Ian Mearns Portrait

Ian Mearns

Labour - Gateshead

First elected: 6th May 2010


Backbench Business Committee
27th Jan 2020 - 26th Oct 2023
Liaison Committee Sub-committee on the effectiveness and influence of the select committee system
13th Feb 2019 - 6th Nov 2019
Liaison Committee (Commons)
6th Nov 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Education Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Backbench Business Committee
12th Jul 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Backbench Business Committee
24th May 2016 - 3rd May 2017
Education, Skills and the Economy Sub-Committee
25th Nov 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Liaison Committee (Commons)
10th Sep 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Education Committee
6th Jul 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Backbench Business Committee
18th Jun 2015 - 12th May 2016
High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill (Commons)
29th Apr 2014 - 7th Jul 2015
Backbench Business Committee
30th Jun 2014 - 30th Mar 2015
Education Committee
12th Jul 2010 - 30th Mar 2015
Backbench Business Committee
10th Jun 2013 - 14th May 2014
Backbench Business Committee
12th Jun 2012 - 25th Apr 2013
Backbench Business Committee
8th Nov 2010 - 1st May 2012


Division Voting information

During the current Parliament, Ian Mearns has voted in 740 divisions, and 3 times against the majority of their Party.

25 Mar 2021 - Coronavirus - View Vote Context
Ian Mearns voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 21 Labour No votes vs 176 Labour Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 484 Noes - 76
30 Dec 2020 - Sittings of the House - View Vote Context
Ian Mearns voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 7 Labour Aye votes vs 183 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 335 Noes - 212
14 Dec 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Ian Mearns voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 22 Labour No votes vs 124 Labour Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 385 Noes - 100
View All Ian Mearns 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)
(117 debate interactions)
Lindsay Hoyle (Speaker)
(56 debate interactions)
Penny Mordaunt (Conservative)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(54 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Leader of the House
(146 debate contributions)
Department for Education
(11 debate contributions)
Department for Transport
(10 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(8 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Ian Mearns's debates

Gateshead 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).

Ian Mearns has not participated in any petition debates

Latest EDMs signed by Ian Mearns

26th March 2024
Ian Mearns signed this EDM as a sponsor on Tuesday 9th April 2024

Access to State Pension for people with a terminal illness

Tabled by: Dave Doogan (Scottish National Party - Angus)
That this House notes that people with terminal illnesses cannot currently access their State Pension until their retirement age; recognises that this is the case even for individuals who have made full National Insurance contributions; acknowledges that poverty rates are disproportionately high amongst the terminally ill; commends research by Loughborough …
2 signatures
(Most recent: 9 Apr 2024)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 1
Labour: 1
19th March 2024
Ian Mearns signed this EDM on Tuesday 26th March 2024

Government legal advice on Israeli Government actions and international law

Tabled by: Richard Burgon (Labour - Leeds East)
This House notes the remarks by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on 19 March 2024 that the Israeli Government’s restrictions on humanitarian aid for Gaza may amount to the use of starvation as a method of war, which is a war crime; is alarmed at the mounting …
42 signatures
(Most recent: 26 Mar 2024)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 24
Scottish National Party: 8
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Green Party: 1
Alliance: 1
Alba Party: 1
Workers Party of Britain: 1
View All Ian Mearns's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Ian Mearns, 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.


Ian Mearns has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Ian Mearns has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

2 Bills introduced by Ian Mearns


A Bill to limit the use of zero-hours contracts; and for connected purposes.

Commons - 40%

Last Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Friday 21st November 2014

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 require police forces to register hate crimes committed against people with learning difficulties and learning disabilities including autism; and for connected purposes.

Commons - 20%

Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Wednesday 30th October 2013

Latest 50 Written Questions

(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
2 Other Department Questions
24th Mar 2021
What recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Education on the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on educational inequalities.

Disadvantaged pupils have always been at the heart of education policy. We have taken unprecedented action to address educational inequalities resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

On 24 February, we announced a £700 million Education Recovery package, building on the £1bn from last year. As well as a range of measures to support all pupils to recover lost learning, the package includes significant funding aimed at addressing the needs of disadvantaged pupils. This includes a one-off £302 million Recovery Premium for the next academic year that will be allocated to schools based on the same methodology as the pupil premium. Schools with more disadvantaged pupils will therefore receive larger allocations. Within this package is a £22m accelerator fund, towards evidence-based approaches that support children and young people in disadvantaged areas.

In June 2020 as part of the £1 billion Covid catch up package, we announced £350 million to fund the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) for disadvantaged students for the academic years 2020/21 and 2021/22. The programme will provide additional, targeted support for those children and young people who have been hardest hit from disruption to their education as a result of school closures.

There is extensive evidence that tutoring is one of the most effective ways to accelerate pupil progress, and we want to extend this opportunity to disadvantaged and vulnerable learners. We are also funding small group tuition for 16 to 19-year-olds and early language skills in reception classes.

The Education Endowment Foundation was founded in 2011 to research and promote the most effective ways of accelerating pupil progress. They have published guidance to help schools make the most of this additional funding.

We are investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services. To date, over 1.2 million laptops and tablets have been delivered to schools, trusts, local authorities and further education providers. Since 2011 we have continued to provide Pupil Premium funding – worth £2.4bn again this year – for school leaders to use, based on the needs of their disadvantaged pupils.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what assessment she has made of the prevalence of LGBTQ+ conversion therapy providers; and what plans she has to bring forward legislative proposals to prevent the (a) advertising and (b) delivery of conversion therapy services.

We are following through with our commitment to end conversion therapy in the UK and will bring forward plans to do so shortly. We have undertaken research to understand practices, experiences and impacts associated with conversion therapy and will publish this in due course. Officials are also in discussion with international policy counterparts, to fully understand the detail and impact of other jurisdictions’ measures, in order to inform the UK’s next steps.

Alongside this work, officials are reviewing the current legislative framework and engaging a number of relevant departments across Whitehall. We have engaged experts and survivors to understand how Government action may impact them and continue to engage with key stakeholders.

The Government is working at pace on ending conversion therapy and will outline in due course how it intends to proceed with an effective response.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether his Department plan to temporarily suspend the requirement for physical signatures on Local Election Candidate Nomination forms for the elections in May 2021 to (a) prevent transmission of covid-19 infection between households and (b) help ensure a level playing field for all candidates including those who may be classified as vulnerable.

The Government has published a clear Delivery Plan for the May elections, setting out how the Government will support local elections teams to deliver effective polls that are covid-secure for voters and staff.

I refer the Hon Member to the statement of 8 February 2021 HCWS773 which gave details of the measures to reduce the number of signatures required by candidates as part of the nominations process to stand at the elections being held in May 2021.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
5th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, whether her Department plans to bring forward legislative proposals to ensure that workers on the National Living Wage receive any uplift in pay as soon as it comes into effect rather than after a pay reference period has ended.

National Minimum Wage (NMW) regulations are clear that all workers must be paid at least the NMW for the hours worked in each pay reference period (PRP). When the NMW rates change, the increase applies to the first PRP starting on or after the date of any change. The Government recognises that low paid workers want to receive the pay rise that they are entitled to as soon as possible after the rates increased on 1 April.

Kevin Hollinrake
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
5th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment he has made of the impact of the Smart Export Guarantee on private investment in renewable technology; and whether he plans to link the SEG tariffs to the prices suppliers charge customers for energy.

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) annual report, published by Ofgem in October 2022, highlighted a significant increase in the number of installations registering for a SEG tariff (34,020 installations compared to 4,593 from Year 1).

The SEG is a cost-reflective and market led mechanism. Suppliers determine the value of the exported electricity and take account of the associated administrative costs when setting their tariffs.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
30th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 30 November to Question 84872 on Energy Bills Rebate: District Heating, by which date he plans to announce the method of delivery for the Energy Bill Support Scheme Alternative Funding payments.

The Government is working in partnership with local authorities to finalise the details of the Alternative Funding. The Government is aiming to launch the scheme in January and will make a further announcement on delivery mechanism details soon.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
11th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he plans to publish details on the additional £100 Energy Bills Support payment for households who are part of a local domestic heat network.

Heat network customers are benefiting from the Energy Bill Relief Scheme. These customers will therefore not receive the Alternative Fuel Payment of £200, which has been designed to support households using fuels such as oil, LPG or coal.

My Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that the EBRS will be reformed from April 2023. The Government will bring forward a route to deliver bespoke support for on heat network consumers from this date.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
11th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he plans to publish guidance on the Energy Bills Support Scheme for households who receive their energy through private heat and power networks.

The Energy Bill Support Scheme Alternative Funding will provide a £400 discount on energy bills for the small percentage of households who will not be reached through the Energy Bills Support Scheme. This includes those who do not have a domestic electricity meter or a direct relationship with an electricity supplier. Eligibility, timescales and method of delivery will be announced in the coming weeks.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will publish the (a) data, (b) evidence and (c) reasoning which supports the findings that the Valneva covid-19 vaccine in trial would not receive UK regulatory approval prior to the end of that trial.

The response given by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to a question raised by the hon. Member for Livingston (Hannah Bardell) has been clarified [1] to make clear that Valneva’s Covid-19 vaccine has not yet gained approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) here in the UK, and that the outcome of that approval process will be a matter for the MHRA once the trials have been concluded and the data has been submitted.

[1]https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-09-16/debates/E09C8E55-4307-43B6-B57E-BA2E9BFB556F/HealthAndSocialCare#10MC

24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Green Homes Grant scheme and the latest data release of 24 June 2021, what assessment he has made of the reasons for the difference between the number of vouchers issued and the number of measures actually installed; and what assessment he has made of the main challenges with delivery of measures under that scheme once a voucher has been issued.

Official statistics published on 24 June for the Green Homes Grant Voucher scheme describe installations completed prior to 03 June. More installations are being completed every day.

As per the release, 59,704 vouchers, worth over £273 million, have been issued (excluding those that have expired). 20,557 measures have been installed, giving a conversion rate of 34.4%.

Once a voucher has been issued, it is the responsibility of the customer and installer to schedule the installation and ensure work is undertaken. Installations for some measures will take longer and vary based on the size and structure of the property, along with the timing of the installation.

Vouchers continue to be issued with a three-month validity period. To ensure measures are installed as quickly as possible, we have also updated voucher extension policy for the scheme.

The Department regularly reviews information about the number of vouchers that have been issued and how many installations have been completed and vouchers paid. We are in frequent discussion with the scheme administrator in relation to this and maintain regular contact with stakeholders to understand possible issues and delays.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he plans to increase the financial cap for eligibility for a Debt Relief Order; and whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of increasing that financial cap to £50,000.

The Government has recently consulted on proposals to increase the eligibility criteria for Debt Relief Orders to help more people deal with their financial difficulties and to provide a fresh start. The consultation includes increasing the total amount of debt allowable in a Debt Relief Order. The consultation proposes an increase from the current debt limit of £20,000 to £30,000 but also seeks views on whether a different limit should be implemented. The consultation closed on 26 February 2021 and the Government is currently reviewing the responses.

4th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to introduce more stringent supply chain employment requirements for the offshore wind industry ahead of the next Contract for Difference auction process.

The Government is eager to deliver supply chain investment and jobs from CfD contracts. We have confirmed our intention to align the Supply Chain Plan process with government priorities, and we are currently consulting[1] on proposals to introduce consequences for non-delivery of commitments that developers put forward in their Supply Chain Plans, which are approved before they enter the CfD Allocation Round. We are also strengthening the Supply Chain Plan monitoring process to support compliance.

These measures should be seen alongside my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s announcement on £160 million of new funding towards investment to upgrade ports and infrastructure and long-term ambitions to increase renewable energy capacity in the next CfD auction, which, together, will support new UK content, jobs and investment.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/contracts-for-difference-cfd-changes-to-supply-chain-plans-and-the-cfd-contract - Closing date 18th January 2021.

4th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that the next Contract for Difference auction process assists the offshore wind industry in meeting its commitment to 60 per cent UK content in the supply chain for offshore wind farms on the UK Continental Shelf before 2030.

The Government is eager to deliver supply chain investment from CfD contracts. We have confirmed our intention to align the Supply Chain Plan process with government priorities, and we are currently consulting[1] on proposals to introduce consequences for non-delivery of commitments that developers put forward in their Supply Chain Plans, which are approved before they enter the CfD Allocation Round. We are also strengthening the Supply Chain Plan monitoring process to support compliance.

These measures should be seen alongside my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s announcement on £160 million of new funding towards investment to upgrade ports and infrastructure and long-term ambitions to increase renewable energy capacity in the next CfD auction, which, together, will support new UK content, jobs and investment.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/contracts-for-difference-cfd-changes-to-supply-chain-plans-and-the-cfd-contract - Closing date 18th January 2021.

16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on regulatory measures in the coastal shipping sector to increase domestic employment in the supply chain roles for (a) offshore wind, (b) decommissioning and (c) Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage projects on the UK Continental Shelf.

I regularly meet my colleagues in the Department for Transport to discuss a wide range of issues, including on how we deliver the aims of the Industrial Strategy.

16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will review the Crown Estate’s licensing process for offshore wind farms to ensure that (a) employment and (b) port activity in the supply chain is reserved for UK based (i) workers and (ii) ports after the EU transition period expires.

The Crown Estate is an independent commercial business, created by Act of Parliament, and the Department does not have powers to review their licensing process. However, Ministers and officials of the Department work closely with the Crown Estate to ensure that offshore wind leasing process are consistent with the Government’s renewable ambitions to achieve net zero by 2050 while boosting the UK economy.

16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to amend the Contracts for Difference auction process for offshore wind farm projects on the UK Continental Shelf to weight the process in favour of developers who commit to use Tier 1-3 contractors who employ (a) seafarers and (b) other maritime workers in the domestic supply chain.

The Government is currently consulting on proposals to strengthen Contracts for Difference (CfD) Supply Chain Plans, to align them more closely with government priorities. We propose to introduce consequences for non-delivery of commitments that developers put forward in their Supply Chain Plans and strengthen the monitoring process to support compliance.

These measures should be seen alongside my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s recent announcement on £160 million of new funding towards investment to upgrade ports and infrastructure to ensure UK ports have the necessary facilities and capabilities to meet the future needs of offshore wind developers. Together with other commitments on offshore wind, this will enable the sector to support up to 60,000 jobs directly and indirectly by 2030 in ports, factories and the supply chains.

16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to amend the Contracts for Difference auction process for offshore wind farm projects on the UK Continental Shelf to weight the process in favour of developers who commit to the exclusive use of UK ports by their Tier 1-3 contractors.

The Government is currently consulting on proposals to strengthen Contracts for Difference (CfD) Supply Chain Plans, to align them more closely with government priorities. We propose to introduce consequences for non-delivery of commitments that developers put forward in their Supply Chain Plans and strengthen the monitoring process to support compliance.

These measures should be seen alongside my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s recent announcement on £160 million of new funding towards investment to upgrade ports and infrastructure to ensure UK ports have the necessary facilities and capabilities to meet the future needs of offshore wind developers and remain competitive.

8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he plans to launch revised local content methodology for the offshore wind industry; and whether that methodology will apply to supply chain contractors.

The Offshore Wind Industry committed to updating its UK content methodology and a longer-term move towards increased transparency as part of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal. The industry has committed to reviewing the methodology and they will publish this once agreed.

The methodology applies to every developer, who are obliged to seek UK content data from their suppliers, using the same methodology, for all contracts above £10m.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to review the (a) weekly income limit, (b) maximum number of qualifying years and (c) other eligibility criteria and limitations on the Statutory Redundancy Pay Scheme.

Any employee who is dismissed due to redundancy and who satisfies certain qualifying conditions has a statutory entitlement to a lump sum from their employer, based on their age, length of service and contractual weekly earnings, subject to a statutory upper limit, payable at, or soon after, the dismissal date.

The statutory redundancy scheme is intended to provide a minimum “safety net” of entitlement for vulnerable employees, and the legislation leaves the parties free to negotiate and agree improvements on the statutory entitlement according to their own priorities, needs and circumstances.

We introduced new legislation which commenced on 31 July to ensure that furloughed employees who are subsequently made redundant receive statutory redundancy pay, statutory notice pay, unfair dismissal compensation and pay for short-time working based on the employee’s normal pay, rather than their furlough pay (potentially 80% of their normal wage). The Government has always urged employers to do the right thing and not seek to disadvantage furloughed employees who are facing redundancy.

12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has any plans to increase the protections afforded to those who buy gift cards for businesses in cash, in line with those offered through the Chargeback scheme and Consumer Credit Act, in circumstances where businesses enter administration.

The Department asked the Law Commission to examine the protection given to consumer prepayments, including gift vouchers, and consider whether such protections should be strengthened. The Law Commission concluded that gift voucher losses were relatively uncommon, and mandatory regulation on gift vouchers in an insolvency context would be disproportionate. Costs arising to businesses from regulation could also be passed on to consumers.

The Government has worked with the industry and consumer groups to publish better guidance for insolvency practitioners on the information that should be made available to consumers when a retailer becomes insolvent.

12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a scheme similar to the Eat Out to Help Out scheme to encourage people to access health and fitness facilities to support public health and businesses in that sector.

Sports and physical activity are crucial for our mental and physical health. That’s why we continued to make sure that people can exercise throughout the national restrictions, and why we ensured that grassroots sport was front of the queue when easing those restrictions.

On Monday 22 February, the Prime Minister announced a roadmap out of the current lockdown in England. The government has introduced a step approach to the return of outdoor and indoor sport areas across England. From 8 March, sport can take place in school for all children, or as part of wraparound activities if children are attending in order to enable their parents to work, seek work, attend education, seek medical care, or attend a support group. Organised outdoor sport restarted on 29 March and indoor leisure facilities including gyms re-opened for indoor use on 12 April.

The Government has provided unprecedented support to the sport sector to ensure these facilities are able to open. Beyond elite level sport, on the 22nd October 2020, the government announced a £100 million support fund for local authority leisure centres. Sport England are also providing £220 million directly to support community sport clubs and exercise centres through this pandemic, including their £35 million Community Emergency Fund. Sport England’s new strategy, ‘Uniting the Movement’, dedicated an additional £50 million to support grassroots sports clubs and organisations.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the Government's Covid-19 Response and Roadmap and guidance on the re-opening of indoor fitness facilities and gyms; at what stage will one to one personal training or rehabilitation sessions be permitted to resume indoors.

Sports and physical activity are crucial for our mental and physical health. That’s why we have continued to make sure that people can exercise throughout the national restrictions and why we have ensured that grassroots and children’s sport is front of the queue when easing those restrictions.

On Monday 22 February, the Prime Minister announced a roadmap out of the current lockdown in England. One to one coaching and personal training can continue outdoors under the same rules as during national restrictions. As part of step 2, the majority of indoor leisure facilities will be able to open for individual use including one to one coaching and personal training. As part of step 3, we expect exercise classes to be able to resume.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to his oral evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee of 22 April 2020, HC157, what assessment his Department has made of whether Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the Private Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia are separate entities.

As the Secretary of State said during his evidence at the select committee, it is for the Premier League alone to make assessments of potential acquisitions of football clubs under its Owners’ and Directors’ Test.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues to secure support for the Sport of Association Football and clubs at all levels of the game.

Football clubs are the bedrock of our local communities and it is vital they are protected at all levels of the game. That is why we have provided unprecedented support to businesses through tax reliefs, cash grants and employee wage support, which many football clubs have benefited from. Sport England’s Community Emergency Fund has also provided £210 million directly to support community sport clubs and exercise centres through this pandemic.

The government has also been consistently clear that it expects football to support itself through this time. The Premier League and English Football League were some of the first elite competitions to return "behind closed doors", which enabled vital broadcast revenue to flow into the sport to look after the wider football family, retained competitive integrity and brought joy to millions of sports fans. The government also ensured Project Restart was shared with everyone by getting Premier League football on the BBC for the first time ever.

The government recognises the implications for sports clubs of not being able to admit spectators to stadia from 1 October, and are working urgently on what we can do now to support them. The Department will continue to work with colleagues across Whitehall to support the sector.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans his Department has to (a) allow the reopening of five-a-side football premises and (b) permit small numbers of people to take part in contact sport as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active. The Government has made it clear that it will adopt a phased approach based on scientific and medical advice, and that the primary goal is to protect public health. The Government is in discussions with representatives from the sport and physical activity sector about the steps required to restart grassroots sport and will update the public when it is deemed safe to reopen indoor sports venues and facilities, including five-a-side football premises.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to expand the 30 hours of funded childcare for working parents to include income earned through PhD studies as a qualifying income.

The department is not currently planning to extend the 30 hours of free childcare to include income earned through PhD studies. We recognise the value of parents continuing in education and provide a range of support for students in further or higher education to support them with childcare.

Students starting a doctoral degree on or after 1 August 2018 are eligible to receive a postgraduate doctoral loan to help with course fees and living costs, including childcare, which can be up to £27,892 for students starting their courses in the current academic year, 2022/23.

In addition to the above childcare support for doctoral students, all parents are eligible for the universal 15 hours of free early education which is available to every three and four-year-old, regardless of family circumstances.

Working parents of three and four-year-olds may also be eligible for an additional 15 hours of free childcare if they earn the equivalent of 16 hours a week at national minimum or living wage and earn under £100,000 per year. Students who participate in paid work in addition to their studies and who meet the income requirements will be eligible for the additional hours.

Parents who meet these income criteria may also be able to receive support from Tax-Free Childcare, which can be worth up to £2,000 per year for children aged 0-11, or up to £4,000 per year for some disabled children aged 0-16.

Further information on the childcare offers available to parents can be found at: https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/.

The department remains committed to improving the cost, choice, and availability of childcare. We continue to look at ways to make childcare more affordable and to encourage families to use government-funded support they are entitled to.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, from what date university students will be able to return to campus and resume in-person teaching.

Following the review into when the remaining higher education students can return to in-person teaching and learning, the government has announced that the remaining students should return to in-person teaching no earlier than 17 May 2021, alongside Step 3 of the roadmap. Students and institutions will be given at least a week’s notice of any further return in accordance with the timing of Step 3 of the roadmap.

The government roadmap is designed to maintain a cautious approach to the easing of restrictions to reduce public health risks and ensure that we can maintain progress towards full reopening. However, the government recognises the difficulties and disruption that this may cause for many students and their families and that is why the government is making a further £15 million of additional student hardship funding available for this academic year 2020/21. In total we have made an additional £85 million of funding available for student hardship.

We are supporting universities to provide regular twice weekly asymptomatic testing for all students and staff on-site and, from May, at home. This will help break chains of transmission of the virus.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support disabled children and their families to recover from effects of the covid-19 outbreak.

Supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families is a priority for this government, and their educational, physical and mental wellbeing remains central to our cross-government response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

We have provided £40.8 million for the Family Fund in 2020-21 to support over 80,000 families on low incomes raising children with disabilities or serious illnesses. This includes £13.5 million to specifically respond to needs arising from the outbreak.

We have published guidance for children's social care services, making clear that parents or carers of disabled children and young people may continue to access respite care, and have communicated best practice to Directors of Children's Services and local authorities to ensure that as many disabled children and young people as possible can continue to access these services during the COVID-19 outbreak. This guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-local-authorities-on-childrens-social-care.

The government has provided £4.6 billion of additional funding in financial year 2020-21 to support councils through the COVID-19 outbreak to respond to local needs, including to deliver services to support vulnerable children.

We have and continue to develop plans for COVID-19 recovery. As part of this, both special schools and alternative provision will be able to access funding to provide summer schools and the National Tutoring Programme, and we recognise the additional costs associated with offering provision to pupils in specialist settings. This means that eligible pupils in special schools, special units in mainstream primary and secondary schools and alternative provision settings will attract a higher rate of the new one-off Recovery Premium funding worth £302 million, as well as funding for summer schools. We have consistently prioritised children who attend specialist settings in our Recovery Premiums to schools by providing additional uplifts both in 2020 and in 2021.

Young people with SEND aged 19 to 24 who have an education, health and care plan will be eligible for support via the 16 to 19 Tuition Fund, where they meet the fund criteria. Providers are asked to have regard to the needs of students with SEND when prioritising students that would benefit most from small group tuition. Furthermore, the proposals to support early language and literacy recovery will benefit all children, including those with SEND.

£200 million will be available to all secondary schools, including specialist settings, to deliver face-to-face summer schools. Schools will be able to target provision based on pupils’ needs. The size and shape of the summer schools will be decided by school leaders who know best what the most effective summer school will look like for their pupils, allowing them to tailor support for pupils, including those with SEND.

Sir Kevan Collins has also been appointed as the Education Recovery Commissioner and is considering how schools and the system can more effectively target resources and support at pupils in greatest need.

The department will continue to assess the impact of the outbreak and its subsequent COVID-19 recovery plans on all pupils, including those with SEND, to ensure it targets support across the system most effectively.

12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of implementing a COVID-19 recovery plan for disabled children and their families.

Supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families is a priority for this government, and their educational, physical and mental wellbeing remains central to our cross-government response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

We have provided £40.8 million for the Family Fund in 2020-21 to support over 80,000 families on low incomes raising children with disabilities or serious illnesses. This includes £13.5 million to specifically respond to needs arising from the outbreak.

We have published guidance for children's social care services, making clear that parents or carers of disabled children and young people may continue to access respite care, and have communicated best practice to Directors of Children's Services and local authorities to ensure that as many disabled children and young people as possible can continue to access these services during the COVID-19 outbreak. This guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-local-authorities-on-childrens-social-care.

The government has provided £4.6 billion of additional funding in financial year 2020-21 to support councils through the COVID-19 outbreak to respond to local needs, including to deliver services to support vulnerable children.

We have and continue to develop plans for COVID-19 recovery. As part of this, both special schools and alternative provision will be able to access funding to provide summer schools and the National Tutoring Programme, and we recognise the additional costs associated with offering provision to pupils in specialist settings. This means that eligible pupils in special schools, special units in mainstream primary and secondary schools and alternative provision settings will attract a higher rate of the new one-off Recovery Premium funding worth £302 million, as well as funding for summer schools. We have consistently prioritised children who attend specialist settings in our Recovery Premiums to schools by providing additional uplifts both in 2020 and in 2021.

Young people with SEND aged 19 to 24 who have an education, health and care plan will be eligible for support via the 16 to 19 Tuition Fund, where they meet the fund criteria. Providers are asked to have regard to the needs of students with SEND when prioritising students that would benefit most from small group tuition. Furthermore, the proposals to support early language and literacy recovery will benefit all children, including those with SEND.

£200 million will be available to all secondary schools, including specialist settings, to deliver face-to-face summer schools. Schools will be able to target provision based on pupils’ needs. The size and shape of the summer schools will be decided by school leaders who know best what the most effective summer school will look like for their pupils, allowing them to tailor support for pupils, including those with SEND.

Sir Kevan Collins has also been appointed as the Education Recovery Commissioner and is considering how schools and the system can more effectively target resources and support at pupils in greatest need.

The department will continue to assess the impact of the outbreak and its subsequent COVID-19 recovery plans on all pupils, including those with SEND, to ensure it targets support across the system most effectively.

12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to tackle social isolation in disabled children and their families.

Supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families is a priority for this government, and their educational, physical and mental wellbeing remains central to our cross-government response to the COVID-19 outbreak. That is why education settings have remained open for children and young people with an education, health and care plan throughout periods of national lockdown.

The return to school for all pupils was prioritised due to the significant and proven impact caused by being out of school, including on wellbeing. The support schools provide to their pupils as they return to face-to-face education should include time devoted to supporting wellbeing, which will play a fundamental part in supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing recovery. The expectations for schools in this regard are set out clearly in the main Department for Education guidance to schools, which also signposts further support, available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.

We have worked with our partners, including the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), Health Education England, Public Health England and other key voluntary sector organisations to deliver the Wellbeing for Education Return programme, which has provided training and resources to help school staff respond to the wellbeing and mental health needs of pupils. This £8 million government backed programme provided schools and colleges all over England with the knowledge and access to resources they need to support children and young people, teachers and parents.

The return to school on 8 March 2021 has been supported with a new £700 million package, which includes a Recovery Premium for state primary, secondary and special schools to use as they see best to support disadvantaged students. This will help schools to provide academic and pastoral support for disadvantaged pupils that has been proven most effective in helping them recover from the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

£200 million will be available to all secondary schools, including specialist settings, to deliver face-to-face summer schools. Schools will be able to target provision based on pupils’ needs. The size and shape of the summer schools will be decided by school leaders who know best what the most effective summer school will look like for their pupils, allowing them to tailor support for pupils, including those with SEND.

Additionally, we have expanded the Holiday Activities and Food programme, which has provided healthy food and enriching activities to disadvantaged children since 2018. From 2021, the programme will cover the Easter, Summer and Christmas school holidays at a cost of up to £220 million. It will be available to children in every local authority in England, building on previous programmes and we are working to ensure that the programme is fully inclusive and accessible for children with SEND.

Sir Kevan Collins has been appointed as the Education Recovery Commissioner and is considering how schools and the system can more effectively target resources and support at pupils in greatest need. Additionally, Dr Alex George was appointed on 4 February as Youth Mental Health Ambassador to advise government and raise the profile of mental health education and wellbeing in schools, colleges and universities. He will use his clinical expertise and personal experience to champion government’s work on children’s and young people’s mental health and shape policy on improving support for young people in schools, colleges and universities.

In the long term, we remain committed to our joint green paper delivery programme with DHSC and NHS England, including introducing new mental health support teams for all schools and colleges, providing training for senior mental health leads in schools and colleges, and testing approaches to faster access to NHS specialist support.

The department will continue to assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and its subsequent COVID-19 recovery plans on all pupils, including those with SEND, to ensure it targets support across the system most effectively.

2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to allow secondary schools to use (a) exemptions from and (b) reasonable adjustments to requirements to wear face coverings for people who rely on lip reading from 8 March 2020 when schools reopen as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

The Department continues to work closely with other Government Departments throughout its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as stakeholders across the sector. We continue to work to ensure that our policy is based on the latest scientific and medical advice, to develop comprehensive guidance based on the PHE-endorsed ‘system of controls’, and to understand the impact and effectiveness of these measures on staff, pupils, and parents.

On 22 February, the Department published its evidence summary, ‘COVID-19 - children, young people and education settings’, which includes a section on face coverings. It can be found at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/963639/DfE_Evidence_summary_COVID-19_-_children__young_people_and_education_settings.pdf.

The Department has also recently published updated guidance for schools to support the return to full attendance from 8 March, which includes updated advice on face coverings. The guidance can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/964351/Schools_coronavirus_operational_guidance.pdf.

As the guidance outlines, where pupils and students in Year 7 and above are educated, the Department recommends that face coverings should be worn by adults, pupils, and students when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.

In addition, from 8 March the Department now recommends that in schools where pupils and students in Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn in classrooms unless social distancing can be maintained.

The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in nurseries, schools, and colleges. This includes people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness, impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. The Department expects teachers and other staff to be sensitive to those needs.

Transparent face coverings, which may assist communication with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate, can also be worn. There is currently very limited evidence regarding the effectiveness or safety of transparent face coverings, but they may be effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

The Department is recommending these additional precautionary measures for a for a time limited period until Easter. As with all measures, we will keep this under review and update guidance as necessary.

2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of requirements for face coverings in class rooms on the learning of (a) all children and (b) deaf children since September 2020.

The Department continues to work closely with other Government Departments throughout its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as stakeholders across the sector. We continue to work to ensure that our policy is based on the latest scientific and medical advice, to develop comprehensive guidance based on the PHE-endorsed ‘system of controls’, and to understand the impact and effectiveness of these measures on staff, pupils, and parents.

On 22 February, the Department published its evidence summary, ‘COVID-19 - children, young people and education settings’, which includes a section on face coverings. It can be found at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/963639/DfE_Evidence_summary_COVID-19_-_children__young_people_and_education_settings.pdf.

The Department has also recently published updated guidance for schools to support the return to full attendance from 8 March, which includes updated advice on face coverings. The guidance can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/964351/Schools_coronavirus_operational_guidance.pdf.

As the guidance outlines, where pupils and students in Year 7 and above are educated, the Department recommends that face coverings should be worn by adults, pupils, and students when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.

In addition, from 8 March the Department now recommends that in schools where pupils and students in Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn in classrooms unless social distancing can be maintained.

The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in nurseries, schools, and colleges. This includes people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness, impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. The Department expects teachers and other staff to be sensitive to those needs.

Transparent face coverings, which may assist communication with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate, can also be worn. There is currently very limited evidence regarding the effectiveness or safety of transparent face coverings, but they may be effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

The Department is recommending these additional precautionary measures for a for a time limited period until Easter. As with all measures, we will keep this under review and update guidance as necessary.

2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to help ensure that schools make reasonable adjustments to requirements for face coverings to be worn for people who (a) rely on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate and (b) provide support to such individuals when schools reopen in March 2021 as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

The Department continues to work closely with other Government Departments throughout its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as stakeholders across the sector. We continue to work to ensure that our policy is based on the latest scientific and medical advice, to develop comprehensive guidance based on the PHE-endorsed ‘system of controls’, and to understand the impact and effectiveness of these measures on staff, pupils, and parents.

On 22 February, the Department published its evidence summary, ‘COVID-19 - children, young people and education settings’, which includes a section on face coverings. It can be found at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/963639/DfE_Evidence_summary_COVID-19_-_children__young_people_and_education_settings.pdf.

The Department has also recently published updated guidance for schools to support the return to full attendance from 8 March, which includes updated advice on face coverings. The guidance can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/964351/Schools_coronavirus_operational_guidance.pdf.

As the guidance outlines, where pupils and students in Year 7 and above are educated, the Department recommends that face coverings should be worn by adults, pupils, and students when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.

In addition, from 8 March the Department now recommends that in schools where pupils and students in Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn in classrooms unless social distancing can be maintained.

The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in nurseries, schools, and colleges. This includes people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness, impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. The Department expects teachers and other staff to be sensitive to those needs.

Transparent face coverings, which may assist communication with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate, can also be worn. There is currently very limited evidence regarding the effectiveness or safety of transparent face coverings, but they may be effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

The Department is recommending these additional precautionary measures for a for a time limited period until Easter. As with all measures, we will keep this under review and update guidance as necessary.

26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance his Department has published to support the (a) holding and (b) taking of the 11-plus exam in 2021.

Guidance was published in July 2020 on selection testing for entry for September 2021. The Department updated it to offer amended advice on late and in-year testing on 23 February 2021. We will keep the need for further guidance for this year and for entry in September 2022 under review as we receive further scientific advice on the COVID-19 outbreak. The guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-assessment-processes-for-selective-school-admissions.

Selection tests are part of the admission arrangements of individual grammar schools. They are administered locally, and the Department does not routinely collect information on individual test results or those entering tests. We do not intend to undertake such a data collection exercise at this time. Data is available, within the National Pupil Database, on the number of disadvantaged children on roll within grammar schools.

26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has plans to ensure that Grammar schools collect data on the performance of pupils eligible for the pupil premium who enter into the 11-plus exam.

Guidance was published in July 2020 on selection testing for entry for September 2021. The Department updated it to offer amended advice on late and in-year testing on 23 February 2021. We will keep the need for further guidance for this year and for entry in September 2022 under review as we receive further scientific advice on the COVID-19 outbreak. The guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-assessment-processes-for-selective-school-admissions.

Selection tests are part of the admission arrangements of individual grammar schools. They are administered locally, and the Department does not routinely collect information on individual test results or those entering tests. We do not intend to undertake such a data collection exercise at this time. Data is available, within the National Pupil Database, on the number of disadvantaged children on roll within grammar schools.

26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what information his Department holds on the proportion of students who enter the 11-plus exam who are eligible for the pupil premium; and whether his Department has made a comparative assessment of such pupils' performance in that exam with the performance of pupils not eligible for the pupil premium.

Guidance was published in July 2020 on selection testing for entry for September 2021. The Department updated it to offer amended advice on late and in-year testing on 23 February 2021. We will keep the need for further guidance for this year and for entry in September 2022 under review as we receive further scientific advice on the COVID-19 outbreak. The guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-assessment-processes-for-selective-school-admissions.

Selection tests are part of the admission arrangements of individual grammar schools. They are administered locally, and the Department does not routinely collect information on individual test results or those entering tests. We do not intend to undertake such a data collection exercise at this time. Data is available, within the National Pupil Database, on the number of disadvantaged children on roll within grammar schools.

26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of (a) school closures during the covid-19 outbreak, (b) access to good quality teaching and (c) internet access and appropriate IT equipment on pupils from all backgrounds preparing to take the 11-plus exam in the 2021-22 academic year; and what steps his Department has taken to ensure that the disruption to education as a result of the covid-19 outbreak does not disproportionately affect pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds sitting and passing that exam.

We know that receiving face-to-face education is best for children’s mental health and educational achievement. We have resisted restrictions on attendance at schools since the first lockdown, but in the face of the rapidly rising numbers of cases across the country and intense pressure on the NHS we needed to use every lever at our disposal to reduce all our social contacts wherever possible.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, we have expected schools to remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers, whilst limiting attendance for the majority of children to help slow the spread of the virus. Schools have also been offering wraparound provision, such as breakfast and afterschool clubs, for those children eligible to attend. The system of controls set out in our guidance provides a set of principles for infection control. The guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak. We expect schools to follow this advice and maximise the use of these control measures, so that they will effectively minimise risks of viral transmission.

Where it is needed, schools are expected to offer pupils in Key Stage 2 a minimum of 4 hours of remote education that includes either recorded or live direct teaching alongside time for pupils to work independently to complete assignments that have been set.

There is a wide range of resources available to support schools to meet the expectations we have set. The Get Help with Remote Education page on gov.uk provides a one-stop-shop for teachers, signposting the support package available: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-remote-education. This includes helping schools to access technology that supports remote education, as well as peer-to-peer training and guidance on how to use technology effectively. We have also updated the remote education guidance to clarify and strengthen expectations in cases where on-site attendance is restricted: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/remote-education-good-practice/remote-education-good-practice.

To make up for lost teaching time and to stop pupils falling behind, our £1 billion catch up package remains in place, including the £650 million catch-up premium and in-school support through the National Tutoring Programme for the most disadvantaged. We are also looking ahead to the arrangements for the 2021 exam series and how, working closely Sir Kevan Collins, our new Education Recovery Commissioner, we can support catch-up and make up for lost learning over the summer: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-commissioner-appointed-to-oversee-education-catch-up.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. As of Monday 8 March 2021, over 1.2 million laptops and tablets have been delivered to schools, academy trusts, local authorities and further education colleges. The Department has based allocations on estimates of the need of disadvantaged children in Years 3 to 13. We have partnered with the UK’s leading mobile operators to provide free data to help disadvantaged children get online as well as delivering over 70,000 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home.

Last year, we strongly advised admission authorities to test in October or November 2020 rather than in the first weeks of September, as is the normal practice, to give all pupils, including disadvantaged pupils, the chance to get back into the routine of education before being tested: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-assessment-processes-for-selective-school-admissions. We will consider whether guidance is needed for the 2022 testing round, which will take place in autumn 2021.

If a child is refused admission their parent has a right of appeal, even if they have failed the selection test. The Appeals Code then says that the panel can look at other evidence of a child’s ability, for example, SATS or report from the primary school, to establish whether they are of the required standard. Parents who consider their child did not perform to their utmost ability because of disruption can appeal on this basis. Please see the relevant sections of the Appeals Code: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/275897/school_admission_appeals_code_1_february_2012.pdf.

21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that university students who have entered contracts for accommodation and who are now prevented from travelling to as a result of covid-19 restrictions are freed from their contractual obligation to pay.

The government plays no role in the provision of student residential accommodation. Universities and private accommodation providers are autonomous and are responsible for setting their own rent agreements. Whether a student is entitled to a refund or to an early release from their contract will depend on the specific contractual arrangements between them and their provider.

This has been a very difficult time for students, and we encourage universities and private landlords to review their accommodation policies to ensure that they are fair, clear and have the interests of students at heart.

We recognise that, in these exceptional circumstances, some students may face financial hardship. The department has worked with the Office for Students to clarify that providers are able to draw on existing funds, worth around £256 million for the academic year 2020/21, towards hardship support. The government is making available up to a further £20 million on a one-off basis to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students. As my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, said on 7 January, we are considering what more we can do to provide further support to students.

Maintenance loans are available as a contribution towards a student’s living costs while attending university. The system targets the most living cost support at those from the lowest income families, who need it most.

Students undertaking courses that would normally require attendance on-site, but for which learning has moved either fully or partially online due to the COVID-19 outbreak, will qualify for living costs support in the 2020/2021 academic year as they would ordinarily, provided that they continue to engage with their higher education (HE) provider. This also applies when the student is prevented from attending the course physically and is required to study online due to shielding.

If students have concerns about their accommodation fees, they should first raise their concerns with their accommodation provider. If their concerns remain unresolved, and their HE provider is involved in the provision of the accommodation, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for Higher Education to consider their complaint.

If a student thinks their accommodation provider is treating them unfairly, they can raise a complaint under the accommodation codes of practice as long as their provider is a code member. The codes can be found at: https://www.thesac.org.uk/, https://www.unipol.org.uk/the-code/how-to-complain, and https://www.rla.org.uk/about/nrla-code-of-practice.shtml.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to provide additional funding to higher education establishments to allow them to reduce the course fees charged for academic year 2020-21.

Universities are autonomous and responsible for setting their own fees, up to a maximum of £9,250 for standard full-time undergraduate courses offered by approved (fee cap) providers. However, the government has been clear that universities are expected to maintain quality and academic standards and the quantity of tuition should not drop. Universities should seek to ensure all students, regardless of their background, can access their studies remotely.

The government has provided significant support to the higher education sector during the COVID-19 outbreak. Alongside access to the business support schemes, we brought forward £2 billion worth of tuition fee payments, provided £280 million of grant funding for research and established a loan scheme to cover up to 80% of a university’s income losses from international students for the academic year 2020/21, up to the value of their non-publicly funded research activity support research.

We are working closely with the Office for Students, and the sector to maintain an up-to-date understanding of issues arising during this academic year and are extremely grateful for the work of universities and other higher education providers.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to amend the guidance on face coverings in educational settings to include the use of transparent face coverings where possible, to assist with learners who rely on lip reading to learn.

During the national lockdown, in education settings where Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by adults (staff and visitors) and pupils when moving around indoors outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain.

Face coverings can make it more difficult to communicate with children with additional needs or children who may rely on lip reading or facial expressions for understanding. The Department expects staff to be sensitive to these needs when teaching and interacting with children.

As the Department’s guidance outlines, some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. This includes people who cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness, impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound, or facial expressions to communicate. The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in schools, nurseries and colleges.

Based on current evidence and the measures that schools are already putting in place, such as the system of controls and consistent bubbles, face coverings will not generally be necessary in the classroom.

Children in primary schools do not need to wear a face covering, and older children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities may be exempt from wearing them, depending on their need.

The Department’s guidance on face coverings can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-in-education/face-coverings-in-education.

2nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to ensure that young people due to sit GCSE exams in summer 2021 will continue to have access to high quality education from their schools when school attendance is interrupted by (a) a local or national outbreak of covid-19 and (b) class or school level isolation is required in response to a school covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has announced a package of support to ensure that schools have the support they need to help all pupils make up for lost teaching time. This includes a universal catch up premium for schools of £650 million and a new £350 million National Tutoring Programme for disadvantaged pupils.?This £1 billion package is on top of the £2.6 billion increase in school budgets for academic year 2020-21 that was announced last year, as part of a £14 billion three-year funding settlement, recognising the additional work schools will need to do to help students to catch up.

Schools have been working extremely hard over the summer to prepare for full reopening, as well as to develop remote education contingency plans. This is testament to their commitment to ensuring any missed education is recovered and that we minimise any disruption to education caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. We have a shared responsibility for working to ensure this generation of young people do not face long-term disadvantage.

To ensure that there is no doubt about the roles and responsibilities within the system for providing remote education, the Government published a Temporary Continuity Direction on 1 October, which makes it clear that schools have a duty to provide remote education for state-funded, school-age children unable to attend school due to COVID-19. This will come into effect from 22 October 2020. The direction poses no additional expectations on the quality of remote education expected of schools beyond those set out in the Department’s guidance.

The Department also announced further remote education support intended to support schools in meeting the remote education expectations set out in the schools guidance for full opening published in July. Further details of the support package can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

For schools, this support package includes an additional 250,000 laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and development resources for staff including a good practice guide and school-led webinars. The Department is also investing £1.5 million of additional funding to expand the EdTech Demonstrator programme, which provides peer-to-peer support for schools and colleges. The package is designed to help schools build on and deliver their existing plans in the event that pupils are unable to attend school because of COVID-19, in line with guidance and the law. This adds to existing support including the resources available from Oak National Academy.

The Department is engaging with Ofqual and representatives from schools and colleges in order to consider possible contingency arrangements for next year so that as many students as possible are able to enter exams.

21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 10 July 2020 to Question 64157, and with reference to the Parentkind survey results published on 16 July 2020, what steps he is taking to inform parents and carers that it is safe for children to return to school in September; and whether he plans to suspend fines for parents and carers who do not send children to school in September.

All pupils, in all year groups, will return to school full time from the beginning of the autumn term. The Department has published guidance for parents and carers detailing what they need to know about education settings in the autumn term. The guidance is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-in-the-autumn-term.

On 2 July the Government published guidance on the full opening of schools, including a Public Health England endorsed system of controls which, when implemented alongside the school’s own risk assessment, will create an inherently safer environment for children and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced.

On 17 August, the Government launched a ‘Back to School’ campaign which seeks to reassure parents and explain measures that nurseries, childminders, schools and colleges are taking to reduce the risk of transmission. The Department has worked closely with Department for Transport and Cabinet Office to support and inform parents.

It is vital that children and young people return to school for their educational progress, for their wellbeing, and for their wider development. School attendance will again be mandatory from the beginning of the new academic year. For parents and carers of children of compulsory school age, this means that the legal duty as a parent to send a child to school regularly will apply.

Schools should work with families to ensure children are attending full time from September. As usual, fines will sit alongside this, but only as a last resort and where there is no valid reason for absence.

14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to tackle the issue identified in his speech to the Social Market Foundation of 9 July 2020 that participation in undergraduate part-time study in higher education has fallen significantly.

The government recognises the importance of studying part-time and the benefits it can bring to individuals, employers and the wider economy.

In recent years we have already made a number of changes to support part-time and mature learners. Students starting to attend a part-time degree level course from 1 August 2018 onwards are able to access full-time equivalent maintenance loans. We have removed the “equivalent or lower qualification” restrictions for all STEM part-time degree courses. Students on these courses who already hold a degree can now access support through student loans. We have also supported higher education providers to offer part-time provision.

We have also made funding available through the Teaching Grant to providers to recognise the additional costs of part-time study. In the academic year 2020/21, £66 million will be made available for this.

These changes have resulted in us reversing the decline in part-time undergraduates. Over the last two years we have seen an increase in the number of entrants to part-time undergraduate degree level study at English higher education providers (it has increased from 33,980 in 2016/17 to 40,095 in 2018/19).

The Independent Panel set up to provide input into the Review of Post 18 Education and Funding considered different ways to support learners who want to study higher education more flexibly. The government is considering the Independent Panel’s report carefully but have not yet taken decisions with regards to the recommendations put forward. The government will conclude the review alongside the next Spending Review.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the ability of (a) people to access appropriate further education skills training and (b) of employers to recruit skilled workers to support recovery after the covid-19 outbreak..

Training is vital in order to provide the highly skilled workforce that employers need to support the recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak.

We have supported further education providers and introduced a range of flexibilities, including encouraging online delivery, so that as many learners as possible can successfully complete their courses. We have also ensured that furloughed workers are able to start apprenticeships.

We have frequently engaged with further education providers to monitor the level of training that they are able to deliver and we have been actively working with them to address issues. From 15 June, providers should begin to offer some face to face contact to 16 to 19 learners in the first year of a 2-year study programme. We want to have all learners back into education settings, as soon as the scientific advice allows, because it is the best place for them to learn and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers and teachers.

We will also continue to work with providers and employers to ensure that they deliver the skills that our workers and economy need. This includes looking at ensuring that we support employers, especially small businesses, to take on new apprentices this year. In addition, we have launched a new online Skills Toolkit to provide free high quality digital and numeracy courses, the skills most sought after by employers. We have also already announced that we are providing an extra £3 billion over the course of this Parliament for a new National Skills Fund to help people learn new skills.

Our latest guidance on COVID-19 for the post-16 sector and all other educational settings is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings. Guidance for education and training that is due to begin in September 2020 will be published in due course.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Gillian Keegan
Secretary of State for Education
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made on the effect of covid-19 on the availability of support and training for post-16 students; and whether his Department plans to publish guidance on post-16 education and training due to begin in September 2020.

Training is vital in order to provide the highly skilled workforce that employers need to support the recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak.

We have supported further education providers and introduced a range of flexibilities, including encouraging online delivery, so that as many learners as possible can successfully complete their courses. We have also ensured that furloughed workers are able to start apprenticeships.

We have frequently engaged with further education providers to monitor the level of training that they are able to deliver and we have been actively working with them to address issues. From 15 June, providers should begin to offer some face to face contact to 16 to 19 learners in the first year of a 2-year study programme. We want to have all learners back into education settings, as soon as the scientific advice allows, because it is the best place for them to learn and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers and teachers.

We will also continue to work with providers and employers to ensure that they deliver the skills that our workers and economy need. This includes looking at ensuring that we support employers, especially small businesses, to take on new apprentices this year. In addition, we have launched a new online Skills Toolkit to provide free high quality digital and numeracy courses, the skills most sought after by employers. We have also already announced that we are providing an extra £3 billion over the course of this Parliament for a new National Skills Fund to help people learn new skills.

Our latest guidance on COVID-19 for the post-16 sector and all other educational settings is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings. Guidance for education and training that is due to begin in September 2020 will be published in due course.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Gillian Keegan
Secretary of State for Education
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what safeguards are in place to ensure that people that apply to be foster carers during the covid-19 outbreak are (a) vetted and (b) trained to ensure the safety of the children in their care.

The Fostering Services Regulations 2011 provide a regulatory framework for fostering agencies and local authority fostering services for how they should deliver their functions. The regulations set out the information that fostering service providers must gather about prospective foster carers in order to satisfy themselves of an individual’s suitability to foster. This includes background, health, relationships and criminal checks, for example. It is for these providers to determine how they assess and approve their foster carers locally, within the regulations. The regulations are available here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2011/581/contents/made.

We recognise that fostering services may want to bring in more foster carers to help build capacity within their services in case of additional demand at this time. In order to assist fostering providers to do this, we have amended parts of the regulatory framework, as described in the Explanatory Memorandum to the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020, which are available here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/445/pdfs/uksiem_20200445_en.pdf.

These allow different parts of the assessment to be undertaken simultaneously, avoiding unnecessary delays. However, the information required in assessing potential foster carers has not been changed nor have the expectations around the preparation of approved foster carers, prior to their first placement.

1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether the Government's agreement with Edenred for the provision of the free school meal voucher scheme contains an exclusivity clause which prevents his Department engaging alternative or additional suppliers.

As both my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

We are encouraging schools to use existing catering arrangements to provide meals or food parcels to pupils who are eligible for free school meals while they are staying at home. Where this is not possible, the Department for Education has developed a national voucher scheme as an alternative.

The government’s contract agreement with Edenred for the provision of the free school meal voucher scheme does not include an exclusivity clause and we are able to engage with alternative or additional suppliers, should this be required. We have no plans to do this at this time.

Schools are best placed to determine what's most appropriate locally, and are free to make their own arrangements outside the national voucher scheme. Our guidance for schools sets out that they can be reimbursed for costs incurred where that scheme is not suitable for their families, including where none of the eight participating supermarkets have branches nearby.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

13th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 12 June 2023 to Question 188243 on Horticulture: Peat, whether her Department plans to publish guidance to assist organisations in determining whether they qualify as professional growers.

Yes, as our legislative proposals are developed suitable guidance will be published in the normal way.