Chris Stephens Portrait

Chris Stephens

Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West

Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Fair Work and Employment)

(since July 2018)

There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Monday 7th June 2021
Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 42 Scottish National Party Aye votes vs 0 Scottish National Party No votes
Tally: Ayes - 263 Noes - 364
Speeches
Thursday 22nd July 2021
Covid-19 Update

In order to beat this virus, the Government must take care of not only their domestic responsibilities but their international …

Written Answers
Tuesday 6th July 2021
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: ISS
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the compliance …
Early Day Motions
Thursday 22nd July 2021
Glasgow City Mission Family Holiday Club
That this House congratulates the Glasgow City Mission Child and Family Centre for running its Family Holiday Club over the …
Bills
Monday 21st June 2021
Asylum Seekers (Permission to Work) (No. 2) Bill 2021-22
A Bill to make provision for granting permission to work to asylum seekers who have waited six months for a …
MP Financial Interests
Monday 15th March 2021
2. (b) Any other support not included in Category 2(a)
Name of donor: Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS)
Address of donor: 160 Falcon Road, London SW11 2LN
Amount of …
EDM signed
Thursday 22nd July 2021
Accountability for Human Rights Abuses in The Gambia
That this House welcomes the imminent publication of the report by the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission of the Gambia, …
Supported Legislation
Wednesday 5th February 2020
Unpaid Work Experience (Prohibition) (No. 2) Bill 2019-21
A Bill to prohibit unpaid work experience exceeding four weeks; and for connected purposes.

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Chris Stephens has voted in 210 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Chris Stephens Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.

Sparring Partners
Chris Philp (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
(18 debate interactions)
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
(16 debate interactions)
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(12 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Home Office
(30 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(25 debate contributions)
Department for Work and Pensions
(18 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(12 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Chris Stephens's debates

Glasgow South West Petitions

e-Petitions are administered by Parliament and allow members of the public to express support for a particular issue.

If an e-petition reaches 10,000 signatures the Government will issue a written response.

If an e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures the petition becomes eligible for a Parliamentary debate (usually Monday 4.30pm in Westminster Hall).

Petitions with highest Glasgow South West signature proportion
Petitions with most Glasgow South West signatures
Petition Debates Contributed

During the pandemic government workers have delivered vital public services and kept our country safe and secure. After ten years in which the real value of civil service pay has fallen, many face hardship. The Government must start to restore the real value of their pay with a 10% increase in 2020.

The government is helping private firms to protect jobs by paying up to 80% of staff wages through this crisis. If it can do this why can it not help key workers who will be putting themselves/their families at risk and working extra hard under extremely challenging and unprecedented circumstances.

Illegal immigrants are entering the UK in many different ways, including small boats from France which are not stopped by either French or British forces.


Latest EDMs signed by Chris Stephens

22nd July 2021
Chris Stephens signed this EDM as the primary signatory on Thursday 22nd July 2021

Glasgow City Mission Family Holiday Club

Tabled by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)
That this House congratulates the Glasgow City Mission Child and Family Centre for running its Family Holiday Club over the Scottish school summer holiday period; notes that the club has allowed children, parents and carers a free lunch every day, ran organised trips and activities in Elder Park; praises the …
1 signatures
(Most recent: 22 Jul 2021)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 1
12th July 2021
Chris Stephens signed this EDM on Thursday 22nd July 2021

150th Anniversary of the Durham Miners' Gala

Tabled by: Mary Kelly Foy (Labour - City of Durham)
That this House celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Durham Miners’ Gala or the Big Meeting; expresses severe regret at the cancellation of the Gala for the second consecutive year but commends the Durham Miners Association for prioritising public health; welcomes the news that County Durham Miners Banners Groups will …
23 signatures
(Most recent: 22 Jul 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 19
Independent: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Scottish National Party: 1
View All Chris Stephens's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Chris Stephens, and are more likely to reflect personal policy preferences.

MPs who are act as Ministers or Shadow Ministers are generally restricted from performing Commons initiatives other than Urgent Questions.


Chris Stephens has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Chris Stephens has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

22 Bills introduced by Chris Stephens


The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to amend the definition of worker; to make provision about workers’ rights; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Friday 4th October 2019
(Read Debate)
Next Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Date TBA

The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to amend the Welfare Reform Act 2012 to provide that a Universal Credit claimant may not be sanctioned for refusing work on a zero hours contract; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Friday 4th October 2019
Next Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Date TBA

A Bill to place a duty on the Secretary of State to prevent the evictions of Universal Credit claimants in rent arrears; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 21st June 2021
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 28th January 2022

A Bill to make provision for granting permission to work to asylum seekers who have waited six months for a decision on their asylum application; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 21st June 2021
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 21st January 2022

A Bill to make provision for national minimum standards in accommodation offered to refugees and asylum seekers; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 21st June 2021
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 21st January 2022

A Bill to require the Secretary of State to publish annual calculations of the benefit and tax credit rates that would be required for a representative household to afford to buy meals in accordance with the Eatwell Guide to eating healthily; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 21st June 2021
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 14th January 2022

A Bill to require the Secretary of State to report to Parliament on the merits of repealing those provisions of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 which provide for persons to be paid reduced rates of housing benefit or Universal Credit because their accommodation is deemed to be under-occupied.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 21st June 2021
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 14th January 2022

A Bill to grant powers to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman to identify and investigate systemic problems in the benefits system and make associated recommendations to the Secretary of State; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 21st June 2021
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 14th January 2022

A Bill to amend the Welfare Reform Act 2012 to provide that a Universal Credit claimant may not be sanctioned for refusing work on a zero hours contract; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 21st June 2021
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 10th December 2021

A Bill to make provision for warnings to be given to benefit claimants before they are given sanctions; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 21st June 2021
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 10th December 2021

A Bill to place a duty on the Secretary of State to ensure that applicants for Disability Benefit are given the option of their eligibility assessment being audio recorded; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 21st June 2021
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 3rd December 2021

A Bill to make provision for asylum seekers to challenge the proportionality of a proposed eviction from accommodation before an independent court or tribunal; to establish asylum seeker accommodation eviction procedures for public authorities; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 21st June 2021
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 3rd December 2021

A Bill to amend the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 to make provision about civil liability for breaches of health and safety duties; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 21st June 2021
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 26th November 2021

A Bill to place a duty on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to pursue a policy of full employment; to make associated provision for an employment guarantee scheme for benefit claimants who have been unemployed and looking for work for longer than six months; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 21st June 2021
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 26th November 2021

A Bill to make provision about workers’ rights; to amend the definition of worker; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 21st June 2021
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 22nd October 2021

A Bill to amend the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 to make provision about the offence of corporate homicide; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 21st June 2021
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 22nd October 2021

A Bill to amend the definition of worker; to make provision about workers’ rights; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Wednesday 26th February 2020
(Read Debate)

A Bill to amend the Welfare Reform Act 2012 to provide that a Universal Credit claimant may not be sanctioned for refusing work on a zero hours contract; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 10th February 2020

A Bill to place a duty on the Secretary of State to prevent the evictions of Universal Credit claimants in rent arrears; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 10th February 2020

A Bill to make provision for asylum seekers to challenge the proportionality of a proposed eviction from accommodation before an independent court or tribunal; to establish asylum seeker accommodation eviction procedures for public authorities; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 10th February 2020

The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to make provision for asylum seekers to challenge the proportionality of a proposed eviction from accommodation before an independent court or tribunal; to establish asylum seeker accommodation eviction procedures for public authorities; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Tuesday 23rd July 2019
Next Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Date TBA

A Bill to restrict charges for using telecommunications to contact certain government advice services; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Tuesday 21st February 2017
(Read Debate)

262 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
3 Other Department Questions
19th Jan 2021
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, whether the Commission has received advice from Public Health England on what level of increased risk of covid-19 infection would require the suspension of work on the Parliamentary Estate.

The Commission has received no advice from Public Health England on what level of increased risk of covid-19 infection would require the suspension of work on the Parliamentary Estate.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
19th Jan 2021
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what advice has been received since November 2020 from Public Health England on the risks of people continuing to work on the Parliamentary estate contracting covid-19; and if he will publish that advice.

Public Health England has supported the House in responding to Covid-19 throughout the past 12 months. Its advice, in conjunction with the working safely guidance which is available to all workplaces, has been incorporated into the Working safely on the Parliamentary estate during the coronavirus outbreak risk assessment. This document has been updated to reflect any changes any in the situation, with the most recent published on 14 January. The assessment is available for anyone to view on the Parliamentary website:

https://www.parliament.uk/contentassets/d23db9b1eb174243ae97bda14ca82613/hop-v4-hop-covid-risk-assessment--issued.pdf

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
19th Jan 2021
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what recommendations have been received from Public Health England since November 2020 on the circumstances in which the suspension of work on the Parliamentary estate would be advisable owing to the increased risk of infection from covid-19.

Public Health England has confirmed that the measures put in place to ensure the House remains Covid secure are appropriate to manage the risk of infection. As the risks are being managed, Public Health England has issued no advice around where suspension of work on the estate may be necessary.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Attorney General, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation affects the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information as set out in Section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

This answer is in respect of the Attorney General’s Office, the Government Legal Department, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Fraud Office and Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate.

The introduction of GDPR has not affected the rights of unions in the organisations above in relation to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Michael Ellis
Attorney General
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Attorney General, whether his Department complies with the requirement set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

This part of the response is in relation to the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), the Government Legal Department (GLD), and Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI).

The three organisations above, and Government more widely, recognise that there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services. Whilst facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money, departments have an obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off for safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

In line with the legislative obligation, set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), information relating to facility time for relevant union officials is published annually by GLD, with facility time defined by that Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official that is permitted by the official’s employer, including where this arises under “regulations made under section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The Serious Fraud Office (whose HR service is independent of the other Law Officer’s Departments) Facility Time Agreement allows for paid time off for health and safety representatives but that time off is set against the overall level of facility time agreed between the employer and the 3 recognised trade unions.

Michael Ellis
Attorney General
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he has plans to (a) honour and (b) make a statement to recognise the volunteers who took part in the covid-19 vaccine trials.

We appreciate there is a huge appetite across the UK to say thank you to all those involved in the successful vaccination programme.

The recently published Birthday Honours List 2021 includes a range of nominations for those who have played crucial roles throughout the COVID-19 effort. A number of people were honoured for their contributions tackling the virus on the frontline and in their communities, building on the nominations brought forward in the Birthday Honours List 2020 and at New Year Honours List 2021. We expect to see more nominations come forward across future Lists, however, there are limits on the numbers who can receive recognition via the honours process.

The Prime Minister announced that the Government will establish a UK Commission on COVID Commemoration to consider the appropriate way to remember those who have lost their lives and to commemorate the service of all those involved in the unprecedented response. The Government will set out the Commission membership and terms of reference in due course.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's powers in respect of the ability to proactively investigate systemic issues arising in the benefits system.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman operates according to his powers in the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967. This includes investigating complaints made by MPs on behalf of members of the public about the benefits system administered by the Department for Work and Pensions. The current legislation does not include powers to investigate any issues proactively and ministers have no plans to introduce such reforms at the current time.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
26th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Crown Commercial Service will assess in future, as part of its due diligence checks on companies wishing to join the Facilities Management Marketplace, whether they have financial links with supply chain financing providers.

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) did not ask companies that are part of its Facilities Management Marketplace whether they have had financial links with (a) Greensill Capital and (b) other supply chain financing providers.

The financial assessment of suppliers who are part of the Facilities Management Marketplace is undertaken using Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) checks, amongst other internal checks. The Facilities Management Marketplace framework has three lots (lots 1a - c) of which each has their own D&B risk threshold that suppliers are required to meet. This is monitored by CCS framework management and commercial finance teams. Where suppliers fall below the minimum D&B credit rating threshold, further investigation is undertaken which may result in a Financial Distress event as per the terms and conditions of the framework.

There is no intention in the future to assess, as part of its due diligence checks on companies wishing to join the Facilities Management Marketplace, whether suppliers have financial links with supply chain financing providers.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
26th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has asked the companies that are part of its Facilities Management Marketplace whether they had financial links with (a) Greensill Capital and (b) other supply chain financing providers; and what assessment the CCS has made of the financial stability of those companies.

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) did not ask companies that are part of its Facilities Management Marketplace whether they have had financial links with (a) Greensill Capital and (b) other supply chain financing providers.

The financial assessment of suppliers who are part of the Facilities Management Marketplace is undertaken using Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) checks, amongst other internal checks. The Facilities Management Marketplace framework has three lots (lots 1a - c) of which each has their own D&B risk threshold that suppliers are required to meet. This is monitored by CCS framework management and commercial finance teams. Where suppliers fall below the minimum D&B credit rating threshold, further investigation is undertaken which may result in a Financial Distress event as per the terms and conditions of the framework.

There is no intention in the future to assess, as part of its due diligence checks on companies wishing to join the Facilities Management Marketplace, whether suppliers have financial links with supply chain financing providers.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
26th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Government Property Agency will in future, as part of its due diligence checks on facility management companies it wishes to contract with, assess whether they have financial links with supply chain financing providers.

The Government Property Agency has not asked our facilities management suppliers whether they have, or have had, any financial links to Greensill Capital or another supply chain financing provider.

GPA's principal suppliers are government strategic suppliers; the Cabinet Office Market and Suppliers team closely monitors the financial health of these strategic suppliers and has regular discussions with their management.

GPA procurement processes are aligned with legal and commercial policy requirements. At the moment, there is no requirement to specifically enquire about company links with supply chain financing providers as part of due diligence.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what health and safety measures will be carried out to facilitate a full return to Parliament during the covid-19 outbreak of (a) staff, (b) hon. Members and (c) visitors; and if he will make a statement.

In line with Public Health England (PHE) and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance, the House of Commons is implementing numerous measures to facilitate Parliamentary Business and the eventual full return to Parliament of staff; hon. Members; and visitors when it is safe to do so.

Measures to promote social distancing on the estate include the physical re-arrangement of workspaces; installation of floor markings and provision of signage to encourage people to stay 2m apart. Additional measures have been implemented to facilitate frequent hand washing; support workers getting to and from the estate; move around the estate and use communal areas safely.

The comprehensive list of measures being implemented is contained within the House of Commons’ COVID-19 risk assessment and has been shared with people working on the estate.

Contractors working on the estate have implemented commensurate measures as part of their assessment of their own activities.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what legislation under paragraph 5 of the civil service management code Ministers have undertaken to apply as if it were binding on the Crown.

The Cabinet Office works closely with all departments on many of the matters outlined within the Civil Service Management Code. All departments are expected to follow the instructions within the Civil Service Management Code when setting terms and conditions of Civil Service employment.

Paragraph three of the Civil Service Management Code outlines the authority delegated to Ministers in charge of departments.

Some legislative employment provisions are applied to Civil Servants. These areas, which include notice and redundancy, are as set out in the Civil Service Management Code and departmental policies.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many times his Department has used the right under paragraph 7 of the civil service management code to inspect and monitor observance of the civil service management code in the last three years.

The Cabinet Office works closely with all departments on many of the matters outlined within the Civil Service Management Code. All departments are expected to follow the instructions within the Civil Service Management Code when setting terms and conditions of Civil Service employment.

Paragraph three of the Civil Service Management Code outlines the authority delegated to Ministers in charge of departments.

Some legislative employment provisions are applied to Civil Servants. These areas, which include notice and redundancy, are as set out in the Civil Service Management Code and departmental policies.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what functions have been (a) delegated to Departments and (b) retained by the civil service under the civil service management code.

The Cabinet Office works closely with all departments on many of the matters outlined within the Civil Service Management Code. All departments are expected to follow the instructions within the Civil Service Management Code when setting terms and conditions of Civil Service employment.

Paragraph three of the Civil Service Management Code outlines the authority delegated to Ministers in charge of departments.

Some legislative employment provisions are applied to Civil Servants. These areas, which include notice and redundancy, are as set out in the Civil Service Management Code and departmental policies.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
29th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will amend the Ministerial Code to include what the steps that will be taken in the event that a (a) Minister and (b) Special Adviser is accused of sexual harassment.

The Ministerial Code makes clear that: “harassing, bullying or other inappropriate or discriminating behaviour wherever it takes place is not consistent with the Ministerial Code and will not be tolerated”. Sections 1.4 to 1.6 of the Ministerial Code sets out steps to investigate allegations of a breach of the Ministerial Code.

The model contract for Special Advisers and the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers sets out the standards of conduct expected of special advisers, and the disciplinary procedures that will be followed where necessary.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
29th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he has plans to amend the Ministerial Code to include the steps that will be taken in the event that a (b) a Minister and (b) Special Adviser is accused of bullying a civil servant.

The Ministerial Code makes clear that: “harassing, bullying or other inappropriate or discriminating behaviour wherever it takes place is not consistent with the Ministerial Code and will not be tolerated”. Sections 1.4 to 1.6 of the Ministerial Code sets out steps to investigate allegations of a breach of the Ministerial Code.

The model contract for Special Advisers and the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers sets out the standards of conduct expected of special advisers, and the disciplinary procedures that will be followed where necessary.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether his Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

Cabinet Office has an obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off for safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

In line with the legislative obligation, set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), information relating to facility time for relevant union officials is published annually. Facility time, defined by that Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official (permitted by the official’s employer) includes, where this arises, under “regulations made under section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974."

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has affected the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

GDPR has not affected the rights of unions in the Cabinet Office to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the compliance of the facilities management contractor ISS with employment practices for staff based in his Department's buildings.

The Government Property Agency (GPA) is the contract holder for the facilities management provider ISS. Both GPA and BEIS work closely with all their suppliers on all aspects of service delivery. GPA and the Department draw facilities services from a Crown Commercial Service framework supplier to help ensure confidence in the supplier base.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the (a) covid-19 health and safety practices of facilities management contractor ISS and (b) potential effect of those practices on staff based in his Department's buildings.

BEIS collaborates closely with the Government Property Agency which manages the facilities management contract with ISS. BEIS has reviewed the COVID-19 health and safety practices of ISS, which include risk assessments, training information and protocols for ISS staff working within the BEIS demise of buildings.

The review of ISS practices gives the Department assurance that sufficient COVID-19 mitigations are in place to enable BEIS staff, or others working within the BEIS demise of buildings, to work safely.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the new Single Enforcement Body is planned to have powers to (a) identify, (b) investigate, and (c) take legal action over cases of bogus of self-employment.

The Government has recently published its consultation response on the single enforcement body for employment rights which sets out the high level remit, powers, and overall approach of the new body. The full government response can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/good-work-plan-establishing-a-new-single-enforcement-body-for-employment-rights.

The body will not specifically cover ‘bogus self-employment’. Employment status is based on the reality of the relationship between an individual and the person for whom services are provided. That might not be the same as what the employment contract states. For disputes around the interpretation of employment law, which are often complex and finely balanced, it is right that Employment Tribunals have the power to determine the result, taking into consideration all of the detail of each individual case to ensure any judgment is the conclusion of a fair and transparent process.

We recognise concerns around employment status and the potential for exploitation and the Government is clear that businesses cannot simply opt out of employment rights. The Government is considering options to bring further clarity around the employment status framework, making it easier for individuals and businesses to understand which rights apply to them.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will ban the practice of recruitment agencies asking for incentives to recommend contractors to an umbrella company.

Commercial and loyalty incentive schemes may be a legitimate business-to-business interaction, between the employment agency and an umbrella company. They are therefore outside the scope of the agency regulations enforced by the Employment Agency Standards (EAS) Inspectorate, which regulate the relationship between the agency and work-seeker.

The Government will continue to work with the recruitment sector to seek compliance with existing regulations. The Government will also continue to ensure current regulations remain fit for purpose, drawing on the expertise of trade bodies and businesses in the sector. Proposed regulatory changes would be announced in the usual way.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure umbrella companies comply with legislation on the payment of holiday pay.

Protecting and enhancing workers’ rights, including those employed by umbrella companies is a priority for this Government. We have already introduced requirements to improve the information provided to new agency workers about their contractual terms and pay rates. We have also committed to extend the remit of the Employment Agency Standards (EAS) Inspectorate to include umbrella companies. This will enable EAS to take enforcement action against an umbrella company that has not paid holiday pay. We will bring forward the legislation to implement this in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will extend paternal leave to support people who have lost access to health services, baby groups and childcare support as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is sympathetic to the unique challenges that new parents have faced because of COVID-19 and the social distancing measures that we had to put in place to protect lives and the NHS. We recognise that these restrictions have meant that some parents have been, or still are unable to participate in activities normally available to them, such as baby groups.

The Government is not minded at this stage to extend Paternity Leave and Pay entitlements. We believe current entitlements to Paternity Leave and Pay and Shared Parental Leave and Pay are generous enough to allow fathers to care for the child and support the child’s mother or adopter. Fathers have access to two weeks of Paternity Leave and Pay and through Shared Parental Leave and Pay, they can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay with the mother if she does not intend to use her full maternity entitlements.

We understand that social distancing guidelines have made finding childcare more challenging. Parents who are unable to find suitable childcare can contact their local authority where they will receive advice on available settings. In addition, parents of children aged under 14 are now able to form ‘childcare bubbles’ to allow friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare. Early Years settings (including nurseries and childminders) also remain open during the new national lockdown.

The NHS has made arrangements to ensure that new parents were supported throughout the pandemic. Operating digitally where possible, community health services have continued to provide support, prioritising higher needs families, and NHS mental health services also remained open.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he has taken to (a) identify the main challenges that new parents face during parental leave and (b) make an assessment of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on parental leave.

In 2019 we consulted on high-level options for reforming parental leave and pay. We are also conducting a formal evaluation of the Shared Parental Leave and Pay scheme, including large-scale, representative surveys of employers and parents. Together, these will give us a fuller picture of how well the current system of parental leave and pay is working for parents and employers.

We are currently processing and analysing the data from the research and analysing the information that we have collected through the consultation. We intend to publish our findings later this year.

The Government has also remained in close contact with stakeholders and charities supporting parents throughout the pandemic.

We have taken steps to support new parents by passing emergency legislation which ensures that parents who are furloughed during the period that is used to determine entitlement to Maternity, Adoption and other family-related statutory pay do not lose out. This legislation ensures that entitlement to pay and the rate of pay that parents receive is based on their normal earnings, not their furlough pay.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what (a) artificial intelligence and (b) machine learning projects are being (i) undertaken and (ii) considered for his Department.

There are a number of projects currently being undertaken or considered by the Department, in some cases the progression will be dependent on availability of budget from next financial year.

BEIS are exploring AI and machine learning techniques internally to enable more efficient working. Projects are being:

(i) undertaken:

  • a proof of concept for the use of virtual assistants to help staff find information regarding corporate policies, whereby the assistant will improve by learning from the enquires responses
  • planning a proof of concept using Machine Learning for automatic labelling, setting up retention periods for past and future documents that form the official record.

(ii) considered:

  • the use of AI handling of inbound enquiries into the department to create draft responses and to triage requests to the correct teams.

BEIS Analysts use machine learning techniques, under the umbrella of artificial intelligence, where appropriate as part of analysis supporting policy development.

Machine Learning projects are being

(i) undertaken:

  • identifying the location of industrial strengths
  • pilot for targeting communications about business support
  • Categorising internal documents by subject

(ii) considered:

  • project to understand the labour market through analysing job adverts
  • a pilot for organising internal processes
  • a pilot for predicting economic impacts using real time indicators
  • exploring automatic text generation
  • planning to repeat a machine learning exercise on HMRC data to identify high growth potential businesses, to build on the successful ‘DECA pilot’ of 2019. This would underpin further operations in 2021, depending on the outcome of the SR process

BEIS policy teams are exploring the use of Artificial Intelligence. AI projects are being:

(ii) considered:

  • by the Better Regulation Executive who are looking to convert the stock of regulatory requirements placed on business into machine readable code and pilot hosting this as open source a metadata set on the ‘Open Regulation Platform’ (ORP), freely available on The National Archives .gov.uk platform. The project is currently in discovery phase to identify all data that government holds on regulatory obligations that could be relevant for this platform. This application is closely related to work that has already been undertaken as part of BEIS GovTech challenge to apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) to understand the cumulative impact of regulation
Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what (a) artificial intelligence and (b) machine learning projects are being (i) undertaken and (ii) considered for the Land Registry.

HM Land Registry has been exploring new and emerging technologies including Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning as part of its Digital Street research and development project since 2017. It is aiming to begin to use Machine Learning capabilities within its casework management systems in 2021/22, and is building its Data Science capability to explore and exploit future opportunities that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning may provide.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, if he will ensure that a full return to Parliament during the covid-19 outbreak will only take place after a full consultation with (a) trade unions and (b) other interested parties; and if he will make a statement.

The safety of all of those on the estate is the key concern of the Commission. Working extensively with Public Health England and via the implementation of the Covid-19 workplace guidance the appropriate steps have been taken to ensure the safety of all on the estate.

The House authorities have met with representatives of the Trades Unions for staff in the House of Commons and PDS formally at least three times per week since the beginning of March, and with representatives of Members’ and Peers’ Staff Association (MAPSA) and Unite as representatives of Members’ staff.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what discussions the Commission has had with (a) trade unions and (b) hon. Members to facilitate a full return to Parliament during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The House authorities on behalf of the House of Commons Commission have met with representatives of the Trades Unions for staff in the House of Commons and PDS formally at least three times per week since the beginning of March, and with representatives of the Members’ and Peers’ Staff Association (MAPSA) and Unite as representatives of Members’ staff.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether her Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is compliant with section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code - that Health and Safety representatives are entitled to reasonable paid time off to undertake relevant training. Time off for non-industrial staff is not set against the facility time allowed under existing arrangements unless the period of time also discharges a liability under Section 168 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has affected the right of recognised unions in her Department to bargaining information in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The introduction of General Data Protection Regulation has not affected the right of recognised Trade Unions to bargaining information in accordance with section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with (a) the Historic Royal Palaces and (b) their staff and trades union representatives on their decision to cut employer pension contributions to 6.5 per cent.

The Secretary of State has had no specific discussions with Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) or their staff and trades union representatives on cuts to employer pension contributions. HRP has responsibility for the recruitment, remuneration, development, retention and motivation of its own staff.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions officials in his Department have had with representatives from trade unions on proposals for reopening (a) Hampton Court Palace, (b) Hillsborough Castle and (c) other Historic Royal Palaces sites on 16 June 2020 following the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will publish the risk assessments undertaken at those sites.

DCMS officials have had no such discussions with representatives of trade unions on Historic Royal Palaces' (HRP) proposals for the reopening of the specific sites in their care, nor are DCMS officials in possession of the risk assessments referred to. Trade Union representatives have, however, been attending the Heritage Working Group which has discussed guidance for safe reopening within the heritage sector. Whether HRP can safely reopen is a matter for HRP to consider in-line with government and Public Health England guidelines.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with representatives from Historic Royal Palaces on reinstating employer pension contributions at the level they were prior to the covid-19 outbreak; and if his Department will take steps to compensate workers affected by reductions in employer pension contributions introduced by that organisation in June 2020.

The Secretary of State has had no such discussions with HRP on reinstating pension contributions in respect of HRP’s staff, which is a matter for HRP to consider in consultation with their staff, as appropriate, in-line with the affordability of any such measures and their obligations as employers.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, how many members of House staff by department have (a) tested positive and (b) been hospitalised for covid-19; and if he will make a statement.

Testing is available to all staff of the House who are symptomatic, and is arranged directly by the individual. Results therefore are a matter for the individual only, alongside whether any hospital treatment is needed. The records held by the House will only indicate whether the member of staff is available for work or not.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, if he will ensure that a full return to Parliament during the covid-19 outbreak will only take place after discussion with the Health and Safety Executive; and if he will make a statement.

The Head of Parliamentary Safety has discussed with the Health and Safety Executive the key risks and control measures to allow everybody to work safely on the parliamentary estate during the Coronavirus outbreak. The Health and Safety Executive are content that the House administration is working to ensure Parliamentary business can continue, whilst meeting the Government guidelines to become “COVID-19 safe”. Regular discussions between the Head of Parliamentary Safety and the Health and Safety Executive will continue during the outbreak.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many and what proportion of children in receipt of free school meals have been fed through (a) the national voucher scheme, (b) school collection and distribution models and (c) other means since school closures due to the covid-19 outbreak.

As education is a devolved matter, this answer refers to free school meals in England only.

It is critically important that eligible children continue to receive benefits-related free school meals during this period. We have published guidance for schools explaining what they should do to make sure that eligible pupils have continued access to this provision, which is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

As of 28 April our supplier, Edenred, reported that over 16,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme and as of Monday 4 May, Edenred has reported that over £47 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme. We do not collect data at pupil level. The department does not hold information on the number of children that have been fed via school collection and distribution models or other means since school closures.

The department does not hold data regarding how many children have become eligible for free school meals since the school closures. This information will be collected as part of the school census. Schools and local authorities should continue to accept free school meal applications during the closures to ensure that newly eligible children are able to receive meals they are entitled to.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children have become eligible for free school meals since school closures as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

As education is a devolved matter, this answer refers to free school meals in England only.

It is critically important that eligible children continue to receive benefits-related free school meals during this period. We have published guidance for schools explaining what they should do to make sure that eligible pupils have continued access to this provision, which is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

As of 28 April our supplier, Edenred, reported that over 16,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme and as of Monday 4 May, Edenred has reported that over £47 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme. We do not collect data at pupil level. The department does not hold information on the number of children that have been fed via school collection and distribution models or other means since school closures.

The department does not hold data regarding how many children have become eligible for free school meals since the school closures. This information will be collected as part of the school census. Schools and local authorities should continue to accept free school meal applications during the closures to ensure that newly eligible children are able to receive meals they are entitled to.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking in addition to the Holiday Activities and Food programme for safeguarding children's access to food during the summer holidays 2020.

Responsibility for this policy area is devolved.

In England, the Holiday Activities and Food scheme is integral to our approach to provide healthy food to children over the summer and in 2019, our coordinators supported around 50,000 children. We are working with our 2020 coordinators to explore how support can be delivered in light of COVID-19.

In addition, the government continues to invest significantly each year on welfare benefits for people of working age, supporting people when they need it, including those who are out of work or on a low income. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the government has announced a package of temporary welfare measures. Taken together, these measures provide over £6.5bn of additional support through the welfare system for people affected by COVID-19

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much and what proportion of the funds on the cards of children entitled to free school meals was unspent in the latest period for which figures are available; and how much of those unspent funds were (a) rolled over, (b) allocated to the school budget, (b) allocated to caterers and (c) allocated to local authorities.

Responsibility for free school meals and disadvantage policy is devolved and is therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations.

Free school meals are intended as a benefit in kind, rather than a cash benefit, and our primary interest is that schools meet their legal duties to provide nutritious free lunches to eligible children. It is important that all pupils have access to healthy and nutritious meals at school and we would encourage all eligible children and parents to claim their free meals.

The department does not collect any information on the total or proportion of unspent funds at school or child level. We trust school leaders to make the best decisions in the interests of their pupils and it is right that they have flexibility around how they deliver free school meals. We know that some schools will allow pupils to carry over their benefit, however, we would not want to instruct schools to follow any specific approach nationally. We will consider how we can share the very best practice around the delivery of free school meals.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the value of (a) free school meals and (b) Pupil Premium that has not been claimed by eligible children in the most recent year for which figures are available.

Responsibility for free school meals and disadvantage policy is devolved and is therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations.

In England, free school meal eligibility is used as a proxy measure for allocating the pupil premium. This remains the best available measure at an individual pupil level and the most reliable predictor of academic underperformance. Focusing pupil premium on pupils who have claimed free school meals in the past 6 years ensures schools have additional resources to tackle the educational impact of household economic deprivation.

The continuing provision of free school meals to children from out of work families or those on low incomes is of the utmost importance to this government. Take-up of free school meals is strong, estimated at 89% of eligible pupils.

We want to make sure as many eligible pupils as possible are claiming their free school meals, and to make it as simple as possible for schools and local authorities to determine eligibility. To support this, we provide an Eligibility Checking System to make the checking process as quick and straightforward as possible for schools and local authorities. We have developed a model registration form to help schools encourage parents to sign up for free school meals. We also provide guidance to Jobcentre Plus advisers so that they can make Universal Credit recipients aware that they may also be entitled to wider benefits, including free school meals.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children eligible for free school meals are not registered to receive them.

Responsibility for free school meals and disadvantage policy is devolved and is therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations.

In England, free school meal eligibility is used as a proxy measure for allocating the pupil premium. This remains the best available measure at an individual pupil level and the most reliable predictor of academic underperformance. Focusing pupil premium on pupils who have claimed free school meals in the past 6 years ensures schools have additional resources to tackle the educational impact of household economic deprivation.

The continuing provision of free school meals to children from out of work families or those on low incomes is of the utmost importance to this government. Take-up of free school meals is strong, estimated at 89% of eligible pupils.

We want to make sure as many eligible pupils as possible are claiming their free school meals, and to make it as simple as possible for schools and local authorities to determine eligibility. To support this, we provide an Eligibility Checking System to make the checking process as quick and straightforward as possible for schools and local authorities. We have developed a model registration form to help schools encourage parents to sign up for free school meals. We also provide guidance to Jobcentre Plus advisers so that they can make Universal Credit recipients aware that they may also be entitled to wider benefits, including free school meals.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what (a) artificial intelligence and (b) machine learning projects are being (i) undertaken and (ii) considered for his Department.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central on 10 September 2020, PQ UIN 83796.

[questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2020-09-01/83796]

Defra recognises the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to play an important part in ensuring that data and science are at the heart of decision making.

All of Defra’s ongoing and previous research projects, including a number involving AI and ML, are published on Defra’s research and development website: randd.defra.gov.uk Planned projects are advertised on Bravo: defra.bravosolution.co.uk.

Areas particularly benefitting from these tools include the interpretation of Earth Observation and automated sensor data, the development of advanced modelling techniques, and improved customer service.

We will continue to work in partnership across Government, with academia and industry to develop the use of AI and ML for Defra.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation affects the right of recognised unions in her Department to bargaining information as set out in Section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

GDPR has not affected the rights of unions in Defra to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

George Eustice
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether her Department complies with the requirement set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

Defra, as with other Government Departments, has an obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off for safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

Defra Health and Safety representatives can use their paid facility time for the following TU duties (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Representing employees in consultation and discussions with the employer on health, safety or welfare,
  • Investigating accidents, near misses and other potential hazards and dangerous occurrences in the workplace
  • Investigating a complaint made by an employee they represent about their health, safety or welfare in the workplace
  • Undertaking training relevant to the role of H&S representative, beyond “Stage One”

Defra makes the following provisions to enable Health and Safety Representatives to discharge their duties effectively, without using facility time.

  • Undertaking “Stage One” Health and Safety training, as this course is recognised as providing good basic standard training and the department wants to ensure those carrying out Health and Safety functions are properly qualified
  • Carrying out inspections where they form part of an agreed joint program
  • Attending Joint Health and Safety Committee meetings

In line with the legislative obligation, set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), information relating to facility time in Defra for relevant union officials is published annually, with facility time defined by that Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official that is permitted by the official’s employer, including where this arises under “Regulations made under Section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974”.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

George Eustice
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation affects the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information as set out in Section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

GDPR has not affected the rights of unions in DExEU to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, whether his Department complies with the requirement set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

Yes. DExEU complies with this requirement; any safety representative employed by the Department would be entitled to time off with pay, which would not be set against facility time.

Obligations to provide reasonable paid time off to trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties include paid time off for safety representatives, as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Jun 2020
What assessment she has made of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on the accessibility of UK humanitarian support to people who need it.

There is no doubt that coronavirus restrictions have made it harder to reach those that need our help, whether because of disruption to supply chains or personnel. Our support for the UN’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan remains crucial. Through this, we support humanitarian access by securing the continuity of supply chains to the vulnerable, including refugees, Internally Displaced People, and host communities.

Our job is to get where others can’t.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what personal protective equipment is available for staff working on the Parliamentary Estate during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The provision of personal protective equipment to protect against coronavirus has been guided by Public Health England. After a review, they have advised that the only work on the estate that requires face masks for protection against the coronavirus is undertaken by the occupational health team.

Aprons and face masks for use by security officers are available for the security team to wear whilst processing a person through search and screening if they wish, but they are not an essential risk control.

Staff who normally wear PPE to protect themselves, for example those exposed to dusts, will continue to do so.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what discussions the Commission has had with trade unions as required by Health and Safety law in the completion of risk assessments to facilitate a full return to Parliament during the covid-19 outbreak for (a) staff, (b) hon. Members and (c) visitors; and if he will make a statement.

The House authorities on behalf of the House of Commons Commission have met with representatives of the Trades Unions for staff in the House of Commons and PDS formally at least three times per week since the beginning of March, and with representatives of Members’ and Peers’ Staff Association (MAPSA) and Unite as representatives of Members’ staff.

We have increased facility time for TU Safety officials and now have a full time TU resource working with the Parliamentary Safety Team on risk assessments.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation affects the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information as set out in Section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has not affected the rights of recognised Unions in DFID to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, whether his Department complies with the requirement set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

DFID, like all Government Departments, has an obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off for safety representatives, as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

In line with this legislative obligation, set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), information relating to facility time for relevant union officials is published annually, with facility time defined by that Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official that is permitted by the official’s employer (including where this arises under “regulations made under section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974”).

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether her Department complies with the requirement set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has an obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off for safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code. This is also referenced in the internal Industrial Relations Policy, which is accessible to staff.

DIT also publishes information relating to facility time for recognised trade union representatives at Gov.uk.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation affects the right of recognised unions in her Department to bargaining information as set out in Section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) works closely with our recognised Trade Unions and values the benefit of these effective working relationships in delivering the department’s objectives.

General Data Protection Regulation has not affected the rights of unions in DIT to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to respond to the correspondence form the hon. Member for Glasgow South West of 29 March 2021 and 8 June 2021 on the industrial dispute within the DVLA; and if he will make a statement.

The Department responded to your letter of 29 March on 9 April, and your letter of 8 June on 25 June. Copies of both are in the attached documents.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what (a) plans he has for and (b) discussions he has had with stakeholders on amending the law on driving theory test certificates as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The maximum duration of two years between passing the theory test and a subsequent practical test is in place for road safety reasons; to ensure that a candidate’s knowledge is current. This validity period is set in legislation and the Government has no current plans to lay further legislation to extend it.

It is important that road safety knowledge and hazard perception skills are up to date at the critical point that they drive unsupervised for the first time. Those with theory test certificates expiring may have taken their test in early 2019. Since then, their lessons and practice sessions will have been significantly curtailed during recent lockdowns and it is likely that their knowledge base will have diminished. Research suggests that this would be particularly harmful for hazard perception skills, a key factor in road safety.

Ensuring new drivers have current relevant knowledge and skills is a vital part of the training of new drivers, who are disproportionality represented in casualty statistics. Taking all this into consideration, the decision has been made not to extend theory test certificates and learners will need to pass another theory test if their certificate expires.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what (a) artificial intelligence and (b) machine learning projects are being (i) undertaken and (ii) considered for his Department.

Technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning have many potential applications including in the transport sector. Innovation teams across the DfT family support research and development initiatives conducted both within and outside of DfT.

One specific initiative is investigating a proof-of-concept study into a non-intrusive AI-model capable of detecting the number of face-coverings, and the number of uncovered faces, in an image. The model would then display message responses focussed on positive engagement. This work will not be able to identify or track individuals, and no images will be stored by the system.

We don’t hold information centrally regarding further AI or machine learning projects being undertaken or planned by the department at this time.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent advice his Department has received from Public Health England on the safe restarting of driving tests as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been the safety of its staff and the wider public. That remains its priority as it restarts its services.

The DVSA has consulted with Public Health England and has released an updated version of its standard operating procedure and risk assessments to driving examiners, which contains social distancing measures and safety precautions, to ensure the safe restart of driving tests. The DVSA is currently engaging with Scottish and Welsh Governments to ensure it engages with Health advisors before services are resumed in both.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has received advice from Public Health England on the safety of clinically vulnerable DVSA staff who conduct driving tests as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been the safety of its staff and the wider public. That remains its priority as it restarts its services.

The DVSA has consulted with Public Health England (PHE) to ensure the safety of all its staff when resuming testing services. The DVSA will be following the guidance PHE has provided to Government for those who are Extremely Clinically Vulnerable and those who are Clinically Vulnerable.

Driving examiners will wear face coverings on test and have the option to wear gloves and use disposable seat covers. Candidates will be asked to bring and wear a face covering attending for test, unless they have a good reason not to. Candidates are reminded they should not come for test if they have any symptoms or have been asked to self-isolate by test and trace. Similar guidance has been provided to the approved driving instructors.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what personal protective equipment will be provided to DVSA staff conducting driving tests; and if he will make a statement.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been the safety of its staff and the wider public. That remains its priority as it restarts its services.

To keep driving examiners safe, and help prevent the spread of coronavirus, examiners will wear face coverings and have the option to wear gloves and use disposable seat covers. These measures have been put in place following discussions with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Public Health England (PHE).

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has affected the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The assessment of the Department for Transport is that the General Data Protection Regulation has not affected the rights of unions in the DfT in relation to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether her Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

The Department for Transport provides trade union representatives with reasonable facility time to undertake trade union duties, union learning representative duties and health and safety duties. This is in line with the departmental policy, the Civil Service Management Code, the Cabinet Office Framework on Trade Union Facility Time and our legislative obligations. These include a requirement to publish, as set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), information relating to facility time for relevant union officials, with facility time defined by that Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official that is permitted by the official’s employer, including under “regulations made under section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974”.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress has been made on the rollout of yellow card warnings in place of immediate benefit sanctions.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer given for PQ 11582.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claims in each parliamentary constituency had sums deducted from their claim in the most recent month for which data is available; what the (a) average and (b) total sums deducted in each constituency were; and what proportion of deductions were to repay an advance payment or historic tax credit debt.

We carefully balance our duty to the taxpayer to recover overpayments with our support for claimants. Safeguards are in place to ensure deductions are manageable. From 12 April 2021, we further reduced the cap on deductions from Universal Credit (UC) awards to 25 per cent and lengthened the payback period from 12 to 24 months meaning in effect someone can receive 25 payments over 24 months, giving them more flexibility over the payments of their UC award. This will also allow claimants to retain more of their award, giving additional financial security.

Customers can contact the Department if they are experiencing financial hardship in order to discuss a reduction in their rate of repayment, depending on financial circumstances.

The information requested is provided in the attached spreadsheet.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when she expects to publish her Department's review of the drivers of food bank demand.

The Department reallocated resources to prioritise work to help the COVID-19 effort. This caused delays to some work, including this literature review. The review summarises publicly available information and does not contain any new research carried out by the Department.

The Department has recently published new data from the Family Resources Survey on household food security, giving us a better understanding of who is most at risk. This underlines how seriously we take the issue of food insecurity.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, by what date she plans to (a) commence and (b) complete the rollout of recorded personal independence payment assessments for all applicants that wish to opt for one.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claimants, invited to a telephone assessment, can opt to have their assessment recorded by assessment providers, who will provide the equipment necessary to allow this service to proceed.

The department is currently working with PIP assessment providers to deliver an audio recording service for face to face assessments, that removes the requirement for the claimant to provide the equipment. Work is also ongoing to introduce an audio recording facility for video assessments. This will bring the audio recording of face to face and video assessments in line with the recording of telephone assessments and we aim to complete both as soon as it is practically possible.

Currently, PIP claimants invited to a face to face assessment, can record their assessment themselves, subject to the conditions set by the department. These are listed in the PIP Assessment Guide, and are contained within correspondence sent to claimants from the assessment providers.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many children live in households that are subject to the under-occupancy penalty.

The removal of the spare room subsidy policy has been an important tool to help to manage housing support expenditure and enable mobility within the social rented sector. For those who require additional support with housing costs, Discretionary Housing Payments are available.

The information requested for households in Housing Benefit is published and available at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk

Guidance for users is available at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

The information for Universal Credit is not readily available.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of (a) claimants subject to the under-occupancy penalty are sick or disabled and (b) households subject to the under-occupancy penalty contain at least one person who is sick or disabled.

The information requested is not readily available for part (a) and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Some of the information requested for part (b) is published and available at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk link is external within the sections on “Housing Benefit” and “Households on Universal Credit”.

Guidance for users is available at: https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of households subject to the under-occupancy penalty contain at least one child.

The information requested is published and available at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk within the sections on “Housing Benefit” and “Households on Universal Credit”.

Guidance for users is available at: https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of new claims for universal credit were paid in full and on time in each of the most recent 12 months for which data are available.

Monthly Universal Credit payment timeliness statistics for new claims are published in the Households on Universal Credit section of Stat-Xplore and can be found at:

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

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

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

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department plans to give all applicants the automatic right to have their assessment for sickness or disability benefits recorded; and if she will make a statement.

The option for a claimant to request an Audio Recording of their PIP Telephone Assessment is available with both Assessment Providers and also for Work Capability Assessments undertaken over the telephone.

The Department is currently working with both PIP Assessment Providers to deliver an audio recording service for face to face assessments that removes the requirement for the Claimant to provide the equipment. This will bring the audio recording of PIP face to face assessments in line with the audio recording of telephone assessments. The option of audio recording a face to face assessment is already available for Work Capability Assessments and IIDB assessments where requested in advance by the claimant.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many households were subject to the under-occupancy penalty; what the total size was of the reduction in benefit payments resulting from the under-occupancy penalty; and what the average reduction per affected claimant was, by parliamentary constituency, in the most recent 12 month period for which data are available.

The information requested is published and available at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk within the sections on “Housing Benefit” and “Households on Universal Credit”.

For the total size of reduction in benefit payments average reduction per affected claimant “RSRS reduction” with “measures” will need to be used. Guidance for users is available at: https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress her Department has made on plans to roll out yellow card warnings in place of immediate benefit sanctions.

The Department committed to look at processes to give claimants a written warning, instead of a sanction, for a first sanctionable failure to attend a Work-Search Review. Before making an assessment of the merits of extending such a system we are under-taking a series of small-scale Proof of Concepts of this warning system.

The increase in claimants due to Covid has led to a pause in this testing in order to prioritise support for claimants during this difficult time.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of claimants attending face-to-face appointments in job centres by region since the easing of covid-19 restrictions was applied to those centres in late April 2021.

Throughout the pandemic, Jobcentres remained open for anyone who needed face-to-face support. From April, all Jobcentres in England, Scotland and Wales returned to their pre-lockdown opening hours and restarted face-to-face appointments, in accordance with government guidelines. As of w/c 24 May we estimate that 273,318 claimants have attended booked face-to-face appointments in England, 20,997 in Scotland and 15,877 in Wales.

Please note that the data supplied is derived from unpublished management information which was collected for internal Departmental use only and has not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard. The data should therefore be treated with caution.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of claimants who failed to attend a face-to-face appointment in a jobcentre since the extended openings began in late April 2021 have since been referred to decision makers for sanction.

Monthly sanction referral statistics for those people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance (Work Related Activity Group), Income Support and Universal Credit (Live Service) are available by referral reason and are published quarterly at:

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

Guidance for users is available at:

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

The latest statistics are available to January 2021, with the statistics to April 2021 and July 2021 expected to be published in August 2021 and November 2021 respectively.

Sanction referral statistics for those people claiming Universal Credit (Full Service) are not readily available and to provide them would incur disproportionate cost.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what comparative assessment she has made of the effectiveness of a return to face-to-face appointments for groups of claimants in job centres and other channels including telephone and digital that were introduced in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

No comparative assessment of face-to-face appointments for groups of claimants in jobcentres and other channels has currently been made.

The return to a face-to-face regime is based on evidence from past large scale trials of what interventions work best for out of work benefits claimants. These show that face-to-face performs better than telephony and that seeing a claimant fortnightly produces substantially better outcomes than not seeing claimants at all.

https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130314010347/http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rrs-index.asp (report 382)

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans the Government has to give British Sign Language legal status.

On 18 March 2003 the UK government formally recognised that British Sign Language (BSL) is a language in its own right. Provision for accessing services by users of BSL are covered by the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Existing equality legislation already means employers, service providers and public bodies have to provide services in BSL and other formats when it is reasonable to do so. The Public Sector Equality Duty requires public bodies to have due regard to the needs of all those with protected characteristics.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 21 January 2021 to Question 139055 on Personal Independence Payment: coronavirus, whether his Department plans to automatically apply extensions to all personal independence payments claimants, including those with a fixed term period decision awarded at a tribunal where a decision on their new award could not be made before they reach their end award date.

As referenced in my previous answer, as part of its response to the Covid-19 situation, in Spring 2020 the Department extended award dates for existing PIP claims. We restarted the PIP award review process in July. New decisions made since then will not have had their awards extended. However, we are aware that some claimants on fixed term awards without a review date are now falling out of payment before we have been able to make a decision on renewal claims they have made. We are prioritising these cases to ensure we can make a decision as quickly as possible.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the introduction of means-testing for the TV licence concession for people aged over 75 on levels of pension credit take-up.

No assessment has been made. The latest estimates of Pension Credit take-up, published in October 2020, relate to the financial year 2018/19 and do not reflect any potential impacts of the BBC TV license.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what (a) risk assessments and (b) discussions with trade unions her Department conducted in preparation for the full reopening of jobcentres on 12 April 2021.

Ahead of the return to full opening hours and the restart of face-to-face appointments, every jobcentre has reviewed all relevant site risk assessments, including the Jobcentre Claimant Facing Risk Assessment, in consultation with local Trade Union representatives. We have maintained an open dialogue with Departmental Trade Union Side, meeting with them weekly to discuss our plans for the 12 April (and 26 April in Scotland), and giving them opportunity to review and comment on all of the supporting products we have provided for our people, and, wherever possible, making changes to reflect their feedback and concerns.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many recipients of employment and support allowance are eligible for, but not receiving, severe disability premium.

The Department does not hold the information necessary to provide the requested figure.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to maximise take-up of Severe Disability Premium among eligible recipients of (a) Pension Credit and (b) employment and support allowance.

The severe disability premium in Employment and Support Allowance and the additional amounts for persons severely disabled in State Pension Credit are not separate benefits in themselves but are payable as part of the award to those who are eligible, i.e. those severely disabled people who live independently and who are most likely to need to purchase care. When a claim to either benefit is made, the claimant is asked questions, for example if they are in receipt of a qualifying disability benefit or if anybody is caring for them, which helps to determine if the premium or the additional amount is payable. Once entitled to the benefit, claimants are required to report any change of circumstance including ones which may lead to the awarding of the premium or the additional amount. The Department also makes use of the information that it holds to prompt enquiries of the claimant as to possible entitlement to the premium or the additional amount. There is information for claimants about the severe disability premium and the additional amount for persons severely disabled on the relevant pages of www.gov.uk.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people are repaying overpayments of carer's allowance; and what the total value being repaid is.

As of 13th April 2021, 42,400 people were repaying Carer’s Allowance overpayments.

The total original value of those debts was just over £138million; the total amount currently outstanding is £89million.

The Department has a duty to recover overpaid benefits as quickly and efficiently as possible, but it is not intended that the recovery of an overpayment should cause any customer undue financial hardship.

Overpayment recovery of Carer’s Allowance, as with all benefits is subject to various legislative limitations and safeguards.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many recipients of pension credit are eligible for, but not receiving, severe disability premium.

The information requested is not available.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the return of staff for the full reopening of jobcentres on 12 April 2021, how many staff were expected to return immediately; how much notice they were given; and whether individual covid-19 risk assessments were carried out.

We take the health and safety of colleagues extremely seriously, and are absolutely committed to ensuring all our sites remain COVID secure in line with Public Health and Government guidance to keep colleagues and customers safe. We have adopted a slow, steady and safe approach to returning colleagues to the workplace, with the number of colleagues able to return varying by site and based on the COVID secure capacity of the jobcentre. An announcement about the department’s intention to return to full opening hours and restart face-to-face appointments was made by the Permanent Secretary on the 18th March. In advance of their return to the workplace, every colleague, including those who were in the clinically extremely vulnerable group, is having a one-to-one with their manager to make sure they are aware of the support available to them.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claims in each parliamentary constituency had deductions taken from them by her Department in the most recent month for which that data is available; what the average size of the sums so deducted was in each of those constituencies; what the total sum so deducted from those claims was in each of those constituencies; and what proportion of each of those sums so deducted was used to repay advance payments.

From 3rd April 2020, deductions from Universal Credit for some government debt, such as Tax Credits, benefit overpayments and Social Fund Loans were suspended for 3 months. This was done to ease the financial pressure of debt recovery on benefit claimants and to also allow Debt Management staff to be re-deployed to focus on the unprecedented volume of new claims received during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Universal Credit advance repayments are made gradually over 12 months, and deductions are capped at 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance. This is further to the reduction of the overall maximum level of deductions from 40% to 30% of the standard allowance since October 2019.

From April 2021, the repayment period will be extended from 12 months to 24 months and the deductions cap will be reduced from 30% to 25%.

For those who find themselves in unexpected hardship, advance repayments can be deferred for up to three months in certain cases.

The requested information surrounding deductions to Universal Credit payments by parliamentary constituency is shown in the attached table.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the Average Working Days Lost was for civil servants in her Department (a) from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds and (b) recording themselves as White in the calendar year (a) 2019 and (b) 2020.

The Department only holds information relating to its own staff. Average working days lost figures are calculated on rolling year to date basis, therefore the following data relate to the year to 31 December. Due to the way that data is structured in our systems we do not hold this data in the format requested and it could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Declaration of ethnicity is not mandatory, however as at December 2020, 87.8 per cent of staff have declared their ethnicity.

Dec-20

Ethnic Minority

5.35

White

5.57

Unknown

6.13

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions,what the Average Working Days Lost was for civil servants in her Department who have (a) declared themselves as having a disability and (b) not declared themselves to have a disability in the calendar year (i) 2019 and (ii) 2020.

The Department only holds information relating to its own staff. Average working days lost figures are calculated on rolling year to date basis, therefore the following data relate to the year to 31 December. Due to the way that data is structured in our systems we do not hold this data in the format requested and it could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Dec-20

Disabled

9.16

Non Disabled

5.07

Unknown

5.72

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the Average Working Days Lost was for civil servants in her Department (a) aged 30 and younger, (b) 30 to 50, (c) 50 to 60 and (d) over 60 in the calendar year (i) 2019 and (ii) 2020.

The Department only holds information relating to its own staff. Average working days lost figures are calculated on rolling year to date basis, therefore the following data relates to the rolling year to 31 December.

Dec-19

Dec-20

29 and Younger

8.08

4.85

30 to 49

7.80

5.36

50 to 59

8.11

5.87

60 and Over

9.83

7.17

Other

0.00

0.00

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of her Department's compliance with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

I refer the Hon Member to the answer given on 24 February to question number 155175 at https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-02-19/155175.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the (a) total and (b) average size was of deductions from universal credit claimants; and how many claimants had deductions taken, in the most recent month for which data is available.

Deductions are currently capped at 30% of the claimant’s standard allowance down from 40% previously. This is due to reduce further to 25% of the claimant’s standard allowance in October this year

For Universal Credit claims with a payment due during November 2020, 2,128,000 (44% of all claims) had a deduction. The total amount deducted was £166,330,000 (around 5% of the total amount of UC paid during November 2020), with an average of £78 deducted per claim.

Notes:

1. Deductions include advance repayments, third party deductions and other deductions but exclude sanctions and fraud penalties which are reductions of benefit rather than deductions.

2. Number of claims rounded to the nearest 1,000, total deducted rounded to the nearest £10,000.

3. Amount of Universal Credit paid reflects the amount of money paid to claimants and their landlords as part of their award, including the amount which they would have been entitled to had it not been deducted. It does not include other payments such as advances and hardship payments.

4. Figures are affected by the impact of the temporary suspension of some deduction types due to Covid-19. During April 2020, government deductions were temporarily suspended and only began to be reinstated from July. As of November, these had not been fully returned.

5. Figures are provisional and are subject to retrospective change as later data becomes available.

6. Claim numbers may not match official statistics caseloads due to small methodological differences.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the effect of universal credit deductions on the (a) levels and (b) depth of child poverty.

No assessment has been made.

Tackling poverty will always be a priority for this Government. Our recent focus has rightly been on supporting people financially during these unprecedented times, with an injection of billions of pounds to strengthen the welfare system in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including a temporary increase in the Universal Credit Standard Allowance to support those facing the most financial disruption. Through the Covid Winter Grant Scheme, announced on 9 November, we are extending that support with an additional £170m for local authorities in England so that they can support families with children and other vulnerable people with the cost of food and essential utilities this winter.

From October 2019, the overall maximum level for standard deductions is normally limited to 30% of a claimant’s Standard Allowance except for last-resort deductions. From October 2021, this is being reduced to 25% of the claimant’s standard allowance except for last-resort deductions. We recognise the importance of safeguarding the welfare of claimants who have incurred debt, so last resort deductions can be applied to protect vulnerable claimants from eviction and/or having their fuel supply disconnected, by providing an affordable repayment plan for arrears of these essential services.

Claimants can ask for New Claims and Change of Circumstances Advance repayments to be delayed for up to 3 months in exceptional circumstances.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average number of working days lost (AWDL) was for (a) female and (b) male civil servants in (i) 2019 and (ii) 2020.

The Department only holds information relating to its own staff. Average working days lost figures are calculated on rolling year to date basis, therefore the following data relate to the year to 31 December.

Female

Male

Dec-19

8.91

6.89

Dec-20

6.24

4.88

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

DWP recognises the importance of the Health & Safety representative role and is compliant with the requirements in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code. Arrangements are set out in our Employee Relations Framework which has been the subject of extensive consultation with our trade unions and was most recently reviewed in 2020. We allocate official time as necessary for example in response to serious incidents and to enable training for new H&S representatives, we have also treated all Covid related safety work as official time and keep this under regular review.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people were in receipt of universal credit at the start of February 2021 in Glasgow.

The available information on the number of people on Universal Credit, by local authority, is published monthly and can be found at:

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

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

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

Note:

The latest statistics show those on Universal Credit as at 14 January 2021. Statistics for

February 2021 will be published in March 2021.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants in Glasgow are in receipt of universal credit.

The available information on the number of people on Universal Credit, by local authority, is published monthly and can be found at:

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

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

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

Note:

The latest statistics show those on Universal Credit as at 14 January 2021. Statistics for

February 2021 will be published in March 2021.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claimants living in households with (a) children and (b) disabled people had deductions taken from their claim in the most recent month for which data is available.

Data on the number of Universal Credit claimants living in households with (a) children and (b) disabled people is not available.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to support workers eligible for furlough during the covid-19 outbreak who have been denied payments; and if she will make a statement.

It would not be for the Department for Work and Pensions to comment on why workers eligible for furlough have been denied payments.

Those who are out of work or who are on a low income can claim Universal Credit and/or New Style JSA or ESA, if they are entitled.

Help to Claim is available online, over the phone and face to face through local Citizens Advice offices.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure workers eligible for furlough who have been denied payments are eligible for social security support; and if she will make a statement.

It would not be for the Department for Work and Pensions to comment on why workers eligible for furlough have been denied payments.

Those who are out of work or who are on a low income can claim Universal Credit and/or New Style JSA or ESA, if they are entitled.

Help to Claim is available online, over the phone and face to face through local Citizens Advice offices.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many service centres are being used to house HMRC staff at weekends for the purposes of overtime; and whether her Department is carrying out regular risk assessments on those service centre arrangements.

We have no records of HMRC staff using DWP service centres to undertake overtime. HMRC staff are bound by their own policies in relation to both overtime and working outside of their normal office, including observing all health and safety policies.

All of our offices are COVID secure and are subject to risk assessments to ensure that occupancy levels are safe and that social distancing can be maintained.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department’s staff recruited through agencies are paid their full wage during covid-19 related absences.

Temporary agency workers are brought into the department through the commercial arrangements under the Crown Commercial Service, Public Sector Resourcing framework, and are supplied by Brook Street.

Agency workers recruited by Brook Street to work in the department are currently receiving 80 per cent of their wage during Covid-19 related absences. This arrangement was implemented with the agreement of HM Treasury following the end of the central Government Contingent Labour Compensation Scheme on 31 October 2020.

The 80 per cent payment mirrors both the previous scheme referred to above and the arrangements in place under the government Job Retention Scheme.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much in addition to wages has been paid to Brook Street for the recruitment of staff to her Department since March 2020.

The information requested is commercially sensitive and cannot be disclosed as it will impair the commercial interests of the Department and its ability to obtain goods and services on the best possible commercial terms.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of staff recruited to her Department by Brook Street becoming (a) fixed-term appointments and (b) permanent.

Under ‘Civil Service Recruitment Principles’ for any agency workers to become either fixed term or permanent appointments there would need to be an externally advertised recruitment exercise where they could be assessed alongside other applicants.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many staff across her Department can currently work from home; and what steps she is taking to improve access to the necessary equipment to increase home working in her Department.

Since March 2020 we have increased the number of colleagues with the IT to enable them to work more flexibly by over 50,000, meaning almost 74,000 people in total have equipment to enable them to work from home. This is approximately 81% of our workforce. Every day more colleagues are able to work from home as we continue to roll out more IT equipment to ensure that everyone in DWP is enabled to work from home where appropriate by the end of March 2021.

We are limiting how many colleagues remain working in an office setting in order to balance the need to provide essential public facing services for citizens, whilst maintaining safe social distancing in line with Government / Devolved Administration guidelines. Examples of such roles are some of our Jobcentre services (which provide vital face to face support for our most vulnerable citizens), and clerical processes such as Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit applications.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of staff in her Department are able to work from home during the covid-19 outbreak; and what steps she is taking to ensure that employees have access to the necessary equipment to permit home working.

Since March 2020 we have increased the number of colleagues with the IT to enable them to work more flexibly by over 50,000, meaning almost 74,000 people in total have equipment to enable them to work from home. This is approximately 81 per cent of our workforce. Every day more colleagues are able to work from home as we continue to roll out more IT equipment to ensure that everyone in DWP is enabled to work from home where appropriate by the end of March 2021.

We are limiting how many colleagues remain working in an office setting in order to balance the need to provide essential public facing services for citizens, whilst maintaining safe social distancing in line with Government / Devolved Administration guidelines. Examples of such roles are some of our Jobcentre services (which provide vital face to face support for our most vulnerable citizens), and clerical processes such as Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit applications.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many personal independence payments claimants have had their award ended without an extension between 1 October 2020 and 18 January 2021.

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

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether it is her Department’s policy that all personal independence payments claims due to end between March 2020 and January 2021 should have been extended.

The Department has been automatically applying extension of awards of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for all claims due to end between March 2020 and January 2021, except those where a new decision has been made since review and reassessment activity resumed in July. Additionally, a small number of awards have not been extended where action on their case is pending. These are not included in Covid-19 easements and will not be extended as part of this exercise.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, claimants with personal independent payment claims in which period since March 2020 should have had their claim extended.

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

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether personal independence payments (PIP) claimants will have their PIP awards extended on more than one occasion if the extension date ends during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department has been automatically applying extension of awards of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for all claims due to end during the Covid-19 outbreak, except those where a new decision has been made since review and reassessment activity resumed in July. Further extensions are being applied where a decision on their new award could not be made before they reach their end of award date.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many new personal independence payments claims are open and awaiting an assessment prior to a final decision on award as at 18 January 2021.

On 31st October 2020, the latest date for which data is available, there were 95,930 Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Normal Rules new claims that had been referred to the Assessment Provider but were yet to be returned to DWP following an assessment.

Notes

Source: PIP ADS

  • PIP analytical data held by the Department does not contain the date the assessment takes place. As a proxy, we use the date an assessment was returned from the Assessment Providers to the Department. This is usually a few days following the assessment.
  • The answer includes Normal Rules new claims only
  • This is unpublished data. It may be subject to future revision.
  • Figures are for Great Britain only.
  • The status of claims as 'normal rules' and 'new claim/reassessment' is the status at the point of referral to the Assessment Provider. It is possible for claims to transition between normal/special rules and new claims/reassessments during the course of the claimant journey.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether job centre staff working from home due to health concerns in relation to covid-19 are to be expected to attend a job centre for Saturday opening.

Throughout the pandemic, Jobcentres have remained open to help any claimant who needs face-to-face support, and who we cannot get help in any other way. We have made all of our Jobcentres COVID secure, not only for our staff but for claimants, by introducing a range of safety measures, including screened desks, social distancing signage, mandatory face coverings for customers, the provision of hand sanitiser, and regular touch point cleaning.

In line with public health guidance, colleagues are only advised to follow shielding advice if they receive a new written shielding notification. Colleagues who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable are not being asked to work from the office and equipment has been provided to enable them to work from home.

Colleagues who are permanent members of teams in Jobcentres which are open on Saturdays, including those currently working from home, are included in this change. This ensures that everyone, regardless of their current working situation, is treated equally.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the length of front line interviews by her Department's staff on the number of people claiming Universal Credit.

The frequency of interventions that Universal Credit Work Coaches undertake with claimants is determined by the individual circumstances of the claimant, the duration of their claim, and the level of support required at that particular time. Since Covid restrictions began earlier this year, claimants have been supported by Work Coaches applying a more flexible approach. The Claimant Commitment interview was shortened to enable work coaches to support as many claimants as they can back into work. The length of this interview will be reviewed against our Work Coach recruitment plans and subsequent operational capacity.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of effect of the length interview times between work coaches and new claimants on the number of people claiming Universal Credit; and what her timescale is for returning interview lengths to 50 minutes per session.

The frequency of interventions that Universal Credit Work Coaches undertake with claimants is determined by the individual circumstances of the claimant, the duration of their claim, and the level of support required at that particular time. Since Covid restrictions began earlier this year, claimants have been supported by Work Coaches applying a more flexible approach. The Claimant Commitment interview was shortened to enable work coaches to support as many claimants as they can back into work. The length of this interview will be reviewed against our Work Coach recruitment plans and subsequent operational capacity.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claims have been subject to deductions; what the average amount was of those deductions; what the total sum deducted from those claims was; and what proportion of those deductions was, on average, for the purposes of repaying advance payments, in each constituency, in the most recent month for which data are available.

From 3rd April 2020, deductions from Universal Credit for some government debt, such as Tax Credits, benefit overpayments and Social Fund Loans were suspended for 3 months. This was done to ease the financial pressure of debt recovery on benefit claimants and to also allow Debt Management staff to be re-deployed to focus on the unprecedented volume of new claims received during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Universal Credit advance repayments are made gradually over 12 months, and deductions are capped at 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance. This is further to the reduction of the overall maximum level of deductions from 40% to 30% of the standard allowance since October 2019.

From October 2021, the repayment period will be extended from 12 months to 24 months deductions cap will be reduced from 30% to 25%.

For those who find themselves in unexpected hardship, advance repayments can be deferred for up to three months in certain cases.

The requested information surrounding deductions to Universal Credit payments by parliamentary constituency is shown in the attached table.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether benefit sanctions will continue to be applied by her Department during the period of the new national covid-19 lockdown from 5 November 2020; and if she will make a statement.

In March 2020 we switched off conditionality requirements so that we could concentrate on processing the unprecedented number of new and existing claims.

From the 1st of July, we reintroduced Claimant Commitments as we were able to again tailor reasonable requirements asking claimants to prepare and look for work where it was safe to do so in line with social distancing rules. These commitments will be amended as necessary to account for any new lockdown guidance.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what (a) artificial intelligence and (b) machine learning projects are being (i) undertaken and (ii) considered for her Department.

The Department will make use of Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning technologies where it is appropriate across many areas of work.

· Identity, Trust & Verification - Robust identity verification and authentication provides us with the confidence that people interacting with us are who they say they are. This is essential to our ambitions in enabling self-service and to safeguarding the public purse and to reduce verification demands where it is unnecessary.

· Process Automation – We incrementally utilise robotic automations on some existing processes to remove the need for routine administrative work and to speed up the processing of claims and changes to be timely, with less backlogs.

· Signposting & Support Offers for Citizen Outcomes– We are exploring how to provide a more relevant non-financial support offer for customers, more tailored signposting to provision, more preventative interventions for the individual and more effective place and sector-based interventions.

· Countering Fraud, Error and Debt – We are developing our counter fraud and error risk services to help prevent and reduce fraud and error losses. Our aim is to increasingly prevent fraud and error at the point of contact with customers and to reduce costs of interventions.

· Cyber Security – This means continuously evolving our cyber security and resilience to detect rapidly moving security threats as we increase our on-line presence.

In all cases our own data experts assure these results, learn at scale and iteratively improve.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of automatically registering all eligible pensioners for pension credit.

It is a long-established policy of all governments, that provision of income-related benefits is contingent on a person making a valid claim. Like other means-tested benefits, Pension Credit eligibility and award amounts are determined by a person’s financial and personal circumstances and it is the responsibility of the person making a claim to provide the correct and accurate information required to establish entitlement.

Pension Credit is intended to target help at the poorest pensioner households. It would not therefore be practical to automatically register everyone of State Pension age for Pension Credit when the majority of them will simply not qualify. There may also be pensioners, who might qualify for Pension Credit, who do not wish to claim it.

In 2010 the Department ran an innovative pilot scheme to try to boost take-up of Pension Credit. The trial involved automatically paying Pension Credit to some 2,000 people who the Department had identified as possibly having entitlement to Pension Credit without them having to make an actual claim first. At the end of the trial the group were invited to go on and make a claim. The level of take-up was surprisingly low and disappointing, with less than 9% of those involved going on to take up their entitlement. It was therefore not considered a viable and cost effective mechanism to take forward. A copy of the evaluation of the pilot is available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/214583/rrep796.pdf.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of eligible pensioners in each parliamentary constituency are (a) in receipt of and (b) have made claims for pension credit.

Information on the number of Pension Credit claimants in each parliamentary constituency as of February 2020 is published and available at https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk.

The information requested on the proportion of pensioners eligible to Pension Credit who are in receipt of the benefit is only available at the Great Britain level. The latest data for 2017/18 is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/income-related-benefits-estimates-of-take-up-financial-year-2017-to-2018.

The DWP publishes annual take-up statistics for income-related benefits, including Pension Credit. These are estimates based on data collected through the Family Resource Survey as well as DWP administrative data. However, the sample sizes available from the survey data are not large enough to enable reliable take-up statistics to be produced at sub-national level e.g. for parliamentary constituencies.

We do not hold the information requested on the number and proportion of claims made by eligible pensioners for pension credit in each parliamentary constituency.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many job centres have closed as a result of safety concerns in relation to covid-19 since 1 August 2020; and if she will make a statement.

No job centres have closed as a result of safety concerns since the 1 August 2020.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many staff have been recruited to her Department (a) at each location and (b) in each category of work in each week since July 2020.

DWP has 877 locations and has recruited into over a quarter of these during July and August 2020. The number of staff recruited by each Group and number of locations is as follows:

Business Group

Month

Number of staff recruited

Number of locations

Change

July 2020

0

0

August 2020

Less than 5

1

Communications

July 2020

0

0

August 2020

Less than 5

1

Digital

July 2020

11

5

August 2020

13

6

Finance

July 2020

Less than 5

3

August 2020

Less than 5

3

People and Capability

July 2020

Less than 5

2

August 2020

Less than 5

2

Policy

July 2020

6

2

August 2020

15

6

Service Excellence

July 2020

Less than 5

2

August 2020

7

5

Work and Health

July 2020

680

171

August 2020

1095

125

Total

1846

334

Data has been provided by month and to end August 2020 as weekly data is not available for all recruitment.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent discussions her Department has had with staff representatives in the Department on its recruitment programme.

Since 1 April 2020 the Department has held regular discussions with our Departmental Trade Union Side on our recruitment programme. Specific discussions on recruitment have taken place on at least ten separate occasions.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claims in each parliamentary constituency had deductions taken from them in the most recent month for which data is available; what the average deduction was in each constituency; and what proportion of each sum was deducted to repay advance payments.

The requested information surrounding deductions to Universal Credit payments by parliamentary constituency is shown in the attached table.

Universal Credit advance repayments are made gradually over 12 months, and deductions are capped at 30% of claimants’ standard allowance. This is further to the reduction of the overall maximum level of deductions from 40% to 30% of the standard allowance since October 2019.

From October 2021, the repayment period will be extended from 12 months to 24 months and the reduction of the deductions cap from 30% to 25%.

For those who find themselves in unexpected hardship, advance repayments can be deferred for up to three months in certain cases.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of safety screens installed at jobcentres; and whether her Department has received any reports of such screens being unfit for purpose.

In order to provide additional protection to both colleagues and the public against droplets potentially containing coronavirus, following BEIS guidance and the completion of risk assessments a mitigation of a physical barrier is required during extended face to face customer interactions. There have been no reports or incidents that would suggest the screen design is not fit for purpose.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the number of whether additional staff will be required to process social security cases once claimant conditionality is reintroduced, and if she will make a statement.

Jobcentres have remained open throughout, providing support to our most vulnerable customers. In line with the easing of restrictions in England, from 1st July, people will be able to make an appointment with their Work Coach if they can’t get the help they want online or over the phone. Work Coaches, as part of the individualised approach, will be calling all claimants to engage with them. We will continue to be align with current guidance from Scotland and Wales.

The Department is continually assessing the service being offered to customers and we continue to keep staff numbers under review as part of our response to the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market. We have already committed to increasing the number of Work Coaches and Case Managers and recruitment is already underway.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people were awaiting an assessment for (a) personal independence payments, (b) employment and support allowance and (c) the limited capability for work component of universal credit in each of the most recent six months for which data is available.

In each of the most recent six months, the number of individuals claiming Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC) with either an assessment scheduled or awaiting scheduling in the UK can be found in the table below.

The department continues to process both New Claims and Changes of Circumstance and encourage anyone with a change in their needs to contact the Department so that we can ensure they are receiving the correct level of support.

We are unable to separate out individuals for the Limited Capability for Work element of Universal Credit and have therefore provided the total number of individuals claiming Universal Credit awaiting an assessment.

Dec-19

Jan-20

Feb-20

Mar-20

Apr-20

May-20

PIP

168,310

184,340

193,800

164,720

156,620

132,640

ESA

87,500

81,100

73,650

81,770

101,010

115,680

UC

62,740

60,080

59,030

83,190

120,080

143,120

Please note: data has been rounded to the nearest 10.

The data provided is derived from unpublished contractual management information produced by the Assessment Providers which was collected for Internal Departmental use only and has not been quality assured to Official Statistics Publication standards.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people are waiting for an assessment for (a) personal independence payments, (b) employment and support allowance and (c) the limited capability for work component of universal credit as at 15 June 2020.

The information requested is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many assessments for (a) personal independence payments, (b) employment and support allowance and (c) the limited capability for work component of universal credit were scheduled to take place after 1 March 2020; and how many of those assessments have taken place.

Our priority throughout this Covid-19 period continues to be to protect the public and staff, while ensuring people receive the benefits they are entitled to quickly and safely. We suspended face-to-face assessments, reviews and reassessments. We continue to assess people based on written evidence alone, where that is possible, and have introduced telephone assessments. We also automatically extended awards where necessary for certain health and disability benefits, providing reassurance to those in receipt of them. This action enabled us to prioritise activity on new claims and changes of circumstances.

The number of assessments that were scheduled to have taken place between 1 March 2020 and 30 May 2020 and the number of assessments that took place during that time can be found in the table below:

Assessments Scheduled

Assessments Completed

PIP

187,700

117,050

ESA

20,370

14,500

UC

34,530

19,890

Please note:

Data has been rounded to the nearest 10.

Figures do not include paper based reviews.

PIP

The Assessments Scheduled data has been produced by the assessment providers (Capita and Independent Assessment Services).

The Assessments Completed data is derived from unpublished contractual management information produced by the assessment providers which was collected for internal departmental use only and has not been quality assured to Official Statistics Publication standards.

Face-to-face assessments for PIP were paused due to Covid-19 from 17 March 2020. Telephone assessments began a piloted roll out from 23 March 2020 for Capita and 03 April 2020 for IAS.

ESA and UC

Face-to-face assessments for UC and ESA were paused due to Covid-19 from 17 March 2020. Telephone assessments began a piloted roll out from 04 May 2020 where only Limited Capability for Work Related Activity recommendations were being made.

The department continues to process both New Claims and Changes of Circumstance and encourage anyone with a change in their needs to contact the Department so that we can ensure they are receiving the correct level of support.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many new applications for universal credit there were in each constituency since 1 March 2020.

Statistics for Universal Credit claims by postcode area, and starts by postcode area and Jobcentre Plus office can be found on Stat-Xplore:

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

The available information on the number of households with children on Universal Credit, by parliamentary constituency, is published and can be found at:

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

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

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

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many new applications there were for universal credit by households with children in each constituency since 1 March 2020.

Statistics for Universal Credit claims by postcode area, and starts by postcode area and Jobcentre Plus office can be found on Stat-Xplore:

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

The available information on the number of households with children on Universal Credit, by parliamentary constituency, is published and can be found at:

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

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

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

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claimants have been sanctioned since 1 March 2020.

We took the decision to temporarily suspend for 3 months the requirement for face-to-face Jobcentre Plus appointments for all claimants in Universal Credit, New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), old-style JSA and ESA, and Income Support. They will continue to receive benefits as normal and they will not be sanctioned for not taking part in appointments with Jobcentres.

The number of Universal Credit claimants who have been sanctioned is published quarterly. The latest figures for Universal Credit sanction rates are up to February 2020 and can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-work-pensions/about/statistics

Additional breakdowns of the figures can be found at:

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

Guidance for users is available at:

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

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the potential effect of the two-child limit on the (a) extent and (b) depth of child poverty.

The Government has committed to annual statistics releases related to the operation of this policy.

Statistics for 2018/19 can be found 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-2019

Statistics related to 2019/20 will be published in the summer.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when she plans to place in the Library a copy of her Department's internal review of the drivers of food bank usage.

The Department is conducting a literature review on the factors driving the use of food banks, which we aim to publish before the end of the summer; at which point it will be placed in the Library.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people have been awarded (a) personal independence payment, (b) employment support allowance and (c) the limited capability for work element of universal credit following a (i) telephone and (ii) paper based assessment in (A) the UK, (B) Scotland and (C) Glasgow South West constituency since 19 March 2020.

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

The latest available information on assessment outcomes for Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance, for various geographical areas, is published and can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/jsf/login.xhtml

Guidance for users is available at:

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

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants are awaiting an assessment for (a) personal independence payment, (b) employment support allowance, and (c) the limited capability for work element of universal credit in (i) the UK, (ii) Scotland, and (iii) Glasgow South West constituency.

The number of individuals awaiting an assessment can be found below. However, we are unable to provide data at constituency level or to separate out individuals for the Limited Capability for Work element of UC. I have therefore provided the total number of individuals claiming UC awaiting an assessment.

(a) As of the 27 April 2020, the number of individuals claiming PIP with either an assessment scheduled or awaiting scheduling in the UK was 166,630. This PIP data does not include Northern Ireland. 20,870 of these cases were in Scotland.

(b) As of the 4 May 2020, the number of individuals claiming ESA with either an assessment scheduled or awaiting scheduling in the UK was 101,910. 14,460 of these cases were in Scotland.

(c) As of the 4 May 2020, the number of individuals claiming UC with either an assessment scheduled or awaiting scheduling in the UK was 121,640. 13,510 of these cases were in Scotland.

Data supplied by Assessment Provider reports, and rounded to the nearest 10.

Please note this is unpublished data.

The latest published journey time for PIP is 8 weeks on average for a new claim assessment and 10 weeks for a DLA to PIP reassessment (based on the latest published data) and 9 weeks for ESA and we are working with our suppliers to ensure those claimants currently going through the assessment journey are seen as quickly as possible.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate he has made of take-up rates of attendance allowance in each of the last five years for which data are available.

The Government currently spends £5.8 billion a year providing some help to 1.43 million people of pension age with the cost of their care needs. Attendance Allowance provides financial support towards the extra costs faced by those with a severe disability. It is only available to those over State Pension age who require care or supervision as a result of their disability.

Information on the availability of Attendance Allowance is widely available including online on GOV.UK; from places such as Libraries and Doctors Surgeries; directly from Health Care Professionals who might be supporting those with care needs; and from a range of groups and charities who provide advice and support to elderly people with care needs. DWP continually seeks to improve the information it makes available so as to encourage people to claim Attendance Allowance where they may be entitled. We have not made any estimates in take-up rates of Attendance Allowance.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to protect sick, elderly or disabled people in receipt of (a) employment support allowance, (b) personal independence payment and (c) universal credit from having to attend mandatory assessments or appointments in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

From 17th March, we suspended all face-to-face assessments for health and disability benefits. For existing claimants, we have also automatically extended awards and suspended any new review or reassessment activity, except where claimants notify us of changes to their needs that may result in an increase to their award.

We have temporarily suspended the requirement for face-to-face Jobcentre Plus appointments for all claimants in Universal Credit, Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA), Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Income Support. This means that claimants are not expected to contact their Jobcentre Plus while this temporary suspension is in place. They will continue to receive benefits as normal and they will not be sanctioned for not taking part in interviews with Jobcentres.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans his Department has to mitigate the risk of delays in processing new applications for (a) personal independence payment and (b) employment support allowance due to (i) self-isolation or (ii) reduced face to face assessments following the covid-19 outbreak.

As announced on Monday 16 March we are stopping all face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits and introducing alternative measures to assess from Tuesday 17 March. We are working at pace with our Assessment Providers to minimize any inconvenience and delays as much as possible.

No estimate has yet been made on the average waiting times for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Universal Credit (UC) while these alternative arrangements are in place. Claims to ESA and UC will be payable prior to a Work Capability Assessment having been carried out and payments for Personal Independence Payment will be backdated from the date of decision in line with normal rules following an assessment.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent estimate she has made of the average time taken for claimants to receive a decision from the Independent Case Examiner.

The table below provides details of the average time taken for complainants to receive a decision from the Independent Case Examiner’s (ICE) Office, in the current reporting year (April 2019 to February 2020).

When the ICE Office accepts a complaint for investigation, it will consider whether it can be resolved by brokering a solution between the complainant and the relevant department or supplier, without having to request evidence to inform an investigation. If the complaint can’t be resolved, the evidence will be requested and the case will await allocation to an Investigation Case Manager (ICM). Cases are dealt with by dedicated teams and are usually brought into investigation in strict date order.

Following an investigation of the evidence the complaint may be settled, if agreement can be reached on actions that satisfy the complainant. If the complaint cannot be settled, the Independent Case Examiner will issue a report detailing findings and any recommendations for redress.

The cases that reach the Independent Case Examiner are the most complex and investigations will not be compromised in order to be completed within certain timescales. We keep people updated about the timings involved with their case and the vast majority of complainants are satisfied with the service they receive.

Description

Average time in weeks

Resolution (from acceptance to case closure)

6 weeks (against a target of 8 weeks)

Time taken to allocate case to ICM (from date of acceptance)

59 weeks

Settlement (from allocation to ICM to case closure)

8 weeks (against a target of 15 weeks)

ICE Report (from allocation to ICM to case closure)

23.5 weeks (against a target of 20 weeks)

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she will take to ensure that claimants in receipt of personal independence payment (PIP) automatically receive the accompanying rates of employment and support allowance or the limited capability for work component of universal credit, including associated premiums, that fully reflect their PIP entitlement.

Those in receipt of Personal Independence Payment may be entitled to additional premiums as part of their income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Whilst our ambition is to provide automated solutions to facilitate the payment of these there will always be occasions – whether because of the relative costs and benefits of a particular approach or the complexity or lifespan of the product – where this is not possible and human intervention is required. To support our people to deliver a high quality service we are undertaking regular scans of our ESA caseload to identify and eliminate error; prioritising payment related processing across sites; re-organising the delivery of our services to maximise capability and capacity and digital transformation to support delivery.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 5 February 2020 to Question 10759, how many claimants had deductions taken from their universal credit payments in each parliamentary constituency in August 2019.

This Government is committed to providing a strong welfare safety-net for those who need it. Our deductions policy strikes a fair balance between a claimant’s need to meet their financial obligations and their ability to ensure they can meet their day-to-day needs. Since October 2019, Universal Credit deductions are set at a maximum of 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance, down from 40% previously.

The requested information surrounding deductions to Universal Credit payments by parliamentary constituency is shown in the attached table.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 5 February 2020 to Question 10759, what the value of deductions to universal credit payments has been, by parliamentary constituency; and from how many claimants those deductions were taken, in each of the 12 months prior to August 2019.

This Government is committed to providing a strong welfare safety-net for those who need it. Our deductions policy strikes a fair balance between a claimant’s need to meet their financial obligations and their ability to ensure they can meet their day-to-day needs. Since October 2019, Universal Credit deductions are set at a maximum of 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance, down from 40% previously.

The requested information surrounding deductions to Universal Credit payments by parliamentary constituency is shown in the attached table.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants in receipt of personal independence payment (PIP) are being paid a rate of employment and support allowance or the limited capability for work component of universal credit, including associated premiums, that does not fully reflect their PIP entitlement.

The Department publishes annual statistics on fraud and error in the benefit system, which are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fraud-and-error-in-the-benefit-system. These include estimates of underpayments due to errors relating to premia and income from other benefits. The information requested on the total number of claimants receiving ESA or Universal Credit payments inconsistent with their PIP and other relevant living and care arrangements is not available and it would incur disproportionate cost to determine this number.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent estimate she has made of the amount of underpayments resulting from claimants in receipt of personal independence payment being paid a rate of employment and support allowance or the limited capability for work component of universal credit, including associated premiums, that does not fully reflect their PIP entitlement.

The Department publishes annual statistics on fraud and error in the benefit system, which are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fraud-and-error-in-the-benefit-system. These include estimates of underpayments due to errors relating to premia and income from other benefits. The information requested on the total number of claimants receiving ESA or Universal Credit payments inconsistent with their PIP and other relevant living and care arrangements is not available and it would incur disproportionate cost to determine this number.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of universal credit claims that have had a deduction applied had (a) up to 20 per cent, (b) between 21 and 30 per cent, (c) between 31 and 40 per cent and (d) more than 41 per cent deducted in the latest period for which data is available.

This Government is committed to providing a strong welfare safety-net for those who need it. There is a well-established system of hardship payments, benefit advances and budgeting loans for those who need extra support.

Our deductions policy strikes a fair balance between a claimant’s need to meet their financial obligations and their ability to ensure they can meet their day-to-day needs. Since October 2019, Universal Credit deductions are a maximum of 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance down from 40% previously.

We also recognise the importance of safeguarding the welfare of claimants who have incurred debt, so last resort deductions over the 30% cap can be applied to protect vulnerable claimants from eviction and/or having their fuel supply disconnected, by providing a repayment method for arrears of these essential services.

Of all eligible claims to Universal Credit Full Service due a payment in November 2019, 58% (1,307,000 claims) had a deduction.

Of this 1,307,000 claims with a deduction:

a) 44% (569,000 claims) had deductions up to and including 20% of the Standard Allowance (25% of all eligible claims).

b) 52% (681,000 claims) had deductions between 20% and 30% of the Standard Allowance (30% of all eligible claims).

For last resort deductions –

c) 4% (51,000 claims) had deductions between 30% and 40% of their Standard Allowance (2% of all eligible claims).

d) 1% (7,000 claims) had deductions above 40% of their Standard Allowance (0.3% of all eligible claims).

Notes:

1. Claim numbers may not match official statistics caseloads due to small methodological differences.

2. Claim numbers are rounded up to the nearest 1,000.

3. Deductions include advance repayments and all other deductions, but exclude sanctions and fraud penalties which are reductions of benefit rather than deductions.

4. Deduction bands exclude the lower limit but include the upper limit, i.e. 'between 20% and 30% of the Standard Allowance' includes claimants having 30% of their standard allowance deducted but not those having 20% deducted.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many cases involving universal credit claims have been (a) through her Department's complaints process, (b) decided by an Independent Case Examiner and (c) referred to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

The Department has received a total of number of 39,187 Universal Credit complaints up to January 2020.

Details of the number of complaints concerning Universal Credit that have been decided on by the Independence Case Examiner’s is 185 (please note the data is only available from July 2016 to January 2020)

All ICE Reports signpost the complainant to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s Office, via a Member of Parliament, in the event that they are dissatisfied with the outcome of the ICE investigation. We do not hold information about the number of complaints about Universal Credit which were subsequently referred by an MP to the Ombudsman’s Office.

For context, the latest figures show that there are 3 million people on Universal Credit as of 12 March 2020.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people with a primary condition of sight loss or visual impairment who were in receipt of disability living allowance have been asked to make a new claim for personal independence payment in each year since 2013.

Data on the medical conditions of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants who are invited to apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

However, data on claimants who have a visual disease recorded as their primary disabling condition on either DLA or PIP and who were previously in receipt of DLA is available on Stat Xplore for those who have had a PIP assessment.

The selection of a DLA reassessment to PIP is done on a random basis within specific postcodes and has no relation to the condition of the individual.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average length of award is for people with a visual impairment claiming personal independence payment; and how many of those claimants have had their award reviewed and renewed automatically.

The latest available data (to October 2019) on Personal Independence Payment (PIP) initial awards by award type and length of award can be broken down by main disabling condition and can be found in the PIP clearances table at https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/.

Guidance on how to use Stat-Xplore can be found here: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/index.html.

PIP claimants undergoing award reviews do not have their award automatically renewed as the purpose of award review is to look at entitlement at set intervals to ensure a claimant continues to receive the correct award. The review date is selected based on the claimant's individual circumstances.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what adjustments have been made to the (a) application and (b) journal process of universal credit to take account of people with (i) sight loss and (ii) visual impairment who are not able to use the default online process.

We want the application process for Universal Credit to be as quick and easy as possible to ensure that claimants receive their money at the earliest opportunity. The Department takes seriously the need to support vulnerable claimants. Comprehensive support is available to claimants to use our digital service, however we recognise there will be occasions when people are unable to make or maintain their claim online, so telephone support is available.

Universal Credit has been designed with a diverse range of claimants in mind, and has been reviewed in conjunction with the Royal National Institute for the Blind for accessibility needs. The Department communicates with customers in a variety of different formats such as Braille, audio, large print, through third party interpreters such as British Sign Language or non-spoken language.

In these instances, information normally available through a claimant’s online account will be communicated in an alternative format, which is best suited to an individual’s circumstances. The initial verification can include a home visit to support a claimant with making their claim and completing any other administrative tasks required to ensure that they receive the correct payment.

Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland have supported over 200,000 individuals through ‘Help to Claim’ since April 2019, offering tailored and practical support to help people make a Universal Credit claim up to receiving their first full correct payment on time. ‘Help to Claim’ is available online, on the phone and face-to-face in locations including Jobcentres and Citizen’s Advice Bureaux.

In addition, the Department will be bringing forward a Green Paper on health and disability support in the coming months. The Green Paper will explore how the welfare system can better meet the needs of claimants with disabilities and health conditions now and in the future, to build a system that people trust and enables them to live independently and move into work where possible.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of (a) new claimants of personal independence payment (PIP) and (b) new claimants of PIP identifying as having a primary condition of (i) sight loss and (ii) a visual impairment did not receive an award during their initial PIP assessment but received an award at (A) mandatory reconsideration and (B) tribunal in the UK since 2018.

Initial decisions following a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment for Great Britain since 1st January 2018 up to 30th June 2019 are as shown in the table below. Figures are based on decisions where the primary health condition was classed as Visual Disease. This data is for new claims only; it excludes Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claims that have been reassessed for PIP.

Initial decisions following a PIP assessment – new claims – initial decisions made 1st January 2018 to 30th June 2019

Visual Disease

All

Totals

%

Totals

%

Initial decisions following PIP assessment

5,230

531,000

Awarded

3,010

58%

297,170

56%

Disallowed

2,220

42%

233,830

44%

Of those disallowed at initial decision

Award changed at Mandatory Reconsideration (MR)

100

5%

12,360

5%

Award unchanged at MR, appeal lapsed

40

2%

3,840

2%

Award unchanged at MR, decision overturned at tribunal hearing

100

4%

10,580

5%

Notes:

Data has been rounded to the nearest 10.

Percentages have been rounded to the nearest percent.

Data is for new claims only – it does not include DLA reassessment claims.

Great Britain only.

Data is based on primary disabling condition as recorded on the PIP computer systems. Claimants may often have multiple disabling conditions but only the primary condition is reflected in these statistics. It is not possible to break down the condition of “visual disease” into sight loss or visual impairment from the data.

A lapsed appeal is where DWP changed the decision in the customer’s favour after an appeal was lodged but before it was heard at tribunal.

Claimants who have received benefit decisions more recently may not yet have had time to complete the claimant journey and progress to appeal.

The Northern Irish Assembly has devolved responsibility for social security benefits. The responsibility for statistics in Northern Ireland lies with the Department for Communities: http://www.communities-ni.gov.uk

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the process is for the provision of accessible formats to people with a visual impairment making a claim for personal independence payment; and on how many occasions have claimants with visual impairments been issued with (a) an audio description (b) Braille (c) large print, (d) Moon and (e) telephone assistance in each of the last 12 months.

Claimants can ask for a variety of alternative formats during the initial call to claim or at any time during their claim via letter, email, phone call or via the video relay service. We offer various alternative formats suitable for those with a visual impairment. These include, Large Print, Extra Large Print, Braille, Moon, Audio CD and Email for those who use specific software’s i.e Jaws or Dragon. We also offer telephone assistance and Visiting Officers to assist the customer on the PIP journey.

Unfortunately, we do not have a breakdown of figures for each alternative format as there are several teams throughout PIP Regional Benefit Centres and Alternative Format Teams who record volumes of work not specific formats. To provide this information would be at a disproportionate cost to the Department.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 5 February 2020 to Question 10760, on Universal Credit, how many case managers were working on the roll-out of universal credit in December (a) 2014, (b) 2015, (c) 2016, (d) 2017, (e) 2018 and (f) 2019; and what her estimate is of the average number of cases managed by a case manager in each of those months.

Between November 2014 and September 2017, Universal Credit Full Service was going through its Pilot phase, during which resourcing levels were regularly reviewed in line with the growing needs of the Pilot.

Upon conclusion of the Universal Credit Pilot in September 2017, UC Full Service began rolling out throughout the remainder of the country in a phased approach, which concluded in December 2018. The latest published Caseload position for UC stands at 2,084,952 cases (August 2019 figure), at which point there were 4,508 Case Managers deployed within Universal Credit Service Centres supporting UC claimants, with each Case Manager on average handling 463 cases.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants' personal independence payments have been stopped as a result of a claimant being unable to attend an assessment in (a) Glasgow South West constituency, (b) Scotland and (c) the UK.

The latest available data on Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Award Review and Change of Circumstances clearances can be found in the published data tables “Data tables: PIP experimental statistics on planned award review and change of circumstance registrations and clearances to October 2019” available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/personal-independence-payment-april-2013-to-october-2019

This data is broken by type of clearance including claims that were disallowed due to failing to attend an assessment and is broken down by various geographical areas, including region and parliamentary constituency within Great Britain. This data can be found in Tables 2B (i), 2B (ii), 2C (i) and 2C (ii) of the published statistics above.

Please note that whilst we hold data on the number of Award Reviews disallowed for failing to attend an assessment, we do not hold recorded data on the reason that a claimant failed to attend an assessment.

Please note that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) is only responsible for benefits in Great Britain. Social security benefits, including PIP, are a devolved matter in Northern Ireland and your questions regarding PIP in Northern Ireland should be directed to the Department of Communities in Northern Ireland.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
31st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 27 January 2020 to Question 5465, if she will publish the value of deductions to universal credit payments by parliamentary constituency in the latest period for which figures are available.

The requested information surrounding the value of deductions to Universal Credit payments by parliamentary constituency is shown in the attached table.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
31st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the number of staff given responsibility for (a) monitoring and (b) responding to messages on universal credit claimants' online journals.

In December 2019 we had 4,598 Case Managers, 12,711 Work Coaches and 1048 UC Decision Makers delivering Universal Credit. All of these job roles will use the journal to correspond with claimants as just one part of their varied job roles, and Case Managers will use their dashboards to see their cases that have a journal entry waiting to be viewed. Not all journal entries will require a response.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will place in the Library a copy of the evidence review undertaken by her Department on the drivers of food bank use, that was commissioned in 2018; and if she will make a statement.

The literature review on the drivers of food bank use will be published in due course; at which point it will be placed in the Library.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of universal credit deductions were made to repay over-payments made in error in the latest period for which figures are available.

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

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will place in the Library the (a) code of practice and (b) decision-making process governing universal credit deductions.

The Department’s deductions policy strikes a fair balance between a claimant’s need to meet their obligations and their ability to ensure they can meet their day-to-day needs. From October 2019, Universal Credit deductions have been reduced to 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance down from 40% to better achieve these objectives.

Deductions are made following the priority order, which determines the order in which items should be deducted. ‘Last resort’ deductions, such as rent or fuel costs, are at the top of the priority order, ensuring that claimant welfare is prioritised, followed by social obligation deductions, such as child maintenance, and finally benefit debt, such as Social Fund loans and benefit overpayments.

The Department collects and analyses data on Universal Credit regularly, including on the rate of deductions. Alongside this, the Department is always building our understanding on the impact deductions can have on claimants, and has heard evidence from external organisations on this issue. We have to balance these impacts with the need for claimants to meet their obligations.

The Code of Practice ‘What happens if you are overpaid Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance?’ was deposited in the Library 6 May 2014. Deposit reference ‘DEP2014-0790’ refers.

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/business-papers/commons/deposited-papers/

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the value of universal credit deductions made to repay administrative errors in the latest period for which figures are available.

As a Department, we understand the impact that debt can have on the wellbeing of claimants and we endeavour to ensure that the recovery of any overpayment is managed in a way that takes account of the claimant’s individual circumstances. Where a person says they cannot afford the proposed rate of recovery, a reduction in their rate of repayment may be agreed.

Section 105 of The Welfare Reform Act 2012 amended the Social Security Act 1992, such that for Universal Credit, New Style JSA and New Style ESA, any payment in excess of the entitlement is recoverable, regardless of how the overpayment of entitlement occurred. This policy was brought in to reflect the need for a better value for money welfare system and to reinforce the overarching aim that Universal Credit mirrors work.

In 2018/19, working with local authorities, the Department recovered £1.1bn in overpayments. Of this, £19.3m related to Universal Credit overpayments arising as a result of Departmental errors.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of universal credit claimants who have had a (a) waiver and (b) reduction in deductions to their monthly payments on the grounds of hardship in the latest period for which figures are available.

The Department has an obligation to ensure that public funds are administered responsibly and to abide by the principles set out in Her Majesty’s Treasury’s guidance on Managing Public Money. Waiver applications have to be considered in line with this guidance. Debts can only be waived if recovery is causing substantial medical and/or financial hardship to a claimant or their immediate family.

In 2019/20 (up to 31st December 2019), there were 10 Universal Credit claimants who had their debts waived.

We understand the impact that debt can have on the wellbeing of claimants and we endeavour to ensure that the recovery of any overpayment is managed in a way that takes account of the claimant’s individual circumstances. Where a person says they cannot afford the proposed rate of recovery, a reduction in their rate of repayment may be agreed.

In 2019/20 (up to 31st December 2019), 159,000 Universal Credit claimants had the rate at which they were repaying a benefit overpayment reduced.

*The figures provided in this response have been sourced from internal management information and were not intended for public release. They should therefore not be compared to any other similar figures subsequently released by the Department. The figure relating to the number of debts waived has been rounded to the nearest 10, and the figure relating to reductions in repayment rates has been rounded to the nearest 1,000. It is important to note that debts waived may not all relate to Universal Credit.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of children living in households where claimants have had deductions made to their monthly universal credit payments in the latest period for which figures are available.

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

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the value of deductions to universal credit payments under each reason for deduction in the latest period for which figures are available.

The Department’s deductions policy strikes a fair balance between a claimant’s need to meet their obligations and their ability to ensure they can meet their day-to-day needs. From October 2019, Universal Credit deductions have been reduced to 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance down from 40% to better achieve these objectives.

In the latest period for which figures are available (August 2019), £1.3 billion of Universal Credit was paid, of which £94 million (7%) was deducted. The table below provides a breakdown of the deductions by reason.

Deduction reason

Value of Deductions (£)

UC advance repayments

50,252,000

Tax Credit overpayments

14,295,000

DWP overpayments

8,042,000

Social fund loans

5,466,000

Arrears of rent and/or service charges

5,001,000

Fines

4,931,000

HB overpayments

1,771,000

Arrears of Community Charge or Council Tax

1,285,000

UC Recoverable Hardship payments

843,000

DWP Fraud overpayments

742,000

Fuel and Water Ongoing consumption

615,000

Child maintenance

527,000

Arrears of water charges

273,000

HB and DWP Civil Penalties

121,000

HB Fraud overpayments

113,000

HB and DWP Administrative Penalties

76,000

Arrears of fuel (electric and gas)

67,000

Arrears of Eligible loans

51,000

Arrears of Integration loans

44,000

Tax Credit Fraud overpayments

1,000

Mortgage interest

less than 500

Notes:

1. Values of deductions in the table are rounded to the nearest thousand. The total value of all deductions and the amount of universal credit paid is rounded to the nearest £1,000,000.

2. Deductions include advance repayments, third party deductions and all other deductions, but exclude sanctions and fraud penalties which are reductions of benefit rather than deductions.

3. Amount of Universal Credit paid reflects the amount of money paid to claimants and their landlords as part of their award, including the amount which they would have been entitled to had it not been deducted. It does not include other payments such as advances and hardship payments.

4. Figures are provisional and are subject to retrospective change as later data becomes available.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of new claims for universal credit were paid in full and on time by (a) child element, (b) limited capability for work element, (c) childcare element and (d) housing element in the most recent 12 months for which figures are available.

Our latest data shows the proportion of new Universal Credit claims paid in full on time was 88.4%. In many cases where full payment is not made on time, it is due to unresolved issues such as: claimants not accepting their Claimant Commitment or passing identity checks, or having outstanding verification issues, such as housing costs and self-employed earnings.

The latest available information on payments made in full and on time to Universal Credit claimants is published and can be found at:

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

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

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

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will amend the universal credit (a) application form and (b) online journal to enable applicants to consent to their data being used to automatically register eligible children in their household for free school meals.

The Universal Credit system is structured around an online personal account which contains all the information relevant to the claim. This includes claimant’s bank account details, savings, capital, medical history, family relationships and address information. We need to ensure a high level of security and protection is maintained to combat unscrupulous individuals and organisations who try to access the information we hold and seek to impersonate genuine advisers. We take all reasonable steps to protect the position of claimants and their data.

Claimants may currently be entitled to a number of other benefits because they are in receipt of Universal Credit. These are known as passported benefits and include free school meals and free prescriptions. The eligibility criteria for each passported benefit remain the responsibility of the departments and devolved administrations that own them. In Scotland and Wales, eligibility criteria for free school meals is a matter for the devolved administrations.

The Department for Education provides an electronic eligibility checking service to all local authorities in England, which is used to confirm eligibility for free school meals.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jan 2020
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 75 for qualifying residents in (a) Glasgow South West constituency, (b) Glasgow city local authority area and (c) Scotland in 2018-19; and if she will make a statement.

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

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.

2018/19 is the first year of the part funding agreement leading up to the BBC taking responsibility for policy and funding of the concession from June 2020. The figures in the table below therefore are DWP’s share only, not the total expenditure.

The table below provides estimates of the costs for 2018/19 of providing free TV licences to people aged 75 years and over in Glasgow South West constituency, Glasgow City local authority and Scotland.

Expenditure (£m) (Nominal)

2018-19

(a) Glasgow South West constituency

£0.5

(b) Glasgow City local authority

£3.0

(c) Scotland

£38.0

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many advance benefit payments have been made to claimants in Glasgow South West constituency in each month since January 2019.

New Universal Credit claimants who require urgent financial support, can apply for new claim advances to provide access to a payment quickly, until the first regular payment is due. Additionally, existing Universal Credit claimants who have told the Department about a change in their circumstances, which means more Universal Credit is owed, may also apply for an advance payment. Budgeting Advances exist to help pay for emergency household costs, for example, buying a new cooker or for help getting a job or staying in work.

There are a range of advance payments that Universal Credit claimants can access. Information surrounding eligibility conditions and how to apply is published online at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/universal-credit-advances#how-to-apply-for-a-universal-credit-advance

The entirety of the number of advances paid, in Glasgow South West parliamentary constituency since January 2019, is provided in the table below.

Month

Universal Credit advances paid

January 2019

420

February 2019

590

March 2019

520

April 2019

510

May 2019

450

June 2019

550

July 2019

510

August 2019

510

Notes

  1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10
  2. Figures go up to August 2019 in line with published statistics relating to households on Universal Credit
  3. Figures include all types of advances
  4. Figures relate to Universal Credit full service only

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many employees in her Department investigate benefit fraud: what recent estimate she has made of the cost to the public purse of that fraud; and if she will make a statement.

As of the end of December 2019, the equivalent of around 1,400 full time staff were working as fraud investigators.

In 2018/19 the total value of benefit overpaid as a result of fraud was £2.3bn. This accounts for 1.2% of benefit expenditure.

The vast majority of benefit expenditure is paid correctly, with front line staff working hard to prevent overpayments from occurring. We are constantly improving our processes and continue to invest in the use of data and analytics to identify fraud and to better target our investigations.

It is important to clarify that any overpayment made as a result of fraud is fully recoverable. Last year, DWP and Local Authorities recovered £1.1bn in benefit debt.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent progress has been made with housing associations in (a) Glasgow South West constituency and (b) Glasgow on their access to information from the Landlord Portal on universal credit claimants; and if she will make a statement.

The Universal Credit Landlord Portal allows social landlords who are registered users, to verify rent and submit managed payment requests through the Landlord Portal, rather than through the established email processes.

Our Trusted Partner scheme allows social landlords to play a key role in engaging with their tenants who are on Universal Credit, helping those who cannot manage their housing payments to access the support available and to request that managed payments are in place where appropriate.

There are now over 750 Social Landlords using the Portal and Trusted Partner scheme, and enrolment onto the Portal & Trusted Partner remains open for any eligible Social Landlords (further details can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-landlord-portal-and-trusted-partner-scheme-for-social-landlords/landlord-portal-and-trusted-partner-scheme-for-social-landlords). The total number of landlords currently enrolled on the Portal represent around 96% of the total Social Rented Sector housing stock.

The Department maintains guidance on GOV.UK, relevant for private and social sector landlords, with information about Universal Credit including the Landlord Portal which has existed since 2017. This can be accessed at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-and-rented-housing--2/universal-credit-and-rented-housing-guide-for-landlords

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of using universal credit data automatically to identify and register eligible households for Healthy Start vouchers, on an opt out rather than an opt in basis.

The Healthy Start Scheme supports pregnant women and families on lower incomes to make healthier food choices. All eligible Universal Credit beneficiaries receive a letter inviting them to apply for the Healthy Start scheme, together with a pre-populated application form.

The Department is currently developing a digital approach to Healthy Start, to make it easier for families to apply for, receive and use Healthy Start benefits.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Apr 2021
What steps he is taking to ensure his Department adequately supports the health and social care workforce during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have done our utmost to support health and social care workers throughout the pandemic. This support includes refreshments for National Health Service staff, funding for social care providers to pay full pay when staff are isolating and a comprehensive package of mental health support across health and social care.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to increase access to cannabis based medicines for people with multiple sclerosis.

The licensed cannabis-based medicine Sativex, for the treatment of spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis, is available for prescribing on the National Health Service in England, where clinically appropriate. This follows clear demonstrated evidence of safety and clinical and cost effectiveness.

We continue to work hard with the health system, industry and researchers to improve the evidence base for other cannabis-based medicines and to implement the recommendations of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s review on barriers to accessing unlicensed cannabis based medicinal products. This includes the design of clinical trials and the establishment of a national patient registry.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

The General Data Protection Regulation has not affected the rights of unions in the Department in relation to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The Department complies with the obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off for safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

In line with the legislative obligation, set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), information relating to facility time for relevant union officials is published annually, with facility time defined by that Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official that is permitted by the official’s employer, including where this arises under “regulations made under section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974”.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has affected the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The General Data Protection Regulation has not affected the rights of unions in the Department in relation to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The Department complies with the obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off for safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

In line with the legislative obligation, set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), information relating to facility time for relevant union officials is published annually, with facility time defined by that Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official that is permitted by the official’s employer, including where this arises under “regulations made under section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974”.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of reported multiple human rights abuses committed by the Colombian police during recent protests in that country.

The UK Government remains concerned about reports of human rights violations in Colombia. The fundamental human right to peaceful assembly and association must be guaranteed. Colombia is a UK 'Human Rights Priority Country,' and we have raised our concerns with the relevant state actors in Colombia since protests began. Most recently, I spoke with acting Foreign Minister Adriana Mejía on 14 May to express our concerns, and welcome Colombia's commitment to transparent investigations into allegations of abuse.

We look to the Colombian authorities to investigate fully any excessive use of force, and take appropriate action against those responsible. Security services must be held accountable for their actions, with all complaints thoroughly investigated. We will continue to work closely with the UN Verification Mission, and the UN Office of the High Representative for Human Rights in Colombia, as well as the wider international community, in support of their efforts to reduce tensions, and promote dialogue.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the Colombian Government’s investigation into alleged human rights abuses by the police during protests in that country on 9 and 10 September 2020.

We are clear that we support the right of all Colombians to protest peacefully. We look to the Colombian authorities to investigate fully the excessive use of force against protesters, and take appropriate action against those responsible. Security services must be held accountable for their actions, with all complaints thoroughly investigated.

UK Ministers and officials regularly raise human rights issues with their Colombian counterparts, and we will continue to do so. Most recently, the UK's Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, raised our concerns around media freedom, sexual violence, and the killing of human rights defenders during her virtual visit to Colombia in February.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his Turkish counterpart on the use of anti-terrorism legislation against (a) elected members of the People’s Democratic Party and (b) other elected officials.

We have made it clear to Turkey that we expect the government to undertake any legal processes or actions against opposition parties, MPs, party officials, elected mayors, human rights defenders and journalists, fairly, transparently and with full respect for the rule of law. We will continue to engage closely with Turkey to encourage the full protection of fundamental rights of all peoples, regardless of their legitimate political affiliations, particularly in the area of freedom of expression and assembly, press freedom and the treatment of detainees. We will also continue to raise the human rights situation in Turkey in multilateral organisations, as we did at the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of Turkey in January 2020.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his Turkish counterpart on that country's use anti-terror legislation to close down the open and democratic operations of the People’s Democratic Party by the ruling Justice and Development Party and Nationalist Movement Party alliance.

We have made it clear to Turkey that we expect the government to undertake any legal processes or actions against opposition parties, MPs, party officials, elected mayors, human rights defenders and journalists, fairly, transparently and with full respect for the rule of law. We will continue to engage closely with Turkey to encourage the full protection of fundamental rights of all peoples, regardless of their legitimate political affiliations, particularly in the area of freedom of expression and assembly, press freedom and the treatment of detainees. We will also continue to raise the human rights situation in Turkey in multilateral organisations, as we did at the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of Turkey in January 2020.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Tukish counterpart on the issue of arrest warrants for 82 people, including former mayors and Members of the People’s Democratic Party and the Party’s Central Executive Board on the grounds of their having protested the siege of Kobane.

We have made it clear to Turkey that we expect the government to undertake any legal processes or actions against opposition parties, MPs, party officials, elected mayors, human rights defenders and journalists, fairly, transparently and with full respect for the rule of law. We will continue to engage closely with Turkey to encourage the full protection of fundamental rights of all peoples, regardless of their legitimate political affiliations, particularly in the area of freedom of expression and assembly, press freedom and the treatment of detainees. We will also continue to raise the human rights situation in Turkey in multilateral organisations, as we did at the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of Turkey in January 2020.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, how (a) social distancing and (b) other covid-19 safety measures will be enforced across the parliamentary estate.

The Commission is receiving regular updates on the social distancing measures introduced to the estate along with the numbers of passholders present and the level of demand for services. These are monitored by the House authorities on a daily basis, and immediate actions taken where required.

It is clear to see the practical steps taken on the estate to enforce social distancing, from the Perspex screens through to the queuing systems. The safety measures can only be supported however with the cooperation of individuals across the estate taking personal responsibility for complying with those measures to keep themselves and their colleagues safe. The Commission fully supports all passholders to say where they feel that someone is not following the social distancing guidelines, and to politely remind them. Should repeated or significant concerns be raised, appropriate steps will be taken to investigate further.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, pursuant to the Answer of 20 May 2020 to Question 46042 on Parliament: Coronavirus, when the covid-19 risk assessment was carried out.

Risk assessments in relation to Covid-19 have been carried out since March 2020. The overarching Covid-19 assessment was prepared in the weeks leading up to the date of publication referred to in question 46042. The Trades Unions were provided with an opportunity to comment ahead of it being published.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, with reference to recent reports by the Human Rights Association of Turkey, what steps he is taking to help support democracy and the rule of law in Turkey.

Ministers and our Ambassador to Turkey regularly emphasise to the Turkish Government the need to respect the human rights of all its citizens, and to support the rule of law. At the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of Turkey earlier this year, the UK raised our concerns about the situation in Turkey. Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister responsible for human rights, has also raised our concerns with the Turkish Ambassador to the UK. We will continue to engage the Turkish Government on these important issues, as well as with civil society, and be clear in our expectation that Turkey live up to its human rights obligations, which are essential to the long-term health of Turkish democracy.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, if he will ensure that completed risk assessments drawn up to facilitate a full return to Parliament during the covid-19 outbreak will be (a) placed in the Library, (b) made available to hon. Members on request and (c) made available to trade unions on request; and if he will make a statement.

The House of Commons has carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment to comply with the government’s guidance on managing the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace. A hard copy of the assessment is available in the Library and an electronic copy has been made available on the UK Parliament internet transparency pages. The Trade Unions have been consulted on significant findings of the risk assessment prior to its publication.

In line with best practice, the assessment will be reviewed in light of any changes to government and/or Public Health England guidance and communicated using the same channels to hon. Members and the Trade Unions.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether his Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has an obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off for safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code. This is not set against facility time.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has affected the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

​The General Data Protection Regulation has not affected our legal obligations regarding sharing information under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many people are required to make payments under the Loan Charge as of 26 April 2021.

HMRC’s latest estimates of those affected by the Loan Charge are included in their GOV.UK publication titled Independent Loan Charge review: HMRC report on implementation.

As set out in this report, in January 2020, HMRC wrote to more than 55,000 individuals and employers who were identified as potentially affected by the Loan Charge. HMRC estimate the changes to the Loan Charge enacted in Finance Act 2020 took 11,000 people out of paying the charge altogether.

The report goes on to state that 5,600 employers and individuals settled their use of disguised remuneration schemes in the period to 30 September 2020.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure umbrella companies comply with legislation on the deduction of employers’ taxes from contractors’ pay.

Like all employers, umbrella companies are responsible for paying employer National Insurance contributions (NICs) where they are due. Employers cannot, by law, deduct employer NICs from an employee's gross pay. The payment of employer NICs out of the umbrella company’s fee may be shown on the same payslip as deductions, such as Income Tax, from the employee’s gross pay, so that it can look as if an individual is paying the employer NICs, when this is not actually the case.

New rules came into force from 6 April 2020 requiring all agency workers to be given a Key Information Document by an agency before agreeing terms, including when the agency worker is engaged through an umbrella company. Key Information Documents set out details about the engagement, including rates of pay. This allows workers to see how deductions and fees are made through the labour supply chain and how this affects their gross pay and net pay.

When set up and operated correctly, umbrella companies comply with tax and NICs legislation. Umbrella company employees who believe that an umbrella company is not complying with its tax or NICs obligations can report it to HM Revenue and Customs: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/report-fraud-to-hmrc.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with credit unions on support during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

HM Treasury officials have regularly engaged with the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the credit union sector. I have also engaged with representatives from the credit union sector through the Consumer Finance Forum and Financial Inclusion Policy Forum, which are bringing financial services and consumer group representatives together to discuss how to best support people through this period.

Fair4All Finance, the independent body set up by Government to distribute dormant assets funding to support financial inclusion, has set up a £5 million resilience fund to support credit unions and community development finance institutions in England during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 20 May 2020, the Government announced that additional funding through the dormant assets scheme would be released immediately to Fair4All Finance. This included an expanded Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme, which aims to improve the access and availability of affordable credit. I am also aware that credit unions have had access to wider COVID-19 support schemes, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and grant funding from local authorities.

Capital requirements for credit unions are a matter for the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). In March 2020, the PRA concluded its consultation into simplifying the capital regime for credit unions. This reduced complexity by removing the link between a credit union’s activities and membership with capital requirements, removed the old 2% capital buffer, and introduced a graduated rate approach to capital requirements. These proposals were broadly supported by the credit union sector.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to change credit union capital requirements to support credit unions to grow assets beyond £10 million; and if he will make a statement.

HM Treasury officials have regularly engaged with the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the credit union sector. I have also engaged with representatives from the credit union sector through the Consumer Finance Forum and Financial Inclusion Policy Forum, which are bringing financial services and consumer group representatives together to discuss how to best support people through this period.

Fair4All Finance, the independent body set up by Government to distribute dormant assets funding to support financial inclusion, has set up a £5 million resilience fund to support credit unions and community development finance institutions in England during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 20 May 2020, the Government announced that additional funding through the dormant assets scheme would be released immediately to Fair4All Finance. This included an expanded Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme, which aims to improve the access and availability of affordable credit. I am also aware that credit unions have had access to wider COVID-19 support schemes, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and grant funding from local authorities.

Capital requirements for credit unions are a matter for the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). In March 2020, the PRA concluded its consultation into simplifying the capital regime for credit unions. This reduced complexity by removing the link between a credit union’s activities and membership with capital requirements, removed the old 2% capital buffer, and introduced a graduated rate approach to capital requirements. These proposals were broadly supported by the credit union sector.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what representations he has received on changing credit union capital requirements; and if he will make a statement.

HM Treasury officials have regularly engaged with the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the credit union sector. I have also engaged with representatives from the credit union sector through the Consumer Finance Forum and Financial Inclusion Policy Forum, which are bringing financial services and consumer group representatives together to discuss how to best support people through this period.

Fair4All Finance, the independent body set up by Government to distribute dormant assets funding to support financial inclusion, has set up a £5 million resilience fund to support credit unions and community development finance institutions in England during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 20 May 2020, the Government announced that additional funding through the dormant assets scheme would be released immediately to Fair4All Finance. This included an expanded Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme, which aims to improve the access and availability of affordable credit. I am also aware that credit unions have had access to wider COVID-19 support schemes, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and grant funding from local authorities.

Capital requirements for credit unions are a matter for the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). In March 2020, the PRA concluded its consultation into simplifying the capital regime for credit unions. This reduced complexity by removing the link between a credit union’s activities and membership with capital requirements, removed the old 2% capital buffer, and introduced a graduated rate approach to capital requirements. These proposals were broadly supported by the credit union sector.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of discontinuities in credit union capital requirements on credit unions' capacity to grow assets beyond £10 million; and if he will make a statement.

HM Treasury officials have regularly engaged with the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the credit union sector. I have also engaged with representatives from the credit union sector through the Consumer Finance Forum and Financial Inclusion Policy Forum, which are bringing financial services and consumer group representatives together to discuss how to best support people through this period.

Fair4All Finance, the independent body set up by Government to distribute dormant assets funding to support financial inclusion, has set up a £5 million resilience fund to support credit unions and community development finance institutions in England during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 20 May 2020, the Government announced that additional funding through the dormant assets scheme would be released immediately to Fair4All Finance. This included an expanded Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme, which aims to improve the access and availability of affordable credit. I am also aware that credit unions have had access to wider COVID-19 support schemes, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and grant funding from local authorities.

Capital requirements for credit unions are a matter for the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). In March 2020, the PRA concluded its consultation into simplifying the capital regime for credit unions. This reduced complexity by removing the link between a credit union’s activities and membership with capital requirements, removed the old 2% capital buffer, and introduced a graduated rate approach to capital requirements. These proposals were broadly supported by the credit union sector.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what representations he has received on changing credit union capital requirements; and if he will make a statement.

HM Treasury officials have regularly engaged with the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the credit union sector. I have also engaged with representatives from the credit union sector through the Consumer Finance Forum and Financial Inclusion Policy Forum, which are bringing financial services and consumer group representatives together to discuss how to best support people through this period.

Fair4All Finance, the independent body set up by Government to distribute dormant assets funding to support financial inclusion, has set up a £5 million resilience fund to support credit unions and community development finance institutions in England during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 20 May 2020, the Government announced that additional funding through the dormant assets scheme would be released immediately to Fair4All Finance. This included an expanded Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme, which aims to improve the access and availability of affordable credit. I am also aware that credit unions have had access to wider COVID-19 support schemes, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and grant funding from local authorities.

Capital requirements for credit unions are a matter for the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). In March 2020, the PRA concluded its consultation into simplifying the capital regime for credit unions. This reduced complexity by removing the link between a credit union’s activities and membership with capital requirements, removed the old 2% capital buffer, and introduced a graduated rate approach to capital requirements. These proposals were broadly supported by the credit union sector.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to change credit union capital requirements to support credit unions to grow assets beyond £10 million; and if he will make a statement.

HM Treasury officials have regularly engaged with the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the credit union sector. I have also engaged with representatives from the credit union sector through the Consumer Finance Forum and Financial Inclusion Policy Forum, which are bringing financial services and consumer group representatives together to discuss how to best support people through this period.

Fair4All Finance, the independent body set up by Government to distribute dormant assets funding to support financial inclusion, has set up a £5 million resilience fund to support credit unions and community development finance institutions in England during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 20 May 2020, the Government announced that additional funding through the dormant assets scheme would be released immediately to Fair4All Finance. This included an expanded Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme, which aims to improve the access and availability of affordable credit. I am also aware that credit unions have had access to wider COVID-19 support schemes, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and grant funding from local authorities.

Capital requirements for credit unions are a matter for the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). In March 2020, the PRA concluded its consultation into simplifying the capital regime for credit unions. This reduced complexity by removing the link between a credit union’s activities and membership with capital requirements, removed the old 2% capital buffer, and introduced a graduated rate approach to capital requirements. These proposals were broadly supported by the credit union sector.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what (a) discussions he has had with representatives of and (b) support he has provided to credit unions during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

HM Treasury officials have regularly engaged with the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the credit union sector. I have also engaged with representatives from the credit union sector through the Consumer Finance Forum and Financial Inclusion Policy Forum, which are bringing financial services and consumer group representatives together to discuss how to best support people through this period.

Fair4All Finance, the independent body set up by Government to distribute dormant assets funding to support financial inclusion, has set up a £5 million resilience fund to support credit unions and community development finance institutions in England during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 20 May 2020, the Government announced that additional funding through the dormant assets scheme would be released immediately to Fair4All Finance. This included an expanded Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme, which aims to improve the access and availability of affordable credit. I am also aware that credit unions have had access to wider COVID-19 support schemes, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and grant funding from local authorities.

Capital requirements for credit unions are a matter for the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). In March 2020, the PRA concluded its consultation into simplifying the capital regime for credit unions. This reduced complexity by removing the link between a credit union’s activities and membership with capital requirements, removed the old 2% capital buffer, and introduced a graduated rate approach to capital requirements. These proposals were broadly supported by the credit union sector.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
25th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the Average Working Days Lost was in HMRC for civil servants (a) from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds and (b) recording themselves as White in the calendar year (i) 2019 and (ii) 2020.

The average working days lost for civil servants working in HMRC was as follows:

Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority

January 2019 – December 2019 = 6.51 days average

January 2020 – December 2020 = 6.78 days average

White

January 2019 – December 2019 = 6.38 days average

January 2020 – December 2020 = 5.52 days average

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
25th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the Average Working Days Lost was in HMRC for civil servants who have (a) declared themselves as having a disability and (b) not declared themselves to have a disability in the calendar year (i) 2019 and (ii) 2020.

The average working days lost for civil servants working in HMRC was as follows:

Disability declared

January 2019 – December 2019 = 12.18 days average

January 2020 – December 2020 = 10.73 days average

Disability not declared

January 2019 – December 2019 = 6.64 days average

January 2020 – December 2020 = 5.90 days average

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the Average Working Days Lost was in HMRC for (a) female and (b) male civil servants in the calendar year (i) 2019 and (ii) 2020.

The average working days lost for civil servants working in HMRC was as follows:

Female

January 2019 – December 2019 = 8.31 days average

January 2020 – December 2020 = 7.24 days average

Male

January 2019 – December 2019 = 5.80 days average

January 2020 – December 2020 = 5.32 days average

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the Average Working Days Lost was in HMRC for civil servants (a) aged 30 and younger, (b) 30 to 50, (c) 50 to 60 and (d) over 60 in the calendar year (i) 2019 and (ii) 2020.

The average working days lost for civil servants working in HMRC was as follows:

Age 30 and Under

January 2019 – December 2019 = 6.75 days average

January 2020 – December 2020 = 6.54 days average

Age 31 to 50

January 2019 – December 2019 = 6.88 days average

January 2020 – December 2020 = 5.88 days average

Age 51 to 60

January 2019 – December 2019 = 7.41 days average

January 2020 – December 2020 = 6.58 days average

Age over 60

January 2019 – December 2019 = 8.08 days average

January 2020 – December 2020 = 7.19 days average

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has plans to provide emergency support for (a) AdLib and Blue Dog staff and (b) other workers who are eligible for furlough and who have been denied payments.

Legislation imposes a duty on HMRC to keep the taxpayer data they hold confidential. This means HMRC do not disclose information about any action they take in respect of a particular taxpayer, except in very limited circumstances, prescribed by law.

Employers can apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme (CJRS) if they meet the eligibility criteria. It is for the employer to decide whether to offer furlough to an employee. Apart from enforcement of National Minimum wage obligations, which HMRC carry out on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, HMRC do not have a role in regulating the relationship between employers and employees.

Employees can contact ACAS if they have concerns that they have not been able to resolve with their employer.

Employees who have concerns that they have been furloughed and asked to work or have not been paid, can report suspected fraud to HMRC on GOV.UK.

Employees not eligible for the scheme may have access to a range of other support measures made available by the Government.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what (a) artificial intelligence and (b) machine learning projects are being (i) undertaken and (ii) considered for his Department.

No Artificial Learning (AI) or Machine Learning (ML) projects are currently being undertaken or considered for the department.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the level of staff throughout HMRC; and whether he plans to recruit additional staff to HMRC as a result of his summer financial statement.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have a core role in supporting the Government’s fiscal and economic objectives. The Government ensures that HMRC are sufficiently resourced to deliver commitments made. As and when HMRC are asked to deliver new priorities, HMRC provide advice to ministers on the resourcing implications.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential for fraudulent claims in relation to the Eat out, help out programme; and if he will make a statement.

The Government expects the vast majority of organisations to do the right thing, but it is recognised that within any scheme there is potential for fraud. HMRC have carried out a risk assessment of the scheme, which includes reviewing the potential for fraudulent claims.

HMRC reserve the right to follow up on claims and take whatever action is necessary if people abuse the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme (EOHOS). In line with the other payment-out regimes they administer, HMRC will undertake pre-payment authentication and risking in order to identify and block fraudulent EOHOS claims, and will carry out proportionate risk-based, post-payment compliance checks.

Fraud and abuse of the scheme can be reported through HMRC’s online tax evasion reporting form, details of which can be found on GOV.UK.

All reports received by HMRC are subject to review and the appropriate and necessary actions are taken in response to the reports.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the current lease arrangements are for HMRC Regional Centres throughout the UK; what the (a) duration and (b) end date is of each those leases; and which of those leases contain break clauses.

HMRC’s Regional Centres will have leases of 25 years’ duration with most containing breaks at 20 years; all include the ability to assign or sublet should the need arise. End dates depend on when each one starts, which varies according to individual site construction and fit-out programmes and when they are completed.

HMRC published their People and Equality Impact Assessments (PEIA) on GOV.UK on 17 July 2018. The PEIA sets out the action HMRC are taking to mitigate potential impacts of the Locations Programme, which includes additional support being put in place for employees. HMRC are currently undertaking the annual refresh of the document and will publish it when HMRC have been able to consider all necessary factors. In 2019, the annual update was published on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/people-and-equality-impact-assessment-for-hmrcs-locations-programme.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will publish the results of the equality impact assessments that were carried out in relation to the HMRC redundancy programme.

HMRC’s Regional Centres will have leases of 25 years’ duration with most containing breaks at 20 years; all include the ability to assign or sublet should the need arise. End dates depend on when each one starts, which varies according to individual site construction and fit-out programmes and when they are completed.

HMRC published their People and Equality Impact Assessments (PEIA) on GOV.UK on 17 July 2018. The PEIA sets out the action HMRC are taking to mitigate potential impacts of the Locations Programme, which includes additional support being put in place for employees. HMRC are currently undertaking the annual refresh of the document and will publish it when HMRC have been able to consider all necessary factors. In 2019, the annual update was published on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/people-and-equality-impact-assessment-for-hmrcs-locations-programme.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with ATOS and NS&I on proposed changes to staff pensions at National Savings and Investments; and what assessment he has made of the potential effectiveness of those proposals.

National Savings and Investments outsources its operations to Atos. Atos is currently engaged in discussions with employees who previously provided services for NS&I - but are no longer working (or not working predominantly) on NS&I activity - and their trade unions on their pension arrangements. This is a matter for Atos and its employees.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with (a) representatives from ATOS and (b) the Chief Executive of National Savings and Investment on the potential for staff employed by ATOS on Government accounts joining the Civil Service Pension Scheme; and if he will make a statement.

Pensions issues as part of the compulsory transfer of staff from the public sector to independent providers delivering public services are covered in the non-statutory New Fair Deal policy. The guidance also covers the transfer of staff back into public service pension schemes, including responsibility for any liabilities accrued under the previous scheme. Applications for this are a matter for Atos, the departments for which it works and the Cabinet Office.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions his Department has had with ATOS and NS&I on (a) the future valuation of and (b) proposed changes to staff pensions; and if he will meet staff representatives to discuss the proposed reforms.

National Savings and Investments outsources its operations to Atos. Atos is currently engaged in discussions with employees who previously provided services for NS&I - but are no longer working (or not working predominantly) on NS&I activity - and their trade unions on their pension arrangements. This is a matter for Atos and its employees.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, how many risk assessments have been carried out as required under Health and Safety law and guidance to facilitate a full return to Parliament during the covid-19 outbreak for (a) staff, (b) hon. Members and (c) visitors; and if he will make a statement.

The House of Commons has carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment to comply with the government’s guidance on managing the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace. The results have been shared with House staff, hon. Members and other people who work on the Parliamentary Estate. The assessment has also been published on the Parliamentary intranet and the UK Parliament internet transparency pages.

Local task-specific risk assessments have been undertaken by individual teams and offices across the House of Commons to facilitate work activities recommencing safely on the estate. Aligned with Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance, the significant findings of these risk assessments have been recorded and used to communicate and manage the risks at Parliament.

The House has also been liaising with contractors and other third-party occupants working on the estate to ensure they have adequately considered the risks associated with Covid-19.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
11th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of permitting HMRC staff to continue working from home after the covid-19 lockdown to minimise (a) redundancies and (b) excessive travel times to Regional Centres.

HMRC have been clear that, if staff can move to a regional centre, transitional site or specialist site, and have the skills HMRC need, there will be a role for them. HMRC have a range of policies and support in place, including remote working, to facilitate this. HMRC are providing critical support to the country at this time, and they will seek to sustain any changes to their ways of working that are proven to lead to better outcomes in the long term for the vital public services that they deliver.
Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the timeline for HMRC regional centres to come into operation.

HMRC recognise that COVID-19 is having an impact on construction and fit-out of their new regional centres, and that this poses a risk to scheduled delivery timescales.

HMRC’s initial planning has been on the basis that construction activity will be delayed by about three months, with a further month to re-mobilise fully. However, delays will vary by location. HMRC are working with developers and contractors to monitor the impact on delivery timelines, and to assess any changes over the coming weeks and months.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in which HMRC Regional Centre has construction work continued since the 17 March 2020; and if he will make a statement.

Construction or fit out work currently continues at HMRC’s Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Cardiff, Birmingham and Stratford construction sites, in line with the guidance issued to employers and businesses on COVID-19 from the UK Government.

HMRC are working with contractors across all UK sites to ensure that where work is continuing they are working diligently in line with the Safe Operating Procedures as issued by the Construction Leadership Council, in conjunction with BuildUK.

All sites listed have been assessed in relation to Government guidelines in response to COVID-19, and procedures put in place. This meant that work was suspended initially at most sites. Where work continues, it does so under close management, and the strict controls are regularly reviewed to ensure social distancing on site. Controls in place include a cap on the number of people allowed on site, introduction of one-way systems, use of stairs not lifts, and staggered break times.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reason HMRC is not rolling out telephony homeworking first to employees already working from home; and if he will make a statement.

HMRC’s frontline teams of key workers are doing a very important job to support the UK; protecting people’s livelihoods, keeping cash in businesses, helping people to stay employed and supporting families.

The safety of their staff is HMRC’s top priority. Staff who do not need to be in the office are working from home, and HMRC are following public health advice to keep their offices safe where services cannot be delivered from home.

HMRC took steps quickly to enable as many colleagues as possible to work from home at this time, expanding their remote working network, moving work around, and training hundreds of their customer advisers on webchat, which can be worked on from home. This means that about 75% of HMRC’s people are working at home.

Working telephony at home has been largely untested and presents potential risks that need to be managed carefully. In March, HMRC started a small-scale trial to look at this, and to understand in detail aspects like the experience and wellbeing of colleagues doing it, the customer experience, how secure and suitable home environments are for this type of work, and what extra equipment and network capacity would be needed.

HMRC’s original plan was to evaluate their initial small-scale trial of home telephony before looking at next steps. However, as HMRC prepared for a large surge in customer calls for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), HMRC decided that there was an opportunity to push the home telephony trial further and faster than planned. HMRC have now expanded the home telephony testing to about 7,000 colleagues, supporting CJRS and some of their business as usual lines.

The findings from this trial will help HMRC to understand how far they can increase the number of roles that can be done from home at any one time.

HMRC remain focused on and committed to keeping their people safe, whether in an office or at home, while also protecting their vital services to taxpayers.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the amount of additional (a) staff and (b) labour required by HMRC to enable that organisation to implement the (i) Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and (ii) Self-employment Income Scheme; and if he will make a statement.

HMRC have implemented the CJRS scheme with the resources already within HMRC. HMRC are determining the number required for the SEISS, but that will come from existing HMRC resource.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the staffing complement is of the HMRC national minimum wage compliance unit; and how many posts in that unit were unfilled as of 20 January 2020.

The Government is determined that everyone who is entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) receives it.

HMRC investigate every complaint they receive from workers, and also carry out a number of targeted, risk-based investigations to tackle new and emerging threats.

If anyone thinks they are not receiving at least the minimum wage, they can contact Acas, in confidence, on 0300 123 1100 or submit a query online using the link https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pay-and-work-rights-complaints

Based on the most recent available data, as at 30 December 2019 the HMRC National Minimum Wage Compliance Unit had 447 staff in post and 47 vacancies.

In addition, staff across HMRC contribute to enforcing the NMW: these include lawyers, technical advisers, and those specialising in criminal investigations.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation affects the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information as set out in Section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has not affected the rights of unions in HMT to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

HM Treasury has a dedicated health & safety team, but does not have a safety representative, due to it being a small department. However, if trade unions were to participate in activity relating to the role of safety representative, the Department would comply with section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

7th Jan 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many people are employed to investigate tax evasion in HMRC's Wealthy Team unit; and if he will make a statement.

As of 31 December 2019 HMRC’s Wealthy team had approximately 961 full time equivalent staff engaged in customer compliance activity.

The Wealthy team work with around 24,500 full time equivalent staff in HMRC’s Customer Compliance Group, including in Counter Avoidance and the Fraud Investigation service so that HMRC can effectively tackle avoidance and evasion within this customer segment. They also focus on promoting tax compliance and helping customers through digital services.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to her Department's Immigration Rules, what the criteria is for assessing safe third countries for asylum seekers; and if she will make a statement.

The technical changes to the Immigration Rules laid on 10 December will send a strong message to those who could and should have claimed asylum in the first safe country they entered. They will not be able to make claims at sea and they may not have their claims decided in the UK.

Our Immigration Rules set out clear criteria which must be met in order for a third country to be considered safe for a particular applicant.

I made a statement on the Rules changes on 16 December.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development on Returns or Readmissions Agreements for those deemed to be (a) irregular migrants, (b) refused asylum and (c) inadmissible; and if she will make a statement.

As an EU Member State, the UK participated in a number of EU Readmission Agreements (EURAs) with third countries. Now that the Transition period has ended, we are no longer party to these and, where appropriate, we are looking to transition these arrangements into bilateral agreements. The Home Office continues to work closely with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development on this. As negotiations with individual countries are ongoing, it would not be appropriate to make a statement at this time.

Negotiations have now concluded with the EU. The UK and EU have agreed a joint declaration noting the importance of effectively managing migratory flows. The UK will continue to engage bilaterally and multilaterally with Member States to discuss suitable practical arrangements on illegal migration, asylum, returns and family reunion for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether external bodies were consulted in advance of publishing new Immigration rules changes; and if she will make a statement.

We have laid changes to the Immigration Rules that are vital to curb irregular migration, which is often facilitated by criminal gangs seeking to arrange dangerous journeys for profit. We have been absolutely clear that we will do all we can to make the use of small boats to cross the Channel an unviable option for reaching the UK.

It is a longstanding principle that asylum seekers should claim at the earliest opportunity in the first safe country they reach. Under existing Rules, any claimant who travelled through a safe country before claiming asylum in the UK could expect their claim to be considered inadmissible.

This is a technical change to the existing Rules which were already coming into effect from January. For these reasons, changes to the Rules on place of claim and third country inadmissibility have not been subject to formal public consideration.

I made a statement on the Rules changes on 16 December.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what discussions she has had with his counterparts in (a) EU countries, (b) EEA states and (c) non-EU or EEA states on bilateral deals on or which include Returns or Readmission Agreements for those deemed to be (i) irregular migrants, (ii) refused asylum or (iii) deemed inadmissible; and if she will make a statement.

As an EU Member State, the UK participated in a number of EU Readmission Agreements (EURAs) with third countries. Now that the Transition period has ended, we are no longer party to these and, where appropriate, we are looking to transition these arrangements into bilateral agreements. The Home Office continues to work closely with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development on this. As negotiations with individual countries are ongoing, it would not be appropriate to make a statement at this time.

Negotiations have now concluded with the EU. The UK and EU have agreed a joint declaration noting the importance of effectively managing migratory flows. The UK will continue to engage bilaterally and multilaterally with Member States to discuss suitable practical arrangements on illegal migration, asylum, returns and family reunion for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many asylum seekers were in (a) full board hotels and (b) full board barracks in the UK on 30 October 2020; and how many hotels are being used for that purpose as of 16 November 2020.

The current global pandemic has presented us with significant challenges when it comes to the provision of asylum accommodation, including sourcing sufficient suitable accommodation to meet demand.

The use of hotels and wider government facilities are a short-term measure and we are working to move people to longer-term dispersal accommodation as soon as it becomes available.

The latest published Immigration Statistics detail the number of asylum seekers accommodated in each local authority area, which includes those in hotel and wider government facilities. These statistics can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/asylum-and-resettlement-datasets#asylum-support.

The Home Office does not publish a breakdown of these statistics which disaggregates the type of accommodation being used to accommodate asylum seekers.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what (a) artificial intelligence and (b) machine learning projects are being (i) undertaken and (ii) considered for her Department.

As such, the information requested is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many people have been classed as (a) having specific needs and (b) at risk under Annex G to Schedule 2 Statement of Requirements and with reference to the asylum accommodation contractors’ duties in paragraphs 1.2.1.3 to 1.2.16 of Schedule 2 and paragraphs 1.2 to 1.3 of Schedule 25 to the asylum accommodation contracts.

This information is not help in a reportable format and to provide it could only be done at a disproportionate cost.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he will publish the (a) dates and (b) redacted minutes of the meetings of the Home Office’s Safeguarding Board for the AASC /AIRE contracts, established in November 2019.

A safeguarding framework has been produced, which is supported by our service providers safeguarding documentation.

The date and minutes of the Safeguarding Board will be published shortly.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the 3 July 2020 NAO report on the asylum accommodation and support contracts, whether her Department's safeguarding board has produced a safeguarding framework; and if she will make a statement.

A safeguarding framework has been produced, which is supported by our service providers safeguarding documentation.

The date and minutes of the Safeguarding Board will be published shortly.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many asylum seekers were in full board hotels in the UK on 30 June 2020; how many hotels are being used for that purpose; what the average length of stay is across those hotels; and by what date she plans to have that group out of the (a) six Mears Group hotels in Glasgow and (b) all other hotels.

There were 4427 asylum seekers across 53 full board hotels in the UK on 30 June.

The average length of stay is not available in a reportable format and to provide the information could only be done at disproportionate cost.

We are working with the providers to programme the reduction of the number of people in supported accommodation in a controlled manner. Consideration will be given to the needs of service users whilst balancing the impact of increased accommodation pressures on local authorities. We intend to work collaboratively with local authorities as we transition out of lockdown.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she plans to order a Home office investigation into (a) the circumstances and results of Mears Group’s decision to move 321 people from secure serviced apartments to hotels in Glasgow from 27 March 2020 and (b) the relationship between those decisions and the incidents at MacLays Hotels on 5 May 2020 and at Park Inn Hotel on 26 June 2020.

We have been working closely with all our service providers throughout the Covid 19 crisis were satisfied that Mears moved service users from apartments to hotels to enable them to deliver their services and meet some of their contractual obligations, particularly around emergency repairs in light of movement restrictions, and so they could further assure themselves of access to meals, translation services, onsite support, controlled welfare and health support and deliver a more appropriate service in light of the health crisis.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what steps the Commission is taking to ensure that social distancing is observed between visitors at entry points to the parliamentary estate.

A range of measures have been introduced at access points across the estate to support social distancing. These include the use of managed queues, booking systems, signage and the use of face coverings where it is harder to maintain social distancing e.g. during search functions.

Access to the estate has been restricted to essential business visitors only, which ensures a minimal number of visitors.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to support (a) vulnerable and (b) other (i) asylum seekers and (ii) refugees during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have also been reviewing the level of the cash allowances provided to asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute, as we do each year to ensure that they remain capable of meeting their essential living needs.

As a result of this work, the standard allowance has been raised to £39.60 per week from £37.75 per week, an increase of around 5%. The increase is significantly higher than the current general rate of inflation, which Office of National Statistics data shows was only 0.5% in the 12 months period to May 2020. In addition to asylum support payments, asylum seekers are provided with free accommodation, utilities are paid for, council tax is paid for, they have free access to the NHS and their children have free access to education.

In March, we introduced temporary measures to continue supporting those asylum seekers, failed asylum seekers and newly recognised refugees who would normally have had their accommodation and financial assistance stopped. Home office is currently reviewing this additional support,

The UK has a generous record in supporting asylum seekers. Last year, we made around 20,000 grants of asylum or protection (one of the higher figures in Europe), as well as offered protection to 3,000 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children – the highest number of any country in Europe. In addition, we have directly resettled around 20,000 people from the most dangerous areas of the world (especially Syrians) in the UK over the last 5 years. Finally, we spend around £14 billion per year in Overseas Aid, helping millions of people around the world. This is the highest amount of any country in Europe and we are the only G7 country to meet the 0.7% of GNI Overseas Aid target

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking with respect to asylum seekers who cannot attend a meeting due to self-isolation as a result of covid-19.

At present Asylum Operations are looking to maintain services wherever possible and have put in place the appropriate measures to safeguard people against the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

Appointments may be affected, but we will continue to review the service impacts on a daily basis. As the national situation develops, Asylum Operations will take the measures necessary to support appointments, interviewing and decision making including the use of technology, whilst always protecting the needs of the most vulnerable.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

The Home Office provides trade union representatives with a maximum facility time allocation which covers the time they request to undertake trade union duties, union learning representative duties and health and safety duties. This is in line with the legislative obligation, set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), that information relating to facility time for relevant union officials be published, with facility time defined by that Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official that is permitted by the official’s employer, including under “regulations made under section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974”. The Home Office provisions do also include scope for some approved health and safety duties, for example involving joint working with the employer, to not be set against the facility time allocation.

Victoria Atkins
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the Answer of 22 October 2019 to Question 1729 on Home Office: Equal Pay, if she will place in the Library copies of the Policy Equality Statements for the pay rounds in (a) 2016, (b) 2017, (c) 2018 and (d) 2019.

The Home Office will place in the Library copies of the Policy Equality Statements (PES) for the pay rounds 2016, 2017 and 2018. The PES for pay round 2019 will be undertaken shortly.

Victoria Atkins
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has affected the right of recognised unions in her Department to bargaining information in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

GDPR has not affected the rights of unions in the Home Office in relation to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, since personal information relating to individuals (which is protected by GDPR) is already excluded from the requirements under section 182 of the same Act.

Victoria Atkins
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what discussions the Commission had with the Health and Safety Executive to facilitate a full return to Parliament during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The Head of Parliamentary Safety has discussed with the Health and Safety Executive the key risks and control measures to allow everybody to work safely on the parliamentary estate during the Coronavirus outbreak. The Health and Safety Executive is content that the House administration is working to ensure Parliamentary business can continue, whilst meeting the Government guidelines to become “COVID-19 safe”. Regular discussions between the Head of Parliamentary Safety and the Health and Safety Executive will continue during the outbreak.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has affected the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The General Data Protection Regulation has not affected the rights of unions in the Ministry of Defence to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether his Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

Government Departments have an obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties (facility time). This includes paid time off for safety representatives, as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code. In the Ministry of Defence, time off with pay for safety representatives is not set against facility time.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent progress he has made on procurement under the (a) MRVP, (b) MIV and (c) Challenger 2 Life Extension programmes; and if he will make a statement.

The Multi-Role Vehicle - Protected (MRV-P) programme is being delivered in two packages. The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) has been identified as the preferred option for Package 1, Command, Liaison and Logistic Vehicles, procured through a US Foreign Military Sales case. A decision on the procurement of JLTV is due this year. For Package 2, Troop Carrying Vehicles and Future Protected Battlefield Ambulances, the competition is ongoing. Subject to the conclusion of current negotiations and internal approvals, the competition winner is planned to be on contract later this year.

For the Mechanised Infantry Vehicle programme, a contract was signed on 4 November 2019 between OCCAR and ARTEC. The Ministry of Defence aims to have the first vehicles delivered in 2023.

On the Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme (CR2 LEP), further to the expanded Assessment Phase, work is ongoing and current plans are for an investment decision in late 2020.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he is taking to improve UK armed forces battlefield ambulance capabilities; and if he will make a statement.

As part of the programme to improve our battlefield ambulance capabilities we are undertaking a competition for vehicles that will deliver an ability to project clinical capability, including specialist teams as necessary, to the supported force with an appropriate level of protection, mobility and survivability. The ambulance capability will enable the efficient diagnosis, treatment and sustainment (in transit) for the full range of injury and illness expected.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether he plans (a) to bring forward legislative proposals to regulate the conduct of insurers offering Professional Indemnity Insurance to those tasked with the remedial works on unsafe buildings or (b) for the Government to underwrite or indemnify the risk under an extension to the Building Safety Fund.

We do not have plans to regulate the behaviour of insurers undertaking PII as this is activity already regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in line with their statutory objectives under the Financial Services and Market Act (2000) legislation.

We understand that some construction professionals are struggling to obtain appropriate PII, particularly for fire safety work. This directly relates to the Government's remediation objectives. We have been engaging with industry to investigate these challenges. This includes developing an industry survey with the Construction Leadership Council to provide a robust evidence base of the challenges in construction PII.

We are also monitoring the effect of PII restrictions on applications to the Building Safety Fund and are engaging with suppliers to ensure they have appropriate PII cover. We continue to work across Government and with industry, to investigate solutions that may improve the availability of PII and continue the delivery of remediation at pace.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what (a) artificial intelligence and (b) machine learning projects are being (i) undertaken and (ii) considered for his Department.

I refer the Hon Member to the answer given to PQ83796 on 10 September 2020.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether his Department complies with the requirement set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

The department has an obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This also includes paid time off for safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code


In line with the legislative obligation, set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), information relating to facility time for relevant union officials is published annually, with facility time defined by that Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official. Time off is permitted by the official’s employer, including where this arises under “regulations made under section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974”.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation affects the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information as set out in Section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Government Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has not affected the rights of unions in the Department to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what (a) artificial intelligence and (b) machine learning projects are being (i) undertaken and (ii) considered for his Department.

The department does not use Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML) in the true definition across its services. The department has an Analytical Platform which spots trends and create links between data sets; however, this wouldn’t fall under either category. A case study on the Analytical Platform can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/choose-tools-and-infrastructure-to-make-better-use-of-your-data#case-study---using-data-science-with-the-ministry-of-justice-analytical-platform

With its analytical platform, the department has built a set of tools that provide the basis for the potential development of AI/ML tools, and alongside this, we are undertaking a project that builds on the Office for Artificial Intelligence guidance to develop practical tools and governance to support the ethical development of any future AL/ML project. The Government’s Data Ethics Framework and ‘Guide to Using AI in the Public Sector’, alongside other guidance are available on GOV.UK, to support ethical and safe use of algorithms in the public sector.

The Department continues to review where artificial intelligence or machine learning would add value to undertaking its duties. In most circumstances we use software in place of machine learning or Artificial Intelligence.

Alex Chalk
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what proportion of appeals to the Tribunals Service for (a) personal independence payment, (b) employment and support allowance, (c) income support, (d) jobseekers allowance and (e) tax credits were successful in (i) 2018-19 and (ii) 2019-20 in (A) Glasgow South West constituency, (B) Glasgow, (C) Scotland and (D) Great Britain; and if he will make a statement.

Information about the outcomes of appeals in the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) (SSCS) is published at: www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics.

SSCS appeals are listed into the hearing venue nearest to the appellant’s home address. The published data (which can be viewed at the link above) provide information about the outcomes of (a) Personal Independence Payment and (b) Employment and Support Allowance appeals for hearing venues covering (A) Glasgow South West (B) Glasgow (C) Scotland and (D) Great Britain for the periods 2018-19 and 2019-20; they also provide information about the outcomes for (c) Income Support (IS), (d) Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and (e) Tax Credits for Great Britain for the same periods.

The table below contains the requested information for IS, JSA and Tax Credits for Glasgow and Scotland:

Proportion1 of appeals decided in favour of the appellant 2018-19 and 2019-20

IS

IS

JSA

JSA

Tax credits2

Tax credits

2018-2019 3

Glasgow 4

Scotland

Glasgow

Scotland

Glasgow

Scotland

38%

33%

36%

34%

41%

35%

2019-20203

40%

39%

25%

29%

36%

34%

1 Proportion based on the number of cases found in favour of the appellant at a tribunal hearing as a percentage of the cases heard at a tribunal hearing.

2 Includes Working Family Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit.

3 Financial Year 1 April to 31 March.

4 SSCS appeals for Glasgow South West constituents are heard in the Glasgow venue but this venue also hears appeals from other Glasgow constituencies. It is not possible to provide constituency-specific data.

Although care is taken when processing and analysing the data, the details are subject to inaccuracies inherent in any large-scale case management system and are the best data that are available.

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

Decisions on benefit entitlement can be overturned on appeal for a variety of reasons. For instance, further evidence, including evidence in the form of oral testimony, may be provided at the hearing. HM Courts & Tribunals Service cannot comment on decisions made by independent tribunal judiciary.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether his Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

The Ministry of Justice has an obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off to Health and Safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

The Ministry of Justice, in line with the legislative obligation set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), annually publishes information relating to facility time for relevant union officials. Facility time is defined by the Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official that is permitted by the official’s employer, including under “regulations made under section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974”.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has affected the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has not affected the rights of unions in the Ministry of Justice in relation to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what proportion of appeals to the Tribunals Service in (a) Glasgow South West, (b) Glasgow, (c) Scotland and (d) Great Britain for (i) personal independent payment, (ii) employment and support allowance, (iii) income support, (iv) jobseekers allowance and (v) tax credits were successful in the latest period for which figures are available.

Information about the outcomes of appeals in the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) (SSCS) is published at:

www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics

SSCS appeals are listed into the hearing venue nearest to the appellant’s home address. The published data (which can be viewed at the link above) provide information about the outcomes of (i) Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and (ii) Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) appeals for hearing venues covering (a) Glasgow South West (b) Glasgow (c) Scotland and (d) Great Britain for the period July – September 2019, the latest period for which data are available. They also provide information about the outcomes for (iii) Income Support (IS). (iv) Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and (v) Tax Credits (TC) for (d) Great Britain

The tables below contain the requested information for (iii) IS, (iv) JSA and (v) TC for Glasgow and Scotland:

Proportion1 of appeals decided in favour of the appellant in the latest period for which figures are available (July – September 2019)

IS

JSA

TC2

Glasgow South West and Glasgow3

~

17%

33%

Scotland

21%

27%

31%

1 Proportion of decisions in favour, based on the number of appeals found in favour of the appellant as a % of the cases cleared at tribunal hearing.

2 TC includes Working Family Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Working Tax Credit.

3 SSCS appeals for Glasgow South West constituents are heard in the Glasgow venue but this venue also hears appeals from other Glasgow constituencies. It is not possible to provide constituency-specific data.

~ Equates to a value of five or fewer

Although care is taken when processing and analysing the data, the details are subject to inaccuracies inherent in any large-scale case management system and are the best data that are available.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what assessment he has made of his Department's compliance with section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

While my Department does not currently have any Trade Union representatives, all staff are employed under the terms and conditions of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and staff have access to the services of Trade Unions in the MoJ. My Department is aware that it has an obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off to Health and Safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

The MoJ, in line with the legislative obligation set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), annually publishes information relating to facility time for relevant union officials. Facility time is defined by the Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official that is permitted by the official’s employer, including under “regulations made under section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974”.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what assessment he has made of the effect of the General Data Protection Regulation on the right of recognised unions to access bargaining information in his Department in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Staff in my Department are employed under the terms and conditions of the Ministry of Justice.

The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has not affected the rights of unions in the Ministry of Justice in relation to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, whether his Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

The Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland does not employ staff directly. All staff that join do so on an assignment, loan or secondment from other government bodies; principally the Scottish Government and the Ministry of Justice, who remain the employers.

As such, the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements, is a matter for the parent employers to consider.

Alister Jack
Secretary of State for Scotland
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has affected the right of recognised unions in her Department to bargaining information in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland does not employ staff directly. All staff that join do so on an assignment, loan or secondment from other government bodies; principally the Scottish Government and the Ministry of Justice, who remain the employers.

As such, it would be a matter for the employing departments to consider whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has affected the right of recognised unions to bargaining information in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Alister Jack
Secretary of State for Scotland
7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what meetings (a) he and (b) officials of his Department have had with (a) the Scottish Trades Union Congress and (b) individual affiliated trades unions since he took office; and if he will make a statement.

My officials and I regularly meet with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that Scotland has a voice in Westminster. The Government publishes a list of all ministerial meetings with external bodies on departmental business on a quarterly basis and is available at gov.uk.

Alister Jack
Secretary of State for Scotland
16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, what assessment he has made of his Department's compliance with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

The Office of the Secretary of State for Wales (OSSW) understands that it has an obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off for safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

The Office is not an employer in its own right. Our staff are employed by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). The MoJ provides trade union representation for OSSW staff.

David T C Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Wales Office)
16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, what assessment he has made of the effect of the General Data Protection Regulation on the right of recognised unions to access bargaining information in his Department in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The Office of the Secretary of State for Wales is not an employer in its own right. The Ministry of Justice provide employment services on our behalf. However, the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has not affected the rights of unions in the Ministry of Justice in relation to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

David T C Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Wales Office)