Debates between Alok Sharma and Drew Hendry

There have been 10 exchanges between Alok Sharma and Drew Hendry

1 Tue 21st July 2020 Oral Answers to Questions
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
5 interactions (367 words)
2 Tue 16th June 2020 Oral Answers to Questions
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
5 interactions (341 words)
3 Tue 12th May 2020 Covid-19: Business
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
3 interactions (683 words)
4 Mon 4th May 2020 Oral Answers to Questions
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
3 interactions (266 words)
5 Mon 1st July 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Department for Work and Pensions
2 interactions (161 words)
6 Mon 18th March 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Department for Work and Pensions
2 interactions (112 words)
7 Mon 14th January 2019 Universal Credit
Department for Work and Pensions
3 interactions (162 words)
8 Tue 8th January 2019 Universal Credit: Managed Migration
Department for Work and Pensions
3 interactions (216 words)
9 Tue 16th October 2018 Universal Credit
Department for Work and Pensions
3 interactions (114 words)
10 Mon 5th February 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Department for Work and Pensions
6 interactions (238 words)

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Drew Hendry
Tuesday 21st July 2020

(2 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Hansard

The furlough scheme will have been up and running for a full eight months, providing a huge amount of support for more than 9 million jobs. It is becoming more flexible and allowing people to return to work part time. The right hon. Gentleman will know that the Chancellor has also set out the job retention bonus which, if it is taken up by all employers, will represent a £9 billion boost for the economy. I say to him again that the key is to get the economy up and running and to get businesses trading.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP) - Hansard

As we have heard, many businesses, sole traders, freelancers and others have been left without support throughout this health emergency. They are on their knees and they are still getting no support. How can they rebuild their trade when the Secretary of State’s Government will not help them? If his Government will not help them, why have they refused to allow simple adjustments to Scotland’s borrowing rules so that the Scottish Government can step in?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Hansard

The hon. Gentleman talks about support in Scotland; like many colleagues in the House, I believe in the Union, and we must work together to support workers across the United Kingdom. More than 730,000 jobs have been protected in Scotland through the furlough scheme. The hon. Gentleman will know that, as a result of the additional moneys that the Chancellor announced at the summer statement, the total additional Barnett funding to Scotland since March is £4.6 billion.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry - Hansard

Oh how the broad shoulders of the Union slump when asked a difficult question. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has exposed how the promised £800 million of consequentials for Scotland from the Chancellor’s job package is in fact only £21 million. Will the Secretary of State now do the right thing by Scotland’s businesses and urge the Chancellor to replace the missing £779 million—or has he also bought into the Prime Minister’s stated view that a pound spent in Croydon is of more value than a pound spent in Scotland?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Hansard

The hon. Gentleman talks about supporting businesses in Scotland; perhaps he will come forward and give his support to the UK internal market White Paper that we have published.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Drew Hendry
Tuesday 16th June 2020

(3 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Hansard

My hon. Friend raises an important point, and this is part of the Bill. While Companies House has extended the period for filing accounts, we will give businesses the maximum period available under the powers in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill for filing their accounts, confirmation statements and event-driven updates. At a time when many companies are focused on surviving, that will be very welcome respite.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP) - Hansard

Mr Speaker, may I echo your sentiments on the tragic loss of Jo Cox?

Businesses facing insolvency will be under further pressure with the premature end to the furlough and self-employed schemes, and loan schemes are of little help, because they simply add to a pile of debt. Does the Secretary of State agree that the sectors hit hardest by covid-19 need long-term support to survive and rebuild, which means extending the furlough scheme and support loans being written off or converted to equity?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Hansard

The level of support we have provided across the economy is incredibly favourable by any international comparison. The furlough scheme will be in place for a full eight months. That is precisely the support that we have been very keen to give to businesses.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry - Hansard

Tourism is worth £10.5 billion to the Scottish economy, and before the pandemic it provided 8% of jobs. While some businesses will soon be able to reopen outside areas, vital public health rules and consumer sentiment will mean that most activity is subdued. Will the Secretary of State follow the Scottish Government by setting up a tourism taskforce and use his Government’s reserve powers to cut VAT for tourism and other sectors, to help firms that are at risk of insolvency?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Hansard

As I am sure the hon. Gentleman will know, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is working with the tourism sector, and there is regular dialogue with it. I recognise the concerns that he has raised about this sector, which is closed, but that is why we have provided particular support through a rates holiday for hospitality businesses.

Covid-19: Business

Debate between Alok Sharma and Drew Hendry
Tuesday 12th May 2020

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Hansard

My hon. Friend is a strong voice for Keighley businesses. Of course this guidance applies to all businesses. The Federation of Small Businesses, which has been part of helping us to prepare the guidance, has welcomed it, particularly for small companies. My hon. Friend should continue the engagement he is doing with businesses, encourage them to look at the guidance and encourage them to get back to work.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP) [V] - Hansard
12 May 2020, 12:03 a.m.

I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement. Given that the Prime Minister previously attacked what he called the “health and safety fetish” as “madness”, and in 2009 said public warnings were “for the extremely stupid”, the fact that this Government are stressing the need for health and safety must be welcomed. However, it is important to give the utmost clarity.

I know that is what the Secretary of State will like to think he has done, but his advice is addressed to UK employers. Will he acknowledge, in the spirit of clarity, that his advice is for England only? The advice in the other nations of the UK remains to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. Lives are at stake. We must have complete clarity. Shops in Scotland are not scheduled for phased reopening from 1 June. Will he make that clear? His five-point plan does not apply at this time in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Will he make that clear?

We welcome the measures announced today to transition the furlough scheme, because business and people would be harmed by a cold restart without protection. However, before any reductions in furlough or rates of support start, we first need to fill the gaps for those left behind: those who had a contract or letter of employment by 29 March but whose employers have not logged into Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, those agency workers who are not included, staff whose pay is combined with commission, and the forgotten but vital summer seasonal workers. Will the Secretary of State make the case for those workers, or are they still to be left behind?

Finally, the Secretary of State has made great play—I quote from his statement—of

“Building a consensus and confidence when moving forward”.

Will he take that message back to the Cabinet and the Prime Minister, and extend it to the leaders of the devolved nations? His Government have consistently updated Fleet Street before this House, and even before the First Ministers of the devolved nations.

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Hansard

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his questions and his remarks. First, he talked about the Health and Safety Executive. We are of course providing more support. It is able at this stage to progress with the funding and support it has from the Government, but we have provided an extra £14 million in case it needs it. The UK has a proud record as a world leader on health and safety in the workplace. If he compares our statistics with those in many other countries in Europe, for example, he will see that we have a very good record.

The hon. Gentleman asked who this guidance is for. This guidance is to help all employers in the United Kingdom—employers, employees and the self-employed. I also say to him—[Interruption.] He is shaking his head, but let me come to the point that he wants me to make. In terms of the 250 stakeholders we engaged with, 70% of those businesses operate across the UK. However, in the guidance, we make it very clear that public health is devolved in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and we talk about the guidance being considered alongside local public health and safety requirements and legislation.

My final point is about consensus. We have been driven, throughout this process, through consensus. I have had very good discussions with my counterparts in the devolved nations, and we will continue to do that. The Prime Minister has been doing that, and we will continue to do that as a Government. At the end of the day, we all have to come together to get out of this and get our economy to bounce back.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Drew Hendry
Monday 4th May 2020

(4 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Hansard

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, we have provided support for the hospitality, leisure and retail sector. There is a 100% rates holiday for all businesses in that sector, and we are also making £25,000 grants available to them. Under the grant scheme—the £25,000 and £10,000 grants—as of last Monday, £7.5 billion had been paid out. I hope he will welcome that. On the wider measures he talks about, we keep everything under review, and I will look at anything that comes forward.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP) [V] - Hansard

I also welcome the right hon. Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband) to his new position on the Labour Front Bench.

A recent poll by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce has found that 48% of Scottish companies will run out of cash within three months, with 64% identifying shortcomings in Government support schemes. Does the Minister agree with Sir George Mathewson that, far from helping them to bounce back, these loan schemes will not even allow businesses to survive, and that the only option is to write off the debt and convert these loans urgently into more accessible grants?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Hansard

I say to the hon. Gentleman, for whom I have enormous respect, that one has to look at the sum total of what the Government are putting forward. He will know that about 4 million people are being furloughed under the job retention scheme and that support is available through grant schemes, which I talked about in my response to the right hon. Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband). Of course it is important that we support businesses, and we will continue to do that.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Drew Hendry
Monday 1st July 2019

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Work and Pensions
Alok Sharma Portrait The Minister for Employment (Alok Sharma) - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 Jul 2019, 3:29 p.m.

I thank my hon. Friend for the energy with which he is supporting his constituents on universal credit. One of the key performance indicators is, of course, payment timeliness, which has improved significantly over the past couple of years, and that progress is matched in Alloa jobcentre. His local jobcentre staff will be happy to interact with him and, of course, I am also happy to meet him.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP) - Parliament Live - Hansard

T2. I have the honour of chairing the all-party parliamentary group for terminal illness, and we have been taking evidence over recent months on the challenges that dying people face in accessing social security due to the six-month rule. Incidentally, the Scottish Government are already committed to allowing clinicians to make judgments for PIP, with their limited powers. We will be launching the report on Wednesday at 4 o’clock in the Members’ Dining Room, so will the Minister attend and agree to meet me and Marie Curie to discuss the report’s findings? [911665]

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Drew Hendry
Monday 18th March 2019

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Work and Pensions
Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP) - Parliament Live - Hansard

T6. Council tax payers in the highlands are continuing to bear the burden of additional administration expenses amounting to many hundreds of thousands of pounds as a result of universal credit. The Minister met me in January, and his officials have subsequently met council officers. The situation is clearly unfair. When will it be sorted out, and the money reimbursed? [909859]

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Parliament Live - Hansard
18 Mar 2019, 3:28 p.m.

I thought that we had a constructive discussion. As the hon. Gentleman says, my officials have also talked to the council, but I am always happy to have another discussion. I should add that the total amount of new burdens funding is increasing from £14 million to £18 million in 2019-20.

Universal Credit

Debate between Alok Sharma and Drew Hendry
Monday 14th January 2019

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Work and Pensions
Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Hansard
14 Jan 2019, 4:20 p.m.

Let me be absolutely clear: when we get something wrong in the Department, we apologise, and I write to apologise to individuals and colleagues. Where there are specific cases to raise, I am happy to meet the hon. Gentleman and his colleague.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Jan 2019, 4:20 p.m.

You are saving the best for last, Mr Speaker.

For nearly six years, from pilot through to full service roll-out, my constituents in Inverness and then in the rest of my constituency have been suffering and reporting the flaws of universal credit to the Government. Now that the mistakes have been admitted to and the flaws have been acknowledged, what will the Minister do to compensate the people who have endured that suffering?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Parliament Live - Hansard

Overall, the universal credit policy is absolutely working. It is getting more people into work, which is ultimately what the welfare system is also about. As the hon. Gentleman knows, if he has individual cases, I am happy to take those up with him and to discuss them.

Universal Credit: Managed Migration

Debate between Alok Sharma and Drew Hendry
Tuesday 8th January 2019

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Work and Pensions
Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Parliament Live - Hansard
8 Jan 2019, 1:40 p.m.

I am very happy to talk to the hon. Gentleman about this. I assume that he refers to the run-on of the DWP legacy benefits from 2020, and of course this will apply to claimants on managed migration and to those who naturally migrate, provided that they do not have a break in their claim.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP) - Parliament Live - Hansard
8 Jan 2019, 1:40 p.m.

Since as far back as 2013, Inverness and then the rest of my constituency suffered through the pilot and on through the full-service roll-out of universal credit. The new year front page of The Inverness Courier newspaper described the rise of poverty in our community, and that was directly attributed to universal credit. Over nearly six years, the UK Government have failed to listen to any of the agencies, the charities, the council or the people who have been affected. What does the Minister say to those people who have suffered directly over all that time from having their plight ignored by this Government?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Parliament Live - Hansard
8 Jan 2019, 1:40 p.m.

I have a lot of respect for the hon. Gentleman, and I am sorry that we are ending this urgent question on a discordant note, but respectfully, I do not agree that we have not listened. That is precisely what we have been doing, and we will continue to do so through the test phase and beyond.

Universal Credit

Debate between Alok Sharma and Drew Hendry
Tuesday 16th October 2018

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Work and Pensions
Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Hansard
16 Oct 2018, 11:30 a.m.

I apologise; I did not hear the hon. Gentleman’s question clearly. I think he talked about rumours, which I will not be commenting on.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP) - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Oct 2018, 11:30 a.m.

Five years after the start of the universal credit pilot in Inverness, Highland Council has had a £2.5 million bill for administering universal credit, paid by every single household in the highlands. When will the Minister respond to Highland Council’s request—and mine—to pay that money back?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Hansard
16 Oct 2018, 11:30 a.m.

There is a new burdens policy in place, and the DWP has paid out to local councils. I believe that the figure for 2017-18 was around £13 million. If the hon. Gentleman forwards me the correspondence, I would be happy to look at it.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Drew Hendry
Monday 5th February 2018

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Work and Pensions
Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP) - Hansard

12. What recent progress her Department has made on the roll-out of universal credit. [903742]

Alok Sharma Portrait The Minister for Employment (Alok Sharma) - Parliament Live - Hansard
5 Feb 2018, 3:11 p.m.

Universal credit transforms the welfare state and the rollout is proceeding to plan, with universal credit now available in one third of all jobcentres in Great Britain.

Break in Debate

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Hansard

When we have rolled out universal credit, we have done it in a manner that makes sense and works. Right now, 9% of those who will eventually end up on universal credit are on universal credit, and it will reach 11% by June this year. I am, of course, undertaking a whole range of visits to jobcentres across the country. I will make sure that I make a visit to Scotland, and we can have a discussion about whether there is an opportunity to visit the hon. Gentleman as well.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry - Parliament Live - Hansard
5 Feb 2018, 3:12 p.m.

A terminally ill man has won the right to raise a landmark challenge to the Government after the introduction of universal credit left him significantly worse off. Having already acted unlawfully to 1.6 million PIP claimants at a cost to taxpayers of £3.7 billion, does the Minister guarantee that his Government will not be found guilty of unfairly treating the terminally ill?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma - Hansard
5 Feb 2018, 3:12 p.m.

I want to be absolutely clear: the changes that we are making in universal credit and in the benefit system are there to focus on protecting the most vulnerable. That is the underlying policy of universal credit and we will continue to do that.