Jonathan Gullis Portrait

Jonathan Gullis

Conservative - Stoke-on-Trent North

Jonathan Gullis has no previous appointments


Oral Question
Wednesday 19th May 2021
11:30
Wales Office
Oral Question No. 18
What steps the Government is taking to promote the growth of green industries in North Wales.
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Select Committee Meeting
Thursday 27th May 2021
14:30
Petitions Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Brain tumour and childhood cancer research
27 May 2021, 2:30 p.m.
At 2.30pm: Oral evidence
Peter Realf - Campaigner at Brain Tumour Research
Amanda Mifsud - Founder at Abbie's Army
Fiona Govan - Petition Creator at Private citizen
Ian Walker - Executive Director of Policy, Information and Communications at Cancer Research UK
Sue Farrington Smith - Chief Executive at Brain Tumour Research
Richard Gilbertson - Chair at Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission
Chris Jones - Professor of Childhood Brain Tumour Biology at Institute of Cancer Research
The Lord Bethell - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Department of Health and Social Care
Helen Campbell - Portfolio Manager at Department of Health and Social Care
Mike Batley - Deputy Director of Research Programmes at Department of Health and Social Care
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Division Votes
Wednesday 28th April 2021
National Security and Investment Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 357 Conservative Aye votes vs 1 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 358 Noes - 269
Speeches
Thursday 22nd April 2021
Oral Answers to Questions

What steps he is taking to help protect communities against flooding. (914626)

Written Answers
Tuesday 27th April 2021
Roads: Staffordshire
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to improve the condition of roads …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
Tuesday 22nd September 2020
Planning (Proper Maintenance of Land) Bill 2019-21
A Bill to make provision for increased fines for failures to comply with a notice under section 215 of the …
MP Financial Interests
Saturday 11th January 2020
2. (a) Support linked to an MP but received by a local party organisation or indirectly via a central party organisation
Name of donor: Nicholas Bacon
Address of donor: private
Amount of donation, or nature and value if donation in kind: …
EDM signed
Monday 5th October 2020
The Maltby Miners Welfare Institute
That this House notes the proposed sale of the Maltby Miners Welfare Institute, the Stute, by CISWO, the coal mining …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Jonathan Gullis has voted in 272 divisions, and 1 time against the majority of their Party.

17 Jun 2020 - Health and Personal Social Services - View Vote Context
Jonathan Gullis voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 104 Conservative Aye votes vs 124 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 253 Noes - 136
View All Jonathan Gullis 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)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(26 debate interactions)
Gavin Williamson (Conservative)
Secretary of State for Education
(18 debate interactions)
Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party)
Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights)
(13 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department for Education
(48 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(23 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Jonathan Gullis's debates

Latest EDMs signed by Jonathan Gullis

22nd September 2020
Jonathan Gullis signed this EDM as a sponsor on Monday 5th October 2020

The Maltby Miners Welfare Institute

Tabled by: Alexander Stafford (Conservative - Rother Valley)
That this House notes the proposed sale of the Maltby Miners Welfare Institute, the Stute, by CISWO, the coal mining charity; acknowledges that miners have paid for the Stute over the years out of their wages to safeguard their mining heritage; is disappointed that CISWO has chosen to put the …
7 signatures
(Most recent: 5 Oct 2020)
Signatures by party:
Conservative: 5
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Scottish National Party: 1
19th December 2019
Jonathan Gullis signed this EDM on Friday 20th December 2019

Big Ben chiming on the day of Brexit

Tabled by: Mark Francois (Conservative - Rayleigh and Wickford)
That this House notes the ongoing refurbishment works on the Elizabeth Tower and the fact that during this period Big Ben currently only chimes for Remembrance Sunday and New Year's Eve; further notes that the United Kingdom will now leave the European Union at 11.00pm GMT on 31 January 2020; …
53 signatures
(Most recent: 7 Jan 2020)
Signatures by party:
Conservative: 48
Democratic Unionist Party: 5
View All Jonathan Gullis's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Jonathan Gullis, 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.


Jonathan Gullis has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Jonathan Gullis has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

2 Bills introduced by Jonathan Gullis


A Bill to create the offence of desecrating a war memorial; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Tuesday 23rd June 2020
(Read Debate)

A Bill to make provision for increased fines for failures to comply with a notice under section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Tuesday 22nd September 2020
(Read Debate)

Jonathan Gullis has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


211 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Explanation of written questions
3 Other Department Questions
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps she is taking to tackle discrimination in (a) offices, (b) factories and (c) shop floors.

The Equality Act 2010 (the Act) provides protection for those aged 16 or over, against direct and indirect discrimination in employment settings (including offices, factories and shop floors), the provision of goods, services, public functions and in private clubs. The Act makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee or a job applicant due to a protected characteristic. Similar rules apply to service providers.

The Act is civil law, meaning that a person who believes that they have experienced discrimination may take their case to an employment tribunal or, in non-employment cases, a County Court (Sherriff’s Court in Scotland).

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is responsible for enforcing the Equality Act 2010, and is increasingly focusing its work on effective enforcement. In December a new Chair and four new Commissioners were appointed to the EHRC to help drive this agenda forward.

The Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS), the helpline for anyone who believes that they have been discriminated against in the provision of goods, services and public functions, can provide free bespoke advice and in-depth support. The EASS can be contacted via its website - www.equalityadvisoryservice.com, by telephone on 0808 800 0082, or by text phone on 0808 800 0084. Acas can assist in relation to employment discrimination issues, their number is 0800 464 0979.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what assessment the Government has made of the effect of its policies on tackling the covid-19 outbreak on white, working class, disadvantaged communities.

The government is committed to supporting all groups in society, including white, working class and disadvantaged communities from the challenges caused by COVID-19. This includes taking action to support those on lower incomes, including through income protection schemes, mortgage holidays and additional support for renters. The government is also supporting those in education by keeping colleges, primary and secondary schools open for vulnerable children and for the children of critical workers. The government continues to monitor the impact of these measures.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what plans she has for the Government's Equality Hub to help tackle (a) geographical and (b) socio-economic inequality in (i) Stoke-on-Trent and (ii) Staffordshire.

The Prime Minister has set out our vision to level up and spread opportunity and I want the Equality Hub to look at issues such as geography and social background to identify barriers to success.

The Government has introduced unprecedented support for business and workers across all regions of the UK, including Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, to protect them against the current economic crisis. We will support jobs in every region, and invest in our towns, cities, people and places.

The forthcoming Local Recovery and Devolution White Paper will set out the place-based regional economic strategy. This will build on regional partnerships like the Midlands Engine which promotes the global footprint of our regions and the economic opportunities within.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps the Government is taking to increase the opportunities for ceramic businesses to bid for government contracts.

The Government works very closely with the ceramics sector on a number of issues, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic and following our exit from the European Union.

Government departments spend a significant sum on public procurement, and we are aware of the vital role this will play in kick-starting the economy. We have launched a new social value model which helps to ensure that the Government's huge purchasing power is used to support communities and the local economy. Our Green Paper proposals set out long-planned changes to the public procurement rules which will cut red tape, reduce bureaucracy and help unleash wider social benefits from public money spent on procurement.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
16th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he is taking to deliver civil service jobs in Stoke-on-Trent.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to PQ 129140 on 22 December 2020. A number of announcements have been made on Places for Growth locations. This includes the Cabinet Office establishing a second headquarters in Glasgow, a joint headquarters for FCDO in East Kilbride and a new economic campus in Darlington. Further announcements for other departments will be made in due course.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he is taking to increase the proportion of civil service jobs based outside London in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

The Government has committed to ensuring that the administration of Government is less London-centric by relocating 22,000 Civil Service roles out of central London and into the regions and nations of the United Kingdom by the end of the decade.

The Cabinet Office, through the Places for Growth programme, will make further announcements on this programme in the usual way.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he is taking to ensure that equal constituency sizes are in place before the next general election.

The Government committed, in its 2019 Manifesto, to delivering updated and equal UK Parliamentary boundaries with the aim of making sure that every vote counts the same - a cornerstone of democracy.

The Parliamentary Constituencies Bill sets the framework of future boundary reviews, including the next review due to begin in early 2021. The Bill is scheduled to complete its stages in the House of Commons on 14 July and will then proceed to the House of Lords.

This Bill provides that the next boundary review will run to a slightly shorter timetable of approximately 2 years and 7 months. This one-off change aims to ensure that updated and equal Parliamentary boundaries are delivered.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department is taking to support veterans and their families in (a) Stoke-on-Trent, (b) Kidsgrove and (c) England.

This Government is absolutely committed to making the United Kingdom the best place to be a veteran anywhere in the world. We have created the Office for Veterans’ Affairs in the Cabinet Office to ensure veteran’s are represented right at the heart of Government.

We have also introduced measures such as discounted railcards; guaranteed interviews to make it easier for veterans to join the Civil Service; creating more Armed Forces champions in the Department for Work and Pensions; introducing a national insurance holiday to encourage employers to maximise the talents of veterans in our workforce; improved access to housing; making it easier for veterans to access physical and mental healthcare support for veterans in the NHS, as well as introducing to legislation to ensure veterans are not subject to unfair historic investigations and further strengthening the Armed Forces Covenant in law.

Specifically in Stoke on Trent, Veterans UK works very closely with the Veterans Support Centre, which is located in Newcastle Under Lyme and has supported over 18,000 people since the centre opened in 2015.

5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent estimate he has made of the number of loans provided through the Bounce Back Loan scheme to applicants in (a) Stoke-on-Trent, (b) Kidsgrove and (c) Talke.

A breakdown on the number of loans provided through the Bounce Back Loan scheme as of 7 August is in the table below.

Constituency

Loans offered

Value of Loans offered (£)

Stoke-on-Trent North (which includes Kidsgrove, Talke and part of Stoke-on-Trent)

1040

30,573,493

Stoke-on-Trent South

861

26,011,673

Stoke-on-Trent Central

1149

35,168,237

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support geothermal energy generation.

Opportunities for geothermal electricity generation in the UK are limited and only likely to be economically feasible in certain locations, such as the far South West of England. The Government is supporting the development of the United Downs Deep Geothermal Project in Cornwall.

The most promising use of geothermal energy in the UK is for low temperature applications such as district heating schemes. BEIS has been providing support to the deployment of district heat networks from geothermal through the Heat Networks Delivery Unit (HNDU) and the Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP). We also announced a further £270m from 2022 to 2025 in the Green Heat Network Fund at the March budget and we will be consulting on eligibility criteria this Autumn.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support research and development in ceramics.

Through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), ceramics, along with the other 5 sectors that make up the foundation industries, are eligible for a share of the £66 million Transforming Foundation Industries. This Challenge looks to reduce environmental impact (including carbon emissions) through resource and energy efficiency. It is funding a number of projects relevant to the ceramics industry including hybrid sintering, development of new ceramic fibres for enhanced filtering, heat recovery in furnaces, robotics based optimisation and non-combustible cladding systems.

The Midlands Industrial Ceramics for Industry 4.0 project were recently awarded seedcorn funding of up to £50,000, under wave 2 of the Strength in Places Fund. The investment will build on existing ceramic and manufacturing strengths to help to make the Midlands a global leader in advanced ceramics. .

The Government is implementing its ambitious research and development roadmap to ensure the UK is the best place in the world for scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs to live and work, while helping to power up the UK’s economic and social recovery and level up the UK.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support ceramic businesses affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has taken unprecedented action to support businesses, including the those in the ceramics sector, since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. Measures include regulatory easements, tax deferrals and changes to Statutory Sick Pay.

The Coronovirus Business Interruption Loan Schemes, alongside the Covid Corporate Financing Facility and Bounce Back Loans, also provide businesses with the opportunity to access Government-backed financing.

In addition to this, the Job Retention Scheme has supported millions of workers since March and has been significant in keeping people in jobs, ensuring that sectors will be able to recover smoothly.

The Government has also launched the Kickstart Scheme, which provides funding to employers to create new, 6-month job placements for young people currently on Universal Credit.

Taken together, these measures as well as others are providing support to businesses across the country and in the ceramics sector.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support research and development in the ceramics industry to help reduce carbon emissions.

At the 2020 Budget, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the Government will at least double the size of the Department’s Energy Innovation Programme to £1 billion. This programme will focus on decarbonising UK power, homes, and industry (including ceramics), to meet the challenge of net zero emissions by 2050.

Ceramics, along with the other 5 sectors that make up the foundation industries, are eligible for a share of the £66 million Transforming Foundation Industries element of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. This Challenge looks to reduce environmental impact, including carbon emissions, through resource and energy efficiency. We are funding a number of projects relevant to the ceramics industry, including hybrid sintering, the development of new ceramic fibres for enhanced filtering, heat recovery in furnaces, robotics-based optimisation, and non-combustible cladding systems.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he plans to provide support to the ceramics industry to help that industry to decarbonise.

The Department works closely with the ceramics industry to support its efforts to decarbonise.

Manufacturers of ceramics will soon be able to access the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, a scheme to help businesses with high energy use to reduce their emissions and energy costs by investing in clean technologies. The first phase will open for applications this summer, supporting industrial energy efficiency projects, as well as feasibility and engineering studies.

Ceramics firms can also access the Industrial Heat Recovery Support Programme. This grant funding programme helps manufacturing businesses to identify and invest in opportunities for recovering and reusing industrial waste heat. A total of £18 million is available to support industrial heat recovery projects across England and Wales.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many UK (a) businesses and (b) universities are Investors in People accredited.

Investors in People is responsible for awarding the Investors in People standard. Since 1 February 2017 this has been a Community Interest Company, which is not part of the Government.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to support supply chains in the ceramics industry in (a) the UK and (b) Stoke-on-Trent North constituency.

The Government is working tirelessly to protect our people and businesses, during and after the COVID-19 outbreak, including those in the ceramics industry.

The Government has taken unprecedented action to support businesses, which may be of benefit to the ceramics industry. Measures include:

- £330 billion worth of Government-backed loans through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the newly launched Bounce Back Loans Scheme.

- VAT deferment for firms for the next quarter.

- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, where employers are eligible to apply for a Government grant of 80% of their workers’ salaries, up to £2500 per month.

Locally, the Government has supported and invested in 38 Growth Hubs across England. Growth Hubs provide businesses with free advice, and improve awareness and coordination to increase the take-up of the business support schemes that are available.

In the financial year 2018/19, the Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) reached over 5000 business individuals. This included supporting 2231 businesses with face-to-face support, of which 107 received high-intensity support. The LEP has also helped 491 individuals to start a new business.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support the ceramics industry during the covid-10 outbreak.

The Government has taken unprecedented action to support businesses, including those within the ceramics sector, during the outbreak of COVID-19. This includes changes to Statutory Sick Pay, the opportunity to defer VAT and/or income tax for 3 months, as well as regulatory easements to help businesses manage the impact of the virus.

In addition, the Job Retention Scheme offers a Government grant to enable companies to furlough their staff from 1 March 2020 and will run until the end of June 2020..

The Coronovirus Business Interruption Loan Schemes for businesses of all sizes, alongside the Covid Corporate Financing Facility, also provides businesses with the opportunity to access Government-backed financing.

These measures are providing unprecedented support to businesses across the country, and the Department is in daily contact with the ceramics sector to offer further advice and support.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to promote origin marking on ceramic products.

Consumer law requires traders to provide consumers with information on the main characteristics of goods. This would not normally require the inclusion of origin markings for ceramic products.

Where goods have a country of origin mark, there is a requirement for it to be accurate and not misleading. The Government does not have plans to change these rules.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of not having an EU Data Adequacy Agreement on the UK video games sector.

We see no reason why the UK should not be awarded data adequacy by the EU and we expect the process to be concluded promptly. However, we advise UK organisations to take sensible steps to prepare for a situation where the EU does not adopt adequacy decisions for the UK.

In such a scenario, businesses and other organisations would be able to use alternative legal mechanisms to continue to transfer personal data. Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) are the most common legal safeguard and will be the relevant mitigation for most organisations. Guidance can be found on GOV.UK and the ICO’s websites regarding steps organisations may be required to take relating to data protection and data flows by the end of the bridging period.

We have liaised extensively with representatives from the video games industry and fully recognise the key role the sector can play in the future prosperity of the UK. Video games contributed an estimated £2.9 billion to the UK economy in 2019.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment the Government has made of the effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on the video games sector.

We recognise the importance of the UK video games industry, which is a significant player in the global games industry, with scope to deliver powerful economic benefits for the UK. The sector contributed an estimated £2.9 billion to the UK economy in 2019, a 9.1% year-on-year increase from 2018.

The UK games industry relies on a highly skilled workforce that possesses leading technical and creative expertise. The UK and the EU have agreed to a list of activities that can be carried out by short-term business visitors without the need for a work permit, on a reciprocal basis in most Member States, subject to any reservations taken. Domestically, the UK’s new Points Based System will enable companies to attract the best and brightest from around the world.

Data is of fundamental importance to the video games industry. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement helps to facilitate the cross-border flow of data by prohibiting requirements to store or process data in a specific location. As the EU left insufficient time to ratify data adequacy decisions before the end of 2020, we have agreed a time limited ‘bridging mechanism’ which will allow personal data to continue to flow as it does now whilst EU adequacy decisions for the UK are adopted, and for no more than 6 months. We see no reason why the UK should not be awarded data adequacy by the EU and we expect the process to be concluded promptly. However, we advise UK organisations to take sensible steps to prepare for a situation where the EU does not adopt adequacy decisions for the UK.

The video games sector relies on continued market access to export digital goods and services throughout the EU. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement maintains zero tariffs and zero quotas on trade in goods between the UK and the EU. The Agreement also secures commitments on the promotion of cross border trade in services by providing service suppliers and investors with transparency and certainty about future trade with the EU.

The sector also relies on a strong and stable framework governing Intellectual Property rights. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement represents a good balance between securing high standards for copyright protection and securing the UK’s domestic flexibility to continue to improve and adapt the copyright framework to meet future opportunities and challenges.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential economic merits of The Independent Game Developers' Association's proposal for a video games investment fund.

DCMS’ Creative Industries Economic Estimates show that the UK video games industry contributed an estimated £2.9 billion to the UK economy in 2019, up from £0.4 billion in 2010, and its headcount has grown to 27,000, a 47% increase since 2013.

I am pleased that in 2021/22 my Department will be continuing to fund the UK Games Fund, which provides valuable support to early stage games development businesses and talented graduates throughout the UK. We continue to consider what further actions we can take to underpin the games sector’s vital contribution to the UK’s future economic success. We are currently looking closely at industry’s most recent proposals, including The Independent Game Developers Association’s updated proposal for the creation of a new, large scale video games investment fund.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, prior to 30 January 2020, when a Minister of his Department most recently visited Chatterley Whitfield Colliery.

Helen Whately, then Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, visited Chatterley Whitfield Colliery Heritage Centre, with Jonathan Gullis MP on Wednesday 29th January 2020.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what support his Department has provided to (a) fairgrounds, (b) other outdoor events and (c) the wider events sector during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has introduced a number of support measures for businesses and individuals through COVID-19, which fairgrounds and the wider outdoor events sector can access. These include various government-backed loans, as well as the extended furlough and self-employed support schemes. We also introduced a substantial, UK-wide cut in VAT for many tourism and hospitality activities, including admission to circuses and fairs, until the end of March.

In light of the national restrictions announced on 4 January, the Chancellor has announced one-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the Spring. He also announced that a £594 million discretionary fund will be made available to support other impacted businesses.

This comes on top of the existing Additional Restrictions Grant discretionary funding and the Local Restrictions Support Grants.

On 13 January I met with representatives of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain to assess how we can most effectively support the fairground industry through this period. We also remain in close contact with the wider events sector via the Tourism Industry Council and the Events Industry Senior Leaders Panel to closely monitor the situation.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
27th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what progress his Department has made on delivering support for local authority owned culture and heritage assets through the Culture Recovery Fund.

Support for the Arts for Local Authorities in Round 1 was £23,376,244. Support for Heritage for Local Authorities in Round 1 was £1,435,900. This included funding for councils and local government owned assets including museums, theatres, music venues, archives; designed landscapes; buildings; monuments and industrial transport.

In addition to the arts and heritage emergency recovery grants, The CRF Heritage Stimulus Fund ‘Covid-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk’ stream granted £89,870.

Under the CRF Heritage Stimulus Fund ‘Repair Grants for Heritage at Risk Fund’ Lincoln City Council received £1,086,629 for Lincoln Castle and Blackpool City Council received £764,000 for the Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
27th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what progress his Department has made on distributing the tampon tax to support women and girls.

To date more than £62 million of VAT on sanitary products has gone to good causes supporting women and girls, through the Tampon Tax Fund. The successful applicants to the 20/21 round of the Tampon Tax Fund were announced on gov.uk on Friday 27th November 2020 and funding will be distributed in due course.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to support (a) the film sector and (b) other creative industries.

The Government recognises the huge contribution the film and wider creative industries sectors make, not only to the economy and international reputation of the United Kingdom, but also to the wellbeing and enrichment of its people.

Regarding the film sector specifically, the Government has worked alongside industry to quickly develop guidance allowing for the restart of production activity and has continued to support the sector in applying this guidance. In addition, in July 2020 the Government granted quarantine exemption for cast and crew of eligible film and high-end television productions, bespoke action which has helped ensure that significant inward investment projects have still been able to operate safely in the UK.

Since then, the Government has also announced the Film and TV Production Restart Scheme, a £500m scheme to help TV and film productions get back up and running across the country, despite a lack of available insurance for Covid-19 losses. It is a temporary scheme that will compensate eligible productions for costs incurred due to delays or abandonment of productions because of Covid-19.

As you will know, in March, the Government implemented an unprecedented package to support businesses, charitable organisations, workers and the self-employed through the Coronavirus crisis. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and business rates relief in particular are providing support to organisations across these sectors.

The extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was announced in May, which was extended to the end of July, with more flexibility being introduced from August to October.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has also been extended with applications opening in August for a second and final grant. The grant will operate in the same way as the existing scheme with self-employed workers eligible for a single payment covering three months, at a level of 70% of average monthly earnings up to a maximum of £6,570 (i.e. down from 80% and a maximum of £7,500).

The Secretary of State provided a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of cultural and creative sectors.

We are committed to continuing to work with the film and creatives industries sectors to understand the difficulties they face and help them access support through these challenging times and through recovery.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to tackle (a) anti-semitism and (b) islamophobia online.

The Government is absolutely clear that there is no place for hateful content online. In April 2019 the Government published the Online Harms White Paper setting out our plans for world-leading legislation to make the UK the safest place to be online. In February 2020 the Initial Government Response to the consultation was published indicating the direction of travel for the legislation. The Full Government Response detailing proposals for the legislation will be published later this year.

Government recognises that incidents of online hate crime are becoming more prevalent and we are taking action to tackle the issue. We allocated £200,000 for a new national police hub to tackle the emerging threat of online hate crimes which went live in January 2018.?We have been supporting initiatives specific to tackling islamophobia and anti-semitism. We have committed £100,000 for the Antisemitism Policy Trust to support their work to tackle online antisemitism,?and acknowledge this as a growing area of concern. We have also supported Tell MAMA?(Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks)?with?just over £2.8m between 2016 and 2020 to monitor and combat anti-Muslim hatred (including online).

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many organisations in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire have received funding through the £1.57 billion arts, culture and heritage covid-19 rescue fund.

Arts Council England, British Film Institute, Historic England and National Lottery Heritage Fund are considering applications for grant funding against agreed criteria, as set out in the published guidance.

Our priority is to ensure that organisations get the funding they need as swiftly as possible and we expect some funding decisions to be made this month with announcements soon after that. A list of the recipients of the Arts Council’s Emergency Grassroots Music Venues Fund can be found here:

https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/document/emergency-grassroots-music-venues-fund-recipients

This funding will provide a lifeline for thousands of organisations facing imminent challenges and will be available this financial year.


Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking increase the availability of full fibre broadband in Stoke-on-Trent.

Good progress has been made in the Stoke-on-Trent North constituency, with over 99% of premises in the constituency able to access superfast broadband. This is up from 73% in March 2013. Gigabit-capable coverage in the constituency stands at 8%.

There is an active Local Full Fibre Network Project (LFFN) taking place in Stoke-on-Trent with around 110km of new fibre network being built with the aim of creating 100% city wide full fibre connectivity. DCMS have invested over £9 million into this project with a supplier also contributing. There is a video which gives an overview of this Government funded project in Stoke here: https://vimeo.com/368247591

On top of that, 25 premises took advantage of our recently closed Gigabit Voucher Scheme in the area.

For those premises that are still struggling with slow speeds, there are a number of options available to them. DCMS runs another voucher scheme that can be used by rural communities across the UK to reduce the cost of installing gigabit-capable connectivity. This provides a voucher worth up to £3,500 for eligible small businesses and vouchers worth up to £1,500 for residents. However, Staffordshire County Council have recently committed to “top up” these voucher values investing £1m of funding in addition to eligible funding from the Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme. This means that in rural areas of Staffordshire, residents can get a voucher of up to £3,500 and small businesses a voucher of up to £5,500.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what progress he has made on plans for UK Festival 2022; and how (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire can participate in that festival.

Festival UK 2022 is a major nationwide festival of creativity and innovation. It will deliver a programme of ten ground-breaking large-scale new commissions with the ambition of bringing people together and promoting the UK’s creativity to the world.

The programme, led by Martin Green, Chief Creative Officer, recently launched a £3m R&D Project. This is an open call for creative teams of organisations and individuals from across Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths to come together to receive funding to develop new ideas for 2022.

I encourage people and organisations in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire to get involved by registering on the Festival website (www.festival2022.uk)

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sports, what fiscal steps he is taking to support cultural and creative industries affected by the covid-19 outbreak in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

The Culture Recovery Fund will provide £1.57 billion of targeted support to critical cultural, arts and heritage organisations to help them survive and recover through the coronavirus pandemic. Funding will be prioritised to institutions of national and international significance and those that are crucial to levelling up places and communities, including smaller organisations and cultural venues that are at the centre of their communities.

Key organisations in England have been able to apply for grants or loans. The relevant DCMS Arms Length Bodies (Arts Council England, Historic England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute) will make funding decisions for grants against the published criteria agreed by Ministers. In addition, the independent Culture Recovery Board will make decisions regarding applications for loans, and provide additional assurance over the largest grants.

Our priority is to ensure that organisations get the funding they need as swiftly as possible and we expect some funding decisions to be made this month with announcements soon after that.

The Underground live music venue in Stoke on Trent has already benefited from the £3.36 million Emergency Grassroot Music Venues Fund which has been shared among 135 venues across England who applied for support to survive the imminent risk of collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the delivery of the Youth Fund.

DCMS officials are rapidly assessing how the impact of Covid-19 will affect the delivery of the Youth Investment Fund in 2020-21 and beyond.

We hope to provide further information during the summer.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the provision of youth services for at risk young people.

My department is aware that Covid-19 has had an unprecedented impact on young people, in particular those deemed at risk. DCMS has been working with departments across Whitehall, including the Department of Education and the Home Office, to ensure at risk young people are supported during and post Covid-19.

Youth centres are able to re-open from 4th July, to ensure at risk young people have access to support, and opportunities to engage in safe activities. Youth workers are already supporting vulnerable young people through detached youth work, and we have supported the National Youth Agency to produce guidance for youth organisations on operating safely during Covid19.

This government will further support youth services with the new £500m Youth Investment Fund, designed to increase the capacity of youth services and the opportunities available to young people.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to support (a) the creative industries and (b) workers in those industries during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises the important role creative industries play in the UK by providing access to entertainment, culture and news during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To ensure we are assisting the sectors as effectively as possible, regular ministerially-chaired roundtables are held with business representative organisations (BROs) as well as trade associations within the creative industries. In addition, officials are in regular contact with stakeholders from all sectors.

To further support businesses and workers in the creative industries the Government has launched a number of schemes. For example, the Chancellor announced £330bn of guaranteed loans (equivalent to 15% of GDP) for supporting businesses to access finance. This support is delivered through two main schemes: the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Coronavirus Corporate Financing Facility. More recently, the Government launched the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, which helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover during the coronavirus outbreak. For workers in the creative industries, the Government has sought to protect millions of jobs by introducing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This has now been extended to the end of October, with new flexibility being introduced from August to get employees back to work and boost the economy. For those who are self-employed, the coronavirus self-employment income support scheme can provide grants, worth 80% of trading profits/partnership trading profits, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

Alongside these support measures, we continue to speak with HM Treasury colleagues to ensure that the full spectrum of government support reaches the UK's world-leading creative industries.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions officials in his Department have had with representatives of sporting bodies on the covid-19 outbreak.

I am having regular discussions with sector and industry bodies to understand the full impact of COVID-19 on sport and how the government can best provide support. This includes a fortnightly meeting with sporting organisations including national governing bodies. My officials maintain daily contact with sporting organisations.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans his Department has to hold the Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 2022.

The Department remains committed to delivering Festival 2022 which will showcase the UK’s unique strengths in creativity and innovation, and celebrate our place in the world in the 21st century. The Festival is currently in its development phase and Martin Green (Chief Creative Officer) is leading work collaboratively with the devolved administrations. We expect Festival 2022 will offer opportunities for research, strategic and development work through the commissioning phase later this year.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to help the tourism sector to reopen safely after the covid-19 outbreak.

We are regularly engaging with tourism stakeholders and are feeding into cross-Government discussions on how we can safely reopen the tourism sector.

As part of the Government’s leisure and recreation taskforce, my Department has set up a Visitor Economy Working Group to specifically focus on the practicalities and guidelines for opening up the sector during the recovery period. We will issue further guidance shortly on our phased reopening approach, including which businesses could be covered in each phase and the timeframes involved.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to support the YMCA and other youth projects in North Staffordshire.

DCMS is engaging regularly with key youth organisations and colleagues in other government departments to understand the impact of Covid-19 on the provision of vital services for young people and options for addressing this.

Government has funded up to £7 million through the Youth Accelerator Fund, expanding existing successful projects delivering positive activities for young people, and to address urgent needs in the youth sector.

UK Youth has distributed over £1 million in small grants to support grassroots organisations to deliver extra sessions in youth clubs and increase positive activities for young people across the country. 5 grants have been awarded to organisations in Staffordshire totalling over £18,000.

This Government is also distributing £310 million via the National Lottery Community Fund to support the organisations in England most impacted by Covid-19. This is part of the wider Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise package to include organisations working with vulnerable people.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to help tackle loneliness in (a) Stoke-on-Trent, (b) Kidsgrove and (c) Talke.

The government’s first annual report on tackling loneliness was published in January 2020. It highlighted the progress made so far across the country, including in the West Midlands.

The report highlighted the good work of the 126 projects supported through the £11.5m Building Connections Fund to bring people and communities together. 14 grants, totalling £1.2million, have been made to projects in the West Midlands. This includes grants made to Staffordshire Housing Association Limited to provide long-term social support to older people and to Saltbox to support older people in Stoke-on-Trent and the surrounding areas.

In addition, the Government has recently announced a plan to tackle feelings of loneliness and social isolation during the coronavirus outbreak and period of social distancing. The plan includes funding for loneliness organisations, a new #Let’sTalkLoneliness public campaign and a new ‘Tackling Loneliness Network’ convened by Government of high profile charities, businesses and public figures to help connect groups at risk of isolation.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions his Department has had with charities in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Kidsgrove on applying for the Tampon Tax Fund.

The Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport is not aware of any discussions that have been had with charities in a) Stoke-on-Trent and b) Kidsgrove about applying to the 2020/21 round of the Tampon Tax Fund.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure the effective delivery of broadband and telecommunications in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Kidsgrove.

The Government’s contingency planning with industry and considerable investment in superfast broadband has ensured that the UK’s broadband and mobile networks have stood up well to the increase in home working as a result of COVID-19


We are also ambitious to see further improvements in broadband and mobile coverage, including nationwide coverage of gigabit capable broadband, and are introducing a range of measures to deliver this ambition. The Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill will make it easier for operators to deploy broadband in blocks of flats. In addition, in March, we announced that we would be legislating to mandate gigabit connectivity in new build homes, and that we will be investing £5 billion in bringing gigabit broadband to the hardest to reach areas of the UK.

The Government also announced on 9 March that it had agreed a £1 billion deal with the mobile network operators to deliver the Shared Rural Network. This will see operators collectively increase 4G mobile coverage throughout the UK to 95% by the end of 2025, underpinned by legally binding coverage commitments


In Stoke-on-Trent specifically, the Government has also provided £9.2 million to the City of Stoke-on-Trent for a Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) Wave 3 project. In partnership with VXFIBER, this project will develop a publicly owned and operated, open access and gigabit-capable, 60 mile long network with citywide coverage by spring 2021.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what representations he has received on a potential Staffordshire 5G connected region growth deal.

My department is in contact with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and its Cities and Local Growth Unit with regard to Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire’s Local Industrial Strategy. The Government is committed to delivering world-class digital infrastructure across the country, including 5G and encourages all Local Enterprise Partnerships to consider opportunities for digital infrastructure deployment with their plans.

Government has allocated up to £200m to build the business for 5G through its 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme. This has accelerated 5G deployment with over 80 UK towns and cities now receiving 5G coverage - including Stoke-on-Trent.

The Government recently announced further funding via the Programme, a £30 million competition - 5G Create. This is an open competition aiming to attract bids from a variety of industries where the UK has a competitive advantage, encouraging dynamic business models and opening up new opportunities and markets. This includes our creative industries such as film, TV and video games, but also our rich variety of technology businesses in diverse sectors such as energy, water, health and social care, logistics and more.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to expand the availability of gigabit-capable broadband throughout (a) Staffordshire and (b) Stoke-on-Trent.

The Government is committed to delivering nationwide gigabit capable connectivity as soon as possible. Much progress has already been made, with full fibre coverage doubling in the past year to reach 10% of UK premises, according to the latest Ofcom figures.

This Government will continue to take action to remove barriers to network rollout and to ensure that those in the hardest to reach areas are not left behind. We have introduced legislation to make it easier for operators to deploy broadband in blocks of flats, will be legislating to mandate gigabit connectivity in new builds and will invest £5 billion of funding to support gigabit rollout in hard to reach areas.

Specifically in Staffordshire, the Government has already invested £9.6 million into better broadband. Superfast coverage is 98.9% across the area, compared to the UK average of 96%. The Government has also provided £9.2 million to the City of Stoke-on-Trent for a Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) Wave 3 project. In partnership with VXFIBER, this project will develop a publicly owned and operated, open access and gigabit-capable, 60 mile long network with citywide coverage by spring 2021.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to support (a) Historic England and (b) local authorities to preserve Chatterley Whitfield Colliery.

Chatterley Whitfield Colliery is one of the UK’s most important industrial heritage sites, and is deserving of a positive regeneration solution to protect it for future generations. The previous Heritage Minister recently visited the Chatterley Whitfield Colliery alongside representatives from Historic England and Stoke-on-Trent City Council to discuss the issues facing the site, and to seek to identify potential next steps and opportunities for its future.

The scale of the challenge presented by a site of this size and complexity is vast, but Government stands ready to further support Historic England and Stoke-on-Trent City Council in their ongoing conversations to find a long-term solution that will provide a sustainable future for Chatterley Whitfield.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he has plans to allocate funding from the public purse to the refurbishment of former sports centres in (a) Stoke-on-Trent North constituency and (b) England.

Government's Sporting Future strategy emphasises the important role that facilities play in encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds to get more active.

Through Sport England, Government is investing over £120m into grassroots facilities across England between 2017-2021 to make sure that everyone is able to access high quality sports facilities, regardless of where they live.

So far, during their current investment period (2017-2021), Sport England has awarded over £12.5k to improve or refurbish sports facilities in Stoke on Trent North.

Sport England welcome applications from projects looking to take over an underused sports facility or one under threat of closure. More information is available on Sport England’s website: https://www.sportengland.org/how-we-can-help/our-funds/community-asset-fund

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that all students taking T-Levels are able to access a high-quality industry placement in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

We have invested £165 million to help providers prepare for and deliver high-quality industry placements, building their capacity and relationships with employers. We are working closely with providers and have put in place dedicated support to help them secure placement opportunities for all T Level students. We have published industry placement delivery guidance for both providers and employers to support the provision of high-quality placements.

We are engaging directly with employers through the National Apprenticeship Service and offering support to help them deliver high-quality placements.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to promote good discipline and behaviour in schools in Stoke-on-Trent.

Good behaviour and discipline in schools is crucial if children are to learn and reach their full potential. The Government is pursuing an ambitious programme of work to improve behaviour in schools.

Earlier this month, we commenced the Behaviour Hubs programme, investing £10 million to help schools develop and sustain a culture where good behaviour is the norm.

We are also improving the training and professional development that we give to new teachers. As part of the Early Career Framework reforms, being rolled out nationally from September, all newly qualified teachers will have access to a funded, 2-year support package, including access to a trained mentor. The Early Career Framework has been designed to support early career teacher development in five core areas, including behaviour management.

The Department will be consulting on how we can help head teachers remove mobile phones from the classroom, and other revisions to the Department’s behaviour and discipline and expulsions guidance, later in the year.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) extending the school day and (b) shortening the summer holiday as part of wider reforms to education in England.

The Government recognises that COVID-19 and associated education restrictions have had an impact on children and young people’s education.

In February 2021, the Department appointed Sir Kevan Collins as Education Recovery Commissioner to advise how to help pupils make up their lost education over the course of this Parliament.

As an immediate step, we have invested a further £700 million to support education recovery measures (bringing total investment in catch up to over £1.7 billion), including for tutoring, summer schools in 2021 and additional support for schools.

The Education Recovery Commissioner will engage with parents, pupils and teachers in the development of this broader approach which will examine a range of options to help schools use evidence-based interventions to support their pupils to make up lost learning. We will share further details in due course.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children in (a) Stoke-on-Trent, (b) Kidsgrove and (c) Talke are involved in the National Tutoring Programme.

The National Tutoring Programme (NTP) provides additional, targeted support to disadvantaged pupils and is being delivered for the Department by the Education Endowment Foundation and Teach First.

The Department does not hold the information requested. However, we are working to ensure that there is a high level of awareness amongst schools of the support available, particularly in areas with high numbers of disadvantaged pupils.

There is still availability for schools to access high-quality tuition, subsidised at 75% by the Department, through the Tuition Partners. We would encourage all schools in Stoke-on-Trent to review the support available to them from Tuition Partners to provide additional, targeted support for disadvantaged pupils. This will help ensure that the NTP can support as many pupils as possible. Further information and sign-up details are here: https://nationaltutoring.org.uk/ntp-tuition-partners.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of removing funding for Applied General Qualifications on the number of people studying for degrees in gaming.

The department has consulted widely on proposals for reforming post-16 qualifications at level 3. The second stage of consultation ran from 23 October 2020 to 31 January 2021, and asked for views on the range of qualifications that will sit alongside A levels and T Levels in future. These include qualifications designed to support progression to higher education. No decisions have been made about individual subjects or the potential removal of funding for existing qualifications.

The impact assessment published alongside the consultation looked at the potential impact of the review on employers and the economy, but it did not look specifically at the games industry or student progression to games degrees. We are analysing responses to the consultation and will publish a final impact assessment as part of the response to the consultation.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the Turing Scheme on people wishing to study for degrees in gaming in the UK.

The Turing scheme will be backed by at least £100 million, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges, and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas, starting in September 2021 and replaces funding previously available through the education mobility element of Erasmus+. The scheme will be global and not be limited to the EU.

The scheme will be available to students of all subjects including those studying degrees in gaming.

Further details of the scheme will be published shortly.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many students have graduated with a degree in video games in each year since 2010.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) collects and publishes statistics on enrolments and qualifications obtained at UK Higher Education Institutions. Latest statistics refer to the academic year 2018/19.

The table below shows the numbers of first-degree qualifiers in computer games subjects for each year since the academic year 2012/13. Information on the number of qualifiers in these subjects has been available since the introduction of the third version of Joint Academic Coding System in 2012/13, hence figures cannot be provided for any year prior to that.

Full-person-equivalent1 First Degree qualifiers in computer games subjects

UK Higher Education Institutions

Academic years 2012/13 to 2018/19

Academic Year

Number of qualifiers in computer games subjects2

2012/13

595

2013/14

625

2014/15

690

2015/16

900

2016/17

1,290

2017/18

1,265

2018/19

1,380

Source: DfE analysis of the HESA Student Record.

  1. Counts are on the basis of full-person-equivalents. Where a student is studying more than one subject, they are apportioned between the subjects that make up their course. Figures have been rounded to the nearest 5, in line with HESA rounding conventions: https://www.hesa.ac.uk/support/definitions/students#rounding-and-suppression-strategy.
  2. Qualifiers in Games (principal category I6 of the Joint Academic Coding System (JACS)), which includes Games, Computer games programming, Computer game design and Computer games graphics. This code is only available since the introduction of the third version of JACS in 2012/13. More information on JACS codes can be found at the following link: https://www.hesa.ac.uk/support/documentation/jacs.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many laptops have been (a) requested and (b) sent to schools in (i) Stoke-on-Trent and (ii) Staffordshire during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department is investing over £300 million to help schools and young people in England continue their education at home and access online social care. Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department has already delivered over 560,000 laptops and tablets for disadvantaged pupils who would not otherwise have access to a digital device.

The Department is adding to this support by making a further 440,000 devices available, bringing the total to over a million laptops and tablets available to support disadvantaged pupils that might experience disruption to their education. This scheme is continually reviewed to ensure that support is offered in the most effective way.

The laptops and tablets are an injection of support to help schools, academy trusts and local authorities to provide access to remote education and online social care. Schools, academy trusts and local authorities are responsible for distributing the laptops and tablets and are best placed to know which children and young people need access to a device.

As of December 2020, data on devices can be viewed here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/946954/Devices_and_4G_wireless_routers_data_as_of_December.pdf. This includes 235 devices delivered or dispatched to local authority-maintained schools in Stoke-on-Trent and 769 devices delivered or dispatched to local authority-maintained schools in Staffordshire. The Department has also delivered devices to academy trusts in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire in addition to those delivered to local authority-maintained schools.

Where schools need additional devices, they should contact the Department for Education’s service team at covid.technology@education.gov.uk. They should include the number of children in Years 3 to 11 who require support and an explanation of how they have gathered this evidence.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to recruit additional exam invigilators for the 2021 exam series.

The Government has announced that, from 5 January 2021, schools and colleges have moved to remote provision, except for vulnerable children and children of critical workers.

The Department will therefore not be asking students to sit GCSE, AS and A level exams this summer as planned. Ofqual, with the department, will launch a consultation shortly which seeks views on how to fairly award all pupils with a grade that ensures they can progress to the next stage of their lives. This will be based on teacher assessment, with training and support provided to ensure grades are awarded fairly and consistently.

Further details on the delivery of assessment in 2021 will be available in due course.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help enable youth clubs to re-open to support vulnerable young people during the covid-19 outbreak.

Ensuring continued access to support services and education for vulnerable children and young people remains a priority for the government. As such we have ensured that essential youth services, such as one-to-one youth work and support groups, are able to continue for the duration of the national lockdown, and that vulnerable children can continue to access childcare and other out-of-school activities (including wraparound care) during the national lockdown.

We will shortly be updating our guidance for providers of after-school and holiday clubs and other out-of-school settings on the measures providers should put in place if they continue to offer face-to-face provision for the eligible children during the national lockdown, to ensure they are operating as safely as possible. This is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/protective-measures-for-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

We are acutely aware of the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak has had on young people and the vital role our youth services play. That is why more than £60 million of the unprecedented £750 million package for the voluntary and charity sector has been directed towards organisations supporting children and young people. More recently, a £16.5 million ‘Youth Covid-19 Support Fund’ has been announced, which will protect the immediate future of grassroots and national youth organisations across the country. A link to the article can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-165-million-youth-covid-19-support-fund. This is on top of £200 million government investment in early intervention and prevention support initiatives to support children and young people at risk of exploitation and involvement in serious violence, through the ‘Youth Endowment Fund’.

In addition, the ‘Youth Investment Fund’ remains a manifesto commitment for transformative levelling up across the country over the course of the parliament. In the recently announced Spending Review, £30 million of this was committed as capital investment for the 2021/22 financial year. This will provide a transformational investment in new and refurbished safe spaces for young people, so they can access support youth workers, and positive activities out of school, including sport and culture.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to prepare for the wave 15 announcement from the free schools programme.

The free schools programme was established to deliver choice, innovation and higher standards for parents. Free schools have delivered tens of thousands of high quality school places across the country. We will announce the outcome of wave 14 soon, to enable successful applications to begin work towards opening these much needed schools. Funding for further free school approvals will be considered at the next Spending Review.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help children and young people in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire to catch up on the education they missed during the 2019-20 school year as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises that children and young people have had their education disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Government has committed to a £1 billion catch-up package to directly tackle the impact of lost teaching time on children in England.

The catch-up premium, worth £650 million, provides universal funding which is delivered in three payments to schools over the 2020/21 academic year. The Department’s expectation is that this funding will be spent on the additional activities required to support pupils to catch up in their education.?To help schools make the best use of this funding, the Education Endowment Foundation has published a support guide for schools with evidence-based approaches to catch up: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/covid-19-support-guide-for-schools/#nav-covid-19-support-guide-for-schools1. A further school planning guide: 2020 to 2021 is also available: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/guide-to-supporting-schools-planning/.

The attached table shows the amount of catch-up premium funding that has been provisionally allocated to the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent local authorities for the 2020/21 academic year. These allocations are based on the published rates and school census data from October 2019. The final allocations will be re-calculated once the October 2020 school census data is available.

Alongside this, the catch-up package includes a new £350 million National Tutoring Programme (NTP) for disadvantaged pupils aged 5 – 16. This scheme will provide additional, targeted support for disadvantaged pupils who need the most help to catch up. The programme has two pillars which can be accessed by schools. Firstly, schools will be able to access high quality, subsidised tuition from a selection of approved Tuition Partners. The Partners will offer a variety of tuition approaches, including online and face-to-face, and the cost of tutoring will be subsidised by the Department by 75%. Schools can access Tuition Partner support here: https://nationaltutoring.org.uk/ntp-tuition-partners.

The second pillar of NTP supports schools in the most disadvantaged areas to employ in-house academic mentors who can provide small group and one-to-one tuition to selected pupils. Eligible schools can request academic mentors. The first cohort saw 188 mentors start in schools on 2 November, and a further two cohorts will follow in January and February 2021. If schools in Staffordshire or Stoke-on-Trent would like to register interest for a mentor, they can do so here: https://www.teachfirst.org.uk/hire-academic-mentors.

To minimise the risk of further lost education, the Department has put in place measures to help ensure children have access to high quality remote education if they are unable to attend school in person, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This will benefit children across the country, including those in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.

To help schools and further education colleges meet remote education expectations, the Department put in place a support package which can be accessed through the remote education service: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19. The support package includes access to the right technology to deliver remote education, peer to peer training and guidance on how to use this effectively in the short and long term, and practical tools, good practice guidance and school-led webinars to support effective delivery of the curriculum.

Additionally, over 340,000 laptops and tablets are being made available this term to support disadvantaged children in Year 3 to 11 whose face-to-face education may be disrupted. This supplements over 220,000 laptops and tablets and over 50,000 4G wireless routers which have already been delivered to schools in England during the summer term.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of students enrolled at further education colleges.

Further education (FE) colleges are vital to the post-16 education sector and we are taking forward an exciting and ambitious reform programme to level up the FE sector, ensuring it becomes a powerhouse that supplies the skills employers need, and equips young people and adults with the skills they need to have productive and fulfilling careers.

Under Raising the Participation Age, all young people in England are required to continue in education or training until their 18th birthday and many will undertake that at FE colleges. Local authorities have duties to track young people in their area and support those not in education, employment or training (NEET) in finding a suitable way to participate, including through referring to FE provision.

FE colleges are key to the delivery of T Levels. T Levels represent the biggest reform of post-16 education since A levels were first introduced 70 years ago and will give 16-19 year olds a genuine, high quality alternative to the academic route.

As part of the new £2.5 million National Skills Fund to help adults learn valuable skills and prepare for the economy of the future, we will be fully funding adults to gain their first Level 3 qualifications. We will target this Level 3 entitlement on areas with high economic value and the strongest alignment with government priorities, to ensure the best possible returns for individuals, employers and the nation. FE colleges will be key to delivery of this provision.

As part of my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s, Plan for Jobs announced in July, we are investing £101 million in a brand new offer to give 18 and 19 year old school and college leavers the opportunity to study high value Level 2 and 3 courses when there are no employment opportunities available to them.

We have reformed and improved careers advice in schools, which are now under a duty to allow providers of apprenticeships and technical education into schools to help pupils understand about the options available to them.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to increase (a) recruitment and (b) retention of teachers in Stoke-on-Trent.

It is a top priority of the Government to ensure the whole country has a strong teaching workforce. In January 2019, the Department launched the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy. Whilst implementation of these commitments will support all schools, the Department recognises that some schools and local areas face greater challenges with recruitment and retention than others.

To supplement the national strategy, we are delivering targeted programmes to support recruitment and retention in challenging areas, including funding a range of regionally targeted financial incentives. For example, in financial years 2017 to 2019, £20 million of scholarship funding was made available to support teachers and head teachers in certain areas to take up a National Professional Qualification to support their professional development. Teachers and head teachers in schools in Stoke-on-Trent were eligible for this funding.

Stoke-on-Trent is also one of the areas where eligible mathematics and physics teachers can claim a £2,000 retention payment in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 academic years. Eligible mathematics, physics, chemistry, and languages teachers in Stoke-on-Trent can apply for larger early-career payments of £7,500. Finally, Stoke-on-Trent is one of 25 local authorities where eligible languages, physics, chemistry, biology, and computing teachers can claim back student loan repayments.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that schools in (a) Stoke-on-Trent, (b) Kidsgrove and (c) Talke receive equitable levels of funding under the National Funding Formula.

The National Funding Formula (NFF), introduced in the 2018/19 financial year, ensures that funding is distributed fairly and consistently based on the characteristics of schools and their pupils. This has replaced the postcode lottery of the past, where funding was based on out-of-date decisions and data.

Stoke-on-Trent local authority is receiving 3.4% more per pupil under the NFF in the 2021-22 financial year, compared to 2020/21. This amounts to £8 million, taking total school funding in the area to £191 million. This is above the national average per-pupil increase.

Local authorities currently remain responsible for determining schools’ final allocations, using the funding they receive through the NFF. The funding that schools in Kidsgrove and Talke receive, from the total available to Stoke-on-Trent, will therefore be determined by the local school funding formula. The Government is committed to move to a ‘hard’ NFF in future, which will determine individual schools’ budgets directly rather than through local formulae set independently by each local authority. We will consult on proposals to that end in due course.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking the help ensure that universities can deliver safe (a) teaching and (b) student services during the covid-19 outbreak.

The safety and wellbeing of staff and students in higher education (HE) is always our priority. The government is doing all it can to minimise the risks to those working and studying in our HE providers in this unprecedented situation, while mitigating the impact on education.

We have drawn on the expertise of the HE taskforce that we set up, and we have been providing robust public health advice and regular updates to the HE sector to help providers to plan carefully to keep students and staff as safe as possible.

We have also updated our guidance for providers on reopening campuses, which provides advice on teaching, accommodation and services to students. Our guidance takes account of the latest scientific advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, which has been considering the risks of re-opening HE providers. The guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses. As with all of our education settings, we continue to monitor the situation closely and follow the latest scientific advice, adapting policies as the situation changes.

We have worked with universities to ensure that they all have response plans for the COVID-19 outbreak. These have been or are being agreed with local Directors of Public Health. The plans cover a range of scenarios and ensure that providers are prepared to respond quickly to an outbreak in their university or wider community.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps his Department has taken to help ensure that adults in (a) Stoke-on-Trent, (b) Kidsgrove and (c) Talke can access education throughout their lives.

The government appreciates the importance of adult education to improving people’s life chances across all areas of the country.

To better equip people to use digital tools and to adapt to the social distancing measures of COVID-19 the government launched The Skills Toolkit in April 2020. This offers a wide-range of digital and numeracy courses for all skills levels.

Starting this Parliament, we are providing £2.5 billion (£3 billion when including Barnett funding for devolved administrations), for the National Skills Fund to help adults learn valuable skills and prepare for the economy of the future. We are continuing to engage closely with local areas and stakeholders and remain committed to consulting on aspects of the fund, to ensure that we develop a fund that helps adults learn valuable skills and prepare for the future economy.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, recently announced that for adults over the age of 23, who do not currently have a level 3 qualification, the government will be funding their first full level 3 through the National Skills Fund. We will target this level 3 entitlement at areas with economic value and the strongest alignment with government priorities, to ensure the best possible returns for individuals, employers and the nation.

The Prime Minister, also announced the launch of digital bootcamps, in 6 areas, to support local regions and employers to fill in-demand vacancies. The bootcamp training courses will provide valuable skills, based on employer demand, and will offer a fast track to a job interview on completion. Pending the success of the initial bootcamps, we are planning to expand the bootcamps to more of the country from Spring 2021 and we want to extend this model to include other technical skills training.

We are also continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) (£1.34 billion in 2020/21). The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above, from pre-entry to level 3, to support adults to gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship or further learning. This includes: fully funded courses in English and Mathematics (for adults who need to improve their literacy and numeracy), fully funded first full level 2 and level 3 for learners aged between 19 and 23 and fully funded specified digital skills qualifications for adults with no/low digital skills.

The AEB enables more flexible and tailored programmes of learning to be made available, which may or may not require a qualification, to help eligible learners engage in learning, build confidence and enhance their wellbeing.

We are looking carefully at further education funding in preparation for the forthcoming Spending Review.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support young people into (a) apprenticeships and (b) training during the covid-19 pandemic.

Apprenticeships are a great way for young people to start their careers, giving them the opportunity to earn while they learn, and will be more important than ever in helping businesses to recruit the right people and develop the skills they need to recover and grow, both now and in the long-term. Through our ‘Plan for Jobs’ a total of £1.6 billion is to be invested in scaling up employment support schemes, training and apprenticeships, with a particular focus on young people.

We recognise that employers of all sizes currently face significant challenges. To help support employers to offer apprenticeships to young people, employers are now able to claim £2,000 for every new apprentice they hire under the age of 25, in recognition of the particular impacts of Covid-19 on the employment prospects of this group. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment we already provide for new 16-18-year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan.

We are also making an additional £111 million available to triple the scale of traineeships in 2020-21, and have extended eligibility to include young people with level 3 qualifications, to ensure more young people have access to high-quality training. We have also announced £101 million for a brand new offer to give 18 and 19-year-old school and college leavers the opportunity to study high value Level 2 and 3 courses when there are not employment opportunities available to them.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help support universities increase the number of places available to students in the forthcoming academic year.

I have written directly to all Vice Chancellors and have set up a Higher Education Taskforce so the government can work with the sector to build capacity, harness expert views, tackle challenges and ensure that the vast majority of students who want to go to university this year can do so. Together we have agreed that all students who achieved the required grades will be offered a place at their first-choice university, wherever possible.

The government has already taken a number of steps to support universities and students to achieve this goal.

The department has announced that, subject to parliamentary approval, we will completely remove temporary student number controls to help ensure there are no additional barriers to students being able to progress.

We have lifted caps on domestic medicine and dentistry courses in the next academic year and we are supporting providers to offer places to as many students who have met the grades for their current offer as they have physical capacity for and, where there are clinical placements available, through additional grant funding to support the costs of this provision. Health Education England and the Office for Students (OfS) will be contacting all medical and dental schools to discuss their capacity to take on additional students in the 2020/21 academic year.

Additional teaching grant funding will also be provided to increase capacity in medical, nursing, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and other high-cost subjects which are vital to the country’s social needs and economy. All high-cost subjects, which already receive additional funding from the OfS, will potentially see further increases where there is an unexpectedly high distribution of students. The OfS will consult the sector on the details of how the allocations are made.

We are also working across government and with the sector to consider options that we could make available to students so that, if they defer their place, they have a full and varied range of career enriching opportunities to develop their skillset and support their future development.

We will continue to monitor the situation and consider the effects that deferrals will have on future years. Funding decisions for future years will be taken at the Spending Review.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to close the attainment gap between students from disadvantaged backgrounds and those from more affluent areas.

All children have had their education disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak, but it is likely that disadvantaged and vulnerable groups will have been hardest hit and initial analysis suggests that the attainment gap has widened. The government has announced a catch-up package worth £1 billion, including a ‘Catch-Up Premium’ worth a total of £650 million to support schools to make up for lost teaching time. To help schools make the best use of this funding, the Education Endowment Foundation has published a support guide for schools which is available here:
https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/national-tutoring-programme/covid-19-support-guide-for-schools/#nav-covid-19-support-guide-for-schools1.

The guidance includes evidence-based approaches to catch up for all students and a further school planning guide for 2020-21, which is available here:
https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/guide-to-supporting-schools-planning/.

Alongside this universal grant, a National Tutoring Programme worth £350 million will deliver proven, successful interventions to the most disadvantaged young people. Research shows high-quality individual and small group tuition can add up to 5 months of progress for disadvantaged pupils.

Schools will continue to receive the pupil premium every quarter. Each school’s original pupil premium strategy may have not been met since March and the pupils’ needs may have changed or intensified. We recommend that, as part of the planning for needs-based universal catch up, school leaders review their pupil premium strategy and amend it to reflect the new situation from September.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department is providing to universities to help mitigate financial pressures as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

The government has announced a package of measures which combines different ways to give further support to providers at this time of financial pressure. We have pulled forward an estimated £2.6 billion worth of forecast tuition fee payments to ease cashflow pressure this autumn. We are also bringing forward quality-related research funding for higher education providers in England in the current academic year by £100 million.

This is on top of the unprecedented package of support for businesses already announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and a range of business loan schemes, to help pay wages, keep staff employed and support businesses whose viability is threatened by the COVID-19 outbreak. We have confirmed higher education providers’ eligibility to apply for these schemes.

The government has also announced a further package of support to universities and other research organisations to enable them to continue their research and innovation activities. This includes £280 million of government funding, as well as a package of low-interest loans with long pay-back periods, supplemented by a small amount of government grants. In sharing responsibility for the future of science and research with our world-leading university system, from the autumn, the government will 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.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced further information about the Higher Education Restructuring Regime on 16 July. This may be deployed as a last resort, if a decision has been made to support a provider in England, when other steps to preserve a provider’s viability and mitigate the risks of financial failure have not proved sufficient.

The overarching objectives which will guide the department’s assessment of cases will be protecting the welfare of current students, preserving the sector’s internationally outstanding science base and supporting the role that higher education providers play in regional and local economies through providing high quality courses aligned with economic and societal needs.

We will consider providers’ circumstances on a case-by-case basis, supported by expert advice, to ensure there is a robust value-for-money case for intervention, with support for restructuring in the form of repayable loans coming from public funds as a last resort and with strict conditions that align with wider government objectives.

We are working closely with the sector, the Office for Students (OfS) and across the government to understand the financial risks that providers are facing, and help providers access the support on offer. The OfS stated that one of its key priorities during the outbreak is to support the financial sustainability of the sector.

Providers with concerns about their financial viability or sustainability have been encouraged to contact the OfS at the earliest opportunity. Considering the outbreak, the OfS has enhanced its financial sustainability reporting to identify sector and short-term viability risks to individual providers, as well as patterns across the sector.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the importance of ensuring school uniform retailers maintain year-round availability of uniform to pupils.

It is for the governing body of a school (or in the case of academies, the academy trust) to decide whether there should be a school uniform policy and what it should be.

To support them to do this, the Department has issued best practice guidance, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-uniform. This makes clear that high priority must be given to cost considerations.

Governing bodies should be able to demonstrate that they have obtained the best value for money from suppliers. Governing bodies should also consider the available supply sources and year round availability of the proposed uniform.

The Government supports the recently introduced Private Members’ Bill to ‘Make provision for guidance about the cost aspects of school uniform policies’, which will place a duty on the Secretary of State to issue statutory guidance pertaining to cost aspects of school uniform policies.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the importance of maintaining school autonomy when developing policy on school uniform.

It is for the governing body of a school (or in the case of academies, the academy trust) to decide whether there should be a school uniform policy and what it should be.

To support them to do this, the Department has issued best practice guidance, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-uniform. This makes clear that high priority must be given to cost considerations.

Governing bodies should be able to demonstrate that they have obtained the best value for money from suppliers. Governing bodies should also consider the available supply sources and year round availability of the proposed uniform.

The Government supports the recently introduced Private Members’ Bill to ‘Make provision for guidance about the cost aspects of school uniform policies’, which will place a duty on the Secretary of State to issue statutory guidance pertaining to cost aspects of school uniform policies.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that (a) quality, (b) sustainability and (c) cost considerations are prioritised in school uniform policy.

It is for the governing body of a school (or in the case of academies, the academy trust) to decide whether there should be a school uniform policy and what it should be.

To support them to do this, the Department has issued best practice guidance, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-uniform. This makes clear that high priority must be given to cost considerations.

Governing bodies should be able to demonstrate that they have obtained the best value for money from suppliers. Governing bodies should also consider the available supply sources and year round availability of the proposed uniform.

The Government supports the recently introduced Private Members’ Bill to ‘Make provision for guidance about the cost aspects of school uniform policies’, which will place a duty on the Secretary of State to issue statutory guidance pertaining to cost aspects of school uniform policies.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that no child misses time in education this year as a result of local lockdowns.

It is the Government’s intention that all pupils, in all year groups, return to school full time for the autumn term. On 2 July, the Department published guidance to support schools to do this. While our aim is to have all pupils back at school in the autumn, every school will need to plan for the possibility of a local lockdown and how they will ensure continuity of education.

In local areas where restrictions have been implemented (from national direction), we anticipate that education and childcare will usually remain fully open to all. There may be exceptional circumstances in which some level of restriction to education or childcare is required in a local area. In those situations, local and national partners will carefully consider which tier of restriction, as set out in the Department of Health and Social Care’s Contain Framework, is the most appropriate to implement. The framework is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/containing-and-managing-local-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreaks/covid-19-contain-framework-a-guide-for-local-decision-makers#annex-3-tiers-of-national-restriction.

The aim will be to retain as much face to face education and access to childcare as possible. These tiers of restriction will ensure that extensive limitations on education and childcare are a last resort, and that full time onsite provision is available for vulnerable children and children of critical workers in all cases.

Where a class, group or small number of pupils need to self-isolate, or there is a local lockdown requiring pupils to remain at home, we expect schools to have the capacity to offer immediate remote education. Schools are expected to consider how to continue to improve the quality of their existing offer and have a strong contingency plan in place for remote education provision by the end of September. Further information to support schools is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress his Department has made on the Review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below in England.

The review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below, alongside the development of T Levels, is central to building a world-class technical education system. The first stage of the qualifications review consultation ran from March to June 2019. The second stage consultation is due to be published later in 2020. The review is looking at complex questions about the range of qualifications needed at post-16 and we want to take the time to get this right. We are taking a number of steps in advance of this to drive up quality and reduce complexity in the system.

From 1 August 2020, we will withdraw funding approval for new starts on 163 older qualifications that have been superseded by newer more rigorous versions. From 1 September 2020, we will not approve new qualifications for funding for students aged 16 and above, to stabilise the publicly funded offer in advance of further reform. We have also, this year, started the process to remove public funding approval of qualifications with low or no publicly funded enrolments. Subject to the outcomes of this process, from August 2021 we will remove funding approval for qualifications with no publicly funded enrolments; and from August 2022 we will remove funding approval for qualifications with low numbers of publicly funded enrolments, unless doing so would have a significant adverse impact on a particular sector, geographical area or student group.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to protect children and young people online during the covid-19 outbreak.

At this deeply challenging time, it has been so important that people, especially children, have been able to stay in touch online, but that they be able to do so safely. We have worked with the National Crime Agency, UK Safer Internet Centre, Internet Matters, NSPCC and many other experts to provide detailed guidance to support schools and colleges to keep children safe online, whether in the classroom or learning from home, and advice and signposting to high quality resources for parents and carers to support them and their families.

Our latest guidance on protecting children and young people online is set out below:

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

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department is providing to vulnerable children in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Kidsgrove during the covid-19 outbreak.

We are taking a number of actions to ensure vulnerable children and young people across the country are supported and protected during COVID-19, including in Stoke-on-Trent and Kidsgrove. We have prioritised vulnerable children’s attendance in early years, schools and colleges throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, and supported local areas to improve attendance rates.

We have also ensured that local authorities can continue to support vulnerable children through the provision of an additional £3.2 billion to cope with COVID-19 related pressures, including in children’s social care. To support contact, we are providing laptops and tablets to children with a social worker who do not have access to a device otherwise, either privately or through school. We are also providing 4G wireless routers to children with a social worker at secondary school in order to support them to maintain contact with their social worker and/or access remote education independently at home. The department is working to provide these devices in the shortest possible timeframe; deliveries to schools and local authorities began in May and have continued throughout June. As of 14 June, we have shipped over 100,000 laptops and 20,000 4G routers, including 1,433 to Stoke-on-Trent local authority for children with a social worker and care leavers and 1,588 to Staffordshire local authority for children with a social worker and care leavers, where Kidsgrove is situated.

We have supported charities that provide vital services that are helping vulnerable children and young people. This includes providing £1.6 million for the NSPCC to expand its helpline so that adults can report their concerns about any child’s wellbeing. We have invested more than £7 million to Barnardo’s for the See, Hear, Respond service that offers targeted help to vulnerable children, young people and their families affected by COVID-19 with measures put in place to stop its spread. The Vulnerable Children National Charities Strategic Relief Fund opened in June, and is a £7.6 million joint Department for Education and Home Office fund for national children’s charities that offer services to safeguard vulnerable children that have financially suffered due to the impact of COVID-19. We have also announced more than £12 million for 14 innovation projects in social services, each taking a holistic, family-based approach to addressing the increased risk some children and young people are facing.

As well as these actions across the country, the department has also established Regional Education and Children’s Teams (REACT) to provide additional support to education and children’s services in local areas, with the one for West Midlands covering Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, which includes Kidsgrove. These teams, which include support from Ofsted, have a particular focus on improving vulnerable children’s attendance at education, safeguarding and wellbeing.

The department is also continuing to provide funding to the Stoke-on-Trent Opportunity Area to provide support for vulnerable families across the city affected by COVID-19. This has allowed for the provision of academic resources for young people so they can continue to engage with education, and activities during the school holidays. The department’s delivery partner – The Hubb Foundation – also provides weekly food parcels for vulnerable families in need of support. Between April 2020 and June 2020, the Hubb Foundation delivered 70,740 individual meals and engaged with 19,839 people, of whom 11, 789 were children, and delivered food and activities in 32 schools across the city.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the need for a free school in Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke as a result of local secondary schools being over capacity.

Currently, the Department has not received any applications for a free school in Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke.

The Department has received two applications in the current application wave (wave 14) for new secondary schools elsewhere in Stoke-on-Trent local authority.

In addition, we will welcome applications from all areas where there is a need for good quality school places in future free school application waves. The timing of those waves will be confirmed in due course.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps his Department has taken to protect teachers from physical and verbal abuse in the course of their work.

Good behaviour in school is crucial if children are to learn and reach their full potential. As well as delivering excellent teaching, schools should be calm, safe and disciplined environments free from the low-level disruption that prevents pupils from learning. All schools are required by law to have a behaviour policy which outlines measures to encourage good behaviour, and the sanctions that will be imposed for misbehaviour. This should be communicated to all pupils, school staff and parents. Behaviour is a key element against which schools are assessed during Ofsted inspections.

Abuse of any kind is unacceptable, and this includes abuse of staff, whether by pupils, parents or colleagues. Schools have a duty of care to their staff and should address and resolve issues of abuse that teachers face. If teachers feel they have been subjected to abuse, they should report it to their employer and if necessary the police.

The Department is committed to backing heads and teachers to enforce discipline, and we have given teachers a range of powers to promote good behaviour and discipline misbehaviour. We have extended teachers’ searching powers and have allowed them to impose same day detentions.?We have also made clear that teachers can use reasonable force where appropriate.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to improve air quality in Stoke-on-Trent.

The Joint Air Quality Unit has provided funding and support to, and continues to work closely with, Stoke-on-Trent Council as they develop plans to tackle their nitrogen dioxide exceedances. Air Quality Ministers from both Defra and the Department for Transport have met Stoke-on-Trent councillors and hon. Members several times over the past 12 months to hear their views on how best to deal with the air quality problem in the Potteries.

Stoke has also received funding of over £34 million from the Transforming Cities Fund to develop and improve transport across the city, some of which is earmarked for active travel schemes to help improve air quality for the city’s residents.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to increase access to green spaces in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

Defra recognises the crucial importance of having good access to green spaces for people's health and well-being. The 25 Year Environment Plan sets out our comprehensive and long-term approach to protecting and enhancing our natural landscapes in England for the next generation, and to helping people improve their health and wellbeing by using green spaces.

The £12.1m Trees for Climate programme will plant over 500 hectares of trees in ten Community Forests between December 2020 and May 2021. When mature, the trees will eventually store over 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, reduce flood risk, increase sustainable UK grown timber, provide more places for nature and biodiversity to thrive, and increase people's access to and enjoyment of woodland. The Forest of Mercia, which covers Staffordshire and the West Midlands, is one of the Community Forests which will carry out the planting.

There are also a wide range of initiatives within Defra which are helping to increase access to green spaces across the whole of England. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Green Recovery Challenge Fund
  • Green Social Prescribing Project
  • Responding to the Glover Review of protected landscapes
  • Nature for Climate Fund
  • Development of environmental land management schemes
Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to support Chester zoo during the covid-19 outbreak.

A number of schemes have been made available to businesses and charities that should help them during this emergency. Zoos are eligible to apply for the Job Retention Scheme, VAT deferral, Business Rates Relief, the Business Interruption Loan schemes, the option to reclaim the costs of Statutory Sick Pay and grant funding of up to £25,000.

The Zoos Support Fund was launched on 4 May with £14 million being made available to zoos in England. In response to feedback from the zoo industry the fund will now be extended to provide support to the sector of up to £100 million. Further details on the new scheme and eligibility will be released over the coming weeks. We will be engaging with some of the major zoos and aquariums, including Chester Zoo, to assess future support options.

In England, zoos and aquariums have been able to reopen outdoor areas since 15 June, subject to social distancing measures being in place. From 4 July indoor areas such as cafés and exhibits will be able to follow suit. Allowing zoos to fully reopen is a vital step towards enabling them to cover some of the cost of animal care.

We continue to work with BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) to monitor concerns and gather insights from industry on current issues.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that financially vulnerable people in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire have access to (i) food and (ii) other necessities.

We have received £16 million from a DCMS funding pot to help critical front-line services ensure that vulnerable people have the food that they need. We are working with FareShare and the Waste Resource Action Programme (WRAP) to deliver this, as well as other charitable organisations through the COVID-19 Food Charity Grant Scheme. They will use surplus food and purchased food from the supply chain to help at least 5,000 front-line charities, covering England and rural areas.

An additional £63 million has been confirmed by the Government to be distributed to local authorities in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to coronavirus.

Local authorities are already working hard to support those who are vulnerable and this additional funding will contribute to that work.

Many have existing mechanisms to provide this support in a way that suits the needs of their community. This includes provision of cash payments, food vouchers, or alternative means of support. We are currently finalising the amounts to be allocated to different Local Authorities.

This funding will sit alongside the £6.5 billion of extra support the Government is providing through the welfare system to ensure the most vulnerable in our society are protected throughout this crisis.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to increase the rate of tree planting in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

Working with the Devolved Administrations, we are committed to significantly increasing tree planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025, in line with the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendations. We announced a £640 million Nature for Climate Fund to help drive up planting rates in England.

To support this, we have opened a consultation on an England Tree Strategy and welcome responses from the forestry sector and wider public. Responses will help us to understand what more could be done to encourage even more tree planting. Within this we hope to empower local communities, generating local support for, and where possible participation in, afforestation at a new scale.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to promote British food producers based in Staffordshire.

I am proud that, year after year, our farmers and food producers provide outstanding produce to high environmental standards. It is thanks to them that the UK has acquired a strong reputation for exceptional quality food and drink, produced to high standards of food safety, animal welfare and sustainability. Staffordshire is no exception to this, with its excellent food and drink, including, of course, Staffordshire Cheese, which has its own Geographical Indication.

The entire Agri-Food sector, from farm to fork, contributed £121 billion to the UK economy in 2018 and supports approximately 4 million jobs (14% of national employment). Our goal is to strengthen our support to increase demand for these products further, so that more people buy British both at home and abroad.

We welcome efforts from all parts of the food chain to promote and source British products and I am aware that supermarkets are already taking steps to do so. The Secretary of State also has regular discussions with supermarkets, retailers and other stakeholders in the food and drink industry covering a wide range of issues.

This week, Defra and the Department for International Trade have launched a package of support that will offer immediate support to help agriculture, food and drink businesses grow their trade activity overseas. This will help producers, manufacturers and agri-tech companies across the food supply chain, from farm to fork, and has been developed with insight from the devolved administrations, trade associations, businesses and DIT’s regional and international networks.

We are also working closely with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) as they develop consumer-facing marketing campaigns for the meat and dairy sectors. We will continue to engage with and support similar initiatives that highlight the qualities of British meat, dairy, and fruit and vegetable products, such as those produced in Staffordshire. We will always champion British food producers and want people to value local produce.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that financially vulnerable people have access to the food and necessities that they need in (a) Stoke-on-Trent, (b) Kidsgrove and (c) Talke.

We have received £16 million from a DCMS funding pot to help critical front-line services ensure that vulnerable people have the food that they need. We are working with FareShare and the Waste Resource Action Programme (WRAP) to deliver this, as well as other charitable organisations through the COVID-19 Food Charity Grant Scheme. They will use surplus food and purchased food from the supply chain to help at least 5,000 front-line charities, covering England and rural areas.

An additional £63 million has been confirmed by the Government to be distributed to local authorities in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to coronavirus.

Local authorities are already working hard to support those who are vulnerable and this additional funding will contribute to that work.

Many have existing mechanisms to provide this support in a way that suits the needs of their community. This includes provision of cash payments, food vouchers, or alternative means of support. We are currently finalising the amounts to be allocated to different Local Authorities.

This funding will sit alongside the £6.5 billion of extra support the Government is providing through the welfare system to ensure the most vulnerable in our society are protected throughout this crisis.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what discussions she has had with her international counterparts on reports of incitement to violence in the online version of the Palestinian Authority school curriculum used by students at home as a result of school closures during the covid-19 pandemic.

The UK government is deeply concerned about allegations of incitement in the Palestinian Authority’s curriculum. ?We are pleased that the Palestinian Authority is undertaking a review of its textbooks and updating them for the new academic year.

The UK has been at the forefront of international action to get to the bottom of allegations. We secured agreement from European partners to commission the Georg Eckert Institute to conduct an independent review, which is currently underway. The scope of the Review was set before the COVID-19 crisis and it does not cover online teaching arrangements put in place by the Palestinian Authority while schools are closed. Any changes to its scope would be a matter for Georg Eckert Institute and our European Partners. We have not had specific discussions with our international counterparts on the Palestinian Authority’s online curriculum. Ministers have regularly raised the issue of incitement in the education sector with the PA’s Minister for Education,?which the Secretary of State did most recently in February this year.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, whether the Georg Eckert Institute review of the Palestinian curriculum will include the online lessons by Palestinian Authority teachers during the covid-19 pandemic.

The UK government is deeply concerned about allegations of incitement in the Palestinian Authority’s curriculum. ?We are pleased that the Palestinian Authority is undertaking a review of its textbooks and updating them for the new academic year.

The UK has been at the forefront of international action to get to the bottom of allegations. We secured agreement from European partners to commission the Georg Eckert Institute to conduct an independent review, which is currently underway. The scope of the Review was set before the COVID-19 crisis and it does not cover online teaching arrangements put in place by the Palestinian Authority while schools are closed. Any changes to its scope would be a matter for Georg Eckert Institute and our European Partners. We have not had specific discussions with our international counterparts on the Palestinian Authority’s online curriculum. Ministers have regularly raised the issue of incitement in the education sector with the PA’s Minister for Education,?which the Secretary of State did most recently in February this year.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of reports that a Palestinian Authority teacher recently gave 10-year-olds an online reading comprehension lesson glorifying the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi.

The UK government is deeply concerned about allegations of incitement in the Palestinian Authority’s curriculum. ?We are pleased that the Palestinian Authority is undertaking a review of its textbooks and updating them for the new academic year.

The UK has been at the forefront of international action to get to the bottom of allegations. We secured agreement from European partners to commission the Georg Eckert Institute to conduct an independent review, which is currently underway. The scope of the Review was set before the COVID-19 crisis and it does not cover online teaching arrangements put in place by the Palestinian Authority while schools are closed. Any changes to its scope would be a matter for Georg Eckert Institute and our European Partners. We have not had specific discussions with our international counterparts on the Palestinian Authority’s online curriculum. Ministers have regularly raised the issue of incitement in the education sector with the PA’s Minister for Education,?which the Secretary of State did most recently in February this year.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what recent assessment she has made of the compliance with Article 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child of the reported use of Palestinian Authority school textbooks containing antisemitic and extremist content.

The UK government is deeply concerned about the allegations of incitement in Palestinian Authority’s school textbooks. The International Development Secretary reiterated our concerns in a call to the Palestinian Authority’s Education Minister just last month.

The UK has been at the forefront of international action to get to the bottom of the allegations. We funded work to develop the methodology for an independent textbook Review sponsored by our European partners. We expect an interim report in June, with a full report later in the year. We have regular discussions with our European Partners on the Review.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps her Department has taken to promote investment into the UK economy.

The UK is a leading destination for foreign investment; second in the world for inward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stocks with $2.1 trillion, behind the USA in 2019.

In 2019/20, the Department for International Trade provided support for 1,449 FDI projects, creating almost 45,000 new jobs and safeguarding a further 8,000. In November 2020 the Prime Minister announced a new Office for Investment within the Department, but under the sponsorship of 10 Downing Street, to support strategic investment. We are also prioritising regional investment and growth through our High Potential Opportunities Programme.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps her Department has taken to ensure that SMEs in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire can benefit from future free trade agreements.

The Department is providing tailored regional activity to ensure Small & Medium Enterprises (SME’s) can fully benefit from the opportunities that Free Trade Agreements provide. In Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, we have added resources through our Midlands-based regional teams to manage this activity. We have recruited a dedicated International Trade Adviser (ITA) within the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to work with the LEP on their strategic trade priorities and on promoting the benefits of all future trade agreements. We also founded the Export Academy to provide businesses with the knowledge, skills, and tools to develop and export plan and implement it. Future activity will focus on a combination of online offerings, trade missions, and direct one-to-one support from our dedicated team of 6 International Trade Advisers that cover Stoke and Staffordshire.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what progress she has made in securing a free trade agreement with the US.

The fourth UK-US Free Trade Agreement negotiating round took place from 8 September to 18 September 2020. A Written Ministerial Statement was published on 22 September 2020, updating parliament on the progress of the round.

Significant progress has been achieved since launching negotiations in May 2020, and talks are at an advanced stage. Negotiators are now in the process of consolidating texts in most chapters.

Shortly before the 4th negotiating round both sides exchanged their first tariff offers, allowing a series of detailed market access discussions to be held during the round- a notable milestone which demonstrates momentum.

In parallel to the negotiations, the International Trade Secretary held a series of key meetings with the United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer. They share an ambition for a comprehensive trade agreement. The UK has been clear there is no set deadline for agreeing a deal.

In total, 162 sessions have been held over four negotiating rounds. The fifth round of talks will take place later in October, with additional intersessional discussions taking place in the meantime.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits for the ceramics industry of free trade agreements with countries other than the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

The British ceramics industry is world-renowned and will be able to more easily access new markets around the globe, through our future Free Trade Agreements. The impacts and benefits of Britain’s new trade deals, including those she will be rolling over, will be outlined in the Scoping Assessments, Parliamentary Reports and future Impact Assessments that will be published by HM Government.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps her Department is taking to encourage inward investment into the UK.

The UK is a leading destination for foreign investment; it is second in the world for inward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stocks behind the USA, and also attracted £37 billion of Private Equity and £6 billion of Venture Capital involving foreign investors in 2019.

The Department for International Trade promotes the UK as a leading destination for foreign investment and supports foreign investors. For example, the Department’s High Potential Opportunities Programme identifies specific investment opportunities across the UK.

The Department supported 1,449 FDI projects during the 2019/20 Financial Year, which created 45,000 new jobs and safeguarded a further 8,000.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent steps she has taken to reduce tariffs on British ceramic exports.

When exporting products, such as ceramics, to a third country, tariffs will depend on the third country’s own tariff schedule and whether the UK has a trade agreement in place with them.

We are seeking to secure Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with global trading partners, such as Japan, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand which will open new markets for UK businesses. This is part of our wider ambition for 80% of UK trade to be covered by FTAs within three years.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps her Department is taking to engage with ceramic businesses as part of negotiating free trade agreements.

The Department will continue to speak regularly with the ceramics industry, so that the new Free Trade Agreements we are seeking with trading partners such as the US, Japan and Australia and New Zealand work for British businesses.

Our new Trade Advisory Groups (TAGs), including a dedicated “British Manufactured and Consumer Goods TAG”, support our engagement with businesses across the whole of the British economy. Businesses’ expertise and advice will be critical to helping our negotiators deliver key industry asks that benefit every corner of our country, including tariffs on products like ceramics.

The ceramics industry has emphasised the market access opportunities that exist in the US ceramics market, specifically in kitchenware and tableware. High tariffs there, of up to 28%, are currently a significant trade barrier.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment she has made of the potential effect of Free Trade Agreements in (a) levelling up communities and (b) accelerating an industrial revival in (i) Stoke-on-Trent and (ii) Staffordshire.

Securing Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) will be a key driver in levelling-up the UK. The potential benefits of FTAs include better jobs, higher wages, more choice and lower prices for UK consumers and businesses.

Our scoping assessments show that the West Midlands could benefit from future FTAs with the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Stoke-on-Trent exported £458m and imported £696m worth of goods globally in 2018. Similarly, Staffordshire exported £4.6bn and imported £5.6bn worth of goods globally in 2018.
Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent assessment she has made of the potential economic benefit to Stoke-on-Trent joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) would open up new opportunities for our exporters in strategically important sectors, helping to support an industrial revival in the UK. Trade with members of CPTPP already benefits the region. In 2018, Shropshire and Staffordshire exported around £431m worth of goods to CPTPP countries and imported around £801m worth of goods from CPTPP countries[1]. In 2019, the West Midlands as a whole exported over £2.4 billion worth of goods to CPTPP member countries, representing around 8 per cent of the region’s exports. The West Midlands imported over £1.9 billion worth of goods from CPTPP member countries, representing just over 5% of goods imports to the region[2].

If the UK Government decides to formally apply for accession, we will publish an Outline Approach and a Scoping Assessment setting out our negotiating objectives and the potential benefits of accession, to the UK and the UK’s nations and regions.

[1] Source: HMRC Regional Trade in Goods Statistics, disaggregated by smaller geographical areas, NUTS2 level (released November 2019). Note data on regional trade with Brunei in unavailable.

[2] Source: HMRC Regional Trade in Goods Statistics (April to June 2020 release). Note data on regional trade with Brunei in unavailable.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent assessment she has made of the effect on consumers of the proposals for a UK Global Tariff.

Liberalisation is typically beneficial for consumers. Consumers should benefit from the removal of tariffs on certain products that we do not produce, or do not produce much of in the UK. Removing these tariffs may lower cost pressures for UK households and businesses. The UK Global Tariff might expand consumer choice, driving competitive prices for households.

Tariffs are a tax, therefore the Government will publish a Tax Information and Impact Note (TIIN) alongside the legislation, as is standard practice. More analysis will be available in the TIIN when it is published.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what support her Department is providing to the UK tech sector to help it (a) export to and (b) access overseas markets.

On 10 June, the Department for International Trade launched a future trade strategy for the UK tech sector, supporting companies to seize trade and investment opportunities overseas.

The new measures announced will seek to increase tech exports to fast-growing international markets and strengthen UK scaleup companies’ market readiness to export. For example, a new Digital Trade Network for Asia-Pacific will support UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to break into the Asian market, and the launch of a new Tech Exporting Academy will provide expert advice to UK scaleups on subject areas essential to expansion. These measures will help companies access overseas markets and unleash the UK’s potential on the world stage.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent assessment she has made of the potential effect of a UK global tariff on the viability of UK ceramics manufacturers.

In setting tariffs on ceramics goods, we have reflected carefully on the interests of UK businesses, manufacturers and consumers as well as to the views expressed through the UK’s public consultation conducted in February 2020. Tariffs have been retained for most ceramic products. For example, tariffs on table and kitchenware are being retained at 12%.

Tariffs are a tax, therefore the Government will publish a Tax Information and Impact Note (TIIN) alongside the secondary legislation, which will be made under Section 8 of the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018. This is standard practice. More analysis will be available in the TIIN when it is published.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to promote and facilitate trade co-operation between the UK and Israel in the agricultural technology sector.

UK and Israel have a strong and important trading relationship and we are committed to strengthening that relationship. A dedicated DIT team in Tel Aviv British Embassy promotes trade cooperation between UK and Israeli companies.

A UK-Israel Tech Hub, working alongside DIT, creates partnerships between British companies and world class Israeli innovators across tech sectors, including agriculture.

Following the signature of the UK-Israel trade continuity agreement, Israel and UK expressed support for a future summit to be hosted in London aimed at increasing bilateral trade, including Agri-Tech. Planned for 2020, the event is on hold due to current corona circumstances.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to improve the condition of roads in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

The Department for Transport is providing (a) Stoke-on-Trent with over £4.6 million, and (b) Staffordshire with over £28 million through highways maintenance funding, pothole fund, and integrated transport block funding in 21/22. It is for each Council to decide on how this funding, allocated through formula, is utilised based on their respective highway asset management strategy, needs, and priorities.

Recent additional investments include £5 million for Stoke-on-Trent Council’s ‘Keep Stoke Moving’ key corridor Challenge Fund bid won in February 2020, and £2.35 million for Staffordshire County Council to upgrade Chetwynd Bridge, a historic Grade II* structure.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether Longport Railway Station will be eligible for Network Rail's Access for All scheme.

All of the funding currently available to Access for All has been allocated to projects. We are in the process of setting the funding envelopes for the next control period. When further funding is available, any station without an accessible route into the station and to all platforms will be a potential candidate.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to support hauliers transporting goods internationally.

A number of measures are in place to support hauliers transporting goods internationally. These include the haulier border readiness campaign, which advertises across digital, radio, trade press, online and outdoor areas, including billboards and advertising vans. This is supported by 46 Information and Advice Sites which provide training on use of the Check an HGV service. 35 of these sites are also providing drivers of HGVs and vans with free COVID-19 tests.

The haulier handbook is readily available on GOV.UK and translated into 13 languages to ensure EU hauliers are aware of requirements to cross the border. The government also delivered seminars at EU industry days and has had exhibition stands at physical and virtual events and conferences across the EU, targeting commercial drivers and haulage firms.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to improve access to bus services in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

Local bus journeys remain central to public transport choices. The Government provides an annual £43 million directly to local authorities through the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) to support local bus services.

Last year, Stoke-on-Trent City Council received £29,618 and Staffordshire County Council £699,869 from this grant. In addition to this, an extra £30 million was provided to local authorities in financial year 2020/21 to improve current bus services, or restore lost services where needed. Stoke-on-Trent City Council received £124,233 and Staffordshire County Council £583,372.

We have provided local authorities with the tools they need to improve local bus services through the Bus Services Act 2017 and we have committed to implement England’s first-ever long-term Bus Strategy.

Our Better Deal for Bus Users package will help begin to transform bus services across the country and additional investment of £5 billion announced by the Prime Minister last year, will overhaul bus and cycle links for regions outside London.

We have now delivered on innovative technological solutions, like our Bus Open Data Service which lays the foundation for app developers to provide passengers with the information they need to travel with confidence.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the On-Street Residential Scheme continues to be available; and whether (a) Stoke-on-Trent City Council and (b) Staffordshire County Council has (i) applied for and (ii) been allocated funding under that scheme.

The On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) continues to be available to help Local Authorities with the up-front cost of installing chargepoints to encourage drivers without off-street parking to make the switch to zero emission vehicles. The Government doubled funding this year to £20 million, to ensure that more local authorities and residents can benefit from the scheme.

Neither Stoke-on-Trent City Council nor Staffordshire County Council have applied to the Scheme thus far. With funding still available for this financial year we would encourage all authorities to get in touch with the Scheme’s delivery partner, the Energy Saving Trust, at the earliest opportunity.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to review the funding formula for road maintenance.

The Department for Transport is providing (a) Stoke-on-Trent with over £5.5 million and (b) Staffordshire with over £37 million through the Transport Infrastructure Investment Fund this financial year. It is for each Council to decide on how this funding is utilised based on their highway asset management strategy, needs, and priorities.

In addition, Stoke-on-Trent council were successful in their £5 million ‘Keep Stoke Moving’ key corridor Challenge Fund bid in February this year. Staffordshire County Council also successfully bid for £2.35 million to upgrade Chetwynd Bridge, a historic Grade II* structure.

The Department for Transport held two consultation exercises in 2014 to seek views from local highway authorities, organisations, and members of the public regarding how we allocate funding to local highway authorities. Following the consultation exercises, it was agreed that we would allocate funding to each highway authority in England, outside London, based on road lengths and highways assets such as bridges and lighting columns for which they are responsible. This is the most fair and proportionate way to distribute this funding.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to improve access at railway stations for disabled people in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Kidsgrove.

The Government has made £350 million available to make accessibility improvements at a further 209 stations through the Access for All programme, including Kidsgrove. We also require the industry to comply with current accessibility standards whenever they install, replace or renew station infrastructure.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to connect more towns to the railway network.

As part of the levelling-up agenda, the Government announced the £500 million Restoring Your Railway fund in January to deliver its manifesto commitment and start reopening lines and stations, including connecting towns to the railway network. This year we have announced development funding for 25 proposals. This Restoring Your Railways expenditure is included as part of our continued significant investment in the rail network.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to improve the condition of roads in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

The Department for Transport is providing (a) Stoke-on-Trent with over £5.5 million and (b) Staffordshire with over £37 million through the Transport Infrastructure Investment Fund this financial year. It is for each Council to decide on how this funding is utilised based on their highway asset management strategy, needs, and priorities.

In addition, Stoke-on-Trent council were successful in their £5 million ‘Keep Stoke Moving’ key corridor Challenge Fund bid in February this year. In February Staffordshire County Council also successfully bid for £2.35 million to upgrade Chetwynd Bridge, a historic Grade II* structure.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to improve rail connections in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

The Department is working to improve rail connections across the network including at Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire through both the HS2 and Midlands Connect schemes. Plans are being developed for the Midlands Engine between the Department for Transport and Midlands Connect, which include proposals to increase the frequency of trains between Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe.

Avanti West Coast currently run an hourly service calling at Stoke-on-Trent between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly.

West Midlands Trains also run an hourly service between Birmingham New Street and Crewe, calling at Stafford, Stone and Stoke – on – Trent. From December 2020 the timetable will be uplifted so this service includes calls at Penkridge, meaning an extra hourly service at this station in addition to the calls made by the existing Birmingham New Street – Liverpool Lime Street service.

HS2 services are expected to serve Stoke-on-Trent once the railway is operational. No final decisions have been made on the exact HS2 train service, however, and the Department has appointed West Coast Partnership Development to analyse passenger demand on the route and present options for train service patterns that best allow this demand to be met with the available infrastructure. The Secretary of State will decide on the preferred option, once it has been subject to wider consultation, nearer to the time that HS2 opens.

In January 2020 the Secretary of State announced the £500 million Restoring Your Railway fund to deliver our manifesto commitment and start reopening lines and stations, reconnecting smaller communities. Meir station was successful in the first round of the Ideas Fund and is currently on track to progress to the next stage of the Restoring Your Railway process.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to improve disabled access at Kidsgrove Railway Station.

Construction of an accessible route, including a footbridge and three lifts at Kidsgrove station is due to begin next Spring and be completed by Autumn.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the adequacy of the level of funding for urban transport authorities.

On 23 May, the Transport Secretary announced a further £283 million to help increase bus and light rail services across England as quickly as possible as we begin to re-open our economy. This is in addition to the £397 million the Government announced on 3 April 2020 to keep England’s buses running to serve those who need to rely on them.

The Government has agreed a £1.6 billion funding and financing support package for Transport for London to enable them to continue operating essential services, transporting passengers safely and protecting staff during the pandemic and supporting the capital’s gradual recovery from COVID-19.

The Department will continue to work with transport authorities to understand how public transport services can adapt to any ‘new normal’ that emerges from the Covid-19 outbreak so that a sustainable long-term recovery can be made.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of (a) bus and (b) light rail services in Stoke-on-Trent North constituency.

On 23 May, the Government announced a further £283 million to help protect and increase bus and light rail services as we begin to restart our economy.

As part of the ‘Better Deal for Bus Users’ package £30 million of additional funding is also being provided to local authorities to improve current bus services, or restore lost services where needed.

The Department will continue to work with both sectors to understand how services can adapt to any ‘new normal’ that emerges from the Covid-19 outbreak so that a sustainable long-term recovery can be made.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to use new technological solutions to improve the running of the railways.

Research, development and innovation to improve the running of the railway is primarily the responsibility of the rail industry. The cross-industry Executive Technical Leadership Group is chaired by Network Rail, and owns the current Rail Technical Strategy, which sets out a vision for rail and how technology can help meet the objectives of cutting carbon, reducing cost, increasing capacity and improving the customer experience. The strategy is currently being revised.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what funding his Department has allocated to (a) Stoke-on-Trent City Council and (b) Staffordshire County Council to increase the availability of road space for cycling.

On the 29th May, indicative allocations to local authorities from the Emergency Active Travel Fund were published on gov.uk. The indicative allocation for Stoke-on-Trent City Council was £842,000 and for Staffordshire County Council £1,832,000. The Department will confirm allocations from tranche 1 of the Emergency Active Travel Fund as soon as possible, and will invite bids from authorities for tranche 2 of the fund shortly. Before receiving any funding, authorities must submit satisfactory plans to the Department, and the amount each authority receives will depend on it satisfying the Department that it has ambitious plans in place to reallocate road space to cyclists and pedestrians.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to encourage more people to switch to electric vehicles.

The Government is investing?around?£2.5bn?,?with grants available for ultra-low emission vehicles, as well?as funding?to support charge point infrastructure at homes,?workplaces,?on residential streets?and across the wider roads network. The Government is consulting on bringing forward an end to the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans, from 2040 to 2035, or earlier if a faster transition appears feasible, including hybrids for the first time. This will help inform our thinking on what further appropriate measures to achieve a faster transition will need to be. The Transport Secretary has also announced that the government will consult on measures to improve the consumer experience of using the public charging network so that charging an electric vehicle is as straightforward as refuelling a conventional vehicle today. Go Ultra Low is a joint Government and industry campaign designed to educate individuals and businesses about the benefits of switching to an electric vehicle. The campaign provides facts and information across high reach channels such as paid media (cinema, radio, digital), PR and events.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department has taken to enable (a) bus drivers and (b) lorry drivers to renew their expiring driving licences during the covid-19 outbreak.

To keep bus and lorry drivers on the road, the Government has made temporary provisions to remove the requirement to submit a medical report when applying to renew a bus or lorry driving licence until further notice. Provided they have no notifiable medical conditions, drivers will be issued a licence that is valid for one year instead of the usual five. This only applies if the licence expired after 1 January 2020 or is due to expire.

As is always the case, drivers must ensure they are medically fit to drive and they are legally obliged to notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency of the onset or worsening of any medical condition.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress her Department has made in hiring additional work coaches in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Kidsgrove.

DWP currently has 65 additional new Work Coaches to date for the Stoke-on-Trent area including Kidsgrove, with a further 15 to be deployed in early 2021.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to improve health and disability assessments.

The Government is committed to assessing people with health conditions and disabilities fairly and accurately, which is why we keep our processes under review. Over the course of seven Independent Reviews of our disability assessments, over 100 recommendations have been made, with the vast majority accepted. To this end, we have made significant improvements to both the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment since their introduction.

We are also expanding the range of assessment channels, including the introduction of telephone assessments in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and are currently evaluating the different channels to inform the future strategy.

In terms of future reform, the Health Transformation Programme will deliver a new integrated Health Assessment Service covering all health and disability benefits, providing a simpler, more efficient and joined-up experience for claimants.

We know there is more we can do to improve the current system. That is why the Department will be bringing forward a Green Paper in 2021 on how to improve our services for disabled people and people with health conditions. The Green Paper will explore assessment reform options and seek views on future changes.

The Green Paper will be strongly influenced by the views of disabled people and representatives from disability organisations, drawing on the significant engagement we have conducted, and plan to continue in the future.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether there is an upper limit on the number of placements that can be created through the Kickstart Scheme; and if she will publish data on the number of employers signed up to that scheme.

The Kickstart Scheme is a £2 Billion programme, planning to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs for young people aged 16-24 at risk of long term unemployment, there is no upper limit on the number of placements. I confirm that the house will be updated on statistics from the Kickstart scheme.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking with employers to help ensure as many young people as possible benefit from the Kickstart scheme in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

We are pleased to confirm that the department is now processing many applications from across the UK, this is currently a clerical process, so reliable management information, particularly on geographical areas, is not yet available.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support her Department is providing to help disabled people in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Kidsgrove find and stay in work during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has put in place a range of provision to help disabled people find and stay in work across the country. We are already helping disabled people stay in work and enter work through a range of programmes, including Access to Work, Disability Confident, the Work and Health Programme and the Intensive Personalised Employment Support Programme. During the Covid-19 outbreak, we have provided this support remotely and made the Work and Health Programme and Intensive Personalised Employment Support programmes easier to access by allowing self-referrals as well as referrals through work coaches.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to support debt advice providers in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Kidsgrove to ensure the maintenance of support for people in financial difficulty as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

DWP staff in Stoke and Trent and Staffordshire have continued to maintain strong working relationships with debt advice providers in the area, including Citizens Advice. This includes regular communication between Citizens Advice officers, local Partnership Managers and Jobcentre staff to resolve concerns in a timely manner.

Local DWP staff are actively signposting claimants to the most appropriate source of debt advice support and we are working closely with local organisations including Potteries Money Wise and Saltbox, who offer free advice to the local community, to ensure people are still able to access the help they need during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent steps her Department has taken to ensure an effective transition from universal credit to receipt of the state pension.

The Government announced in March that anyone reaching State Pension Age while claiming Universal Credit is eligible for a run-on until the end of the assessment period in which they reach State Pension Age.

This removes any potential gap in provision with these pensioners receiving, on average, an additional £350.

Regulations were laid on 29 June to put this measure on a statutory footing.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she has taken to ensure the adequacy of the capacity of her Department to provide services during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department has redeployed staff from non-business critical areas to front line delivery roles, made use of staff from other Government Departments, has recruited and continues to recruit significant numbers of new staff and has utilised contract and agency staff in certain roles.

The Department is continually assessing the service being offered to customers and we continue to keep staff numbers under review as part of our response to the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress her Department has made on the production of a Green Paper on disability.

The Department will be bringing forward a Green Paper on health and disability support, focusing on how the welfare system can better meet the needs of claimants with disabilities and health conditions. The Green Paper will be strongly influenced by the views of disabled people and representatives from disability organisations, drawing on the significant engagement we have conducted and which will continue, albeit through different channels, over the summer.

Given the necessary focus on the departmental response to COVID-19, we are working to a longer timescale than previously anticipated but we remain committed to publishing in the coming months.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the ability of claimants in (a) Stoke-on-Trent, (b) Kidsgrove and (c) Talke to access universal credit online.

The Department has taken a ‘digital-first’ approach to providing and delivering services, ensuring we make best use of technology to deliver a modern and effective working-age welfare system. This allows our staff to concentrate on those people who require additional support through different channels.

Our Universal Credit Claimant Survey, found that 98 per cent of claimants have internet access and did claim online, and the majority of those said they found the claim process overall to be straightforward and this can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-full-service-claimant-survey

For those that are still unable to access or use digital services, or are not able to travel, assistance to make and maintain their claim is available via the Freephone Universal Credit helpline – which is clearly displayed on GOV.UK. In addition, Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland have been delivering the ‘Help to Claim’ service since April 2019. The Citizens Advice ‘Help to Claim’ service offers tailored, practical support to help people make a Universal Credit claim up to receiving their first full correct payment on time, and is currently available online and by telephone.

Although the Department offers comprehensive support for claimants to use our digital service, there will be occasions when people are unable to make their claim online, so telephone applications can be accepted. In these instances, information normally available through a claimant’s online account will be communicated in an alternative format, which is best suited to an individual’s circumstances.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of people in Stoke-on-Trent North constituency have (a) opted out after being auto-enrolled into a workplace pension and (b) saved more than the auto-enrolment minimum contribution.

In the Stoke-on-Trent North constituency since 2012, approximately 6,000 eligible jobholders have been automatically enrolled and 1,280 employers have met their duties.

The Department does not hold data for individual constituencies in relation to opt outs or the number of individuals who have saved above the automatic enrolment minimum contribution level. We do know that overall, around 9% of automatically enrolled workers have chosen to opt out which is significantly below original estimates; and our latest evaluation report shows that, in April 2018 approximately 6.4 million eligible employees in the private sector were already meeting the April 2019 minimum contribution requirements.

Automatic Enrolment Evaluation Report 2019, available via the following weblink: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/867634/automatic-enrolment-evaluation-report-2019.pdf

The Pensions Regulator’s data on Automatic enrolment declaration of compliance by constituency, available via the following weblink:

https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/document-library/research-and-analysis/data-requests

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve addiction support services in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

Local authorities are responsible for assessing local needs and commissioning drug and alcohol prevention, treatment and harm reduction services. Public Health England supports Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire local authorities by providing advice, guidance and data to help them assess local need and commission services accordingly. Local authority spending through the public health grant will be maintained in the next financial year, meaning local authorities can continue to invest in prevention and essential frontline health services and this includes drug and alcohol treatment and recovery services.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure adequate supply of personal protective equipment for (a) the NHS and (b) social care providers over winter 2020-21 in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

We are confident we have secured enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for this winter period and that we have the processes and logistics in place to distribute PPE to where it is needed, including Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. We have almost 32 billion PPE items on order and by December 2020 we had built a four-month stockpile of all COVID-19 critical PPE with a tremendous contribution from United Kingdom manufacturers.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress his Department has made on increasing (a) recruitment and (b) retention of (i) doctors and (ii) nurses in the NHS.

We are the NHS: People Plan 2020/2021 sets out actions to expand and develop our workforce by retaining staff for longer and building on the renewed interest in National Health Service (NHS) careers. The next phase of the NHS People Plan will focus on workforce growth and ensuring it has the right skills mix in place for a flexible and modern NHS.

Through its ‘looking after our people - retention programme’ which launched in the summer of 2020, NHS England and NHS Improvement are supporting employers and managers to value, support and retain their staff both clinical and non-clinical. This is achieved through a new employer portal of guidance and best practice and direct support for systems and organisations across each of the domains of the people promise. Flexible working and the health and wellbeing of staff remain a key focus of the retention initiatives.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve mental health support for men to reduce levels of male suicide in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

The National Suicide Prevention Strategy highlights men, and especially middle-aged and young men, as a group at high risk of suicide, and in January 2019, we published the first cross-Government suicide prevention workplan. It includes sections on tailoring prevention approaches towards reducing suicide risk in high-risk groups such as men.

Through the NHS Long Term Plan, we are investing £57 million in suicide prevention. This will see investment in all areas of the country by 2023/24 to support local suicide prevention plans and establish suicide bereavement support services. We have worked with NHS England to ensure that local areas test approaches to reaching and engaging men.

The Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Sustainability and Transformation Partnership has received £300,000 in 2019/20 and £300,000 in 2020/21 for suicide prevention.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress his Department has made on rolling out community testing for covid-19 in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

Staffordshire commenced asymptomatic testing in November 2020 and moved to the community testing programme in mid-December. Stoke-on-Trent commenced testing at the end of October 2020.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to open additional covid-19 testing sites in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

We have opened regional test sites at the Bet365 Stadium in Stoke and at Stafford Education and Enterprise Park. We have also opened local test sites at Ryecroft Car Park in Newcastle Under Lyme, Cannock Chase Council Car Park, Keele University, Burton Town Hall, Fenton Manor Car Park, Synectics Solutions Car Park in Burslem, Hagley Park School in Burnt Hill Lane and in the Spinning School Lane Car Park in Tamworth.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of recent trends in the smoking cessation rate in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

The smoking rate for adults in Stoke-on-Trent has seen an overall decline, from 25.2% in 2011 to 18.2% in 2019.

The smoking rate for adults in Staffordshire has seen an overall decline, from 18.2% in 2011 to 13.9% in 2019.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on ensuring public health communications on covid-19 are accessible to deaf and hard of hearing communities across the UK.

The Department has been working with the Cabinet Office Disability Unit throughout the pandemic to ensure public health communications on COVID-19 are accessible, including to deaf people and those with hearing loss.

For example, the Government established British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation at the daily Number 10 press conferences via the BBC News channel and iPlayer.

The Public Health England Campaign Resource Centre also provides a range of Government advice and public health information in alternative formats such as BSL, to download free of charge.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on waiting lists for CAMHS.

Whilst a national access and waiting time standard for children and young people’s mental health services has not yet been defined, we recognise that there is the potential for an increase in demand for these services as a result of COVID-19. We are working with the Department for Education, the National Health Service, Public Health England and others to gather evidence and assess the potential longer-term mental health impacts of COVID-19, including on children and young people.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that children and young people who need mental health support, including those who do not meet the thresholds for CAMHS are able to access timely support.

We are introducing two waiting times for children and young people by the end of 2020/21: for 95% of children (up to 19 years old) with eating disorders to receive treatment within a week for urgent cases and four weeks for routine cases, and for 60% of patients of all ages experiencing a first episode of psychosis to receive treatment within two weeks of referral.

The NHS Long Term Plan commits to an additional 345,000 children and young people in England accessing mental health support via National Health Service-funded mental health services and schools- and college-based mental health support teams each year by 2023/24

We are also piloting a four-week waiting time for children and young people’s mental health services in 12 areas to inform the development of a new national access and waiting times standard.

Where a local NHS children and young people’s specialist mental health service rejects a referral, the young person and/or their carers should be signposted to appropriate support elsewhere. On 8 September, the Government launched a mental wellbeing campaign for children and young people. This involves an extension of Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters webpage and signposts to a range of support available to children and young people and their parents and carers.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to publish a response to the Advancing Our Health: Prevention in the 2020’s consultation, which closed on 14 October 2019.

The Prevention Green Paper, ‘Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s’, consultation closed on 14 October 2019 and attracted over 1,600 responses. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the response has been delayed. We intend to publish the Government’s response in due course.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 15 August 2020 to Question 70524 on Israel: Contact Tracing, what comparative assessment the Government has made of the effectiveness of Israel’s track and trace technology.

As part of our National Health Service COVID-19 app development process, we maintain an overview of contact tracing apps in development and operation around the world, including Israel's HaMagen app.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase the covid-19 testing capacity in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

We have increased our testing capacity from 2000 tests a day in March to over 700,000 tests per day. People in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire with Covid symptoms are able to access tests either at Regional and Local testing sites or by ordering a home test.

The Community Testing Programme (CTP) was launched in December 2020 with the aim of using rapid asymptomatic testing to find and isolate positive cases within the community in order to help reduce the spread of the virus

Stoke on Trent, East Staffordshire, South Staffordshire and Staffordshire Moorlands are currently rolling out community testing.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve technology in (a) health and (b) social care sectors in (i) Stoke-on-Trent and (ii) Staffordshire.

Digital innovation can provide increased access to care and is a key enabler to many services across the system. Since early March, there has been a dramatic acceleration in technology transformation in health and social care.

NHSX is moving forward with a national programme of work to improve technology in the health and social care sector. This work is focused on key interventions, including improving digital infrastructure and access to internet connectivity for care providers; supporting information sharing across health and social care services; investing in digital skills development; and helping to scale-up proven technologies, including innovative digital tools and applications. This work will benefit care providers and people receiving social care services across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support the social care sector in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire during the covid-19 outbreak.

The recommendations from the Social Care Sector Covid-19 Taskforce will shape our approach to COVID-19 in the adult social care sector and, in particular, the plans we put in place for winter which we will set out in the Adult Social Care Winter Plan. The Taskforce concluded at the end of August and will publish its recommendations in September on the advice on what measures need to be in place across all parts of the care sector in England to respond to COVID-19 and winter.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase NHS capacity at the (a) Royal Stoke University Hospital and (b) Haywood Walk-In Centre in Stoke-on-Trent for the winter 2020-21.

Guidance has already been issued to the National Health Service on the process of starting to restore urgent non-COVID-19 services in a safe way, whilst ensuring surge capacity can be stood up again should it be needed. In July, the Prime Minister announced £3 billion to support NHS capacity this winter. In addition to this, in August a further £300 million of capital funding was announced to upgrade accident and emergency (A&E) departments across the country to help prepare the NHS for winter.

At Royal Stoke University Hospital, plans to increase capacity include investment to support the creation of additional critical care capacity and to support Infection Prevention and Control isolation capacity on COVID-19/flu wards at Royal Stoke.

Work is also underway to encourage use of the Haywood Walk-In Centre for minor injuries, and to establish a sub-acute unit to support ‘medically fit’ patients who are awaiting placements in order to free-up assessment and acute beds at Royal Stoke. Staffing will be increased in response to predicted surges throughout the winter period.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart on that country’s experience with track and trace technology during the covid-19 pandemic.

My Rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has not met directly with his Israeli counterpart to discuss track and trace technology. We are, however, working closely with other countries through international forums such as the G7, G20 and the World Health Organization, as well as on a bilateral basis on a range of issues relating to COVID-19 including sharing learning on the development of the Test and Trace App.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of imposing an annual capital spending limit for the NHS on the (a) delivery and (b) maintenance of (i) new and (ii) re-developed buildings on the NHS estate.

Each year the Department is allocated a fixed capital budget from HM Treasury, and from that, the capital budget is set for the National Health Service. The NHS budget is divided between operational capital for ongoing service delivery, and capital for national programmes of investment.

To improve the management of operational capital from 2020-21, NHS England and NHS Improvement has set operational capital limits at Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) / Integrated Care System (ICS) level. This is part of the new capital regime published on 2 April 2020, to provide greater clarity on the level of capital resource available and to support system working to agree local capital priorities. This builds on the existing control framework for NHS trusts where Capital Resource Limits are set annually by NHS Improvement, who will monitor the new arrangements.

Maintenance of buildings is one category within operational capital. So, local NHS organisations are expected to work together to better prioritise key maintenance investment within the STP/ICS envelope, along with other projects required to maintain vital services.

Investment for new and redeveloped buildings is primarily through the national programmes of Health Infrastructure Plan and STP transformational schemes, that are allocated to the organisations delivering the investments with ring-fenced budgets separate from the operational capital limits. The Department is providing more support centrally, earlier access to funding, and streamlining the approvals process, to accelerate delivery of these schemes.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will take steps to ensure that North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is compliant with the revised NICE guidance on hearing loss in adults in relation to the provision of hearing aids to people with mild and moderate hearing loss, published in June 2018.

From 6 January to 1 March this year the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) ran an engagement exercise called Difficult Decisions to consider clinical priorities in these local areas.

One area under consideration is hearing loss in adults as patients in North Staffordshire do not currently automatically qualify for hearing aids if their hearing loss is mild or moderate, while they do in Stoke-on-Trent and the rest of Staffordshire.

Currently work on analysing and further developing proposals is paused as clinicians engaged in the work need to prioritise frontline duties, due to COVID-19. The CCGs currently cannot give an estimate of when this work will continue.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the compatibility of Iran's ballistic missile programme with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Iran's ballistic missile programme is destabilising for the region and poses a threat to European security. UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which was unanimously adopted in the Security Council and underpins the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), calls on Iran not to undertake activities related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering a nuclear weapon. Alongside France and Germany (as E3), we have written repeatedly to the UN Secretary-General, most recently on 18 February, to bring attention to Iranian missile activity inconsistent with UNSCR 2231. We urge Iran to fully abide by UNSCR 2231 and all other relevant resolutions.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Norwegian counterpart on that Government's decision to withhold funding from the Palestinian Authority in response that Authority using material inciting hatred and violence against Israel in its curriculum.

I have not discussed the issue with my Norwegian counterpart. We understand that the approval of Norway's Fiscal Budget is subject to negotiations in Parliament and that such negotiations may result in shifts between budget lines and geographic priorities in the development aid budget. We understand that the Norwegian Parliament has proposed to reduce Norway's development assistance to the Occupied Palestinian Territories by 30 million Norwegian Krone (approximately £2.5 million) in 2021, along with changes in priorities on other budget lines and allocations.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his EU counterpart on the EU review into the Palestinian Authority curriculum; and what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the delays in the publication of that review.

The independent review of the content in Palestinian textbooks, led by our European partners, is currently underway. We have regular discussions with European partners on the review, including on plans for publication. The UK has repeatedly lobbied the EU to push for publication, but this is ultimately a decision for the EU.

To ensure that the final report is representative, the study has been extended to include a sample of textbooks introduced for school year 2020-21. Consequently, the study will now be completed in early 2021.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts in response to reports that the EU's review into the Palestinian curriculum presents Israeli textbooks as those published by the Palestinian Authority.

The UK Government has a zero tolerance approach towards incitement to violence and lobbied our European partners to conduct a thorough independent review of textbooks used in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which is now underway. This review is ongoing, and the final report is not due until the end of 2020. We will study its findings carefully.

The UK does not comment on leaked reports. Our European partners have been clear that the study does not look at Israeli textbooks. We understand that the methodology of the study will include a separate section on a very limited sample of textbooks used in East Jerusalem and modified by Israel for the purpose of comparison.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for regional security of the expiration of the UN conventional arms embargo on Iran in October 2020.

The UK remains committed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), a reciprocal deal that lifts sanctions in exchange for tough nuclear limits. Iran has broken the nuclear limits in the JCPoA and we are working to bring Iran back into compliance through the deal's Dispute Resolution Mechanism.

UNSCR 2231, which underpins the JCPoA, includes a number of clauses designed to allow sanctions to expire on fixed dates: the UN conventional arms embargo is due to expire in October 2020. The EU arms embargo and UN ballistic missile restrictions will remain in place until 2023. We are consulting partners on the broader implications of the UN arms embargo expiry for Iran as well as the region, and encourage all states to implement national export control best practice.

We have repeatedly set out concerns about Iranian destabilising behaviour, including proliferation to non-state actors. UNSCRs 1540, 2216 and 1701, which prohibit the proliferation of weapons to the Houthis and Lebanese Hizballah, will remain in place after the arms embargo expires.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran’s regional activity.

We remain concerned about the destabilising activities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including its financial and military support to militant and proscribed groups around the region in contravention of UN Security Council resolutions. This support directly undermines prospects for regional security and lasting peace in the region. We call on Iran urgently to cease all forms of destabilising activity and instead to play a constructive role in the region.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential economic merits of the Independent Game Developers' Association's proposal for an increase in the rate of video games tax relief from 25 per cent to 32 per cent.

In 2019-20 the Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) supported UK expenditure of £355 million on the production of 150 video games.

The Government keeps all tax reliefs under review, and regularly receives proposals for changes to tax reliefs. When considering changes, HM Treasury must ensure they provide support to businesses across the economy in a fair way and represent good value for money for the taxpayer.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many (a) small and (b) large firms have claimed R&D Tax Relief since 2010.

HMRC publish annual statistics on the number and cost of claims for Research and Development (R&D) tax reliefs. The latest release can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/corporate-tax-research-and-development-tax-credit.

Table RD1 gives the number of claims for the R&D tax relief split by all schemes since the relief was introduced for SMEs in 2000. The number of claims for R&D tax relief can be used to approximate the number of companies.

HMRC also publish annual statistics on the number and cost of claims for Creative Industry tax reliefs. The latest release can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/creative-industries-statistics-august-2020.

Table 4.2 gives the number of companies which have claimed Video Games Tax Relief in each year since the relief was introduced in 2014.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many firms have claimed Video Games Tax Relief in each year since its introduction in 2014.

HMRC publish annual statistics on the number and cost of claims for Research and Development (R&D) tax reliefs. The latest release can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/corporate-tax-research-and-development-tax-credit.

Table RD1 gives the number of claims for the R&D tax relief split by all schemes since the relief was introduced for SMEs in 2000. The number of claims for R&D tax relief can be used to approximate the number of companies.

HMRC also publish annual statistics on the number and cost of claims for Creative Industry tax reliefs. The latest release can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/creative-industries-statistics-august-2020.

Table 4.2 gives the number of companies which have claimed Video Games Tax Relief in each year since the relief was introduced in 2014.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the contribution of Video Games Tax Relief to (a) jobs, (b) investment and (c) productivity in the UK video games sector.

The government supported the completion of 150 video games in 2019-2020 via Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR), with UK expenditure of £355 million.

The government published an evaluation of VGTR in 2017, which can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/video-game-tax-relief-evaluation

Research showed that VGTR enabled developers to be more productive by giving them more stability and lowering their level of risk, enabling them to survive longer and look beyond immediate financial concerns to focus on expanding their business or improving their offer. The evaluation found concrete examples of inward investment, and indications that VGTR had stemmed the drain of UK talent to countries such as France and Canada.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent steps he has taken to increase access to free-to-use cash machines in Stoke-on-Trent.

The Government recognises that cash remains important to millions of people across the UK and has committed to protecting access to cash for those that need it. The Government published a Call for Evidence on 15 October 2020 seeking views on the key considerations associated with cash access, including deposit and withdrawal facilities, cash acceptance, and regulatory oversight of the cash system. The Call for Evidence closed on the 25 November 2020 and the Government is considering responses. Next steps will be set out in due course.

With regards to ATMs, LINK (the scheme that runs the UK’s largest ATM network) has existing commitments to protect the broad geographic spread of free-to-use ATMs. LINK has taken action to ensure that remote and deprived areas continue to have access to free-to-use machines, and the Payment Systems Regulator continues to hold LINK to account over their commitments to maintain broad geographic coverage.

LINK has committed to protect free ATMs more than one kilometre away from the next nearest free ATM or Post Office, for example through premium payments for ATMs in remote and deprived areas. LINK has also committed to protecting free access to cash on high streets – where there is a cluster of five or more retailers – that don’t have a free-to-use ATM or a Post Office counter within one kilometre. LINK’s members have also made £5 million available to fund ATMs at the request of communities with poor access to cash.

Furthermore, there is an industry led initiative to implement Community Access to Cash Pilots. These pilots are to trial and test solutions for ensuring that communities can conveniently withdraw and deposit cash, and identify ways basic banking services can be better delivered, that could be adopted in other locations. Nine places were selected across the UK for these pilots, of which Burslem is one. The Burslem pilot includes a Post Office refurbishment and testing cashback without a purchase. The Government looks forward to the outcomes of these pilots.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to support people on low incomes in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is committed to supporting all groups in society, including the most vulnerable, with the challenges caused by COVID-19. In order to support those on low incomes in particular, the Government has announced a package of temporary welfare measures, which include a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and the Working Tax Credit basic element, an increase in the Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of market rents and a relaxation of the UC minimum income floor for all self-employed claimants.

In addition to the above measures, workers on low incomes who cannot work from home and who are asked to self-isolate may be eligible for a one-off payment of £500 under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme. The Government has also announced a £170m COVID Winter Grant Scheme to support the most vulnerable over winter that will be run by councils in England, with at least 80% of the funding earmarked to provide support with food and bills.

The Government has also provided unprecedented support for businesses and individuals in order to protect jobs and incomes across the UK through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). As at 31 October 2020, there were 7,000 employments furloughed in the unitary authority of Stoke-on-Trent (take-up rate of 6%) and 27,200 employments furloughed in Staffordshire County (take-up rate of 7%).

HM Treasury modelling published in July showed that Government support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as of May 2020 had supported the poorest working households the most (as a proportion of income).

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what fiscal steps he is taking to support people on low-incomes in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is seeking to protect, as far as possible, people’s jobs and incomes through the pandemic. This is being undertaken through a long-term, sustainable approach that focuses on employment, while ensuring everyone is supported by the welfare system in their time of need.

In response to the pandemic, the Government has announced an unprecedented package of support, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, and a package of welfare measures which the Office of Budget Responsibility estimates to be worth over £9 billion, helping to protect incomes, jobs, and support those most in need. This package of temporary welfare measures includes a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance, and an increase in Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of market rents. In addition, to continue to protect jobs over the winter months, from November businesses facing lower demand due to COVID-19 will be able to apply to the Job Support Scheme.

In its Plan for Jobs, the Government has announced unprecedented support to help unemployed people find a job. The support is available across Great Britain and includes measures that will be delivered at a local level through DWP’s extensive network of over 600 Job Centre Plus branches.

On top of these measures, the Government has introduced a new package to support those in self-isolation. People required to self-isolate who are on a low income, who cannot work from home, and have lost income as a result, will be eligible for a payment of £500.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of the temporary changes in VAT on businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

The Government has applied a temporary reduced rate of VAT (5 per cent) to goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors. This relief came into effect on 15 July 2020 and will end on 31 March 2021.

The temporary reduced rate aims to support the cash flow and viability of over 150,000 businesses and protect 2.4 million jobs across the UK.

This relief is estimated to be worth over £3 billion to the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the adequacy of funding for the NHS over winter 2020-21 in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

The NHS is the Government’s number one spending priority and this year we are part way through the largest cash increase to the NHS budget in its history, which will take the NHS budget in England to £148.5 billion in 2023/24. This year we have gone further in responding to the Coronavirus pandemic, which is why the Chancellor set out at the Summer Economic Update that the Treasury had approved £31.9 billon of extra support to health services in 2020/21. The Prime Minister subsequently announced an additional £3 billion package of support to manage NHS capacity pressures over winter- including to deliver the largest ever flu vaccination programme and to continue access to independent sector hospitals for NHS patients. This unprecedented support for the NHS will benefit patients and protect the public across the UK, including in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.

As well as increasing day-to-day spending the Prime Minister has also announced £1.5 billion of additional capital funding for NHS hospitals in England this year, including towards improving A&E capacity. I am pleased to say that £4.3 million of this A&E funding has been allocated to the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust which serves patients in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate the Government has made of the number of grants provided through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

HMRC publish statistics on the total number of employments furloughed by local authority, including Stoke-on-Trent unitary authority and Staffordshire County. The latest statistics are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme-statistics-june-2020
Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to support high street businesses affected by the covid-19 outbreak in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Kidsgrove.

The Government has announced unprecedented support for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency including almost £300 billion of guarantees – equivalent to 15% of UK GDP. High street businesses continue to have access to a range of support measures including, but not limited to:

• A 12-month business rates holiday for all eligible retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in England

• The retail, hospitality and leisure grant fund (RHLGF)

• A Discretionary Grant Fund for Local Authorities in England

• The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

• The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

• The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBL) for small and micro enterprises

• VAT deferral for up to 12 months

• The Time To Pay scheme, through which businesses in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, can receive support with their tax affairs

• Protection for commercial leaseholders against automatic forfeiture for non-payment until June 30, 2020 – with an option for the Government to extend if needed.

The Business Support website provides further information about how businesses can access the support that has been made available, who is eligible and how to apply - https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder.

On 11 May the Government published its COVID-19 recovery strategy which sets out a cautious roadmap for easing existing measures in a safe and measured way. Following this roadmap, on 15 June the non-essential retail sector reopened, and on 23 June the Prime Minister announced that from 4 July some businesses in the leisure and hospitality sectors will be able to reopen providing they adhere to COVID Secure guidelines. Following a review, the Prime Minister has also set out where it is not possible to stay two metres apart, guidance will allow people to keep a social distance of one metre plus mitigations which reduce the risk of transmission.

The Government`s response is kept constantly under review and we will continue to work hard to support high street businesses as the economy reopens.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what fiscal steps he is taking to improve local transport infrastructure in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Kidsgrove.

My Honourable Friend will know that Budget 2020 confirmed that Stoke-on-Trent will receive a share of £117 million of the wider Transforming Cities Fund subject to further business case approval, a share of the £500m Potholes Fund in 2020-21, and £18.5 million investment in the Etruria Valley Link Road from the Local Growth Fund.

I believe the Transport Secretary will be providing details of Stoke-on-Trent’s allocation from the Transforming Cities Fund in the coming months, as well as confirming allocations from the £250 million Emergency Active Travel Fund announced on 9 May as the first stage in a £2 billion package to create new era for cycling and walking over this Parliament.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many grants have been provided through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Kidsgrove.

Applications for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) opened on Monday 20 April. By close 11 May, HMRC had received 935,000 claims representing 7.5m furloughed employments and £10.1bn.

This is a new scheme and HMRC are currently working through the analysis they will be able to provide based on the data available. HMRC will make the timescales for publication and the types of data available in due course.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what fiscal steps he is taking to improve local transport infrastructure in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Kidsgrove.

As I set out in answer to my Honourable Friend’s previous question on this topic on 25 March, Budget 2020 confirmed that Stoke-on-Trent will receive a share of £117 million of the wider Transforming Cities Fund, subject to further business case approval, and a share of the £500m Potholes Fund in 2020-21, and £18.5 million investment in the Etruria Valley Link Road from the Local Growth Fund.

I can now add that the region will also benefit from £2 billion cycling and walking investment set out by the Transport Secretary earlier this month, with further details to be confirmed in due course.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that a potential future EU Carbon Border Tax is taken into account in the UK-EU FTA negotiations.

The UK has set out a clear position on what it is seeking in the negotiations with the EU through the UK Approach to Negotiations publication. The Government wants a relationship based on friendly cooperation with both parties respecting one another’s legal autonomy. The Government also wants this relationship to be a long lasting one. Therefore, where relevant, the UK is of course considering any implications of future EU policy proposals on the future relationship agreement.

As a global leader on decarbonisation, the UK recognises the issues that the EU’s carbon border adjustment proposal could look to address, and the Government is monitoring the debate on possible designs with interest.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to provide funding for improved transport links in (a) Stoke-on-Trent North (b) Kidsgrove and (c) Talke.

Budget 2020 confirmed that Stoke-on-Trent will receive a share of £117 million of the wider Transforming Cities Fund, subject to further business case approval, which could fund a multi-modal transport hub at Stoke-on-Trent station. This builds on the £5.6m awarded to Stoke-on-Trent in March 2019 from Tranche 1 of the competition.

Budget also confirmed Stoke-on-Trent will be receiving a share of the £500m Potholes Fund in 2020-21, building on the £14 million provided to Stoke-on-Trent for local road maintenance since 2015.

The Department for Transport also confirmed on 18 March that it would be delivering £18.5 million investment in the Etruria Valley Link Road from the Local Growth Fund, improving links to Talke and Kidsgrove and providing up to 2,000 jobs and 200 homes.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
11th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that a potential EU carbon border tax is taken into account in negotiations on a free trade agreement between the UK and the EU.

The UK has set out a clear position on what it is seeking in the negotiations with the EU through the UK Approach to Negotiations publication. The Government wants a relationship based on friendly cooperation with both parties respecting one another’s legal autonomy. The Government also wants this relationship to be a long lasting one. Therefore, where relevant, the UK is of course considering any implications of future EU policy proposals on the future relationship agreement.

As a global leader on decarbonisation, the UK recognises the issues that the EU’s carbon border adjustment proposal could look to address, and the Government is monitoring the debate on possible designs with interest.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to deliver civil service jobs in her Department to Stoke-on-Trent.

The Home Office employs Civil Servants across the UK and is already a major employer in some towns and smaller cities. The Home Office intends to go beyond the conventional Government footprint and size to identify appropriate locations where we could locate future job opportunities.

This will further enhance representation within the Home Office of the communities we serve and support the economic growth across the UK. The long term plans are being developed and we will share them in due course.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans the Government has to increase sentences on (a) possession and (b) intent to supply of synthetic drugs.

The Government has no plans to change the lengths of sentences which can be handed down for possession or intent to supply Class A, B or C controlled drugs. We consider the classification of drugs on a case by case basis taking into consideration advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). This includes changing the classification of drugs which are already controlled as well as classifying new substances or those which are newly understood to pose a risk of harm or misuse.

We will shortly be introducing controls over several novel benzodiazepines for the first time as Class C drugs, following ACMD advice, and this will mean a maximum sentence of up to two years in prison, an unlimited fine or both for possession, and up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both for supply and production of these substances. We are currently considering recent ACMD recommendations on increasing the classification of GBL/GHB and on maintaining the current classification of synthetic cannabinoids and we will respond in due course.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to remove foreign national offenders from (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Kidsgrove.

One of this Government’s key objectives is to protect the public by removing foreign national offenders who commit criminal offences and have no right to remain in the UK. Foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality by committing crimes should be in no doubt of our determination to deport them irrespective of where they live, including Stoke-on-Trent and Kidsgrove, and since January 2019, we have removed 6,450 foreign national offenders from the UK.

All foreign nationals who receive a custodial sentence are referred to the Home Office to consider removal action. Every week we remove foreign criminals from the UK to different countries who have no right to be here. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have continued to return and deport foreign offenders and other immigration offenders where flight routes have been available to us, both on scheduled flights and charter flights.

For non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, deportation will be pursued where it is conducive to the public good including where a person receives a custodial sentence of 12 months or more, commits an offence that caused serious harm or is a persistent offender. Currently, European Economic Area (EEA) nationals are deported in accordance with European Union (EU) law on the grounds of public policy or public security.

The UK’s departure from the EU means that, in future, an EEA national who commits an offence after the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) will be considered under the same deportation thresholds that apply to non-EEA nationals.

We only return those with no legal right to remain in the UK, including foreign national offenders. Individuals are only returned to their country of origin when the Home Office and, where applicable, the Courts deem it is safe to do so.

This Government’s priority is keeping the people of this country safe, and we make no apology for seeking to remove dangerous foreign criminals.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to reduce knife crime in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Kidsgrove.

This Government is determined to turn the tide on knife crime in all areas, wherever it occurs. Across England and Wales, we are recruiting 20,000 additional police officers by March 2023 and the amount of funding available to the policing system for 2020/21 will increase by up to £1.1 billion, totalling £15.2 billion. Staffordshire Police will receive up to £211.1 million in 2020-21, an increase of 7.3% from 2019-20. Staffordshire have also been allocated 90 additional officers in the first year of uplift. As at 30 September 2020, the force is +55 officers into uplift against its baseline and is therefore well on its way towards its year one allocation.

We have tightened the law on knives through the Offensive Weapons Act 2019, which also introduced Knife Crime Prevention Orders. We have recently completed a public consultation on the introduction of Serious Violence Reduction Orders, to make it easier for the police to stop and search those who have been convicted of knife crime. While it is vital that the police have the resources and powers they need to tackle knife crime and serious violence, this is not a matter for the police alone. It is important that we also invest in prevention and early intervention to stop young people being drawn into violence in the first place. This is why we have invested a further £200 Million through the 10-Year Youth Endowment Fund to ensure those most at risk are given the opportunity to turn away from violence and lead positive lives. In addition, through the Early Intervention Youth Fund, which ran from 2018-2020, Staffordshire received £392,700 to develop a coordinated local approach to tackling serious violence.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to prevent radicalisation in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

The government aims to safeguard vulnerable individuals from radicalisation through the Prevent strategy. The Prevent Statutory Duty 2015 requires all local authorities to have due regard to the need to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. Prevent funding is prioritised based on threat and risk. The Home Office does not currently disclose the geographical allocation of Prevent funding.

James Brokenshire
Minister of State (Home Office)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to prevent migrants from illegally crossing the English Channel.

Keeping our border secure is the Government’s highest priority and it is committed to doing everything it can to stop these dangerous Channel crossings which are putting vulnerable lives at risk.

Through joint-working with France, the UK has funded the continued deployment of gendarme reservists along the coast of northern France, who are patrolling constantly in order to detect attempted crossings by migrants. Funding has been allocated, among other projects, for further improvements at ports in northern France and on the ground, this now includes drones, specialist vehicles and detection equipment to stop small boats leaving European shores.

Intelligence flows are also key to dismantling the organised crime groups behind crossings. We have restructured and repurposed our approach to support the growing intelligence feeds which is used to inform and direct how and where resource is deployed.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to protect children from sexual abuse during the covid-19 outbreak.

We are acutely aware that the necessary guidelines about social distancing and self-isolation may leave the victims of hidden crime, such as child sexual abuse, feeling especially vulnerable. For some children, home is not the safe-haven it should be and more time spent online means children may be at increased risk of harm.

In response, we are working across Government with the National Crime Agency (NCA), National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) the UK Intelligence Community (UKIC), local safeguarding partners and the third sector to assess the child sexual abuse threat during COVID-19 and ensure they have the resources they need to tackle offending and protect vulnerable children.

As part of this the Government has made £1.6 million available immediately for the NSPCC to expand and promote its national helpline for adults. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has also announced an extra £750 million funding for charities providing key frontline services and supporting vulnerable people during the crisis. The Home Office is working closely with other government departments and the third sector to ensure that this funding is prioritised and that charities who need this support receive it as soon as possible.

We are further working across government and agencies to ensure that teachers, parents and carers have access to the support they need to help keep children safe online. As part of this the National Crime Agency have launched the #OnlineSafetyAtHome campaign, the Department for Education has published interim safeguarding guidance for schools and colleges encouraging them to disseminate advice on online safety and we have published guidance for parents and carers on gov.uk. We have also worked with our Five Country partners to galvanise industry action; in response, key industry partners have developed a campaign targeting parents, carers and children with information and advice on staying safe online.

We are also determined to ensure that all victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, whether they are a child or an adult, can access the specialist support they need. Last week, we launched a funding competition for the Support for Victims and Survivors of CSA fund (SVSCSA). The SVSCSA, which we have doubled to £1.2 million, funds voluntary sector organisations providing support to victims and survivors at a national level, including through support lines, online resources and remote counselling.

Victoria Atkins
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to dismantle the operations of the county lines drugs gangs in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Kidsgrove.

We are investing £25 million over two years to crack down on the county lines drugs gangs exploiting our children and terrorising our communities.

Last year we invested £5m of this into operational use, with a number of law enforcement operations resulting directly from it taking place. This included county lines intelligence development by Staffordshire Police as part of Operation Engaged, led by West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit. The Home Office has established a County Lines Task and Finish Group through which we work with operational partners to monitor progress.

We are also bolstering our law enforcement response by putting 20,000 new police officers on our streets over three years, and we will continue to take action until we eradicate this abhorrent crime.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of increasing the number of police inquiry offices to improve contact points for police offices and PCSOs in (a) Tunstall and (b) Burslem.

Decisions on local contact points for police officers and PCSOs are operational matters for the Chief Constable of the force concerned.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans her Department has to allocate additional funding to the police in (a) Staffordshire and (b) Stoke-on-Trent.

The 2020/21 police funding settlement set out the biggest increase in funding for policing since 2010 with Staffordshire receiving an increase of £14.5m, provided they utilise their full precept flexibility.

Police forces will receive an additional £700 million for the recruitment of 6,000 additional officers by the end of March 2021 and Staffordshire has been allocated 90 officers for the first year, meaning more police on the streets to help tackle violent crime and keep our communities safe.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department has taken to ensure that UK operational readiness is unaffected by military assistance to the covid-19 response in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire.

Defence has taken prudent steps to assure the continued delivery of all its critical outputs. Measures have been put in place to protect critical Force Elements, ensuring that UK operational readiness remains unaffected by military assistance to COVID-19. This includes in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, where Defence has provided three military planners to support the Staffordshire Local Resilience Forum.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to ensure veterans are protected from vexatious claims.

On 18 March 2020 the Government introduced the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill to help tackle vexatious claims and the cycle of reinvestigations against our Armed Forces personnel and veterans. Due to the impact of COVID on parliamentary business, the progression of the Bill to Second Reading has been delayed, but is now planned for 23 September.

In addition to the Overseas Operations Bill, we intend taking forward some of the key recommendations from HH Lyons' 2017 review to improve the Service Justice System, including Sir Jon Murphy's recommendation for the establishment of a tri-Service Defence Serious Crime Unit (DSCU), and for an oversight body for complaints against the Service Police. These measures are intended to deliver a stronger, more collaborative and effective role for the Service Police within the Service Justice System.

20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to encourage more Combined Cadet Forces in academy and local authority schools.

As a result of the Cadet Expansion Programme – a joint Ministry of Defence and Department for Education initiative – we now have over 500 cadet units in schools, almost two thirds of which are in academies and local authority schools.

The priority for the programme, originally launched in 2012, has been to focus on state schools in areas of high deprivation and the majority of school cadet units are now in the state sector. There is now a further ambition within the programme to increase the number of cadets across all school cadet units to 60,000 by 2024.

Being in the cadets equips young people with unique skills and experiences which can help them in day to day life. Cadets are taught transferrable skills that can help with future aspirations and long-term career goals, such as relationship building, problem-solving and teamwork.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to commemorate VE Day.

The Ministry of Defence will be supporting the Government plans to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day to ensure that our nation's veterans are appropriately commemorated. An announcement will be made in due course.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what support the Government is providing to (a) Stoke-on-Trent City Council, (b) Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council and (c) Staffordshire County Council to mitigate a reduction of income due to covid-19.

The Government is providing significant support to local councils to assist with income reductions as a result of COVID-19. We have already made £528 million of payments under this year’s Sales, Fees and Charges Scheme, from which Stoke-on-Trent City Council (£3.5 million), Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council (£0.55 million) and Staffordshire County Council (£0.94 million) have all benefited, and we have now extended the scheme into the first three months of 2021-22.

To further support local councils with income losses, we are allowing councils to phase repayment of local tax collection fund deficits arising in 2020-21 over three years; we are committing to meet 75 per cent of councils’ irrecoverable losses in council tax and business rates income for 2020-21, worth an estimated £800 million; and we are providing authorities with £670 million of new grant funding to support council tax income, by enabling councils to continue reducing bills in 2021-22 for households least able to pay.

We will continue to monitor the effect of COVID-19 on local councils and would ask that any local authority that is faced with an unmanageable pressure or is concerned about their future financial position should approach MHCLG for a discussion.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to promote housebuilding in Stoke-on-Trent.

I refer the Hon Member to the answer given to PQ 129146 on 21 December 2020.

On a National level, further funding to support housebuilding via the National House Building Fund (NHBF) will be confirmed at the next multi-year Spending Review, delivering on the Government’s commitment to provide £10 billion to unlock homes through provision of infrastructure.

As announced in December 2020, we are also planning to launch a new £100 million Brownfield Land Release fund this month to support brownfield development, estates regeneration, development on public sector land and self and custom-build serviced plots in coming forward. This will be open to councils across England, apart from those Mayoral Combined Authority areas that recently benefited from our £400 million brownfield fund. Stoke on Trent City Council are welcome to bid for this funding and we invite councils to use the time between now and the prospectus launch to start to consider and prepare their bids.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to increase council budgets for (a) Stoke-on-Trent City Council, (b) Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council and (c) Staffordshire County Council.

The provisional local government finance settlement for 2021-22 proposes making an extra £2.2 billion available to fund the provision of critical public services including adult and children’s social care. On average, across England councils will see a 4.5 per cent cash terms increase in Core Spending Power, an increase in real terms.

In addition to this, this Government has provided in excess of £10 billion to local councils in support of Covid-19 pressures, this year and next, including over £7.2 billion of additional expenditure funding in 2020-21.

As part of this:

Stoke-on-Trent City Council will receive £8.7 million in non-ringfenced Covid-19 funding next year, on top of over £25 million this year. This is in addition to a proposed increase in their Core Spending Power of over £10 million in 2021-22.

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council will receive nearly £700,000 in non-ringfenced Covid-19 funding next year, on top of almost £2 million this year. This is in addition to a proposed increase in their Core Spending Power of over £200,000 in 2021-22.

Staffordshire County Council will receive over £16 million in non-ringfenced Covid-19 funding next year, on top of over £47.5 million this year. This is in addition to a proposed increase in their Core Spending Power of over £29 million in 2021-22.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans his Department has to increase devolution in England.

We want to devolve and decentralise to give more power to local communities, providing an opportunity for all places to level up. We intend to bring forward the English Devolution and Local Recovery White Paper in due course, detailing how the UK Government will partner with places across the UK to build a sustainable economic recovery, including our vision for expanding devolution across England.

On 17 December 2020 the Order for the West Yorkshire devolution deal was laid in Parliament. Subject to parliamentary approval, the newly elected Mayor will have control over an annual £38 million investment fund as well as new powers over transport, education and housing and planning.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to support the regeneration of high streets in (a) Burslem, (b) Tunstall and (c) Kidsgrove.

This Government is committed to driving the regeneration of towns and High Streets across the country and particularly so in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The £3.6 billion Towns Fund aims to deliver long-term economic and productivity growth to towns and high streets. In September 2019, we announced the initial 101 towns Government would work with to agree Town Deals. Kidsgrove is one of the towns invited to submit a Town Investment Plan. This was received at the end of October 2020 and is now being assessed.

The Government is launching a new Levelling Up Fund (LUF) worth £4 billion for England. This new cross-departmental Fund will invest in a broad range of high value local projects, including upgrading town centres and community infrastructure. It will invest in local infrastructure that has a visible impact on people and their communities and will support economic recovery.

The Spending Review has made available up to £600 million for the LUF in 2021-22, and further funding will be spread over subsequent years up to 2023-24. We intend to publish a prospectus for the Fund and launch the first round of competitions later this year.

The Spending Review also announced that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will help to level up and create opportunity across the UK for people and places. It will support people and communities, creating new opportunities and spurring regeneration and innovation.

Earlier this year we announced the £900 million “Getting Building Fund” to deliver local employment, skills, and infrastructure priorities, £23.7 million of which was allocated to Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Project.

The Government-backed Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone is making a big impact, enabling redundant and long-neglected brownfield sites to be re-developed, including Chatterley Valley East, Highgate / Ravensdale, and Tunstall Arrow, in Tunstall.

We have provided £10 million of Housing Infrastructure Fund Marginal Viability Funding to transform nine long-standing vacant sites in the Burslem and Middleport areas, helping to breathe new life in the town.

In addition, the High Streets Task Force has launched a range of online resources to provide support to places across the country, which can be found here: https://www.highstreetstaskforce.org.uk/products-and-services/support-for-all-high-streets/

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to support regeneration (a) Burslem and (b) Tunstall.

This Government is committed to driving the regeneration of towns across the country and particularly so in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

We have an ongoing programme of interventions. The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is already benefiting from £121 million of Local Growth Funding which is funding projects such as Etruria Valley.

In July we announced that Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire LEP would receive £23.7 million from the Getting Building Fund. This will support a number of projects, including £120,000 for a Digital and Construction Skills Project at Stoke College and £2.8 million for the Powering Up Enterprise project, which will see the creation of modern, digitally enhanced workspace in Stoke-on-Trent through re-purposing and refurbishing underused and vacant floor space.

The Government-backed Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone is making a big impact, enabling redundant and long-neglected brownfield sites to be re-developed, including Chatterley Valley East, Highgate / Ravensdale and Tunstall Arrow, in Tunstall.

We have provided £10 million of Housing Infrastructure Fund Marginal Viability Funding to transform nine long-standing vacant sites in the Burslem and Middleport areas, helping to breathe new life in the town.

The £3.6 billion Towns Fund aims to deliver long-term economic and productivity growth to towns and high streets. In September 2019, we announced the initial 101 towns Government would work with to agree Town Deals. A further Towns Fund competitive round will be announced in due course.

In addition, the High Streets Task Force has launched a range of online resources to provide support to places across the country, which can be found here: https://www.highstreetstaskforce.org.uk/products-and-services/support-for-all-high-streets/.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, when he plans to make a decision and publish his next steps on banning (a) laminated glass and (b) other combustible materials.

On 20 January 2020 we launched a public consultation including proposals to expand the scope of the in-effect ban of combustible materials in and on the external walls, this also included proposals with regards to laminated glass as well as other exemptions. The consultation closed on the 25 May 2020. We are currently analysing responses and will publish the government response to the consultation in due course.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what fiscal steps he is taking to support (a) Stoke-on-Trent, (b) Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council and (c) Staffordshire County Council during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have now made £3.2 billion available to local authorities through an un-ringfenced grant so they can address pressures they are facing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.? Of this Stoke-on-Trent has received £16.06 million, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council has received £1.36 million and Staffordshire County Council has received £37.76 million in additional funding across the two tranches.

In total, the Government has committed over £27 billion to local areas to support councils and their communities. This also includes: £300 million to support the new test and trace service, £600 million to support providers through a new Infection Control Fund and £12.3 billion of support through the Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grants.

Alongside this funding, the Government has provided over £5 billion of cashflow support including the deferral of local authority payments of the Central Share of retained business rates, valued at £2.6 billion, as well as up-front payments of £1.8 billion of business rates reliefs and £850 million of social care grant.

Furthermore, as I set out to the House on Monday 15 June, we are working closely with colleagues across government on a comprehensive plan to ensure councils’ financial sustainability over the financial year ahead. Ministers will continue to keep the House informed as these plans develop.

11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what fiscal steps he is taking to support (a) Stoke-on-Trent City Council, (b) Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council and (c) Staffordshire County Council during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has made a commitment to support all authorities with the additional cost pressures from the extra work and the specific tasks we have asked them to carry out as a result of the pandemic, including in relation to social care – both adult and children’s, public health services, shielding the most vulnerable, homelessness and rough sleeping, supporting the NHS and managing excess deaths.

The £3.2 billion package of support, which has distributed £16.1 million to Stoke-on-Trent, £1.4 million to Newcastle-under-Lyme and £37.8 million to Staffordshire, recognises the additional costs and pressures on finances councils are facing as a result of the current crisis. It demonstrates the Government’s commitment to making sure all councils have the resources they need to support their communities through this challenging time. This is a significant package of support which responds to the range of pressures councils have told us they are facing.

20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department has taken to support businesses facing challenges as a result of the covid-19 outbreak in (a) Stoke-on-Trent, (b) Kidsgrove, (c) Talke and (d) England.

The Government has announced a package of support for businesses to help with their ongoing business costs in recognition of the disruption caused by Covid-19. In particular, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been working across Government to provide £12.33 billion of grant funding to help small and rural businesses and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors manage their cashflow through this period. This support will take the form of two grant funding schemes, the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF).

Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF):

  • All businesses in England in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief (RRR) in the business rates system will be eligible for a payment of £10,000.
  • This is estimated to apply to around 730,000 businesses across England.

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF):

  • Businesses in England that would have been in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) on 11 March with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for the following cash grants per property:
  • Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to and including £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000.
  • Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.

The allocation for support in the local authorities of Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme and the total for England is listed below:

Local Authority

Allocation

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council (Kidsgrove and Talke)

£23,876,000

Stoke-on-Trent City Council

£57,654,000

Total

England

£12.33billion

14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many parents have taken local education authorities (LEAs) to appeal at a tribunal against an Education, Care and Health Plan decision in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire in each of the last five years; and what proportion of those appeals were determined in favour of the (a) parents and (b) LEA.

The number of appeals brought against EHCP decisions (including the refusal to assess a child or young person; the refusal to issue an EHCP after an assessment; and the content of the EHCP) in the LEAs of (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Staffordshire; and the proportion of those appeals determined in favour of the (a) parents and (b) LEA is shown in the table below. For context, the number of appeals withdrawn or conceded before, and those still awaiting, hearing is also included.

Local Authority/year

Appeals received on grounds of refusal to assess, issue an EHCP and the content of the plan

Found in favour1 of the parents or young person at hearing

Found in favour of the LEA at hearing

Withdrawn

LEA Conceded prior to the hearing

Awaiting hearing

Stoke on Trent

2015-16

7

1 (50%)

1 (50%)

2

3

0

2016-17

15

4 (56%)

3 (43%)

4

4

0

2017-18

14

4 (100%)

0

7

3

0

2018-19

20

6 (100%)

0

2

12

0

2019-20

26

8 (100%)

0

1

11

6

Staffordshire

2015-16

76

12 (100%)

0

30

34

0

2016-17

106

28 (74%)

10 (26%)

26

42

0

2017-18

97

35 (67%)

16 (33%)

20

26

0

2018-19

81

35 (83%)

7 (17%)

15

23

1

2019-20

111

58 (95%)

3 (5%)

16

14

20

¹ Appeals found in favour of the parent or young person are those in which the appellant was successful in all or part of the appeal
The data are extracted from GAPS2- the Tribunal’s case management system
The years referred to above are school years from 1 September to 31 August the following year.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether he is taking steps taking to include Desecration of War Memorials Bill provisions in the Sentencing Green Paper.

Any vandalism or attack on property should be met with the full force of the law. Attacking any memorial is an insult, and this is particularly true of a war memorial commemorating those who have given their lives fighting for our freedom.

The Government has stated in the Sentencing White Paper, A Smarter Approach to Sentencing, that it is currently reviewing the law in this area to ensure that where memorials are damaged or desecrated, the courts are able to sentence appropriately at every level for this particular type of offending.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
8th Dec 2020
What plans he has to amend the Human Rights Act 1998.

Yesterday the Government announced the launch of the Independent Human Rights Act Review, which is a key manifesto commitment of Government.

The Review will be a technical examination of the operation of the Human Rights Act, chaired by Sir Peter Gross. It will focus on the relationship between domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights, as well as the relationship between the judiciary, the executive and the legislature.

The Panel have been requested to provide a detailed, independent piece of advice outlining options for reform by Summer 2021. A government response will subsequently be published.

Alex Chalk
Assistant Whip
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps his Department is taking to mark the 100th anniversary of Northern Ireland in 2021.

In the New Decade, New Approach deal, the Government committed to marking this centenary, recognising that it offered an opportunity to reflect on the past as well as to build for the future, in Northern Ireland, across the UK and internationally. We committed to facilitating national recognition and international awareness of the anniversary, which marks not only the centenary of Northern Ireland, but also of the United Kingdom as we know it.

On his recent visit to Northern Ireland, the Prime Minister announced the establishment of a Centenary Forum, and a Centenary Historical Advisory Panel. This will offer us the opportunity to work with a broad spectrum of people to deliver an ambitious and exciting programme of events to mark the anniversary. Further details about the centenary programme will be available later in the autumn.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent discussions he has had with businesses on the Northern Ireland protocol.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and I meet regularly with individual businesses and business representative organisations as negotiations and preparations for the end of the Transition Period continue. This includes via meetings of the Business Engagement Forum, which has now met thirteen times since its formation in June. Ministers and officials in the Northern Ireland Office and across Government also continue to speak with Northern Ireland businesses and business representative organisations outside of these formal discussions.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what assessment his Department has made of the level of additional fiscal support made available to the Scottish Government in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

We have confronted this virus as one United Kingdom and worked with the devolved administrations every step of the way.

On top of an unprecedented package of UK-wide support for businesses and individuals, totalling £330 billion, we are providing £6.5 billion to help Scotland fight coronavirus. This is including an extra £2.7 billion announced this Summer alone.

We provided an unprecedented upfront guarantee, which will give the Scottish Government the certainty and financial flexibility to plan for the months ahead.

Alister Jack
Secretary of State for Scotland