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Written Question
Brazil: Reciprocal Arrangements
Wednesday 3rd April 2024

Asked by: Lord German (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the letter they received from the government of Brazil in 2011 that sought a reciprocal social security agreement with the UK, and a copy of their response to that letter.

Answered by Viscount Younger of Leckie - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

The Department for Work and Pensions received diplomatic correspondence from the Brazilian government in 2011 and DWP officials met with officials at the Brazilian Embassy in London to discuss the request. There was no further action.

We do not publish another country’s diplomatic correspondence or the content of negotiations without their consent.


Written Question
Asylum
Thursday 26th October 2023

Asked by: Lord German (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether they have expanded the capacity of the Department of Work and Pensions to provide local support to refugees who, as a consequence of the backlog of applications being cleared, have recently been given asylum.

Answered by Viscount Younger of Leckie - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

Work Coaches have access to information on a range of services and support available in their local area for vulnerable claimants, including refugees. We also have access to a range of translation services to assist, should a claimant need support to overcome any language barriers.

Work Coaches receive training to help them build supportive relationships with claimants, including refugees, encouraging them to openly discuss any barriers, concerns, or problems as they emerge.

Work Coaches will provide tailored employment support to meet their customer’s needs. They utilise a wide range of tools to ensure that we are providing intensive employment support to these customers. This includes the use of Flexible Support Fund, Sector based work academy programme, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Jobs Fairs, collaboration with local partners and Group Information Sessions.

Claimants can also give permission to share their UC account journal with support workers. The opportunity to combine face to face contact with on-line support has helped alleviate some of the communication barriers within legacy benefits which were traditionally more reliant on telephone and written forms of communications. Work Coaches can also use the on-line account to remind claimants of any information needed in order to ensure that their claim is processed smoothly.

More generally, we are increasing capacity in our Decision Making teams, during both this and the next quarter, to help meet demand for benefit decisions.


Written Question
Asylum
Thursday 26th October 2023

Asked by: Lord German (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether they have expanded the capacity of the Department of Work and Pensions to provide local support to refugees who have been given asylum recently as a result of the backlog of applications being cleared.

Answered by Viscount Younger of Leckie - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

Work Coaches have access to information on a range of services and support available in their local area for vulnerable claimants, including refugees. We also have access to a range of translation services to assist, should a claimant need support to overcome any language barriers.

Work Coaches receive training to help them build supportive relationships with claimants, including refugees, encouraging them to openly discuss any barriers, concerns, or problems as they emerge.

Work Coaches will provide tailored employment support to meet their customer’s needs. They utilise a wide range of tools to ensure that we are providing intensive employment support to these customers. This includes the use of Flexible Support Fund, Sector based work academy programme, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Jobs Fairs, collaboration with local partners and Group Information Sessions.

Claimants can also give permission to share their UC account journal with support workers. The opportunity to combine face to face contact with on-line support has helped alleviate some of the communication barriers within legacy benefits which were traditionally more reliant on telephone and written forms of communications. Work Coaches can also use the on-line account to remind claimants of any information needed in order to ensure that their claim is processed smoothly.

More generally, we are increasing capacity in our Decision Making teams, during both this and the next quarter, to help meet demand for benefit decisions.


Written Question
Housing Benefit: Social Rented Housing
Tuesday 29th July 2014

Asked by: Lord German (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of their recent <i>Evaluation of Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy: Interim Report</i>, what incentives they intend to make available to social landlords to encourage offers of alternative housing to be made to people affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy.

Answered by Lord Freud

The Government has already taken steps to support mobility of tenants in the social rented sector.

Our social housing reforms have given social landlords, including councils, much more flexibility when allocating housing. Our statutory guidance on social housing allocations stresses the importance of giving under-occupying social tenants appropriate priority for a transfer. It also encourages authorities to re-consider the parameters of their allocation schemes which may prevent under-occupiers from being able to move.

The introduction of the national HomeSwap Direct scheme has made it easier for tenants wanting to move to find a suitable property. A guide was issued in February 2014 to support landlords seeking to facilitate mutual exchanges; highlighting various steps landlords can take to make mutual exchange a more attractive and viable proposition for tenants.Indeed, many social landlords are helping affected tenants by holding “mutual exchange fairs”, where tenants who want to downsize can meet those looking for larger properties.

The 2015-18 Affordable Housing Programme also encourages housing providers to build appropriately sized social homes to meet local need, 77% of successful bids have been for 1 and 2 bedroom homes, increasing the stock of housing available for those working to downsize.


Written Question
Housing Benefit: Social Rented Housing
Monday 28th July 2014

Asked by: Lord German (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the reasons why, according to their recent <i>Evaluation of Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy: Interim Report</i>, 4.5 per cent of people affected have downsized to smaller accommodation, compared with the 25 per cent estimated in the impact assessment <i>Housing Benefit: Under occupation of social housing</i>,<i></i>published in 2012.

Answered by Lord Freud

Across the social sector as a whole there are a total of around 1.4 million one-bedroom properties (GB). Managing that stock efficiently is part of the challenge that social landlords must embrace. Landlords were given three years notice to start to prepare for this change and during that time were encouraged to take account of local needs and demographic trends when allocating properties and developing their building programmes.

There is turnover of properties in the social sector, and with suitable management and prioritisation by social landlords this should provide a means of allowing many of those affected by the Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy to move to suitable properties over time.

The 2012 Impact Assessment: stated there was little robust evidence on which to base an assessment of behavioural responses and so did not predict the likely extent of downsizing. The 25 per cent figure within the Impact Assessment reflected research which asked a hypothetical question about what people thought they might do in response to a reduction, but this was undertaken some time before the full details of the policy were finalised.

The Impact Assessment did look at the potential sensitivity of the estimated savings to moves by affected claimants. This sensitivity testing was based on an assumption that around 50,000 affected claimants moved (around 8 per cent). This was not a prediction, but both the interim evaluation report and ad-hoc analysis show that people are downsizing. The ad-hoc report shows around 19,000 had downsized in the Social Rented Sector between May and December 2013, broadly within the bounds of the Impact Assessment sensitivity analysis.

It was never assumed that downsizing was a remedy for everyone and we were not in a position to predict how many people would choose to move.