to ensure the transition to physical hubs can be undertaken as quickly as possible, when circumstances allow.
Written Question
Kickstart Scheme
27 Jan 2021, 3:46 p.m.

Questioner: Alison McGovern

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many new job placements are being funded by the Kickstart programme.

Answer (Mims Davies)

As of 22/01/2021, there have been 123,898 new job placements approved for funding by the Department for Work and Pensions’ Kickstart scheme. We are actively seeking more Kickstart job placements that can start before December 2021 and would welcome further applications from employers.


Written Question
Kickstart Scheme
27 Jan 2021, 3:43 p.m.

Questioner: Alison McGovern

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many Kickstart gateways have been set up by (a) region and (b) local authority area.

Answer (Mims Davies)

The table below shows the number of gateway organisations approved as part of the Department for Work and Pensions’ Kickstart scheme, broken down by region as of 11/01/2021. We are currently unable to break this data down by Local Authority, this data reflects the location of an organisation’s registered address and not necessarily the location where the gateway will be supporting Kickstart job placements.

Region

Number of unique Gateways Approved

London

143

North West

95

South East

78

West Midlands

54

Scotland

51

East of England

45

East Midlands

43

Yorkshire and The Humber

42

Wales

31

South West

26

North East

26


Written Question
Kickstart Scheme: Staff
27 Jan 2021, 3:36 p.m.

Questioner: Cat Smith

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many Work Coaches have been employed under the Kickstart scheme since that scheme was introduced.

Answer (Mims Davies)

The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Kickstart Scheme is available across Great Britain. All Job Centre Plus Work Coaches are able to refer young people to the scheme. A number of other local staff have also been involved throughout the development and implementation of the scheme to bring local knowledge and expertise to the programme.

As part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs, the DWP is recruiting an extra 13,500 new Work Coaches, and this process is underway. This recruitment is separate to the Kickstart Scheme.


Written Question
Employment: Mental Health Services
27 Jan 2021, 2:33 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Taylor of Warwick

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to encourage more businesses to provide mental health support to all employees.

Answer (Baroness Stedman-Scott)

The Government continues to work with business and other stakeholders to share sources of mental health and wellbeing support with employers. We also support the work of the business-led ‘Thriving at Work’ Leadership Council, which encourages employers to sign up to key mental health commitments and promotes the use of the Mental Health at Work online gateway developed by Mind. This hosts over 400 resources to inform and advise employers on managing mental health in the workplace. This includes Coronavirus Toolkits that promote staff wellbeing, offer guidance to support employees working from home and advise on change management.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is also leading work with other departments and arms-length bodies, including ACAS and the Health and Safety Executive, to improve and join up Government’s wider information and advice support for the management of health in the workplace.

DWP’s Access to Work programme provides support in the workplace, including for employees with mental health conditions. The Disability Confident initiative works to improve employer understanding of health and disability issues.


Written Question
Sick Pay: Coronavirus
27 Jan 2021, 2:24 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Taylor of Warwick

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of increasing statutory sick pay on compliance with COVID-19 self-isolation requirements; and following any such assessment, what plans they have to increase statutory sick pay.

Answer (Baroness Stedman-Scott)

This government has a strong safety net that helps people who are facing hardship and are unable to support themselves financially and we have taken steps to strengthen that safety net as part of the government’s response to the pandemic.

As part of strengthening this safety net we have made Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payable from the first day of sickness absence from work, rather than the fourth – where an individual is self-isolating or shielding due to coronavirus and meets all SSP eligibility conditions.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) provides a minimum level of income for employees when they are sick or incapable of work. Employers are legally required to pay SSP to eligible employees who are off work sick or incapable of work, where employees meet the qualifying conditions. Some employers may also decide to pay more, and for longer, through Occupational Sick Pay.

SSP is just one part of our welfare safety net and our wider government offer to support people in times of need. Where an individual’s income is reduced while off work sick and they require further financial support, they may be able to claim Universal Credit and new style Employment and Support Allowance, depending on their personal circumstances.

Working people on low incomes who are required to remain at home by NHS Test and Trace to help stop the spread of the virus and cannot work from home could be eligible for a £500 payment to financially support them while self-isolating


Written Question
Children: Maintenance
27 Jan 2021, 2:19 p.m.

Questioner: Navendu Mishra

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what total amount of debt is being permanently written off in response to the Government's recent review of Child Support Agency historical cases.

Answer (Guy Opperman)

Information on historical debt which has been written off by the Child Support Agency is published on gov.uk and includes available data to the end of September 2020:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/child-support-agency-quarterly-summary-of-statistics-june-2020-experimental/child-support-agency-quarterly-summary-of-statistics-june-2020-experimental

Paragraph 6 refers entitled. ‘CSA debt written off’


Written Question
Personal Independence Payment
27 Jan 2021, 1:59 p.m.

Questioner: Apsana Begum

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the number of claimants who have not been notified of the extension of their award of personal independence payments by the time their award ends.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

No such estimate has been made. The Department has automatically extended awards of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) where needed, and have issued notifications to all customers whose awards have been extended as part of this exercise.


Written Question
Work Capability Assessment: Coronavirus
27 Jan 2021, 1:54 p.m.

Questioner: Vicky Foxcroft

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what guidance has been given to health assessors carrying out health and disability assessments for new claims for (a) personal independence payment, (b) employment support allowance and (c) disablement pension submitted during covid-19 national lockdown.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Health Professionals continue to deliver PIP assessments in accordance with the PIP Assessment Guide published on GOV.UK. The link to which I have included below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/personal-independence-payment-assessment-guide-for-assessment-providers

Employment Support Allowance (ESA) Healthcare Professionals, continue to deliver ESA Work Capability Assessments (WCA) in accordance with the WCA Handbook published on GOV.UK. The link to which I have included below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/work-capability-assessment-handbook-for-healthcare-professionals

Our Assessment Providers, Independent Assessment Services (IAS), Capita and Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (CHDA) have supported their Health Professionals to carry out health and disability assessments throughout all COVID-19 lockdowns. Following the suspension of face to face assessments to ensure the safety of claimants, companions and staff, Health Professionals have been given additional training and guidance on conducting telephone assessments, which were introduced in PIP and ESA in response to COVID-19.

I have interpreted Disablement Pension to mean Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB). The suspension of face to face assessments for IIDB means the majority of new claims are not being assessed at present. We continue to test new ways to carry out IIDB assessments and have now begun conducting paper based assessments for certain prescribed diseases.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Disability
27 Jan 2021, 1:30 p.m.

Questioner: Helen Hayes

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made on the adequacy of benefit rates for disabled people on legacy benefits.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

We will spend over £55 billion this year (2020/21) on benefits to support people with health conditions and disabilities. This will increase by £1.6 billion to £57 billion in 2021/22.


Written Question
Work Capability Assessment: Coronavirus
27 Jan 2021, 1:18 p.m.

Questioner: Vicky Foxcroft

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support her Department is providing for claimants of (a) personal independence payment, (b) employment support allowance and (c) disablement pension where the health assessors find that a face-to-face interview is required but cannot be completed under covid-19 restrictions.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

The safety of our claimants and staff is our key priority. As a result, all face to face assessments for sickness and disability benefits have remained suspended since March 2020. Throughout the pandemic, for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)/Universal Credit (UC) we have continued to assess people on paper evidence where we can as normal. We have also introduced telephone assessments and are working to increase the number of these assessments in order that we can make the right decision for as many people as possible, while keeping people safe.

Where it is not possible to carry out a PIP telephone assessment we are making a decision based on all the evidence available to ensure any payment is not delayed. For ESA/UC, claimants will remain on their current award until we are able to gather the evidence needed for a recommendation to be made (or until contributory ESA ends)); any additional amounts the claimant may qualify for after their assessment will be backdated to ensure no long-term loss. Where an individual’s contributory ESA ends they may be able to claim Universal Credit, depending on their personal circumstances if they require further financial support.

The question refers to ‘disablement pension’; we have understood that to refer to the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB). Following a successful trial, we have now begun paper based assessments in IIDB for certain prescribed diseases. To protect our most vulnerable claimants with the most serious health conditions we are continuing to process IIDB claims for people with terminal illnesses, and those for Fast Track prescribed diseases as they can be assessed without the need for a face to face assessment. Once face-to-face assessments resume, awards will be backdated to the date of application to ensure claimants do not lose out on funds they are entitled to.


Written Question
Kickstart Scheme
26 Jan 2021, 6:05 p.m.

Questioner: Mike Penning

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the maximum time is for employers to start employing young people on the Kickstart Scheme from the date the employer made the application to the scheme for (a) companies applying individually for over 30 applicants and (b) companies applying for less than 30 applicants through a Gateway scheme; and if she will make a statement.

Answer (Mims Davies)

When applying for funding from the Department for Work and Pensions’ Kickstart Scheme an employer can choose to set the start date for their job placements at any point within the life time of the scheme, which is currently set to run until December 2021, with final job placements running until the summer of 2022.
Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Coronavirus
26 Jan 2021, 6 p.m.

Questioner: Seema Malhotra

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 19 January 2021 to Question 136526 on Social Security Benefits: Coronavirus, on what date she reviewed the adequacy of the benefit cap grace period; and who she consulted as part of that review.

Answer (Mims Davies)

There are currently no plans to extend the grace period. Getting our claimants back into work remains my primary concern and, of course, returning to employment will significantly increase the likelihood of a household not being affected by the cap.
Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Disability
26 Jan 2021, 4:09 p.m.

Questioner: Marquess of Lothian

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many disabled benefits claimants were sanctioned in (1) 2019, and (2) 2020; how those figure compare to the number of non-disabled such claimants who were sanctioned; how many of those sanctions were appealed and upheld; and what steps they have taken to ensure that disabled people claiming benefits are not discriminated against.

Answer (Baroness Stedman-Scott)

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

Statistics are available on the number of self-identified disabled people who have received an adverse sanction decision whilst in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance and these are published by decision type online.

To ensure our approach to sanctions is fair those who are not expected to look for work, those with severe health conditions are not in scope of sanctions. For those who we do expect to look for work, conditionality requirements are tailored to the claimant’s circumstances so they are reasonable, achievable and are agreed between the claimant and their Work Coach. Should there be a doubt, the Decision Maker will take into account all the claimant’s individual circumstances, such as health conditions, and any evidence of good reason they have provided, before deciding whether a sanction is warranted. Claimants have the right to a Mandatory Reconsideration and appeal should they wish to dispute the decision.


Written Question
National Insurance: EU Nationals
26 Jan 2021, 4:04 p.m.

Questioner: Lloyd Russell-Moyle

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many national insurance numbers have been issued to EU citizens in each of the last five years.

Answer (Guy Opperman)

The Department publishes quarterly statistics on National Insurance Number (NINo) allocations to adult overseas nationals entering the UK. All of this information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-insurance-number-allocations-to-adult-overseas-nationals-entering-the-uk

The available information on the number of NINos issued in the last 5 years to EU Nationals 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
National Insurance: Coronavirus
26 Jan 2021, 3:59 p.m.

Questioner: Lloyd Russell-Moyle

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 18 January 2021 to Question 139101, what estimate her Department has made of the (a) number of applications in the backlog awaiting issuance of National Insurance numbers to people that cannot use the visa route and (b) time it will take her Department to clear that backlog.

Answer (Guy Opperman)

Due to Covid 19 restrictions, the Department are not conducting face-to-face National Insurance Number (NINo) interviews at present. Applicants who have verified their ID via a Visa application are able to apply for a NINo using a postal route. As of 17 January 2021, there are 16,245 NINo applications awaiting a decision. Of the total outstanding applications, 1,588 have applied via the Visa Postal route, and 14,657 have applied via an alternative Postal route.

In a business as usual position our benchmark is 15 days. However, people who do not have a visa, are part of the digital trial so this may take longer.


Written Question
Work Capability Assessment
26 Jan 2021, 3:30 p.m.

Questioner: Steve McCabe

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people have been waiting for a face-to-face Work Capability Assessment for (a) less than and (b) more than six months in the most recent period for which figures are available.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

The information requested is not held.


Written Question
Universal Credit
26 Jan 2021, 1:27 p.m.

Questioner: Matthew Offord

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent discussions she has held with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on retaining the additional uplift of £20 to universal credit recipients beyond March 2021.

Answer (Will Quince)

The £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit was announced by the Chancellor as a temporary measure in March 2020 to support those facing the most financial disruption as a result of the public health emergency. This measure remains in place until March 2021. As the Government has done throughout this crisis, it will continue to assess how best to support low-income families, which is why we will look at the economic and health context before making any decisions


Written Question
Universal Credit
26 Jan 2021, 1:27 p.m.

Questioner: Matthew Offord

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to maintain the £20 universal credit uplift in universal credit beyond March 2021.

Answer (Will Quince)

The £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit was announced by the Chancellor as a temporary measure in March 2020 to support those facing the most financial disruption as a result of the public health emergency. This measure remains in place until March 2021. As the Government has done throughout this crisis, it will continue to assess how best to support low-income families, which is why we will look at the economic and health context before making any decisions