Damien Moore Portrait

Damien Moore

Conservative - Southport


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
None available
Speeches
Thursday 23rd June 2022
Oral Answers to Questions
T1.   If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.
Written Answers
Thursday 14th July 2022
Children: Social Services
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Independent Review of Children's Social Care, what discussions …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
Monday 11th March 2019
Online News Platforms (Regulation) Bill 2017-19
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will …
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
Monday 27th June 2022
2. (a) Support linked to an MP but received by a local party organisation or indirectly via a central party organisation
Name of donor: IX Wireless Limited
Address of donor: 4 Lockside Office Park, Lockside Road, Riversway, Preston PR2 2YS
Amount …
EDM signed
Monday 13th June 2022
Treatment of Liverpool fans at the 2022 Champions League Final in Paris
That this House condemns the deeply disturbing treatment by French police of Liverpool and Real Madrid fans outside Stade de …
Supported Legislation
Tuesday 19th March 2019
Fracking (Seismic Activity) 2017-19
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Damien Moore has voted in 559 divisions, and 3 times against the majority of their Party.

22 Nov 2021 - Health and Care Bill - View Vote Context
Damien Moore voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 19 Conservative No votes vs 269 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 272 Noes - 246
14 Dec 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Damien Moore voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 97 Conservative No votes vs 224 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 369 Noes - 126
14 Dec 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Damien Moore voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 60 Conservative No votes vs 258 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 385 Noes - 100
View All Damien Moore 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
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency)
(12 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(6 debate interactions)
Rebecca Pow (Conservative)
(6 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Cabinet Office
(14 debate contributions)
Department for Education
(10 debate contributions)
Leader of the House
(9 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Damien Moore's debates

Southport 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).

Petition Debates Contributed

Mark Allen, aged 18, drowned after jumping into a freezing reservoir on a hot day in June 2018.

In May 2019 we watched whilst 3 throwlines were installed where he died.

Mark could have possibly been saved if they were in place beforehand.

Being the first to close and still no clue as to when we can open, this seasonal industry is losing its summer profits that allows them to get through the first quarter of next year.

Even if we are allowed to open in December, 1 months profit won't be enough to keep us open in 2021. We need help

The UK hospitality industry. Responsible for around 3m jobs, generating £130bn in activity, resulting in £38bn in taxation. Yet, unlike the Arts or Sports, we do not have a dedicated Minister.

We are asking that a Minister for Hospitality be created for the current, and successive governments.

Schools should move to online learning from 9 December so that all students and school staff have a chance to isolate for two weeks and then can safely meet older relatives.

The Government should cancel GCSEs and A Levels in 2021 due to the disruption of Covid-19. By the time students go back to normal learning, 6 months will have passed since schools were closed to most pupils. This has already had a huge impact on the studying of so many.

Close down schools and colleges due to the increase in COVID-19 cases. We are seeing cases of students and teachers catching the virus since schools have reopened.

The threat of covid19 is real. Children can’t be expected to maintain sufficient social distancing to keep this virus from spreading. They are social creatures. Allowing them back to school could cause a new spike in cases. They could bring it back home, even if they are a-symptomatic.


Latest EDMs signed by Damien Moore

6th June 2022
Damien Moore signed this EDM on Monday 13th June 2022

Treatment of Liverpool fans at the 2022 Champions League Final in Paris

Tabled by: Ian Byrne (Labour - Liverpool, West Derby)
That this House condemns the deeply disturbing treatment by French police of Liverpool and Real Madrid fans outside Stade de France at the Champions League Final in Paris; notes catastrophic failures in stadium management by UEFA and French authorities which threatened the lives and wellbeing of supporters; further notes the …
79 signatures
(Most recent: 22 Jun 2022)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 56
Scottish National Party: 6
Independent: 4
Liberal Democrat: 4
Plaid Cymru: 3
Conservative: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Alba Party: 1
Green Party: 1
Alliance: 1
View All Damien Moore's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Damien Moore, 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.


Damien Moore has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Damien Moore has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

2 Bills introduced by Damien Moore


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 regulate online news platforms; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Monday 11th March 2019
(Read Debate)

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 about postal voting at elections.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Tuesday 20th February 2018
(Read Debate)

309 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
16th Dec 2021
To ask the Attorney General, what recent assessment she has made of the trends in the number of people called to the bar in England and Wales over the last five years.

The legal profession in England and Wales is independent of Government and is regulated by approved regulators, for which the Legal Services Board (LSB) has oversight responsibility. The approved regulators and LSB are independent of Government. Data on the trends of the number of people called to the bar in England and Wales, broken down by gender, ethnicity and age, provided by the Bar Standards Board can be found here. The statistics show that over the past 5 years the number of females being called to the bar is greater than the number of males. They also show that over the last three years the number of those called to the bar from an ethnic minority background is greater than those from a white background. This is testament to the huge amount of work to improve diversity of those practicing at the bar.

20th Jul 2021
To ask the Attorney General, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the time taken by the Crown Prosecution Services to make a decision on whether to prosecute in respect of Operation Sheridan.

The Attorney General and I are responsible for superintending the Crown Prosecution Service but do not have oversight of specific cases.

Operation Sheridan is a live investigation under active review by a team of lawyers from the CPS Specialist Fraud Division. It is a large and complex case with significant sensitivities. It would be inappropriate for me to comment further on individual case details.

The CPS have confirmed that they have substantial legal resource devoted to progressing the case and there is also significant management oversight, at a senior level from both CPS and police.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th May 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent steps his Department has made to encourage the return to office work for civil servants across the Government.

There is full agreement across government on the clear benefits from face-to-face, collaborative working.

I also wrote to departments earlier this year to underline the importance of workplace attendance and to ensure we are making efficient use of the government estate.

Departments’ progress is being monitored and we are seeing civil servants have been increasingly returning to the office.

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency)
10th Mar 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of publishing the infected blood compensation framework report by Sir Robert Francis QC by 14 March 2022 or on its receipt.

I refer the Hon. Member to the Written Ministerial Statement, HCWS681, made on 15 March.

Michael Ellis
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
10th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether his Department has held recent discussions with the Royal British Legion on support for veterans' mental health.

The Government regularly engages service charities, including the Royal British Legion, who make an enormous contribution to veterans and their families. We are firmly committed to continuing to work with the charity sector through forums including the Covenant Reference Group and the Service Charities Partnership Board to better understand veterans' needs, as well as deliver high-quality mental health support to former service personnel. We welcomed the opportunity to work closely with the Royal British Legion and other service charities last year to ensure support was in place for members of the Armed Forces community who had been impacted by the Afghanistan conflict and subsequent withdrawal.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of proposing a timeline to respond to Sir Robert Francis QC’s report in relation to the infected blood inquiry, following its publication no later than 14 March 2022.

Sir Robert Francis QC is conducting a study that looks at options for a framework for compensation for people infected and affected by infected blood. The study will report to the Paymaster General with its recommendations before the Infected Blood Inquiry reports. Sir Robert will deliver his study no later than 14 March 2022. The Government will give full consideration to Sir Robert's study - which is separate from the independent public inquiry.

Michael Ellis
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
22nd Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will take steps to ensure that OneWeb continues to receive funding and support.

The Government has successfully supported OneWeb to fully fund its business plan and continues to support OneWeb to become commercially successful. The Government does not intend to make any further investment in OneWeb.

13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of trends in the level of consumer spending on small businesses across the UK as the cost of living increases.

BEIS monitors a range of indicators across the economy, including consumer spending and business health. The most recent ONS data[i] indicate that most businesses, including small businesses, reported that April turnover increased or stayed the same, compared to March. When asked about expectations for turnover in June, most small businesses still expected their revenue to stay the same or increase.

Recognising the challenges facing businesses and consumers, Government measures include £15 billion to support struggling households, bringing total support to help manage the cost of living total to £37billion this year.

[i] ONS BICS Wave 57 – published 1 June 2022

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
22nd Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of setting targets for energy suppliers in respect of (a) identifying and (b) supporting disabled customers.

The department has not set targets on this item as Ofgem already has measures in place to require energy suppliers to support disabled customers. This includes protection from disconnection during the winter, and the provision of additional support through a Priority Services Register. Ofgem monitors compliance with their rules protecting vulnerable consumers. Their most recent report is available at:

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/sites/default/files/2021-10/Ofgem%20Consumer%20Protection%20Report%20Autumn%202021_Final.pdf.

Under the Warm Home Discount scheme, Ofgem provides a breakdown in their annual reports of the Industry Initiatives supporting fuel poor and vulnerable households through measures that include benefit entitlement checks and debt write-off. The 2020-2021 report is available at: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications/warm-home-discount-annual-report-scheme-year-10.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the level of support provided by energy suppliers to disabled customers through (a) benefit entitlement checks, (b) debt write-off and (c) other related schemes.

Ofgem require energy suppliers to support disabled customers. This includes protection from disconnection during the winter, and the provision of additional support through a Priority Services Register. Ofgem monitors compliance with their rules protecting vulnerable consumers. Their most recent report is available at: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/sites/default/files/2021-10/Ofgem%20Consumer%20Protection%20Report%20Autumn%202021_Final.pdf.

Under the Warm Home Discount scheme, Ofgem provides a breakdown in their annual reports of the Industry Initiatives supporting fuel poor and vulnerable households through measures that include benefit entitlement checks and debt write-off. The 2020-2021 report is available at: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications/warm-home-discount-annual-report-scheme-year-10.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the extent to which fuel poverty target numbers adequately recognise disabled people’s higher energy costs and usage.

The fuel poverty target is to ensure that as many fuel poor homes as is reasonably practicable achieve a minimum energy efficiency rating of Band C, by 2030. Its aim is to target energy efficiency support to low income households.

The 2030 target does not include estimates of energy costs, including estimates for any specific groups.

Progress against the target is reported on in the annual fuel poverty statistics, which can be found https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fuel-poverty-statistics.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to support small businesses that are experiencing operational challenges as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

Small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) are the backbone of our economy and have a key role to play in driving economic growth. The Government has provided an unprecedented and comprehensive package of support to help as many businesses as possible during this challenging period.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme (CLBILS) and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) were instrumental in providing vital cashflow to businesses affected by the pandemic, unlocking almost £80bn of finance and reaching almost a third of SMEs in the UK. This has been supplemented by the Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) which ensures they can continue to access loans and other kinds of finance as they grow and recover from the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic. The RLS is still open to applications from SMEs until 30 June 2022. We have also implemented business rates relief worth £7 billion over five years.

This government is providing support on access to finance through the British Business Bank and our new ‘Help to Grow’ scheme will help small businesses across the UK learn new skills, reach new customers and boost profits.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made on (a) the increase in energy prices for consumers and (b) the impact if that on people in the North West.

The published fuel poverty projections for 2022, show that while most households will need to pay more for their energy bills from April, the financial support offered combined with action on energy efficiency will keep the number of households in fuel poverty on a slight declining trend. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fuel-poverty-statistics. These projections are at a national level for England and no projections have been made at the regional level.

We are already taking action to support households with rising energy bills. The government is providing a package of support worth £9.1 billion in 2022-23 which includes a £150 Council Tax rebate for bands A-D, £144 million discretionary funding for local authorities and a £200 energy bill reduction which will help over 28 million households. This is in addition to the support Government will continue to provide through the Warm Home Discount Scheme, which this winter is providing over 2 million households a £140 rebate off their energy bill. We have announced that it would be increasing to £150 and help an extra 780,000 households next winter. Further, Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments help ensure the most vulnerable are better able to heat their homes over the colder months.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support local high street businesses.

We are providing a further £1bn for businesses most impacted by Omicron, in addition to the £400bn package already provided which includes grants, loans, business rates relief, VAT discounts and rent moratorium – providing a lifeline for many local high street businesses.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that people on low incomes are able to afford the rising costs of gas and electricity bills.

The Government is committed to protecting customers from price spikes, particularly vulnerable customers. The Warm Home discount provides over 2 million households a £140 rebate off their energy bill each winter, and there are plans to increase it to £150 and help an extra 780,000 households. The Energy Company Obligation is being expanded to £1.billion p.a. which will ensure energy suppliers help 133,000 low-income households a year to permanently lower their bills by an average of £290 p.a. via insulation and new heating. From October, households in Great Britain will receive a £200 cash rebate on their energy costs. A £150 non-repayable reduction in Council Tax bills for (English) households in Bands A-D will apply from April with £144 million of discretionary funding for Local Authorities to support households who need support but are not eligible for the Council Tax reduction.

The Government has also provided an extra £500 million for local authorities through the new Household Support Fund to provide help to millions of the most in need. The Energy Price Cap will remain in place at least till the end of 2022 to ensure millions of customers pay a fair price for their energy.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support people affected by improperly fitted cavity wall insulation as a result of work carried out under Government schemes that operated between 2009 and 2014, especially in cases where the contractors who did those works are no longer operational.

Those who had measures installed between 2009 and 2014, with guarantees, can contact the guaranteed provider for assistance, even in the event the contractor is no longer operational. If no guarantee is in place, then Citizens’ Advice should be contacted for further advice.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has plans to introduce further grants to support homeowners in making their homes greener.

The Heat and Buildings Strategy sets out the Government’s actions to reduce emissions from buildings over the forthcoming decades. The package of measures provides £3.9bn of new funding to support the installation of energy efficiency measures and low-carbon heating. This includes a new £450m Boiler Upgrade Scheme providing grants of up to £6,000 from Spring 2022 to encourage homeowners to install more efficient, low-carbon heating systems, such as heat pumps.

The Government has also announced £950m in funding for the Home Upgrade Grant between 2022 – 2025. Through the scheme, the Government is providing grants to low-income households to install energy efficiency measures and low-carbon heating to lower-quality, off gas grid homes in England. This includes insulation measures and a heat pump to tackle fuel poverty and reach the UK’s net zero target.

In addition, £800m has been committed to the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) to improve the energy performance of social rented homes across England. The SHDF will upgrade a significant amount of the social housing stock currently below EPC Band C up to that standard.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with the chief executive of HM Land Registry on application backlogs.

My Noble Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Lord Callanan is the responsible Minister for HM Land Registry. My Noble Friend meets the Chief Executive and Chair on a regular basis to discuss a broad range of operational and strategic matters with the last meeting in September 2021. HM Land Registry is focused on increasing output and reducing completion time for applications by increasing capacity, implementing new processes and accelerating digital services.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has plans to bring forward legislative proposals to reform the powers and role of Companies House.

The Corporate Transparency and Register Reform consultation, published in May 2019, outlined plans for the reform of Companies House. These far-reaching reforms include identity verification of company directors and those who control companies; an expansion in the powers of Companies House to query and challenge information submitted to the register; and improving the processes for supressing personal information from the register in instances where it is no longer relevant or presents a potential threat to the safety of individuals. This consultation received 1,320 responses and in September 2020, the Government published its response.

Please see the below links to the 2019 Corporate Transparency and Register Reform consultation and to the Department’s response:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/819994/Corporate_transparency_and_register_reform.pdf;

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/925059/corporate-transparency-register-reform-government-response.pdf.

Following this consultation, the Department published, in December 2020, three further consultations, which set out further details of the Government’s reform proposals. These consultations included ‘Corporate transparency and register reform: implementing the ban on corporate directors’; ‘Corporate transparency and register reform: improving the quality and value of financial information on the UK companies register’; and ‘Corporate transparency and register reform: powers of the registrar’.

Please see the links to these consultations below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/corporate-transparency-and-register-reform-implementing-the-ban-on-corporate-directors;

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/corporate-transparency-and-register-reform-powers-of-the-registrar;

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/corporate-transparency-and-register-reform-improving-the-quality-and-value-of-financial-information-on-the-uk-companies-register.

The Government will respond to these consultations in due course and plans to legislate when Parliamentary time allows.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that businesses which carry out work through the Green Homes Grant scheme are paid on time.

The scheme administrator is working to ensure vouchers are paid as quickly as possible.

Payment to installers is a four-step process. It requires the customer to confirm the work has been completed, the installer to lodge the work and the scheme administrator to undertake scheme checks before they can proceed to payment.

Once it has reached the payment stage, the administrator aims to make payments within five-working days. However, if an inspection is deemed necessary then the process will take longer, especially given the current COVID-19 restrictions.

As of 3 June 2021, 19,122 vouchers had been paid, with a total government contribution of £77 million.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent estimate he has made of the number of companies registered with Companies House that have addresses in the UK without the landowner's knowledge.

Companies House does not hold information on the number of companies registered at UK addresses without the landowners’ permission.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many and what proportion of coronavirus restart grants applied for by businesses in Southport were approved by Sefton Borough Council before 17 May 2021.

The £5 billion Restart Grants scheme announced by my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer on 3 March 2021 are one-off grants to businesses in the non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure, personal care and accommodation sectors to support businesses to reopen as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted in the coming months.

Businesses in the non-essential retail sector are able to apply for grants of up to £6,000.  Businesses in the hospitality, leisure, personal care and gym sectors are able to apply for grants of up to £18,000.

We are not able to share a breakdown of the funding distributed by Sefton Borough Council at this stage. We will publish data on Restart Grant payments in due course.

All data on Government allocations and Local Authority payments of grant schemes is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-grant-funding-local-authority-payments-to-small-and-medium-businesses.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what support is available to pubs affected by the covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

There is a significant package of financial support currently available to pubs to help with the difficulties caused by Covid-19 and the associated social distancing measures the Government has put in place. The wide range of schemes include:

  • Grants under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHGLF) and the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) for eligible businesses;
  • Government-backed loans through schemes such as the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS);
  • Access to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to furlough workers, which will continue in its current form until 31 July and then in a more flexible form from August until 31 October;
  • A business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses for the 2020 to 2021 tax year; and
  • The option to defer VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June until 31 March 2021.

We continue to keep our support for pubs under review and to engage with the sector.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the financial effect on his Department of moving to net zero carbon emissions; and if he will make a statement.

The Department is committed to becoming net zero by 2050 at the latest and work is in progress to meet that target. It is too early to give an estimate of the financial effect on the department.

The Department undertook an energy audit in 2019 and we are currently undertaking a range of works, including installation of LED lighting, to reduce our energy consumption. We have established a sustainability board to oversee our planning on net zero. Since 2010 we have:

- Reduced carbon emissions by 65%

- Reduced waste production by 72%

- Eradicated the majority of single-use plastics, including preventing 120,000 single use coffee cups from going to landfill in 2019.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the non-financial effect on his Department of changes required for his Department to move to net zero carbon emissions; and if he will make a statement.

The Department is committed to becoming net zero by 2050 at the latest and work is in progress to meet that target. It is too early to give an assessment of the non-financial effect on the Department.

The Department undertook an energy audit in 2019 and we are currently undertaking a range of works, including installation of LED lighting, to reduce our energy consumption. We have established a sustainability board to oversee our planning on net zero. Since 2010 we have:

- Reduced carbon emissions by 65%

- Reduced waste production by 72%

- Eradicated the majority of single-use plastics, including preventing 120,000 single use coffee cups from going to landfill in 2019.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
21st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment her Department has made of the role of technology companies in preventing the harmful use of deepfake technology.

The Government recognises the challenges digitally manipulated content such as deepfakes pose.

The Online Safety Bill requires service providers to tackle serious and illegal forms of manipulated media. All services in scope of the Bill will need to proactively remove and prevent users from being exposed to priority illegal content. This could include deepfake material where it is linked to existing priority offences, such as extreme or revenge pornography. Service providers will also need to prevent children from accessing content, including deepfakes, which is harmful or inappropriate. Major platforms will also need to set out clearly their terms of service in relation to priority content that is legal but harmful to adults, which may include deepfake content. They will need to enforce these terms of service consistently.

The Government has also asked the Law Commission to review the criminal law related to intimate images. This review is sponsored by the Ministry of Justice and includes ‘deepfake’ pornography. The Law Commission will publish its final report and recommendations later this year.

24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department will take to ensure that national records of war memorials are accurately maintained.

War memorials are an important part of our cultural heritage, and hold a deep emotional resonance with the people of this country. Maintaining an accurate register is integral to making war memorials accessible to all, and ensuring that they benefit future generations as well as our own.

The Imperial War Museum (a DCMS-Sponsored Museum and Arm's Length Body of government) manages the War Memorials Register, a comprehensive national register of over 90,000 UK war memorials and the names of the individuals they commemorate. With the help of volunteers and the general public, this register is continually updated and provides an invaluable resource to anyone wishing to learn more about, and commemorate, lives lost to and affected by conflict.

Alongside the work of organisations such as The War Memorials Trust this work ensures the wider preservation of the UK’s war memorials.

19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to increase funding for grassroots football clubs to purchase defibrillators.

Events at UEFA EURO 2020 last year have demonstrated the immense value of access to Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and first aid training for anyone involved in sport.

At the grassroots sport level, all capital funding awards for sports venues made by Sport England, the government’s arm’s length body for community sport, must include AED provision if it is not already available.

For football facilities, The Football Association (The FA) and the British Heart Foundation have provided support over recent years to help ensure AEDs are available. I welcome the Premier League’s Defibrillator Fund, which will fund AEDs at thousands of football clubs and facilities across the country. Each grant recipient will be required to have at least one person successfully complete The FA Education Sudden Cardiac Arrest free online course. Sport England is working with the Football Foundation in support of the Premier League initiative to put £3 million into providing AED equipment for grassroots football clubs.

The Defibrillator Fund will see AEDs provided to Football Foundation funded facilities which currently are without a device onsite. The second phase of the project now allows grassroots clubs that own their facilities to apply for funding for a defibrillator, with 1,538 applications to the fund received to date.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to support the UK's coastal tourism industry.

Our national tourism agency, VisitBritain, is launching a new international and domestic campaign this month, which will focus on driving visitor recovery in the UK. This is additional to the Tourism Recovery Plan, which was published by DCMS in June 2021.

VisitBritain and The National Lottery’s current ‘Days Out’ campaign supports the domestic tourism industry by stimulating demand for off-season domestic day trips to visitor attractions and experiences for young families. Attraction examples include Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours, Clacton Pier, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, and various locations of SEA LIFE.

Coastal tourism is an important part of the British tourism sector. 10% of all visits to the UK include going to the coast or beaches and 11% of all visits include walking along the coast.

The business advice hub, our business webinars, We’re Good to Go and DMO support all available to the sector, including those in coastal locations.

Coastal destinations were supported via the Discover England Fund as part of the England’s Coast project up to 2021. VisitBritain continues to support their initiatives, through marketing, PR and business support.

Press trips have taken place on coastal destinations and continue to be part of VisitBritain’s ongoing campaigns and activities where the pandemic has allowed international and domestic travel.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to enable non-professional singing choirs to resume rehearsals and performances indoors.

I know that the restrictions on singing are frustrating to large numbers of amateur choirs and performance groups across the country and that many people have made sacrifices in order to drive down infections and protect the NHS over the last year. I want to assure you that everyone across the government wants to ease these restrictions as soon as possible.

However, it is important that we take a cautious approach in easing restrictions.

We will continue to keep guidance and restrictions under review, in line with the changing situation. Further detail on step 4 will be set out as soon as possible.

18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to progress the fan-led review of football; and if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of establishing an independent football regulator.

The Government is continuing to work at pace on the review having already appointed the Honourable Member for Chatham and Aylesford as Chair and published the Terms of Reference. We have also announced the advisory panel members to support the Chair and I look forward to receiving an interim report over the Summer, before the full report in the Autumn.

I would not want to pre-judge the recommendations of the review but can confirm that the merits of an independent football regulator will be examined as part of the review.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what financial support the Government plans to provide for (a) soft play centres and (b) maternal classes when those facilities reopen after the covid-19 outbreak.

Sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active and the Government has been committed to reopening facilities as soon as it is safe to do so. On 13 August, the Government announced that indoor play and indoor soft play venues could open from 15 August. Indoor play and indoor soft play venues have been able to access the unprecedented financial support package that the Government has provided businesses across the economy during the pandemic.

Antenatal classes are provided by the NHS. Like all areas of NHS care, maternity services will be affected by the pandemic, but antenatal contact and new baby visits should continue. Maternity units are working to ensure services are provided in a way that is safe, supported by greater use of digital and remote technologies.

Video consultation capability by NHS providers has rapidly been scaled up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Attend Anywhere is a web-based video consultation platform intended for use on tablets, smartphones, laptops or PC’s with a webcam and is funded by NHS England and NHS Improvement for all maternity providers to use.



Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what the Government's timeframe is for the reopening of soft play centres as covid-19 lockdown measures ease.

On 13 August, the Government announced that indoor play and indoor soft play venues could open from 15 August. We worked with BALPPA, the trade body that represents the industry to develop guidance that lays out detailed measures for indoor play and indoor soft play operators to make venues COVID-secure. These include closing ball pits and sensory areas, reducing capacity of venues and soft play frames, regular deep cleaning, pre-bookable timed sessions, increased sanitation, and a rigorous process to support track and trace. We will continue to engage with the sector and will keep the guidance under regular review.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what support is available for hoteliers in the event that customer must self-isolate at the hotel during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have published guidance on how to open guest accommodation businesses safely whilst minimising the risks of COVID-19.

If a guest is displaying signs of COVID-19 while staying in overnight accommodation, they should inform the accommodation provider, immediately self-isolate where they are to minimise any risk of transmission, and request a test. If they are confirmed to have COVID-19, they should return home if they reasonably can. If a guest cannot reasonably return home, their circumstances should be discussed with an appropriate health care professional and, if necessary, the local authority.

Unless otherwise provided for in the contractual terms of the booking, the guest will be expected to pay the costs of an extended stay in all but exceptional circumstances. Exceptional circumstances may include, but are not limited to, where the accommodation provider has failed to follow government guidance to create a COVID-secure environment.

The Government has developed a comprehensive support package to help businesses and workers deal with various COVID-related pressures, which hotel and bed and breakfast businesses can continue to access.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will take steps to ensure that UCAS applicants who have undertaken qualifications that are equivalent to GCSEs are not penalised in their applications.

The government works closely with schools, colleges, awarding organisations and the higher education (HE) sector to ensure that students’ interests are at the centre of decision-making, and to ensure that students have the time to carefully consider their options and make the best choices for their future.

As set out in the International Education Strategy, the government is committed to enhancing the international student experience, from application to employment. We work closely across government and the HE sector to achieve this.

Higher education (HE) providers are autonomous and independent institutions and are therefore responsible for their own admissions decisions. As such, HE providers are used to assessing a wide range of qualifications from domestic and international applicants to make fair admissions decisions.

UCAS is a charity, operating independently of the government. Prospective international and domestic applicants can find a range of information, advice and guidance on their website, and on the websites of their preferred providers.

The department is continuing to work with UCAS and sector bodies to improve transparency, reduce the use of unconditional offers, and reform the personal statement to improve fairness for domestic and international applicants of all backgrounds.

21st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will make an assessment of the adequacy of the UCAS application process for people who attended school outside the UK when they were aged between 11 and 16.

The government works closely with schools, colleges, awarding organisations and the higher education (HE) sector to ensure that students’ interests are at the centre of decision-making, and to ensure that students have the time to carefully consider their options and make the best choices for their future.

As set out in the International Education Strategy, the government is committed to enhancing the international student experience, from application to employment. We work closely across government and the HE sector to achieve this.

Higher education (HE) providers are autonomous and independent institutions and are therefore responsible for their own admissions decisions. As such, HE providers are used to assessing a wide range of qualifications from domestic and international applicants to make fair admissions decisions.

UCAS is a charity, operating independently of the government. Prospective international and domestic applicants can find a range of information, advice and guidance on their website, and on the websites of their preferred providers.

The department is continuing to work with UCAS and sector bodies to improve transparency, reduce the use of unconditional offers, and reform the personal statement to improve fairness for domestic and international applicants of all backgrounds.

21st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what (a) process and (b) criteria he will use to determine the membership of the National Implementation Board of experts for the Care Review.

On 23 May 2022, the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care published its final recommendations. On the same day, the government set out the actions it is taking to improve children’s social care and committed to publishing a detailed and ambitious implementation strategy later this year.

The National Implementation Board will include people with experience of leading transformational change and those with their own experience of the care system. The department will set out more details about the board in due course.

We are now carefully assessing the Review’s recommendations with all relevant government departments, including HM Treasury. Once we have agreed the broad shape of our reform programme, we will need to consider any cost implications.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
21st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether the Government has made progress on the implementation of the recommendations from Ofsted's Review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges, published on 10 June 2021.

The department accepted the findings of Ofsted’s review in full and immediately began working on delivering a multi-agency, cross-departmental response, tackling the issues identified.

Local statutory safeguarding partners should support schools to address harmful sexual behaviours and sexual abuse. The department’s immediate response involved asking all 135 safeguarding partners to review working arrangements with schools and colleges in their area. We ran several events with safeguarding partners, educational establishments and sector experts, ascertaining emerging practice and barriers to effective working. This information will be shared across all safeguarding partners.

The department has published strengthened statutory Keeping Children Safe in Education Guidance in 2021, ensuring schools have clearer guidance on dealing with sexual abuse. We are further strengthening this guidance and a draft version was published in May and will take effect in September 2022. Additionally, the Child-on-Child Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment guidance have been revised.

The department has worked with the Home Office on development of the Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service, assisting professionals, such as teachers and designated safeguarding leads (DSLs), to tackle harmful sexual behaviours.

DSLs have a pivotal role in supporting and protecting children in school which is why we have provided more support to DSLs, enabling them to identify and address issues more confidently. We have extended our pilot of supervision and training for DSLs working alongside the Child Sexual Abuse Centre of Expertise and What Works Children’s Social Care. Later this year an online hub for DSLs will be launched, in conjunction with professionals and the sector, delivering further advice and guidance.

To address safeguarding issues online and on social media platforms, alongside the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, we asked the Children’s Commissioner to immediately explore how children’s access to pornography and harmful content can be reduced. We have worked with the Children’s Commissioner’s Office to develop and publish a Parent’s Guide: Talking to your child about online sexual harassment. Additionally, Ministers and the Children’s Commissioner have sought reassurance from technology companies that they will identify further information which they can share, and continue to make available resources to parents, teachers, and children.

To ensure children and young people are educated about these issues, the department is supporting teachers to implement the compulsory Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) curriculum, including through producing non-statutory guidance to strengthen content and clarity on when relevant topics should be taught and asking schools to prioritise delivery of the full RSHE curriculum this academic year.

Where children and young people are affected by these issues, they continue to be supported by NSPCC’s Report Abuse in Education helpline (0800 136663). The helpline is open to anyone who has suffered sexual abuse or harassment in educational settings, and those concerned for someone else.

Work on safeguarding and child protection continues across government, including the Home Office’s Violence Against Women and Girls and Tackling Child Sexual Abuse strategies, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Online Safety Act, the National Crime Agency’s response to abuse and exploitation, and Cabinet Office’s Stop Abuse Together campaign.

21st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress his Department has made on implementing the recommendations made in Ofsted's review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges.

The department accepted the findings of Ofsted’s review in full and immediately began working on delivering a multi-agency, cross-departmental response, tackling the issues identified.

Local statutory safeguarding partners should support schools to address harmful sexual behaviours and sexual abuse. The department’s immediate response involved asking all 135 safeguarding partners to review working arrangements with schools and colleges in their area. We ran several events with safeguarding partners, educational establishments and sector experts, ascertaining emerging practice and barriers to effective working. This information will be shared across all safeguarding partners.

The department has published strengthened statutory Keeping Children Safe in Education Guidance in 2021, ensuring schools have clearer guidance on dealing with sexual abuse. We are further strengthening this guidance and a draft version was published in May and will take effect in September 2022. Additionally, the Child-on-Child Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment guidance have been revised.

The department has worked with the Home Office on development of the Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service, assisting professionals, such as teachers and designated safeguarding leads (DSLs), to tackle harmful sexual behaviours.

DSLs have a pivotal role in supporting and protecting children in school which is why we have provided more support to DSLs, enabling them to identify and address issues more confidently. We have extended our pilot of supervision and training for DSLs working alongside the Child Sexual Abuse Centre of Expertise and What Works Children’s Social Care. Later this year an online hub for DSLs will be launched, in conjunction with professionals and the sector, delivering further advice and guidance.

To address safeguarding issues online and on social media platforms, alongside the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, we asked the Children’s Commissioner to immediately explore how children’s access to pornography and harmful content can be reduced. We have worked with the Children’s Commissioner’s Office to develop and publish a Parent’s Guide: Talking to your child about online sexual harassment. Additionally, Ministers and the Children’s Commissioner have sought reassurance from technology companies that they will identify further information which they can share, and continue to make available resources to parents, teachers, and children.

To ensure children and young people are educated about these issues, the department is supporting teachers to implement the compulsory Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) curriculum, including through producing non-statutory guidance to strengthen content and clarity on when relevant topics should be taught and asking schools to prioritise delivery of the full RSHE curriculum this academic year.

Where children and young people are affected by these issues, they continue to be supported by NSPCC’s Report Abuse in Education helpline (0800 136663). The helpline is open to anyone who has suffered sexual abuse or harassment in educational settings, and those concerned for someone else.

Work on safeguarding and child protection continues across government, including the Home Office’s Violence Against Women and Girls and Tackling Child Sexual Abuse strategies, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Online Safety Act, the National Crime Agency’s response to abuse and exploitation, and Cabinet Office’s Stop Abuse Together campaign.

13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will take steps to ensure that the National Implementation Board for children’s social care works with the proposed National SEND Delivery Board, as outlined in the SEND Review, to meet the social care needs of families with disabled children.

The department is committed to aligning our implementation strategy for children’s social care following the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care with the reforms to the special educational needs and disabilities system that we are currently consulting on through the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) Green Paper.

Ultimately, the department wants to build a coherent system that has the best interests of families and vulnerable children at its heart. We therefore recognise the importance of the National Implementation Board for children’s social care working closely with the proposed National SEND Delivery Board. We will set out more detail on plans for both boards in due course.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the funding recommendations set out in the independent review of children’s social care.

The department has committed to publishing a detailed and ambitious implementation strategy later this year which will detail the steps we are taking to improve children’s social care. As the strategy is developed, the department will consider the recommendations of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care carefully, including cost implications and where legislation might be required.

The department is committed to keeping the views and interests of those with lived experience at the heart of our work as we develop the implementation strategy. The new National Implementation Board will include people with their own experience of the care system, alongside those with experience of leading transformational change.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans the Government has to ensure that the young people with experience of being in care will be included in the Care Review process at implementation stage.

The department has committed to publishing a detailed and ambitious implementation strategy later this year which will detail the steps we are taking to improve children’s social care. As the strategy is developed, the department will consider the recommendations of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care carefully, including cost implications and where legislation might be required.

The department is committed to keeping the views and interests of those with lived experience at the heart of our work as we develop the implementation strategy. The new National Implementation Board will include people with their own experience of the care system, alongside those with experience of leading transformational change.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the recommendation set out in the independent review of children's social care that the care system should shift its focus to an early intervention model as opposed to crisis help.

The department has committed to publishing a detailed and ambitious implementation strategy later this year which will detail the steps we are taking to improve children’s social care. As the strategy is developed, the department will consider the recommendations of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care carefully, including cost implications and where legislation might be required.

The department is committed to keeping the views and interests of those with lived experience at the heart of our work as we develop the implementation strategy. The new National Implementation Board will include people with their own experience of the care system, alongside those with experience of leading transformational change.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on allocating funding to the children's social care system in response to the independent review of children's social care.

The department has committed to publishing a detailed and ambitious implementation strategy later this year which will detail the steps we are taking to improve children’s social care. As the strategy is developed, the department will consider the recommendations of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care carefully, including cost implications and where legislation might be required.

The department is committed to keeping the views and interests of those with lived experience at the heart of our work as we develop the implementation strategy. The new National Implementation Board will include people with their own experience of the care system, alongside those with experience of leading transformational change.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that children are not absent from (a) school and (b) higher education.

To ensure families receive support for school attendance, the department recently published new guidance setting out expectations for schools, trusts and local authorities to work together to improve pupil attendance.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has established an alliance of national leaders from education, children’s social care, and other relevant services to work together to raise school attendance and reduce persistent absence. The Attendance Alliance Group has pledged to take action to remove barriers preventing children attending school. The department has also run a number of webinars for schools, multi-academy trusts (MATs) and local authorities to share effective practice in relation to attendance.

The department’s team of attendance advisers play an important role, by working closely with local authorities and MATs with higher levels of persistent absence to review their current practice and support them to develop plans to improve.

The department has been working to establish a better and more timely flow of pupil level attendance data across schools, trusts, and local authorities. Most state-funded schools across the country have now signed up to this project. This will help those involved to identify pupils who need most support with their attendance.

High levels of student engagement and a sense of belonging are associated with students performing well at university and of reducing the chance of them dropping out. A recent joint study by Pearson and higher education outlet Wonkhe showed students with the sense of belonging associated with high engagement are likely to enjoy more academic success.

To support learners in higher education, Student Support Champion duties will include encouraging universities to use technologies such as customer relationship management systems. These can flag the early warning signs of those who are struggling or becoming less engaged, by monitoring data such as attendance and library collections.

It is important that learners feel supported to make informed post-16 decisions on the appropriate route for them. The department’s reforms in the post-16 area, and on support for careers advice in all schools, seek to achieve this.

26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will take steps to ensure that children are integral to the Government's levelling up agenda.

The government’s Levelling Up White Paper includes a specific education mission which states that by 2030, the number of primary school children achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and maths will have significantly increased. In England, this means 90% of children will achieve the expected standard, and the percentage of children meeting the expected standard in the worst performing areas will have increased by over a third. The Levelling Up White Paper can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/levelling-up-the-united-kingdom.

The department is committed to levelling up education standards. The recent Schools White Paper sets out our long-term vision for a school system that helps every child to fulfil their potential, by ensuring that they receive the right support, in the right place, at the right time founded on achieving world-class literacy and numeracy. The Schools White Paper can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/opportunity-for-all-strong-schools-with-great-teachers-for-your-child.

This is why the government is building capacity in the places that need this most. We are offering significant support for our 55 Education Investment Areas (EIAs) so that we can improve outcomes for pupils in these areas where attainment is weakest. The government will also be offering additional intensive investment in a subset of 24 Priority EIAs.

In all 55 EIAs, we will be taking steps to support underperforming schools to make the necessary improvements, build trust capacity, support improved digital connectivity in the schools that need this most and offer the Levelling Up premium, worth up to £3,000 tax-free, to eligible teachers.

In the Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021, the government announced £82 million to create a network of family hubs in 75 areas. This is part of a wider £302 million package to transform services for parents, carers, babies, and children in half of council areas across England. The 75 local authorities eligible to receive the funding were announced on 2 April 2022. Information on support for vulnerable families can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/infants-children-and-families-to-benefit-from-boost-in-support.

24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made of the capability of Sefton Council's political leadership to run an effective Children's Social Care department.

Keeping children safe is vital, and the government takes tough measures when councils are failing them.

A Statutory Direction was issued to Sefton Council on 24 May 2022, following the 9 May 2022 Ofsted report that judged children’s services to be inadequate. The direction requires the Council to work with a commissioner appointed by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, who will issue any necessary instructions to the local authority for the purpose of securing immediate improvement. In addition, the commissioner will conduct a three-month assessment of the Council’s capacity and capability to improve itself. This report will help determine the best next steps to ensure improvements are made for vulnerable children and families.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of Sefton Council's Children's Social Care department.

Keeping children safe is vital, and the government takes tough measures when councils are failing them.

A Statutory Direction was issued to Sefton Council on 24 May 2022, following the 9 May 2022 Ofsted report that judged children’s services to be inadequate. The direction requires the Council to work with a commissioner appointed by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, who will issue any necessary instructions to the local authority for the purpose of securing immediate improvement. In addition, the commissioner will conduct a three-month assessment of the Council’s capacity and capability to improve itself. This report will help determine the best next steps to ensure improvements are made for vulnerable children and families.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how the £50 million granted to parenting programmes in the Spending Review will be spent; and what proportion of that funding will be spent on (a) face-to-face services and (b) digital support.

On 2 April the department announced the 75 local authorities eligible to receive funding under the Family Hubs and Start for Life programme. This announcement can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/infants-children-and-families-to-benefit-from-boost-in-support.

This programme, jointly overseen by the Department for Education and Department for Health and Social Care, includes the £50 million allocated for parenting programmes at the Spending Review. Officials are currently engaging with the nominated local authorities on programme design and further details will be announced in due course.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to help ensure there are an adequate number of specialist teachers to support children with SEND.

The department is committed to ensuring that all pupils can reach their potential and receive excellent support from their teachers. Our reformed initial teacher training (ITT) Core Content Framework (CCF) and the new Early Career Framework (ECF), both developed with sector experts, will equip teachers with a clear understanding of the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

All teachers are teachers of SEND. ITT courses must be designed so that trainee teachers can demonstrate that they meet the Teachers’ Standards at the appropriate level which includes the requirement that all teachers must have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with SEND.

Consideration of SEND underpins both the ITT CCF and ECF which were both produced with the support of sector experts. The ECF is designed to support all pupils to succeed and seeks to widen access for all.

The department is determined that all children and young people receive the support they need to succeed in their education. It is a legal requirement for qualified teachers of classes of pupils with sensory impairments to hold the relevant mandatory qualification. Our aim is to ensure a steady supply of teachers for children with visual, hearing, and multi-sensory impairment, in both specialist and mainstream schools and colleges.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to boost the percentage of children aged five achieving expected level on literacy, communication, and maths early learning goals as a supporting metric for mission 5 in the Levelling Up white paper.

The government has reformed the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) to help give children the best start in life. The reforms aim to improve outcomes for children at age five, particularly disadvantaged children, in the critical areas that build the foundations for later success, such as language development, literacy and numeracy. We are investing up to £180 million in early years education recovery.

Through investing in our English hubs and maths hubs programmes, we will improve the teaching of English and mathematics in schools, including for children in Reception. English hubs are currently delivering intensive support to over 1,000 partner schools, reaching approximately 50,000 pupils in Reception and year 1. Maths hubs programme includes our £100 million Teaching for Mastery programme, which is bringing mastery teaching to 11,000 schools across England by 2023.

To support schools to meet existing expectations on early reading, we published ‘The reading framework: teaching the foundations of literacy’. The guidance is available to view here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-reading-framework-teaching-the-foundations-of-literacy.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
10th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Let Us Learn Too and the Disabled Children’s Partnership’s SEND Money Survey published on 7 February 2022, what progress he has made on developing recommendations for the SEND green paper that will reform services to work better for families with disabled children.

The special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) review is developing at pace and remains a high priority for this government. The department recognises that the current SEND system does not consistently deliver the outcomes we want and expect for children and young people with SEND, their families, and the people and services who support them.

A key priority for the review is to ensure that children and young people with SEND get the right support, in the right place, at the right time. As part of the review, the department will look at what is needed to improve early intervention, make clearer the support and services expected by its users, and have funding and accountability systems in place that support these aims.

The government has done considerable work to engage people and organisations throughout the review, including meeting representatives from Let Us Learn Too and the Disabled Children’s Partnership. The department is committed to testing its proposals publicly through full public consultation in the first quarter of 2022. This consultation will enable it to gather feedback and expertise from a wide range of perspectives, including sector professionals, children, young people and parents, before final decisions are made.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
10th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure teacher training colleges have enough funding to teach new trainees British Sign Language.

Initial teacher training (ITT) is predominantly funded by tuition fees (with a small proportion of trainees completing a programme on a salaried route). It is for ITT providers to determine how they allocate the income they receive from tuition fees to training provision.

The government does not prescribe the curriculum of ITT courses. It remains for individual providers to design courses that are appropriate to the needs of trainees and for the subject, phase and context that the trainees will be teaching.

Since September 2020, all courses offered by ITT providers have been aligned to a mandatory core content framework (CCF), which was published in November 2019. The framework sets out a minimum entitlement for all trainee teachers and is underpinned by the best available evidence about what works in teaching. The ITT CCF has been designed around how to support all pupils to succeed and seeks to widen access for all, including those pupils identified within the four areas of need set out in the special educational needs and disabilities code of practice.

25th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department plans to take to ensure that SEND children with an education and health care plan receive the necessary support in school throughout their education.

The department’s ambition for all children and young people, no matter their special educational needs or disabilities (SEND), is that they receive the right support to succeed in their education. Under the Children and Families Act 2014, every mainstream school is required to identify and address the SEND of the pupils they support and use their best endeavours to make sure that they get the support they need.

The SEND Code of Practice explains that education, health and care (EHC) plans should be focused on education, training, health and care outcomes that will enable children and young people to progress in their learning and, as they get older, to be well prepared for adulthood. It is the responsibility of the local authority to ensure that the support specified in an EHC plan is delivered by the named school.

Through our contract with the National Association for Special Educational Needs, we have funded the Whole School SEND Consortium to equip staff in mainstream and special schools to deliver high quality teaching to all children and young people with SEND.

In addition, the SEND Review is seeking to improve the outcomes and experience of all children and young people with SEND, within a sustainable system. The Review will publish as a green paper for full public consultation in the first three months of this year.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
21st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that schools can offer all children access to speech and language therapy.

Under the Children and Families Act 2014, all schools are required to identify and address the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) of the pupils they support, including those with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), and to endeavour to make sure that a child or young person gets the support they need.

Schools, along with the local authority and health partners, should work with families to co-produce arrangements for delivering speech and language therapy. Spending on speech and language therapy is determined at a local level.

The department recognises the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak has had on children and young people with SLCN. In the recent spending review, we announced £1.8 billion of additional funding for those who need it most, bringing total investment in education recovery to almost £5 billion. Within this, in June 2020 we announced a £1 billion catch-up package including a catch-up premium for the 2020/21 academic year. Schools were able to decide how this catch-up premium was spent, for example, on speech and language therapy.

As part of our catch-up package, we have invested £17 million to deliver the Nuffield Early Language Intervention programme, which supports children in reception with their language skills. Over two thirds of eligible mainstream primary schools are taking part in this proven, evidence-based programme, benefitting around 90,000 children most in need of language support. This is in addition to £10 million for pre-school early language development training announced February 2021.

The government recognises that the current SEND system does not deliver the outcomes we want and expect for all children and young people with SEND, their families or the people and services who support them. The SEND Review is seeking to improve the outcomes for children, with high expectations and ambitions, and is looking at ways to support mainstream settings to identify and get support to children and young people more quickly, through making best use of precious expertise such as speech and language therapists. These issues are long-standing and complex, but the government is determined to deliver real, lasting change. We intend to publish the SEND Review in the first 3 months of 2022.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what additional plans are in place to support schools that have been impacted by teacher absences as a result of the Omicron variant of covid-19.

Our priority is to maintain high quality face-to-face education for all children and young people.

There are measures in place to help break the chains of COVID-19 transmission, minimise disruption to education and limit absences. These include regular testing, improving ventilation in classrooms and continuing the booster rollout for adults and vaccinations for secondary age pupils.

The department has reintroduced the COVID-19 workforce fund to provide financial support to eligible schools and colleges for additional staff absence costs incurred from 22 November until the February spring half term in 2022. The fund is available to support schools and colleges facing the greatest staffing and funding pressures to continue to deliver high quality face-to-face education to all pupils.

The department has also called for ex-teachers to return to the classroom and, on 12 January, it published initial data from a sample of supply agencies gathered between 20 December 2021 and 7 January 2022. This showed that 485 former teachers have signed up with supply agencies, and over 100 Teach First alumni have also expressed interest in returning to the classroom.

Given the size of the sample, the true number of sign-ups since the call was launched will be larger. Full details of the data release can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/number-of-ex-teachers-joining-the-school-workforce-2021-to-2022.

We have also published sector-led case studies that illustrate practical ways in which schools can work to remain open in the face of staff shortage. Our priority is that all schools offer in-person learning for all pupils. This might involve hybrid lessons, remote teaching, streaming teaching to more than one class at a time, combining face-to-face classes, timetable solutions and using recorded teaching.

16th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that children with long-term illnesses are fully supported throughout their education.

The government is committed to pupils with medical conditions and long-term illnesses being properly supported at school so that they have full access to education.

In 2014, the government introduced a new duty on schools to support pupils with all medical conditions and has published statutory guidance on this for schools and others. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/supporting-pupils-at-school-with-medical-conditions--3.

Schools also have duties under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments and not to discriminate against disabled children, which may include some children with long-term medical conditions, in relation to their access to education and associated services. Schools must make reasonable adjustments to their practices, procedures and policies to ensure that they are not putting those with a disability at a substantial disadvantage compared with their peers.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to provide additional support for dyslexic children to obtain diagnoses of their dyslexia, including through the NHS; and what steps he is taking to ensure that those diagnoses are implemented to support a child’s education.

We are committed to improving support for all children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), including those with dyslexia.

Under the Children and Families Act 2014, every mainstream school is required to identify and address the special educational needs of the pupils they support and endeavour to make sure that every child or young person gets the support they need to succeed in their education.

Our SEND code of practice is clear that meeting the needs of a child with dyslexia does not require a diagnostic label or test. Instead, we expect teachers to monitor the progress of all pupils and put support in place where needed.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when his Department plans to publish the full response to Sir Philip Augar's review of Post-18 Education and Funding.

Further to the interim conclusion to the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding published in January 2021, we continue to carefully consider the recommendations made by the independent panel that reported to the Review. We plan to provide a full response in due course.

16th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps his Department has taken to help ensure that families with disabled children are able to access (a) short breaks and (b) respite care that meet their health needs in (i) Southport and (ii) Sefton.

Respite care services, including short breaks, for disabled children and their families are provided based on an individual assessment of each child and family’s needs.

The department believes it is right for local authorities, who know their areas’ needs best, to determine what services are required locally, including early help.

This year, councils have access to £51.3 billion to deliver their core services, including a £1.7 billion grant for social care. The government has also given over £6 billion in funding directly to councils to support them with the immediate and longer-term impacts of COVID-19 spending pressures, including children’s services.

The department will continue to work with other government departments, including the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to ensure the needs of children’s services are reflected.

Where a child has complex health needs or is in receipt of palliative or end-of-life care, respite provision may be appropriately delivered by health providers, including children’s hospices. Local authorities have a statutory duty to assess the social care needs of disabled children and young people, and to provide respite care where necessary. Where it is appropriate, local authorities can fund respite care provided by hospices, either as a short-term stay or as a service provided to the child or young person in the family home by the hospice team. Local authorities and health commissioners regularly liaise to plan and commission the most appropriate package of respite care for the children and young people with life-limiting or life-threatening condition in their area.

In addition to statutory services, the department is providing £27.3 million to the Family Fund in financial year 2021-22 to support over 60,000 families on low incomes raising children and young people with disabilities or serious illnesses. Grants can be used for a range of purposes, including family breaks.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department it taking to help ensure that family members of migrant workers are aware that they qualify for full student finance support.

From the 2021/22 academic year, migrant workers from the European Economic Area and their family members who are covered by the Withdrawal Agreements, and meet the ordinary residence requirement, can access tuition fee loans, loans for living costs and targeted grants. This arrangement is set out in the department’s guidance which was published in August: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1009789/EU_Exit_Student_Finance_Policy_-_Aug_21.pdf. The information is also contained in the following Student Finance England publication: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/student-finance-how-youre-assessed-and-paid.

20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to increase school funding in the north-west of England.

Education funding is a priority for the Government. In the 2019 Spending Round, we committed to significant additional investment in schools of £2.6 billion in financial year 2020/21, £4.8 billion in 2021/22 and £7.1 billion in 2022/23, compared to 2019/20.

The Department has recently announced schools funding for the final year of this three year settlement. In financial year 2022/23, the schools national funding formula (NFF) is increasing by 3.2 per cent overall, and by 2.8 per cent per pupil. The NFF will distribute this funding based on schools’ and pupils’ needs and characteristics. Schools in the North-West will see a higher than average increase of 3.4 per cent in funding overall next year, and per pupil funding will increase by 2.8 per cent.

Within the North-West, Blackpool and Oldham are also benefitting from additional funding through the Opportunity Areas programme, which is working to improve education outcomes and social mobility in 12 of the most deprived areas of England. The Department has recently been able to extend this programme for another year, through to the end of August 2022, and will be providing an additional £18 million across all 12 areas.

20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department has taken to strengthen safeguarding in schools.

Amended statutory guidance for schools in respect of safeguarding, ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ (KCSIE), was published on 6 July 2021, alongside revised departmental advice on sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in school, and will come into force from 1 September 2021.

The guidance has been strengthened and updated following the consultation on proposed changes to KCSIE and departmental advice, as well as findings from the Ofsted review into sexual abuse in schools and colleges. KCSIE now provides schools with even clearer guidance on how to deal with reports of sexual abuse, and to support teachers and other school staff to spot the signs of abuse and respond quickly, sensitively, and appropriately. The ‘Reporting Abuse in Education’ helpline has been extended until October to allow anyone to report a concern over sexual abuse in schools, make a referral, or receive advice. The Department will continue to consider what further changes are needed for KCSIE 2022, to ensure all schools and colleges have the guidance to meet their statutory duties to safeguard children, following a further consultation later this year.

The Department will also be extending the pilot support and supervision programme for designated safeguarding leads (DSLs) in up to 500 further schools, and 10 further local authorities. The supervision pilot will test the impact and effectiveness of providing supervision to DSLs through these trials. The programme aims to strengthen support for DSLs and will help build the evidence base on what works. The Department is also committed to sharing lessons learned and good practice from these trials. Alongside creating an online DSL hub and considering how we give greater status to DSLs, my right hon. Friends, the Secretary of State for Education and the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, have asked the Children’s Commissioner to immediately start looking at how we reduce children’s access to pornography and other harmful content.

13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to (a) tackle safeguarding failings in schools and (b) promote student health and wellbeing.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has powers to intervene in both maintained schools and academies on safeguarding grounds, which are summarised in ‘Schools Causing Concern: Guidance for Local Authorities and Regional Schools Commissioners’.

Where a maintained school is judged to be ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted because safeguarding is ineffective, the Secretary of State must make an order so that it can be converted into a sponsored academy. Where an academy is judged to be ‘inadequate’, the Secretary of State may terminate the academy’s funding agreement and transfer it to a new trust. Ofsted will always judge a school to be ‘inadequate’ where safeguarding is ineffective.

The ‘Schools Causing Concern: Guidance for Local Authorities and Regional Schools Commissioners’ guidance also makes it clear that, where there are specific concerns about safeguarding in a maintained school, the local authority is expected to use its powers to address them in the first instance. Where there are specific concerns about safeguarding in an academy, the department will work closely with the trust to ensure that they take the necessary action.

The department’s statutory guidance ‘Keeping children safe in education’ (KCSIE) applies to all schools, including independent schools, through the Independent School Standards, which require that independent schools should have regard to KCSIE. All independent schools are expected to comply with the Independent School Standards at all times. The standards include requirements to protect the welfare, health, and safety of pupils.

Where schools do not meet the strict safeguarding standards that are in place, we will always take action. If it becomes clear that there are current failings in any school’s safeguarding practice, we will commission Ofsted or the Independent Schools Inspectorate to conduct an inspection. If a school is found to not be meeting the required safeguarding standard, we will make sure that it either improves or closes.

Ofsted was commissioned to undertake a review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges, with the report published on 10 June 2021. The department has accepted the findings of the review in full and has committed to go further. The statutory guidance for KCSIE for this September has already been updated, ensuring that schools have even clearer guidance on how to deal with reports of sexual abuse. The ‘Report Abuse in Education’ helpline has been extended until October to allow anyone to report a concern over sexual abuse in schools, make a referral or receive advice.

The department will also extend the pilot support and supervision programme for Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSL) in up to 500 further schools, and 10 further local authorities. Alongside creating an online DSL hub and considering how we give greater status to DSLs, my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Education and the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have asked the Children’s Commissioner to immediately start looking at how we reduce children’s access to pornography and other harmful content.

The new compulsory Relationships, Sex and Health Education curriculum will be implemented in full, from next term. Pupils need to know how to be safe and healthy, and how to manage their academic, personal, and social lives in a positive way. As such, we have made Health Education compulsory in all state-funded schools in England alongside making Relationships Education (in primary schools) and Relationships and Sex Education (in secondary schools) compulsory from September 2020. The knowledge that pupils gain will help support their own wellbeing and others’ wellbeing and help them to become successful and happy adults.

The aim of teaching pupils about physical health and mental wellbeing is to give them the information that they need to make good decisions about their own health and wellbeing, to recognise issues in themselves and in others and, when issues arise, to seek support as early as possible from appropriate sources.

Physical health and mental wellbeing are interlinked, and it is important that pupils understand that good physical health contributes to good mental wellbeing. Through the School Sport and Activity Action Plan, the department aims to ensure that sport and physical activity are an integral part of both the school day and after-school activities and to provide children with greater opportunities to do 60 minutes of sport and physical activity every day.

The government recently confirmed the continuation of the £320 million Physical Education (PE) and sport premium for the 2021/22 academic year, and further permitted schools to carry forward any unspent PE and sport premium funding remaining at the end of this academic year. Primary schools can use this funding to develop or add to their PE, sport and physical activity provision including engagement of all pupils in regular physical activity.

Mental health and wellbeing are a priority for the government. As the country came out of lockdown, we prioritised reopening schools above all else because it is so vital for children and young people’s wellbeing, as well as their education.

In May, as part of Mental Health Awareness week, we announced more than £17 million to improve mental health and wellbeing support in schools and colleges, building on our commitment to make mental health and wellbeing a central part of the education recovery work.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of waiting times for receiving assessments for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities support.

The department does not hold data on waiting times for a needs assessment for an education, health and care plan (EHCP), but does hold data on the number and percentage of EHCPs that are issued within the statutory 20 week timescale in the publication ‘Education, health and care plans’ available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/education-health-and-care-plans.

In the 2020 calendar year, 58% of EHCPs were issued within the 20 week timescale, excluding cases where exceptions apply.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
What estimate his Department has made of the number of pupils who have moved to elective home education since schools reopened on 8 March 2021 as covid-19 lockdown measures were eased.

We support the right of parents to educate their children at home, most will educate their children well, sometimes in challenging circumstances. However, we cannot overlook the rising numbers of home-educated children. For some, home education can mean children are not provided a suitable education or are invisible to the services and professionals there to keep them safe and supported.

The Department does not collect data on numbers of home educated children. Parents are not required to register if they are home educating their children and, therefore, there is not a robust basis on which the Department can reliably collect statistics on home education.

We remain committed to a registration system for children not in school, which would improve local authorities’ ability to undertake their existing duties and help safeguard children who are in scope.

A consultation was held in the spring of 2019 on proposals for: a mandatory register of children not attending state or registered independent schools to help local authorities carry out their responsibilities in relation to children not in school; a duty on parents to register their child with the local authority if not registered at specified types of schools; a duty on proprietors of certain education settings to respond to enquiries from local authorities, and a duty on local authorities to provide support to parents who educate children at home.

The consultation closed on 24 June 2019, with nearly 5000 responses. Further details on a proposed registration system will be in the Government response to the consultation, which we intend to publish in the coming months.

16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of waiting times to receive support for children in schools with special educational needs and disabilities.

The department does not hold data on waiting times to receive support.

The department does publish data on the number and percentage of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans that are issued within the statutory 20 week timescale, which is available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/education-health-and-care-plans. In the 2020 calendar year, 58.0% of EHC plans were issued within the 20-week timescale, excluding cases where exceptions apply.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that the findings of Ofsted's report on children's services at Sefton Borough Council published on 10 May 2021 are addressed.

I have noted the findings of the recent Ofsted focus visit to Sefton Borough Council’s children’s services department, including the two areas for priority action identified in their report.

My officials have been working with Sefton Borough Council on their response and met again with the Chief Executive and the new Interim Director of Children’s Social Services on 19 May 2021 to discuss how the findings will be addressed.

I am minded to issue an Improvement Notice and appoint an advisor for 12 months. This will require Sefton to establish an improvement board and draw up an improvement plan to ensure that the two areas identified are addressed within that 12 month period.

We will continue to work closely with colleagues at Sefton Borough Council as they take forward their improvement plan.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department has taken to encourage the uptake of apprenticeships in (a) Southport and (b) Sefton Borough.

Apprenticeships provide people with the opportunity to earn and learn the skills needed to start an exciting career in a wide range of industries, everything from artificial intelligence, archaeology, data science, business management, and banking. We want more people to benefit from high quality apprenticeships. Since May 2010, there have been 8,940 apprenticeship starts in Southport (constituency) and 30,760 in Sefton (local authority).

We are supporting employers to offer new apprenticeship opportunities by increasing the incentive payment to £3,000 for every new apprentice hired between 1 April and 30 September 2021 as part of the government's Plan for Jobs. We continue to work with the Department for Work and Pensions to enable Kickstart placements to turn into apprenticeships where that is the right thing for the employer and the young person.

In addition, we are supporting the largest ever expansion of traineeships and working with employers to develop new occupational traineeships in rail, construction and engineering which will create a pathway for young people to progress into apprenticeships or other employment. The government confirmed an additional £126 million in the latest budget to fund a further 43,000 traineeship places in the 2021/22 academic year, and we have extended the £1,000 incentive payments for employers who offer traineeship work placement opportunities to July 2022.

To encourage more young people to consider apprenticeships, we are promoting apprenticeships in schools across the country through our Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge programme. This free service provides schools and teachers with resources and interventions to help better educate young people about apprenticeships. In the Skills for Jobs white paper, published in January, we announced that we will be introducing a 3 point plan to enforce the Baker Clause, our requirement that all maintained schools and academies provide opportunities for providers of technical education and apprenticeships to visit schools to talk to all year 8 to 13 pupils. This includes creating clear minimum legal requirements, specifying who is to be given access to which pupils and when. This is an important step towards real choice for every pupil.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education what assessment his Department has made of trends in the number of white working-class boys leaving school without qualifications in (a) Southport and (b) Sefton Borough.

The information requested is not held centrally in the form requested. There is no official definition for the term “working class” and it is not used by the Department for Education in formal statistics.

Young people can leave a school setting at age 16 or age 18. National statistics are published on the proportion of young people achieving level 2 qualifications (level 2 is 5 (or more) GCSEs at grades 9-4/A*-C or equivalent) by ages 16 to 19. Figures are published by pupil characteristics including free school meal (FSM) eligibility which can be used as an indicative measure for low income. Information provided is for those not achieving level 2 but that does not mean they left school with no qualifications.

In the Sefton local authority, the total proportion of 16 year olds not achieving level 2 is 37% in the 2019/20 academic year compared with 30% five years ago. Looking at those who were eligible for FSM, 65% had not achieved level 2 compared with 50% five years ago.

At age 18 in Sefton, the total proportion not achieving level 2 was 22% in 2019/20 compared with 15% five years ago. Looking at those who were eligible for FSM, 47% had not achieved level 2 compared with 30% five years ago.

The accompanying table shows a five year time series for both ages and includes gender and those not eligible for FSM. Comparable figures are not available for Southport or by ethnicity.

National estimates which show level 2 attainment by gender, FSM status and ethnicity are available here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/level-2-and-3-attainment-by-young-people-aged-19/2019-20. These detailed breakdowns are not published by local authority.

The Department remains committed to providing world class education, training and care for everyone, whatever their background, and taking the action needed to address disparities.

18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak, what steps he is taking to ensure that schools and teachers are reimbursed for taking on the role of exam boards and marking examinations internally.

Due to the ongoing disruption to education caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, it was announced on 6 January that GCSE, AS and A level exams will not go ahead as planned this summer. This year, pupils will be awarded grades determined by their teachers and based on a range of evidence, only being assessed on the content they have been taught and not what they have missed. Whilst we recognise that teachers will need to assess their pupils this year on a range of evidence, in many ways, assessing pupils and determining their standard of performance is an important part of teachers’ roles in a typical year.

The Department continues to work closely with Ofqual and the exam boards to ensure that teachers feel supported. As part of this process, we are regularly engaging with the teacher unions and other sector representatives to ensure the processes developed and guidance which supports them reflects their feedback. The Joint Council for Qualifications and the exam boards have published extensive guidance and materials for schools and colleges to support teachers with their assessment, marking, and making their judgements of pupils’ performance.

Exam boards are responsible for setting their exam fees, taking into account the costs involved with alternative arrangements in 2021. Exam boards will need to cover their costs, and the Department expects they will make commercial decisions on fees and refunds on that basis. Given the unusual circumstances this year, it is not possible for them to have certainty about their 2021 costs in advance.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has for issuing further guidance on which social distancing measures will need to be in place when pre-school education resumes during the covid-19 outbreak.

Keeping children safe is our utmost priority.

From 20 July, early years settings (including nurseries and childminders) have been allowed to return to normal group sizes. This is because there is moderate to high scientific confidence in evidence suggesting younger children are less likely to become ill with COVID-19, and high scientific confidence that children of all ages have less severe symptoms than adults if they do get ill. Furthermore, early years settings are already required to operate within strict staff-child ratio and space requirements.

We continue to expect that early years settings will consider how they can minimise mixing within settings, for example where they use different rooms for different age groups, keeping those groups apart as much as possible.

Settings are also required to follow a Public Health England endorsed ‘system of controls’ to minimise risks. For example, enhanced cleaning, thorough hand cleaning, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) where applicable. Detailed guidance has been issued and is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/safe-working-in-education-childcare-and-childrens-social-care/safe-working-in-education-childcare-and-childrens-social-care-settings-including-the-use-of-personal-protective-equipment-ppe; and here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the Government's timeframe is for the reopening of maternal and child classes as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Activities for families and their young children, for example baby and toddler groups, can operate provided they, and the premises they operate from, follow relevant government guidance.

Guidance on which premises and businesses are legally able to open is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance.

Providers should also have regard to and, where relevant, ensure that they are following guidance on the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities, which is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities.

Ofsted registered early years providers should ensure they are following guidance for early years and childcare providers, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what further plans he has to provide additional support to child minders during the easing of the covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Our guidance for early years providers details the package of support the government has put in place for workers and businesses which will benefit childcare settings, including:

  • confirmation that the government will continue to pay local authorities for free early years entitlement places for 2, 3 and 4-year-olds
  • the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced would be extended from 29 May. Those eligible under the SEISS will be able to claim a second and final grant in August, which will be capped at £6,570 in total
  • for the self-employed (including childminders), the minimum income floor has been temporarily relaxed, meaning Universal Credit can be accessed at a rate to match statutory sick pay

The guidance can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures#funding.

Further information about the Chancellor’s announcement is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-extends-self-employment-support-scheme-and-confirms-furlough-next-steps.

Following my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister’s announcement on 28 May that the government’s five tests have been met, the decision was made, based on all the evidence, to ask childcare providers to welcome back all children below statutory school age from the week commencing 1 June. This includes childminders who will additionally be able to care for school aged children, up to the statutory maximum and in line with their current Ofsted registration. The department has published a planning guide to help childcare providers prepare to open their settings for all children, which is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/preparing-for-the-wider-opening-of-early-years-and-childcare-settings-from-1-june.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to reschedule GCSE examinations during the covid-19 outbreak.

As my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced to the House on 18 March, the Government has taken the difficult decision to cancel all examinations due to take place in schools and colleges in England this summer, as part of the fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This includes all GCSE examinations.

The Department’s priority for GCSE students is to ensure they can move on as planned to the next stage of their education, including starting college, sixth form courses or apprenticeships, in the autumn. We will ensure they are awarded a grade which reflects their work. Our intention is that a grade will be awarded this summer based on the best available evidence, including any non-examination assessment that students have already completed. The qualifications regulator Ofqual is working urgently with examination boards to set out proposals for how this process will work and more information will be provided as soon as possible.

The Department recognises that some students may nevertheless feel disappointed that they have not been able to sit their examinations. If they do not believe the correct process has been followed in their case, they will be able to appeal on that basis. In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an examination, as soon as is reasonably possible after the beginning of the new academic year. Students will also have the option to sit their examinations in summer 2021.

16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to provide financial support to private nurseries in the event that they are required to close during the covid-19 outbreak.

Childcare providers are making a vital contribution in our fight against Covid-19. The Department for Education has confirmed that it will not claw back funding from local authorities for any periods of closures where settings are closed on medical advice or if children are not able to attend due to Covid-19. The government expects local authorities to follow the department’s position, and continue early years entitlements funding for childminders, pre-schools and nurseries. This should also apply to those infant and primary schools that deliver the early years entitlements. This will minimise short-term disruptions to early years providers’ finances and allow the system to recover more quickly.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has also announced a package of support for businesses that will include many early years and childcare providers. This includes business rates relief, a range of loans and grants and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme means that for employees who are not working but kept on payroll, the government will contribute 80% of each worker’s wages of up to £2,500, backdated to 1 March 2020. Providers can access this scheme while continuing to be paid the early entitlements funding via local authorities.

The department continues to work alongside Public Health England and with early years sector representatives to ensure that measures taken are in the best interests of the health of our nation whilst minimising the impact on individual childcare settings.

The latest guidance for schools and other educational settings can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department plans to take to tackle littering in coastal areas.

Local councils are responsible for keeping public land clear of litter and Defra is committed to supporting them in doing so. We published the Litter Strategy for England in April 2017, setting out our aim to deliver a substantial reduction in litter. We have almost doubled the maximum fixed penalty fine for littering to £150. Through a recent grant scheme administered by the environmental charity WRAP, we have also awarded almost £1m to local councils to provide new litter bins. We have been proud to support national clean-up days such as the Great British Spring Clean and the Great British Beach Clean, and we will continue do so in future. Measures in the Environment Bill, including the Deposit Return Scheme and restrictions on single-use plastic items, will also provide significant additional support to local councils in tackling this issue.

2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps her Department is taking to ensure UK Official Development Assistance allocated to projects in the West Bank and Gaza is not facilitating terrorism in that region.

DFID works through a limited number of partners in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and has robust controls against fraud and the diversion of aid. We select our partners for the strong safeguards they have in place, which reduces risk and ensures the maximum impact of UK aid for Palestinians. DFID’s funding agreements commit partners to understand and comply with UK and international counter terrorism legislation. Each programme also undergoes an audit of funds to assure that UK Aid was spent in line with agreed project activities.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what support her Department is providing to UK maritime businesses to help them attend overseas trade shows.

I refer my Hon. Friend for Southport to the answer I gave to the Rt Hon. Member for North Durham on 16 July 2021, UIN: 28979.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of the effect on rail users of scheduled Manchester rail timetable changes due to take effect in December 2022.

The Government set up the Manchester Recovery Task Force in January 2020 to address the unacceptable levels of train performance in the north west of England following the late change to the May 2018 timetable.

The task force, which includes Transport for the North and Transport for Greater Manchester, consulted on a number of options and took account of the more than 800 responses to identify the optimal service for users and the Northern economy.

Northern Trains and TransPennine Express, working with Network Rail and other train operators, used this assessment to develop the timetable which will come into force in December 2022 and which will improve performance significantly while still meeting the journey needs of the vast majority of regular travellers on lines into Manchester.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
21st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department has taken to ensure that airline customers receive (a) fair and (b) considered compensation for cancelled flights.

There is already a framework of legislation in place to protect consumer’s rights when travelling by air, including when and what compensation is due in the event of cancellations. It is of vital importance that passengers know their rights. Airlines and the Civil Aviation Authority already provide to passengers on what to do if something goes wrong with their flight. To further support this, we are developing an Aviation Passenger Charter, alongside industry and consumer groups, to further support passengers to understand their rights, responsibilities and reasonable expectations when travelling by air, from booking to if something goes wrong, including flight cancellations.

We also recently consulted on a range of consumer policy reforms, including additional powers for the Civil Aviation Authority to enforce consumer rights, mandatory alternative dispute resolution for all airlines operating in the UK, to enable individuals to seek redress. We are currently reviewing all responses and will set out next steps in due course.

Air passenger rights remains a key priority for Government, which we recently reaffirmed in the Flightpath to the Future publication, which commits to ensuring consumers are protected and have the confidence to fly. We will continue to work with the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure consumer laws are being adhered to and consumers protected.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
21st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to improve electric vehicle infrastructure in the North West.

Government has committed over £1.6 billion to support charging infrastructure at homes, on the street, in workplaces, destinations and along major roads. We have published a landmark electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure strategy setting out our plans to accelerate the rollout of a world-class charging network across the UK. Our strategy sets out our vision and commitments to make EV charging cheaper and more convenient than refuelling at a petrol station.

In addition, we have announced new regulations for public chargepoints to improve confidence in the charging network and make the user experience truly seamless. Drivers will benefit from simplified payment methods as well as the ability to compare prices and access real-time information about chargepoints. We will ensure there is a 99% reliability rate at rapid chargepoints. We will be introducing payment roaming to support the electrification of fleets. Chargepoints will need to have open data so that they are easy to find using maps and apps. We will lay legislation later this year.

To ensure that the transition to electric vehicles takes place in every part of the country, we are pledging at least £500m to support local chargepoint provision. As part of this, the Local EV Infrastructure (LEVI) fund will provide approximately £400m of capital and £50m of resource funding to support local authorities to work with industry and transform the availability of charging for drivers without off-street parking. We have launched a £10 million pilot as a springboard for the development of the full fund.

This year, £20 million is available through the on-street residential chargepoint scheme to all UK local authorities to provide public chargepoints to their residents without access to private parking.

Local authorities have a key role to play as they are best placed to consider local needs. We encourage local authorities to apply for funding to provide chargers for their residents.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
21st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the financial impact on the (a) hospitality sector and (b) rest of the UK economy of the rail industrial action on 21, 23 and 25 June 2022.

The Government regrets that the trade unions have chosen to go ahead with the strikes. These strikes are impacting local businesses and the ability of the general public to get to school, hospital and work.

The Government and rail industry, including Network Rail, have worked together and continue to work together to ensure plans are in place to minimise disruption allowing for freight and passenger services to remain operational where possible. The Civil Contingencies Secretariat is also convening ministers daily during the strike period to assess operational response and impact.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has estimated the cost to the economy of the three days of strike action to be at least £91 million: Rail and tube strikes to cause hit of at least £91m to the UK economy (cebr.com)

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment his Department has made the adequacy of pavement parking legislation.

The Department consulted on measures to address pavement parking in 2020 and received over 15,000 responses. These responses have been analysed and Ministers are carefully considering the options in the light of the consultation findings. We will publish the formal consultation response and announce next steps as soon as possible.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent estimate his Department has made of waiting times for LGV C1 driving licence tests.

The waiting time is calculated for all vocational tests as a whole. As of 28 February 2022, the national average waiting time was 5.2 weeks for the module 3b (on-road) test.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to (a) improve rest facilities for HGV drivers and (b) ensure the safety of lorries in refuge areas.

(a) The Government recognises the need to ensure hauliers have access to appropriate services and facilities.

We are aware of the concerns expressed by many HGV drivers about the provision, quality and value of lorry parking in the UK. We have announced £32.5 million in new funding to improve roadside facilities for hauliers and are undertaking a new National Lorry Parking Survey supported by direct industry engagement to help identify where improvements are most needed. We continue to engage with key stakeholders to encourage the development of safe, secure and high-quality lorry parking.

(b) Safety remains our top priority and our motorways are the safest type of road in the country.

On motorways where the hard shoulder has been converted to a traffic lane, there is a whole system of inter-related features, working together to help drivers. They include clearly signed and orange-coloured emergency areas set back from the road to provide greater protection than a hard shoulder and with telephones linking directly to our control rooms.

Emergency areas are available for when a driver has no alternative but to stop and it has not been possible to leave the motorway or reach a motorway service area. They are approximately 100 meters long (the average length of a football pitch) by 4.6 meters wide and set back from the left-hand edge of the motorway.

A Smart Motorway Driver Education Course was designed and developed jointly between National Highways and Logistics UK specifically for the freight sector. Its core objective is to help improve drivers’ understanding of smart motorways and how to use them. It is available free of charge and is recognised by JAUPT (the Joint Approvals Unit for Periodic Training) as part of professional drivers’ formal accreditation. Since its launch in 2018 it has been supplied to more than 150 organisations with almost 400 courses delivered to more than 2,800 delegates.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of aligning the UK's mobility scooter speed rules with those in the EU.

The Government has not made an assessment of aligning the UK’s mobility scooter speed rules with those in the EU. The safety of all road users is a key priority for the Government. The current speed limit for mobility scooters is based on both safety and mobility considerations, balancing the interests of all road users.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
25th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ease international travel restrictions on UK nationals.

On 24 January the Secretary of State for Transport announced that, thanks to the success of the UK’s vaccine and booster rollout, the government will reduce travel restrictions ensuring a more proportionate system is in place for passengers.

Therefore, from 4am on 11 February eligible fully vaccinated arrivals will no longer have to undertake a post-arrival Lateral Flow test. Self-isolation and day 8 tests will also be removed for arrivals who are not recognised as fully vaccinated. Although the PLF will still be required for all travellers, it will also be simplified to reflect our more streamlined system.

The changes mean that the UK has one of the most free-flowing borders across Europe and the simplification of travel rules comes just before half term, providing welcome news for families looking to travel abroad during the school holidays, as well as an extra boost for the tourism industry.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of his Department’s anti-tampering proposals for motorcycles preventing activities such as restoration, repairs and legitimate improvements to vehicles; and if he will make an assessment of the potential effect of the introduction of those proposals on the growth of enterprises producing anti-tampering parts for motorcycles.

The Department ran a public consultation from 28 September to 22 November 2021 seeking views on proposals to tackle tampering. As part of the consultation, the Department sought views and evidence on the potential effect of proposals, which are not intended to prevent activities such as restoration, repairs and legitimate improvements to vehicles.

The Government will consider all responses received and undertake an assessment of the impact of any proposals that are taken forward.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
17th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of Merseyrail’s decision on passengers to reduce its timetable and increase fares on 4 January 2022 by 3.8 per cent.

No such assessment has been made because the timetable operated by Merseyrail and the fares charged are the subject to the agreement of Merseytravel to whom responsibility for these matters has been fully devolved since 2003.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to (a) tackle the backlog of enquires at the DVLA and (b) prioritise urgent cases relating to medical issues.

The quickest and easiest way to apply for a driving licence is by using the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s online service. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their licence within a few days.

However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application and the DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day. The DVLA understands the impact of delays on those who make paper applications and is working hard to process them as quickly as possible. To help reduce waiting times for paper applications, including where a medical condition must be investigated, the DVLA has introduced additional online services, recruited more staff, increased overtime working and has secured extra office space in Swansea and Birmingham.

The majority of applicants renewing an existing licence will be able to continue driving while their application is being processed, providing the driver can meet specific criteria. More information can be found online here.

The DVLA recognises the impact on drivers who have to renew their licence more regularly and is working hard to improve the process. Drivers with diabetes, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, a visual impairment, a sleep condition or a heart condition can now renew their licence online.

The DVLA has also recently introduced a simplified licence renewal process for drivers with epilepsy and multiple sclerosis and is piloting this for some mental health conditions. This new renewal process has significantly reduced the need for the DVLA to seek further information from medical professionals and enabled more licensing decisions to be made based on the information provided by the driver. The DVLA is looking at adding more medical conditions to this new process.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
16th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment his Department has made of the short-term impact on congestion levels in areas where Active Travel Fund projects have been implemented.

None. It is for local authorities to manage their road networks appropriately, including by ensuring that changes to their road layouts are not having unintended impacts. As a condition of funding active travel schemes, the Department requires all local authorities to monitor and evaluate their impacts. The Government recently updated its Network Management Duty Guidance for local authorities, which includes advice to authorities on monitoring the traffic impacts of active travel schemes. The guidance is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reallocating-road-space-in-response-to-covid-19-statutory-guidance-for-local-authorities/traffic-management-act-2004-network-management-in-response-to-covid-19

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
8th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment his Department has made of congestion levels in areas where Active Travel Fund projects have been implemented.

It is for local authorities to manage their roads and to ensure that the active travel schemes they install are designed in such a way as to take into account the needs of all road users. The Department requires all local authorities to monitor and evaluate the impacts of their active travel schemes. It takes time, however, to understand the long-term impacts of new cycling infrastructure, both on rates of cycling and on the flow of other traffic. The Department has commissioned a formal national evaluation of the Active Travel Fund (ATF) which will consider this matter in some detail. A baseline report of schemes selected for evaluation is scheduled to be received by the Department in December 2022. This will be followed by a final report in late 2024.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
8th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending the time within which a photo for a blue badge qualifies as recent to over one month, particularly for those aged 75 and over.

The Department has no plans to change current legislation relating to the specifications of photographs for use as identification on the UK Blue Badge.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
3rd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions he has had with bus service operators regarding the wheelchair accessibility of fleet vehicles.

Ministers engage regularly with bus industry representatives on a range of issues. Currently, 99% of local buses[1] comply with the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations 2000 (PSVAR), which require the provision of a wheelchair space and ramp or lift.

[1] Source: Annual Bus Statistics 2019, referenced in the National Disability Strategy

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department has taken to broaden the UK's recognition of covid-19 vaccination status with respect to vaccines administered overseas beyond the existing list of countries.

As of 22 November, people vaccinated with vaccines listed on the WHO Emergency Use Listing, in addition to those already recognised, can travel to the UK without having to quarantine. In practice, this means that Sinovac, Sinopharm Beijing and Covaxin are now accepted at the border as well as Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen.

The Government will continue to work with international partners to expand the policy to more countries and territories where it is safe to do so.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to improve direct transport links into central Manchester from Southport with (a) the rail network and (b) the bus network.

In collaboration with Network Rail and Transport for the North, The Department has developed the core of a new timetable for rail services in and around Manchester. It will provide more punctual, reliable journeys for passengers from December 2022, and includes services from Southport to both the North and South sides of Manchester city centre.

Ambitious infrastructure enhancements are then targeted to follow over the decade, and £26 million has been granted to Network Rail to develop and design improvements aimed at accommodating service demands.

In addition, all English Local Transport Authorities outside London – including the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority - have published Bus Service Improvement Plans, setting out local visions for transformed bus services. The Government will invest £1.2 billion of dedicated funding in bus transformation deals to deliver improvements in services, fares, and infrastructure.

Liverpool City Region will also benefit from £710 million allocated at Spending Review from the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
16th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has had with representatives of Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council on their recent consultation on cycle lanes in Southport as required under the terms of the Active Travel Fund.

The Department is in regular contact with authorities across the country to discuss their active travel plans. The most recent meeting with Liverpool City Region, including officials from Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council, took place on 5th November, shortly before the consultation results from the Southport Walking and Cycling survey were due to be considered by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting. Following that meeting on 9 November, the Department understands that the Cabinet Member with responsibility for Locality Services has offered to meet with those ward councillors affected by the issue before taking a final decision on this matter.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to improve the (a) affordability and (b) availability of public transport in (i) Southport and (ii) the North West.

During this Parliament the Government will invest £1.2 billion of new funding to deliver improvements in bus services, fares and infrastructure in England outside London.

We have also developed the core of a new timetable for rail services in and around Manchester, in collaboration with Network Rail and Transport for the North, to provide more punctual, reliable journeys for passengers from December 2022. This includes services from Southport to both the north and south sides of Manchester City Centre.

There are a number of railcards available that offer discounts against most rail fares, including the 16-17 and 26-30 Millennial Railcard, and the new Veterans Railcard.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether overwhelming public opposition expressed through a consultation exercise is considered sufficient grounds for a local authority to decide not to progress with a scheme developed under the Emergency Active Travel Fund.

The Department has consistently made clear that local authorities should seek the views of a representative sample of the local population as a whole on their proposals and provided guidance on how best to do this, including via polling and public opinion surveys, which can help provide a more accurate understanding of public views than a traditional consultation exercise. Local authorities do not need to show that schemes are universally popular at the time of introduction, but should be prepared to make changes if there is strong evidence that their original proposals are unsuitable. The views of the local Member of Parliament should also be taken into account.

We have revised our Network Management Duty guidance to state that measures should be "taken as swiftly as possible, but not at the expense of consulting local communities" and that "local residents and businesses should... be given an opportunity to comment on proposed changes" to schemes. Please note these requirements also apply as much to the removal or modification of existing schemes as to the installation of new ones.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when an announcement will be made on round three bids to the Restoring Your Railway Ideas Fund.

We are assessing the bids and currently expect to announce the outcomes later this year.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the need for the covid-19 traffic light system for international travel in its existing format as at 14 September 2012.

On Friday 17 September, the Government announced a number of significant changes to the international travel system to take advantage of the world leading vaccination programme.

From Monday 4 October the traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list of countries and territories and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world. The rules for travel from countries and territories not on the red list will depend on an individual's vaccination status.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that rail platforms are accessible for people with visual impairments.

We are committed to improving accessibility across the rail network, and I shall be bidding for further rounds of funding for the Access for All programme at the upcoming Spending Review and for the next rail Control Period (2024-29).

Furthermore, Network Rail has received an initial £10 million to install tactile paving at priority stations not already funded. I will make further announcements on future rounds of funding in due course.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that rail platforms are accessible for wheelchair users.

I am committed to improving accessibility across the rail network. The Department expects the industry to meet current accessibility requirements whenever it installs, renews or replaces station infrastructure. Failure to do so can lead to enforcement action by the Office of Rail and Roads.

Furthermore, I shall be bidding for further rounds of funding for Access for All schemes in the forthcoming Spending Review.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when a decision will be made on successful projects in the latest round of the Restore Your Railway scheme.

We have assessed the bids to round three of the Restoring Your Railway Ideas Fund and expect to announce the outcomes this summer.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the waiting times for category C1 driving tests.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is doing it all it can to increase the number of vocational tests available and has put in place a number of measures to do this. These include offering overtime and annual leave buy back to examiners, asking all those qualified to conduct tests, but who do not do so as part of their current day job, to return to conducting tests, and conducting out of hours testing (such as on public holidays and weekends).

The DVSA has also started a recruitment campaign to increase the number of examiners. It will also continue its training programme to enable more examiners to conduct vocational tests.

The DVSA has held initial discussions with representatives from the heavy goods vehicle (HGV) training industry to develop plans for training schools to take on the responsibility of signing-off the manoeuvre elements of the practical test. Adopting this approach would allow the DVSA to focus on the on-road element and to increase practical test throughput.

The DVSA is also reviewing the way it delivers car and trailer testing to enable the agency to prioritise HGV testing.

6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to minimise the effect of pavement parking on individuals with sight loss.

The Department carried out a public consultation on possible solutions to the complex pavement parking problem. This closed on 22 November 2020 and received over 15,000 responses. The Department is now carefully analysing the responses and the results will inform decisions on the next steps.

22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans his Department has to support the travel industry.

The Government recognises the challenging circumstances businesses in the travel industry face as a result of Covid-19. Firms, across the economy, that are experiencing difficulties have been able to draw upon the unprecedented package of measures announced by the Chancellor. This includes support through loan guarantees, the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. We estimate that the air transport sector (airlines, airports and related services) will have benefitted from around £7bn of government support since the start of the pandemic.

The extension of Government-backed loans and furlough payments announced at the Budget build on the support package available and will help ensure this vital and vibrant part of the UK economy is ready to bounce back in the wake of the pandemic.

We continue to take a flexible approach and keep all impacts and policies under review.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans his Department has to install warning tactile services on train platforms to improve the safety of blind and partially sighted people.

I have asked Network Rail to develop a programme to aim to install platform edge tactile strips on every platform in Great Britain.

I will make a further announcement in due course.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the current time taken by the DVLA to process applications; and what steps his Department is taking to reduce that time.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s online services have been available and unaffected throughout the pandemic and are the quickest and easiest way to renew a registration certificate or a driving licence. Motorists are strongly advised to use these channels where possible. However, many people still choose or have to apply using a paper application. The DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day which must be dealt with in person.

The number of applications awaiting processing fluctuates on a daily basis as registration certificates and driving licences are issued and new applications received. The DVLA is currently processing paper applications for registration certificates and driving licences within around six weeks of receipt. However, drivers with a medical condition may experience further delays because the DVLA is often reliant on receiving information or test results from medical professionals before a licence can be issued, to ensure drivers can meet the required medical standards.

The DVLA has had a reduced number of operational staff on site to allow for social distancing, in line with Welsh Government requirements. The DVLA has leased an additional building to accommodate more operational staff and has extended the opening hours of its contact centre. During the pandemic to help streamline processes and improve work flow the DVLA has accelerated the development of additional online services to reduce paper applications and supported their take up through a publicity campaign. Further digital service enhancements are underway.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of (a) the potential merits of Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council's proposed Liveable Neighbourhood Scheme, and (b) the impact on that area of the council's decision not to fund a constituency-wide consultation for all residents affected.

The Department has made no such assessment. Local authorities are responsible for developing and implementing schemes such as Liveable Neighbourhoods.

The Department has consistently made clear in its guidance to local authorities that effective engagement with communities is key to delivering schemes that work for everyone. It is for local authorities to determine what consultation and engagement is appropriate.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, on how many occasions Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council has submitted monitoring reports in respect of cycle lanes in Southport.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) has provided the Department for Transport with a completed monitoring and evaluation form for schemes funded in Tranche 1 of the Active Travel Fund and has submitted the first monitoring and evaluation form for the packages being delivered in Tranche 2 of the Fund. In addition, officials from the Department and LCRCA have held regular meetings to discuss scheme progress. The scheme in Southport town centre experienced delays with the provision of materials which have recently been made available, and the scheduled completion date is now March 2022.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that (a) social distancing and (b) other covid-19 measures are enforced on trains.

Government has published safer transport guidance for operators which sets out measures to assess and address the risks of coronavirus for passengers and staff. In line with this, all train operators are expected to carry out their own risk assessments on the most appropriate action to take.

Risk assessments are expected, where possible, to enable social distancing of 2 metres or 1 metre with risk mitigations, taking account of factors such as the design of different types of rolling stock. Some operators of long-distance services have limited ridership by selling only a set number of seats and requiring reservations. In addition, train operators have increased services levels as we move through the roadmap to provide additional capacity as demand increases. Operators are also providing information on how busy services are likely to be so that passengers can plan ahead and use quieter services where possible.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure all railway stations have a self-service ticket machine.

The Department wants to see a high quality rail retailing service which allows passengers to buy their tickets quickly and conveniently. Ticket Vending Machines are one part of the overall retail service, alongside other ways to buy tickets including online purchase and pay-as-you-go. As ticket buying is modernised we will look to the rail industry, including in future Great British Railways, to ensure that the overall retail offer is appropriate to the needs of passengers, including those without access to the internet.

The Department has worked with the rail industry to enhance ticket buying facilities, including ensuring that smart tickets are accepted at stations across almost all of the network. Passengers have the choice of travelling without a paper ticket, such as by receiving barcode tickets straight to their phones. The Williams Shapps Plan for Rail also commits the Government to introducing far more convenient ways to pay using a contactless bank card, mobile or online.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether local authorities are required to participate in the emergency active travel fund.

The Department’s statutory guidance to local authorities on the management of their road networks in response to COVID-19 strongly encourages them to introduce measures to support more cycling and walking in their areas, but it does not require them to do so. All combined authorities and local transport authorities were allocated funding from the Emergency Active Travel Fund in 2020/21, but there was no obligation on any authority to accept the funding or to introduce active travel schemes: these are decisions for local authorities. The Department plans to write to the same authorities shortly inviting bids for capital funding for active travel schemes to be delivered in 2021/22.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the use of cycle lanes under the emergency active travel fund.

The Department has commissioned a formal national evaluation of the Active Travel Fund (ATF) which will consider this matter in some detail. A baseline report of schemes selected for evaluation is scheduled to be received by the Department in December 2022 as we know it takes time to understand the long-term impacts of new cycling infrastructure. This will be followed by a final report in late 2024. Local authorities have also been required to submit regular monitoring reports to the Department on their use of active travel funding. In the meantime, the Department’s 2020 Road Traffic Estimates for Great Britain, published on 28 April 2021, suggest that the amount of cycling in 2020 was 46% higher than it was in 2019, and the highest level of cycling on the public highway since the 1960s.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to enhance rail performance between Southport and Manchester Piccadilly stations.

We are looking at a range of measures to increase rail performance across Manchester including the route between Southport to Manchester Piccadilly. This is part of the consultation on Manchester timetable changes which was held earlier this year and the responses are still being considered.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to publish the Williams Rail Review.

The government committed to bringing forward vital sector-wide reforms and commissioned Keith Williams to carry out the first root and branch review of the rail industry in a generation. I am delighted to confirm that we published the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail on 20 May, which sets out how the Government will transform the railway. These reforms will create a more accountable, efficient and truly-passenger focused railway.

Link to the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/great-british-railways-williams-shapps-plan-for-rail

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what representations he has received from the Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority on a Southport to Manchester Piccadilly direct rail service.

We received numerous representations about the potential changes to Southport to Manchester Piccadilly train service as part of the consultation on Manchester timetable changes that was held earlier this year, including from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. These responses are still being considered.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department plans to increase (a) carers allowance and (b) attendance allowance in line with inflation.

The Secretary of State undertakes an annual review of benefits and pensions, and CPI in the year to September is the latest figure that the Secretary of State can use to allow sufficient time for the required operational changes before new rates can be introduced at the start of the new financial year in April. Both Carer’s Allowance and Attendance Allowance were uprated in April 2022 by 3.1%

As per convention, the Secretary of State will undertake a review of benefit rates for the 2023/24 tax year this autumn.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that PIP claimants with long term disabilities are not required to undergo the reassessment process in cases where their conditions and care needs have not changed since their last assessment.

Once someone has been awarded Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which can be paid at one of eight rates, that award will usually be reviewed. Regular reviews are a key feature of the benefit and ensure that payments accurately match the current needs of claimants. The length of an award is based on an individual’s circumstances and can vary from nine months to an on-going award, with a light touch review after ten years.

In 2018 we introduced updated guidance for case managers which ensures that those people who receive the highest level of support under PIP, and where their needs are unlikely to change or may get worse, will receive an ongoing award with a light touch review at the ten-year point. We also announced in the Shaping Future Support: Health and Disability Green Paper that we will test a new Severe Disability Group (SDG) so that those with severe and lifelong conditions can benefit from a simplified process to access PIP, Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit without needing to go through a face-to-face assessment or frequent reviews.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department plans to take to improve the Child Maintenance System to ensure that inaccurate statements are not produced while a case is under review.

Financial statements issued at any point within the lifecycle of a child maintenance case reflect the amount of child maintenance due and paid at that point in time. The account balances will only be updated once any change of circumstances have been accepted and processed. It is important to note that most change of circumstances have evidential requirements and we cannot assume that requests for review will be accepted whilst they are outstanding.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department plans to take to ensure that personal independence payment assessments are carried out in a fair, consistent, and accurate manner.

The Department is committed to ensuring claimants receive high quality, objective and accurate assessments, as part of the suite of evidence the department uses to decide entitlement. There are a range of regular governance and monthly performance meetings to support delivery of the contracts to ensure that where action is required, it can be focused and targeted.

We have a strong and collaborative relationship with Capita and Independent Assessment Services (IAS) and work closely with them to further improve the quality of assessments, including clinical coaching, feedback, and support available to Health Professionals. Providers share training materials between themselves to encourage best practice, standardise processes and improve the claimant experience. They also regularly engage with medical experts, charities, and relevant stakeholders to strengthen, maintain, and update their training programmes.

The Department is also bringing forward a Green Paper on health and disability support, focusing on the welfare system. The Green Paper will explore how the welfare system can better meet the needs of disabled people and people with health conditions now and in the future, to build a system that enables people to live independently and move into work where possible.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that universal credit claimants are able to cover all essential payments in the context of increased costs of living.

The government is providing £9 billion of financial support to most households, including those on Universal Credit, as the global gas price spike causes rising energy bills. The Energy Bills Rebate will provide around 28 million households support with their energy bills worth £200 which will be applied from October. Households in England, which are in council tax bands A-D, will also receive a £150 rebate on their council tax. The rebate to council tax bills will be made directly by Local Authorities from April and will not need to be repaid.

In addition, we are providing support worth around £12bn this financial year and next, to help families with the cost of living, cutting the Universal Credit taper and increasing work allowances to make sure work pays, freezing fuel duties to keep costs down, and providing our existing targeted support to help households with their energy bills through the Warm Home Discount scheme, Cold Weather Payments and Winter Fuel Payments.

We recognise that some people require extra support over the winter, which is why vulnerable households across the country can access a £500 million Household Support Fund to help them with essentials.

Budgeting Advances are also available to those who are eligible and in receipt of Universal Credit to help finance intermittent/unforeseen expenses (for example, essential household items) or expenses related to maternity, obtaining, or retaining employment.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department plans to take to help ensure that (a) managed payments to landlords are paid in full in a timely manner and (b) universal credit claimants do not enter rent arrears as a result of payment delays.

The Universal Credit payment structure is a fundamental part of its design. It mirrors the world of work, where people are paid money directly which they may then put towards housing costs. Ensuring similarities between paid employment and receiving benefits removes an important barrier which could prevent claimants from moving into paid employment. For those who cannot manage their single monthly payment, Alternative Payment Arrangements, and more specifically a Managed Payment to Landlord, is available at the start, or at any point during a Universal Credit claim. Such arrangements can be requested by either the claimant or the landlord and are considered on a case by case basis.

The vast majority of managed payments to landlords are paid on the same date as the claimant is paid their Universal Credit monthly award. Payment timeliness is usually dependent on claimants completing their commitments within the set time frame as instructed by DWP. Claimants are notified to complete any outstanding action via their preferred choice of communication, i.e. journal message/text, to ensure there are no delays in payment. If claimants have any further concerns, they may phone the Universal Credit helpline or speak to their work coach.

All Universal Credit claimants have the opportunity to discuss any concerns about how to budget their monthly payments with their work coach and/or via their Universal Credit Journal. Work coaches will identify any financial issues the claimant has and signpost claimants to any relevant local face-to-face provision or support that is available, as appropriate.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans her Department has to provide additional financial support to pensioners during winter 2021-22.

Last year despite negative earnings growth and low inflation of 0.5% the Government took action to provide vital peace of mind to pensioners regarding their financial security. Consequently, the basic and new State Pension rates were increased in April 2021 by 2.5% meaning the full yearly basic State Pension is over £2,050 a year higher than in 2010, in cash terms. In addition, the Pension Credit Standard Minimum Guarantee was also increased to match the cash equivalent in the basic State Pension. Pension Credit remains a vital support to pensioners on a low income.

We recognise that some people may require extra support over the winter as we enter the final stages of recovery, which is why vulnerable households across the country will now be able to access a new £500 million support fund to help them with essentials. The Household Support Fund will provide £421 million to help vulnerable people in England. The Barnett Formula will apply in the usual way, with the devolved administrations receiving almost £80 million (£41m for the Scottish Government, £25m for the Welsh Government and £14m for the NI Executive), for a total of £500 million.

Councils have the discretion and flexibility to develop a local delivery approach that best fits the scheme’s objectives, with support primarily used to support households in the most need with food, energy, fuel, digital and water bills. Up to 50% of the fund is available for councils to use on households without children, including those of state pension age.

In addition, we will continue to support pensioners by making winter fuel payments of £200 to those households with someone of state pension age and under 80 and £300 to those households with someone aged 80 or over. Cold weather payments are also available to those in receipt of Pension Credit.

The Warm Home Discount Scheme operated by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy ensures that those in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit receive a rebate of £140 on their energy bill.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what financial measures her Department has announced to support people on universal credit (a) secure employment and (b) secure more hours if already in part-time employment.

Through our Plan for Jobs, we are targeting tailored support schemes of people of all ages to help them prepare for, get into and progress in work. These include: Kickstart, delivering tens of thousands of six-month work placements for UC claimants aged 16-24 at risk of unemployment; Restart, which provides 12 months’ intensive employment support to UC claimants who are unemployed for a year; and JETS, which provides light touch employment support for people who are claiming either Universal Credit or New Style Jobseekers Allowance, for up to 6 months, helping participants effectively re-engage with the labour market and focus their job search. We have also recruited an additional 13,500 Work Coaches to provide more intensive support to find a job. In total, our Plan for Jobs interventions will support more than two million people.

Supporting people into work and progressing in-work is at the heart of our approach to tackling poverty. We have recruited an additional 13,500 Work Coaches in our Jobcentres to help support people of all ages to find a job, retrain, or gain vital practical experience to move into better paid jobs or those that have opportunities for progression.

Last year DWP launched the In-Work Progression Commission led by Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith. The Commission published their independent report on 1 July 2021. It makes 26 recommendations to help people to progress at work and move out of low paid employment. The Government welcomed the report, we are carefully considering the recommendations and we will respond in the coming months.

In the meantime, DWP continues to build evidence of how we can support working claimants to progress in work. We are trialling a voluntary in-work support offer with claimants in South Yorkshire.

14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department plans to take to help ensure that all Job Centre Plus sites are accessible to people with hearing loss.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is committed to making its services accessible for all its customers together with those who may have additional communication needs including hearing loss.

Deaf and hard of hearing customers visiting Jobcentres are able to access different support based on how hearing loss affects their communication needs. Job Centres are equipped and currently provide mainly portable, but also some fixed hearing loops across the network, for those customers with hearing loss. There is a new initiative to improve our environments for disabled customers and those with health conditions which will include people with hearing loss. This work is due to start in October.

For those customers who are deaf or hard of hearing and attending a prearranged appointment with DWP, staff will already be aware of the customer’s communication needs from DWP’s computer systems and have access to a language services contract to pre-book an interpreter to support face to face contact. The interpreter will be skilled in providing non-spoken language support including British Sign Language (BSL).

Furthermore, a Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) is assigned to each Jobcentre site. The DEA is skilled in understanding the needs of disabled customers, including those who with hearing loss. The DEA provides support to Work Coaches to ensure that Work Coaches are able to increase their awareness and empathy when dealing with customers who have hearing loss.

The Employer and Partnerships role within DWP forms effective networks with a variety of local stakeholders, including organisations and charities that support customers with hearing loss. These relationships are vital to ensure that DWP is able to provide consistent and effective support to its customers.

On a national level, DWP has established a range of networks with its stakeholders to provide a voice for the customer. The Taskforce for Accessible Information, the Reasonable Adjustments Forum and the Operational Stakeholder Engagement Forum all regularly meet with a cross section of groups representing disabilities including those with hearing loss. The purpose of these forums are to ensure that DWP elicits feedback and insight into how its services are being used by those with additional communication needs and to seek continuous improvement.

Following the expansion of Video Relay Service last year, whereby deaf customers are now able to make an inbound telephone call to DWP via a British Sign Language interpreter using a video connection, DWP is currently exploring how this technology can be adapted to support video remote interpreting. This will increase the flexibility for DWP to conduct face to face and telephony based contact with deaf and hard of hearing customers.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department informs people who have been overpaid universal credit that they can apply for a formal waiver.

From August 2020 to July 2021, a total of *89,000 Universal Credit Official Error Overpayments in excess of £1,000 were recorded on Debt Manager. There are currently approximately 6 million Universal Credit claimants.

The Department is unable to provide information on how many waiver requests for Universal Credit Official Error overpayments exceeding £1,000 were made (and were successful) in the last 12 months, as to do so would incur disproportionate costs.

When the Department informs claimants of a benefit overpayment (either by letter, or via the journal in Universal Credit), they are advised to contact the Department’s Debt Management Team to discuss repayment. During this discussion, if a claimant expresses concern about repayment, Debt Management staff will inform them that they can request that a waiver be considered.

It should be noted that a waiver can only be granted where the recovery of the overpayment is causing substantial medical and/or financial hardship, and where clear evidence of this can be provided.

DWP pays welfare benefits to around 23 million people and is committed to ensuring that the right people are paid the right amount of Universal Credit. The vast majority of benefit expenditure (more than £200bn across all benefits) was paid correctly in the last financial year, with front line staff working hard to prevent overpayments from occurring.

*Please note that this data is taken from operational data systems, and is not intended for publication. Therefore, the data itself is not quality assured to the standard of published Official Statistics and National Statistics.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many requests her Department has received for a formal waiver to the recovery of universal credit overpayments of an amount exceeding £1,000, which arose as a result of an error by a departmental official in the last 12 months; and how many of those requests were granted.

From August 2020 to July 2021, a total of *89,000 Universal Credit Official Error Overpayments in excess of £1,000 were recorded on Debt Manager. There are currently approximately 6 million Universal Credit claimants.

The Department is unable to provide information on how many waiver requests for Universal Credit Official Error overpayments exceeding £1,000 were made (and were successful) in the last 12 months, as to do so would incur disproportionate costs.

When the Department informs claimants of a benefit overpayment (either by letter, or via the journal in Universal Credit), they are advised to contact the Department’s Debt Management Team to discuss repayment. During this discussion, if a claimant expresses concern about repayment, Debt Management staff will inform them that they can request that a waiver be considered.

It should be noted that a waiver can only be granted where the recovery of the overpayment is causing substantial medical and/or financial hardship, and where clear evidence of this can be provided.

DWP pays welfare benefits to around 23 million people and is committed to ensuring that the right people are paid the right amount of Universal Credit. The vast majority of benefit expenditure (more than £200bn across all benefits) was paid correctly in the last financial year, with front line staff working hard to prevent overpayments from occurring.

*Please note that this data is taken from operational data systems, and is not intended for publication. Therefore, the data itself is not quality assured to the standard of published Official Statistics and National Statistics.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit overpayments of an amount exceeding £1,000 have been identified as having arisen as a result of an error by a departmental official in the last 12 months.

From August 2020 to July 2021, a total of *89,000 Universal Credit Official Error Overpayments in excess of £1,000 were recorded on Debt Manager. There are currently approximately 6 million Universal Credit claimants.

The Department is unable to provide information on how many waiver requests for Universal Credit Official Error overpayments exceeding £1,000 were made (and were successful) in the last 12 months, as to do so would incur disproportionate costs.

When the Department informs claimants of a benefit overpayment (either by letter, or via the journal in Universal Credit), they are advised to contact the Department’s Debt Management Team to discuss repayment. During this discussion, if a claimant expresses concern about repayment, Debt Management staff will inform them that they can request that a waiver be considered.

It should be noted that a waiver can only be granted where the recovery of the overpayment is causing substantial medical and/or financial hardship, and where clear evidence of this can be provided.

DWP pays welfare benefits to around 23 million people and is committed to ensuring that the right people are paid the right amount of Universal Credit. The vast majority of benefit expenditure (more than £200bn across all benefits) was paid correctly in the last financial year, with front line staff working hard to prevent overpayments from occurring.

*Please note that this data is taken from operational data systems, and is not intended for publication. Therefore, the data itself is not quality assured to the standard of published Official Statistics and National Statistics.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the number of claimants who will be affected by the ending of the £20 top-up in universal credit in autumn 2021 in Southport.

There are currently around 4.2 million households in receipt of a temporarily higher level of UC. It is not possible to produce a robust estimate of how many people will be affected by the removal of the £20 uplift due to uncertainty around the speed of the economic recovery and the resulting effect on the caseload.

The Chancellor announced a temporary six-month extension to the £20 per week uplift at the Budget on 3 March to support households affected by the economic shock of Covid-19. Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and the temporary uplift was part of a COVID support package worth a total of £407billion in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

There have been significant positive developments in the public health situation since the uplift was first introduced with the success of the vaccine rollout. Now the economy is reopening and as we continue to progress with our recovery our focus is on helping people back into work.

Through our Plan for Jobs, we are targeting tailored support schemes of people of all ages to help them prepare for, get into and progress in work. These include: Kickstart, delivering tens of thousands of six-month work placements for UC claimants aged 16-24 at risk of unemployment; we have also recruited an additional 13,500 work coaches to provide more intensive support to find a job; and introduced Restart which provides 12 months’ intensive employment support to UC claimants who are unemployed for a year. Our Plan for Jobs interventions will support more than two million people.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure fraudulent universal credit claims are (a) identified and (b) reported as soon as possible.

DWP takes fraud and error very seriously and it should be noted that, during a period when we have faced the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, fraud and error in the benefits system remains low, with 95% of benefits, worth more than £200bn. paid correctly in 2020/21.

We recognise that a small percentage of Universal Credit claims made during COVID-19 are in payment incorrectly and we are now re-visiting those cases which have the highest residual risk of incorrectness. Any overpayments will be pursued and where fraud is a factor, we will consider formal action.

We continue to invest in fraud and error prevention, with the Chancellor announcing £44m at the Spring Budget to support the expansion of both our Integrated Risk and Intelligence Service and our new Enhanced Checking Service and the development of Transaction Risking as a means of identifying high risk claims.

Our work with other Government departments and law enforcement agencies, both nationally and across borders, helps ensure appropriate intelligence and resources are shared,

enabling the totality of any criminality to be identified and investigated.

Our Annual Report and Accounts published on 15 July 2021 provides more information on what we are doing to prevent fraud from occurring: DWP annual report and accounts 2020 to 2021

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department will take to implement its commitments on the triple lock for state pensions.

As a result of the Triple Lock, the full yearly basic State Pension is now over £2,050 higher than in 2010 in cash terms.

Decisions on the rates for State Pensions are made each Autumn as part of the Up-rating review by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

We are committed to ensuring that older people are able to live with the dignity and respect they deserve; the State Pension is the foundation of support for older people

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps will her Department take to improve the accessibility of the Access to Work Scheme for visually impaired people.

DWP is committed to ensuring that the Access to Work (AtW) scheme is accessible to visually impaired people. We work closely with stakeholders (including organisations who support blind and visually impaired people) to identify and deliver improvements to the scheme to broaden its accessibility and reach.

Recent accessibility improvements include:

  • completing work to ensure our online application journey is compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidance (v 2.1); ensuring the service works with all major screen readers, screen magnifiers and other assistive software
  • creating accessible versions of four Access to Work claim forms. These products are compatible with popular assistive software such as JAWS, Windows NVDA and Zoomtext. Customers can also request versions in a format of their choice if these do not meet their needs.

In addition, we are currently developing an online journey to enable citizens to claim the grant; this will be fully accessible and allow users to submit claims, check the status of claims and view their remaining grant. We have done extensive user research and prototype testing with users who have visual impairments to ensure the future service meets their needs. We are also discussing ways of reducing the amount of invoices and other evidence users might need to upload or supply; ensuring a more inclusive service across all channels.

To raise awareness of the scheme, Access to Work was supported with paid campaign activity that ran between 24 February and 31 March, and the Department continues to assess how the scheme can be promoted to support both those with visual impairment and people with other disabilities and health conditions. The campaign ran across a broad channel mix to reach a wide but targeted audience. To coincide with the Access to Work campaign launch, we also produced a new Access to Work toolkit. This was shared with a wide range of stakeholders, including Business Disability Forum, Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), Disability Rights UK and the RNIB.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that correspondence sent to her Department is responded to within 20 working days.

The Department aims to respond to correspondence from hon. Members and their constituents within 20 working days wherever possible. Where the matters raised are complex it may take longer, but we aim to keep any delay to a minimum.

The Cabinet Office publishes information about individual Department’s performance in responding to hon. Members; the most recent information will be published in due course.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps the Child Maintenance Service is taking to ensure that the maintenance liability of paying parents reflects their income.

The income information for a child maintenance calculation is obtained directly from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). This method is consistent for all of our paying parents including earnings from self-employment.

Either parent may request a variation to a maintenance calculation to allow the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to consider some circumstances which are not covered by the basic calculation. This includes unearned income such as rental income from property or land, or dividends and interest from savings and investments. If a variation succeeds, the maintenance liability may be adjusted.

Cases involving complex income or suspected fraud can be referred to the CMS’s Financial Investigation Unit (FIU), a specialist team who can request information from financial institutions to check the maintenance calculation accurately reflects financial circumstances. If an investigation finds evidence of criminality the FIU may seek to prosecute or forward to HMRC for fraud action.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to enforce deduction from earning orders.

When a payment has not been received from an employer through a Deduction from Earnings Order (DEO), the Child Maintenance Service receive an alert and takes prompt action to investigate.

Account Managers and enforcement colleagues engage with employers to ensure they understand the DEO process and legal implications of not implementing the order, which could result in prosecutions or fines.

We have also introduced a new on-line service specifically for employers to ensure money deducted through DEOs is promptly allocated and paid to customers.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support is in place for workers who are paid on an hourly rate, in the event that they need to self-isolate in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Chancellor has announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms continue to keep people in employment. Employers can put workers on temporary leave and the government will pay them cash grants of 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, providing they keep the worker employed.

The Chancellor has also confirmed that, depending on their status, workers on zero hours contracts may be eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and we would urge people to explore this avenue too.

The Chancellor has announced a Self-Employed Income Support Scheme that will help millions of people across the UK, with those eligible receiving a cash grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profit over the last three years. This covers 95% of people who receive the majority of their income from self-employment.

The scheme brings parity with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, whereby the Government committed to pay up to £2,500 each month in wages of employed workers who are furloughed during the outbreak.

22nd Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of treatment capacity within NHS cancer services to tackle the cancer backlog.

The ‘Delivery plan for tackling the COVID-19 backlog of elective care’ sets out how the National Health Service will increase elective services, including cancer treatment, over the next three years. We are allocating more than £8 billion from 2022/23 to 2024/25, in addition to the £2 billion Elective Recovery Fund and £700 million Targeted Investment Fund to increase elective activity. We will also deliver nine million additional treatments and diagnostic procedures in the next three years and approximately 30% more elective activity by 2024/25, compared to pre-pandemic levels.

In 2022/23, Health Education England (HEE) is investing an additional £50 million to increase the cancer and diagnostics workforce. The Department has commissioned HEE to review long-term workforce demand and supply and NHS England will develop a long-term workforce strategy, including supply projections. The forthcoming 10 Year Cancer Plan will also ensure that the appropriate workforce is in place.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to (a) increase cancer treatment capacity and (b) reduce waiting times for that treatment.

The ‘Delivery plan for tackling the COVID-19 backlog of elective care’ states that by March 2023, the number of people waiting more than 62 days to start treatment from an urgent referral for cancer should return to pre-pandemic levels. The National Health Service will ensure that 75% of patients who have been urgently referred by their general practitioner for suspected cancer will be diagnosed or have cancer ruled out within 28 days by March 2024.

The Department has committed an additional £8 billion from 2022/23 to 2024/25 for the recovery of elective services, including cancer treatments. This is in addition to the £2 billion Elective Recovery Fund and £700 million targeted Investment Fund made available to increase capacity and prioritise cancer services. The Department has also provided £20 million to Cancer Alliances to meet the needs of cancer patients.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the provision of care and long-term treatment for long covid.

NHS England has invested £224 million to support the assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of people with post-COVID-19 syndrome, including £90 million in 2022/23. There are over 90 assessment services to support adults, children and young people with the long term effects of COVID-19 and to direct them to appropriate care pathways.

We have invested over £50 million in research projects for post-COVID-19 syndrome to improve our understanding and treatment of the condition.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assurances his Department has received from NHS England that the increase in provision of care in the community and remote consultations as a result of the covid-19 outbreak will not result in missed cancer diagnoses.

The National Health Service in England continued to prioritise cancer diagnosis and treatment throughout the pandemic. In March 2022, over 250,000 urgent cancer referrals were made by general practitioners in England – an increase of 70,000 compared to March 2020. With NHS England, we are increasing diagnostic capacity and connectivity by investing in more than 160 community diagnostic centres, to improve access to tests for cancer. Online consultations and telemedicine are also providing flexibility for patients.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the level of funding available to the NHS to tackle waiting lists for blood cancer treatment.

In 2021, we announced an additional £5.9 billion to support elective recovery, diagnostics and technology in the next three years. This includes £2.3 billion to increase the volume of diagnostic activity and launch community diagnostic centres to increase capacity for clinical tests, such as phlebotomy for the diagnosis of suspected blood cancers.

We have also committed an additional £15.7 billion from April 2022 to March 2025 for managing the ongoing impact of COVID-19, while reducing waiting times for elective care, including cancer treatments.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of trends in the level of referrals of people aged over 65 to the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme since 2019.

The following table shows the number of referrals of people aged over 65 years old to Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services. The data shows a decline in referrals from 2020/21 due to the impact of the pandemic as many people aged over 65 years old were more likely to be isolating. While complete data for 2021/22 is not yet available, the number of referrals is now increasing.

Year

Number of referrals

2018/19

104,347

2019/20

105,438

2020/21

74,565

2021/22 to Quarter 3

72,717

Source: Psychological Therapies, Annual Reports on the use of IAPT services, NHS Digital

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the relationship between an early diagnosis and good mental health for people living with dementia.

Timely diagnosis of dementia ensures that a person with dementia can access the advice, information, care and support to allow them to live well with the condition and remain independent for as long as possible. Mental wellbeing is acknowledged as one benefit of an early diagnosis. ‘Benefits of timely dementia diagnosis’ indicates that those who receive a diagnosis can understand their experience and reduce their anxiety. This report is available at the following link:

https://www.dementiaaction.org.uk/assets/0000/4970/BENEFITS_OF_TIMELY_DEMENTIA_DIAGNOSIS_to_distribute_2013.pdf

We will set out plans for dementia in England for the next 10 years later this year, including dementia diagnosis.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will (a) collect and (b) publish data on access by people (i) facing digital exclusion and (b) with dementia to Improving Access to Psychological Therapies services.

We have no current plans to do so. However, NHS England and NHS Improvement have committed to publishing and disseminating resources on inclusive digital transformation for local services and regional teams and understand the needs of specific cohorts at increased risk of digital exclusion.

The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) dataset collects and publishes data on access by people with dementia. However, as the volume of this data is low, it is suppressed to protect patient confidentiality. NHS England and NHS Improvement aim to increase the level of data collected for IAPT Long Term Conditions services, including dementia.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has had made on the adequacy of North-West Ambulance Service ambulance response times.

No recent assessment has been made. In 2022/23, NHS England and NHS Improvement have allocated £150 million to address pressures on the ambulance service, including supporting improvements to response times through additional call handler recruitment and retention. NHS England and NHS Improvement have also tendered a £30 million contract for auxiliary ambulance services to provide national surge capacity as needed and support ambulance response times during periods of increased demand.

NHS England’s National Ambulance Coordination Centre provides central monitoring of and support for ambulance trusts to improve patient handovers at hospitals, preventing further delays in response times.

24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of A&E service provision for children in Southport.

No recent assessment has been made. However, National Health Service leaders in West Lancashire, Formby, and Southport have recently launched the Shaping Care Together programme. This seeks to improve the configuration of services and ensure that NHS services meet the long term needs of the local population.

24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department will take to ensure that patients are able to access treatment at wound dressing clinics without delay.

The National Wound Care Strategy Programme (NWCSP) is working with NHS England and NHS Improvement’s Transformation Directorate and the Academic Health Science Network Transforming Wound Care programme to promote the equitable provision of wound care clinics in England.

In December 2020, the NWCSP published clinical recommendations for lower limb care, including to allow more people with chronic lower limb wounds to receive equitable care in dedicated chronic lower limb services staffed by clinicians with appropriate time, knowledge, and skills and with established referral routes to escalate care. The NWCSP is currently testing this model, with full results expected in 2022/23.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department will increase capacity for children at Long Covid clinics.

The Department continues to keep arrangements for children with the long term effects of COVID-19 under review, including ensuring that there is sufficient capacity within the services to support them. NHS England has established 14 Post COVID-19 specialist paediatric hubs to provide support to local paediatric services through multidisciplinary assessment and advice for children and young people with the most complex needs, to the age of 18 years old.

The hubs bring together expert clinical teams, including paediatricians, physiotherapists, nurses and occupational therapists, to provide a holistic assessment. The Post COVID-19 specialist paediatric hubs are collecting data and improving data quality to enable the publication of activity including referrals, assessments and waiting times in summer 2022, which will inform decisions on future service provision. Following assessment in the Post COVID-19 services, appropriate treatment including rehabilitation will be provided locally to the child or young person.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that a variety of treatments are available for children with cancer.

The NHS Long Term Plan commits to improve the outcomes and experience of children, teenagers and young adults with cancer. These include implementing networked care; simplifying pathways and transitions between service; ensuring that every patient has access to specialist care; and increasing participation in clinical research.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have published a service specification setting out the functions and requirements of principal treatment centres and the Children’s Cancer Operational Delivery Networks. This will enable services to improve and widen access to psychological support, clinical trials and tumour banking. The National Health Service now offers all children and young people with cancer whole genome sequencing to allow more comprehensive and precise diagnosis and access to personalised treatments.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the availability of NHS patient spaces at dental practices in (a) Southport, and (b) the North-West.

National Health Service dental provision has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reduced the number of available appointments in practices, including in Southport and the North West, due to necessary infection prevention and control procedures. NHS dentists have been asked to prioritise available capacity for urgent care, care for vulnerable groups and children, followed by delayed planned care.

We continue to monitor the delivery of NHS dentistry. Data for February 2022 indicates that an increasing number of courses of treatment are being delivered, including band 1 treatment and checks ups, in the North West and in the Cheshire and Merseyside Sustainability and Transformation Partnership area.

We have made £50 million available for NHS dentistry in 2021/22 to allow more patients to obtain an NHS dental appointment. Of this, £7,310,000 has initially been made available for the North West . We are currently developing proposals for dental system reform to improve access for patients.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the availability of routine check-up appointments for NHS dental patients in (a) Southport, and (b) the north-west.

National Health Service dental provision has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reduced the number of available appointments in practices, including in Southport and the North West, due to necessary infection prevention and control procedures. NHS dentists have been asked to prioritise available capacity for urgent care, care for vulnerable groups and children, followed by delayed planned care.

We continue to monitor the delivery of NHS dentistry. Data for February 2022 indicates that an increasing number of courses of treatment are being delivered, including band 1 treatment and checks ups, in the North West and in the Cheshire and Merseyside Sustainability and Transformation Partnership area.

We have made £50 million available for NHS dentistry in 2021/22 to allow more patients to obtain an NHS dental appointment. Of this, £7,310,000 has initially been made available for the North West . We are currently developing proposals for dental system reform to improve access for patients.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve services for people with cholesteatoma to ensure they are tested and diagnosed as soon as possible.

We have made £520 million available to improve access and capacity in general practice during the pandemic, enabling patients with cholesteatoma symptoms to be assessed and referred. The National Health Service is expanding access to specialist advice and guidance through Primary Care Networks, including the provision of £10 million through the Investment and Impact Fund.

We are investing £2.3 billion in opening up to 160 community diagnostic centres (CDCs) by March 2025, increasing capacity for computed tomography scans which can diagnose cholesteatoma. CDCs have already delivered over 550,00 additional checks. We are also investing £1.5 billion to expand elective surgical hubs, which will increase surgical capacity to remove cholesteatomas. There are currently over 40 surgical hubs.

2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of reviewing the prescription charges exemptions list to include long-term conditions such cystic fibrosis.

The Government currently has no plans to review or extend the prescription charge medical exemptions list to include long term conditions such as cystic fibrosis.

Around 89% of prescriptions are dispensed free of charge and extensive arrangements are already in place to help those with the greatest need. Eligibility depends on the patient’s age, whether they are in qualifying full-time education, whether they are pregnant or have recently given birth, or whether they are in receipt of certain benefits or a war pension. Some people with cystic fibrosis may meet the eligibility criteria for prescription charge exemptions and may therefore be in receipt of free prescriptions.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of care home visiting guidance in place at 25 January 2021; and whether he plans to make an assessment of the potential merits of easing visiting restrictions as the Government ends Plan B restrictions.

The Department regularly reviews and assesses the effectiveness of COVID-19 guidance for care homes. We engage with partners, including the Care Quality Commission, representative organisations and care providers, to understand the impact and effectiveness of care home visiting guidance and inform any changes.

From 31 January 2022, there will be no limit on the number of visitors each resident can have and no additional testing or isolation for those visitors who go on a normal visit outside of the home. We will continue to ask care home residents to isolate following high-risk visits out for a maximum of 10 days rather than 14 days.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve mental health services for dementia patients.

Through the NHS Long Term Plan, we committed to investing at least an additional £2.3 billion a year into mental health services by 2023/24. This will allow 380,000 more adults and older adults accessing mental health care, including through improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) services.

The NHS Mental Health Implementation Plan 2019/20 – 2023/24 sets out that all local areas will be expected to address inequalities in IAPT access for older people. To support this, areas must ensure that IAPT services meet the needs of older carers and people living with dementia and/or frailty, including those living in care homes. In March 2021, the Mental Health Recovery Action Plan committed an additional £500 million to ensure the right support is in place in 2021/22. This includes £110 million to expand adult mental health services, including IAPT and £17 million for the recovery of the dementia diagnosis rate and tackling the backlog of appointments.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase call handling capacity at GP surgeries.

In October 2021, NHS England and NHS Improvement published, ‘Our plan for improving access for patients and supporting general practice’ which included a long-term measure to increase the adoption of cloud-based telephony across all practices. The benefits include additional capacity, more phone lines and automated queuing to support practices to improve call handling. We also announced a £250 million Winter Access Fund which can be used to fund extra administrative staff.

We have put in place interim arrangements to enable all practices to use Microsoft Teams telephone functionality for outbound calls, increasing capacity for incoming calls. This is at no additional cost to practices and is available until the end of April 2023.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that GP practices are increasing the availability of face to face appointments with patients.

The National Health Service has been clear that general practitioner (GP) practices must provide face to face appointments, alongside remote consultations. Patients’ input into consultation type should be sought and practices should respect preferences for face to face care unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary, such as the presence of COVID-19 symptoms.

In October 2021, we published ‘Our plan for improving access for patients and supporting general practice’. This included an additional investment of £250 million in a Winter Access Fund to increase the number of face to face appointments, while also investing in technology to make it easier for patients to see or speak to their GP.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to increase the availability of covid-19 rapid lateral flow tests for home delivery.

The UK Health Security Agency has secured hundreds of millions of additional lateral flow device tests, to allow a 200% increase in testing supply prior to the Omicron variant. We have accelerated manufacture and delivery timelines which has doubled the total delivery capacity with Royal Mail to 900,000 test packs and polymerase chain reaction tests per day for home delivery. We have also increased the availability of tests at pharmacies and for local authorities. We plan to distribute over 90 million tests across the United Kingdom per week.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve ambulance waiting times in the (a) North West and (b) UK.

NHS England and NHS Improvement advises that the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust has secured 55 new ambulances, alongside the temporary retention of a further 45 vehicles over winter. The Trust has also recruited additional paramedics and emergency medical technicians, alongside training ambulance care assistants to blue light driving standard. This has allowed 269 additional frontline staff to be deployed.

National Health Service ambulance trusts are being supported by NHS England and NHS Improvement to improve ambulance waiting times through an extra £55 million to increase staff numbers for winter, providing over 700 additional staff in control rooms and on the frontline. This includes £1.85 million to place more hospital ambulance liaison officers at the most challenged hospitals to help address ambulance queues and get crews quickly back out on the road.

Ambulance waiting times outside England is a devolved matter.

16th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the impact on travellers of the cost of covid-19 mitigation measures, such as those associated with private testing providers.

There are a range of prices available to consumers. Since international travel testing requirements were introduced, the average cost of a day two polymerase chain reaction test has decreased to £45 and tests are regularly available from approximately £20. For United Kingdom residents or individuals with residency rights who would suffer severe financial hardship by paying the full cost of their testing fees before they travel, hardship arrangements may be available.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase (a) public awareness of and (b) support for people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, CFS/ME.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is an arm's length body of the Department with responsibility for developing evidence-based guidance for the health and care system including for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME).

To increase awareness, support and understanding of CFS/ME, NICE recently updated their CFS/ME guidance. The guidance includes specific recommendations on providing information and support to people with CFS/ME including personalised advice about managing symptoms.

Additionally, the guidance recommends that training for all staff delivering care to people with CFS/ME should include materials helping them to understand what CFS/ME is, how it is diagnosed and managed.

NICE is working with system partners to support the implementation of the guideline.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with representatives of the North West Ambulance Service to tackle long waiting times.

We have had no specific discussions.

3rd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of requiring NHS Trusts to keep records of correspondence with patients, including conversations over the telephone.

No assessment has been made. However, we expect that National Health Service trusts, in common with other health and care providers, should ensure clinical records are accurate and up to date. This should include all relevant information about diagnoses and treatment and care decisions, with details of how this information was collected and whether and with whom it was shared.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to create more spaces in respite centres for adults with disabilities in the North West; and what further support he will make available for people for whom there is not space.

Local authorities have a duty under the Care Act 2014 to shape their local care markets to ensure there is a diverse range of high-quality services, available to meet the needs of the local population, including respite care. Responsibility for the provision of respite services in the North West is a matter for the local authorities in that region.

To support local authorities, we are providing £1.6 billion of new grant funding per year in this Spending Review period for social care and other services. We are also providing support to local authorities to help them fulfil their market shaping duties through collaborative work with partners such as the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the Local Government Association.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to further improve communications between (a) CCGs, (b) GPs, and (c) care homes to raise awareness and understanding of the CHC referral process.

The ‘National framework for NHS continuing healthcare and NHS-funded nursing care’ sets out the principles and processes guiding NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC), including how assessments should be undertaken and CHC and National Health Service-funded nursing care delivered.

As set out in the national framework, it is the responsibility of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to promote awareness of CHC and ensure training and development opportunities are available for practitioners, in partnership with the local authority. The framework also sets out that a partnership approach, including good communication, at both organisational and practitioner levels between NHS England, CCGs, general practitioners, local authorities, local NHS bodies and provider organisations including care homes, is crucial for successful and consistent delivery of CHC.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the length of time for adults over the age of 25 without an Education and Health Care Plan to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder; and what assessment his Department has made of the impact on those adults of the time taken for that diagnosis.

Local commissioners should have due regard to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s guideline ‘Autism spectrum disorder in adults: diagnosis and management’ when commissioning services for their local populations. This guideline states people should wait no longer than 13 weeks between a referral for an autism assessment and a first appointment.

As part of the COVID-19 Mental Health and Wellbeing Recovery Action plan, we are investing £2.5 million in 2020/21 to improve the quality of adult diagnostic and post-diagnostic pathways and address waiting times. We have not made a specific assessment of the impact of delayed diagnosis on adults.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the length of waiting times for children to access treatment from CAHMS; and what criteria must be met before a child can be treated.

No assessment has been made as a national access and waiting times standard for child and adolescent mental health services has not yet been defined. There is not a nationally set or mandated clinical threshold for accessing National Health Service children and young people’s mental health services. Referral and access is based on need and clinical judgement.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have consulted on the potential to introduce five new waiting time standards as part of its clinically-led review of NHS access standards. This includes a standard that children, young people and their families/carers presenting to community-based mental health services should start to receive care within four weeks from referral. This consultation closed on 1 September 2021 and the outcomes will inform a recommendation to the Government on whether and how to implement this new access standard in due course.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions officials in his Department have had with their counterparts in the Department for Education on the provision of disabled children's social care.

Officials have regular discussions with the Department for Education, including in relation to Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) and implementation of the Building the Right Support national plan to reduce reliance on inpatient care for people with a learning disability and autistic people.

This year councils have access to £51.3 billion to deliver their core services, including a £1.7 billion grant for social care. To support local areas, the Government has given over £6 billion in un-ringfenced funding directly to councils to support them with the immediate and longer-term impacts of COVID-19 spending pressures, including for social care for disabled children.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to tackle the backlog in disabled children's health services.

On 6 September 2021 we announced plans to spend more than £8 billion over the Spending Review period 2022/23 to 2024/25 for a programme to assist the NHS to provide elective care delayed by the pandemic. We also announced an additional £5.4 billion to support the COVID-19 response over the next six months, bringing the total Government support for health services to over £34 billion in 2021/22. This includes £2 billion to reduce waiting times for patients, including disabled children.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the level of uptake of the covid-19 booster vaccination in (a) Southport and (b) North West England.

As of 16 January 2022, 67.2% of adults aged 18 years old and over and 62.7% of those aged 12 years old and over in Southport had received a booster or third dose. As of 22 January 2022, 60.5% of adults aged 18 years old and over and 55.8% of people aged 12 years old and over in the North West had received a booster or third dose.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure people with Down Syndrome have access to appropriate (a) healthcare, (b) education and (c) social care throughout their lives.

We are trialling the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training programme to improve awareness and understanding of learning disability, including Down syndrome, for all health and social care staff. We have committed to investing an additional £5.4 billion over three years to begin a comprehensive programme of reform for adult social care, including an extension of the established Disabled Facilities Grant. The Government is taking forward a review to improve outcomes for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), including those with Down syndrome, with a focus on preparing them for later life and adulthood. We will publish proposals for full public consultation in the coming months. In addition, the Spending Review committed £2.6 billion over the next three years for school places for children and young people with SEND, more than tripling current capital funding levels to over £900 million by 2024-25.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure there is a sufficient supply of flu vaccinations for elderly and clinically vulnerable citizens.

General practitioners and community pharmacists are responsible for ordering flu vaccine to deliver the national flu programme to adults, including the elderly and clinically vulnerable. We have issued guidance asking all providers to order sufficient vaccine to at least equal the levels of uptake achieved in 2020/21. The Department is also in regular contact with vaccine manufacturers to ensure there are sufficient amounts of flu vaccines available in the system to vaccinate eligible cohorts.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to tackle the shortage of blood test kits.

We have secured tens of millions of additional blood tubes, including importing additional supplies from the European Union and the United States of America, to ensure clinically urgent testing continues. The Department is working closely with NHS England, the devolved administrations and the National Health Service to minimise any impact on patient care.

21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress has been made on recognising the covid-19 inoculation status of people vaccinated outside the UK, US, and Europe.

From 4 October we are extending our inbound vaccination policy to 17 new countries and we continue to work with international partners to explore further expansion of the policy.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to discourage GPs from making non-urgent referrals to accident and emergency departments.

In 2021/22 the Investment and Impact Fund (IIF) will recognise general practitioner (GP) practices, organised into Primary Care Networks (PCNs), for developing and implementing plans to reduce unnecessary accident and emergency attendances and emergency hospital admissions. In 2021/22 and 2022/23, the IIF will also recognise PCNs for making and implementing plans to increase referrals from general practice to the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service. We have launched the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) which is providing GPs and NHS 111 pathways for referring patients to a consultation with a pharmacist for lower acuity conditions. Further work is underway to develop the CPCS referral routes from emergency departments and urgent treatment centres.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure elderly citizens on low incomes are able to access social care.

The Care Act 2014 requires local authorities to carry out an assessment where an adult or carer appears to have care and support needs. Once an eligibility determination has been made the local authority should then carry out a financial assessment to determine whether or not the person should pay anything towards their care.

We have announced a cap on care costs and the more generous means testing which will benefit all adults. The Government will unfreeze the Minimum Income Guarantee for those receiving care in their own homes and Personal Expenses Allowance for care home residents, which will both rise in line with inflation from April 2022.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that vaccines administered to British citizens overseas are displayed on the UK's Vaccination Database and the NHS Medical Records Database.

The vaccination programme is developing an overseas vaccine service to support English citizens and residents. This will enable these vaccination events to appear in the national vaccine database and general practitioner records. The devolved administrations are considering establishing similar solutions. This service will be piloted by the end of September for wider deployment in early October. It will initially support the four vaccines recognised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and administered within the jurisdiction of a recognised medical regulator.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that British citizens vaccinated overseas and travelling for work purposes to and from the UK are able to acquire a vaccination passport.

The vaccination programme is developing an overseas vaccine service to support English citizens and residents. This will enable these vaccination events to appear in the national vaccine database and general practitioner records. The devolved administrations are considering establishing similar solutions. This will support those who have been vaccinated overseas and travelling for work who require a NHS COVID Pass. It will initially support the four vaccines recognised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and administered within the jurisdiction of a recognised medical regulator.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department will take to reduce waiting times at A&E departments.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have published the 2021/2022 priorities and operational planning guidance. This includes guidance to transform community and urgent and emergency care to prevent non urgent attendance at emergency departments, improve timely admission to hospital and reduce length of stay.

£450million has been invested to upgrade accident and emergency (A&E) facilities, with funding awarded to over 120 separate National Health Service (NHS) trusts. NHS trusts have used the new funding to expand waiting areas and increase the number of treatment cubicles, helping them boost A&E capacity.

18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether workers in the life safety systems industry will be exempt from self-isolation if identified as a close contact of a covid-19 positive case.

From 16 August 2021, those who are fully vaccinated, participants of approved vaccine trials, individuals under 18 years and 6 months of age, and those unable to have the vaccine for medical reasons, are not required to self-isolate if they are a contact of a positive case. Such individuals will instead be advised to take a polymerase chain reaction test or given age-related public health advice (in the case of young children).

Individuals who do not fall within the categories above will be legally required to self-isolate if they are the contact of a positive case.

18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether people granted an exemption under the covid-19 self-isolation rules will be able to continue to isolate if they want to.

From 16 August 2021, those who are fully vaccinated, participants of approved vaccine trials, individuals under 18 years and 6 months of age, and those unable to have the vaccine for medical reasons, are not required to self-isolate if they are a contact of a positive case. Such individuals will instead be advised to take a PCR test or given age-related public health advice (in the case of young children). However, should an individual wish to self-isolate, they can do so.

18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that elderly citizens on low incomes are able to access social care.

The Government is committed to ensuring individuals have access to the care and support they need. When local authorities charge for care and support, they must undertake a financial assessment to determine what the individual can afford to pay from their income and assets and ensure they retain enough income to pay for any needs that are not being met by the local authority.

Local authorities make assessments based on a range of factors. The Minimum Income Guarantee determines the floor for income retained for those receiving care in their own home and the personal expense allowance for those receiving care in a care home. On 7 September 2021, the Government announced that from April 2022 it will unfreeze these allowances and they will rise in line with inflation.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to encourage general practices to return to in person appointments.

Face-to-face appointments have been available throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and approximately half of all appointments during the pandemic have been delivered in person. NHS England and NHS Improvement wrote to general practitioner (GP) practices on 19 July, setting out the expectation that practices should offer a blend of face to face and remote appointments, with remote triage where possible.

Practice receptions should be open, so patients without access to phones or online services are not disadvantaged. Practices are expected to review their communications to ensure patients know how to access GP services.

6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to help ensure that people who took part in covid-19 vaccination trials are able to correctly log their vaccine doses on their medical records for the purposes of foreign travel.

The Government is working with clinical research sites to add participant information of COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials into the National Immunisation Management Service (NIMS), in order to allow participants to access their COVID Pass for events and travel purposes.

Participants of trials which have been unblinded, including those who received unlicensed vaccines, will be able to obtain a COVID Pass for international travel based on their vaccination status, with details of their vaccine records accessible within their COVID Pass, once these are available on NIMS.

Nadhim Zahawi
Chancellor of the Exchequer
6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the provision of children’s A&E services in (a) Southport and (b) Lancashire.

Children’s accident and emergency (A&E) services are provided at Ormskirk District General Hospital. The six-week average performance at Ormskirk A&E is 97% with the majority of children treated, admitted or discharged within the four hour standard. The Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust is currently undertaking a strategic service review to deliver sustainable health and care services which includes care for children.

6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve emergency medical technician training.

Emergency medicine technician training is undertaken as a Level 4 Apprenticeship through individual ambulance trusts. The training standards are set by the Health and Care Professionals Council. Employers, working with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, should ensure that standards meet the requirements of the ambulance service and the level of training required.

6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce waiting times for Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnostic pathways.

As part of the NHS Long Term Plan we are investing £2.5 million to test and implement the most effective ways to reduce autism diagnosis waiting times for children and young people in England. In addition, in 2021-22 we are investing an extra £10.5 million to address waiting times for a diagnosis for children, young people and adults and proactively identify those at risk of crisis. We will be publishing shortly our refreshed national autism strategy, which will set out actions to improve the diagnosis of autism for both adults and children.

15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure mental health support is available to young people in (a) Southport and (b) Sefton.

In Southport and Sefton, children’s and young people’s mental health services will receive additional investment from 2021/22 to support COVID-19 recovery, reduce waiting times and improve access. A local 24 hours, seven days a week mental health crisis helpline was developed and implemented at the start of the pandemic. There are two mental health support teams in the Southport area, based in schools, to provide mental health interventions and advice to pupils/teachers in schools and colleges for low to moderate level mental health conditions. A further team will be implemented in 2022/23, supporting a further 20 schools.

An online resource ‘Kooth’ has been recommissioned with Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council to provide digital support to young people in the Southport and Sefton areas. A ‘one stop shop’ online mental health referral and information platform was launched in May 2021 to enable children, young people, parents and professionals to make direct referrals to mental health services and to access information and self-help materials. A comprehensive mental health training and support programme was delivered locally to bolster the skills and knowledge of school and college staff in supporting children’s and young people’s mental health.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the waiting times for carer’s breaks and respite care services in (a) Southport and (b) Sefton.

No such assessment has been made.

8th Jun 2021
What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on preventing the spread of new and existing covid-19 variants.

We continue to strengthen our partnership between local and national public health experts, local government and the National Health Service and employers to coordinate our response to the virus and share resources and intelligence to increase our impact. NHS Test and Trace initiated a programme to pilot additional interventions to improve compliance with self-isolation and encourage people to come forward for testing, particularly in areas of enduring transmission and variant of concern outbreaks.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent estimate he has made of the number of people in England who are not registered with a dental practice.

No estimate has been made. Continuous registration with dental practices is no longer required for a patient to access NHS services. Patients are only registered with a dental practice during the course of their treatment.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the availability of appointments at GP practices.

General practice appointment levels are now close to pre-pandemic numbers. In March 2021, an estimated 28.6 million appointments were booked in general practice in England or an average of 1.24 million per working weekday, compared to 1.25 million appointments per working weekday in March 2019. In March 2021, 15.8 million appointments were face to face, or 55.7% of all appointments. NHS England and NHS Improvement and local commissioners monitor monthly appointment data published by NHS Digital, providing support where appropriate.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the backlog for cancer treatment is prioritised in the context of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government confirmed an additional £3 billion for the National Health Service in the Spending Review 2020, on top of the long-term settlement, to support the recovery from the impact of COVID-19. Cancer patients will continue to be prioritised and will benefit from approximately £1 billion to begin tackling the elective backlog.

The NHS is moving rapidly to increase diagnostic capacity, with a particular focus on immediate action plans to increase endoscopy and computerised tomography capacity, and focusing on reducing the number of those waiting more than 62 days on cancer pathways, particularly for those who have had their care delayed by the pandemic. In October, NHS England and NHS Improvement and Public Health England launched the latest ‘Help us help you’ campaign to urge people with potential symptoms of cancer to see their general practitioner.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure carers are prioritised for NHS dental care.

National Health Service dentists have been asked to maximise safe throughput, focusing first on those in greatest clinical need, then care for vulnerable groups, followed by overdue appointments. Where carers meet these criteria they will be prioritised for NHS dental care.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of booked vaccine appointments are subsequently cancelled by vaccine centres.

The information is not held in the format requested.

Nadhim Zahawi
Chancellor of the Exchequer
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to make covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for NHS workers.

We would encourage all National Health Service staff to take up the offer of the vaccine, to help protect themselves and others they come into contact with. We are working to maximise uptake of the vaccine and to protect vulnerable patients.

Nadhim Zahawi
Chancellor of the Exchequer
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve mental health support for children and young people in (a) Southport constituency and (b) England.

In the West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area, which includes Southport constituency, children and parents can now self-refer into local child and adolescent mental health services and these services cover 0 to 19 year olds. The CCG has developed the local Healthy Young Minds website and a 24 hours a day, seven days a week helpline to provide information on access, urgent help and links to self help and support for family members and carers. Kooth have been commissioned to provide online live digital support and access to materials to support a young person with their mental health. Children and young people’s mental health services in the area will receive additional investment in 2021 and beyond to improve access and crisis support. This includes the establishment of a school-based mental health support team from January 2022.

Nationally, the NHS Long Term Plan invests a further £2.3 billion a year into mental health services by 2023/24, which will see an additional 345,000 children and young people a year able to access support through National Health Service-funded services including school and college-based mental health support teams by 2023/24. We have also announced an additional £79 million in this financial year to significantly accelerate this planned expansion of children and young people’s mental health services.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has plans to introduce smear tests on demand for people who request that test via their GP.

There are currently no plans to introduce smear tests on demand. The NHS Cervical Screening Programme offers regular, routine tests for the human papillomavirus which can cause cervical cancer, to all women between the ages of 25 and 64 years old. This programme is intended for women without any symptoms to help detect cervical abnormalities at an early stage.

25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what comparative assessment he has made of the effectiveness of (a) a single dose and (b) two doses of the covid-19 vaccine for people taking immunosuppressant medications.

No data is available on the effectiveness of a single dose or two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines in people taking immunosuppressant medications, therefore no assessment has been made.

Nadhim Zahawi
Chancellor of the Exchequer
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the timeframe is for NHS hospitals to re-commence (a) hip replacements and (b) other routine treatments.

We want routine NHS services to return for patients as quickly as possible, but this must be done in a safe and managed way, ensuring that we maintain the capacity for any further surge in COVID-19 activity. The resumption of non-urgent operations will be prioritised at local level based on local demands, ensuring that the most urgent cases are seen first, whilst ensuring surge capacity can be stood up again should it be needed.

6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the timeframe is for dental practices restart routine, non-urgent treatment as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Dental practices have been able to open for face to face National Health Service care, including routine care, from 8 June. Decisions on when to reopen for private care are a matter for the practice concerned. The guidance from NHS England and NHS Improvement to NHS contract holders was clear that the pace of the restart should be only as fast as possible compatible with maximizing safety for patients and dental staff. A copy of the letter that was published can be found at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-ontent/uploads/sites/52/2020/03/Urgent-dental-care-letter-28-May.pdf

There are also currently over 600 urgent dental centres which remain open across England to ensure patients can continue to have access to urgent treatment while practices gradually restart a full range of care.

Dentists are using clinical priority to decide which patients to see first and, where they have capacity, they are free to also restart routine non-urgent appointments.

11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has for the reopening of (a) pain clinics and (b)(i) physio, (ii) osteopathy and (iii) acupuncture centres.

We continue to work closely with the National Health Service and partners and guidance has already been issued to the NHS on the process of starting to restore urgent non-COVID-19 services in a safe way. The approach will be flexed at local level according to capacity and demand in different parts of the country and will be gradual.

11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has for the recommencement of B12 injections at GP practices.

Approaches to management of B12 injections during the pandemic are a local matter.

The British Committee for Standards in Haematology (BCSH), which operates independently of Department and NHS England and produces evidence-based guidelines on the diagnosis and treatment of haematological disease, has published a range of general and specific haematology guidance for clinicians in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes new guidance on the management of both dietary and non-dietary B12 deficiency. On B12 injections the BCSH guidance recommends that screening questions for COVID-19 infection are asked before patients attend their general practitioner (GP) surgeries. Alternatives to attending the GP surgery such as local pharmacies or home administration by district nurses should be explored. The guidance can be found at the following link:

b-s-h.org.uk/media/18259/bsh-guidance-b12-replacement-covid-1924042020finalversion2020-4-3.pdf

21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to reduce waiting times for mental health care support for (a) adults and (b) children.

We have already introduced the first ever access and waiting time standards for mental health services, including for children and young people’s eating disorder services, for early intervention for people experiencing a first episode of psychosis and for accessing psychological and talking therapies. These are being met or are on track for delivery by the end of 2020/21.

The National Health Service has also committed to testing and rolling out comprehensive waiting time standards for adults and children as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress he has made on securing the adequate availability and delivery of freestyle librelink diabetic sensors during the transition period.

The Department is aware that there has been a temporary disruption in the supply of Freestyle Libre glucose monitoring sensors, caused by an increase in demand. The supplier, Abbott, has however recently informed us that the delay issues have now been fully resolved and that this news has been communicated to existing users and health care professionals.

Abbott have emphasised that the supply disruption was not caused by the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. The UK has now left the EU and entered a transition period, which will run until 31 December 2020. EU regulations on medicines, vaccines and medical devices will continue to apply to the UK throughout the transition period, during which we will negotiate a new trade agreement with the EU.

21st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if she will make representations to her counterpart in the French Government that, in addition to the UEFA inquiry, the French authorities conduct their own investigation into (a) police conduct and (b) security measures during the 2022 UEFA Champions League Final.

HMG has been clear that the events at the Champions League Final were unacceptable. The Foreign Secretary raised the issue with the French Foreign Minister on 1 June, as did the Sports Minister with his counterpart on 7 June. The French Government has apologised and acknowledged that mistakes were made.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
21st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment her Department has made of the level of threat posed to UK (a) security and (b) regional interests by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran.

We do not routinely comment on intelligence matters or specific threats. As we made clear in the 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, we are committed to addressing growing threats from Iran, as well as other states. We will continue to use all tools at our disposal to protect the UK and our interests from any Iran-linked threats.

The UK Government has long been clear about its concerns over the continued destabilising activity of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). This includes IRGC political, financial and military support to a number of militant and proscribed groups including Hizballah in Lebanon and Syria, militias in Iraq and the Houthis in Yemen. The UK maintains a range of sanctions that work to constrain the destabilising activity of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. We regularly raise Iran's destabilising role in the region at UN Security Council.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
21st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to support language skills and training across Government departments.

The FCDO is part of the cross-Whitehall languages group which supports and promotes language learning across government departments. The FCDO makes its language training contracts available to other government departments, allowing them to access our competitively procured services. The FCDO is committed to strengthening the languages skills of its staff, who support the achievement of other government departments' international objectives as part of their work.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to help resolve the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

The UK has played a leading role in responding to the humanitarian crisis, committing over £1 billion in aid since the conflict began. Over the course of our coming financial year, the UK will provide at least £88 million in aid to the people of Yemen. UK funding will be provided through multiple agencies, including the World Food Programme and UNICEF. This will help feed at least 200,000 people every month, provide lifesaving health care for 800,000 women and children, and treat 85,000 severely malnourished children. We will work with our delivery partners to ensure aid is disbursed quickly and effectively to avoid further suffering. An inclusive political settlement is the only way to bring long-term stability to Yemen and to address the worsening humanitarian crisis. The UK fully supports the work of the UN Special Envoy, and welcomes his plans to propose an extension to the current truce in Yemen.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Apr 2022
What diplomatic steps her Department is taking to help strengthen links with Belgium and Luxembourg.

The UK enjoys excellent diplomatic relations with both Belgium and Luxembourg.

Tomorrow, I will travel to Brussels and meet with the Belgian Prime Minister’s National Security Adviser. We will discuss the situation in Ukraine and measures for strengthening our bi-lateral cooperation and meeting the PM's ambition set out in the 2021 Joint Declaration.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury met Luxembourg’s Finance Minister on 3 March 2022 to discuss our shared ambition to deepen financial services cooperation, particularly sustainable finance.

We will continue to work closely with Luxembourg on shared concerns

My Noble Friend Lord Ahmad will chair a roundtable on PSVI on 24 May and Luxembourg will attend.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
16th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the Tehran Times publishing a map of Israel with potential strike targets.

Our commitment to Israel's security is unwavering. Israel is an important strategic partner for the UK and we collaborate on issues of defence and security, which includes regular discussions with Israel on Iranian destabilising activity in the region.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what bilateral assistance his Department is providing Tunisia to help the respond to the covid-19 outbreak in that country.

Following a request from the Tunisian Government, a team from the UK's Emergency Medical Team, supported by the UK-Public Health Rapid Support Team was deployed to Tunisia on 13 August to assist with the Covid-19 response in country. The British Embassy in Tunis has also enabled a scientific exchange between the Public Health England New Variant Assessment Platform (PHE NVAP) and the Tunisian Institut Pasteur in order to provide the Tunisian health authorities with sequencing and sample analysis support.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure the Tunisian Parliament is restored by the end of the current emergency period on 24 August 2021.

We believe that the solution to Tunisia's challenges can only be achieved through the principles of democracy, transparency, human rights, and free speech. We call on all parties to uphold Tunisia's reputation as a tolerant and open society and to protect the democratic gains of the 2011 revolution.

I spoke with Tunisian Foreign Minister Jerandi about the situation in Tunisia on 11 August.

I also co-chaired the inaugural UK-Tunisia Association Council in Tunisia on 7-9 June with the Tunisian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Ali Nafti. Bolstering trade, furthering good governance, and supporting Tunisia to develop its economy are all key aspects of our engagement that will enhance Tunisia's resilience and stability.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on securing Tunisian parliamentary democracy in the context of regional stability and security across the North African region.

We believe that the solution to Tunisia's challenges can only be achieved through the principles of democracy, transparency, human rights, and free speech. We call on all parties to uphold Tunisia's reputation as a tolerant and open society and to protect the democratic gains of the 2011 revolution.

I spoke with Tunisian Foreign Minister Jerandi about the situation in Tunisia on 11 August.

I also co-chaired the inaugural UK-Tunisia Association Council in Tunisia on 7-9 June with the Tunisian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Ali Nafti. Bolstering trade, furthering good governance, and supporting Tunisia to develop its economy are all key aspects of our engagement that will enhance Tunisia's resilience and stability.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the protection of parliamentary democracy and safeguarding of human rights in Tunisia.

We believe that the solution to Tunisia's challenges can only be achieved through the principles of democracy, transparency, human rights, and free speech. We call on all parties to uphold Tunisia's reputation as a tolerant and open society and to protect the democratic gains of the 2011 revolution.

I spoke with Tunisian Foreign Minister Jerandi about the situation in Tunisia on 11 August.

I also co-chaired the inaugural UK-Tunisia Association Council in Tunisia on 7-9 June with the Tunisian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Ali Nafti. Bolstering trade, furthering good governance, and supporting Tunisia to develop its economy are all key aspects of our engagement that will enhance Tunisia's resilience and stability.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the continued suspension of the Tunisian Parliament by President Saied.

We believe that the solution to Tunisia's challenges can only be achieved through the principles of democracy, transparency, human rights, and free speech. We call on all parties to uphold Tunisia's reputation as a tolerant and open society and to protect the democratic gains of the 2011 revolution.

I spoke with Tunisian Foreign Minister Jerandi about the situation in Tunisia on 11 August.

I also co-chaired the inaugural UK-Tunisia Association Council in Tunisia on 7-9 June with the Tunisian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Ali Nafti. Bolstering trade, furthering good governance, and supporting Tunisia to develop its economy are all key aspects of our engagement that will enhance Tunisia's resilience and stability.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will make a statement on the civil unrest in Tunisia.

We believe that the solution to Tunisia's challenges can only be achieved through the principles of democracy, transparency, human rights, and free speech. We call on all parties to uphold Tunisia's reputation as a tolerant and open society and to protect the democratic gains of the 2011 revolution.

I spoke with Tunisian Foreign Minister Jerandi about the situation in Tunisia on 11 August.

I also co-chaired the inaugural UK-Tunisia Association Council in Tunisia on 7-9 June with the Tunisian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Ali Nafti. Bolstering trade, furthering good governance, and supporting Tunisia to develop its economy are all key aspects of our engagement that will enhance Tunisia's resilience and stability.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Tunisian counterpart following the decision by President Kais Saied to dismiss prime minister Mechichi and suspend parliament.

We believe that the solution to Tunisia's challenges can only be achieved through the principles of democracy, transparency, human rights, and free speech. We call on all parties to uphold Tunisia's reputation as a tolerant and open society and to protect the democratic gains of the 2011 revolution.

I spoke with Tunisian Foreign Minister Jerandi about the situation in Tunisia on 11 August.

I also co-chaired the inaugural UK-Tunisia Association Council in Tunisia on 7-9 June with the Tunisian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Ali Nafti. Bolstering trade, furthering good governance, and supporting Tunisia to develop its economy are all key aspects of our engagement that will enhance Tunisia's resilience and stability.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of changing the travel advice (a) for Libya and (b) for certain regions in Libya.

All FCDO travel advice pages remain under constant review to ensure they reflect the latest threat assessment to British nationals and include up-to-date information and advice.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the potential (a) merits and (b) risks of changing his Department’s advice against all travel to Libya.

All FCDO travel advice pages remain under constant review to ensure they reflect the latest threat assessment to British nationals and include up-to-date information and advice.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assistance his Department is providing to Tunisia to help tackle the covid-19 pandemic in that country.

The UK is committed to rapid equitable access to safe and effective vaccines. We are among the largest donors to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, committing £548 million. The UK is also donating 80% of its surplus vaccines to COVAX. This support to COVAX has been critical to it supplying COVID-19 vaccines to over 120 countries and economies, including Tunisia. By the end of June, Tunisia received over 760,000 doses from COVAX and will eventually receive 20% of their entire national requirement from COVAX absolutely free.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will make it his policy to increase the UK's Official Development Assistance budget to 0.7 per cent of GNI when the UK's fiscal situation allows.

The UK Government is committed to returning to spending 0.7 per cent of GNI on official development assistance when the fiscal situation allows, and has provided a clear measure for this. The two key tests are (1) When we are not borrowing to support day-to-day spending. That means when the current budget is in surplus. (2) When underlying debt is falling. This is measured by Public Sector Net Debt (excluding the Bank of England) as a percentage of GDP. When these tests are met then the UK Government will increase ODA spending above 0.5 per cent of GNI to 0.7 per cent of GNI. On 13 July, the UK Government provided Members of Parliament the opportunity to debate its proposed course of action and pathway back to 0.7 per cent. The House voted clearly with a majority of 35 votes to approve the approach set out in the Treasury's 12 July Written Ministerial Statement.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the potential (a) merits and (b) risks of changing his Department's advice against all travel to Libya.

All FCDO travel advice pages remain under constant review to ensure they reflect the latest threat assessment to British nationals and include up-to-date information and advice.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that applications for Emergency Travel Documents are processed in line with her Department's service standards.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is responsible for issuing Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) to British people overseas who do not have their full passport available and who need to travel urgently. The published target is that, in straightforward cases, ETDs will normally be ready in two working days once a full and complete application is received.

In a normal year the FCDO issues over 30,000 ETDs. To ensure we can provide a more consistent service, in line with the published target, the FCDO has recently completed a global programme to centralise ETD processing into a specialised global ETD service centre in three locations. From May 2021 all British people have been able to apply online 24/7, and have their application processed by dedicated ETD staff, with the option to collect their ETD in person from a British Embassy or Consulate or, for those eligible, have it couriered to them. The ETD service centre frees up other consular staff at posts overseas to focus on delivering high quality, professional consular assistance to those who most need our help.

The FCDO is continuously improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the service it offers to British people requiring an ETD. It uses customer satisfaction surveys and feedback to develop the application process as well as collection and courier options. The latest satisfaction survey (Q3/Q4 2020-21) records that 89% of applicants are satisfied with the ETD service they receive.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what support the Government is providing to Tunisia in their covid-19 vaccine roll out.

The UK is committed to rapid equitable access to safe and effective vaccines. We are among the largest donors to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), committing £548 million which leveraged through match funding $1 billion from other donors in 2020. This support to COVAX has been critical to it supplying COVID-19 vaccines to over 120 countries and economies.

Tunisia is supported by the COVAX AMC, which has so far delivered over 350,000 vaccines to Tunisia.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Tunisian counterpart on the covid-19 restrictions on travel between the two countries.

On 17 May the Government lifted the legal restrictions on international travel, but strict rules on testing and quarantine will remain in place to protect public health and our vaccination programme. The British Embassy in Tunis is in regular contact with the Tunisian Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health and Tourism on the issue of Covid-19 restrictions and travel between the two countries.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will continue his policy of not participating in events commemorating the 2001 Durban Declaration.

The United Kingdom is committed to combatting all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, both at home and abroad. We believe that one of the most effective ways to tackle injustices and advocate respect among different religious and racial groups is to encourage all states to uphold their human rights obligations. Some of the anti-Semitic actions and speeches in and around the Durban conference and its various follow-up events gave rise to serious concerns. We will consider UK attendance in the light of developments between now and the commemoration event, including the likelihood of any recurrence.

The Foreign Secretary recently reaffirmed the UK's condemnation to anti-Semitism during a debate in the House of Commons on 20 April 2021, and I raised my opposition to anti-Semitism during a Westminster Hall Debate on 26 November 2020. We also delivered a statement at the United Nations General Assembly in November expressing concern about the rise of anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination in the wake of Covid-19.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether the Government plans to send representatives to events marking the 20th anniversary of the World Conference Against Racism in Durban.

The United Kingdom is committed to combatting all forms of racism, including anti-semitism, both at home and abroad. We believe that one of the most effective ways to tackle injustices and advocate respect among different religious and racial groups is to encourage all states to uphold their human rights obligations. Some of the anti-Semitic actions and speeches in and around the Durban conference and its various follow-up events gave rise to serious concerns. We will consider UK attendance in the light of developments between now and the commemoration event, including the likelihood of any recurrence.

The Foreign Secretary recently reaffirmed the UK's condemnation to anti-semitism during a debate in the House of Commons on 20 April 2021, and I raised my opposition to anti-semitism during a Westminster Hall Debate on 26 November 2020. We also delivered a statement at the United Nations General Assembly in November expressing concern about the rise of anti-semitism and other forms of discrimination in the wake of Covid-19.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what additional steps his Department is taking to support the Government of Tunisia to (a) reform the economy of and (b) tackle the covid-19 outbreak in that country.

The UK works closely with Tunisia to support political and economic reform, bolster democratic institutions, and build the country's resilience as part of a broad and growing partnership. We have supported the democratic transition through helping to build the capacity of parliamentarians and officials. We are providing £4m over 3 years through the British Council to fund English language training and to help young Tunisians gain important job skills. We are also working with the World Bank to support macro-economic reforms.

The UK has a strong partnership with Tunisia on security issues, which has helped strengthen our response to the shared challenges of terrorism and extremism, and to work together to address the conflict in Libya.

The UK is supporting the Tunisian Government to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, including by helping it to secure vaccines through COVAX. Other initiatives include supporting the Tunisian Ministry of Health on their vaccine rollout as part of a World Bank-led initiative, providing support to small and medium businesses, and ensuring access to services and social security for the most vulnerable people.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the UK's role in securing continued prosperity, security and stability across the Maghreb region as part of ongoing diplomatic relations with Tunisia.

The UK works closely with Tunisia to support political and economic reform, bolster democratic institutions, and build the country's resilience as part of a broad and growing partnership. We have supported the democratic transition through helping to build the capacity of parliamentarians and officials. We are providing £4m over 3 years through the British Council to fund English language training and to help young Tunisians gain important job skills. We are also working with the World Bank to support macro-economic reforms.

The UK has a strong partnership with Tunisia on security issues, which has helped strengthen our response to the shared challenges of terrorism and extremism, and to work together to address the conflict in Libya.

The UK is supporting the Tunisian Government to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, including by helping it to secure vaccines through COVAX. Other initiatives include supporting the Tunisian Ministry of Health on their vaccine rollout as part of a World Bank-led initiative, providing support to small and medium businesses, and ensuring access to services and social security for the most vulnerable people.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to support the Government of Tunisia in developing and strengthening democracy in (a) parliament and (b) other democratic institutions.

The UK works closely with Tunisia to support political and economic reform, bolster democratic institutions, and build the country's resilience as part of a broad and growing partnership. We have supported the democratic transition through helping to build the capacity of parliamentarians and officials. We are providing £4m over 3 years through the British Council to fund English language training and to help young Tunisians gain important job skills. We are also working with the World Bank to support macro-economic reforms.

The UK has a strong partnership with Tunisia on security issues, which has helped strengthen our response to the shared challenges of terrorism and extremism, and to work together to address the conflict in Libya.

The UK is supporting the Tunisian Government to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, including by helping it to secure vaccines through COVAX. Other initiatives include supporting the Tunisian Ministry of Health on their vaccine rollout as part of a World Bank-led initiative, providing support to small and medium businesses, and ensuring access to services and social security for the most vulnerable people.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the level of support in the UK for parliamentary democracy in Tunisia.

The UK works closely with Tunisia to support political and economic reform, bolster democratic institutions, and build the country's resilience as part of a broad and growing partnership. We have supported the democratic transition through helping to build the capacity of parliamentarians and officials. We are providing £4m over 3 years through the British Council to fund English language training and to help young Tunisians gain important job skills. We are also working with the World Bank to support macro-economic reforms.

The UK has a strong partnership with Tunisia on security issues, which has helped strengthen our response to the shared challenges of terrorism and extremism, and to work together to address the conflict in Libya.

The UK is supporting the Tunisian Government to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, including by helping it to secure vaccines through COVAX. Other initiatives include supporting the Tunisian Ministry of Health on their vaccine rollout as part of a World Bank-led initiative, providing support to small and medium businesses, and ensuring access to services and social security for the most vulnerable people.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
2nd Mar 2021
What assessment he has made of the potential for improved political, trade and economic relations with Tunisia and Libya.

I am grateful for the work of my Honourable Friend the Member for Southport, as the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for Libya and Tunisia.

The UK is supporting the UN-led political process in Libya. Peace and stability is the best way to create opportunities for investment and trade. The recent appointment of a new interim executive authority is positive and the Prime Minister has spoken to PM-designate Dabaiba.

The UK works with Tunisia to support political and economic reform. The Bilateral Association Agreement entered into force on 1 January and provides a platform to deepen trade and investment.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
21st Jun 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that illicit cigarettes do not make their way into the UK.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Border Force have a comprehensive joint strategy, Tackling illicit tobacco: From leaf to light, to tackle illicit cigarettes. This has been highly effective in reducing the illicit cigarette trade from 22% in 2000-01 to 9% in 2020-21. Between 2015-16 and 2020-21, HMRC and Border Force have seized around 7.8 billion cigarettes destined for the UK. The UK is also a signatory to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and works with overseas partners to tackle the supply of illicit cigarettes upstream.

21st Jun 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to introduce regulation on (a) cryptocurrencies and (b) other decentralised financial assets in the UK.

The UK is committed to creating a regulatory environment in which firms can innovate, while crucially maintaining financial stability and regulatory standards so that people can use new technologies both reliably and safely.

The Government has already taken forward a series of regulatory measures to protect consumers, manage market integrity risks and support innovation. Since 2020 the FCA has been the anti-money laundering supervisor for cryptoasset firms. In January 2022 the Government confirmed the intention to bring certain cryptoassets into the scope of the Financial Promotion Order to ensure that cryptoasset promotions are fair, clear, and not misleading.

On April 4 the Government published its response to its 2021 consultation on the UK’s regulatory approach to stablecoins. It also included a call for evidence on the use of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) in financial markets. The legislation to bring stablecoins, where used as a means of payment, within the regulatory perimeter is expected to be part of the forthcoming Financial Services and Markets Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech on 10 May. The Bill will be introduced later in the session when parliamentary time allows.

Further, the Government considers that some cryptoassets may already fall within the relevant UK legal frameworks. However, this also depends on the structure of the token and nature of the activities concerned.

At Fintech Week 2022, the Government announced its commitment to consult on a world-leading regime for a broader set of cryptoasset activities this year.

13th Jun 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that small pubs, bars, and restaurants are not required to close as a result of rising utility bills.

The Government recognises that a number of businesses are facing cost pressures driven by global factors, including high energy and commodity prices and supply chain disruption.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to fully shield everyone from the global challenges we face. Unlike households, businesses can absorb or pass on some of these costs. The government’s immediate priority is taking action that will support families to navigate the months ahead.

Over the past two years, government has taken unprecedented action to protect millions of businesses. We have also brought forward a number of measures to support businesses this year including:

  • The Recovery Loan Scheme, providing businesses with up to £2 million of government guaranteed finance.
  • Cutting business rates by 50% for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in 2022-23, worth up to £110,00 per business.
  • Increasing the Employment Allowance from £4,000 to £5,000, cutting the cost of employment for 495,000 small businesses.
  • The Super-deduction, allowing companies to cut their tax bill by up to 25p for every £1 they invest in qualifying productivity enhancing plant and machinery assets until March 2023.
  • Increasing the Annual Investment Allowance to £1 million.
  • The Help to Grow programme, which will support thousands of SMEs to access subsidised leadership and management training and productivity-enhancing software.
  • Fuel duty: Businesses will also benefit from the cut to fuel duty announced by the Chancellor announced as part of his Spring Statement. The duty rate on petrol and diesel has been cut by 5p per litre until March 2023.

We are in regular contact with business groups about the challenges businesses are facing and we will continue to keep the situation under review.

19th Apr 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department has to provide further support to the victims of the Equitable Life scandal.

The Equitable Life Payment Scheme closed to claims in 2015. There are no plans to reopen the Payment Scheme or review the £1.5 billion funding allocation previously made to it. Further guidance on the status of the Payment Scheme after closure is available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/equitable-life-payment-scheme#closure-of-the-scheme.

10th Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to reduce HMRC's backlog of travel expense repayments.

HMRC make payments for two types of travel expense payments.

Travel and Subsistence claims, which are costs incurred buying food, drink, and parking, are claimed via HMRC’s Online HR system and payments for these expenses are currently up to date.

Moves Adjustment Payments are made when employees incur costs when HMRC have asked them to move permanently and work from another location. Reimbursement is provided as there are additional costs because of this move.

HR policy has recently changed for these types of expenses which has led to an increase in enquiries and claims.

To mitigate the backlog, HMRC has updated their HR Guidance to make it easier for people to understand what they are entitled to. This will avoid questions being raised with HR before a formal claim is made. A new calculator and a Help Card have also been introduced to provide staff with additional support.

Increased resource has also been deployed to clear the backlog. Initially all claims were being checked; this reduced to 30 per cent on 8 March and plans are in place for this to drop to 20 per cent once assurance levels are reached.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Dec 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department has plans to support people who are self-employed during the next stages of the covid-19 outbreak.

We recognise the impact Omicron and Government guidance is having on businesses and individuals, including the self-employed, which is why on 21 December 2021 we announced £1 billion of new grant support for the hospitality, leisure, and cultural sectors, and reintroduced the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme. This is on top of the existing package of support, in place through to Spring 2022, which includes the Recovery Loan Scheme, business rates relief, VAT reduction, and the ongoing commercial rent moratorium.

The effectiveness of our £400 billion package of interventions since the start of the pandemic, and the strength of the recovery that we have seen from previous waves means the economy is in a different place now. Employee numbers are above February 2020 levels in every part of the country and grew consistently through last year. So, it is right that our economic response in the face of Omicron adapts too and that our support is better targeted at the businesses that need it the most, providing better value for taxpayers and helping the economy to bounce back more quickly.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has a strong track record of responding quickly, flexibly, and comprehensively in supporting jobs, businesses, individuals, and families when needed. We will continue to respond proportionately to the changing path of the virus.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Dec 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that people have access to banking services.

The way consumers and businesses interact with their banking continues to change, bringing significant benefits to those who choose to opt for the convenience, security, and speed of digital payments and banking. However, the Government also recognises that physical access to banking continues to play an important role in many people’s lives.

Decisions on opening and closing branches are a commercial issue for banks and building societies and the Government does not intervene in these decisions. However, the Government firmly believes that the impact of branch closures should be understood, considered and mitigated where possible so that all customers and businesses continue to have access to banking services.

In May 2017, the largest banks and building societies signed up to the Access to Banking Standard which commits them to ensure customers are well informed about branch closures, the bank’s reasons for closure and options for continued access to banking services. Guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority also ensures firms carefully consider the impact of branch closures on customers’ needs and consider possible alternative access arrangements.

Alternative options for access can be via telephone banking, through digital means, such as mobile or online banking, or via the Post Office. The Post Office Banking Framework allows 99% of personal banking customers and 95% of business to deposit cheques, check their balance and withdraw and deposit cash at 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK.

14th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to ensure charities are not faced with additional costs from excessive bank charges.

The decisions about what products are offered and to whom remain commercial decisions for banks and building societies. Similarly, decisions concerning the pricing of products, including account charges, are also commercial decisions for these institutions. Regulating on this issue could put additional costs on lenders that could ultimately lead to higher costs for customers. Therefore, while the government recognises and values the vital role played by the charitable sector, I hope you can appreciate that it would be inappropriate for it to intervene in these decisions.

UK Finance has developed a Business Current Account (BCA) finder tool, designed to help businesses, including charities, to compare the full range of bank accounts available and find products that best suit their needs. This tool also has a useful ‘Covid Update’ feature to highlight which providers are currently open and closed to applications.

18th Aug 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to tackle tax evasion by multinational companies.

HMRC’s role is to collect the right amount of tax due under UK law. HMRC work to make sure large businesses, like all other taxpayers, pay all the taxes due under UK law.

In line with HMRC’s published criminal investigation policy, while HMRC reserve the right to undertake criminal investigations, it is their policy to deal with fraud by use of cost-effective civil fraud investigations. This applies to multinational enterprises (MNEs) as it does to other types of organisations and taxpayers.

In order to address tax risks which particularly relate to MNEs, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have over 450 employees working on international issues including transfer pricing, diverted profits tax, controlled foreign companies and cross border debt. This continuing programme of investigations into potential tax avoidance, and sometimes tax evasion, by MNEs has helped secure around £6 billion from MNEs between April 2015 when Diverted Profits Tax was introduced and March 2020.

15th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether further financial support will be provided to businesses in response to the postponement of step four of the easing of lockdown restrictions to 19 July 2021.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has sought to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods while also supporting businesses and public services across the UK.

The Government put in place an economic package of support totalling £352 billion through the furlough and self-employed income support schemes, support for businesses through grants and loans, business rates and VAT relief.

At Budget the Government deliberately went long and erred on the side of generosity – specifically to accommodate any short delay to the roadmap. Most of the Government’s Covid support schemes do not end until September or after, in order to provide continuity and certainty for businesses and families.

The Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) announced at Budget 2021 ensures lenders continue to have the confidence to lend, ensuring viable businesses, including small businesses, continue to have access to Government-backed finance needed throughout 2021. The scheme launched on 6 April 2021, following the closure of the emergency schemes to new loan applications on 31 March 2021, and will run until 31 December 2021. The scheme operates UK-wide, providing an 80% guarantee to lenders for term loans, overdrafts, and invoice and asset finance.

At Budget, it was also announced that local authorities in England will receive a top-up worth a total of £425m to the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) fund. This, combined with the £1.6 billion previously allocated, means local authorities will have received over £2bn of discretionary grant funding to support businesses which are not eligible for Restart Grants but which are nonetheless experiencing a severe impact on their business due to public health restrictions. Nearly half of the £2bn is still with local authorities and yet to be allocated.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was introduced to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus to retain their employees and protect the UK economy. All businesses across the UK can access the scheme, with employees receiving 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. At Budget the government extended the CJRS until the end of September 2021, to support businesses and employees through the next stage of the pandemic. The economy now is in a stronger position than it was last autumn, when businesses also contributed up to 20 per cent of wage costs.

In line with the extension to the CJRS, the government announced at Budget 2021 that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will continue until September, with a fourth and a final fifth grant. This provides certainty to business as the economy reopens and means the SEISS will continue to be one of the most generous schemes for the self-employed in the world.

As restrictions have been lifted, it is right that we ask employers to contribute more to strike the balance between supporting the economy as it opens up, continuing to provide support and protect incomes, and ensuring incentives are in place to get people back to work.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure correspondence sent to his Department is responded to within 20 working days.

We recognise the great importance of the effective and timely handling of correspondence.

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, HM Treasury has brought in additional staff to its central correspondence team and ensured its correspondence processes are as efficient as possible so Members receive timely, accurate and informative replies to their queries.

6th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support his Department has allocated to (a) NHS and (b) public sector staff who have been asked to shield during the covid-19 outbreak.

Where individuals have been advised to shield, guidance available on gov.uk should be followed wherever possible. Employers are expected to support staff to safely shield.

Those working for fully funded public sector organisations, including those that need to shield, should be paid as normal out of existing budgets.

Arrangements should have been made to facilitate working from home wherever possible, and reprioritisation and redeployment should be considered to minimise issues with service delivery.

In public sector organisations not fully funded by public grants, where working from home has not been possible, shielding staff were eligible for furlough, and the scheme continues to support them. In all instances, CJRS claims should remain proportionate to the impact on revenue disruption, and those that need to shield should be furloughed before other staff. It should be noted that from 1 July, employees can only be furloughed if they have completed the minimum 3-week furlough period between 1 March and 30 June.

Similarly, guidance issued by NHS England states that staff will continue to receive full pay for any period in which they are required to self-isolate as a result of public health advice.

The Chancellor has been clear that the NHS will receive as much funding as needed to manage the Covid-19 outbreak, with £31.9 billion of support now approved for health and care services.

Steve Barclay
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of (a) banks and (b) other lenders on extending payment holidays for loans in line with the term of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme during the covid-19 outbreak.

In April, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced a series of measures intended to provide temporary support to consumers that have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak, including a three-month payment holiday on personal loans. Ministers recognise the important role payment holidays play in supporting people through this period and have engaged with lenders throughout. The government will continue to work closely with the FCA and industry on the next steps for payment holidays.

13th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme rules allow (a) agencies, (b) the BBC and (c) other quasi non-governmental organisations to furlough their staff.

Any entity with a UK payroll can apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities, providing they have a UK bank account, have enrolled for PAYE online, and have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 19 March 2020.

As the guidance on the CJRS on GOV.UK sets out, the Government expects that the scheme will not be used by many public sector organisations, as the majority of public sector employees are continuing to provide essential public services or contribute to the response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, the Government expects employers to use that money to pay staff in the usual fashion; and not to furlough them.

11th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what support the Government is providing to people who began employment before 19 March 2020 but were only added to their employers' payroll after the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme's cut-off date.

Furloughed employees must have been on their employer’s PAYE payroll and HMRC must have received an RTI (Real Time Information) submission notifying payment in respect of that employee on or before 19 March 2020. The use of RTI allows HMRC to verify claims in the most efficient and timely way, ensuring payments can be made quickly while reducing the risk of fraud. Without the use of RTI returns it would be difficult to verify claims without significant additional checks, which would delay payment for genuine claims.

The Government is also supporting people on low incomes who need to rely on the welfare system through a significant package of temporary measures. This includes a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element, and a nearly £1bn increase in support for renters through increases to the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants. These changes will benefit all new and existing claimants. Anyone can check their eligibility and apply for Universal Credit by visiting: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit.

1st May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to reverse the decision on charging interest on deferred PAYE.

The Government has announced an unprecedented package of support for businesses and individuals during the Covid-19 outbreak.

This includes the deferral of certain VAT and Self-Assessment payments in 2020-21, and the waiving of associated interest and penalties.

HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay (TTP) service, where individual and business taxpayers can agree tailored plans to defer certain tax payments due, and repay them over an agreed period of time. These arrangements can include any tax or duty administered by HMRC, including PAYE. Interest will continue to accrue on TTP arrangements, in the usual way, to cover the costs to Government of late payment.

20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with mortgage providers on automatically extending mortgage offer deadlines for people unable to exchange contracts for a property purchase due to the covid-19 outbreak.

Following discussions with Government, UK Finance announced on 26 March that mortgage lenders will give customers who have exchanged contracts the option to extend their mortgage offer for up to 3 months to enable them to move at a later date.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has also issued guidance for home moving during the COVID-19 outbreak which advises that all parties should work to delay the exchange of contracts until after the period where stay-at-home measures to fight COVID-19 are in place. The guidance can be viewed in full here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

16th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans his Department has for private nurseries to be included in the plans for 100 per cent business rates relief.

In an exceptional response to Covid-19, from 1 April non-local authority providers of childcare will pay no business rates in 2020-21. This is alongside eligible businesses in retail, leisure and hospitality sectors who will benefit from a business rates holiday, irrespective of a property’s rateable value. MHCLG will publish guidance on the business rates holiday for nurseries shortly.

13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her Department is taking steps to ensure that the police screen suspects for gambling addictions.

All police officers in England and Wales have access to a six-hour training course on understanding and spotting early signs of gambling addictions, which launched in September 2021.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) have acknowledged there is more work to be done in this area. They are currently gathering best practice from Police forces on early screening of gambling addicts, offering the right support and signposting them to where they can seek further help. This will involve partnership working with other agencies to provide the right support that anyone with a gambling addiction requires, reflecting that police intervention often comes at a late stage of addiction.

Kit Malthouse
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the current delays within HM Passport Office.

Ahead of unrestricted international travel returning, HM Passport Office prepared extensively to serve an unprecedented number of customers, with 9.5 million British passport applications forecasted throughout 2022.

These preparations, which include the recruitment of 650 additional staff since April 2021 and with plans in place to recruit a further 550 by this summer, have ensured passport applications can be processed in higher numbers than ever before. This was demonstrated in March and April 2022 when HM Passport Office achieved a record monthly high by completing the processing of nearly two million applications.

Ministers continue to meet regularly with officials to monitor performance, and to explore further options that will help to ensur people receive their passports in good time.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent steps her Department is taking to ensure that passport applications are processed accurately and without delay.

Ahead of unrestricted international travel returning, HM Passport Office prepared extensively to serve an unprecedented number of customers, with 9.5 million British passport applications forecasted throughout 2022.

These preparations, which include the recruitment of 650 additional staff since April 2021 and with plans in place to recruit a further 550 by this summer, have ensured passport applications can be processed in higher numbers than ever before. This was demonstrated in March and April 2022 when HM Passport Office achieved a record monthly high by completing the processing of nearly two million applications.

Ministers continue to meet regularly with officials to monitor performance, and to explore further options that will help to ensure people receive their passports in good time.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to help ensure that the visa application process is accessible for people with disabilities.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that visa applications submitted under the Ukrainian Family Scheme are processed at the earliest opportunity.

Applications from Ukraine nationals are being prioritised by UKVI. We are committed to ensuring our operational teams have the resources they need to run an efficient and effective system.

We actively monitor workflows to ensure sufficient resources are in place to meet caseworking demand of the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many and what proportion of passports applied for under the 1 Week Fast Track scheme were delivered within one week in each of the 12 months to 31 October 2021.

There is no integration of the system used for passport application processing and the one used by third-party suppliers for delivery services. This means whilst Her Majesty’s Passport Office is able to monitor performance on a case-by-case basis for customer service purposes, there is no accurate measure of whole service performance to the point of delivery.

Under the terms of the Fast Track service, passports will be delivered on or before the seventh day following an appointment before 12.30pm, or the eighth day for appointments after this time. Passports printed under the Fast Track service are delivered to customers the following day through a 24-hour service level.

The data attached shows the volume of passports printed under the Fast Track service within 144 hours (six days) of the application being submitted. Due to COVID-19, the Fast Track service was suspended until April 2021, with exceptions primarily on compassionate grounds.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of restrictions in the Immigration Act 2016 that a tenancy cannot be offered to NHS staff without a minimum of a Band 5 qualification.

Anyone with lawful immigration status in the UK can access the private rented housing sector, regardless of their qualifications, employment or income.

The Right to Rent Scheme came into force under the Immigration Act 2014. It was launched to ensure only those lawfully present in the UK can access the private rented sector, and to tackle unscrupulous landlords who exploit vulnerable migrants, sometimes in very poor conditions.

The Immigration Act 2016 introduced criminal offences for landlords and letting agents who knowingly let property to individuals without lawful immigration status. It does not carry any restrictions on the right to rent for individuals who are lawfully present in the UK.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate her Department has made of the total cost of Operation Sheridan.

The Home Office does not hold this information. Management of operations is a matter for individual police forces.

13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure the integrity of criminal investigations after police conduct has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct; and if she will make a statement.

All police forces, as well as the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), operate independently from the Government.

The police and complaints and discipline systems, reformed by this Government in February 2020, set out the legislative framework that relevant bodies are required to follow in the event of adverse incidents resulting in a death or serious injury during or following contact with the police, complaints against the police, or should police conduct matters arise.

Where the IOPC determines that, following referral of a complaint, an investigation should be carried out locally by the force, the complainant has a right to apply for a review of the outcome by the IOPC. IOPC remains the review body. The IOPC can also decide to change its original investigation decision and investigate independently.

Decisions taken by the IOPC can be challenged by way of judicial review.

Kit Malthouse
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to help prevent illegal immigration into the United Kingdom.

To prevent illegal entry into the UK, the Government has introduced the Nationality and Borders Bill, which will:

  • Introduce new and tougher criminal offences for those attempting to enter the UK illegally by raising the penalty for illegal entry from six months’ to four years imprisonment and introducing life sentences for people smugglers.
  • Provide Border Force with additional powers to:

o Search unaccompanied containers located within ports for the presence of illegal migrants;

o Seize and dispose of any vessels intercepted and encountered;

o Stop and divert vessels suspected of carrying illegal migrants to the UK and, subject to agreement with the relevant country such as France, return them to where their sea journey to the UK began.

  • Increase the penalty for Foreign National Offenders who return to the UK in breach of a deportation order from six months’ to five years’ imprisonment.
  • Implement an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme to block the entry of those who present a threat to the UK.
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many applications to become a police officer were received by the police in (a) 2019 and (b) 2020; how many of those applications disclosed a previous or existing mental health condition; and how many of those who disclosed a previous or existing mental health condition in their application form received a job offer.

Data on applications to become a police officer were not collected by the Home Office prior to October 2019. Since the launch of the Government’s drive to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers by March 2023 data on the number of applications to become a police officer have been published quarterly in the Police Officer Uplift statistics.

The latest release, covering the situation as at 31 March 2021, shows that 139,312 applications to become a police officer have been received by police forces since October 2019.

The next release, covering the situation to 30 June 2021, is scheduled for publication on 28th July, and will be available alongside previous releases here: Police Officer uplift statistics - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The Home Office does not collect any information on the number of applications or job offers where a previous or existing mental health condition has been disclosed.

Kit Malthouse
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council has applied to the Safer Streets Fund.

No application was received from Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council to the second round of the Safer Streets Fund.

On 3 June we announced that 50 projects have been awarded a total of £18.4 million from the second round of the SSF to invest in crime prevention projects to tackle neighbourhood crimes, such as burglary, vehicle theft and robbery.

Kit Malthouse
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what proportion of further submissions following the refusal of an asylum application are decided (a) within six months and (b) within one year of submission.

Home Office records indicate that a) 68% of Further Submissions lodged following refusal of an asylum application are decided within 6 months and b) 79% of Further Submissions lodged following refusal of an asylum application are decided within 12 months.

Where people who have previously been refused asylum in the UK wish to make representations in support of a fresh asylum application these are recorded as Further Submissions.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans she has to extend the automatic visa renewal to people who are working on a dependent visa.

The automatic visa extension offer for key frontline health workers, applies to anyone subject to UK immigration control, who works in one of the defined eligible occupations, and whose visa expires between 31 March and 1 October. It also covers immediate family members of those who are eligible.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the UK’s cooperation with EU counterparts on Hezbollah fundraising activities within the EU.

The UK has a strong reputation for tackling terrorist financing and we work very closely with international partners and financial institutions to exchange and analyse information. This ensures we are better able to detect, prevent and disrupt the movement of global terrorist funds. Our EU cooperation is part of a wider landscape of international counter terrorism work, which includes cooperation through relationships such as Interpol, the Five Eyes, and bilateral work with individual countries.

The entirety of Hizballah is proscribed and designated under the UK’s domestic counter terrorism sanctions regime (the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010 (TAFA)). Hizballah’s Military Wing is also designated along with two named individuals associated with the group under the EU CP931 regime. The investigation and prosecution of offences relating to proscribed organisations is a matter for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to replenish UK stocks of (a) weapons and (b) equipment donated to Ukraine.

I can confirm that this department is fully engaged with industry, allies and partners to ensure that equipment granted in kind to the armed forces of Ukraine is replaced as appropriately and expeditiously as possible.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to maintain aid and supplies to Ukraine.

The UK remains committed to working with our Allies and Partners to provide military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

We continue to liaise closely with the Armed Forces of Ukraine to understand their prioritised requirements, to date having sent over 6,900 anti-tank missiles, 120 armoured vehicles, 1,360 anti-structure munitions, Air Defence systems including Starstreak missiles and 4.5 tonnes of plastic explosives. This is in addition to more than 200,000 pieces of non-lethal aid and medical equipment.

We are working to encourage and further enable the delivery of even more systems and capabilities from across the international community to support Ukraine. And continue to make a major contribution to the leadership and operation of the International Donor Coordination Centre in Stuttgart.

James Heappey
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he is taking to relocate civil servants in his Department from London to other parts of the UK.

The Ministry of Defence is working with the cross-Government Places for Growth programme to determine relocation plans, and announcements will be made in due course.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many of his Department's jobs are located in (a) Sefton and (b) Southport.

The Department provides no Ministry of Defence Civil Service jobs that are located in the towns of Sefton or Southport.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to give residents greater say over local developments.

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill includes a number of measures to give residents a more effective voice, including more accessible and locally-relevant plans, mandatory design codes, street votes and digital powers which will transform the way that information can be accessed. Comments on planning applications will continue to be taken into account as part of the decision-making process.

Stuart Andrew
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what assessment his Department has made of the role of early intervention in achieving the Government's levelling up agenda.

A central aim of the levelling up agenda is to address the unacceptable fact that, to a large extent, children's life chances are determined by where in the UK they grow up, and the Levelling Up White Paper confirmed the importance placed by the Government on early intervention. The Government has announced a £1 billion package to support vulnerable families, including funding for Family Hubs, investment in the Holiday, Activity, and Food programme and funding so that the Supporting Families programme can work with up to 300,000 more families.

24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to move civil service jobs to the North West.

The number of roles within my Department which are based in the North West has grown from 103 in March 2020 to 180 in April 2002, an increase of 75%.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
21st Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department plans to take to ensure that people with disabilities are able to obtain Disabled Facilities Grants without delay.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, whether he plans to take steps to implement the recommendations of the 2016 Casey Review.

Responding to the Casey Review the Government published the Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper in March 2018, inviting views on our vision for building strong integrated communities where people - whatever their background - live, work, learn and socialise together, based on shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities


In February 2019, the Integrated Communities Action Plan was published alongside the Government's response to the consultation on the Green Paper. The Action Plan built upon the proposals set out in the Green Paper to create socially and economically stronger, more confident and integrated communities - supporting people to progress and make the most of the opportunities of living in the United Kingdom.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps he is taking to reduce the number of residential developments taking place on green belt land.

This Government has a manifesto commitment to protect and enhance the Green Belt. Our National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that a local authority can take development land out of Green Belt only in exceptional circumstances, through the local plan process, and only if it can demonstrate that it has explored all other reasonable options.

To reduce pressures on Green Belt land, the Government is investing significant amounts in re-using and regenerating brownfield sites. We have set up the £4.35 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund; the £4.95 billion Home Building Fund; the £400 million Brownfield Housing Fund; and the £75 million Brownfield Land Release Fund. At Autumn Budget 2021 the Chancellor announced a further £300 million of grant funding for Mayoral Combined Authorities and local authorities to unlock smaller brownfield sites.

8th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to support disabled people living in social housing to obtain the home adaptations necessary to their wellbeing.

Since 2010, Government has invested over £4 billion into the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) to contribute towards the cost of home adaptations for eligible disabled people of all ages and tenures, including those living in social housing, so they can live independently and safely.

The Government will commit a further £573 million for the DFG each year between 2022-23 to 2024-5. The Adult Social Care White Paper, People at the Heart of Care, also confirmed that we are taking steps to reform the DFG to ensure the grant benefits more people who need home adaptations, including people living in social housing. Government will be consulting on these reforms in 2022.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, whether he has received an application from Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council to the UK Community Renewal Fund.

The lead authority, in this case Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA), was responsible for submitting bids to the UK Community Renewal Fund. LCRCA invited bids from a range of project applicants, appraised and prioritised projects and submitted a shortlist to UK Government which selected projects based on the published assessment criteria.

We have checked and no bids were submitted for the UK Community Renewal Fund from Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council by LCRCA.

6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending the covid-19 Parking Pass to healthcare support staff.

I refer the Hon Member to the answer I gave to PQ16235 on 21 June 2021.

15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what (a) criteria and (b) minimum requirements his Department has provided to local authorities on the appointment of school crossing patrol wardens.

MHCLG does not issue guidance to local authorities on the appointment of school crossing patrol wardens.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to provide more accessible toilets in town centres.

Public toilets are a valuable community amenity that allow all members of the community to access vital services in our towns and high streets. This Government recognises the important role they play and as a result, has provided a broad range of support to not only maintain access to these vital facilities throughout the pandemic but is also taking steps to increase provision of accessible, Changing Places toilets.

At Budget 2018, we offered 100 per cent business rates relief for public toilets across England supporting local authorities, in their responsibility for opening, maintaining and overseeing toilet provision in their area.

As we begin to return to normality following COVID-19 restrictions, the Government has further supported local authorities to increase toilet provision and support repair, maintenance and enhanced cleaning regimes through the £56 million Welcome Back Fund. This funding is available to all areas of the Country and has helped to ensure a safe and successful return to our high streets and town centres.

In addition, we are soon to launch the £30 million Changing Places programme. Delivered in partnership with the charity Muscular Dystrophy UK, this programme will substantially increase the provision of Changing Places accessible toilets in existing buildings across England, allowing people who need these facilities to get out and about, and enjoy the day-to-day activities many of us take for granted.

18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what mechanisms are in place to ensure that local authorities in priority category 3 without capacity funding apply for the Levelling Up Fund.

The £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund will invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including regenerating town centres and high streets, upgrading local transport, and investing in cultural and heritage assets.

The Fund will be allocated competitively. Funding will be delivered through local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales, and through local delivery partners and public sector bodies in Northern Ireland.

The index places areas into category 1,2 or 3 based on the local area’s need for economic recovery and growth, improved transport connectivity, and regeneration.

These bandings will form part of our criteria for assessing bids. The bandings do not represent eligibility criteria, nor the amount or number of bids a place can submit.

Following the launch of the Fund, Ministers and officials held webinar events open to all local authorities to provide details on the design of the new Fund, including how to apply.

10th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what plans his Department has to strengthen measures to support the safety of on duty prison officers.

Prison staff carry out a vital role in protecting the public and we must do all we can to protect them, and the prisoners within their care. This is why, in the Prisons Strategy White Paper, we have committed to a zero-tolerance approach to the crime and drugs that fuel violence behind bars. We have introduced the Key Worker role to support individual prisoners and identify emerging threats. We are also giving prison officers PAVA synthetic pepper spray, and body-worn video cameras to provide high-quality evidence for prosecutions.

In addition, the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 doubled the maximum penalty for those who assault prison officers, including higher maximum penalties for serious offences, and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will double the maximum penalty again. To support this, a new Crime in Prisons Taskforce will improve the way evidence is collected to increase the rates of successful prosecutions.

13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what comparative assessment his Department has made of the proportion of the population eligible for the legal aid scheme in 2020-21 compared with 2010-11.

We do not have comparative assessments of the proportion of the population eligible for legal aid in 2010-11 or 2020-21.

In 2019, we announced a comprehensive review of the legal aid means test. The review is assessing the effectiveness with which the means test protects access to justice, and we hope to publish the review alongside a public consultation shortly. Alongside our policy proposals, this will include estimates of legal aid eligibility.

13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the average length of time between a person being charged with a crime and a verdict in court.

The Government is committed to improving timeliness in the Criminal Justice System. In December, the first Criminal Justice Scorecards were published, bringing together performance data across the system from the stage a crime is recorded to completion of a case in court.

Improving timeliness is one of the priority areas within the Scorecards and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to driving forward improvements in the time taken from charge to verdict in court.

We will be closely monitoring changes in performance in relation to improving timeliness as we continue to publish the scorecards on a quarterly basis.

16th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent assessment he has made of the effect on prisons in (a) Merseyside and (b) Lancashire of prison officers self-isolating after testing positive for covid-19.

The impact of prison officers self-isolating with Covid-19 across Merseyside and Lancashire alters daily. The numbers of staff in self-isolation are monitored at each prison and are reported to the Prison Group Director’s (PGD) Office daily, so if assistance is required it can be sought. There is a twice weekly Covid call with all prisons and their relevant PDG office to provide updates and support.

Different prisons face different risks, and preventative measures are implemented accordingly. All prisons have regime contingency plans in place that can respond if significant staff shortages occur and there is a national framework to provide support from outside of region within the Gold Command structure if required. All prisons within both regions are currently running regimes in line with the national Gold guidance and have sufficient staff to do so.

All prisons have control mechanisms to test staff and we follow national HMPPS guidance on isolation in all cases.

23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department plans to take to ensure that (a) victims of serious crimes and (b) their immediate families are provided with effective support following traumatic events.

The Government is committed to ensuring victims of serious crime, and their loved ones, receive the support they need to cope and, as far as possible, recover in the aftermath of traumatic events.

In 2021/22, the MoJ will be providing £150.5m for victim and witness support services, of which c£115m will be distributed via Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) who commission local, practical and therapeutic support services for victims of all crime types, including serious violence.

The MoJ currently provides up to £4.6m per annum in funding to Victim Support to deliver the Homicide Service which supports immediate family members residing in England and Wales, who are bereaved through homicide both at home and abroad. The service provides families with a dedicated caseworker and offers a full range of emotional, practical, advocacy and peer support, as well as onward referrals to other services such as therapy and counselling.

Victims of terrorism are supported by the Home Office Victims of Terrorism Unit (VTU), who commission support to assist families to cope with, and recover from, the impact and consequences of a terrorist attack, including providing bereavement and psychological support for victims.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department will take to reduce the delays in registration with the Office of the Public Guardian.

OPG has seen an increase in the time taken to process an LPA since COVID-19 began impacting the workplace. LPAs are paper documents that require a physical staff presence in an office to process and register. Although staff have been in the office throughout the pandemic, the need to comply with social distancing rules reduced the capacity to deal with LPAs.

As government restrictions for England and Wales have gradually eased, OPG have seen an increase in LPA applications which has added to pre-existing backlogs. These issues combined have generated the delays to LPA registrations, which are currently taking up to 20 weeks to process with a current year-to-date average for 2021/22 of 57 working days.

OPG are working hard to reduce the delays and clear the backlog. Steps being taken include:

  • Ensuring that there are as many people in the office as possible to process LPAs in a safe way
  • Allocating more staff from across the organisation to deal with the registrations of LPAs
  • A recruitment drive continues with new staff due to start shortly
  • Overtime

I expect the registration timelines to gradually decrease. I appreciate the delays are frustrating for customers and fall below the service standards that OPG aims to deliver.

As part of a wider transformation programme, my department is currently consulting on modernising LPAs, which could provide the opportunity for less reliance on paper, and significantly improve the speed of service.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent discussions officials in his Department have had with representatives of the Competition and Markets Authority on its review into supply of services by funeral directors at the point of need and the supply of crematoria services; and if he will make a statement.

The Government’s response to the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) market investigation of funeral director and crematoria provision was published on 7 April 2021.  The Government engaged with the CMA both before and after publication, primarily on the CMA’s recommendation on improving the effectiveness of the funeral sector’s self-regulation; and also on the CMA’s monitoring of the provision of pricing information by both funeral directors and crematoria.

4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, when he plans to respond to the report of the Independent Review of Administrative Law on Judicial Review.

The Government will publish the report of the Independent Review of Administrative Law alongside its response to the report in due course.

4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether he plans to publish the report of the Independent Review of Administrative Law on Judicial Review.

The Government will publish the report of the Independent Review of Administrative Law alongside its response to the report in due course.

2nd Feb 2021
What support his Department is providing to HM Courts and Tribunals Service in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

To ensure the safety of the physical estate and continue our efforts to tackle demand on the system we invested £142m in court buildings and facilities, and a further £110m to make the estate Covid-secure, recruit 1,600 additional staff, and create more Nightingale Courts.

This funding – the largest investment in justice for decades – helped the system to turn a corner in December 2020 so that we were closing the same number of cases as before the pandemic in almost all jurisdictions, including Crown Courts.

There is further to go, and through our Spending Review settlement, we have secured significant additional funding next financial year to recover our courts and tribunals system.

22nd Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent assessment he has made of progress on restoring the Northern Ireland Executive.

The people of Northern Ireland are going to the polls on 5 May. It is vital that we give people the space to make that choice in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect, to ensure that fully functioning devolved institutions are restored at the earliest possible moment.

We encourage the parties to form an Executive as soon as possible. The people of Northern Ireland need strong local political leadership and a stable, accountable executive that works with the Government to deliver on the issues that matter most.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
22nd Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of rail links between Scotland and Southport.

I have regular discussions with the Secretary of State for Transport on a number of different issues, including the quality of transport links throughout the United Kingdom. The recently concluded Union Connectivity Review (UCR) assessed transport connectivity between the four nations of the UK, and the Government response to the UCR will be published later this year.

I recently met with my hon Friend to discuss how reopening the Burscough Curves could increase connectivity between Southport and Scotland, and I am committed to working with him and the Secretary of State for Transport on this proposal.

Alister Jack
Secretary of State for Scotland
2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what steps his Department is taking to promote the Union and level up regional interconnectivity.

We have invited the Scottish Government to work in partnership to support the delivery of UK-wide transport infrastructure.

This is one aspect of how the government is levelling up regional interconnectivity, by improving travel in and between local communities so people can move more easily around the country and access jobs and opportunities.

Iain Stewart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Scotland Office)