Marion Fellows Written Questions

263 Questions to Government Departments tabled by Marion Fellows


Date Title Questioner
29 May 2020, 3:57 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the number of parents with care living in poverty as a result of decreases to or cessation of child maintenance payments through the Child Maintenance Service due to a decrease in the income of a non-resident parent.

Answer (Mims Davies)

The Government recognises that the income of many separated parents is being impacted by the public health emergency and some receiving parents may receive less maintenance as a result of a paying parent’s drop in income. There is insufficient data to estimate the precise economic impact on different groups.

Paying parents are still expected to pay child maintenance throughout this period. Our priority is to maintain the flow of maintenance that is currently being paid, by easing the financial pressure on paying parents and ensuring that we transfer the payments as quickly as possible to receiving parents.

Measures have been introduced to support both paying and receiving parents, whose income drops as a result of the public health emergency. These include increasing the standard rate of Universal Credit and working tax credit for this year by over £1000 per year, benefiting over 4 million of the most vulnerable households. We have also increased the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants so that it covers the cheapest third of local rents – which is on average £600 in people’s pockets.

27 May 2020, 12:47 p.m. Post Office: Apprentices Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much Post Office Ltd paid towards the apprentice levy in each of the last five years.

Answer (Paul Scully)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, the amount paid toward the apprentice levy in each of the last five years is an operational matter for Post Office Limited.

I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

27 May 2020, 12:45 p.m. Post Offices: Closures Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many post offices are temporarily closed in each council area of (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) England.

Answer (Paul Scully)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, the number of Post Offices which are temporarily closed across the UK is an operational matter for Post Office Limited.

I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

20 May 2020, 2:53 p.m. WH Smith: Post Offices Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect on the level of viable Post Office branches of WH Smith's recent fall in revenue.

Answer (Paul Scully)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, the impact of WH Smith’s recent fall in revenue on the viability of post office branches is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon. Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the libraries of the House.

18 May 2020, 5:51 p.m. Members: Coronavirus Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Leader of the House, what steps he is taking to arrange for the participation in votes and proceedings of the House from 2 June 2020 of Members who have been advised by their country’s Chief Medical Officer that they are clinically extremely vulnerable to covid-19 and must not leave their homes during the pandemic.

Answer (Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg)

It is the Government’s clear view that the current hybrid arrangements are temporary, and that as essential workers, the vast majority of MPs must return to parliament physically so that we can pass legislation and enable proper scrutiny of government.

However, someone’s health is a deeply personal matter and if any MPs have been advised to shield by the government and therefore cannot attend the House, the Government is looking at options for participation in some proceedings. For those MPs who will attend the House, we will continue to work in line with public health advice and will work closely with the House authorities to agree social distancing measures ahead of any physical return of Parliament.

18 May 2020, 5:50 p.m. Parliament: Coronavirus Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Leader of the House, what discussions he has had with the Chief Medical Officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the effect on the health and wellbeing of Members and staff on the parliamentary estate of the reintroduction of full physical parliamentary proceedings on 2 June 2020.

Answer (Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg)

The Government is clear about the need to bring Parliament back to work in a safe, responsible way that aligns with public health guidelines that apply to all places of work. We will work closely with the House authorities ahead of any physical return of Parliament and since March there has been frequent communication with Public Health England and all the House Authorities.

18 May 2020, 5:31 p.m. Parliament: Coronavirus Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Leader of the House, what discussions he has had with the House of Commons Commission on the effect on the Business of the House in the event that a case of covid-19 is confirmed in a person who had been present in the Chamber during a sitting of the House while infectious.

Answer (Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg)

I have been in regular contact with the Speaker and Clerk of the House throughout Parliament’s response to covid-19. In the same way that we prepared for the House’s virtual return after Easter we will work in collaboration with the House Authorities to ensure that we are ready for the physical return. The Commission will be meeting tomorrow to discuss these matters further. We are clear about the need to bring Parliament back to work in a safe, responsible way that aligns with public health guidelines.

20 Mar 2020, 9:19 a.m. Post Offices: Retail Trade Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many post offices each retailer operates.

Answer (Paul Scully)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, number of post office operated by specific retailers is operational to Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

18 Mar 2020, 5:12 p.m. WH Smith: Post Offices Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of potential effect of WH Smith's profit warning on the sustainability of Post Office branches in WH Smith's premises.

Answer (Paul Scully)

The Government recognises the critical role that Post Offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

WHSmith have issued a profit warning in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. The Chancellor announced at the Budget a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support businesses through this period of disruption caused by Covid-19. Post Office Limited is in conversation with WHSmith and all other retail partners on a regular basis including discussions around contingency planning and cost control.

This government will continue to monitor and communicate with Post Office Limited as the situation with Covid-19 develops.

17 Mar 2020, 2:13 p.m. Employment Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many companies in (a) Scotland and (b) the UK have signed up to the voluntary reporting on disability, mental health and wellbeing framework.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Government has worked with large employers and expert partners to develop a voluntary reporting framework (VRF) to support organisations to record and voluntarily report information on disability, mental health and wellbeing in the workplace; thereby encouraging employers to be more transparent and start having open conversations about disability and health at work. We continue to work with employers and expert partners to promote its usage, including requiring new and renewing Disability Confident Level 3 Leaders to use it however, there is no requirement for companies to notify Government if they have signed up to the framework.

9 Mar 2020, 4:57 p.m. Pension Credit Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to notify each person that is eligible for pension credit.

Answer (Guy Opperman)

It is important to highlight that in 2017/18 there were around 1.7 million Pension Credit claimants, receiving around £5.1 billion of Pension Credit payments.

The Government wants to make sure that all pensioners eligible can claim the Pension Credit to which they are entitled. That is why on the 10 February we launched a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of Pension Credit. The aim of the campaign is to encourage those over State Pension age to check whether they’re eligible. We want to make it clear that having savings, a pension or owning a home are not automatic barriers to receiving Pension Credit; as well as explaining that even a small award of Pension Credit can provide access to a range of other benefits such as help with rent, council tax reduction schemes and heating costs.

The campaign includes a short, animated video that is being shown in GP waiting rooms and in Post Offices. It is also being shown to Facebook users over State Pension age and supported by other messaging on social media. We have also made the video and campaign materials available for stakeholders to use, as we know they are often one of the first places people turn to for information about Pension Credit.

An important part of our overall strategy to promote take-up is engaging with people who may be eligible to benefits at pivotal stages, such as when they claim State Pension or Attendance Allowance or report a change in their circumstances which may mean that they could be eligible for Pension Credit.

Pension Credit is an income-related benefit, which means that entitlement to the benefit will depend on an individual’s particular circumstances. It is therefore not possible to identify each person that is eligible, which is why we are encouraging people who think they may be eligible for Pension Credit to use the online Pension Credit calculator https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit-calculator to check if they are likely to be eligible and get an estimate of what they may receive.

9 Mar 2020, 4:07 p.m. Occupational Health Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when her Department plans to respond to the consultation, Health is everyone’s business: proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss, which closed on 7 October 2019.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 28 January 2020 to Question 7281 [https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2020-01-23/7281/].

6 Mar 2020, 10:58 a.m. Personal Independence Payment: Medical Examinations Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many (a) challenges have providers of personal independence payment health assessments made to auditors' rework requests and (b) of those challenges were successful in each of the last five years.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Independent audit data is available from July 2016. The table below shows the number of challenges, and challenges overturned made by providers to auditors for each calendar year since then.

Numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10 and have been provided by the Independent Audit team.

Year

2016

2017

2018

2019

Total Challenges

70

400

420

360

Audit results overturned

30

230

250

190

The total number of audit results overturned equates to 1.1% of all audits from 2016 to present.

Independent audit began in 2016; prior to that the audit process was performed by the providers and so we do not hold information earlier than that year.

We have omitted stats for 2020 as there is only one month’s information.

5 Mar 2020, 4:05 p.m. Post Office: Civil Proceedings Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many branches involved in the recent group litigation against Post Office Ltd are directly managed by Post Office Ltd.

Answer (Paul Scully)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. Details regarding constituencies, branches, postmasters and number of legal cases involved in the Horizon litigation is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

5 Mar 2020, 4:05 p.m. Post Offices: Civil Proceedings Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in which constituencies the post office branches involved in the recent group litigation against Post Office Ltd are based.

Answer (Paul Scully)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. Details regarding constituencies, branches, postmasters and number of legal cases involved in the Horizon litigation is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

5 Mar 2020, 4:05 p.m. Post Office: Civil Proceedings Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many (a) sub-postmasters, (b) staff of sub-postmasters, (c) staff of Post Office Ltd, (d) managerial staff and (e) other staff were involved in the recent group litigation against Post Office Ltd.

Answer (Paul Scully)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. Details regarding constituencies, branches, postmasters and number of legal cases involved in the Horizon litigation is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

5 Mar 2020, 4:05 p.m. Post Offices: ICT Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the effect of the faulty Horizon IT system on the annual revenue of each Post Office branch.

Answer (Paul Scully)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. Details regarding constituencies, branches, postmasters and number of legal cases involved in the Horizon litigation is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

5 Mar 2020, 4:05 p.m. Post Office: ICT Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many cases of accounting faults with the Horizon IT system Post Office Ltd has been made aware of in each year since the introduction of that system.

Answer (Paul Scully)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. Details regarding constituencies, branches, postmasters and number of legal cases involved in the Horizon litigation is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

5 Mar 2020, 4:05 p.m. Post Office: ICT Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many individual legal cases have been brought against Post Office Ltd (a) in full and (b) in part as a result of (i) accounting and (ii) other faults with the Horizon IT system in each of the last 25 years.

Answer (Paul Scully)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. Details regarding constituencies, branches, postmasters and number of legal cases involved in the Horizon litigation is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

5 Mar 2020, 3:56 p.m. Coronavirus: Disease Control Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect on efforts to prevent the spread of covid-19 of statutory sick pay provisions that may deter people that have to work from (a) self-isolating and (b) reporting symptoms.

Answer (Jo Churchill)

The nature and scale of the response depends on the course of the disease. As our understanding increases and the impact of the disease becomes clearer, we will issue further detailed advice about what to expect if and when further measures become necessary.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care advised in his Oral Statement on 26 February, columns 322-23, that self-isolation on medical advice is considered sickness for employment purposes and that it is a very important message for employers and those who can go home and self-isolate as if they were sick, because it is for medical reasons.

Individuals that develop any of the following symptoms, however mild: fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and difficulty breathing should monitor their symptoms and call NHS 111 or their general practitioner.

5 Mar 2020, 3:44 p.m. Post Office: ICT Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions his Department has had with Post Office Ltd on the Horizon IT system; and the purpose of those discussions was.

Answer (Paul Scully)

Ministers and officials have very frequent conversations with Post Office Limited. These have covered a range of issues including the Horizon system and the follow-on actions that Post Office Ltd needs to take as a result of the recent court judgments.

It is important that Government takes the Post Office’s relationship with postmasters very seriously and closely monitors the situation. The Post Office, through its new CEO has since accepted he got things wrong. He has apologised and said it aims at establishing a positive relationship with its postmasters. BEIS is working actively with the Post Office on this matter and will hold them to account on their progress.

3 Mar 2020, 4:03 p.m. Motor Vehicles: Exhaust Emissions Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to provide financial support to companies that need to replace their fleets in order to comply with the requirements of low emission zones.

Answer (Rachel Maclean)

Local authorities in England can bid for funding from the Government’s £286m Clean Air Fund (CAF) to provide support measures for individuals and businesses impacted by local air quality plans implemented as part of the 2017 UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations. These measures can include support for individuals and businesses to upgrade their vehicles to comply with the requirements of charging Clean Air Zones. £57.5m funding from the CAF has already been allocated including for vehicle upgrade schemes. Air quality is a devolved policy issue in the UK.

3 Mar 2020, 1:59 p.m. Coronavirus: Quarantine Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has plans to provide financial support to people that do not qualify for statutory sick pay and have to take time off work to (a) self-isolate and (b) be quarantined as a result of covid-19.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Employers have been urged to make sure they use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate in making decisions about sick pay. Gig workers and those on zero hours contracts may be entitled to sick pay and can check here: https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay/eligibility

Those who aren’t entitled to sick pay, including those who are self-employed, can make a claim to Universal Credit and/or new-style Employment and Support Allowance.

2 Mar 2020, 1:06 p.m. Social Security and Child Support Tribunal Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many hearings of the (a) first tier and (b) upper tier Social Security and Child Support Tribunals were adjourned in each of the last five years, and for what reasons those hearings were adjourned.

Answer (Chris Philp)

(1) (a) Data about adjournments for appeals to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) (SSCS), are published annually, in June, at: www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics. The table below contains a breakdown of the reasons for adjournments.

Number and reasons1 for adjournments in First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) hearings

Financial Years – April to March

2014_2015

2015_2016

2016_2017

2017_2018

2018_2019

Adjournment reason/category

1st Tier Not Ready to Proceed

291

165

~

~

0

Adjourned, All Elements Adjourned

0

0

~

~

0

Adjourned, Element(s) Outstanding

0

0

0

~

~

Admin Not Ready to Proceed

1,119

629

17

38

15

Appellant Not Ready to Proceed

5,507

3,760

63

46

31

Appellant to attend - oral hearing requested - did not attend - no reason

0

316

1,041

1,276

1,785

Appellant to attend - oral hearing requested - did not attend - reason given

0

1,109

3,297

3,319

3,594

Appellant to attend - paper requested or no Enquiry Form returned

0

487

1,828

2,307

2,638

Documents supplied but not before the Tribunal at the hearing

0

107

301

332

335

Evidence or further Response from Respondent required

~

1,124

2,999

3,509

3,451

Evidence or submission from Appellant required

5

720

2,113

2,159

2,147

Further medical evidence essential

0

2,943

11,972

15,755

16,298

Insufficient time to deal with case

0

384

1,320

1,324

1,217

No Interpreter

0

316

1,236

989

1,186

Other administrative errors

0

240

927

1,203

1,226

Other reasons for adjourning

~

1,674

5,974

7,933

7,976

Part Allowed

0

0

~

~

0

Presenting Officer to attend

0

84

212

183

128

Respondent failed to comply with directions

0

46

120

80

51

Tribunal Not Ready to Proceed

20,468

14,161

563

426

278

Adjournments as a % of hearings listed2

17%

17%

17%

18%

20%

1 Prior to November 2015 there were four adjournment categories: First Tier Not Ready to Proceed; Admin Not Ready to Proceed; Appellant Not Ready to Proceed; and Tribunal Not Ready to Proceed. The additional categories as above were introduced from November 2015.

~ Equates to a value of fewer than five.

2 Proportion of listed hearings for the totals are weighted averages.

The data may differ slightly to that of the published statistics where reports were run on a different date.

(1) (b) The data for the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeal Chamber) which hears appeals against decisions made by SSCS are not held centrally, and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

(2) (a) and (b) these data are not held centrally.

The decision to adjourn a hearing is a judicial function. The panel will only proceed when it is

satisfied it has all the evidence it needs to make a fair and just decision and that may

include further medical evidence.

2 Mar 2020, 1:06 p.m. Social Security and Child Support Tribunal Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many hearings of the (a) first tier and (b) upper tier Social Security and Child Support Tribunals were adjourned due to the appellant not receiving their appeal bundle in each of the last five years.

Answer (Chris Philp)

(1) (a) Data about adjournments for appeals to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) (SSCS), are published annually, in June, at: www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics. The table below contains a breakdown of the reasons for adjournments.

Number and reasons1 for adjournments in First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) hearings

Financial Years – April to March

2014_2015

2015_2016

2016_2017

2017_2018

2018_2019

Adjournment reason/category

1st Tier Not Ready to Proceed

291

165

~

~

0

Adjourned, All Elements Adjourned

0

0

~

~

0

Adjourned, Element(s) Outstanding

0

0

0

~

~

Admin Not Ready to Proceed

1,119

629

17

38

15

Appellant Not Ready to Proceed

5,507

3,760

63

46

31

Appellant to attend - oral hearing requested - did not attend - no reason

0

316

1,041

1,276

1,785

Appellant to attend - oral hearing requested - did not attend - reason given

0

1,109

3,297

3,319

3,594

Appellant to attend - paper requested or no Enquiry Form returned

0

487

1,828

2,307

2,638

Documents supplied but not before the Tribunal at the hearing

0

107

301

332

335

Evidence or further Response from Respondent required

~

1,124

2,999

3,509

3,451

Evidence or submission from Appellant required

5

720

2,113

2,159

2,147

Further medical evidence essential

0

2,943

11,972

15,755

16,298

Insufficient time to deal with case

0

384

1,320

1,324

1,217

No Interpreter

0

316

1,236

989

1,186

Other administrative errors

0

240

927

1,203

1,226

Other reasons for adjourning

~

1,674

5,974

7,933

7,976

Part Allowed

0

0

~

~

0

Presenting Officer to attend

0

84

212

183

128

Respondent failed to comply with directions

0

46

120

80

51

Tribunal Not Ready to Proceed

20,468

14,161

563

426

278

Adjournments as a % of hearings listed2

17%

17%

17%

18%

20%

1 Prior to November 2015 there were four adjournment categories: First Tier Not Ready to Proceed; Admin Not Ready to Proceed; Appellant Not Ready to Proceed; and Tribunal Not Ready to Proceed. The additional categories as above were introduced from November 2015.

~ Equates to a value of fewer than five.

2 Proportion of listed hearings for the totals are weighted averages.

The data may differ slightly to that of the published statistics where reports were run on a different date.

(1) (b) The data for the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeal Chamber) which hears appeals against decisions made by SSCS are not held centrally, and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

(2) (a) and (b) these data are not held centrally.

The decision to adjourn a hearing is a judicial function. The panel will only proceed when it is

satisfied it has all the evidence it needs to make a fair and just decision and that may

include further medical evidence.

2 Mar 2020, 12:08 p.m. Social Security Benefits: Disqualification Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will publish the value of deductions due to sanctions for benefit payments by parliamentary constituency in (a) the latest period for which figures are available and (b) 2019.

Answer (Mims Davies)

The Department has no plans to collate and publish this information.

The latest available statistics on benefit sanctions are published here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/benefit-sanctions-statistics-to-october-2019-experimental

26 Feb 2020, 5:24 p.m. EnAble Fund for Elected Office: Applications Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, pursuant to the Answer of 11 February 2020 to Question 13485 on EnAble Fund for Elected Office, how many applications to the EnAble Fund were made by candidates standing in (a) the 2019 UK General Election, and (b) a Westminster by-election since the launch of that fund.

Answer (Elizabeth Truss)

The interim EnAble Fund for Elected Office was set up to cover scheduled elections between December 2018 and March 2020, meaning that funding was not allocated to cover the 2019 General Election. We are exploring options to provide retrospective payments to eligible General Election candidates.

Candidates seeking support for a Parliamentary by-election are considered on a case-by-case basis. We have not received any applications for any Westminster by-elections since the launch of the fund.

26 Feb 2020, 4:56 p.m. Driving: Licensing Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how long it should take for a licence to be returned following a D2 application when all medical evidence has been submitted to the Driver Medical Team at the DVLA.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency expects it to take around 15 working days following receipt of a D2 application for a licence to be returned to the customer. This is provided that the medical information declared on the accompanying D4 medical report confirms the applicant meets the required medical standards and no further medical information is required.

20 Feb 2020, 11:04 a.m. Bus Services: Rural Areas Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to increase the availability of broadband for smart ticket machines on buses in the rural areas of (a) Scotland, (b) England, (c) Wales and (d) Northern Ireland.

Answer (Matt Warman)

Department for Transport statistics show that in March 2019, 92% of buses in England outside London were enabled for smart ticketing and 72% offered contactless payment. The Department for Transport offers bus operators in England outside London an additional incentive to implement smart ticketing through the Bus Service Operators Grant. Policy on bus services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a devolved matter.

The Government announced in-principle support in October 2019 for the Mobile Network Operators’ (MNOs) Shared Rural Network (SRN) proposal. The proposal would share investment costs between the mobile network operators and government and increase 4G mobile coverage throughout the United Kingdom to 95% by 2025, with the biggest improvements seen in the devolved nations. It will be underpinned by a legally binding coverage commitment from each operator.

The Government's in-principle support is subject to detailed negotiations. While this is not yet a done deal, the Prime Minister has made improvements to rural mobile coverage part of his first 100 days pledge. I will continue to work with the sector to make that happen.

Smart ticketing is dependent on good mobile coverage, so improvements in geographic coverage, including on major roads will facilitate the option for bus companies to provide smart ticket machines on buses in the rural areas of each nation of the UK, if they choose to do so.

This Government is committed to improving digital connectivity overall. It has committed to investing £5bn to improve broadband connections in the hardest to reach areas of the UK.

17 Feb 2020, 5:55 p.m. Personal Independence Payment: Medical Examinations Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 6 February 2020 to Question 9726 on Personal Independence Payment: Medical Examinations, for what reasons information on the number of audited health assessment reports by audit grade carried out by Capita was not provided in that answer.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Please find below the number of Audited files for Capita and Independent Assessment Service by audit grade for 2018 and 2019 in raw number format. The audits are a random selection and are undertaken in order for the department to measure contractual quality service levels.

Note the numbers are unpublished and rounded to the nearest 10.

Rounded

IAS (L1&3)

Jan-18

Feb-18

Mar-18

Apr-18

May-18

Jun-18

Jul-18

Aug-18

Sep-18

Oct-18

Nov-18

Dec-18

A

610

630

680

620

610

630

650

630

630

640

600

590

AF

190

160

160

150

180

170

160

170

150

140

160

220

AA

130

130

100

150

130

130

120

140

160

170

190

150

U

60

50

40

70

70

60

40

30

40

30

30

20

Total

980

980

980

980

990

980

980

970

970

980

980

980

Capita (Lot 2)

Jan-18

Feb-18

Mar-18

Apr-18

May-18

Jun-18

Jul-18

Aug-18

Sep-18

Oct-18

Nov-18

Dec-18

A

290

300

310

310

310

320

330

300

310

320

290

310

AF

80

80

70

70

60

70

70

100

100

80

100

100

AA

90

80

80

80

80

70

70

70

70

70

90

60

U

30

20

20

30

30

20

10

10

10

10

10

10

Total

490

480

480

480

480

490

490

480

480

490

490

480

IAS (L1&3)

Jan-19

Feb-19

Mar-19

Apr-19

May-19

Jun-19

Jul-19

Aug-19

Sep-19

Oct-19

Nov-19

Dec-19

A

640

630

630

640

670

620

610

610

560

640

650

670

AF

180

180

150

160

150

170

150

170

170

150

140

140

AA

130

140

160

160

130

140

190

150

200

150

150

140

U

30

30

40

20

30

50

40

50

50

50

40

30

Total

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

Capita (Lot 2)

Jan-19

Feb-19

Mar-19

Apr-19

May-19

Jun-19

Jul-19

Aug-19

Sep-19

Oct-19

Nov-19

Dec-19

A

320

300

320

330

320

300

300

310

320

330

340

330

AF

70

80

80

60

80

80

80

90

70

70

70

50

AA

80

90

70

80

70

80

90

80

80

70

60

90

U

20

20

10

20

20

30

20

20

30

20

20

20

Total

480

480

490

490

490

490

490

490

490

490

490

490

12 Feb 2020, 4:17 p.m. Bus Services: Disability Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the cost of installing audio-visual equipment on (a) mid- and (b) late-life buses.

Answer (George Freeman)

In 2018 the previous Government consulted on proposals for requiring the provision of audible and visible information on-board local bus and coach services in Great Britain. In particular, it sought evidence on the impact of installing audio-visual equipment on different vehicles.

Responses were received from a range of stakeholders, including representatives of smaller operators. We are finalising our response to the consultation and will announce our next steps in due course.

12 Feb 2020, 4:15 p.m. Bus Services: Disability Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much funding was allocated to installing audio-visual equipment on buses in (a) Scotland, (b) England, (c) Wales, (d) Northern Ireland in the latest period for which figures are available.

Answer (George Freeman)

Alongside publication of its 2018 Inclusive Transport Strategy, the previous Government allocated £2 million to help smaller local bus and coach operators provide audible and visible information on board their services.

This money will be made available to operators in England, Scotland and Wales through a funding competition later this year, and further information on how they can apply for it will be made available in due course.

Equalities policy is devolved in Northern Ireland and operators there are not covered by this scheme.

12 Feb 2020, 4:05 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many parents owe more than £1000 in Child Maintenance Service arrears.

Answer (Mims Davies)

For arrangements setup under the Child Maintenance service only, at the end of September 2019 there were 78,500 parents who owed more than £1,000 in Child Maintenance Service arrears.

12 Feb 2020, 11:06 a.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many non-resident parents with child maintenance arrears of more than £1,000 the Child Maintenance Service has been unable to enforce collections on through (a) a deduction from earnings order, (b) a deduction from earnings request and (c) a deduction order.

Answer (Mims Davies)

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

11 Feb 2020, 6:02 p.m. EnAble Fund for Elected Office: Applications Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, how many applications to the EnAble fund have been (a) received and (b) approved from applicants in (i) Scotland, (ii) Wales, (iii) Northern Ireland and (iv) England since the launch of that fund.

Answer (Victoria Atkins)

The interim EnAble Fund for Elected Office was set up to cover scheduled elections between December 2018 and March 2020.


The EnAble Fund does not cover elections in Wales or Northern Ireland. Scotland has its own separate fund, the Access to Elected Office Fund Scotland, to support disabled candidates.


For the 2019 English Local elections the Fund received 46 applications, with 41 grants approved for disabled candidates.

11 Feb 2020, 4:51 p.m. EnAble Fund for Elected Office: Expenditure Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, how much funding the Government Equalities Office has (a) allocated to and (b) spent on the EnAble Fund since the launch of that fund.

Answer (Victoria Atkins)

The interim EnAble Fund for Elected Office was set up to cover scheduled elections between December 2018 and March 2020. It has an allocated budget of £330,000 of which £103,000 has been spent.

10 Feb 2020, 5:54 p.m. Iron and Steel: USA Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if she will make it her policy to oppose tariffs on (a) steel and (b) rolled steel in a potential future trade deal with the US.

Answer (Conor Burns)

Existing anti-dumping or countervailing measures against specific goods will not be covered by the UK government’s negotiations with the US over a future trade agreement. Such measures are imposed following independent investigations which are not addressed through bilateral trade deal negotiations.

10 Feb 2020, 5:42 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the value is of child maintenance debts her Department (a) has written off and (b) estimates will be written off in (i) Scotland and (ii) the UK during the transition from the Child Support Agency to the Child Maintenance Service.

Answer (Mims Davies)

(a) The total amount written off for cases on Child Support Agency systems, as of September 2019, is published in Table 9.2 of the CSA QSS and is £1,480.7m. The statistics in Table 9.2 do not include CSA cases on the CMS system because representation activity on these cases started later than on the CSA system and the data we need to report on them requires more quality assurance. We aim to publish this information in the December 2019 release which is due to be published in Spring 2020.

(b) Table 9.2 provides statistics at a GB level, and the regional split of child maintenance debt that is written off isn’t published. To provide this information for Scotland would require us to link together several complex datasets and it would incur disproportionate cost. The estimate of what will be written off was included in The CSA Historic Arrears business case. Page 25 refers and the figure included was £3.2bn

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/667033/child-maintenance-compliance-arrears-consultation.pdf

10 Feb 2020, 5:25 p.m. Disability Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 31 January 2020 to Question 10758 on EnAble Fund for Elected Office, when her Department plans to publish its National Strategy for Disabled People.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

I can confirm that the Government will publish a National Strategy for Disabled People in 2020 focusing on removing barriers to ensure disabled people can lead a life of opportunity and fully participate in British society.

10 Feb 2020, 3:54 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claims from a non-resident parent for a recalculation of child maintenance as a result of a change in the income of that parent were received by the Child Maintenance Service in each of the last three years; and how many of those claims resulted in a change after reassessment.

Answer (Mims Davies)

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

10 Feb 2020, 1:28 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, under what circumstances a deduction of earnings order under the Child Maintenance Service is no longer appropriate.

Answer (Mims Davies)

A Deduction from Earnings Order (DEO) is no longer appropriate when there has been a change in circumstances, such as where a business stops trading and / or a paying parent has left employment and no details are held for a new employer. A DEO can also be cancelled in circumstances where it has been successfully applied for six months and the paying parent has requested to pay maintenance via an alternative channel.

10 Feb 2020, 1:22 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will extend the powers that are available to the Child Maintenance Service for the collection of child maintenance.

Answer (Mims Davies)

Since 2018 we have introduced new collection and enforcement powers, including disqualifying non-compliant parents from holding a UK passport. We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the new powers. At present we have no plans to further extend these powers.

5 Feb 2020, 2:44 p.m. EnAble Fund for Elected Office Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, whether she plans to (a) extend or (b) replace the EnAble Fund for Elected Office.

Answer (Victoria Atkins)

It is the Government’s ambition to see more disabled people in public office. While financial support for candidates in elections is also a matter for political parties, the Government is considering what support it might provide to succeed the current EnAble fund. The Disability Unit is considering options in connection with the National Strategy for Disabled People, which is due to be published in 2020.

8 Oct 2019, 3:51 p.m. Post Offices: Burglary Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many (a) break-ins and (b) robberies at Post Offices there have been in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland, and (d) each region of England in each month in each of the last three years.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010. This funding allows branches to be modernised to meet consumer’s evolving needs, whilst ensuring the safety and security within branches.

I have asked Nick Read, the Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write on this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

8 Oct 2019, 3:51 p.m. Post Offices: Burglary Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what support (a) the UK Government, and (b) Post Office Ltd is providing to sub-Postmasters to (i) prevent break-ins and robberies and (b) mitigate the financial and emotional effect of break-ins and robberies.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010. This funding allows branches to be modernised to meet consumer’s evolving needs, whilst ensuring the safety and security within branches.

I have asked Nick Read, the Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write on this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

2 Oct 2019, 4:03 p.m. 5G: Health Hazards Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what research his Department has (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned on the effect of 5G towers on public health.

Answer (Jo Churchill)

The Department has supported research in relation to concerns that there might be adverse effects from exposure to the low levels of radio waves from mobile phones and base stations.

The independently managed Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme ran from 2001 until 2012 and funded 31 projects, leading to over 60 publications. Information about the MTHR programme and the studies it supported can be found at the following link:

https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/*/http://www.mthr.org.uk/

The Department continues to support research on exposure to radio waves, including the ongoing Cohort Study of Mobile Phone Use and Health (COSMOS) and the Study of Cognition, Adolescents and Mobile Phone studies (SCAMP) at Imperial College London. Information about these studies can be found at the following links:

http://www.thecosmosproject.org/

http://www.scampstudy.org/

Advice from Public Health England (PHE) is based on health-related evidence reviews prepared by scientific expert groups in the United Kingdom and around the world. The independent Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation published their report in the UK in 2012 and the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) published their report in 2015. These reviews are are available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/radiofrequency-electromagnetic-fields-health-effects

https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/scientific_committees/docs/citizens_emf_en.pdf

Exposure measurements made at publicly accessible locations near to mobile phone base stations have consistently been well within the guidelines published by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. PHE considers it is possible that there may be a small increase in overall exposure to radio waves when 5G is added to an existing network or in a new area. However, the overall exposure is expected to remain low relative to guidelines and as such there should be no consequences for public health.

PHE has published information about exposure to the radio waves from mobile phone base stations, including those for 5G networks, which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mobile-phone-base-stations-radio-waves-and-health/mobile-phone-base-stations-radio-waves-and-health

PHE continues to monitor the health-related evidence applicable to radio waves and is committed to updating its advice as required.

2 Oct 2019, 4:02 p.m. 5G: Health Hazards Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, which organisations his Department consulted on the effect of 5G towers on public health.

Answer (Jo Churchill)

The Department has supported research in relation to concerns that there might be adverse effects from exposure to the low levels of radio waves from mobile phones and base stations.

The independently managed Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme ran from 2001 until 2012 and funded 31 projects, leading to over 60 publications. Information about the MTHR programme and the studies it supported can be found at the following link:

https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/*/http://www.mthr.org.uk/

The Department continues to support research on exposure to radio waves, including the ongoing Cohort Study of Mobile Phone Use and Health (COSMOS) and the Study of Cognition, Adolescents and Mobile Phone studies (SCAMP) at Imperial College London. Information about these studies can be found at the following links:

http://www.thecosmosproject.org/

http://www.scampstudy.org/

Advice from Public Health England (PHE) is based on health-related evidence reviews prepared by scientific expert groups in the United Kingdom and around the world. The independent Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation published their report in the UK in 2012 and the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) published their report in 2015. These reviews are are available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/radiofrequency-electromagnetic-fields-health-effects

https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/scientific_committees/docs/citizens_emf_en.pdf

Exposure measurements made at publicly accessible locations near to mobile phone base stations have consistently been well within the guidelines published by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. PHE considers it is possible that there may be a small increase in overall exposure to radio waves when 5G is added to an existing network or in a new area. However, the overall exposure is expected to remain low relative to guidelines and as such there should be no consequences for public health.

PHE has published information about exposure to the radio waves from mobile phone base stations, including those for 5G networks, which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mobile-phone-base-stations-radio-waves-and-health/mobile-phone-base-stations-radio-waves-and-health

PHE continues to monitor the health-related evidence applicable to radio waves and is committed to updating its advice as required.

2 Oct 2019, 4:02 p.m. 5G: Health Hazards Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of 5G towers on public health.

Answer (Jo Churchill)

The Department has supported research in relation to concerns that there might be adverse effects from exposure to the low levels of radio waves from mobile phones and base stations.

The independently managed Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme ran from 2001 until 2012 and funded 31 projects, leading to over 60 publications. Information about the MTHR programme and the studies it supported can be found at the following link:

https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/*/http://www.mthr.org.uk/

The Department continues to support research on exposure to radio waves, including the ongoing Cohort Study of Mobile Phone Use and Health (COSMOS) and the Study of Cognition, Adolescents and Mobile Phone studies (SCAMP) at Imperial College London. Information about these studies can be found at the following links:

http://www.thecosmosproject.org/

http://www.scampstudy.org/

Advice from Public Health England (PHE) is based on health-related evidence reviews prepared by scientific expert groups in the United Kingdom and around the world. The independent Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation published their report in the UK in 2012 and the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) published their report in 2015. These reviews are are available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/radiofrequency-electromagnetic-fields-health-effects

https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/scientific_committees/docs/citizens_emf_en.pdf

Exposure measurements made at publicly accessible locations near to mobile phone base stations have consistently been well within the guidelines published by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. PHE considers it is possible that there may be a small increase in overall exposure to radio waves when 5G is added to an existing network or in a new area. However, the overall exposure is expected to remain low relative to guidelines and as such there should be no consequences for public health.

PHE has published information about exposure to the radio waves from mobile phone base stations, including those for 5G networks, which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mobile-phone-base-stations-radio-waves-and-health/mobile-phone-base-stations-radio-waves-and-health

PHE continues to monitor the health-related evidence applicable to radio waves and is committed to updating its advice as required.

9 Sep 2019, 4:19 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate he has made of the total amount owed by the 100 non-resident parents who have the largest outstanding child maintenance arrears under the Child Maintenance Service.

Answer (Mims Davies)

At the end of March 2019, the 100 non-resident parents with the largest amount of unpaid child maintenance arranged by the Child Maintenance Service collectively owed £3.5m, rounded to the nearest £0.1m.

9 Sep 2019, 2:43 p.m. Electoral Register: Scotland Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many people registered to vote each day between 27 August 2019 to 4 September 2019 in (a) the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency, (b) North Lanarkshire and (c) Scotland.

Answer (Kevin Foster)

The Cabinet Office does not hold data on the number of citizens on the register, as local authorities manage their registers.

Whilst we cannot provide data for individual constituencies, we are able to provide the number of applications that were submitted through the Individual Electoral Registration Digital Service (IER DS) for North Lanarkshire and Scotland, each day between 27 August
2019 to 4 September 2019, as shown below.

These figures are for the total number of applications that have been made to the IER DS. Not all individuals who submit an application to register to vote are necessarily added to the electoral register. Eligibility to be added to a register is determined by Electoral Registration Officers for their local areas.

Date

North Lanarkshire

Scotland

27/08/2019

168

2160

28/08/2019

108

2544

29/08/2019

106

2514

30/08/2019

76

1706

31/08/2019

35

1379

01/09/2019

47

991

02/09/2019

89

4055

03/09/2019

161

4564

04/09/2019

164

4494

Total

790

19913

9 Sep 2019, 12:45 p.m. Treasury: Billing Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the amount of money received at post office branches for the payment of bills to HM Treasury in each year from 2004 to 2014; and how many payments there were in each of those years.

Answer (Jesse Norman)

In line with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) retention policy, figures are only held from 2009:

Year Volume Value

2009-2010 3,488,899 £2,954,071,169

2010-2011 3,043,659 £2,471,069,805

2011-2012 2,383,479 £2,424,727,453

2012-2013 2,363,532 £2,274,329,908

2013-2014 2,345,735 £2,094,782,172

2014-2015 2,220,883 £1,681,412,410

9 Sep 2019, 12:41 p.m. Treasury: Billing Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reasons his Department did not adopt Santander's new electronic bill payment service for post offices.

Answer (Jesse Norman)

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) fully investigated all alternative bill payment options including the replacement product offered by Santander at the Post Office, and found in that case that it was not technically or financially viable. The new system using bar-coded bills is not compatible with HMRC’s unique customer reference numbers for their various tax regimes. These reference numbers are essential in order to manage HMRC’s millions of customers and ensure payments are credited to customers’ records correctly and as quickly as possible.

9 Sep 2019, 12:06 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many times the Child Maintenance Service has used its power to disqualify non-compliant paying parents from holding or obtaining a (a) passport and (b) driving licence.

Answer (Mims Davies)

This information is not reported. However we do hold clerical data and can advise 15 driving licenses have been removed or suspended and 3 passports have been suspended.

The information regarding committal orders, or sanctions as they are called in the Child Maintenance Service, are reported in our published statistics and can be on found table 11 of the tables document on the attached link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-maintenance-service-august-2013-to-march-2019-experimental

We reported enforcement activities in our CSA statistics until September 2017 when we reduced the number of tables published because most CSA cases had been closed or had begun the Case Closure process. The last publication including the enforcement activities can be found on table 22 of the attached link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-support-agency-quarterly-summary-of-statistics-june-2017

5 Sep 2019, 11:39 a.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what her Department's policy is on registration of the child maintenance debt of a non-resident parent with credit rating agencies.

Answer (Mims Davies)

Where a liability order has been granted for the purposes of pursuing child maintenance arrears, the paying parent is given a 21 day warning period in order to respond and agree to pay.

If the warning period passes and no payment has been received from the paying parent or a payment agreement has not been made, then registration with a Credit Reference Agency will be considered. The decision is discretionary and intended to act as a deterrent to those parents who may otherwise choose to evade paying their maintenance.

The number of liability orders granted is reported in our published statistics and can be on found table 11 of the tables document in the attached link: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-maintenance-service-august-2013-to-march-2019-experimental

5 Sep 2019, 9:47 a.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many incidences of child maintenance debt of a non-resident parent were registered with a credit rating agency in the last 12 months.

Answer (Mims Davies)

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

3 Sep 2019, 3:15 p.m. Post Offices: Pay Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 23 April 2019 to Question 244157 on Post Offices: Pay, for what reasons exceptional payments are made by Post Office Ltd; and how (a) many payments were made and (b) much was paid under each category of reason in (i) Scotland, (ii) Wales, (iii) Northern Ireland, and (iv) each region of England, in each of the last five years.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business.

This is an operational matter for Post Office Limited with no BEIS involvement in the decision-making process. I understand that Alisdair Cameron, the Group interim Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, wrote to the hon Member on this matter on 16 May, providing information on the level of exceptional payments made to Post Offices over the last five years. I have asked him to respond to the hon Member’s further questions. A copy of his reply will be placed in the libraries of the House.

29 Jul 2019, 2:18 p.m. Child Maintenance Service Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many times the Child Maintenance Service registered the maintenance debt of a non-resident parent with credit rating agencies in the last year.

Answer (Will Quince)

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

26 Jul 2019, 10:23 a.m. Personal Independence Payment Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Supreme Court ruling of July 2019, if her Department will review the assessment criteria for personal independence payments for claimants with mental health illnesses that requires assessors to make a distinction between whether a claimant needs prompting to engage with other people or social support.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

The Supreme Court handed down its decision on the case known as MM (SSWP v MM) on 18 July 2019. The case concerns the definition of ‘social support’ when engaging with other people face to face under activity 9 of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Regulations, and how far in advance that support can be provided.

The Department will carefully consider the judgment and work with stakeholders to implement it fully so that claimants get the PIP support they are entitled to. This will include reviewing and updating where needed the guidance used for PIP assessments.

25 Jul 2019, 3:20 p.m. Post Office: Biometric Residence Permits Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when his Department plans to announce a decision on extending the biometric residence permit collection service with Post Office Ltd.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

The contract with the Post Office Ltd to provide the biometric residence permit (BRP) collection service started on 29 August 2014. The service commenced in February 2015 and became fully operational on 1 August 2015.

The current BRP Collection contract is due to end on 31 July 2019. It is our intention to take up the final 1-year extension option which allows the service to run until 31 July 2020.

23 Jul 2019, 10:24 a.m. Employment: Autism Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking, in addition to the Disability Confident Scheme and the Disability Confident Toolkit, to ensure people with autism spectrum conditions are supported in the workplace in relation to the working environment and their sensory needs.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Access to Work staff have a specialist knowledge of disabilities and health conditions, including autism spectrum conditions, which enables them to offer customers tailored packages of support, and the scheme offers eligible individuals a workplace assessment to establish what personalised support would be most appropriate to support them at work.

DWP is working with the Supported Business Alliance (SBA) and The British Association for Supported Employment (BASE) to develop a new long term element of Access to Work, to support people working for a supported business, many of whom have autism spectrum conditions.

DWP is also working in partnership with Department of Health and Social Care to publish a consultation on how employers can best support disabled people and people with long-term health conditions, including those with autism spectrum conditions, to stay and thrive in work.

23 Jul 2019, 10:18 a.m. Employment: Autism Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking further to the Disability Confident Scheme and the Disability Confident Toolkit to ensure people with autism spectrum conditions are supported within the workplace through (a) peer and (b) mentor support.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Access to Work offers eligible individuals practical advice and a discretionary grant of up to £59,200 per year to fund support above the level of an employer’s statutory obligation to make reasonable adjustments, and this can include specialist mentoring. DWP is working with the Supported Business Alliance (SBA) and The British Association for Supported Employment (BASE) to develop a new long term element of Access to Work, to support people working for a supported business, many of whom have autism spectrum conditions.

DWP, in partnership with Department of Health and Social Care, has published a consultation: ‘Health is everyone’s business: proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss’ on how employers can best support disabled people and people with long-term health conditions, including those with autism spectrum conditions, to stay and thrive in work.

23 Jul 2019, 10:10 a.m. Employment: Autism Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if her Department will offer people with autistic spectrum conditions of working age access to interview training designed and delivered by individuals with extensive knowledge of autism spectrum conditions through Jobcentres.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

The new Health and Work Conversation allows work coaches to build engagement with claimants with disabilities and health issues. Work Coaches are given comprehensive training to build their empathy skills and help them to actively listen to claimants. In addition, two new specialist job roles were introduced into Jobcentres from April 2019 - a revised Disability Employment Adviser role, bringing together the current role and incorporating elements of the Community Partner and Small Employer Adviser roles, and a new Disability Employment Adviser Leader role. These new roles will be instrumental in driving the government’s commitment to providing high quality support to disabled people and those with health conditions, including autism spectrum conditions. In total, more than 800 people will be employed in these new roles.

Work Coaches can refer individuals to a range of personalised support, which can include specialist interview training, through programmes like The Work and Health Programme. Work and Health Programme providers have links to organisations with extensive knowledge of autism spectrum conditions, including Autism Plus, Triple A (All About Autism), Autism Anglia, Autism Spectrum Connections CYMRU (ASCC), Gwent Integrated Autism Service, and The Autism Directory.

By the end of 2019 we will have rolled out our new Intensive Personalised Employment Support Programme, which will provide highly personalised packages of employment support for disabled people, including people with autism spectrum conditions, who are at least a year away from moving into work.

22 Jul 2019, 4:56 p.m. William Hill: Closures Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will make an assessment of the effect on trends in the level of high street footfall of William Hill's recent announcement to close branches throughout the UK.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Department does not hold data on the effects of individual store closures on High Street footfall.

16 Jul 2019, 3:32 p.m. Postal Services Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of Royal Mail's parcel postbox expansion on the sustainability of Post Office branches.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The Post Office operates in a range of competitive markets, including mails, and Government is not involved in the commercial activities in those markets.

16 Jul 2019, 3:31 p.m. Postal Services Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of Royal Mail's parcel postbox expansion on the income of (a) the Post Office Ltd and (b) sub-Postmasters.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The Post Office operates in a range of competitive markets, including mails, and Government is not involved in the commercial activities in those markets.

16 Jul 2019, 3:31 p.m. Postal Services Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of (a) the Post Office Ltd and (b) sub-Postmasters for collecting parcels in each of the last three years.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The Post Office provides parcel services on behalf of Royal Mail and the costs of those services are a commercial matter between the two businesses.

10 Jul 2019, 4:44 p.m. Post Offices Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many post office branches advertised on the Post Office business opportunities website are (a) hard to place, (b) stranded branches and (c) stuck offices.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The management of the Post Office network is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have therefore asked Alisdair Cameron, the Group interim Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the hon Member on this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House

10 Jul 2019, 11:26 a.m. Post Offices Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many post office branches are currently being served by a (a) outreach and (b) mobile service; and how many of those post office branches are awaiting a permanent location.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The management of the Post Office network is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have therefore asked Alisdair Cameron, the Group interim Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the hon Member on this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

9 Jul 2019, 2:53 p.m. Post Offices Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of opportunities advertised on the Post Office business opportunities website are for (a) new branches and (b) branches where the current postmaster is seeking a replacement.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The management of the Post Office network is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have therefore asked Alisdair Cameron, the Group interim Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the hon. Member on this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House

9 Jul 2019, 1:58 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many times the Child Maintenance Group has registered the maintenance debt of a non-resident parent with credit rating agencies in the last year.

Answer (Will Quince)

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

9 Jul 2019, 9:34 a.m. William Hill: Closures Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to support staff of William Hill following the announcement that 700 branches will close; and if she will make a statement.

Answer (Alok Sharma)

DWP stands ready to support any affected by the proposed closures, with our Rapid Response Service (RRS) offer. This is a redundancy service designed to give support and advice to employers and their employees when faced with the prospect of redundancy. It is coordinated nationally by the National Employer and Partnership Team (NEPT) and is managed by Jobcentre Plus.

Each Jobcentre Plus district deploy resources according to the situation and the requirements of the workforce. This service is available to be deployed nationally should William Hill require support from Jobcentre Plus. The RRS is delivered in partnership with a range of national and local partners, including National Careers Service and local service providers.

The range of support available from Jobcentre Plus and partners may include:

  • Information advice and guidance.
  • Connecting people to jobs in the labour market.
  • Help with job search including CV writing, interview skills, where to find jobs and
    how to apply for them.
  • Help to identify transferable skills and skills gaps (linked to the local labour
    market).
  • Training to update skills, learn new ones and gain industry recognised
    certification that will improve employability.
  • Help to overcome barriers to attending training or securing a job or
    self-employment such as child care costs, necessary tools, work clothes, travel
    costs etc.
  • On-site presentations to those affected.
  • Jobs Fairs and Job Clubs where appropriate.
8 Jul 2019, 2:51 p.m. Corporation Tax: Electronic Government Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 24 June 2019 to Question 266803 on Taxation: Electronic Government, when he plans to open a consultation on proceeding with Making Tax Digital for Corporation Tax.

Answer (Jesse Norman)

The Government will formally consult before any decision is taken to proceed with Making Tax Digital (MTD) for Corporation Tax. Any announcement will be considered as part of the fiscal events process, and made in due course.

4 Jul 2019, 3:20 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, by what methods (a) HM Paymaster, (b) the Defence Council and (c) an authorised officer determine the amount payable by a member of the armed forces in child maintenance.

Answer (Mr Tobias Ellwood)

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is responsible for setting the overall amount of child maintenance to be paid.

The Ministry of Defence has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in place with the CMS to facilitate the direct deduction of child maintenance payments from the pay of non-resident parents who are Service personnel. Under the MOU, the Department calculates a 'Minimum Drawing Rate', which takes into account gross basic pay, specialist pay, some allowances as well as gross statutory deductions such as National Insurance and PAYE.

Child maintenance deductions are always made. The only exception is when the Service person is on military operations and their Commanding Officer may advise that engagement with the CMS be delayed until their return to the UK when they are in a position to consider properly any papers from the CMS and respond accordingly, at which point deductions would commence.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 11 June 2019 to Question 261264 which detailed the administrative reasons for the rejection of deduction of earnings requests.

4 Jul 2019, 3:20 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what criteria (a) HM Paymaster, (b) Defence Council and (c) an authorised officer use to determine when child maintenance should be paid.

Answer (Mr Tobias Ellwood)

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is responsible for setting the overall amount of child maintenance to be paid.

The Ministry of Defence has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in place with the CMS to facilitate the direct deduction of child maintenance payments from the pay of non-resident parents who are Service personnel. Under the MOU, the Department calculates a 'Minimum Drawing Rate', which takes into account gross basic pay, specialist pay, some allowances as well as gross statutory deductions such as National Insurance and PAYE.

Child maintenance deductions are always made. The only exception is when the Service person is on military operations and their Commanding Officer may advise that engagement with the CMS be delayed until their return to the UK when they are in a position to consider properly any papers from the CMS and respond accordingly, at which point deductions would commence.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 11 June 2019 to Question 261264 which detailed the administrative reasons for the rejection of deduction of earnings requests.

3 Jul 2019, 4:04 p.m. Mental Health Services: Veterans Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that veterans with mental health problems receive the treatment they need.

Answer (Jackie Doyle-Price)

As part of the Government’s continued commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, veterans are able to access National Health Service-provided mainstream and bespoke evidence-based mental health services.

The NHS in England has developed two bespoke veterans’ services; the Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service, which supports serving personnel who need additional mental health support as they are leaving the Armed Forces and veterans who have mental health issues; and the Complex Treatment Service, that has been designed to support veterans with complex mental health issues, not limited to post-traumatic stress disorder, that have not improved with previous treatment.

In December last year, NHS England announced an extra £10 million to expand these services and seek ways to close the gaps in current mental health provision to meet the needs of those individuals that are nearing crisis. This expansion will increase capacity and help to ensure that specialist health support for veterans is available across a wider geographical area, helping many more vulnerable ex-Service Personnel, families and those in the criminal justice system.

2 Jul 2019, 4:20 p.m. Railways: Repairs and Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many of each type of repair to Network Rail railway lines have been carried out in each of the last five years in (a) Scotland, (b) England, (c) Wales and (d) Northern Ireland.

Answer (Andrew Jones)

The tables attached sets out track renewals on the network by type over the past five years for England & Wales and Scotland. Network Rail does not operate in Northern Ireland.

2 Jul 2019, 4:13 p.m. Network Rail: Finance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much funding the Government has allocated to Network Rail in each of the last five years in (a) Scotland, (b) England, (c) Wales and (d) Northern Ireland.

Answer (Andrew Jones)

Funding for the railway in Scotland is devolved to the Scottish Government, who have responsibility for setting funding and outputs.

The Office of Rail and Road’s final determination includes Network Rail’s outputs and funding for 2014-2019 (CP5) for both England and Wales and Scotland.

https://orr.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/452/pr13-final-determination.pdf

Network Rail does not operate in Northern Ireland.

2 Jul 2019, 2:10 p.m. Post Offices: Bank Services Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much and what proportion of fees paid by banks to the Post Office Limited have been paid to sub-postmasters in the most recent period for which figures are available.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK; this is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

The Government welcomes the development of banking services at post offices and the recently announced increased fees for postmasters. Payments to the Post Office and to postmasters under the Banking Framework agreement are commercially confidential and cannot be publicly disclosed.

1 Jul 2019, 4:56 p.m. Children: Maintanance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many committal orders have been issued under each category for (a) the Child Maintenance Service and (b) the Child Support Agency in each of the last five years.

Answer (Will Quince)

Committal orders, or sanctions as they are called in the Child Maintenance Service, are reported in our published statistics and can be on found table 11 of the tables document on the attached link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-maintenance-service-august-2013-to-march-2019-experimental

We reported enforcement activities in our CSA statistics until September 2017 when we reduced the number of tables published because most CSA cases had been closed or had begun the Case Closure process. The last publication including the enforcement activities can be found on table 22 of the attached link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-support-agency-quarterly-summary-of-statistics-june-2017

1 Jul 2019, 1:53 p.m. Armed Forces: Mental Health Services Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps she is taking to (a) protect the mental health and (b) treat mental health issues of members of the armed forces during training.

Answer (Mr Tobias Ellwood)

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) recognises that maintaining good mental health, and providing treatment when required, is fundamental to maintaining a fit, healthy, and effective military force. The comprehensive 2017 Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy set out measures to further improve the psychological health of the Armed Forces, including a new operating model focusing on Promote, Prevent, Detect and Treat.

Personnel in training receive the same mental health support as their fully-trained colleagues, including stress management training and a wide range of psychiatric and psychological treatments. Basic healthcare is available through Service primary care facilities, with treatment delivered primarily from a network of 20 permanent locations, comprising 11 Departments of Community Mental Health, six Mental Health Teams, and three locations with a permanent Community Mental Health Nurse. In-patient care is provided in dedicated psychiatric units through a central MOD contract with a partnership of eight NHS Trusts.

Personnel deployed to combat zones are supported by a GP-led healthcare team with access to a mental health nurse. In Iraq and Afghanistan, we deployed uniformed mental health nurses to deliver in-theatre care and treatment, and consultant psychiatrists visited periodically to provide clinical support. A permanent on-call consultant psychiatrist was available to provide specialist support by phone 24 hours a day, and a UK-based team of a psychiatrist and a mental health nurse was at immediate readiness to deploy to the operational theatre to support the local team if required.

Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) is widely employed as a support model for deployed personnel. It aims to empower non-medical staff to spot those who might have been affected by traumatic events in order that their peers and leaders can provide them with appropriate support or, where it is required, to refer them for specialist help. As TRiM is primarily a Unit-led innovation it is intended to reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems.

1 Jul 2019, 1:53 p.m. Armed Forces: Mental Health Services Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps she is taking to (a) protect the mental health and (b) treat mental health issues of members of the armed forces during service in combat zones.

Answer (Mr Tobias Ellwood)

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) recognises that maintaining good mental health, and providing treatment when required, is fundamental to maintaining a fit, healthy, and effective military force. The comprehensive 2017 Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy set out measures to further improve the psychological health of the Armed Forces, including a new operating model focusing on Promote, Prevent, Detect and Treat.

Personnel in training receive the same mental health support as their fully-trained colleagues, including stress management training and a wide range of psychiatric and psychological treatments. Basic healthcare is available through Service primary care facilities, with treatment delivered primarily from a network of 20 permanent locations, comprising 11 Departments of Community Mental Health, six Mental Health Teams, and three locations with a permanent Community Mental Health Nurse. In-patient care is provided in dedicated psychiatric units through a central MOD contract with a partnership of eight NHS Trusts.

Personnel deployed to combat zones are supported by a GP-led healthcare team with access to a mental health nurse. In Iraq and Afghanistan, we deployed uniformed mental health nurses to deliver in-theatre care and treatment, and consultant psychiatrists visited periodically to provide clinical support. A permanent on-call consultant psychiatrist was available to provide specialist support by phone 24 hours a day, and a UK-based team of a psychiatrist and a mental health nurse was at immediate readiness to deploy to the operational theatre to support the local team if required.

Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) is widely employed as a support model for deployed personnel. It aims to empower non-medical staff to spot those who might have been affected by traumatic events in order that their peers and leaders can provide them with appropriate support or, where it is required, to refer them for specialist help. As TRiM is primarily a Unit-led innovation it is intended to reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems.

27 Jun 2019, 12:53 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many times the Child Maintenance Group has registered the maintenance debt of a non-resident parent with credit rating agencies for each year for which information is available.

Answer (Will Quince)

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

27 Jun 2019, 12:43 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reason the Child Maintenance Group has not used its powers to require a non-resident parent in arrears to make penalty payments to the Secretary of State; and if he will make a statement.

Answer (Will Quince)

The power to impose penalty payments under the Child Support Agency scheme has been superseded by the new fee structure that the Child Maintenance Service now operates as an incentive for non-resident parents to comply.

The Service charges a 20 per cent collection fee to non-resident parents who use Collect & Pay, because they are unlikely to keep up with regular maintenance payments through the Direct Pay service or a private family arrangement.

Where arrears accrue and enforcement action is required the Service will add charges of £50 to £300 to the maintenance debt, depending on the type of action being taken.

27 Jun 2019, 12:33 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reason the Child Maintenance Group has not used its powers to make an administrative liability order without the permission of a court; and if this will be considered.

Answer (Will Quince)

The current process of applying for liability orders through the courts provides the right balance of operational efficiency and appropriate oversight. There are no plans to change this process at this time.

27 Jun 2019, 12:27 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much money has been spent from the public purse on lodging liability orders through courts by (a) the Child Maintenance Service and (b) the Child Support Agency.

Answer (Will Quince)

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

26 Jun 2019, 3:48 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many Child Maintenance Service cases were in payment arrears for each quarter of the last three years.

Answer (Will Quince)

The following table shows the number of Paying Parents who had outstanding unpaid child maintenance (which now needs to be collected through the Collect & Pay service) at the end of the relevant month.

Month

Paying Parents with CMS arrears

Sep-17

105,900

Dec-17

117,100

Mar-18

126,800

Jun-18

136,400

Sep-18

143,800

Nov-18*

148,200

Please note the following points:

  • A Paying Parent may be paying towards multiple child maintenance arrangements;
  • These figures do not consider unpaid child maintenance that was arranged by the Child Support Agency;
  • Paying Parents with any amount of unpaid maintenance which was arranged by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) are considered as having arrears;
  • Figures have been rounded to the nearest 100.

Information prior to September 2017 is not readily available and to produce it would incur disproportionate cost.

*Information for December 2018 is not readily available; November 2018 figures have been used instead.

26 Jun 2019, 11:52 a.m. Small Businesses: Billing Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what criteria will need to be met for the Small Business Commissioner to fine businesses for late payments to small medium enterprises; and how much those fines will be.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government Response to the recent Call for Evidence on Creating a Responsible Payment Culture, published on the 19 June, sets out that we will be consulting on the merits of strengthening the Commissioner’s ability to assist and advocate for small business in the area of late payments.

This will include seeking views on sanctions, including but not limited to financial penalties. It is important that we consider views through public consultation before awarding the Commissioner new powers.

26 Jun 2019, 10:42 a.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many parents were paying child maintenance using a deduction from earnings request under the child maintenance service in each quarter of the last three years.

Answer (Will Quince)

The number of Paying Parents who were paying child maintenance using a Deduction from Earnings request under the Child Maintenance Service in each quarter of the last three years are outlined in the tables below. These figures count all Paying Parents due to pay maintenance via Deduction from Earnings request, regardless of whether any maintenance had been paid in that quarter.

Calendar Year 2018

Quarter ending

March 2018

June 2018

September 2018

December 2018

Number of paying parents with a Deduction from earnings request

480

580

590

570

Calendar Year 2017

Quarter ending

March 2017

June 2017

September 2017

December 2017

Number of paying parents with a Deduction from earnings request

290

320

330

380

Calendar Year 2016

Quarter ending

March 2016

June 2016

September 2016

December 2016

Number of paying parents with a Deduction from earnings request

210

230

250

270

Please note that figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.

26 Jun 2019, 10:28 a.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of paying parents using the collect and pay service have paid some child maintenance in each quarter of the last three years.

Answer (Will Quince)

The latest statistics on the number of paying parents and the proportion of those parents using the Collect & Pay service, who have paid some child maintenance in each quarter in the last three years are published in Table 7 of the Child Maintenance Service Statistics: Paying Parents Compliance.

It is available online at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-maintenance-service-august-2013-to-december-2018-experimental

25 Jun 2019, 5:09 p.m. Television: Licensing Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the cost to the public purse was of providing free television licences to people over the age of 75 for qualifying residents in (a) the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency and (b) North Lanarkshire local authority area in (i) 2017-18 and (ii) 2018-19.

Answer (Guy Opperman)

In the 2015 funding settlement, the Government agreed with the BBC that responsibility for the concession will transfer to the BBC in June 2020.

The government and the BBC agreed this is a fair deal for the BBC - in return we closed the iPlayer loophole and committed to increase the licence fee in line with inflation. And to help with financial planning, we agreed to provide phased transitional funding over 2 years to gradually introduce the cost to the BBC.

This reform was subject to public discussion and debated extensively during the passage of the Digital Economy Act 2017 through Parliament.

On 10 June 2019, the BBC announced that the current scheme will end. From 1 June 2020, a free TV licence will only be available to a household with someone aged over 75 who receives Pension Credit.

The table below provides estimates of the costs for 2017/18 of providing free TV licences to people aged 75 and over in the geographical areas requested, in nominal prices. The figures for 2018/19 will be available in September.

Expenditure (£m) (Nominal)

2017-18

(a) Motherwell and Wishaw constituency

£0.85

(b) North Lanarkshire local authority area

£2.95

25 Jun 2019, 4:34 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much money has been collected through the (a) four and (b) 20 per cent charge under the Child Maintenance Service’s Collect and Pay system in each quarter of the last three years.

Answer (Will Quince)

‘PP Collection Charges’ are Paying Parent Collection Charges. They are set at a rate of 20%, which is added to the Child Maintenance a Receiving Parent is due to be paid, and collected once a payment is received from the Paying Parent.

‘RP Collection Charges are Receiving Parent Collection Charges. They are set at a rate of 4%, which is deducted from the amount of money paid by a Paying Parent before CMG send the payment onto the Receiving Parent.

These are the 3 most recent years we are able to report on. The 2018/19 CMS Annual Report and Accounts haven’t been audited yet so we are unable to include these figures.

2017-18

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Total

PP Collection Charge

20%

3,442,499

3,950,790

4,354,306

5,130,117

16,877,712

RP Collection Charge

4%

662,253

758,110

831,407

988,763

3,240,532

2016-17

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Total

PP Collection Charge

20%

2,139,708

2,433,748

2,756,592

3,163,725

10,493,773

RP Collection Charge

4%

414,140

471,370

532,039

608,169

2,025,718

2015-16

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Total

PP Collection Charge

20%

1,020,053

1,245,433

1,528,716

1,779,062

5,573,264

RP Collection Charge

4%

200,423

243,329

296,804

345,797

1,086,353

25 Jun 2019, 12:34 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many parents under the Child Maintenance Service were paying child maintenance using a Deduction from Earnings order in each quarter of the last three years.

Answer (Will Quince)

The below table gives the number of Paying Parents on the Child Maintenance Service, who, at the end of each quarter, were using the Collect & Pay service with a Deduction from Earnings Order. Figures are rounded to the nearest 100. These figures count all Paying Parents using a Deduction from Earnings Order, regardless of whether any maintenance had been paid in that quarter. The figures do not include Deduction from Earnings Requests.

Quarter Ending

DEOs in place

Mar-16

14,800

Jun-16

16,900

Sep-16

18,800

Dec-16

20,700

Mar-17

21,700

Jun-17

23,900

Sep-17

26,200

Dec-17

30,200

Mar-18

36,000

Jun-18

40,800

Sep-18

43,300

Dec-18

45,100

Statistics including data to March 2019 will be published on 26th June.

25 Jun 2019, 12:24 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the total amount of uncollected child maintenance payments was under the Child Maintenance Service in each quarter of the last three years.

Answer (Will Quince)

The information requested is published in Table 9 (How much child maintenance the Child Maintenance Service has arranged) of the quarterly Child Maintenance Service statistics, which are available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-maintenance-service-august-2013-to-december-2018-experimental

The latest published statistics include data to December 2018.

Table 9 gives the cumulative total, at the end of each quarter, of maintenance arranged through the Child Maintenance Service that had not been paid, and now needs to be collected through the Collect & Pay service.

25 Jun 2019, 12:20 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many cases administered by the Child Maintenance Service were on (a) Direct Pay and (b) Collect and Pay in each quarter of the last three years.

Answer (Will Quince)

The information requested is published in Table 4 (Child Maintenance Arrangements for Paying Parents) of the quarterly Child Maintenance Service statistics, which are available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-maintenance-service-august-2013-to-december-2018-experimental

The latest published statistics include data to December 2018.

24 Jun 2019, 3:45 p.m. Taxation: Electronic Government Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reasons (a) co-operatives and (b) community benefit societies were excluded from using CATO software under HMRC’s Making Tax Digital scheme.

Answer (Jesse Norman)

Making Tax Digital (MTD) has made no changes to the rules on who can file their Corporation Tax (CT) returns through the Company Accounts Tax Online (CATO) system. The Government will formally consult before any decision is taken to proceed with MTD for CT. When it consults, it will consider fully the needs of co-operatives, community benefit societies and others, and these sectors will all have the opportunity to make representations.

24 Jun 2019, 3:45 p.m. Taxation: Electronic Government Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether CATO software under HMRC’s Making Tax Digital scheme is able to be developed to include (a) co-operatives and (b) community benefit societies.

Answer (Jesse Norman)

Making Tax Digital (MTD) has made no changes to the rules on who can file their Corporation Tax (CT) returns through the Company Accounts Tax Online (CATO) system. The Government will formally consult before any decision is taken to proceed with MTD for CT. When it consults, it will consider fully the needs of co-operatives, community benefit societies and others, and these sectors will all have the opportunity to make representations.

24 Jun 2019, 3:45 p.m. Taxation: Electronic Government Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of expanding the usership of CATO software under HMRC’s Making Tax Digital scheme to include (a) co-operatives and (b) community benefit societies.

Answer (Jesse Norman)

Making Tax Digital (MTD) has made no changes to the rules on who can file their Corporation Tax (CT) returns through the Company Accounts Tax Online (CATO) system. The Government will formally consult before any decision is taken to proceed with MTD for CT. When it consults, it will consider fully the needs of co-operatives, community benefit societies and others, and these sectors will all have the opportunity to make representations.

20 Jun 2019, 1:32 p.m. Carer's Allowance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, why recipients of carer's allowance with adult dependants are not eligible for (a) child tax credits and (b) working tax credits; and if he will review his policy.

Answer (Elizabeth Truss)

Carer’s Allowance is a taxable benefit, paid to an eligible individual looking after someone with substantial caring needs. Persons in receipt of Carer’s Allowance are not excluded from either Child Tax Credit (CTC) or Working Tax Credit (WTC) provided they meet the usual conditions of entitlement for tax credits.

20 Jun 2019, 12:55 p.m. Carers: Re-employment Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support her Department provides to single adult carers of adult dependants to re-enter work.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Jobcentre Plus work coaches offer all claimants, including carers, a comprehensive menu of help, including skills provision and job search support, including individual support packages to help people into work. Support and coaching is personalised to the individual so that it works best for them.

For example, Jobcentre Plus Work Coaches utilise packages of support such as New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) for those considering self-employment and funding from the Flexible Support Fund to help individuals overcome their barriers to enter employment.

In addition, support is available via the National Careers Service in England, co-located in around 90% of Jobcentres and available online. This includes a Skills Health Check designed to help users explore their skills and interests to help identify the right job. In Scotland a broader offer is made via My World of Work.

20 Jun 2019, 11:06 a.m. Solar Power: VAT Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect of the proposals to increase VAT on solar panels by 20 per cent of the affordability by households of solar technology.

Answer (Jesse Norman)

Under EU law the Government is required to make changes to the reduced rate of VAT for the installation of certain energy saving materials.

The changes have been made to comply with European VAT rules while maintaining as much of the relief as possible.

The VAT treatment of the majority of solar panel installations is expected to be unaffected by the changes.

19 Jun 2019, 4:32 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many deductions of earnings (a) orders and (b) requests were issued by the Child Maintenance Service to the Ministry of Defence's Defence Business Services for the purpose of collecting child maintenance in each of the last three years.

Answer (Will Quince)

Information on the number of paying parents under the Child Maintenance Service with a Deduction from Earnings Order or Deduction from Earnings Request in place can be found in the latest Published statistics last updated 17 April 2019, a link to which can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-on-the-2012-statutory-child-maintenance-scheme

The Child Maintenance Service does not issue Deduction from Earnings Orders to the Ministry of Defence.

The information specifically on how many Deduction from Earnings Requests were issued to the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Business Services in each of the last three years is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

19 Jun 2019, 3:23 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Answer of 11 June 2019 to Question 261264 on Children: Maintenance, how many of the 75 rejections related to serving members of the armed forces.

Answer (Mr Tobias Ellwood)

All 75 rejections related to serving personnel and were on administrative grounds as the incorrect form had been submitted by the Child Maintenance Service.

19 Jun 2019, 2:35 p.m. Universal Credit Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much compensation his Department has paid out as a result of late payments of universal credit; how many claimants have received compensation; and what the criteria is for eligibility for compensation.

Answer (Alok Sharma)

The information requested is not collated centrally and could only be provided at Disproportionate cost.

18 Jun 2019, 4:37 p.m. NHS Marion Fellows

Question

What steps he has taken to prepare the NHS for the UK leaving the EU in October 2019.

Answer (Stephen Hammond)

As a responsible government, we must continue to plan for every scenario. We continue to carefully review the implications of the latest extension to Article 50 on our no deal planning. We are working closely with partners across the health and care system, and stakeholders, to make detailed plans to ensure the continued supply of medicines and medical products and secure the future of our European Union health and care workforce.

17 Jun 2019, 2:44 p.m. Television: Licensing Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many people aged over 75 years in (a) Scotland, (b) the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency and (c) North Lanarkshire will now be required to pay for a TV licence.

Answer (Margot James)

The BBC is responsible for the collection and enforcement of the licence fee. It estimates that 4.5 million pensioner households across the UK are eligible for the existing over 75 licence fee concession. It estimates that 900,000 households will continue to receive a free TV licence from 2020/21, rising to 1.5 million households if all pensioners eligible take up Pension Credit. The BBC has not provided any separate estimates for specific nations or regions.

12 Jun 2019, 4:40 p.m. Post Office Card Account Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much her Department has paid into Post Office card accounts in each of the last five years.

Answer (Guy Opperman)

The figures for the amount paid into Post Office card accounts for the last five financial years are as follows:

Financial Year

Monies Paid in by DWP

2014-2015

£17,333,287,535.11

2015-2016

£16,228,823,143.88

2016-2017

£14,141,533,797.78

2017-2018

£12,047,638,556.85

2018-2019

£9,515,393,806.89

12 Jun 2019, 3:03 p.m. Home Office: Post Office Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of his Department's contract with Post Office Ltd for Check and Send services in (a) each year since its inception and (b) the next five years.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

The Home Office does not pay Post Office Ltd (POL) for providing either of the passport Check & Send services. The handling charges by POL to passport customers applying under both the digital and paper Check & Send services cover their costs of providing these services, and for the onward secure transmission of applications to Her Majesty’s Passport Office. This has been the case since the original service was introduced in 1996, and will continue to be the arrangement until the current Agreement ends on 31 August 2022.

12 Jun 2019, 3 p.m. Home Office: Post Office Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when his Department's contract with Post Office Ltd for check and send services is due to expire; and whether he has plans to extend that contract.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

The current Call Off Agreement (contract) between the Home Office and Post Office Ltd will expire on 31 August 2022. There are no contractual options to extend this Agreement further, as these have already been exercised.

12 Jun 2019, 2:23 p.m. Post Office Card Account Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many Post Office card accounts were (a) active and (b) opened in each of the last five years.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The number of Post Office card accounts active or opened in each of the last five years are operational matters for Post Office Limited. I have therefore asked Alisdair Cameron, the Group interim Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon. Member on this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

12 Jun 2019, 1:15 p.m. Revenue and Customs: Payments Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how much money was paid by people to HMRC at post office branches in each of the last five years.

Answer (Jesse Norman)

The table below shows the volume and values of payments made by customers at the Post Office to HMRC for each of the last five tax years (6 April – 5 April). 2018-19 shows as zero because the facility to pay HMRC at the Post Office was withdrawn by the service provider, Santander, on 14 December 2017.

Girobank / Transcash payments into HMRC

Tax Year

Volume

Value

2014/15

2,220,883

£1,681,412,410.52

2015/16

1,598,644

£976,929,804.14

2016/17

936,457

£774,197,939.97

2017/18

432,596

£373,502,157.54

2018/19

0

£0.00

12 Jun 2019, 1:14 p.m. Revenue and Customs: Payments Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reason his Department stopped people from being able to make payments to HMRC at post office branches.

Answer (Jesse Norman)

The facility to pay HMRC at the Post Office was withdrawn by the service provider, Santander, on 14 December 2017. HMRC were not the only users of this service and had no influence on this decision or the timing of the withdrawal.

11 Jun 2019, 3:13 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many deduction of earning requests made by the Child Maintenance Service have been declined by the (a) MoD Defence Council and (b) Authorised Officer; and if she will publish the reasons for those requests being declined.

Answer (Mr Tobias Ellwood)

Defence Business Services, within the Ministry of Defence (MOD), is responsible for administering requests and orders from the Child Maintenance Service.

In financial year 2018-19 818 deduction of earning requests were received from the Child Maintenance Service for Service personnel; of these, 129 were rejected. The reasons for the rejection were:

No. of Rejections

Reason for Rejection

~

Service person not in receipt of pay

~

Insufficient information on request to validate a Service person’s identity

30

Service person had been discharged

15

Service person was a reservist

75

A deduction of earning order was issued, rather than a deduction of earning request

~

Request addressed to a Service person directly and not to Defence Business Services

In line with Departmental policy ~ represents five or fewer.

For MOD civilian staff, the number of deduction orders declined is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost, however, a deduction of earning order would only be rejected if an individual was no longer employed by the MOD or if they were in receipt of insufficient earnings to meet the request.

11 Jun 2019, 2:16 p.m. Post Office: Pilot Schemes Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when the pilot services run by Post Office Ltd to (a) verify identities for the National Insurance application process, (b) support job seekers in rural areas, and (c) verify supporting documents for customers of the pension scheme, (a) started, (b) will finish; and what the cost to the public purse has been of those pilots.

Answer (Guy Opperman)

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it has the freedom to deliver its strategy as an independent business. Therefore, this issue is an operational matter for Post Office Limited.

However, BEIS Ministers and officials do engage regularly with representatives of Post Office Limited on a range of strategic issues of mutual interest.

11 Jun 2019, 2:14 p.m. Biometric Residence Permits: Post Offices Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when his Department's contract with the Post Office Ltd to provide the biometric residence permit collection service (a) began, (b) will end; and whether he plans to extend that service.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

The contract with the Post Office Ltd to provide the biometric residence permit (BRP) collection service started in June 2012, although the service only became operational in February 2015. The current BRP Collection contract is due to end in July 2019, however we do have an option to extend the contract for a further year to July 2020. The Home Office is currently considering this option, a decision is imminent.

In terms of the yearly cost of the contract:

2018/19: £2,131,283. 95
2017/18: £2,056,394.35
2016/17: £2,051,690.25
2015/16: £1,610,036.95
2014/15: £123,000
2013/14: £257,000
2012/13: £1,558,000
2011/12: £441,000 (Set up costs)

11 Jun 2019, 2:14 p.m. Biometric Residence Permits: Post Offices Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how much his Department has paid to Post Office Ltd to provide the biometric residence permit collection service in each year for which data is available.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

The contract with the Post Office Ltd to provide the biometric residence permit (BRP) collection service started in June 2012, although the service only became operational in February 2015. The current BRP Collection contract is due to end in July 2019, however we do have an option to extend the contract for a further year to July 2020. The Home Office is currently considering this option, a decision is imminent.

In terms of the yearly cost of the contract:

2018/19: £2,131,283. 95
2017/18: £2,056,394.35
2016/17: £2,051,690.25
2015/16: £1,610,036.95
2014/15: £123,000
2013/14: £257,000
2012/13: £1,558,000
2011/12: £441,000 (Set up costs)

11 Jun 2019, 2:13 p.m. Asylum: Finance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when his Department's contract to provide financial support to asylum seekers through an Aspen card will expire.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

The Home Office’s contract to provide financial support to asylum seekers through an Aspen Card will expire on 27 November 2019 (with the option to extend for a further 6 months to 27 May 2020).

11 Jun 2019, 2:09 p.m. Asylum: Finance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what the cost to the public purse is of the contract to provide financial support to asylum seekers through Aspen cards.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

The Home Office does not publish data on the costs to the public purse for the contract to provide financial support to asylum seekers through Aspen cards.

11 Jun 2019, 2:08 p.m. Asylum: Finance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how much financial support was paid to asylum seekers through post offices in each of the last five years.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

Post May 2017 all funding for financial support was paid to asylum seekers via ASPEN cards and prior to that Home Office records do not indicate whether financial support was paid via a Post Office, a card or in cash/vouchers to asylum seekers.

11 Jun 2019, 2:08 p.m. Asylum: Finance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, for what reason his Department decided to move the provision of financial support to asylum seekers from post offices to Aspen cards.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

The functionality of the Aspen card was thoroughly tested prior to its rollout in May 2017 and there were a number of factors which influenced the decision to move to a payment card from Post Offices.

Primarily, the sub-contractual arrangements were coming to an end, and the Asylum Registration Card (ARC) used for identification and payment purposes was being upgraded. Other factors included improved convenience and accessibility for service users, and a reduction in processing costs associated with reduced cash handling.

11 Jun 2019, 1:52 p.m. Biometrics: Post Offices Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, for each available year, what the cost to the public purse was of his Department's arrangement with Post Office Ltd to provide biometric enrolments.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

Since 2015 the net cost to the public purse for the Home Offices arrangement with Post Office Ltd has been as follows:

Total (Net)

2015

£1,427,773.00

2016

£1,156,030.00

2017

£1,233,200.00

2018

£1,640,528.00

2019*

£494,160.00

* 2019 data is for January to April only.

11 Jun 2019, 1:44 p.m. Biometrics: Post Offices Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, for what reason his Department stopped providing biometric enrolments through post office branches.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

Our contract with the Post Office Ltd is coming to an end so we took the opportunity to modernise our services through the introduction of new front end services arrangements, which were procured in 2018.

The successful supplier in this procurement was Sopra Steria Ltd. The resulting UK Visas and Citizenship Application Service (UKVCAS) brings together identity checks, evidence submission and biometric enrolment and provides more choices for the customer about the way in which they complete their application.

11 Jun 2019, 9:41 a.m. Angling: Licensing Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department plans to end the sale of rod fishing licenses at post office branches.

Answer (Mr Robert Goodwill)

The Environment Agency is not currently planning to end the sale of rod licences through the Post Office and is in the process of renewing its contract with the Post Office. This contract will apply only to England and Wales. It will include a two year break clause at which point the contract will again be reviewed.

10 Jun 2019, 4:02 p.m. Post Office Card Account Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many Post Office card accounts were active in each of the last five years; and how much his Department paid into those accounts.

Answer (Guy Opperman)

The figures for the number of active accounts at year end for the last five years are as follows:

At Year End

Total Number of Accounts

March 2015

2409075

March 2016

2179279

March 2017

1790546

March 2018

1383266

March 2019

1103328

The figures for the amount paid into Post Office card accounts for the last five financial years are as follows:

Financial Year

Monies Paid in by DWP

2014-2015

£17,333,287,535.11

2015-2016

£16,228,823,143.88

2016-2017

£14,141,533,797.78

2017-2018

£12,047,638,556.85

2018-2019

£9,515,393,806.89

10 Jun 2019, 2:30 p.m. Post Office Card Account Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to extend the use of Post Office card accounts beyond 2021.

Answer (Guy Opperman)

The Post Office card account contract ends in November 2021. There are currently no plans to extend this contract.

The DWP has written to customers who use the Post Office card accounts to encourage them to receive payment into a mainstream account. This is part of our policy of reducing reliance on payment exception services and promoting financial inclusion through the use of mainstream accounts. Mainstream accounts offer more features and reduce the cost to the taxpayer. One of the key messages we highlight, is that 99% of banks’ personal accounts enable customers to withdraw cash, deposit cash and cheques, and make balance enquiries at a Post Office counter via its network of 11,600 branches.

For those claimants and pensioners who are unable to open a mainstream account, the DWP will implement an alternative payment service that allows users to obtain cash payments in their local area (including suburban and rural locations) before the end of the Post Office card account contract in November 2021.

All DWP letters provide a free telephone number where the customer can call to discuss their payment options further and change their method of payment over the telephone. A copy of these letters will be placed in the House of Commons Library.

As we approach the end of the Post Office card account contract, the DWP and POL will work together to issue joint guidance on Post Office card account user’s options, to transfer to other payments methods.

10 Jun 2019, 11:22 a.m. Department for Transport: Post Office Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when his Department's contracts with Post Office Ltd for (a) driver licensing, (b) vehicle registration, (c) Excise Duty collection, and (d) international driving permits are due to expire; and whether he has plans to extend the duration of those contracts.

Answer (Michael Ellis)

All four services are provided by a single contract between the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and Post Office Ltd. The initial term of this contract will expire on 31 March 2020, following which there is an option for a three-year extension. The DVLA is currently considering its options regarding the potential extension, although no decision has yet been made.

5 Jun 2019, 2:13 p.m. Child Maintenance Service Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect on children of a Child Maintenance Service deduction of earning requests being declined by the Ministry of Defence Council or an authorised officer.

Answer (Will Quince)

The Child Maintenance Group has a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Defence that supports the operation of Deduction from Earnings Requests. However, the final decision on whether to implement the deduction from earnings request and at what rate ultimately rests with HM Paymaster. Where we are unable to deduct child maintenance directly from salaries, we will look to enforce payment directly from a paying parent’s bank account.

Where a paying parent fails to pay on time or in full, the Child Maintenance Service has a wide range of strong enforcement powers including deduction from earnings orders, order for sale, removing non-paying parent's driving licences, disqualification of passports, and committal to prison.

We introduced new powers in December 2018 which allow the Child Maintenance Service to deduct child maintenance directly from a wider range of accounts, including joint and business accounts, and enable it to target complex earners via a calculation of notional income based on assets.

5 Jun 2019, 12:34 p.m. Child Maintenance Service Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many deduction of earning requests made by the Child Maintenance Service have been declined by the (a) MoD Defence Council and (b) Authorised Officer; and if she will publish the reasons for those requests being declined.

Answer (Will Quince)

Child Maintenance Service do not record this data as there is no facility on the Child Maintenance System to record instances when a Deduction from Earning Request has been rejected by MoD.

5 Jun 2019, 12:07 p.m. Independent Assessment Services Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 23 May 2019 to Question 256361 on Independent Assessment Services, whether reports classified as acceptable with feedback provide non-prescriptive amendments to the health professional.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

An “acceptable with feedback” grade results in feedback being given to the Health Professional, but does not require an amendment to the assessment report.

5 Jun 2019, 8:40 a.m. Research Fund for Coal and Steel Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the economic effect on the UK steel sector of losing access to the Research Fund for Coal and Steel as a result of the UK leaving the EU; and what steps he is taking support that sector.

Answer (Andrew Stephenson)

The Government recognises the importance of R&D to help transform the steel sector so it can play a vital role within our modern Industrial Strategy. Increasing investment in R&D was one of the key recommendations in our 2017 Future capacities and capabilities of the UK steel industry study (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-steel-industry-future-market-opportunities), which sets out how the industry can increase its profitability and sustainability.

The Government’s priority remains ensuring that the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified. This would ensure that UK entities’ right to participate in the Research Fund for Coal and Steel – including bidding for funding – would be unaffected until the end of 2020.

We are considering options for supporting R&D in steel beyond 2020 and will continue to work with the sector, unions and Devolved Administrations to develop a viable long-term solution. The Government will decide on science and innovation expenditure, including on R&D for steel, in the next Spending Review.

4 Jun 2019, 7:56 a.m. Iron and Steel: Scotland Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions his Department has had with the Scottish Government on the future of the Scottish steel industry.

Answer (Andrew Stephenson)

My rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State and Ministers for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy frequently meet steel industry companies and we are working closely with the sector, the unions and devolved administrations to support the UK steel sector develop a long-term viable solution for the UK steel industry. The Scottish Government have also been invited to participate on each occasion Ministers have convened the Steel Council.

4 Jun 2019, 7:56 a.m. Research Fund for Coal and Steel Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will ring-fence for the steel sector the UK's €250 million share of the Research Fund for Coal and Steel returned due to the UK leaving the EU.

Answer (Andrew Stephenson)

The UK Government is committed to ensuring that UK and EU researchers, universities and businesses in the steel sector will be able to continue to collaborate after the UK leaves the European Union.

The Government’s priority remains ensuring the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) is ratified. This would ensure that UK entities’ right to participate in the Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS) would be unaffected by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU until the end of 2020: the WA envisages that UK participants will be eligible to bid for RFCS funding until that date.

In the event the UK leaves the EU without an overall withdrawal agreement, the Government will guarantee the payment of awards for UK organisations which successfully bid directly to EU programmes, including RFCS, until the end of 2020, for the whole lifetime of projects agreed.

Beyond 2020, the UK government is considering options for supporting R&D in steel and will continue to work with the sector, unions and Devolved Administrations to develop a long-term viable solution for the UK steel industry.

The Government will decide on science and innovation expenditure, including on R&D for steel, in the next Spending Review. Science and innovation have been made a priority by the UK Government and is at the heart of the Department’s Industrial Strategy, in recognition of the strong economic benefits of public investment in science and innovation and its capacity to leverage private investment.

4 Jun 2019, 7:56 a.m. Research Fund for Coal and Steel Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he plans to maintain the same level of funding awarded under the Research Fund for Coal and Steel after the UK leaves the EU.

Answer (Andrew Stephenson)

The UK Government is committed to ensuring that UK and EU researchers, universities and businesses in the steel sector will be able to continue to collaborate after the UK leaves the European Union.

The Government’s priority remains ensuring the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) is ratified. This would ensure that UK entities’ right to participate in the Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS) would be unaffected by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU until the end of 2020: the WA envisages that UK participants will be eligible to bid for RFCS funding until that date.

In the event the UK leaves the EU without an overall withdrawal agreement, the Government will guarantee the payment of awards for UK organisations which successfully bid directly to EU programmes, including RFCS, until the end of 2020, for the whole lifetime of projects agreed.

Beyond 2020, the UK government is considering options for supporting R&D in steel and will continue to work with the sector, unions and Devolved Administrations to develop a long-term viable solution for the UK steel industry.

The Government will decide on science and innovation expenditure, including on R&D for steel, in the next Spending Review. Science and innovation have been made a priority by the UK Government and is at the heart of the Department’s Industrial Strategy, in recognition of the strong economic benefits of public investment in science and innovation and its capacity to leverage private investment.

28 May 2019, 3:51 p.m. Children: Maintenance: Motherwell and Wishaw Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many (a) liability and (b) deduction from earnings orders have been issued in the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency in each year for which information is available.

Answer (Will Quince)

This question had been interpreted as relating to actions taken by the Child Maintenance Service.

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

The exact information requested regarding deduction from earning orders issued is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost. However, you may find the following table useful: this provides the number of paying parents on the Child Maintenance Service Collect & Pay service who, at the end of each calendar quarter:

  • were paying Child Maintenance via a Deduction from Earnings order; and
  • had an address in the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency.

Figures have been rounded to the nearest 5.

Quarter Ending

Paying Parents

Mar-17

45

Jun-17

45

Sep-17

45

Dec-17

50

Mar-18

60

Jun-18

80

Sep-18

80

Dec-18

80

28 May 2019, 2:40 p.m. Social Security Benefits Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 20 May 2019 to Question 254839 on Social Security Benefits, whether claimants of (a) personal independence payments and (b) employment and support allowance whose claims were subject to a review by her Department's Quality Team are entitled to access any feedback on their claim from Quality Team reviewers.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

The Department has one quality team who check all benefits, any feedback from this team, on individual claims, can be requested through a Right to Access Request.

23 May 2019, 4:08 p.m. Independent Assessment Services Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to help ensure Independent Assessment Service assessment centres accommodate the needs of people with autistic spectrum conditions.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

All Independent Assessment Services (IAS) centres meet the department’s required accessibility requirements. In addition, IAS have plans in place to use their claimant champion stakeholder network to work with autism groups to improve the experience in centres for claimants with autistic spectrum conditions.

IAS PIP claimant communications were reviewed by the National Autistic Society with feedback being received that map/directions which include exterior centre photos were particularly helpful for autistic claimants to allow them to orientate before arriving.

23 May 2019, 4:02 p.m. Independent Assessment Services Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the minimum training requirements are for auditors of Independent Assessment Service health assessment reports.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Auditors of Independent Assessment Services health assessment reports are qualified health professionals who are registered with a professional body, with experience in PIP assessments.

23 May 2019, 10:29 a.m. Independent Assessment Services Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to audits requiring amendments to be made to Independent Assessment Service health assessment reports, in what circumstances are such amendments not made by the health professional who conducted the assessment.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Data is not specifically collated on the number of reports that have been amended by the Health Professional that conducted the health assessment or those that had not.

Where Independent Assessment Service reports require amendment via audit then this activity, wherever possible, should be taken by the Health Professional who carried out the original assessment. Exceptions to this may be as a result of the Health Professional’s availability for example, annual leave which would cause an unnecessary delay to the assessment process.

23 May 2019, 10:29 a.m. Independent Assessment Services Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of Independent Assessment Service health assessment reports that have been amended during audit by a health professional that (a) conducted the health assessment and (b) did not conduct the health assessment for all years for which information is available.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Data is not specifically collated on the number of reports that have been amended by the Health Professional that conducted the health assessment or those that had not.

Where Independent Assessment Service reports require amendment via audit then this activity, wherever possible, should be taken by the Health Professional who carried out the original assessment. Exceptions to this may be as a result of the Health Professional’s availability for example, annual leave which would cause an unnecessary delay to the assessment process.

23 May 2019, 8:42 a.m. Independent Assessment Services Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many audited Independent Assessment Service health assessment reports were graded as (a) acceptable, (b) unacceptable and (c) acceptable report amendment required in each year for which figures are available.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Please find the figures requested in the table below. In addition to this information we have also included the category ‘acceptable with feedback’ which was not requested but may be of interest.

Grades

Apr 16- Mar 17

Apr 17-Mar 18

Apr 18-Mar 19

Acceptable

7,300

7,930

7,480

Acceptable with Feedback

1,380

1,820

1,990

Acceptable with Amendments

650

1,220

1,780

Unacceptable

460

620

500

Total Audited

9,790

11,590

11,750

Figures rounded to the nearest 10

Data obtained from the CHES MI Team

20 May 2019, 11:16 a.m. Social Security Benefits Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether claimants of (a) personal independence payments and (b) employment and support allowance whose claims were subject to a review by her Department's Quality Team are entitled to access the Quality Team's report of that review.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Based on our understanding of the question, we believe the ‘quality report’ refers to a report based on the overall quality of the Department’s Decision Making, not on the quality of assessment. Internally within DWP there is no Quality Assessment Report.

2 May 2019, 3:18 p.m. State Retirement Pensions: Females Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department took in response to the increased number of complaints to the Independent Case Examiner from women affected by the state pension age increase between October 2016 and November 2018.

Answer (Guy Opperman)

The Independent Case Examiner is by its nature and name, independent. It reviews complaints about the DWP and its contracted service providers, in those cases where the complainant has exhausted the relevant internal complaints process and remains dissatisfied with the final response to their complaint.

The service provided by the Independent Case Examiner’s Office is demand led, and its resources are reviewed on an annual basis. The Independent Case Examiner’s Office received funding for thirteen additional staff in 2018/2019 financial year, during which productivity increased with the Independent Case Examiner’s Office clearing 1,246 complaints, compared to 955 in the previous reporting year.

The Independent Case Examiner’s Office accepted the first complaint concerning communications associated with changes to women’s State Pension age in October 2016. Due to the volume of complaint referrals received from this group of complainants, the Independent Case Examiner Office took the decision to bring a lead case into investigation in January 2017, in order to familiarise itself with the issues underpinning the orchestrated complaints campaign. This investigation concluded in June 2017 – The Independent Case Examiner did not uphold the complaint.

To deal specifically with this group of complaints, the Independent Case Examiner’s Office set up a team of three Investigation Case Managers in October 2017. This team concluded 192 investigations between October 2017 and November 2018, none of which were upheld on the main element of complaint. The Independent Case Examiner’s Office closed this group of complaints in December 2018, when they became subject to legal proceedings, as is required under its governance contract.

2 May 2019, 1:01 p.m. Post Offices: Finance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will take steps to help retain Post Office branches where the Network Transformation Programme funding is insufficient to sustain the branch in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland, and (d) each region of England.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government has invested more than £2 billion since 2010 to support the Post Office and as part of that investment the Post Office is required to ensure that the network of branches remains above 11,500 overall and that accessibility targets are met. These parameters ensures that post office services remain accessible to all, with almost 93% of people within a mile and 99.7% within 3 miles of their nearest branch.

2 May 2019, 12:59 p.m. Post Offices: Location Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many Post Office branches have received investment in addition to that awarded through the Network Transformation Programme to relocate; and what the cost of these investments is in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland, and (d) each region of England.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. Investments and costs of Post Office branches across the UK or by each region of England are operational matters for Post Office Limited. I have therefore asked Alisdair Cameron, the Group interim Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the hon Member on this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

1 May 2019, 3:16 p.m. Personal Savings: Older People Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure older people are able to build and maintain savings for retirement.

Answer (John Glen)

The Government is committed to supporting people of all incomes and at all stages of life to save.

Older people will continue to benefit from a number of measures the Government has introduced in recent years.

The Government has increased the amount that individuals, including older people and those of State Pension age, can earn or receive in savings interest before paying income tax to £12,500 per year. As a result, people can keep more of their income to invest as they choose.

The amount of money that people can save into their ISAs each year (the annual subscription allowance) has been increased to a record £20,000.

Since April 2016, individuals have also been able to benefit from a new Personal Savings Allowance of up to £1,000 for basic rate taxpayers and up to £500 for higher rate taxpayers.

As a result of these measures, over 95% of people with savings income pay no tax on that income.

30 Apr 2019, 4:44 p.m. Universal Credit Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on employers reporting employees' income to HMRC (a) late and (b) in the wrong assessment period for universal credit.

Answer (Alok Sharma)

The Department has been working closely with HMRC since Universal Credit went live in 2014, to support and inform employers who report earnings to emphasise the importance of timely reporting on a Universal Credit payment.

HMRC have recently updated their guidance to reiterate to employers the importance of reporting accurate dates and the impact on payment cycles.

Guidance on payment cycles and their interaction with Universal Credit for claimants is available online through the GOV.UK pages on Universal Credit and on the DWP “Understanding Universal Credit” pages.

30 Apr 2019, 4:30 p.m. Universal Credit Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effects on universal credit claimants of her Department calculating universal credit entitlement using income from earnings reported by an employer (a) paid during an assessment period in which they were not earned and (b) as a single payment but which were paid as a multiple payment.

Answer (Alok Sharma)

Entitlement to Universal Credit is calculated in monthly assessment periods. The amount of Universal Credit paid reflects, as closely as possible, the actual circumstances of a household each assessment period, including any earnings reported by the employer during that assessment period. Monthly reporting allows the award to be adjusted on a monthly basis, which ensures that if a claimant’s income falls, they will not have to wait several months for a rise in their Universal Credit.

Wherever possible, employed earnings are received through the Real Time Information (RTI) system used by employers to report Pay As You Earn (PAYE) data to HMRC. RTI enables a claimant’s award to be automatically adjusted to reflect their earnings, which eases the reporting burden on claimants.

30 Apr 2019, 4:05 p.m. Rented Housing: Older People Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps the Government is taking to improve the (a) availability and (b) affordability of housing for older renters.

Answer (Mrs Heather Wheeler)

Affordable housing is a top priority for the Government and we believe that the key to improving availability and affordability for all tenants, including older renters, is to build more homes for rent. Institutional investment in purpose-built privately rented homes is increasing, with over 29,000 homes delivered since 2012, and around 110,000 in the pipeline.

We are also committed to making housing for rent more affordable now. This includes banning lettings fees paid by tenants and capping tenancy deposits with the Tenant Fees Act, which will come into force on 1 June 2019.

The Government is supporting those in receipt of housing benefit who are most in need, including older renters, through Targeted Affordability Funding. This fund provides a top-up in LHA rates for areas where affordability pressures are greatest, providing a Discretionary Housing Payment fund for Local Authorities to protect the most vulnerable claimants.

30 Apr 2019, 2:09 p.m. PAYE Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what legislative time conditions are in place for employers to report employees' earnings to HMRC; and what powers HMRC has to penalise employers who do not meet those conditions.

Answer (Mel Stride)

Employers are required to report to HMRC any relevant payments made to its employees and deductions made on their behalf, on or before the employee’s payday, under Regulation 67B Income Tax (Pay As You Earn) Regulations 2003. There are some exceptions to this obligation, which are set out under Regulation 67D.

Late filed returns may be subject to penalties under Schedule 55 Finance Act 2009.

30 Apr 2019, 9:39 a.m. Post Office: Pay Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the average increase to postmaster pay under the new payment deal for banking cash deposits at post offices.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The Department has made no such estimate because the management of postmasters’ remuneration for banking services is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have therefore asked Alisdair Cameron, the Group interim Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the hon Member on this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

29 Apr 2019, 3:22 p.m. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Billing Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of his Department's payments to (a) businesses and (b) SMEs were made within his Department's prompt payment target in each of the last five years.

Answer (Andrew Stephenson)

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) complies with the Prompt Payment Code which the Chartered Institute of Credit Management administers on our behalf.

BEIS was formed on 14 July 2016 so we are unable to provide data prior to that date. The data we hold applies to payments of valid invoices for goods and services and cannot be sub-divided into those made to general business and those made to SMEs. The data in the table below applies to all businesses:

Year

Valid invoices paid within 30 days

2017-18

99.3%

2018-19

99.3%

Links: BIES Annual Report & Accounts 2016-17 (page 77)

BEIS Annual Report & Accounts 2017-18 (page 37)

25 Apr 2019, 4:52 p.m. Universal Credit: Self-employed Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reason her Department classes the owners of small businesses as self-employed under universal credit while HMRC classes them as employed.

Answer (Alok Sharma)

We look at a number of factors to establish whether someone is gainfully self-employed

A claimant is considered to be in gainful self-employment where all of the following apply:

  • the claimant is carrying on a trade, profession or vocation as their main employment
  • their earnings from that trade, profession or vocation are self-employed earnings
  • the trade, profession or vocation is organised, developed, regular and carried out in expectation of profit

If any of these are not satisfied then the claimant is not considered gainfully self-employed.

25 Apr 2019, 2:46 p.m. Social Security Benefits: Medical Examinations Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether GP’s are required when recommending a claimant has home assessment for the purpose of a benefit claim to follow her Department‘s required and accepted terminology; and what guidance her Department has issued to GPs on statements her Department accepts in agreeing to grant a home assessment.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

DWP has not issued any guidance to GPs on the subject of providing letters to support requests for home visits from assessment providers for their patients.

25 Apr 2019, 12:51 p.m. Employment and Support Allowance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 8 April 2019 to Question 239928 on Employment and Support Allowance, when she plans to complete her update of the ESA65B letter.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

I refer the right honourable member to Parliamentary Question 242946 answered on 15th April 2019.

25 Apr 2019, 12:35 p.m. Employment and Support Allowance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 8 April 2019 to Question 239928 on Employment and Support Allowance, which medical organisations she is consulting to advise on the updating of the ESA65B letter.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

The Department is consulting the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners on the revised wording of the ESA65B letter.

25 Apr 2019, 12:27 p.m. Personal Independence Payment: Medical Examinations Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, as a result of reassessments of personal independence payment claim eligibility at the end of a payment time frame, how many of such payments have (a) been stopped, (b) been reduced (c) increased and (d) remained the same in each of the last five years.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

The latest available data on the initial outcomes of PIP award reviews, whether they were increased, maintained, decreased or disallowed each month from June 2016 – October 2018 can be found in Table 3A of the data tables PIP: Planned Award Review and Change of Circumstance Registrations and Clearances, October 2018” which can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/personal-independence-payment-april-2013-to-october-2018.

Note that prior to June 2016, the outcomes recorded for award reviews were either ‘changed’ or ‘unchanged’ on the PIP Computer system.

24 Apr 2019, 3:31 p.m. Energy: Prices Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to help ensure that energy services are affordable for older people.

Answer (Claire Perry)

The Government is committed to ensuring fair energy prices for all consumers. This has been delivered through the Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariff Cap) Act, which requires the energy regulator to cap standard variable and default energy tariffs.

The cap will save consumers a total of £1 billion on their bills annually.

In addition to the price cap, there is a strong package of financial support for older people. The Warm Home Discount provides a rebate of £140 off the winter energy bill for over 2 million low income and vulnerable households. All pensioner households receive a payment between £100 and £300 each winter through the Winter Fuel Payments and additional payments of £25 are available for cold periods through the Cold Weather Payment.

24 Apr 2019, 12:26 p.m. Refugees: National Insurance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of his Department's policy on the criteria for awarding people awaiting a decision on their refugee status a national insurance number.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

Asylum Seekers are provided with a National Insurance number if they have permission to work. The rules allow those asylum seekers who have been waiting for 12 months through no fault of their own to take up employment in Shortage Occupation list roles.

Asylum Seekers who are granted leave to remain are provided with a National Insurance number by DWP as quickly as possible after their grant. We have worked with DWP to ensure National Insurance numbers are issued on the BRP to enable those with a right to work.

23 Apr 2019, 4:29 p.m. Post Offices: Retail Trade Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which retailers operate over ten post offices; and how many post offices do each of those retailers operate.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. Commercial arrangements with retailers are an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have therefore asked Alisdair Cameron, the Group interim Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the hon Member on this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

23 Apr 2019, 4:29 p.m. Post Offices: Pay Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many post office branches Post Office Ltd pay above the normal remuneration fees scales.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. Remuneration fees paid to Post Office Branches is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have therefore asked Alisdair Cameron, the Group interim Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the hon Member on this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

23 Apr 2019, 4:29 p.m. Pensioners: Social Security Benefits Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that older people claim the benefits they are entitled to.

Answer (Guy Opperman)

The Government is committed to ensuring that older people receive the support they are entitled to and the DWP targets activity on engaging with people who may be eligible to benefits at pivotal stages, such as when they claim State Pension or report a change in their circumstances. The DWP uses a wide range of channels to communicate information about benefits to potential customers; including information on https://gov.uk/, in leaflets and by telephone. People wishing to claim Pension Credit can do so by calling 0800 99 1234. DWP staff in Pension Centres and Jobcentres including visiting officers are able to provide help and advice about entitlement to benefits, as are staff in Local Authorities who administer Housing Benefit.

One of the best ways to reach eligible customers is through trusted stakeholder working in the community and we have developed the Pension Credit toolkit, as an on-line tool for agencies and welfare rights organisations to use in order to encourage Pension Credit take-up. It can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pension-credit-toolkit

The toolkit contains resources for anyone working with pensioners and includes guides to Pension Credit. It also contains publicity material and guidance designed to help older people understand how they could get Pension Credit and help organisations support someone applying for Pension Credit as well as ideas for encouraging take-up. The toolkit also provides links to information about disability and carers benefits.

Most recently we have provided to relevant organisations a fact sheet about Pension Credit and forthcoming changes for couples to ensure that accurate information is available in the places where people are most likely to seek information.

The majority of people of pension age in receipt of a State Pension or another social security benefit receive their annual winter fuel payment automatically without the need to make a claim.

23 Apr 2019, 10:22 a.m. Water: Prices Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that water services are affordable for older people.

Answer (Dr Thérèse Coffey)

This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only.

The Government’s November 2017 ‘Strategic policy statement to Ofwat’, the economic regulator for the water industry, challenged the water industry to do more for vulnerable customers in England, including older people. In Ofwat’s Price Review 2019 process in which water companies set out their business plans for 2020-25, Ofwat required companies to set out in their business plans how they would better identify and support those customers who need financial help. Work on the plans is ongoing.

Current support includes the Government mandated WaterSure scheme which enables water companies to cap bills for eligible low income customers using a lot of water for essential family or health reasons. All water companies also offer schemes, known as social tariffs, for eligible customers on low incomes or receiving specific benefits. Approximately 400,000 household customers currently benefit from such water bill support schemes.

Legislative powers recently put in place in the Digital Economy Act 2017 allow data sharing between water companies and other organisations, including Government departments such as the Department for Work and Pensions. This will help companies identify and consequently provide support to more customers who may need help with their bills.

3 Apr 2019, 1:21 p.m. Regional Assistance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the total amount of regional aid not subject to the Barnett formula (a) was for each year since 2009 and (b) is projected to be in each year for which information is available for (i) Scotland, (ii) Wales, (iii) Northern Ireland and (iv) each region of England.

Answer (Elizabeth Truss)

A detailed breakdown of the block grant funding for each of the devolved administrations is available in the Block Grant Transparency publication which is available on line at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/block-grant-transparency-december-2018

This recently developed publication sets out how the block grants for the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and a Northern Ireland Executive have been calculated during the 2015 Spending Review period.

Prior to the publication of the Block Grant Transparency document, the Annual Reports of the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Offices each contained data relating to the composition of the block grants.

No funding has been provided to English regions outside the scope of the Barnett Formula.

21 Mar 2019, 5:33 p.m. Post Office: ICT Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that Post Office Ltd's computer systems are fit for purpose.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The Post Office Limited’s computer systems is an operational matter for the Post Office. I have therefore asked, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the hon Member on this matter. A copy of her reply will be placed in the libraries of the House.

4 Mar 2019, 4:51 p.m. Personal Independence Payment: Medical Examinations Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to what extent auditors of health assessment reports on claimants of personal independence payment are independent from her Department.

Answer (Sarah Newton)

Auditors of health assessment reports on claimants of Personal Independence Payment are not independent of DWP; they are independent of the Assessment Providers.

The DWP independent audit function, which was rolled out across the contracts in 2016, is used to judge how the providers are performing against set quality targets to ensure that the advice provided to the Department’s decision makers is of suitable quality, fully explained and justified.

25 Feb 2019, 4:11 p.m. Universal Credit Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of requiring the owners of limited companies to provide company financial accounts when applying for universal credit on the ability of those people to complete their applications in a timely manner.

Answer (Alok Sharma)

I refer the Hon. Member to my answer to the response to Question 222037 answered on the 20 February 2019.

20 Feb 2019, 5:36 p.m. Universal Credit Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reason her Department requires owners of limited companies to provide company financial accounts when applying for universal credit; and if she will review that policy.

Answer (Alok Sharma)

The Department does not require owners of limited companies to provide company financial accounts when applying for Universal Credit. Self-employed earnings are reported on a simplified 'cash accounting' basis, which asks for the total income from receipts into the business and details of payments out of the business under defined categories during the assessment period. The requirements were designed to be as simple as possible in order for self-employed claimants to easily report their earnings.

The Department has therefore not made an assessment.

20 Feb 2019, 5:36 p.m. Universal Credit Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the practicality of requiring the owners of limited companies to provide company financial accounts when applying for universal credit.

Answer (Alok Sharma)

The Department does not require owners of limited companies to provide company financial accounts when applying for Universal Credit. Self-employed earnings are reported on a simplified 'cash accounting' basis, which asks for the total income from receipts into the business and details of payments out of the business under defined categories during the assessment period. The requirements were designed to be as simple as possible in order for self-employed claimants to easily report their earnings.

The Department has therefore not made an assessment.

19 Feb 2019, 5:33 p.m. Government Departments: Billing Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 31 January 2019 to Question 213413 on Government Departments: Billing, how many undisputed invoices from SMEs were paid within five days for each government department in 2018.

Answer (Oliver Dowden)

The information is not held centrally. Departments are required to publish this information quarterly on Gov.UK.

19 Feb 2019, 5:33 p.m. Government Departments: Billing Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 31 January 2019 to Question 213413 on Government Departments: Billing, how much money (a) was and (b) was not paid to SMEs within five days by each Government Department in 2018.

Answer (Oliver Dowden)

The information is not held centrally. Departments are required to publish this information quarterly on Gov.UK.

19 Feb 2019, 5:33 p.m. Government Departments: Billing Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 31 January 2019 to Question 213413 on Government Departments: Billing, what proportion of undisputed invoices from SMEs were paid within five days by each Government Department in 2018.

Answer (Oliver Dowden)

The information is not held centrally. Departments are required to publish this information quarterly on Gov.UK.

14 Feb 2019, 5:01 p.m. Christianity Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to protect the religious expression of Christians around the world.

Answer (Mark Field)

​The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is committed to using our influence to defend Freedom of Religion or Belief as a universal human right which should be enjoyed by everyone. The Government is deeply concerned about the severity of violations of Freedom of Religion or Belief in many parts of the world. In recent years we have seen reports of a particular rise in the persecution of Christians. The Foreign Secretary recently asked the Bishop of Truro to conduct an independent global review into the persecution of Christians. The review will provide recommendations on the additional practical steps the FCO can take to support persecuted Christians. The review will provide a report by the summer.

14 Feb 2019, 4:57 p.m. Religious Freedom Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to protect religious minorities and religious expression around the world.

Answer (Mark Field)

​The Government is deeply concerned about the severity of violations of Freedom of Religion or Belief in many parts of the world. It is a universal human right for all people to be able to practise their faith or belief without fear or discrimination. Freedom of Religion or Belief is an important part of the work done by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. We regularly raise issues at ministerial and senior official levels where we have concerns, including the right of Freedom of Religion or Belief at the Human Rights Council.

13 Feb 2019, 12:31 p.m. Independent Case Examiner Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to improve the performance of the Independent Case Examiner.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

During 2017/18, the Independent Case Examiner’s Office received high levels of demand.

In the 2018/19 reporting year, the Office received funding for thirteen additional staff and productivity increased. By the end of January 2019 the Office had cleared 1,047 complaints, compared to 782 at the end of January 2018.

12 Feb 2019, 11:07 a.m. Personal Independence Payment: Medical Examinations Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 21 January 2019 to Question 208914 on Personal Independence Payment: Medical Examinations, what her Department’s definition is of prescriptive.

Answer (Sarah Newton)

The word ‘prescriptive’ is not defined in the Personal Independence Payment audit criteria.

Where DWP considers that assessment reports are not fit for purpose it may return them to Assessment Providers for rework, which will be carried out at their expense.

The criteria are that reports will be:

  • fair and impartial;
  • legible and concise;
  • in accordance with relevant legislation;
  • comprehensive, clearly explaining the medical issues raised, fully clarifying any contradictions in evidence;
  • in plain English and free of medical jargon and unexplained medical abbreviations;
  • presented clearly; and
  • complete.

The rework action to be taken by Assessment Providers will vary on a case-by-case basis. Wherever possible, cases should be discussed with the original Health Professional or referred back to them for further action to be taken.

11 Feb 2019, 5:19 p.m. Business: Billing Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when his Department plans to publish a response to its consultation entitled Creating a responsible payment culture: a call for evidence on tackling late payment.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The call for evidence on tackling late payment closed on 29 November 2018 and we received nearly 300 responses. We are currently analysing those responses and intend to publish a response in due course.

8 Feb 2019, 12:40 p.m. Independent Case Examiner Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what her Department's target timetable is for deciding whether complaints to the Independent Case Examiner will be accepted for investigation; what (a) proportion and (b) number of complaints met that target in each year for which information is available; and how many complaints are currently awaiting a decision on whether or not they will be investigated.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Funding for the Independent Case Examiner’s (ICE) Office is reviewed on an annual basis. In the current financial year, the ICE Office has received funding for thirteen additional posts.

Productivity in the ICE Office has increased by 34% in the current reporting year, with the Office having cleared 1,047 cased by the end of January 2019, compared with 782 in the same period during 2017/18.

The Office has an internal target to inform 90% of complainants within four weeks of its reciept, whether thier complaint can be accepted for investigation. The Office can only accept a complaint for investigation once it has (a) established that the complainant has exhausted the relevant business complaints process, and (b) reached agreement with the complainant regarding the scope of any investigation.

The table below provides the available performance data.

Year

Number of complaints received

Number of complaints not accepted for investigation

Number of complaints accepted for investigation

2017/18

5,886

2,247 (81% within internal target of four weeks)

3,639 (38% within internal target of four weeks)

2018/19 (1st April 2018 to 6th February 2019)

4,169

2,928 (68% within internal target of four weeks)

1,073 (47% within internal target of four weeks)

As at 6th February 2019, there were 168 complainants awaiting a decision on whether their complaint could be accepted for examination.

During the period covered by this response the Independent Case Examiner’s Office received 4,118 complaints from women concerning changes to State Pension age, which directly impacted on its ability to meet its internal target for determining whether a complaint can be accepted for examination.

31 Jan 2019, 4:09 p.m. Immigration: EU Nationals Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, for what reason his Department will accept identity documents only scanned electronically for the purposes of applying to the EU settlement scheme via Android devices.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)


EU citizens make a huge contribution to our economy and society, and we want them to stay. The EU Settlement Scheme enables them to do so. The application process is short and user-friendly, and it will be accessible on any smartphone, tablet or computer using internet browsers.

The ‘EU Exit: Identity Document Check’ app – which allows applicants to prove their identity remotely, without sending in their passport or national identity card – is currently available only on Android devices. Applicants can, if they wish, use a family member or friend’s Android device to access the app, and complete the rest of the process on their own device.

Additionally, we currently have 13 locations where applicants can have their ID document scanned, if they choose to do so. Once the scheme is fully open, by 30 March 2019, there will be over 50 locations across the UK where applicants can have their identity document scanned. Applicants will also be able to post identity documents to the Home Office to be checked and returned quickly.

31 Jan 2019, 2:48 p.m. Government Departments: Billing Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the target time is for the Government to make payments to small and medium-sized enterprises; and (a) how many and (b) what percentage of payments by the Government met that target in 2018.

Answer (Oliver Dowden)

Government policy is to pay 80% of undisputed supplier invoices within a 5 day target, with the remaining to be paid within 30 days, as required by the Public Contracts Regulations

In October 2018, the government announced the ambition that all departments commit to paying 90% of undisputed invoices from SMEs within 5 days. Officials are working with departments to explore how finance systems are able to accomplish this

Departments are required to publish their prompt payment performance on a quarterly basis on GOV.UK.

31 Jan 2019, 2:45 p.m. Social Security Benefits: Overpayments Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect on the living standards of benefit claimants of the rate at which repayments of overpayments are repaid to her Department.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) balances a requirement to protect tax payer’s money with a duty to ensure that claimants are not placed in undue hardship by excessive deductions from their benefit.

For this reason, the maximum deduction rates that can be applied to an on-going benefit award for the recovery of an overpayment are set out in legislation. Different deduction rates will be applied in different circumstances, with the highest rate only being applicable where an overpayment has been classified as fraud.

DWP administers benefits to approximately 20 million people with a wide variety of individual circumstances so it is difficult to make a general assessment on living standards. Therefore, we apply any considerations of this type at an individual level. If a person states they cannot afford the proposed rate of recovery, they are asked to provide details of their income and expenditure. Their individual circumstances will then be taken into account and a temporary reduction in the rate of repayment may be agreed. In exceptional circumstances, a temporary suspension of recovery may be appropriate.

31 Jan 2019, 1:59 p.m. Passports: Fees and Charges Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, for what reason his Department charges more for applications for passports accepted through post offices compared with online applications.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

The current fees charged by Her Majesty’s Passport Office for administering a passport application, as approved by Parliament in March 2018, introduced a differential depending upon whether an application is made online or by post to reflect that digital applications are cheaper to process.

Check & Send is an additional service provided by Post Office Ltd. Fees charged for passport applications submitted at a Post Office include a Check & Send element. This fee is levied by Post Office Ltd for the service that they provide. The fee will differ depending upon whether the customer chooses to apply via a paper form or digitally.

31 Jan 2019, 9:42 a.m. Post Offices Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will take steps to increase the number of main post offices; and what plans his Department has to undertake a consultation of post office service provision.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The number of main post offices, and their locations, are operational matters for the Post Office.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy conducted a consultation from 8 November to 21 December 2016 to understand what the British public wanted from their Post Office. The Government sought responses on the access criteria and the availability of services across the network. The consultation shaped Government decisions to leave access criteria unchanged, and work with the Post Office to extend availability of services to families and small businesses in rural areas. The response received from the Consultation played a central role in informing the Government’s commitment to £370 million of new funding for the Post Office to safeguard the network and invest in its future.

The Post Office Network Consultation and the Government’s response is available at this link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/post-office-network

30 Jan 2019, 2:57 p.m. Post Offices Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many main post offices opened between (a) April 2016 and March 2017 and (b) April 2017 to March 2018.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The management of the post office network is an operational matter for the Post Office. I have therefore asked Paula Vennells, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the hon Member on this matter. A copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

28 Jan 2019, 4:41 p.m. Passports: Applications Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 10 January 2019 to Question 207212 on Passports: Applications, how much (a) has been spent and (b) will be spent on radio advertising.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

Of the total communications spend outlined previously (PQ 207212), £222,857 has been spent on radio and digital audio advertising. The 30 second advert aimed to raise awareness of the ease and convenience of the online passport renewal service including the £9.50 cost saving it offers for customers.

A re-launch of the campaign in the next financial year (2019/20) is being considered, with an estimate of £500,000 forecast for radio and digital audio advertising. However, this activity is dependent on the outcome of the EU Exit withdrawal agreement (in a ‘no deal’ scenario, budget would be re-allocated to activity informing passport holders about the passport validity rules changes).

21 Jan 2019, 1:39 p.m. Independent Assessment Services: Audit Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many health professionals from Independent Assessment Services have been (a) dismissed and (b) referred for further training as a result of her Department's audits of health professionals' reports.

Answer (Sarah Newton)

Independent Assessment Service are committed to providing the highest quality of service to all claimants when conducting a functional PIP assessment and in the preparation of claimant reports for consideration by the DWP.

The figures requested is not available as Health Professionals are not dismissed based on the audit of a single assessment report. Audit is one of a number of tools used to monitor the quality of Health Professionals work and to inform ongoing support and performance management. All Health Professionals who have quality issues identified by audit will receive feedback and additional training as a result. Health Professionals who require full retraining to ensure they meet the required quality standards will receive this. Where Health Professionals do not meet the quality requirements on a regular basis, performance management will be taken, which can lead to dismissal.

21 Jan 2019, 1:27 p.m. Personal Independence Payment: Medical Examinations Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether auditors from her Department have the authority to instruct health professionals to make mandatory (a) specific and (b) general amendments to Independent Assessment Service reports.

Answer (Sarah Newton)

The quality assurance audit process following consultation is in place to ensure that the report the Health Professional provides to the Department is of a high standard. This is a very important part of the process to check the information provided is fully explained and justified.

Where assessments have been graded as either ‘acceptable - report amendment required’ or ‘unacceptable’ the reports are returned to the Assessment Provider for remedial activity. Where possible, this activity should be taken by the Health Professional who carried out the original assessment. DWP is not prescriptive on how changes should be made. The Assessment Provider is responsible for ensuring the returned report is then fit for purpose prior to resubmitting it to DWP.

16 Jan 2019, 5:02 p.m. Child Tax Credit: Scotland Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many families (a) will and (b) will not be exempt from the two-child tax credit cap in (i) Motherwell and Wishaw, (ii) North Lanarkshire and (iii) Scotland.

Answer (Alok Sharma)

Providing support for a maximum of two children in tax credits and Universal Credit encourages families who receive benefits to make the same financial choices as those 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 and have put exceptions in place in these circumstances.

In the year from 6 April 2017 to 2 April 2018, there were 200 exceptions granted across Scotland in Universal Credit (10 households) and Child Tax Credit (190 households). Further breakdowns by geographic area are not available.

This information can be found in the statistical release ‘Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit claimants: statistics related to the policy to provide support for a maximum of 2 children, April 2018’ at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-tax-credit-and-universal-credit-claimants-statistics-related-to-the-policy-to-provide-support-for-a-maximum-of-2-children-april-2018.

The information requested about the number of families who will not be exempt is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

15 Jan 2019, 5:04 p.m. Passports: Applications Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what funds his Department has spent on advertisements promoting online passport applications in each of the last three years; and what funds he plans to spend on promoting online passport applications in the next financial year.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

HM Passport Office (HMPO) has an ambitious transformation plan to increase digital applications, helping to reduce operational expenditure by removing paper and customer errors from the process.

In June 2016, HMPO launched its first fully digital online application service for adults renewing their passport. This launch was supported by no cost communications activity, including PR and stakeholder engagement. Last financial year (2017/18) a small scale paid search campaign, costing £9,665, was trialled to encourage customers to use the online application channel. In this financial year (2018/19) a marketing campaign, costing £536,639.04, was delivered via radio and digital advertising.

A re-launch of the marketing campaign in 2019/20 has been planned, forecast at £1m. This activity is dependent on the outcome of the EU Exit withdrawal agreement.

15 Jan 2019, 4:47 p.m. Television: Disability Aids Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions his Department has had with interest groups on audio description for TV.

Answer (Margot James)

Government officials have met with interest groups and stakeholders regarding accessibility for visual and hearing impaired consumers, specifically for on-demand services. In December 2017 DCMS asked Ofcom to provide recommendations on making on-demand services more accessible to a wider range of consumers, including the hearing impaired. Ofcom consulted on this, and published its report in December 2018 with recommendations on the scope of new regulations for on-demand services. Government will continue to engage with interested parties as we take this matter forward.

14 Jan 2019, 3:22 p.m. Post Office: Passports Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether his Department plans to remove the Post Office's role in undertaking the Passport Check and Send service.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

There are no plans to remove the Post Office's role in undertaking the Passport Check & Send service. The service has just been expanded to provide a digital version of Check & Send to customers, and the agreement with Post Office Ltd is in the process of being extended by a further two years until 31 August 2022

8 Jan 2019, 3:29 p.m. Small Businesses: Billing Marion Fellows

Question

What steps he is taking to ensure full and timely payments to small businesses.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Small Business Commissioner has recovered £2 million for small businesses in his first year. We have recently taken steps to strengthen the Prompt Payment Code, and we are working through nearly 300 responses to our recent call for evidence on creating a more responsible payment culture.

7 Jan 2019, 1:09 p.m. Immigration: EU Nationals Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 22 November 2018 to Question 192832, whether EU citizens with Leave to Land who do not apply for pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme will maintain the same rights once the UK has left the EU.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

A person granted leave to land under earlier (repealed) legislation is treated for the purposes of the Immigration Act 1971 as having been granted leave to enter the UK. Existing leave to enter is not affected by the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. EU citizens with limited or indefinite leave to enter do not need to apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme, but they may do so if they wish.

17 Dec 2018, 3:28 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of enabling parents to pursue Child Support Agency arrears written off under the Child Support (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2018 through the legal system.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 06 December 2018 to Question 198381.

https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2018-12-03/198381/

13 Dec 2018, 2:40 p.m. Immigrants: EU Nationals Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 22 November 2018 to Question 192832, whether people who do not apply for pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme will maintain the same rights once the UK has left the EU.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

We have agreed with the European Union (EU) that there will be no change to the current rights of EU citizens and their family members living in the UK until the end of the planned implementation period on 31 December 2020. The deadline for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme by those who are resident here by the end of 2020 will be 30 June 2021. Where someone misses the deadline for their application for a good reason, they will be given a reasonable further period in which to apply.

If an application is not made by the deadline and a UK immigration status not obtained, the individual will not be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement and will be subject to the requirements of the future immigration system.

6 Dec 2018, 10:11 a.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of enabling parents to pursue (a) child maintenance arrears and (b) arrears transferred from the Child Support Agency under through the legal system.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

The Child Maintenance Service has a wide range of strong enforcement powers, including applying to the court to remove a non-paying parent’s driving licence, order the sale of property, commit them to prison, or disqualify them from holding or obtaining a passport.

There is a longstanding legal position that a permanent arrangement cannot be ordered by a court as part of any settlement action in respect of child maintenance payments. The statutory child maintenance system was established because court outcomes for families were frequently inconsistent. There is little merit in enabling parents to pursue arrears through the court system which is inevitably adversarial, costly and often a slow process which many clients may be unable to afford.

4 Dec 2018, 5:50 p.m. Employment: Electronic Tagging Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 26 November 2018 to Question 191454 on employment: Electronic Tagging, what the Government's policy is on employers microchipping their employees.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 26th November 2018.

4 Dec 2018, 5:34 p.m. Post Offices: Biometrics Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many biometric applications were lodged at post offices in each of the last three years for which figures are available; and how much revenue those applications raised.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

The Post Office provides biometric services on behalf of the Home Office. The fee payable by customers is £19.20 (including VAT). Excluding the VAT makes the net revenue to the Post Office £16 per transaction. The volume of transactions for the last 3 years is as follows:

Year

Volume of Transactions

2015/16

511,044

2016/17

531,347

2017/18

529,816

4 Dec 2018, 5:33 p.m. Post Offices Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many customer transactions were undertaken at post offices in each of the last five years.

Answer (Kelly Tolhurst)

In order to improve the customer experience, the Post Office provides branch services in a number of different ways, including over the counter, through ATMs, lottery and bill payment terminals, Self Service Kiosks, mail acceptance points, customer referrals and many more. It would therefore be impossible to capture all transactions.

However, the Post Office gathers information through a regular independent monitoring process which shows that weekly customer visits across the Post Office network are around 16 million a week. Five years ago, the Post Office estimated that the weekly visits were around 17 million. The small decline is in line with general shopping patterns with more business being conducted on-line and via other channels.

6 Nov 2018, 10:38 a.m. Broadcasting: Disability Aids Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to increase the number of broadcasts which are required to include (a) audio description for people with sight loss and (b) subtitles for people with hearing loss.

Answer (Margot James)

I refer the Honourable Member to the answer to PQ 186377, answered on 5th November.

6 Nov 2018, 10:38 a.m. Broadcasting: Disability Aids Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to make it a requirement that all broadcasters use audio description access on all television channels.

Answer (Margot James)

I refer the Honourable Member to the answer to PQ 186377, answered on 5th November.

5 Nov 2018, 4:45 p.m. Television: Disability Aids Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect on the capacity of broadcasters to meet their access service obligations of their being permitted to spend only a maximum of one per cent of their turnover on doing so.

Answer (Margot James)

The capacity of broadcasters to meet their access service obligations is for Ofcom to assess. Ofcom’s Code requires broadcasters to achieve the highest level of provision that they can afford. Broadcasters are free to over deliver on access services, and Ofcom research shows that many do. The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky voluntarily commit to providing at least 20% of their programming with audio description, which is double their statutory obligation.

5 Nov 2018, 4:43 p.m. Television: Disability Aids Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if his Department will bring forward legislative proposals to require TV broadcasters to provide Audio Description Access.

Answer (Margot James)

The Communications Act 2003 already requires broadcasters to ensure that they provide access services on linear TV. These are audio description, subtitling, and sign language services. Ofcom are responsible for administering the Code on Television Access Services which sets out what proportion of programming must have access services. The Digital Economy Act 2017 made provision for regulations to ensure that there are also access services for video on demand players. Ofcom consulted on these proposals this summer and are due to submit their report to the Secretary of State shortly.

5 Nov 2018, 1:05 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for each available year, under the Child Maintenance Service, how many claims from a non-resident parent for a recalculation of maintenance as a result of a change in the income of that parent were (a) received; and (b) successful in each of the last three years.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

The number of claims to the Child Maintenance service made by non-resident parents with regards to recalculation of maintenance as a result of a change in their income in the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 are outlined in the table below.

The table also includes the proportion of claims that were successful in each year.

The proportion of successful claims in each year does not directly relate to the number of claims made in that year, as claims completed in one year could include claims made in the previous year.

-

Number of claims with regards to recalculation of maintenance as a result of a paying parent’s change in income

Percentage of successful claims with regards to recalculation of maintenance as a result of a paying parent’s change in income

2016

73500

40%

2017

88500

33%

2018 (YTD)

82400

30%

Note

YTD: The 2018 figures are year to date figures.

31 Oct 2018, 10:13 a.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much child maintenance has not been paid by non-resident parents to parents with care to date (a) in total and (b) under the Collect and Pay scheme in each year since 2012 where figures are available.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

The latest statistics on unpaid maintenance are published in Table 9 of the Child Maintenance Service: August 2013 to June 2018 (experimental) statistics available online at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-maintenance-service-august-2013-to-june-2018-experimental.

The figures include all unpaid maintenance from Direct Pay arrangements that have broken down and subsequently transferred onto the Collect & Pay Service. Data on payments made directly between parents on Direct Pay are not available.

29 Oct 2018, 4:15 p.m. Social Security Benefits: Medical Examinations Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 11 October 2018 to Question 176388 on Social Security Benefits: Medical Examinations, how many of those audits resulted in amendments to health assessment reports (a) in total and (b) where a person's care needs for a descriptor were reduced for (i) employment and support allowance and (ii) personal independence payment in each year for which information is available.

Answer (Sarah Newton)

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) does not hold the information requested.

We are committed to ensuring claimants receive high quality, accurate assessments and monitor assessment quality through independent audit. DWP Decision Makers can return reports to Assessment Providers for rework/additional advice if they feel that the information within a report does not fully justify the recommendation given. A range of measures, including provider improvement plans, address performance falling below expected standards.

29 Oct 2018, 2:49 p.m. Social Security Benefits: Appeals Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the cost to the public purse was for Tribunal appeals relating to (a) personal independence payment and (b) employment and support allowance in each year for which information is available.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

The information requested is not held centrally. The cost of Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance hearings is included in the overall cost of the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support Appeal).

29 Oct 2018, 2:44 p.m. Social Security Benefits: Appeals Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many appeals relating to claims for (a) personal independence payment and (b) employment and support allowance have (i) been heard at Tribunal and (ii) overturned her Department's original decision in each year for which information is available.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

Information about the volumes and outcomes of appeals made to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) (SSCS), including Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), is published at:

www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics

Latest figures indicate that since PIP was introduced, 3.5 million decisions have been made up to June 2018, and of these 9% have been appealed and 4% have been overturned at Tribunals. For ESA, 3.5m ESA (post Work Capability Assessment) decisions have been made between April 2014 and March 2018 and of these 8% have been appealed and 4% have been overturned at tribunals.

26 Oct 2018, 1:46 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much revenue has been raised from the £20 fee on applications to the Child Maintenance Service to date.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Applications fees data is not explicitly available but forms part of the broader Receipts and Payments Statement information within the published Client Fund Accounts these can be accessed at the following links:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/667954/hc610-client-funds-account-2016-17-2012-cms.pdf

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/578769/hc856-client-funds-account-2015-16-2012-cms.pdf

Information on fees for 2017/18 financial year will not be available until audit of the 2017/18 Client Funds Account has been completed, anticipated by January 2019.

26 Oct 2018, 9:36 a.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will automatically include unearned income drawn from HMRC in all child maintenance calculations.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

We are working with HMRC to increase awareness among clients as to what unearned income is and the impact it can have on child maintenance liabilities. We believe that this, along with enhancing case worker training in this area, will help identify and factor unearned income into the calculation at an earlier point in case.

18 Oct 2018, 2:15 p.m. Social Security Benefits: Medical Examinations Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to Independent Assessment Service (IAS) reports that have been audited and amended, whether it is her Department's policy to provide the (a) original and (b) amended IAS reports to claimants who request a copy of the IAS report on their assessment.

Answer (Sarah Newton)

If the audit process or the Case Manager identify that the report is of unacceptable quality it is returned to the assessment provider for a review. The review takes into account all the evidence provided and a further assessment report is then completed and returned to DWP. It is DWP policy to provide only the latest copy of the assessment report to claimants upon request, as this supersedes any previous report and is the report used by the Case Manager to make the decision.

17 Oct 2018, 4:35 p.m. Independent Assessment Services: Training Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the training of Independent Assessment Services' health professionals on Asperger’s and autism spectrum disorder, (a) who provides the training, (b) how many and what proportion of those health professionals have received that training; (c) how long the the training period is; (d) what the training consist of and (e) whether that training is compulsory for all health professionals.

Answer (Sarah Newton)

All Health Professionals employed by Independent Assessment Services receive mandatory training on a wide range of conditions including autism as part of their initial new entrant training, delivered by the provider. This includes detailed e-learning and classroom based training modules covering all aspects of autism including Asperger’s Syndrome. In addition, simulated assessments enable Health Professionals to understand how these conditions impact on a person’s ability to undertake the activities in the PIP assessment. This is followed by on-going professional training and support which continues for the duration of their employment in the role.

17 Oct 2018, 4:31 p.m. Social Security Benefits: Autism Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions her Department has had with Asperger's and autism spectrum disorder organisations on (a) assessments for and (b) decisions on (i) personal independence payments and (ii) employment and support allowance claims.

Answer (Sarah Newton)

I have regular discussions with a range of stakeholders, including those representing individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autistic Spectrum Disorders to discuss benefits such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

For example, in regards to ESA, the Department has engaged with the National Autistic Society (NAS) on numerous occasions during the development of the Severe Conditions reassessment criteria. NAS are also a member of the Centre for Health and Disability Assessment’s (CHDA) Customer Relations Group and quality assures relevant training and guidance for CHDA’s Healthcare Professionals who undertake Work Capability Assessments.

With regards to PIP, we regularly engage with stakeholders and one of the main avenues is through the PIP Forum events. Autism Network Scotland were invited to the most recent PIP Forum event in Scotland and NAS have been invited to attend the forthcoming PIP Forum event in England.

24 Jul 2018, 4:12 p.m. Social Security Benefits: Asperger's Syndrome Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the replacement of Aspergers with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in the fifth edition of the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders on the ability of people with Aspergers to claim personal independence payment and employment support allowance as a result of being required to secure a new diagnosis when proving that their condition affects their daily living.

Answer (Sarah Newton)

The publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has had no impact on the eligibility criteria for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is designed to determine an individual’s eligibility for ESA. It assesses individuals against a set of functional physical and mental health descriptors to assess how their health condition or disability affects their ability to work.

Entitlement for PIP is assessed on the basis of the needs arising from a long-term health condition or disability, not the health condition or the disability itself.

24 Jul 2018, 4:09 p.m. Social Security Benefits: Domestic Violence Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support her Department provides to people fleeing abuse from their home where they have a financial interest such as a mortgage and are therefore unable to claim the housing benefit element of universal credit.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

DWP has a range of measures designed to support people who flee abusive or violent households. These include easements to benefit conditionality to give claimants the space and time needed to stabilise their lives, special provisions in both Housing Benefit and Universal Credit housing support when a claimant is temporarily absent from their home through fear of violence, and exemptions from Child Maintenance fees. Work Coaches may also signpost and refer domestic violence victims to organisations that can provide further support.

In particular, a claimant who leaves a mortgaged home due to domestic abuse or violence can continue to receive a support for mortgage interest (SMI) loan in respect of that property for up to 52 weeks, where they intend to return to the property, and were receiving an SMI loan at the time they fled the property.

If the claimant has fled to a refuge, support for the rental costs is available from Housing Benefit, or if the claimant has fled and rented a general needs home, support for the housing costs is available from Universal Credit.

In Universal Credit, support for housing costs is available for victims who take a new rent liability for up to 52 weeks, as the capital value of the home they have fled from is disregarded; or in Housing Benefit for those who have fled to a refuge, if the former home is occupied by a partner from whom the claimant is estranged, the capital value from the home is disregarded for up to 26 weeks.

24 Jul 2018, 7:48 a.m. Catalonia: Sovereignty Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to his Spanish counterpart on an independence referendum for Catalonia.

Answer (Sir Alan Duncan)

The issue of Catalan independence is a matter for Spain.

23 Jul 2018, 11:20 a.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reasons her Department is mandating paying parents to continue paying maintenance under the Child Maintenance Service when they have shared care for their child for more than 50 per cent of the year.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

In most cases where care of a child is shared by parents, one parent tends to take a greater share of responsibility for that child. In such cases, it is right that the other parent remains financially liable for supporting their child, although the care they are providing will often result in a low maintenance liability.

Where there is equal day to day care, there will be no requirement to pay maintenance. This reflects the fact that, in these circumstances, both parents are meeting their obligations to their children equally, so there is no need for one to make additional payments of child maintenance.

Parents may choose to make a family based arrangement that works for their individual circumstances without any Child Maintenance Service involvement.

23 Jul 2018, 11:18 a.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reasons her Department uses shared care bands when calculating reductions to child maintenance payments; and what her Department's rationale was in deciding what those bands should be.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Where there is shared care an adjustment may be made to the maintenance calculation to take account of the overnight care a paying parent is expected to have over a twelve month period.

Bands are used to allow for simpler calculations and to reduce the need to consider small changes. Child maintenance is calculated at a weekly rate so the reduction is applied in ratios of sevenths to reflect how the number of nights per year relates to a weekly amount.

23 Jul 2018, 9:09 a.m. Electoral Register Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that survivors of abusive and violent relationships and their new partners can register to vote without being traced by their ex-partner.

Answer (Chloe Smith)

In March this year, Parliament passed government proposals for changes to the anonymous voter registration system. The changes will make it easier for an estimated 12,000 survivors of domestic abuse living in refuges to register to vote anonymously, as well as those living elsewhere.

16 Jul 2018, 4:35 p.m. Construction Industry Training Board: Glaziers Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference the Industrial Training (Construction Board) Order 1964 (Amendment) Order 1992, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending the scope of the Construction Industry Training Board to include glaziers.

Answer (Anne Milton)

Matters of extending the scope to include glazers would be for the Construction Industry Training Board to determine.

It is important Industry Training Boards (ITBs) are able to both keep up with developments in their industries and help them to modernise and improve productivity. This may mean that the scope of the ITBs (which determines whether employers are liable to pay the levies and who may claim grants) needs to evolve.

2 Jul 2018, 4:26 p.m. Cooperatives Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has to support and grow the cooperative sector as part of the Industrial Strategy.

Answer (Richard Harrington)

The Government’s ambitious, modern Industrial Strategy sets out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK. It sets out how we are building a Britain fit for the future – how we will help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK with investment in the skills, industries and infrastructure of the future.

The Government fully recognises the social and economic contribution of the co-operative and social enterprise sector and remains receptive to exploring opportunities to help it realise its potential, as we set out recently in our response to the Law Commission’s report on pension funds and social investment.

2 Jul 2018, 4:26 p.m. Cooperatives Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will take steps to expand the role of his Department's Industrial Strategy in supporting and growing the cooperative sector.

Answer (Richard Harrington)

The Government’s ambitious, modern Industrial Strategy sets out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK. It sets out how we are building a Britain fit for the future – how we will help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK with investment in the skills, industries and infrastructure of the future.

The Government fully recognises the social and economic contribution of the co-operative and social enterprise sector and remains receptive to exploring opportunities to help it realise its potential, as we set out recently in our response to the Law Commission’s report on pension funds and social investment.

2 Jul 2018, 11:15 a.m. Social Security Benefits: Kidney Diseases Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what guidance and support her Department (a) is providing to and (b) has mandated from agencies managing assessments for (i) personal independence payments and (ii) employment support allowance for people with renal failure.

Answer (Sarah Newton)

Guidance for Health Professionals carrying out Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments is provided in the PIP Assessment Guide for Health Professionals.

The PIP assessment is designed to treat people as individuals, considering the impact of their disability or health condition on their everyday life and how each claimant has personally adapted to living with a disability, rather than the disability itself. Therefore the PIP Assessment Guide takes account of the functional impacts of all conditions, including renal failure.

The PIP Assessment Guide can be found here: Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment guide for assessment providers - GOV.UK

For Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Health Professionals also have access to the Work Capability Assessment Handbook which sets out circumstances when a claimant can be treated as having limited capability for work which includes if they are undergoing regular treatment including haemodialysis for chronic renal failure.

2 Jul 2018, 11:11 a.m. Social Security Benefits: Kidney Diseases Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what (a) medical and (b) circumstantial considerations in addition to an assessment report from a private agency her Department uses for people with renal failure when processing their (i) personal independence payments and (ii) employment support allowance claim.

Answer (Sarah Newton)

As two people with the same condition can be affected in different ways, there is no condition-based entitlement to Personal Independence Payments or Employment and Support Allowance.

The Department encourages claimants to provide as much relevant evidence as is possible to support any claims for benefits. For Personal Independence Payment (PIP), our guidance for Health Professionals sets out the sources of evidence which could help inform the decision making process on PIP entitlement. Sources include evidence from other Health Professionals, family members, carers, and the claimant’s own views of the impact of their health condition on their everyday lives. Detailed information can be found in Part 1 of the PIP Assessment Guide on GOV.UK. We have also recently launched a series of videos outlining the claim process in a simple and clear way and what the best sources of evidence to provide are.

ESA Claimants are also encouraged to provide all evidence they have that is relevant to their case at the outset of their claim, including medical evidence supplied by their GP or other professionals, such as support workers, carers and community mental health nurses. This is outlined in Part one of the Work Capability Assessment Handbook on GOV.UK.

The Decision Makers for both benefits will consider all available evidence and seek more if required to help reach their decision.

27 Jun 2018, 3:38 p.m. Industry: Scotland Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what co-ordination his Department has had with similar Scottish Government (a) agencies, (b) programmes, (c) strategies and (d) advisory boards on the UK Government's Industrial Strategy.

Answer (Richard Harrington)

The Government’s ambitious Industrial Strategy sets out a long-term plan to boost productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK and made a commitment to working with colleagues across the devolved administrations on its delivery, where that is appropriate.

My rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State has had several meetings with the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, and the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy since the publication of the Industrial Strategy Green Paper in January 2017, most recently in April of this year.

This is in addition to a significant level of ongoing discussion between BEIS officials and partners and their counterparts in the Scottish Government, including UK Research and Innovation and the Scottish Government’s enterprise agencies. That engagement encompasses a wide range of matters, from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, to certain Sector Deals, and each of the four Grand Challenges.

27 Jun 2018, 3:38 p.m. Industry: Scotland Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what co-ordination his Department has had with similar Scottish Government (a) agencies, (b) programmes, (c) strategies and (d) advisory boards on the UK Government's Industrial Strategy to prevent duplication.

Answer (Richard Harrington)

The Government’s ambitious Industrial Strategy sets out a long-term plan to boost productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK and made a commitment to working with colleagues across the devolved administrations on its delivery, where that is appropriate.

My rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State has had several meetings with the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, and the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy since the publication of the Industrial Strategy Green Paper in January 2017, most recently in April of this year.

This is in addition to a significant level of ongoing discussion between BEIS officials and partners and their counterparts in the Scottish Government, including UK Research and Innovation and the Scottish Government’s enterprise agencies. That engagement encompasses a wide range of matters, from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, to certain Sector Deals, and each of the four Grand Challenges.

27 Jun 2018, 3:38 p.m. Industry: Scotland Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department has taken to facilitate (a) a partnership and (b) cooperation with the Scottish Government on (a) the UK Government's Industrial Strategy and (b) the Industrial Strategy's sector deals.

Answer (Richard Harrington)

The Government’s ambitious Industrial Strategy sets out a long-term plan to boost productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK and made a commitment to working with colleagues across the devolved administrations on its delivery, where that is appropriate.

My rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State has had several meetings with the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, and the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy since the publication of the Industrial Strategy Green Paper in January 2017, most recently in April of this year.

This is in addition to a significant level of ongoing discussion between BEIS officials and partners and their counterparts in the Scottish Government, including UK Research and Innovation and the Scottish Government’s enterprise agencies. That engagement encompasses a wide range of matters, from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, to certain Sector Deals, and each of the four Grand Challenges.

24 May 2018, 2:38 p.m. Personal Independence Payment Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has set a time limit for notifying claimants from the date of decision whether their (a) application and (b) mandatory reconsideration for Personal Independence Payment has been unsuccessful; and if she will take steps to ensure that unsuccessful claimants receive their decision in a timely manner.

Answer (Sarah Newton)

The law does not set a time limit for notifying decisions, be they in relation to claims or applications for mandatory reconsideration. However, decision makers recognise the need to ensure that all decisions are notified without delay. Indeed, usually decision letters are generated automatically and sent immediately once the decision itself has been made.

23 May 2018, 4:47 p.m. Industry: Finance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much funding (a) has been invested since the 2017 General Election and (b) is planned to be invested through the Government's Industrial Strategy in (i) Scotland, (ii) England, (iii) Wales, and (iv) Northern Ireland.

Answer (Richard Harrington)

More than £6 billion has been committed as part of the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy in November, including £725m as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s second wave. The Department does not hold a comprehensive breakdown of figures for each nation.

Our Industrial Strategy is about boosting productivity and earning power throughout the United Kingdom, and the investments that the UK Government are making, and will go on to make, are spread throughout all four nations.

Investments from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund include the Faraday Institution in England, the three Robotics and Autonomous Systems hubs in Edinburgh, the Midlands & Wales and the Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre and AppAtic in Belfast.

In future, the new Strength in Places Fund will also support areas throughout the UK to build on their science and innovation strengths.

Investment in digital infrastructure in all four nations also includes full-fibre awards for the Highlands, Manchester, Belfast and Cardiff and support for innovative 5G testbeds in Perthshire, Monmouthshire and Liverpool.

8 May 2018, 11:54 a.m. Child Tax Credit: Motherwell and Wishaw Marion Fellows

Question

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many households in receipt of child tax credit have had their payments reduced as a result of the two-child tax credit limit in the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency; and what savings have accrued to the public purse as a result of the introduction of that limit in that constituency.

Answer (Elizabeth Truss)

The information is not held and could only be collected at disproportionate cost. However, the government published an impact assessment in July 2015 which shows the number of Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit claimants who were expected to be affected by the policy over the next five years and the estimated savings from the change. The impact assessment is available at: https://www.parliament.uk/documents/impact-assessments/IA15-006E.pdf

3 May 2018, 10:10 a.m. Child Tax Credit: Motherwell and Wishaw Marion Fellows

Question

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many claims have been made under the non-consensual conception exemption for child tax credit in the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency.

Answer (Elizabeth Truss)

I refer the Honourable Member to the answer given on 25th April 2018 in response to question 136579.

16 Apr 2018, 2:36 p.m. Solar Power: Motherwell and Wishaw Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many photovoltaics installations through Green Deal plans provided by Home Energy Lifestyle Management Systems were undertaken in the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency.

Answer (Claire Perry)

Since the start of the Green Deal, 64 homes in the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency have received photovoltaics through Green Deal plans provided by Home Energy Lifestyle Management Systems.

29 Mar 2018, 3:18 p.m. Fisheries Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what steps he is taking to negotiate a UK-EU withdrawal agreement which ensures that after the implementation period the UK does not trade control over its fisheries for preferential access to the EU internal market for UK financial services.

Answer (Suella Braverman)

At the end of the implementation period the UK will be an independent Coastal State providing an opportunity to develop a new domestic fishing policy that is more competitive, more profitable and more sustainable – allowing our coastal communities to thrive.

We will have control of our Exclusive Economic Zone (out to 200 nautical miles or the median line with other coastal states). We will be responsible for the management of natural marine resources in this area and will be able to control and manage access to UK waters.

12 Mar 2018, 2:33 p.m. Cabinet Office: Written Questions Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, when he plans to answer Question 122684, tabled by the hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw on 15 January 2018.

Answer (Oliver Dowden)

I refer the hon. Member to PQ 122684 answered on 12th March 2018.

12 Mar 2018, 2:16 p.m. Government Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the First Secretary of State, what the target time is for the Government to make payments to small and medium-sized enterprises; and (a) how many and (b) what percentage of payments by the Government met that target in 2017.

Answer (Oliver Dowden)

In March 2015 the Government restated its longstanding policy commitment to pay 80% of undisputed and valid invoices within 5 days with the remainder paid within 30 days.

Public sector buyers must publish annually on their payment performance. We do not hold centrally the performance data for 2017. However, data published in 2015-16 shows that by the final quarter all major departments, apart from one (at 76%), were meeting their 5 days target and that all departments were paying at least 96% of their invoices within the 30 day target, with several departments achieving 100%.

1 Mar 2018, 10:49 a.m. Government Departments: Procurement Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the First Secretary of State, what the target time is for the Government to make payments to small and medium-sized enterprises; and (a) how many and (b) what percentage of payments by the Government met that target in 2017.

Answer (Oliver Dowden)

In March 2015 the Government restated its longstanding policy commitment to pay 80% of undisputed and valid invoices within 5 days with the remainder paid within 30 days.

Public sector buyers must publish annually on their payment performance. We do not hold centrally the performance data for 2017. However, data published in 2015-16 shows that by the final quarter all major departments, apart from one (at 76%), were meeting their 5 days target and that all departments were paying at least 96% of their invoices within the 30 day target, with several departments achieving 100%.

8 Feb 2018, 4:43 p.m. Carillion Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Government plans to impose conditions on contractors taking over public contracts from Carillion; and if he will make a statement.

Answer (Oliver Dowden)

The Official Receiver is conducting an orderly liquidation of the company. Our priority is the continuity of public services. We have plans in place to ensure the continued delivery of all public sector services, and all staff engaged on these public sector service contracts will continue to be paid.

8 Feb 2018, 4:43 p.m. Carillion Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will take steps to ensure that any new contractors taking over Carillion’s public contracts honour existing sub-contracts for work (a) undertaken and (b) yet to take place.

Answer (Oliver Dowden)

The Official Receiver is conducting an orderly liquidation of the company. Our priority is the continuity of public services. We have plans in place to ensure the continued delivery of all public sector services, and all staff engaged on these public sector service contracts will continue to be paid.

8 Feb 2018, 4:43 p.m. Carillion Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the timetable is for securing new contractors to take over Carillion's public contracts.

Answer (Oliver Dowden)

The Official Receiver is conducting an orderly liquidation of the company. Our priority is the continuity of public services. We have plans in place to ensure the continued delivery of all public sector services, and all staff engaged on these public sector service contracts will continue to be paid.

5 Feb 2018, 2:50 p.m. Carillion: Insolvency Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether his Department made an assessment of the effect of Carillion's liquidation on the viability of the small businesses in its supply chain in (a) Scotland and (b) the rest of the UK before deciding not to support that company through the bail-out negotiations.

Answer (Oliver Dowden)

If small subcontractors are providing public sector services then we are taking steps to ensure the continuity of those services.

If subcontractors are supporting private sector contracts then their future role depends on their customers.

The action we have taken is designed to keep vital public services running, rather bailing out a commercial company.

We are mindful of the concerns of Carillion employees in the private sector and resources are open to these workers and businesses affected by Carillion’s liquidation who are seeking further information, including:

  • a webpage set up by the Insolvency Service for those affected and seeking advice;
  • a dedicated website set up by the Special Managers, PWC, as well as a dedicated helpline;
  • a hotline set up for any employee worried about their pension situation;
  • more general advice on business support is available through the BEIS Business Support Hotline; and
  • Jobcentre Plus, through its Rapid Response Service, also stands ready to support any employee affected by this announcement.

Alongside this a network of 38 Local Growth Hubs, run in conjunction with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), is also on hand to help businesses of all sizes and in all sectors to access support.

This is a private sector company and taxpayers can’t be expected to bail out a private sector company.

25 Jan 2018, 5:30 p.m. Military Decorations: Veterans Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether there are options available to ex-servicemen and women who wish to officially return their service medals.

Answer (Mark Lancaster)

When medals are no longer required by a veteran they should be returned to the Ministry of Defence Medal Office. Returned medals are normally retained for a period of six months before being destroyed.

25 Jan 2018, 4:34 p.m. Work Capability Assessment Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reasons work capability assessment reports are not released to claimants until a decision has been made on their claim; and if she will review this policy.

Answer (Sarah Newton)

As part of the first Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment, Professor Malcolm Harrington recommended a copy of the personalised summary of the assessment report was sent to every claimant.

Following a trial in 2011 evidence suggested a better approach would be to send claimants the Decision Makers justification. This approach was agreed with Professor Harrington and implementation commenced in December 2011. The implementation considered policy, operational and claimant’s requirements. As a result it was agreed that the Decision Maker’s justification will be shared in all adverse decisions, and only shared on request where entitlement has been awarded.

24 Jan 2018, 4:06 p.m. Veterans: Crimes of Violence Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he is taking to ensure that adequate measures for redress are in place for ex-servicemen and women who claim to have been the victims of physical and verbal abuse from other members of the armed forces during their service.

Answer (Mr Tobias Ellwood)

The Ministry of Defence is clear that it does not tolerate any form of abuse. We take all allegations very seriously and have mechanisms in place to ensure they are handled appropriately.

The avenues of redress open to former personnel who allege physical or verbal abuse from other members of the Armed Forces will depend on the circumstances of the case; including when and where the abuse took place and whether it amounts to a criminal assault.

23 Jan 2018, 4:01 p.m. Repatriation: Families Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what support is available to families to repatriate a family member who dies abroad and for whom they cannot afford the cost of repatriation.

Answer (Harriett Baldwin)

The support available for families of British nationals who die overseas of is set out in the Guide for Bereaved Families. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office also produces country-specific bereavement packs, with practical information for bereaved families, including lists of local and international funeral directors and information on legal processes in other countries. If a bereaved family cannot repatriate the body of their deceased relative for any reason, consular staff can provide information on the cost of local burial or cremation and help transfer money from friends and relatives in the UK to pay any necessary costs. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is unable to pay any burial, cremation or repatriation expenses or settle any debts. Families should look, in the first instance, to insurers to cover the cost. If the deceased was not insured, then friends and family may be able to bear the cost.

23 Jan 2018, 11:40 a.m. Employment and Support Allowance: Tribunals Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the cost to the public purse was of defending decisions made by his Department on employment and support allowance claims taken to tribunal; and what the net gain or loss was in challenging those decisions.

Answer (Sarah Newton)

This information is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

The Department has previously published average costs of PIP and ESA mandatory reconsiderations and appeals, which covers direct staff costs only (see Table 24 of Work and Pensions Select Committee PIP and ESA assessments inquiry: supporting statistics ).

The total that DWP has spent on mandatory reconsiderations and appeals includes high level support costs such as management and corporate overheads. These costs cannot be split out from overall Departmental spending on benefit payments, and therefore total Departmental spend on mandatory reconsideration and appeal is not available.

23 Jan 2018, 11:40 a.m. Employment and Support Allowance: Appeals Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of employment support allowance claim decisions made by the Department for Work and Pensions were overturned at (a) the mandatory reconsideration stage and (b) the tribunal stage in the last 12 months.

Answer (Sarah Newton)

The latest available information on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) mandatory reconsideration and appeal outcomes can be found in tables 3, 14 and 17 of the ESA Outcomes of Work Capability Assessments quarterly statistics published at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/employment-and-support-allowance-outcomes-of-work-capability-assessment

31 Oct 2017, 4:24 p.m. EU External Trade: China Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what his policy is on market economic status for China within the EU for (a) steel and (b) other commodities.

Answer (Greg Hands)

As a member of the EU, the UK has supported the Commission’s proposal to revise its anti-dumping methodology, while clearly advocating that any amendments to the regulations must be applied in a way which is WTO compliant. Any changes to the EU’s methodology must be fair, balanced and compatible with WTO requirements.

On leaving the EU, we will operate our own trade policy. We will develop a WTO compliant trade remedies regime that will enable us to tackle significant market distortions. Our regime will provide UK industries, including steel, with protection against unfair and injurious trade practices.

30 Oct 2017, 4:55 p.m. Iron and Steel: China Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to prevent the dumping of Chinese steel in the UK.

Answer (Claire Perry)

We recognise the problems caused by dumped steel imports which are a direct result of chronic global overcapacity, particularly in the Chinese steel industry. We are actively working with our G20 partners - including China - through the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity to tackle this problem. The Forum will ensure greater transparency around steel capacity and better information exchange between countries.

We have also worked closely with the EU and the European Commission ensuring effective protection for UK steel producers - there are currently 45 trade defence instruments for steel in place within the EU.

30 Oct 2017, 1:02 p.m. Iron and Steel: China Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he plans to take to prevent the dumping of Chinese steel in the UK when the UK leaves the EU.

Answer (Claire Perry)

We recognise the problems caused by dumped steel imports which are a direct result of chronic global overcapacity, particularly in the Chinese steel industry. We are actively working with our G20 partners - including China - through the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity to tackle this problem. The Forum will ensure greater transparency around steel capacity and better information exchange between countries.

We have also worked closely with the EU and the European Commission ensuring effective protection for UK steel producers - there are currently 45 trade defence instruments for steel in place within the EU.

We are preparing a UK trade remedies framework for when we leave the EU that will enable the UK to be a leading proponent for free trade while providing a safety net for its industries against unfair trading practices.

23 Oct 2017, 1:03 p.m. Government Departments: Food Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how much of the food and drink purchased by (a) the Government and (b) its departments and agencies is sourced from Scotland.

Answer (Caroline Nokes)

The Government is committed to boosting support for a vibrant and competitive UK food
and farming sector. Our policy, as set out in the Government Buying Standards for Food
and Catering Services and PPN10/14 – the Plan for Public Procurement of Food and
Catering Services, is to source food and drink responsibly.

Information on the country of origin of food and drink purchases is not held centrally.

23 Oct 2017, 10:22 a.m. Parliament: Food Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington, representing the House of Commons Commission, how much of the food and drink purchased by the (a) House of Commons and (b) UK Parliament is sourced from Scotland.

Answer (Tom Brake)

All individual products purchased in a specific delivery are fully traceable to source but the House Service does not hold aggregated the information in respect of sourcing from individual parts of the UK, and it could only be assembled at disproportionate cost.

The House Service sources products that meet UK or equivalent standards of production and which are produced with higher environmental standards where possible. In the last financial year, spend on food and drinks in the House of Commons was £3,188,504 and Commons and Lords combined was £4,604,216. Products included in this spend come from various parts of the UK, including Scotland, and additionally from overseas.

The House Service would welcome more suppliers from Scotland expressing an interest in offering their products through our procurement portal.

17 Oct 2017, 11:26 a.m. Capital Allowances Marion Fellows

Question

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect on business profitability of the annual investment allowance.

Answer (Mel Stride)

The Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) provides companies with a 100% first-year deduction for their capital investment, up to the AIA limit. In order to support businesses to invest, the government increased the permanent level of the AIA from £25,000 to £200,000 from 1 January 2016. In 2016-17, it is forecast that the AIA provided support to businesses of £2.7 billion. It is estimated that 85% of the value of the AIA at £200,000 goes to small and medium-sized companies.

16 Oct 2017, 4 p.m. Council Tax: Students Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, why Open University students do not qualify for council tax discounts; and whether he plans to review this policy.

Answer (Mr Marcus Jones)

The council tax system in England does not exclude Open University students from being eligible for council tax discounts. If such students meet the eligibility criteria that apply to any council tax discount, they will qualify for it.

16 Oct 2017, 4 p.m. Council Tax: Students Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the (a) effect on living standards and (b) equity of Open University students being ineligible for council tax discounts.

Answer (Mr Marcus Jones)

The council tax system in England does not exclude Open University students from being eligible for council tax discounts. If such students meet the eligibility criteria that apply to any council tax discount, they will qualify for it.

16 Oct 2017, 12:51 p.m. Small Business Commissioner: Industry Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what role the Small Business Commissioner plays in the formation and delivery of UK industrial strategy.

Answer (Margot James)

On 2 October my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced the appointment of the first Small Business Commissioner, who will tackle unfair payment practices by providing general information and advice, direct small businesses to existing services and handle complaints about payment issues, thus supporting Britain’s 5.5 million small businesses. Our small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and removing barriers to their growth is a key part of a dynamic, market economy. Our Industrial Strategy will ensure a competitive market that supports new businesses and innovation.

12 Oct 2017, 1:56 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, why the Child Maintenance Service allows non-resident parents £2,500 of unearned income that is not factored into payment plans; and whether he plans to review this policy.

Answer (Kit Malthouse)

Calculation of a child maintenance liability is based on gross income information provided directly to the Child Maintenance Service by HMRC. Individuals are required to declare unearned income not taxed at source which does not exceed £2500 a year to HMRC, which already enables HMRC to include it in the income information they provide. Unearned income exceeding £2500 a year is dealt with by HMRC through tax self-assessment and is picked up in a child maintenance calculation through an unearned income variation. We have no plans to review this.The treatment of unearned income for child maintenance purposes is aligned with this for administrative efficiency. We are inviting views on the future treatment of "income" within the recently published Compliance and Arrears Strategy consultation.

11 Oct 2017, 2:42 p.m. Government Departments: Catering Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which Government departments and agencies have achieved the Food for Life catering award.

Answer (George Eustice)

The Food for Life Catering Mark is awarded to suppliers in the food service sector, not to Government Departments and Agencies.

11 Oct 2017, 2:40 p.m. Small Businesses: Billing Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what action the Government is taking to ensure timely payments to small and medium-sized enterprises; and whether he plans to introduce legislation to ensure that payments to small and medium-sized enterprises are timely.

Answer (Margot James)

The Government knows how important tackling late payment is, especially for smaller businesses and has previously announced a package of measures to improve payment practices across the public and private sector.

The Reporting on Payment Practices and Performance Regulations 2017 came in to force this year. This statutory requirement increases transparency, providing small and medium-sized businesses with better information about large businesses they intend to trade with.

The Small Business Commissioner, created by the Enterprise Act 2016, will empower small businesses to tackle late payment; providing general advice and information to small businesses on matters such as resolving payment disputes.

The Public Contracts Regulations 2015, mandate that public sector buyers must include 30-day payment terms in new public sector contracts; and requires that this payment term be passed down the supply chain.

11 Oct 2017, 1:26 p.m. Small Businesses: Billing Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of late payments on small and medium-sized enterprises.

Answer (Margot James)

The Government knows how important tackling late payment is, especially for smaller businesses. The 2016 Impact Assessment for the Duty to report on payment practices and performance provides further detail on the assessment of the impact of late payment on small and medium-sized enterprises and can be found here - https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/business-payment-practices-and-policies-duty-to-report.

11 Oct 2017, 11:33 a.m. National Insurance Contributions Marion Fellows

Question

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect of his Department's policy on employment allowance on (a) employment and (b) small and medium-sized enterprises; and whether he plans to amend the employment allowance policy.

Answer (Mel Stride)

The Employment Allowance allows business and charities throughout the UK to reduce their employer National Insurance contributions (NICs) bill by up to £3,000 every year. Last year alone this meant over 1 million employers benefitted, of which 97% had fewer than 50 employees. Employers overall saved £2bn in employers NICs due to the Employment Allowance.

The Government published research into awareness and impact of the Employment Allowance with small employers in 2015. This can be found online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/445848/Research_Report_368_Awareness_and_Impact_of_the_Employment_Allowance_-_Research_with_small_employers.pdf

11 Sep 2017, 9:20 a.m. Biofuels: Countervailing Duties Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if he will seek to retain current EU countervailing duties on biodiesel imported from the US after the UK leaves the EU.

Answer (Greg Hands)

Currently, a number of trade remedy measures are being applied by the EU, some of which affect UK industry.

The Government is looking into this in detail and will bring forward proposals shortly. The Government is aiming to maintain continuity for businesses as we exit from the EU.

6 Jul 2017, 9:36 a.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what criteria his Department uses for determining the likelihood that child maintenance arrears will be collected.

Answer (Caroline Dinenage)

The department publishes an annual estimate of child maintenance arrears in the Client Funds Account that sets out the three categories of collectability.

1. Likely to be collected: Debt which meets criteria indicating that the Department has a good chance of collecting it. The criteria are:

  • At least one payment made against the outstanding arrears in the six months prior to the reporting date.
  • At least one payment made in excess of the scheduled amount

2. Potentially collectable: Debt which meets criteria indicating that the Department has a reasonable chance of collecting it. The criteria are:

  • The existence of a payment schedule at any point during the six months prior to the reporting date, even though no payments were received in the period.
  • For recent arrears, i.e. aged three months or less, the receipt of at least one payment against those arrears after the reporting date.
  • Debt on cases where enforcement action such as deduction directly from the non-resident parent’s bank account, or forcing the sale of their property is likely to be successful.

3. Uncollectable: All remaining debt which does not meet the criteria for either of the other categories.

6 Jul 2017, 9:26 a.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps he is taking to collect child maintenance arrears, by category of collectability.

Answer (Caroline Dinenage)

The department publishes an annual estimate of child maintenance arrears in the Client Funds Account that sets out the three categories of collectability.

1. Likely to be collected: Debt which meets criteria indicating that the Department has a good chance of collecting it. The criteria are:

  • At least one payment made against the outstanding arrears in the six months prior to the reporting date.
  • At least one payment made in excess of the scheduled amount

2. Potentially collectable: Debt which meets criteria indicating that the Department has a reasonable chance of collecting it. The criteria are:

  • The existence of a payment schedule at any point during the six months prior to the reporting date, even though no payments were received in the period.
  • For recent arrears, i.e. aged three months or less, the receipt of at least one payment against those arrears after the reporting date.
  • Debt on cases where enforcement action such as deduction directly from the non-resident parent’s bank account, or forcing the sale of their property is likely to be successful.

3. Uncollectable: All remaining debt which does not meet the criteria for either of the other categories.

The Department aims to ensure parents fulfil their obligation to make financial provision for their children and that maintenance is paid accurately and on time. Our priority, as outlined in our published Arrears and Compliance Strategy is to collect on-going maintenance and arrears in cases where there is still a child who stands to benefit.

Child maintenance arrears are categorised in the Client Fund Account according to the likelihood of them being collected. We consider action on all cases that fall into the collectable and potentially collectable categories of debt. Where we are unable to take enforcement action, for example where we cannot trace the non-resident parent, cases will fall into the uncollectable category and will be reviewed as resources allow.

5 Jul 2017, 3:40 p.m. Children: Maintenance Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will implement the recommendations in the Work and Pensions Select Committee report, Child Maintenance Service, HC587, published on 2 May 2017; and if he will make a statement.

Answer (Caroline Dinenage)

The Government welcomes the Work and Pensions Select Committee report and is carefully considering its recommendations. We will submit the Government response in due course.

3 Jul 2017, 2:09 p.m. Social Security Benefits Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the cost was to the public purse of legal fees in relation to defending the benefit cap in the High Court; and how much his Department estimates the cost of appealing the High Court's decision on that case will be.

Answer (Caroline Dinenage)

Legal fees of defending the case in the High Court are £67,690. This figure includes VAT where payable (for example on Counsel’s fees) and disbursements but does not include costs attributable to time spent by Government advisory lawyers, as time spent by such advisory lawyers is not recorded in a manner that allows it to be attributable to individual court cases.

DWP has also paid £125,000 (plus VAT) towards the Claimants’ costs.

DWP’s legal costs for appealing the case in the Court of Appeal are estimated to be between £25,000 and £40,000 (this includes our best estimate of external Counsel fees).