Mark Hendrick Portrait

Mark Hendrick

Labour (Co-op) - Preston

Select Committees
International Trade Committee (since March 2020)
Panel of Chairs (since March 2020)
Committees on Arms Export Controls
6th Jul 2020 - 2nd Feb 2021
International Trade Committee
2nd Jul 2018 - 6th Nov 2019
Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee
5th Jan 2016 - 3rd May 2017
Foreign Affairs Committee
8th Jul 2015 - 3rd May 2017
High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill (Commons)
7th Jul 2015 - 22nd Feb 2016
Foreign Affairs Committee
18th Jun 2012 - 30th Mar 2015
Opposition Assistant Whip (Commons)
8th Oct 2010 - 18th Mar 2013
International Development Committee
19th Jan 2009 - 6th May 2010
European Scrutiny Committee
25th Jan 2001 - 14th Jun 2004


Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 23rd June 2021
14:00
International Trade Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: UK Export Finance
23 Jun 2021, 2 p.m.
At 2.30pm: Oral evidence
Graham Stuart MP - Minister for Exports at Department for International Trade
Louis Taylor - Chief Executive at UK Export Finance
View calendar
Select Committee Meeting
Thursday 24th June 2021
09:30
International Trade Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: UK-EU trading relationship
24 Jun 2021, 9:30 a.m.
At 10.00am: Oral evidence
Professor Catherine Barnard - Professor of European Union and Labour Law at Cambridge University
Dr Brigid Fowler - Senior Researcher at Hansard Society
Georgina Wright - Head of the Europe Program at Institut Montaigne
View calendar
Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 30th June 2021
14:00
Division Votes
Wednesday 9th June 2021
Investing in Children and Young People
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 193 Labour Aye votes vs 0 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 224 Noes - 0
Speeches
Monday 14th June 2021
Football Governance

The state of our national game has been a story of rich man, poor man, with the very rich clubs …

Written Answers
Monday 21st June 2021
Remote Education: Literacy
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of home …
Early Day Motions
Monday 14th June 2021
Loneliness Awareness Week and the digital divide faced by people with a learning disability
That this House recognises Loneliness Awareness Week, running from 14 to 18 June; commends the charity Hft’s recent Sector Pulse …
Bills
Wednesday 20th June 2012
International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill 2012-13
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will …
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
Saturday 11th January 2020
3. Gifts, benefits and hospitality from UK sources
Name of donor: Chinese Consul General
Address of donor: Denison House, 71 Denison Rd, Manchester M14 5RX
Amount of donation, …
EDM signed
Tuesday 11th May 2021
Fire and rehire tactics
That this House notes with alarm the growing number of employers who are dismissing and re-engaging staff on worse pay …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Mark Hendrick has voted in 247 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Mark Hendrick 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
Chi Onwurah (Labour)
Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
(4 debate interactions)
Greg Hands (Conservative)
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
(4 debate interactions)
Rosie Winterton (Labour)
(3 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department for International Trade
(8 debate contributions)
Department for Education
(2 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Mark Hendrick's debates

Preston Petitions

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

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

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

Petitions with most Preston signatures
Petition Debates Contributed

Bring in a law which enforces professional football clubs to have at least 51% fan ownership similar to how the Bundesliga operates this rule.

The Government should use the recently established fan led review of football to introduce an Independent Football Regulator in England to put fans back at the heart of our national game. This should happen by December 2021.


Latest EDMs signed by Mark Hendrick

14th June 2021
Mark Hendrick signed this EDM as the primary signatory on Monday 14th June 2021

Loneliness Awareness Week and the digital divide faced by people with a learning disability

Tabled by: Mark Hendrick (Labour (Co-op) - Preston)
That this House recognises Loneliness Awareness Week, running from 14 to 18 June; commends the charity Hft’s recent Sector Pulse Check 2020 research that highlights the digital barriers which made it difficult for people who have a learning disability to remain in touch with others during the covid-19 outbreak; encourages …
18 signatures
(Most recent: 22 Jun 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 5
Liberal Democrat: 3
Scottish National Party: 3
Plaid Cymru: 3
Conservative: 2
Independent: 1
Alba Party: 1
13th April 2021
Mark Hendrick signed this EDM on Tuesday 11th May 2021

Fire and rehire tactics

Tabled by: Grahame Morris (Labour - Easington)
That this House notes with alarm the growing number of employers who are dismissing and re-engaging staff on worse pay and terms and conditions, a practice commonly known as fire and rehire; agrees with Government Ministers that such tactics represent an unacceptable abuse of power by rogue bosses, many of …
75 signatures
(Most recent: 11 May 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 48
Scottish National Party: 14
Independent: 4
Plaid Cymru: 3
Alba Party: 2
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Liberal Democrat: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Green Party: 1
View All Mark Hendrick's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Mark Hendrick, 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.


Mark Hendrick has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Mark Hendrick has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

1 Bill introduced by Mark Hendrick


The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to make provision about the meeting by the United Kingdom of the target for official development assistance (ODA) to constitute 0.7 per cent of gross national income; to make provision for independent verification that ODA is spent efficiently and effectively; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Wednesday 20th June 2012

Mark Hendrick has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


303 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
5 Other Department Questions
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, what steps her Department is taking to tackle the increase in incidents of online workplace sexual harassment.

Under the Equality Act 2010 employers have a legal responsibility to take all reasonable steps to protect their employees against workplace sexual harassment. If they fail to do so, the employer is vicariously liable for any sexual harassment committed by their employees during the course of their employment; this includes online.

The Government expects employers to take these responsibilities seriously. If they fail, employees can seek advice from ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) and, if necessary, take legal action in an Employment Tribunal.

Last year the Equality and Human Rights Commission, with the Government’s support, published guidance on harassment and sexual harassment at work. This made clear that employers should ensure policies on IT, communications systems and social media include appropriate warnings against online harassment and encourage workers to report it.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing an automated traffic light system to control the number of people entering and leaving government buildings.

The guidance designed for Government workplaces does not currently consider the use of such traffic light systems. Current advice includes consideration of staggered arrival and departure times to reduce crowding.

Additional measures will be considered as necessary.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many people have died in care homes in (a) April, (b) May and (c) June 2020 in (i) Preston and (ii) Lancashire compared to the same period in each of the last two years.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the (a) median age (b) sex (c) race (d) religion and (e) gender was of covid-19 (i) deaths and (ii) cases in Preston constituency.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, the exact number of daily excess all-cause mortality in (a) age group and (b) PHE centres in week 30 of covid-19.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of trends in the level of knife crime in the last 10 years.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether behavioural scientists are involved in implementing national lockdown guidance and messaging.

Behavioural science has been fully embedded in Covid-19 communications since the start of the pandemic. The evidence-based principles from this field have been applied across all key campaigns, including the decision to enter national lockdown. Behavioural science support during the pandemic has been provided by internal government teams and academic experts, including those who are members of SPI-B.

The Government constantly monitors and gains insight on public awareness. We use regular evaluations to maximise the impact of our campaigns across the UK. Recall of Government communication has remained extremely high.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he has made an assessment of the effectiveness of public health messaging in saving lives during the covid-19 outbreak.

Behavioural science has been fully embedded in Covid-19 communications since the start of the pandemic. The evidence-based principles from this field have been applied across all key campaigns, including the decision to enter national lockdown. Behavioural science support during the pandemic has been provided by internal government teams and academic experts, including those who are members of SPI-B.

The Government constantly monitors and gains insight on public awareness. We use regular evaluations to maximise the impact of our campaigns across the UK. Recall of Government communication has remained extremely high.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
16th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he is taking to implement AI infrastructure at EU-UK borders.

The Cabinet Office published on 22 July a consultation document on the 2025 Border Strategy. This set out the Government’s intention to create a highly digitised and automated border. As part of this approach, we will explore the potential to use artificial intelligence at the border. We will respond to the consultation in due course.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what criteria is used by Government Departments when granting public contracts to private companies.

Public sector purchasing authorities are required to purchase products and services in accordance with public procurement legislation. Against this background, UK public procurement policy is to award contracts on the basis of value for money, which means the optimum combination of cost and quality over the lifetime of the project.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many (a) applications were made under the right to ask element of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) (b) disclosures were made as a result of the DVDS application and (c) proactive disclosures were made under the right to know element of that scheme to people who had not made an application for DVDS in each year since the introduction of that scheme in March 2014 in (a) Lancashire and (b) each police force area.

The information requested falls under the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many disclosures made under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme were made within the 35 day time limit in each year since the introduction of the scheme in (a) Lancashire and (b) in each police force in England and Wales.

The information requested falls under the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many (a) men and (b) women were killed by their partner or ex-partner in each of the last three years.

The information requested falls under the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of the provision of bereavement leave to (a) mothers and (b) partners who have experienced a (i) miscarriage and (ii) stillbirth.

We recognise that losing a child at any age can be deeply upsetting. We encourage employers to provide appropriate support to women who have suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth.

In April 2020, we legislated to give parents who lose a child under the age of 18 a right to take up to 2 weeks off work in the 56 weeks following the death of their child. This right extends to parents of babies stillborn after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy. It is too early to conduct an evaluation of this policy.

Individuals who do not feel able to return to work following a miscarriage may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay while off work. All employees are also entitled to 5.6 weeks of Annual Leave a year and many employers also offer ‘Compassionate Leave’. We encourage employers to respond sensitively to each individual’s specific needs.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of making daylight saving time permanent.

The Government believes that the current daylight-saving arrangements represent the optimal use of the available daylight across the UK. We do not believe there is sufficient evidence to support changing the current system of clock changes, including for travel, tourism and energy usage.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of making daylight saving time permanent.

It has not proved possible to respond to the Hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of the provision of bereavement leave to (a) mothers and (b) partners who have experienced a (i) miscarriage and (ii) stillbirth.

It has not proved possible to respond to the Hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the economic consequences of annual leave entitlement not taken by employees in 2020 as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

In light of the pandemic, the Government introduced the Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 which allow four weeks of annual leave to be carried into the following two leave years if, due to the effects of coronavirus, it is not reasonably practicable for a worker to take this leave in the year to which it relates. These regulations ensure that workers who are unable to take their holiday due to coronavirus do not risk losing their holiday entitlement.

These regulations relax the obligation on employers to ensure that workers can take holiday in the leave year to which it relates, providing additional flexibility to support both employers and workers. It is a matter for individual employers and their workers to consider whether it is possible to facilitate a worker taking annual leave at a specific time.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of anonymous recruitment.

Employers should treat all job applicants courteously as well as being fair and objective in their selection of successful candidates. Provided they do not discriminate unlawfully, for example on grounds of race, sex or disability, they are free to use the recruitment methods that best suit their business needs.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department is taking steps to protect furloughed jobs from automation.

The World Economic Forum has estimated that robotics, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will displace 75 million jobs globally between 2018 and 2022 but create 133 million new ones – a “net positive” of 58 million jobs.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has taken unprecedented steps to protect jobs. The objective of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is to enable employers to keep people in employment. So far, the CJRS has helped 1.2 million employers to pay the wages of 9.9 million jobs across all sectors of the economy.

Analysis published by HMRC shows that 90 per cent of employees that left the CJRS between April and July were still on their original payroll in August, suggesting they remained working for their original employer. The OBR have also estimated that unemployment would have been higher in the second quarter of 2021 in the absence of the CJRS and other measures.

The Government continues to monitor CJRS take-up, with HMRC's latest official statistics producing analysis of claims split by characteristics including employer size, sector of the economy, geography, age and gender.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many doses of the covid-19 vaccine are produced each day in the UK.

The Government has invested over £300 million to scale up the UK’s manufacturing capabilities. Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic and vaccine supplies are part of our critical national infrastructure. Vaccines are a precious resource in very high demand across the world; therefore, for security reasons, it is not possible to provide detail about the size of our supplies and exact detail about deliveries.

We remain in close contact with all vaccine suppliers to ensure we can hit our target of offering vaccinations to priority groups 1 to 4, as advised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, by 15 February 2021.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the UK manufacturing capacity is of the covid-19 vaccine.

The Government has invested over £300 million to secure and scale up the UK’s manufacturing capabilities to be able to respond to the pandemic. This includes:

a) Facilities that have come online:

  • £4.7 million for skills training through the Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network, which will be delivered through both virtual and physical centres;
  • £8.75 million for the set-up of the rapid deployment facility at Oxford Biomedica in Oxfordshire; and
  • £65.5 million for the early manufacture of the University of Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine.
  • We have also funded fill and finish through a contract with Wockhardt in Wrexham, North Wales which is currently providing Fill-Finish capabilities to the University of Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine.

b) Facilities that will come online later this year, to help provide longer term UK capacity:

  • £93 million to accelerate the completion and expanded role of the Vaccine Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Oxfordshire; and
  • £127 million for the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Braintree in Essex.

In addition to the above, we have also funded the expansion of the Valneva factory in Livingston, Scotland.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to help protect workers' rights after the end of the transition period.

The Government’s ambition is for the UK to be the best place in the world to work and grow a business. The Government has already passed legislation to ensure that employment rights are protected at the end of the transition period. The legislation and the explanatory memorandum for each can be read at the following links: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2019/535/contents/made and https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2019/536/contents/made; and for Northern Ireland: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2019/537/contents/made and https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2019/538/contents/made.

More information the continuing availability of workplace rights from 1 January 2021 is available online: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/workplace-rights-from-1-january-2021.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to publish guidance on worker's rights for people working from home.

ACAS has produced comprehensive guidance on the key employer considerations for when people are working at home during the pandemic. This covers health and safety and insurance – the link to the relevant section of the ACAS site can be found here https://www.acas.org.uk/working-from-home.

There is also a legal framework in place that grants all employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employer the statutory Right to Request Flexible Working, where employees can request a change to their hours, working patterns or to work from home. There is supporting guidance currently available online which explains both eligibility and the process for making a request to work flexibly on GOV.UK – this can be found here https://www.gov.uk/flexible-working. In addition, there is the ACAS Code of Practice on making and responding to flexible working requests, which can be found here https://www.acas.org.uk/acas-code-of-practice-on-flexible-working-requests.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to ensure people who work remotely are not being required to accept a loss in (a) pay, (b) job stability, and (c) opportunities for promotion.

ACAS has produced comprehensive guidance on the key employment issues for when people are working at home during the pandemic. This covers practical issues such as pay and insurance, as well as offering training on managing people who work remotely – the link to the relevant section of the ACAS site can be found here https://www.acas.org.uk/working-from-home.

There is also a legal framework in place that grants all employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employer the statutory Right to Request Flexible Working, where employees can request a change to their hours, working patterns or to work from home. There is supporting guidance currently available online which explains both eligibility and the process for making a request to work flexibly on GOV.UK – this can be found here https://www.gov.uk/flexible-working.

Employers should not dismiss or treat staff unfairly because they have made a flexible working request or intend to make a flexible working request, which can include working remotely. To treat staff unfairly means to cause them detriment such that they are worse off than they were previously. Examples of unfair treatment include employers reducing the hours of staff, overlooking individuals for promotions or development opportunities, and saying no to training requests without good reason.

If an employee feels they have experienced detriment because of a flexible working request, they may qualify to make a claim to an employment tribunal.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what support he is providing to businesses that are (a) closed and (b) trading with reduced capacity as a result of covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The Government has announced there will be further funding to support businesses that are required to close due to localised restrictions being put in place to manage the spread of coronavirus and save lives.

The Local Restrictions Support Grant is now in place, which offers a helping hand to businesses in Very High Tier areas as they close their doors to help save lives. Businesses in these areas in England can receive up to £3,000 per month and payments will kick in after two weeks of closure. My Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on 22nd October that further funding will be put in place to support businesses in High Local Alert Level area restrictions. Funding will be provided via local authorities to support businesses, including hospitality and leisure businesses, that have had their trade affected by the restrictions but have not been required to close.

Where government has not required that businesses close, other support has been provided to help businesses through difficult trading conditions. In addition to the Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund which provided support from April to September this year, the Government has extended the deadline for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Future Fund until 30th November 2020.

We will work with lenders and business representatives to introduce a new, successor loan guarantee scheme, set to begin in January 2021. In addition, the Job Support Scheme will run from 1st November to help support viable jobs in businesses facing lower demand in the winter months.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to prevent the exploitation of people working in UK garment factories.

In light of the very serious recent allegations of illegal and unsafe working conditions for garment workers in Leicester, a multi-agency Taskforce, led by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) has been set up in Leicester to enable the relevant enforcement bodies to work together at pace to take appropriate action against unscrupulous employers and individuals who exploit workers. The taskforce includes: HMRC National Minimum Wage; Employment Agencies Standards Inspectorate (BEIS); Leicestershire Police; National Crime Agency; Leicester City Council; Department for Work and Pensions and Immigration Enforcement (Home Office). The Taskforce has identified around 200 businesses and premises for investigation and is conducting a programme of site visits.

We are also working with industry through the Apparel and General Merchandise Public and Private Protocol, a partnership between enforcement bodies and industry partner – including the British Retail Consortium, UK Fashion and the Textile Association – aimed at tackling all forms of labour exploitation in the garment trade.

The Government is committed to improving enforcement of employment rights. We have announced the intention to introduce a Single Enforcement Body, which will provide a clearer route for workers to raise a complaint and get support, enabling more coordinated enforcement action and the use of pooled intelligence to better target proactive enforcement.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure businesses do not terminate staff required to self-isolate due to covid-19.

Employees with the necessary qualifying periods are protected from unfair dismissal and employers who dismiss an employee because they are, or have been, self-isolating, may be liable for unfair or automatically unfair dismissal. However, there could be other factors which might be support a dismissal being considered to be fair. These factors will need to be reviewed by an employment tribunal and the tribunal’s decision will depend on all the circumstances in each individual case.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to provide additional funding for schemes to support business affected by covid-19 that are owned by (a) minorities and (b) women.

The Government is committed to ensuring people from all backgrounds and regions benefit from the Government’s access to finance schemes. A diverse and inclusive ecosystem is good for entrepreneurs, companies, investors, and society as a whole.

The Department’s Ministerial team is also actively engaging with the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) business community on a regular basis to cover multiple issues, including access to finance.

The Future Fund provides government co-investment to innovative businesses. As of 5 July, 376 convertible loans worth a total of £380 million have been approved under the scheme. The British Business Bank (BBB) published diversity data for the Future Fund on 23 June 2020, which showed that companies with BAME-only and mixed ethnicity management teams accounted for over 55% of applications, valued at £118.5m, and that 79% of funding had been issued to companies with mixed gender management teams.

The Future Fund is also a signatory of the Investing in Women Code and encourages co-investors to do the same.

The British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme had delivered more than 73,600 loans to entrepreneurs by the end of May 2020, providing more than £609 million of funding. Of these, 40 per cent of these loans have gone to women, and 25 per cent of the total were to applicants from a BAME background.

The Government’s loan schemes to support businesses affected by Covid-19, including the Bounce Back Loan schemes, are open to all businesses which meet the eligibility criteria, including those owned by women as well as those owned by people from a BAME background. We will monitor the implementation and take up of the schemes.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that covid-19 social distancing measures are being implemented by businesses which hold Government contracts.

It is critical that all employers offer safe workplaces. The Government has published guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. These guides cover a range of working environments and are available at www.gov.uk/workingsafely.

Our legal framework already requires employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees and this includes risks from COVID-19. This guidance forms part of employers’ normal health and safety practice. Health and safety legislation is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and by local authorities.

If the enforcing authority finds that an employer is not taking action to properly manage workplace risk, a range of actions is open to them including specific advice or issuing enforcement notices.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on gender equality in the workplace.

We are actively monitoring the impact of Covid-19 on the labour market, including the impact on men and women.

It is too early to draw any firm conclusions. We are analysing the ONS labour market statistics released on the 16th of June, which cover the 3-month period up to the end of April. Analysis of this and other data will provide an indication of early impacts of Covid-19 on the labour market

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to support independent convenience store (a) owners and (b) workers affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

The Chancellor has announced an unprecedented package of Government-backed and guaranteed loans to support UK businesses. For example, from 1 April 2020 businesses of all sizes in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors will pay no business rates in England for 12 months. In addition to the Small Business Grant Scheme, we will also provide small businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors with a higher grant of £25,000 per business, if they have a rateable value of under £51,000.

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access financial support, so they can continue to pay their employees’ salaries where they may otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. This applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the payroll, otherwise described as furloughed workers. The Government will reimburse 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month to safeguard workers from being made redundant.

On 26 March, the Chancellor announced the Self-employment Income Support Scheme, which will support individuals and members of partnerships whose income has negatively been impacted by the Coronavirus. HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The Scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000.

We have also made changes to the welfare system, increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by £1,000 a year. We have suspended the minimum income floor for 12 months – meaning every self-employed person can now access Universal Credit at a rate that is equivalent to statutory Sick Pay.

Public Health England have published further advice for employers and employees regarding Covid-19 at:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make an assessment with the Secretary of State for International Trade of the potential merits of working with his counterparts in the (a) EU and (b) US Administration to create a digital free trading zone.

Digital trade is one of the government's top trade priorities. The ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on electronic commerce present an excellent opportunity to agree plurilateral rules on digital trade. The UK is an active participant and the government is fully committed to a successful outcome that liberalises digital trade across all those WTO members taking part, which includes the European Union and the United States.

The UK’s digital ambition will also be driven through bilateral trade agreements. The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement includes some of the world's most liberalising provisions for digital trade. The government is also negotiating a modern, ambitious digital trade chapter with the US as a part of the UK-US FTA.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the spread of misinformation to critically ill patients with covid-19 on the use of ventilators.

The Government takes disinformation very seriously and DCMS is leading work across Government to tackle it. In response to the harmful disinformation and misinformation relating to Covid-19 we stood up the Cross-Whitehall Counter Disinformation Unit on 5 March 2020, which brings together cross-Government monitoring and analysis capabilities. Its primary function is to provide a comprehensive picture of the extent, scope and the reach of disinformation and misinformation linked to Covid-19, and to work with partners to stamp it out.

We are working closely with social media platforms to help them identify and take action to remove incorrect claims about the virus, including health misinformation and anti-vaccination content, in line with their revised terms and conditions. Major platforms have updated their terms of service and introduced new measures to tackle misinformation and disinformation related to Covid-19. Government welcomes such measures to ensure the public has access to reliable and trusted information.

We have also launched a toolkit with content designed to be shared via Whatsapp and Facebook community groups, as well as Twitter, Youtube and Instagram, to tackle false information spread through private channels. The campaign is fronted by trusted local community figures such as imams, pastors and clinicians in short, shareable videos which include simple tips on how to spot misinformation and what to do to stop its spread. This toolkit is based on the core principles of the SHARE checklist, which aims to increase audience resilience by educating and empowering those who see, inadvertently share and are affected by false and misleading information.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make an assessment with the Secretary of State for International Trade of the potential merits of working with his counterparts in the (a) EU and (b) US Administration to create a digital free trading zone.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Dissolution

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that the prevalence of QR codes is not exploited by people seeking to commit fraud.

QR codes are quick links which point to locations on the internet so, as with other types of links, users should avoid clicking on those which seem suspicious and be particularly wary of those from unknown sources. Some smartphones and apps enable the user to check the link address before visiting the website to assess whether it is genuine. Further information on how the public can protect themselves online is available at www.cyberaware.gov.uk.

QR codes are managed by companies and organisations to interact with their customers. Like other digital technologies, these carry an element of risk. Organisations are urged to follow NCSC guidance to manage their digital technologies against cyber threats. The government is working to set standards on cyber security, provide advice and guidance to businesses, organisations and consumers on how to protect themselves online and will mandate these where necessary.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that (a) gender and (b) racial discrimination is not incorporated into the development of artificial intelligence systems.

We recognise the need to address gender disparities in AI. In 2019, DCMS via the joint DCMS/BEIS Office for AI worked with the Office for Students and DfE to deliver new conversion course Masters courses at Universities across the country, with scholarships for people from underrepresented backgrounds, including women, black, and disabled students. The programme launched last September and the cohort of 1265 students that started included, 40 per cent women, one quarter black students, and 15 per cent disabled students. For those receiving a scholarship, the figures were even more encouraging – with 76 per cent of scholarship students going to women, 45 per cent of the students identifying as black and 24 per cent as being disabled. The upcoming National AI Strategy, being led by the Office for AI, looks to double down on such commitments to further improve diversity.

In addition to improving diversity via the conversion course Masters programme, in 2019, DCMS partnered with the World Economic Forum to create guidelines for responsible public sector procurement of AI systems. In June 2020, the guidelines were published on GOV.UK and operationalised through Crown Commercial Service’s AI Marketplace, launched September 2020. The Guidelines, which build on the Government’s Data Ethics Framework, recommend that AI procurement in Government be conducted by diverse teams, and stipulate that specific steps be taken to ensure the Public Sector Equality Duty is upheld – including performing an equality impact assessment alongside data protection impact assessments. Crown Commercial Services have implemented a baseline ethical standard for suppliers to be added to the procurement system. These concrete interventions are intended to mitigate against gender or racial bias being incorporated into AI systems procured into the public sector, which at 40% of the economy, sets the standard for AI suppliers in the wider economy.

The Government’s Data Ethics Framework and ‘Guide to Using AI in the Public Sector’, alongside other area-specific guidance available on GOV.UK, support the ethical and safe use of algorithms in the public sector.

Further to this, as part of our commitment in the National Data Strategy, the Cabinet Office are exploring appropriate and effective mechanisms to deliver more transparency on the use of algorithmic assisted decision making within the public sector and to monitor their impact; and are working with leading organisations in the field of data and AI ethics to do so.

The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, in their report into algorithmic bias, make a number of recommendations to Government to reduce or mitigate the propensity for algorithms to encode bias. The Government is currently reviewing those recommendations.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to tackle conspiracy groups that share misinformation online.

The Government takes the issue of disinformation very seriously and DCMS is leading work across Government to tackle it. In response to the harmful disinformation and misinformation relating to Covid-19 we stood up the Cross-Whitehall Counter Disinformation Unit on 5 March 2020, which brings together cross-Government monitoring and analysis capabilities.

We are working closely with social media platforms to help them to quickly identify and respond to potentially harmful content on their platforms, including unfounded conspiracy theories, in line with their terms and conditions.

We are also working with industry to support the introduction of systems and processes that promote authoritative sources of information. We have seen positive steps taken by social media platforms to curtail the spread of harmful and misleading narratives. Platforms have updated their terms of service and made technical changes to their products, including the addition of labels and warning messages which provide additional context and information on content containing disputed or misleading information related to Covid-19. We welcome those moves, but more action is needed to further limit the spread of misinformation on their platforms - particularly where this could result in real-world harm.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the extent of QAnon's influence in the UK.

The Government is focused on addressing disinformation or misinformation by any group. In response to the harmful disinformation and misinformation relating to Covid-19 we stood up the Cross-Whitehall Counter Disinformation Unit on 5 March 2020, which brings together cross-Government monitoring and analysis capabilities.

The Unit’s primary function is to provide a comprehensive picture of the extent, scope and impact of disinformation and misinformation regarding Covid-19 and to work with partners to ensure appropriate action is taken.

There has been no recent assessment of the extent of QAnon’s influence in the UK. However, we have been working closely with social media platforms to quickly identify and help them respond to potentially harmful content on their platforms, including removing harmful content in line with their terms and conditions, and promoting authoritative sources of information.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that organised sports are accessible to all children regardless of socioeconomic status.

Government is committed to ensuring that all children and young people, particularly those who are currently least active or from under-represented groups, have the best opportunities to engage in sport and physical activity. Our Sporting Future strategy sets out how important it is for all children to have a good experience of sport and physical activity while they are young. We want all young people, regardless of economic background, to be healthy and active.

To help achieve this Sport England is investing over £190m into physical activity for children and young people over 2016-2021, including programmes such as the £40m Families Fund, which encourages low-income families with children to do sport and physical activity together.

In July 2019 the Department for Education (DfE), Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), jointly published the Government’s School Sport and Activity Action Plan (SSAAP). It sets out a joint commitment to ongoing collaboration to support the delivery of high-quality PE lessons and to ensure that sport and physical activity are an integral part of both the school day and after-school activities. This will contribute to the ambition of the Government’s Sporting Future strategy and the aim set out in the Childhood Obesity Plan that all children should take part in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, with 30 minutes a day in school.

The government also provides £320m of funding each year to primary schools through the PE and sport premium to make additional and sustainable improvements to the quality of PE, physical activity and sport. It is allocated directly to schools, so they have the flexibility to use it in the way that works best for their pupils. The amount of the PE and sport premium was doubled in 2017 to the current £320 million amount. The 2019 Primary PE and sport premium survey investigated the impact of this doubling of the PE and sport premium amount. Teachers reported improvements across all five key indicators for the PE and sport premium as well as other positive impacts such as increased participation in PE, extra-curricular sport and competitions for children from disadvantaged backgrounds (Pupil premium/Free School Meals) and pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to tackle (a) AI-powered misinformation and (b) political deepfakes.

The Government recognises the potential challenges artificial intelligence and digitally manipulated content such as deepfakes may pose and we are considering these issues carefully as part of work to tackle online manipulation and disinformation.

As set out in the full government response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation, the new regulatory framework will establish a duty of care on companies to improve the safety of their users online, which will be overseen and enforced by an independent regulator.

Where mis- and disinformation presents a significant threat to public safety, public health or national security, Ofcom will be able to take steps to build users’ awareness and resilience to disinformation and misinformation and require companies to report on steps they are taking in light of such a situation.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure social media companies tackle the spread of misinformation on the covid-19 vaccine on their platforms.

The Government takes the issue of misinformation and disinformation very seriously. That is why we stood up the Counter Disinformation Unit up on 5 March to bring together cross-Government monitoring and analysis capabilities.

We are working closely with social media platforms to help them identify and remove incorrect claims about the virus, particularly around the vaccine, and to promote authoritative information. Vaccine misinformation is harmful and it is everyone's responsibility to access information from authoritative sources and not share false or misleading information.

In a meeting with the Digital Secretary and Health Secretary last month, social media companies agreed to continue to work with public health bodies to ensure that authoritative messages about vaccine safety reach as many people as possible; to commit to swifter responses to flagged content; and to commit to the principle that no user or company should directly profit from COVID-19 vaccine mis/disinformation.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to grow the UK tech sector.

The digital sector contributed £149bn to the UK economy in 2018, accounting for 7.7% of UK GVA, and supports 1.2 million jobs. Last year venture capital investment in the UK tech sector leapt by 44%, with record growth in many key sub-sectors including fintech and AI.

My Department is striving to support this growth. This year we introduced the UK Gigabit and Shared Rural Network programmes to develop the UK’s digital infrastructure; published the National Data Strategy to drive confidence in data; committed to establishing a Digital Markets Unit within the CMA to support fair and competitive digital markets; and supported programmes to showcase the unique strengths of the UK tech sector - major events across the UK include London Tech Week, Founders Forum, and Leeds Digital Festival. We also support the sector through our partnership with Tech Nation, delivering a wide range of initiatives to support and grow UK tech start-ups and scale-ups. This reiterates Government’s commitment to the sector, and our ambition to ensure the UK remains Europe's No1 tech nation, and the best place to start, grow or invest in a digital business.

To help SMEs access liquidity needed to get through the COVID crisis, my Department worked closely with BEIS and the British Business Bank to introduce the Future Fund, expanded grants and loans for R&D-intensive SMEs, and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.

My Department is committed to driving growth across the digital sector and wider economy, maximising the benefits of a digital-led economic recovery. The forthcoming Digital Strategy supports these objectives, in the context of Covid-19 and into the future.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to encourage (a) private companies and (b) the public sector to train and hire staff in (i) robotics (ii) data science and (iii) cybersecurity.

The National Data Strategy has a number of proposals to encourage and support the training of data scientists in both the public and private sector. In June 2020, DCMS and the Office for AI announced provision of £13m to the Office for Students to support degree conversion courses in data science and AI . At least 2,500 graduate places will be created through the programme with over 600 students starting courses this Autumn with more starting in early 2021. Industry partners and universities provided an additional £11m to support the programme.

In relation to cyber skills we are keen to make careers in cyber security easily accessible for all individuals, across the UK, with an interest in this area. As a result, we have funded the creation of the new UK Cyber Security Council to help carry out this ambition. The Council will look to make it easier for individuals to enter and develop a career in cyber security through creating a comprehensive career pathways framework, as well as supporting employers to identify and recruit the appropriate talent to ensure their organisational resilience.

In 2019, the Government convened a new robotics leadership group, the Robotics Growth Partnership, working with sector leaders across academia and industry to help realise the significant potential of smart robotics for our economy and society. This includes giving consideration to the role of Government as well as the private sector in areas such as skills measures.

My department is currently delivering The Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund, a £3 million programme within the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Lancashire LEP areas to boost digital skills training. The Fund will encourage employers and training providers to form partnerships to co-design and co-deliver short, bespoke skills courses that match employers needs, and is supporting skills such as cyber security, data science, software development and digital marketing.

My Department has also established the Digital Skills Partnership to bring together organisations from the public, private and third sector to improve digital skills across the skills spectrum. In addition, Local Digital Skills Partnerships have been established in seven regions across England.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport what steps his Department is taking to ensure AI used in public services operates on the same principles of responsibility, transparency, and security as other local government activities.

Local Government’s use of AI and Algorithms is currently not that widespread; in the few cases where the technology is used, it is used to aid decision making and not make decisions.

We are aware of the emerging importance of AI and algorithms, and we encourage local government to use the government guidance document ‘A guide to using artificial intelligence in the public sector’, when utilising this technology.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport what plans he has to launch AI registers that track how algorithms are being used locally.

Local Government’s use of AI and Algorithms is currently not that widespread; in the few cases where the technology is used, it is used to aid decision making and not make decisions.

We are aware of the emerging importance of AI and algorithms, and we encourage local government to use the government guidance document ‘A guide to using artificial intelligence in the public sector’, when utilising this technology.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans his Department has put in place to ensure that all households in the UK are digitally enabled in response to a potential second wave of covid-19.

The Government is continuing to assess what needs to be done in preparation for a potential second wave of Covid-19.

In March, the government agreed a set of voluntary commitments with telecommunications providers to support and protect vulnerable consumers and those who might become vulnerable as a result of Covid-19. Some of the offers made by providers, including those on landline and mobile, are still in place.

My Department has been promoting the DevicesDotNow campaign, which is working with community organisations to distribute devices to vulnerable adults and help them get online. The aim is to enable elderly and vulnerable people, particularly those to who are shielding, to communicate with the outside world and get access to vital services.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that pensioners do not suffer (a) social isolation or (b) loneliness as a result of the withdrawal of free TV licences from the over 75s.

The government recognises the importance of television to people of all ages, particularly for older people who value television as a source of entertainment, companionship and a way to stay connected with the world. We are urging the BBC to do more for older people affected by its decision to restrict the over 75 concession.

It is also worth noting that my colleague Baroness Barron, the Minister for Loneliness, launched a National Awareness campaign for loneliness this summer, as part of the government loneliness strategy backed by £20 million of government funding.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of home schooling and social distancing during the covid-19 outbreak on children's language skills.

The Government recognises that extended school and college restrictions have had a substantial impact on children and young people’s education. On 4 June updated findings based on assessments taken in the autumn and spring terms were published. These show that primary pupils were, on average, behind expectations on their return to the classroom in the spring, by a similar amount as they were in September 2020. For reading, this is around 2 months behind.

The Government believes that spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak is vital for developing their vocabulary, grammar, reading, and writing. Attaining proficient standards in language development and the reading and writing of standard English are key to unlocking the rest of the curriculum. They are also key indicators for future success in further education, higher education, and employment.

Research findings from the Social Distancing and Development Study show that babies and toddlers from disadvantaged backgrounds have been missing out on activities to support their development. Programmes to support language development include:

  • £153 million for training for early years staff to support the youngest children’s learning and development, which includes speech and language skills.
  • An investment of £17 million to provide Nuffield Early Language Intervention, improving the language skills of Reception age children.
  • £10 million for a pre-Reception early language continued professional development programme, supporting early years staff to work with disadvantaged children who are at risk of falling behind.
  • £5.3 million grant funding to existing early years voluntary and community sector partners to support children’s early literacy and language development, including support for children in early years with special educational needs and disabilities, and the wellbeing of disadvantaged children in the early years.

The Department launched a £26.3 million English Hubs programme in 2018, dedicated to improving the teaching of reading. The 34 English Hubs in the programme are primary schools which are excellent at teaching early reading. The Department has since provided a further £17 million for this school to school improvement programme, which focuses on systematic synthetic phonics, early language, and reading for pleasure. Since its launch, the English Hubs programme has provided appropriate and targeted support to several thousands of schools across England. Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, English Hubs have continued to offer support and training to schools across the country by bringing much of their offer online. This has involved opening up virtual training and professional development events to a wider pool of schools and distributing materials targeted specifically at remote education and recovery.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of including the climate emergency and ecological crisis in teaching training courses.

It is vital that young people are taught about climate change, which is why it is covered in the science and geography National Curricula at Key Stages 1 to 4 and 1 to 3 respectively. This National Curriculum is mandatory in all state maintained schools, whilst academies are required to follow a broad and balanced curriculum as exemplified by the National Curriculum.

Trainee teachers starting their training from September 2020 onwards will benefit from at least three years of evidence based professional development and support. This starts with initial teacher training (ITT), based on the new ITT Core Content Framework (CCF), followed by a new two year induction supported by the Early Career Framework reforms which are being rolled out nationally from September 2021.

The CCF sets out a mandatory minimum entitlement for trainees on ITT courses. The CCF describes the fundamental knowledge and skills that all new entrants to the profession need to effectively teach and support all children. It is not intended to be a full curriculum for ITT courses and it remains for individual institutions to design a coherent and well sequenced curricula appropriate for the subject, phase, age range and needs of the children that trainees will be teaching. These will include, where appropriate, content on climate change. Courses must be designed so that trainee teachers can demonstrate that they meet all the Teachers' Standards at the appropriate level including Standard 3 ‘Demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge’. Standard 3 is also clear that teachers should be able to ‘demonstrate a critical understanding of developments in the subject and curriculum area’, which may include, where appropriate, content on climate change.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of home schooling and social distancing during the covid-19 outbreak on children's language skills.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to encourage women to (a) study and (b) take jobs in engineering.

The government is committed to tackling the gender imbalance in some science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects. Around half of all science A levels are taken by girls. There has been an increase of around 30% in the number of science A level entries taken by girls in England between 2010 and 2020, and we are funding programmes to further increase take-up.

The government funds extracurricular school programmes, delivered by UK Research and Innovation, to inspire young people to consider STEM studies and careers and to support the creation of a more diverse current and future STEM workforce. These include the STEM Ambassadors scheme, which supports over 20,000 STEM Ambassadors, over 40% of which are women, and the CREST Awards. Further information on the CREST Awards is available here: https://www.crestawards.org/. Engineering UK launched the Tomorrow’s Engineers Code in October 2020, an initiative to get organisations working together to increase the diversity and number of young people entering careers in engineering.

The department funds interventions to boost girls’ participation and representation in the STEM pipeline. We are investing in programmes to address female participation, particularly in subjects like computing, physics and mathematics, which can support later study and jobs in engineering. This includes the Stimulating Physics Network, which has a specific strand focusing on increasing the number of girls studying a physics A level.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of including mindfulness in the national curriculum for all school ages in England.

The department wants to support all young people to be happy, healthy, and safe. We want to equip them for adult life and to make a positive contribution to society.

Health education is now compulsory for pupils in all state funded schools. Health education gives schools the opportunity to drive up the consistency and quality of pupils’ mental wellbeing and physical health knowledge by delivering clear content through evidence based teaching.

The department is committed to supporting all schools to deliver Relationships and Sexual Health Education, which includes a range of specific teaching requirements on mental health and wellbeing. A mental wellbeing teacher training module and implementation guidance have been published for the new curriculum to help subject leads and teachers understand what they should teach, as well as improving their confidence in delivering mental wellbeing as part of the new curriculum.

It is up to schools to decide how to teach this subject and what additional pastoral provision to put in place. To support schools to make evidence-based decisions about how to best support their pupils’ mental health and wellbeing, the department is funding a large scale programme of randomised control trials of mental health interventions in schools. The aim of this programme is to provide robust evidence on what works to support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing and whether programmes can be delivered effectively in schools.

The programme is testing the effectiveness of five different approaches to supporting pupil mental health and wellbeing in primary and secondary schools across England. It includes a programme of brief mindfulness exercises to be run by teachers in the classroom, which provides teachers with a short training session and materials to run brief mindfulness exercises with their classes.

The department remains committed to long term improvements to support children and young people’s mental health, set out in the government’s response to its green paper and NHS Long Term Plan. This includes the roll out of mental health support teams and the provision of training for senior mental health leads in schools and colleges.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of adding media literacy to the school curriculum in England.

All state-funded schools are required to offer a broad and balanced curriculum which promotes pupils’ spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development, and prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life.

The National Curriculum, which focuses on the key knowledge that schools should teach, enables children to acquire a secure understanding of core concepts and provide them with the understanding they need to participate fully in society.

Media literacy can be taught through the compulsory computing and citizenship curriculum and in the statutory relationships and health education curriculum.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that Black British history is incorporated into the national curriculum of schools in England.

The National Curriculum is a framework setting out the content of what the Department expects schools to cover in each subject. The curriculum does not set out how curriculum subjects, or topics within the subjects, should be taught. The Department believes teachers should be able to use their own knowledge and expertise to determine how they teach their pupils, and to make choices about what they teach.

As part of the National Curriculum for history, pupils should be taught about different societies, and how different groups have contributed to the development of Britain, and this can include the voices and experience of Black people. The flexibility within the history curriculum means that there is the opportunity for teachers to teach about Black history across the spectrum of themes and eras set out in the curriculum.

The Department has discussed Black history with a number of organisations and we welcome the profile given to the importance of teaching Black history by bodies such as the Runnymede Trust, The Black Curriculum, Fill in the Blanks, and many other groups and individuals over the years. The Department will continue to explore what more we can do to support the teaching of Black history.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending 15 hours of free childcare to one-year olds.

All three and four-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare each week, providing children with high-quality early education and helping parents to return to work. The government currently has no plans to extend these schemes.

A small number of two-year-olds are also able to access up to 15 hours of free childcare each week. The core purpose of the two-year-old entitlement is to provide a developmental boost to disadvantaged children from low-income families who are less likely to use formal childcare, but who stand to benefit from it the most. Whilst the entitlement provides some practical support with the cost of childcare, this is not its purpose, with the primary focus of the entitlement remaining improving outcomes for children.

The 2012 effective pre-school, primary and secondary education study in England and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development analysis of international Programme for International Student Assessment data both found no additional child development benefits of starting in childcare under the age of two.

In addition to the free early education entitlements, the government offers tax-free childcare for children from 0 to 11 years old, or up to 16 if disabled. This scheme means that for every £8 parents pay their provider via an online account, the government will pay £2, up to a maximum contribution of £2,000 per child each year, or £4,000 if disabled.

Working parents on a low income may also be eligible for help with up to 85% of their childcare costs through Universal Credit childcare. This is subject to a monthly limit of £646 for one child or £1108 for two or more children, payable in arrears.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to improve the digital skills of older workers.

The government recognises the importance of digital skills for employability and participation in society. This is why we introduced a legal entitlement in August 2020 for adults with no or low digital skills to study new Essential Digital Skills Qualifications (EDSQs) at entry level and level 1 for free. The digital entitlement mirrors the existing legal entitlements for English and maths and will provide adults with the digital skills needed for life and work. EDSQs are a new qualification type, based on new national standards for essential digital skills, designed to meet the diverse needs of adults with no or low digital skills. We also continue to support the provision of basic digital skills training for adults in community learning settings through the Adult Education Budget.

In April 2020, we introduced The Skills Toolkit, an online platform providing free courses to help individuals build the skills that are most sought after by employers. We have recently expanded the platform so that people can now choose from over 70 courses, covering digital, adult numeracy, employability and work readiness skills, which have been identified as the skills employers need the most. These courses will help people stay in work or take up new jobs and opportunities.

We have introduced the skills bootcamps, which are free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving adults the opportunity to build up sector specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. The skills bootcamps are open to all adults aged 19 or over, who are either in work or recently unemployed. In September 2020 these were launched in West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Liverpool City Region, initially focusing on digital skills such as software development, digital marketing, and data analytics. In December 2020, registrations opened for the skills bootcamps in Leeds City Region, Heart of South West (Devon and Somerset) and Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, with delivery set to begin in early 2021.

From April 2021 we are investing a further £43 million through the National Skills Fund to extend skills bootcamps further in England. These bootcamps will cover not only digital skills but also technical skills training including engineering and construction.

Public libraries are also a vital component in tackling digital exclusion at all ages. There are around 2,900 public libraries in England, providing a trusted network of accessible locations offering free Wi-Fi, computers and other technology. The library staff, supported by volunteers, have been trained to enable them to provide library users with support in using digital skills. Libraries help tackle the combined barriers of skills, confidence and motivation by offering skills training, helping people to understand the benefits that using the internet and accessing online services can bring. Their vital role has been recognised during the current lockdown, with the new regulations enabling libraries to continue some services during this lockdown period including access to public PCs for essential purposes.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the number of (a) teachers and (b) auxiliary school staff that tested positive for covid-19 from March to July 2020.

Keeping close track of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases in schools is a priority for the Government. The Department collects data on daily suspected COVID-19 related absences as well as data on the number of schools that have indicated they have sent children home due to COVID-19 containment measures. However it is not possible to extrapolate from this the number of confirmed positive cases.

Public Health England (PHE) collects data on infection, incidence and COVID-19 cases overall. PHE publishes data on COVID-19 incidents by institution, including educational settings, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-covid-19-surveillance-reports (page 20). The data are not broken down by year group, nor by profession.

All children, young people, members of staff and their households have access to a test if they are displaying symptoms of coronavirus and are encouraged to get tested in this scenario. Where a positive result is identified local health protection teams will work with the setting to carry out a rapid risk assessment and advise them of the actions to be taken.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many (a) reception, (b) Year 1 and (c) Year 6 students have tested positive for covid-19 since 1 June 2020.

Keeping close track of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases in schools is a priority for the Government. The Department collects data on daily suspected COVID-19 related absences as well as data on the number of schools that have indicated they have sent children home due to COVID-19 containment measures. However it is not possible to extrapolate from this the number of confirmed positive cases.

Public Health England (PHE) collects data on infection, incidence and COVID-19 cases overall. PHE publishes data on COVID-19 incidents by institution, including educational settings, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-covid-19-surveillance-reports (page 20). The data are not broken down by year group, nor by profession.

All children, young people, members of staff and their households have access to a test if they are displaying symptoms of coronavirus and are encouraged to get tested in this scenario. Where a positive result is identified local health protection teams will work with the setting to carry out a rapid risk assessment and advise them of the actions to be taken.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential long-term effects of the covid-19 lockdown of the social development of children between the ages of 0 and eighteen.

The department is working closely with educational institutions, sector organisations, the Department for Health and Social Care, NHS England and Public Health England to understand the effects of the measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the mental health and wellbeing of children and identify the children and young people that need help and will continue to do so as more pupils return to school.

We have been working closely with partners to provide resources and to update guidance to support and promote children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes signposting to resources on supporting and promoting mental wellbeing among the list of resources to help children to learn at home, which are available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources.

The return to school is a key part of supporting the mental health and wellbeing of pupils. In addition to providing more opportunities for physical activity, attendance at school allows for social interaction with peers, carers and teachers, which benefits wellbeing. To support this, we have encouraged schools to focus on mental wellbeing as pupils return. The department has now published detailed plans for all children and young people to return to full-time education from September. The guidance for schools is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

We are working with the Department of Health and Social Care to put in place further specific support for school staff to understand the issues that pupils will face with their mental wellbeing. This includes training for teachers, such as a new module developed with clinical experts on how to teach about mental health in health education:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teaching-about-mental-wellbeing.

Access to mental health support is more important than ever during the COVID-19 outbreak. NHS services remain open, and leading mental health charities are being supported to deliver additional services through the £5 million Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund. During Mental Health Awareness Week, the government also announced that a further £4.2 million will be awarded to mental health charities. including the Samaritans, Young Minds and Bipolar UK.

All NHS mental health trusts have been asked to ensure that there are 24/7 open access telephone lines to support people of all ages. Public Health England and Health Education England have also developed advice and guidance for parents and professionals on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing.

In addition, children and young people can access free confidential support any time from government-backed voluntary and community sector organisations either by texting SHOUT to 85258, or by calling Childline on 0800 1111 or The Mix on 0808 808 4994. Children and young people can also find online information on COVID-19 and mental health on the Young Minds website, which is available here:
https://youngminds.org.uk/about-us/reports/coronavirus-impact-on-young-people-with-mental-health-needs/.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the free school meal national voucher scheme, whether (a) Edenred's contract as the Government's supplier will be renewed or (b) there will be a competitive tendering process after 21 June 2020.

Provision for free school meals is ordinarily term time only. However, owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government understands that children and parents face an entirely unprecedented situation this summer. To reflect this, the Edenred contract was extended to enable free school meal provision until the end of the summer term (through the national voucher scheme) and to support the Covid Summer Food Fund.

The free school meal vouchers contract was extended on 22 June following ministerial direction to extend the contract to cover the summer holiday period. In order to ensure families receive the support they needed in a timely manner, the department did not have sufficient time to run a competitive procurement for the extension. The extension did not make any substantial changes to the extant contract as defined by PCR Reg 72(1)(e).

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to collect and publish data relating to the progress of pupils at independent schools on a similar basis to the data collected for secondary maintained schools and academies.

There are no plans to collect or publish such data.

The Department’s progress measures, particularly Progress 8, aim to capture the progress that pupils make from the end of Key Stage 2 to the end of Key Stage 4. They are a type of value added measure, which means that pupils’ results are compared to the actual achievements of other pupils nationally with similar prior attainment.

As pupils at independent schools are not required to take end of Key Stage 2 tests, we are unable to include independent pupils in the calculation of Progress 8 scores. We do publish other attainment headline measures on independent schools. The Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014 require that independent schools enable pupils to make good progress according to their ability, and this is checked during inspections of all independent schools.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the costs incurred by local education authorities as a result of schools becoming academies; and what criteria his Department uses to risk assess the financial health and governance standards of (a) trusts and (b) sponsors planning to take on new academies.

The Department does not routinely collect data on costs incurred by local authorities as a result of schools becoming academies.

The Department reviews a broad range of data and intelligence when assessing the financial health and governance of trusts and sponsors planning to take on academies. This includes trusts’ audited accounts and other financial returns, and key risk indicators such as whether trusts are subject to Financial Notices to Improve, or concerns about financial health, governance, qualified accounts or potential compliance issues.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many qualified teachers are employed in schools run by (a) the local education authority, (b) free schools and (c) academies in Lancashire; and what steps her Department is taking to ensure the adequacy of the number of qualified teachers at each of those categories of schools.

In Lancashire in 2018, there were 9,2081 full-time equivalent (FTE) qualified teachers employed in state-funded schools. The breakdown of this into local authority maintained, free schools and academies are as follows:

FTE qualified teachers[1]

Local-authority-maintained schools[2]

7,618

Free schools

82

Academies

1,509

It is a top priority of the Government to ensure the whole country has a strong teaching workforce. Last year the Department launched the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy – the first ever integrated strategy ensuring there are excellent teachers for every child. The strategy includes the biggest teaching reform in a generation, the Early Career Framework (ECF). The ECF provides new teachers with the solid foundations for a successful career in teaching, backed by £130 million a year in funding when fully rolled out in 2021. We have also committed to plans to raise starting salaries for new teachers to £30,000 by 2022-23, putting teaching on a par with other top graduate professions.

Implementation of the national recruitment and retention strategy will support all schools. However, we recognise that some schools and local areas face greater challenges with recruitment and retention than others. We are making every effort to refocus national teacher recruitment and retention programmes to ensure they address local variations in teacher supply, so that more schools can benefit from tried and tested programmes.

This includes targeting interventions to support teacher recruitment and retention in all school types in Lancashire. Over £20 million of scholarships funding has been made available in 2017-19 to support teachers and leaders in Category 5 and 6 areas to take up a National Professional Qualification (NPQ), doubling our initial intended investment. The aim of the investment is to retain good teachers and leaders in these areas and support their professional development. Burnley and Pendle are areas that received this support in Lancashire.

In addition to this, the Department has set aside £30 million in tailored support for schools struggling with teacher recruitment and retention. This support is designed to help schools improve existing recruitment and retention plans, join national programmes, build local partnerships or fund new initiatives. Three schools in Lancashire local authority are currently receiving this support.

[1] Figures have been rounded to whole numbers.

[2] Includes a small number of centrally employed staff.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many academies are rated by Ofsted as (a) inadequate and (b) requires improvement in (i) Preston constituency, (ii) Lancashire and (iii) the North West; and what steps he is taking to improve educational outcomes for pupils in these areas.

The information requested is published by Ofsted and is set out in the tables attached. The first table shows the number of academies in Preston, Lancashire and the North West that are rated as ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’. The second table shows the national breakdown for all school types in England.

As at 31 August 2019, the two academies in Preston constituency were both rated as ‘outstanding’ and 95% of the academies in the Lancashire local authority were rated as ‘good’ or 'outstanding’. Nationally, 86% of all schools in England were rated as either ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

Where an academy’s performance is a cause for concern, the Department will respond. Where Ofsted have inspected an academy and issued it with an ‘inadequate’ rating, the Department has powers to take decisive action to bring about school improvement, including whether it is in the school’s best interests to be transferred to a stronger academy trust, with the capacity to deliver strong and rapid school improvement. For ‘requires improvement’ schools, including academies, the Department has published a School Support Offer for the academic year 2019/20. The offer provides support from a National Leader of Education and other funded support for schools, based on published criteria. The details of the School Support Offer are available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/school-improvement-support-for-the-2019-to-2020-academic-year.

There are currently no academies in Preston constituency that were rated ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’. In Lancashire, however, there was one academy (Fulwood Academy) that was rated as ‘inadequate’ in February 2018 and one academy (Penwortham Priory Academy) that was rated as ‘inadequate’ in July 2017.

The Regional Schools Commissioner for Lancashire and West Yorkshire is overseeing and monitoring the steps that Fulwood Academy is taking to secure improvements, in line with the Schools Causing Concern guidance published at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/schools-causing-concern--2.

Penwortham Priory Academy meets the eligibility criteria for the School Support Offer, which provides support from a National Leader of Education. Eligible schools are supported by the Teaching School Council to access this support.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
17th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has plans to allocate additional funding for the provision of early years childcare.

The Government plans to spend £3.6 billion to support early education in the financial year 2020-21. Details of how this funding is distributed across local authorities was published in December 2019 and can be found here:

https://skillsfunding.service.gov.uk/single-funding-statement/latest/dedicated-schools-grant/download-funding/2020-to-2021.

The funding allocations for local authorities are based on actual take-up of the entitlement hours. Therefore, allocations for 2020-21 will be updated, first in summer 2020 using updated data from the January 2020 schools and early years censuses, and then in summer 2021 using January 2021 census data for the final allocation.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what his policy is on the academies programme for the next five years.

The Government's vision is to continue developing a world-class school-led system by giving school leaders the freedom to run their schools in the way they know best. The academies programme can provide opportunities for this through its key principles of autonomy, accountability and collaboration.

Academies will continue to be the at the core of the Government's flagship schools reform policies. Over 7 in 10 sponsored academies that have been inspected by Ofsted are now judged 'Good' or 'Outstanding'. Prior to converting to academies, only 1 in 10 of these schools were judged ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’.

The Government wants to ensure that the opportunities afforded by the academies programme are spread to those areas that are not currently benefitting.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to increase the funding streams of all schools in England.

The Department has committed to increase core schools funding by £2.6 billion next year, and by £4.8 billion and £7.1 billion in 2021-22 and 2022-23 respectively. This has enabled a 5% increase to school funding next year alone, which will continue to be allocated via the National Funding Formula – ensuring that funding is based on schools’ and pupils’ needs and characteristics. On top of this, the Department will provide £1.5 billion per year to fund additional pension costs for teachers. As a result, every school will attract an increase to their core schools funding per pupil next year.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of developing a vaccine to prevent covid-19 in animals; and what steps his Department has taken to prevent covid-19 transmission among animals.

We are aware of the development of vaccines for animals, specifically for farmed mink and the possible use in companion animals, big cats and non-human primates in zoos and private collections. At present we do not consider that it is necessary to vaccinate animals against the virus that causes COVID-19. There have been very few cases of infection reported from companion animals or zoo animals and none provide evidence to support development of severe clinical signs as a result of infection with this virus alone. If the virus biology changes such that companion animals do become important in the epidemiology of transmission to humans, we will reconsider.

Presently, there is only limited transmission of the virus between certain species of animals – namely between captive mink and under experimental conditions, between ferrets and between cats. No transmission has been detected with livestock species.

We have provided updates to SAGE on the likely risk of infection of cats and dogs, and of Mustelinae (including mink and ferrets). As a result, the detection of SARS-COV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) in any animal sample is now legally reportable under the Zoonoses Order (relevant in all four Devolved Administrations). The requirement to register large breeding groups of ferrets is going through consultation and stakeholders have reacted positively.

We have been involved in the recent scientific opinion from European Food Safety Authority / European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on surveillance for mink farming countries, and the World Organisation for Animal Health guidance on trade in live mink and raw mink pelts. We also have a subgroup with Joint Biosecurity Centre. The risk assessments produced by this group are currently being used to inform the UK Government’s COVID-19 response.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to bring forward legislative proposals to ban the burning of peatland in England.

The Government has always been clear on the need to end burning of protected blanket bog to conserve these vulnerable habitats and we are looking at how legislation could achieve this.

Progress is being made in promoting sustainable alternatives. We have urged landowners to adopt these and we continue to work with them constructively.

Our intention has always been to legislate if a voluntary approach failed to deliver.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to reduce the risk of flooding in flood risk areas by maintaining (a) peatland, (b) natural dams and (c) other natural catchment areas and defences.

The use of nature based solutions is an important part of the Environment Agency’s (EA) strategy in strengthening resilience to flood and coastal erosion risk. Nature based solutions can include activities in different areas of a catchment for example:

  • Upper slopes (tree planting, leaky debris dams and peatbog restoration)

  • Mid-catchment (flood washlands and river re-connection and naturalisation)

  • Coastal (management and creation of coastal marsh and sand dune systems)

Nature based solutions that are appropriately designed and situated, can help manage flood and coastal risks, often alongside other measures. Nature based solutions can also provide benefits to the natural environment, including but not limited to habitat creation, increased biodiversity and improved water quality. Approximately 40 projects in the EA’s core Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Investment programme include natural flood risk management elements and we expect the use of nature based solutions to increase.

Defra has a £15 million programme of 58 projects piloting the effectiveness of nature based solutions. These projects are testing new approaches to help determine where natural measures can be most effective at improving resilience to flood risk. Additionally, since 2003, the Moors for the Future Partnership has transformed over 32 square kilometres of bare and eroding peat in the Peak District and South Pennines through re-vegetation, grip and gully blocking, and sphagnum planting.

Finally the Government’s Agriculture Bill introduced to the House of Commons on 16 January sets out an ambitious and effective system based on the principles of ‘public money for public goods’. This new scheme will enable land managers to enter into agreements to be paid for delivering a range of public goods set out in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. This includes mitigation of and reduced risk from environmental hazards, such as flooding which could be achieved through natural flood management.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much funding has been allocated to flood defence schemes in (a) Lancashire, (b) Yorkshire and (c) Oxfordshire in each of the last five years.

The Government is investing £2.6 billion to better protect the country from flooding and coastal erosion between April 2015 and March 2021. This will better protect 300,000 homes in that period.

In the last five years the Environment Agency (EA) has invested £137 million on flood and coastal erosion management schemes in Lancashire.

In the last five years the EA has invested £261.3 million on flood and coastal erosion management schemes in Yorkshire. This is the total spend for the ceremonial counties of North Yorkshire, East Riding of Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire.

In the last five years the EA has invested £18.9 million on flood and coastal erosion management schemes in Oxfordshire.

Financial Year

Total Government spend (£m)

Lancashire

Oxfordshire

Yorkshire

2014-15

32.7

6.4

47.7

2015-16

30.4

4.1

44.7

2016-17

34.7

2.3

44.7

2017-18

18.3

5.2

51.1

2018-19

20.9

0.9

73.1

Total

137.0

18.9

261.3

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if he will immediately suspend the export of (a) tear gas, (b) rubber bullets and (c) riot shields to the United States, following the murder of George Floyd.

My Rt Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade and I have been sorry to see the violence that has taken place in the United States of America.

All export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (‘Consolidated Criteria’). In reaching a decision, the Department for International Trade receives advice from a number of Departments including the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Together, we draw on all available information, including reports from NGOs and our diplomatic missions. The Consolidated Criteria provides a thorough risk assessment framework and requires us to think hard about the impact of exporting any equipment. These are not decisions my Department takes lightly, and we will not license the export of items where to do so would be inconsistent with the Consolidated Criteria.

Any licence granted by my Rt Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade may be subject to conditions. In addition, in line with the Consolidated Criteria, my Department is able to review licences – and suspend or revoke as necessary – when circumstances require. There are currently eight extant licences that may be linked to law enforcement agencies. Six are Open Individual Export Licences (‘OIELs’), which have potential end users that include law enforcement agencies. Two are Standard Individual Export Licences (‘SIELs’), which have numerous potential end users that include law enforcement agencies. There are also 15 Open General Licences (‘OGLs’) for which businesses can register that cover the export of anti-riot gear.

Much information is in the public domain already. We publish information on all export licences issued, refused and revoked on a quarterly and annual basis as official statistics on GOV.UK – at: gov.uk/government/collections/strategic-export-controls-licensing-data – and whilst data on actual exports is not required to be centrally held, the licences issued until the end of December 2019 are available.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to reduce the number of (a) suicide and (b) non-suicide fatalities on the mainline railway network in Great Britain.

There were 268 incidents of suicide on the national rail network during 2018/19. The level has been relatively static over the past five years, with approximately 250 incidents of suicide each year. This represents 4% of the total number of suicides nationally.

The trauma and devastation caused by suicide and the social impact on all those affected is immense. In addition, there is a significant operational and financial impact to the industry. There were 846,740 delay minutes linked to fatalities (which includes non-intentional deaths as well as suicide) on the railway during 2018/19, with associated costs more than £68m.

There is concerted activity by the rail industry to manage the risk and put in place suicide prevention strategies.

The industry’s suicide prevention programme is a partnership between Network Rail (NR), the Samaritans, the British Transport Police (BTP) and the wider industry. The programme also works closely with other suicide prevention experts, national agencies and charities such as Public Health England and the National Suicide Prevention Alliance to develop and maximise its impact. This programme has been recognised as an exemplar externally, and the previous Suicide Prevention Minister met rail representatives to discuss how learning from it can be shared more widely.

As a result of this work, there were nearly 2,000 lifesaving interventions on rail last year. Six people were saved for every one that took their life.

I was also pleased to see that over one hundred railway stations across England, Scotland and Wales took part in the Samaritans’ Brew Monday earlier this week, with volunteers handing out teabags to commuters and people passing by so they can share a cup of tea with someone they care about and to help people become better listeners.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Health and Safety Executive’s operational database, for what reason the Health and Safety Executive had not brought a prosecution against an employer for breach of covid-19 workplace regulations as at 16 February 2021.

HSE has published an Enforcement Policy Statement which sets out the general principles and approach to enforcement and is available here.

In England & Wales, the decision to prosecute is made by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and in Scotland by the Crown Office and the Procurator Fiscal Service. HSE follows the Code for Crown Prosecutors and in order for a prosecution to go ahead there needs to be sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and that the prosecution is in the public interest.

HSE will always act in the public interest and look to pursue cases where there is sufficient evidence to take action, and it is in the public interest to look to secure a prosecution.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of people's (a) mental health and (b) wellbeing with respect to remote working during the covid-19 outbreak.

This Government recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic, whether directly or indirectly, is having an impact on the mental health of individuals, including those working remotely.

The determinants of mental health and wellbeing are numerous and their relationships to one another other complex. Therefore, the impact of working from home on mental health and wellbeing is likely to vary considerably across individuals depending on wider circumstances.

There is some evidence suggesting that mental health and wellbeing have improved for some homeworkers but worsened for others, and that this impact is influenced by the degree of organisational support among wider, social, factors.

Emerging evidence from the early stages of the pandemic suggests that the negative impacts of homeworking are likely to disproportionately affect women (particularly mothers), young people and those from lower socioeconomic groups.

We will continue to monitor outcomes from the range of data sources that become available.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of covid-19 national lockdown restrictions on the mental health of (a) business owners and (b) employees.

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic, whether directly or indirectly, is having a significant impact on the mental health of individuals. The percentage (and number) of employees with mental health conditions has been going up steadily since 2013, the earliest comparable year. This has continued over the latest year. It is therefore difficult to make a robust assessment of the degree to which this increase is as a direct or indirect result of the pandemic. We will continue to monitor this from the range of data sources available. We do not have data available to assess the mental health conditions amongst business owners.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to reduce the gender pay gap in pensions savings.

Automatic enrolment was developed and implemented by successive Governments to help groups who historically were poorly served or excluded from workplace pension saving, such as women and lower earners. These reforms have helped millions more women save into a workplace pension, many for the first time. Workplace pension participation among eligible women working in the private sector has risen from 40% in 2012 to 86% in 2019 – which is equal to men.

In terms of private pensions, the most important factors driving the gap in retirement outcomes are related to the labour market with inequalities in pay and working patterns. Women are more likely to take career breaks than men and to work part-time in lower-paid jobs because of caring responsibilities. We have put in place practical support to help people with caring responsibilities return to work, and to support families to share caring responsibilities more evenly. This includes doubling the free childcare available in England for eligible working parents of 3- and 4-year-olds to 30 hours per week, and consulting on increasing the transparency of employers' flexible working and parental leave policies, and on high-level options for reforming parental leave and pay, to allow both parents to play a greater role in childcare.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to encourage women to resume workplace pension contributions following a period of (a) part-time work or (b) time out of working.

Automatic enrolment has hugely increased women’s pension participation, participation across all ethnic groups, and among lower earners. Among eligible women in the private sector, participation has increased from 40% in 2012 to 86% in 2019, equal to men.

Automatic enrolment requires an employer to enrol eligible workers into a qualifying pension scheme when they start work or at the point they become eligible to be automatically enrolled due to a change in their circumstances, for example, by moving from part-time to full-time work. This ensures that workplace pension contributions would resume, in respect of women who increase their hours or re-join the labour market, if they meet the relevant earnings and other eligibility rules.

The level of earnings at which workers are automatically enrolled into workplace pensions (the earnings trigger) is subject to an annual statutory review. An analysis of the equalities impact always forms part of the review, as does an assessment of reducing the trigger to the NI threshold. This review has concluded that the earnings trigger be frozen at £10,000 for every year since 2014-15; this has proportionately benefited women. Analysis for the 2020/21 thresholds showed that 75% of those made eligible by freezing the trigger were women, compared to 37% of the eligible group under the baseline proposals.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to offer financial support to British residents who are required to self-isolate on return from travelling abroad.

People who are required to self-isolate on their return from travelling abroad may be eligible for Universal Credit. This can be applied for online and includes extra money for housing and children.

If a British resident has paid and/or been credited with sufficient National Insurance contributions in the last 2 to 3 tax years, they may also be eligible for New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). This can also be applied for on-line. It can be claimed on its own or as well as Universal Credit.

An application can also be made to New Style Employment and Support Allowance if the claimant has a disability or health condition that affects how much they can work.

We have made changes to ESA in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. These includes removing waiting days for ESA for claimants affected by Covid-19, so it will be payable from day one of the claim, subject to the claimant satisfying the normal conditions of entitlement. In addition we are treating all ESA claimants who satisfy the conditions of entitlement and are required to self-isolate in line with government guidance, including those required to quarantine on returning from abroad, as having limited capability for work, without the requirement to provide a fit note or to undergo a Work Capability Assessment.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she will take to support workers on zero-hour contracts who are not working as a result of the covid-19 outbreak and are unable to qualify for universal credit because they are considered to have employment.

It is wrong to say that workers on zero-hour contracts, who are not working as a result of the covid-19 outbreak, are unable to qualify for Universal Credit because they are considered to have employment.

Universal Credit is payable in and out of work including for those working zero-hour contracts, part-time or temporary jobs.

The amount of Universal Credit paid to claimants reflects, as closely as possible, the actual circumstances of a household during each monthly assessment period. Monthly assessment periods align to the way the majority of employees are paid and also allows Universal Credit to be adjusted each month. This means that if a claimant’s income falls, they will not have to wait several months for a rise in their Universal Credit.

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

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to allocate additional funding to support domestic abuse victims to maintain (a) employment and (b) economic independence.

DWP is committed to providing the best possible support for all our claimants, including the most vulnerable in society. This includes those who are, or have been, victims of domestic abuse and economic abuse.

DWP has a number of employment schemes that claimants, including victims of abuse, can access to improve their employability and skills. The Work and Health Programme gives ‘priority’ early access to victims of abuse. This programme supports people to enter and stay in work, and involves referrals to public, private and voluntary providers.

Alongside the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill, the Government is providing £35 million to combat domestic abuse. This is on top of the £2 million we have already made available since the Covid-19 crisis, to support domestic abuse charities and raise awareness of the support available. We are also providing £3 million that will go to specialist services for children who have both been directly and indirectly affected by domestic abuse.

Government Departments are working together to look at the overall support we provide for victims and to ensure that it is holistic and effectively fulfils their needs, so that victims can rebuild their lives.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of benefit claims were successful in (a) Preston, (b) Lancashire and (c) England and Wales in April (i) 2018, (ii) 2019 and (iii) 2020.

The available statistics for Universal Credit claims by postcode area, and starts by postcode area and Jobcentre Plus office are published quarterly at:

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

The available statistics for outcomes of Work Capability Assessments (WCA) for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by various geographies are published quarterly at:

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

The available statistics for registrations and clearances for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) by various geographies are published quarterly at:

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

Guidance for users is available at:

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

The information for all other benefits is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the quarterly payment schedule of student finance on universal credit calculations for claimants who are responsible for one or more children; and whether she plans to halt the reduction of payments for those claimants whilst the fluctuations in income are adequately assessed.

Most full-time students in education do not qualify for Universal Credit. Students are able to access funding to support their education courses through various loans and grants, which are the responsibility of the Department for Education. It is important that Universal Credit does not duplicate this support, which is designed for their needs unlike the social security system. Exceptions are made only where students have additional needs that are not met through the student support system.

The full year’s award of student’s maintenance loan/grant is averaged out over the academic year. This average usually covers 10 monthly Assessment Periods as no student income is taken into account during the summer break. The amount taken into account is subject to a £110 disregard in each of these Assessment Periods, which is equivalent to that provided under Legacy Benefits, which includes an amount to cover the cost of books, travel and equipment.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many fraudulent cases of universal credit advance were (a) recorded and (b) processed at Jobcentres in (i) Preston, (ii) Blackburn, (iii) Blackpool and (iv) Bolton; what the value was of those fraudulent claims; and how much each claimant had to repay as a result of a fraudulent claim made on their behalf by a third party in the last two years.

I estimate that providing the information you request would incur disproportionate costs.

However, let me assure you that the Department takes this issue very seriously. We have set up a dedicated team to investigate this type of fraud and are proactively addressing it by using messaging on social media to remind people of the importance of safeguarding their identity, as well as shutting down social media sites that promote this fraud.

We have also made changes to the Universal Credit advance application process. Universal Credit claimants who wish to apply for a new claim advance are now required to attend a face to face interview. This change will help protect claimants from identity fraud and becoming victims of third party scams.

If a claimant has been the victim of a scam, and has not benefited from an advance in any way, they will not be asked to repay it. In these cases, we will seek recovery from the perpetrator of the scam. The Department considers all cases on their own merits and decisions are made on the strength of the evidence provided.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to recruit additional nursing staff.

We have committed to delivering 50,000 more nurses by the end of this Parliament. The latest NHS Digital statistics show the number of nurses has increased by 10,800 between March 2020 to March 2021, excluding health visitors and midwives. This commitment will be achieved through increased domestic and international recruitment and improved retention.

Health Education England is working with universities, the Medical Schools Council, Council of Deans of Health and the Royal Colleges to examine how COVID-19 may have impacted undergraduate cohorts and individuals in postgraduate medicine, including the impact on long-term recruitment.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the long term recruitment of (a) nurses and (b) doctors.

We have committed to delivering 50,000 more nurses by the end of this Parliament. The latest NHS Digital statistics show the number of nurses has increased by 10,800 between March 2020 to March 2021, excluding health visitors and midwives. This commitment will be achieved through increased domestic and international recruitment and improved retention.

Health Education England is working with universities, the Medical Schools Council, Council of Deans of Health and the Royal Colleges to examine how COVID-19 may have impacted undergraduate cohorts and individuals in postgraduate medicine, including the impact on long-term recruitment.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance the Government has provided to businesses to ensure effective data protection in the collection of customer information and data for covid-19 contact tracing purposes.

The collection of customer, visitor and staff information became a legal requirement for designated venues on 18 September 2020. The Government’s guidance to support these organisations to maintain records of staff, customers and visitors is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/maintaining-records-of-staff-customers-and-visitors-to-support-nhs-test-and-trace

In addition, the Information Commissioner’s Office has produced guidance on collecting, storing, sharing and deleting the personal data venues have been asked to obtain. This is available at the following link:

https://ico.org.uk/global/data-protection-and-coronavirus-information-hub/coronavirus-recovery-data-protection-advice-for-organisations/maintaining-records-of-staff-customers-and-visitors-for-contact-tracing-purposes/#cs3

We also regularly engage with the sectors in scope of the regulations to explain the actions required, including how to ensure effective data protection.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many people diagnosed with learning disorders who died of covid-19 in the last 12 months had do not resuscitate orders.

The Department is clear that learning disability should never be a reason for a Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) decision and that blanket DNACPR decisions for whole groups of people are completely inappropriate.

The Department does not hold data centrally on the numbers or basis for DNACPR decisions. In October 2020, the Department asked the Care Quality Commission to review how DNACPR decisions were made during the COVID-19 pandemic, including for people with a learning disability. The report, published on the 18 March, looked at how DNACPR decisions were made in the earlier stages of the pandemic. The 2020/21 General Medical Services contract Quality and Outcomes Framework now includes a requirement for all DNACPR decisions for people with a learning disability to be reviewed. The fifth annual report of the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review programme published on 10 June 2021, reported that in 2020, of the people with a learning disability who were reported as dying from COVID-19, 81% had a DNACPR decision.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many deaths of people with do not resuscitate orders have been attributed to covid-19 as the cause of death in the last 12 months.

The Department is clear that learning disability should never be a reason for a Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) decision and that blanket DNACPR decisions for whole groups of people are completely inappropriate.

The Department does not hold data centrally on the numbers or basis for DNACPR decisions. In October 2020, the Department asked the Care Quality Commission to review how DNACPR decisions were made during the COVID-19 pandemic, including for people with a learning disability. The report, published on the 18 March, looked at how DNACPR decisions were made in the earlier stages of the pandemic. The 2020/21 General Medical Services contract Quality and Outcomes Framework now includes a requirement for all DNACPR decisions for people with a learning disability to be reviewed. The fifth annual report of the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review programme published on 10 June 2021, reported that in 2020, of the people with a learning disability who were reported as dying from COVID-19, 81% had a DNACPR decision.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the extent of the use of do not resuscitate orders for people with learning disabilities during the second wave of the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The Department is clear that learning disability should never be a reason for a Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) decision and that blanket DNACPR decisions for whole groups of people are completely inappropriate.

The Department does not hold data centrally on the numbers or basis for DNACPR decisions. In October 2020, the Department asked the Care Quality Commission to review how DNACPR decisions were made during the COVID-19 pandemic, including for people with a learning disability. The report, published on the 18 March, looked at how DNACPR decisions were made in the earlier stages of the pandemic. The 2020/21 General Medical Services contract Quality and Outcomes Framework now includes a requirement for all DNACPR decisions for people with a learning disability to be reviewed. The fifth annual report of the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review programme published on 10 June 2021, reported that in 2020, of the people with a learning disability who were reported as dying from COVID-19, 81% had a DNACPR decision.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what long-term support he is providing to nurses and clinicians diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The National Health Service has established a network of mental health hubs to support staff. These will provide a proactive outreach and assessment service and ensure staff receive rapid access to evidence based mental health services where needed. There will be 40 hubs in England, with 31 already operational and a further nine available soon. We invested £15 million in the hubs last autumn and a further £37 million has been made available for 2021/22 to enable the continuation of this offer. This funding will also support nurse advocacy training to critical care nurses to enable the implementation of restorative clinical supervision in all critical care settings. It will be invested in a national support service for staff with more complex needs, such as trauma or addictions, delivered by NHS Practitioner Health.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to tackle health inequalities highlighted by the covid-19 outbreak.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before prorogation.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the extent of use of do not resuscitate orders for people with learning disabilities during the second wave of the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before prorogation.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of offering mindfulness to NHS staff.

From the onset of the pandemic, staff in the National Health Service have been able to access for free a range of mental health and wellbeing apps, which have included mindfulness and meditation.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the overall percentage uptake was of Healthy Start Vouchers by people eligible in each of the last 12 months for which data is available.

The following table shows the percentage uptake of Healthy Start vouchers by those who were eligible for each four-week cycle period over the last 12 months for which data is available.

Cycle

Start date

End date

Percentage uptake

Cycle 219

3 February 2020

1 March 2020

53.7%

Cycle 220

2 March 2020

29 March 2020

53.5%

Cycle 221

1 April 2020

26 April 2020

53.7%

Cycle 222

27 April 2020

24 May 2020

53.1%

Cycle 223

25 May 2020

21 June 2020

48.0%

Cycle 224

22 June 2020

19 July 2020

47.8%

Cycle 225

20 July 2020

16 August 2020

48.6%

Cycle 226

17 August 2020

13 September 2020

47.3%

Cycle 227

14 September 2020

11 October 2020

52.0%

Cycle 228

12 October 2020

8 November 2020

50.9%

Cycle 229

9 November 2020

6 December 2020

50.7%

Cycle 230

7 December 2020

3 January 2021

51.6%

Cycle 231

4 January 2021

31 January 2021

52.5%

Cycle 232

1 February 2021

28 February 2021

54.4%

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance the Government has provided to businesses to ensure effective data protection in the collection of customer information and data for covid-19 contact tracing purposes.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before prorogation.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to increase the recruitment of nurses.

We are on target to deliver 50,000 more nurses by the end of this Parliament.

The commitment is underpinned by a robust delivery programme which will be achieved through increased domestic recruitment, increased international recruitment and improved retention.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to ensure that the NHS covid-19 contact tracing app complies with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation on the retention of data.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before prorogation.
Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what data protection measures are in place for the NHS covid-19 contact tracing app.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before prorogation.
Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the long term recruitment of (a) nurses and (b) doctors.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before prorogation.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the health impacts of (a) cancelled in-person GP visits and (b) virtual or telephone appointments during the covid-19 outbreak.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before prorogation.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the extent of long-term health problems experienced by socially- isolated children during covid-19 lockdown.

Health visitors are ideally placed to identify and provide early intervention support to children aged 0 to five years old who experience long-term health problems through social isolation. School nurses, in partnership with other health and education professionals, can help identify and support children aged five to 19 years old with long-term conditions or complex needs arising from social isolation. As a first point of contact, general practitioners (GPs) have a crucial role to play in identifying long-term conditions when children attend GP appointments.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what long-term support his Department plans to provide to children that suffer from social anxiety.

The Government’s £8 million Wellbeing for Education Return programme has supported education staff to respond to the emotional and mental health pressures some children and young people may be feeling as a result of COVID-19.

In the longer term, mental health support teams are being deployed in schools and colleges to support the mental health needs of children and young people in primary, secondary and further education and provide early intervention on some mental health and emotional wellbeing issues, such as mild to moderate anxiety.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 8 February 2021 to Question 144608, on Loneliness: Health, whether his Department has plans to undertake an assessment of the effect of long-term isolation on health and well-being.

Public Health England has no plans to do so.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the potential effect on voucher uptake of introducing a digital card scheme to replace the existing paper Healthy Start Vouchers.

The NHS Business Services Authority are leading work to digitise the Healthy Start scheme.

There will be several benefits achieved with the move to a fully digitised system which include greater flexibility to individual families by removing the requirement for the full value to be spent in a single transaction, which is currently the case with paper vouchers and a reduction in the stigma associated with paper vouchers.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 3 March 2021 to Question 149725, on Department of Health and Social Care: Contracts, from how many companies his Department has reclaimed money in relation to covid-19 contracts.

This information is not currently collated and held centrally and to obtain it would involve disproportionate cost.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the development and roll-out of a new card scheme to replace the existing Healthy Start Voucher Scheme.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues on a range of issues. The digitisation of the Healthy Start Scheme is part of the Government’s wider agenda for digital by default.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance his Department has issued to help ensure that parents of (a) newborn babies and (b) young children in need of in-patient care are able to visit their children in hospital during the covid-19 outbreak.

NHS England published ‘Supporting pregnant women using maternity services during the coronavirus pandemic: Actions for NHS providers’ in which neonatal critical care providers are asked to adopt three action points on undertaking risk assessments, changing the configuration of space and using available testing capacity to maximize opportunities for parents to be with their babies and to identify how to facilitate parental presence at all times of day. This guidance states that parents of babies in neonatal critical care need to be involved in their baby’s care as much as possible. Parents are partners in care and should not be considered to be visitors. Guidance for visiting children in hospital is set out by NHS England in ‘Visiting healthcare inpatient settings during the COVID-19 pandemic: principles’.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether newborns can be discharged to the care of (a) fathers, (b) partners and (c) family members in the event that a mother is awaiting test results for covid-19 after birth.

‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection and Pregnancy’ produced by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives sets out that postnatal care should be individualised according to the woman and newborn’s needs and should follow the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s guidance for postnatal care as far as possible.

Women and their healthy babies should remain together in the immediate postpartum period, if they do not otherwise require maternal critical care or neonatal care. Women with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should remain with their baby and be supported to practice skin-to-skin/kangaroo care, if the newborn does not require additional medical care at this time.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to ensure the health and safety of (a) newborn babies and (b) new parents who have been diagnosed with covid-19.

Guidance on caring for pregnant and postnatal women with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and their babies is published and available from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The guidance sets out that families should be guided on how to identify signs of illness in their new-born or worsening of the woman’s symptoms and provided with appropriate details on who to contact if they have concerns or questions. Women who have recently given birth and test positive for COVID-19 should receive all recommended advice, guidance and support in relation to their postnatal physical and mental health and wellbeing and care of their new-born baby.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when his Department plans to publish line-by-line data on the covid-19 vaccine uptake to local vaccination leads.

Local authority public health teams have access to NHS England systems where they can view vaccination event data for the sustainability and transformation partnerships (STP) within their boundaries. This is presented in the Validated Vaccination Events Dashboard and the COVID Vaccination Equalities Tool. The Dashboard provides views of all vaccination activity at all sites within a STP by delivery model, site, dose, vaccine type and vaccination uptake across ethnicity, age and other key Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation cohorts at STP level.

The COVID Vaccination Equalities Tool allows local authorities to track vaccinations by age cohort, ethnicity and Index of Multiple Deprivation compared to the national average and an adjustable uptake target. It also identifies gaps between targets and current vaccination levels in these groups.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what criteria is used to determine which cancer surgeries are cancelled or postponed during the covid-19 outbreak.

National Health Service staff are working to ensure that, wherever possible, cancer treatment can continue safely. Any decision to reschedule cancer surgery will be a last resort and patients will be given the dates for their new treatment at the earliest opportunity. Doctors will always have the safety of patients at the centre of any decisions they make. NHS England’s guidance for clinical staff on prioritising cancer patients is available at the following link:

https://www.nice.org.uk/Media/Default/About/COVID-19/Specialty-guides/cancer-and-COVID-19.pdf

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what long-term assessment he has made of the potential effect of the UK leaving the EU on the recruitment of care workers.

The flow of European Union workers into the sector annually is small comparable to the size of the workforce. Fewer than 5% of all workers joining the sector in a direct care role in 2019/20 had arrived from the EU in the previous 12 months. Therefore, we do not anticipate that the end-of-transition will have an immediate impact on workforce supply. However, we will monitor its impact closely as more data becomes available over the coming months.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of trends in the level of (a) depression and (b) anxiety in (i) children, (ii) teenagers and (iii) adults during the covid-19 lockdown announced in January 2021.

No such assessment yet been made. However, Public Health England continues to update its ‘COVID-19: mental health and wellbeing surveillance report’, which is a routinely updated report on mental health and wellbeing in England during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will prioritise special education needs teachers in the covid-19 vaccine roll-out following the vaccination of the existing priority categories.

No decisions have yet been taken on prioritisation for phase two of the vaccination deployment programme but interim advice has been published by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommending an age-based approach which the Government has accepted in principle.

Their advice can be found online at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/priority-groups-for-phase-2-of-the-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-programme-advice-from-the-jcvi/jcvi-interim-statement-on-phase-2-of-the-covid-19-vaccination-programme

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to ensure people access annual annual vaccinations for (a) flu and (b) covid-19.

Each year the Department put in plans to ensure those who are eligible get vaccinated for flu. These plans are set out in the annual flu letter published jointly by the Department, Public Health England, NHS England and NHS Improvement each spring.

It is too early to say if the COVID-19 vaccine will become an annual programme. Vaccine effectiveness will be monitored in different population groups to understand how the effectiveness varies by age, presence of other medical conditions and other factors. Our surveillance systems will remain in place for the long term to monitor how long protection lasts to inform the need for booster doses.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to encourage the recruitment of care workers.

In order to attract more people into the sector we have been running a national recruitment campaign across broadcast, digital and social media. The latest phase of the campaign, Care for Others, Make a Difference, was launched in early February. We are also working with the Department for Work and Pensions to provide resources to work coaches to help them promote adult social care careers to jobseekers.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to increase funding for mental health support (a) immediately, (b) over the next six months, (c) over the next 12 months and (d) in the longer term.

As part of the Spending Review 2020, we announced that the National Health Service will receive around an additional £500 million in 2021/22 to address waiting times for mental health services, give more people the mental health support they need and invest in the workforce. We are committed to the ambitions in the NHS Long Term Plan to expand and transform mental health services in England and to investing an additional £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to reschedule cancer operations that have been cancelled during the covid-19 crisis outbreak.

One of the key priorities outlined in the third phase of the National Health Service response to COVID-19 is to reduce the number of patients who have waited longer than 62 days from urgent referral to starting cancer treatment.

Action to reduce long waits includes expanding the capacity of COVID-19 secure cancer hubs, prioritising people for surgery centrally on the basis of clinical need and drawing on the independent sector to increase capacity.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on cancer (a) surgeries, (b) treatments and (c) diagnosis.

While the Department has not made a formal assessment, NHS England’s Cancer Recovery Plan sets out the aims and actions needed to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

Latest official cancer waiting times data for December 2020 shows activity against the 62-day general practitioner urgent referral to first treatment for cancer was 6.7% higher than last December. The most recent data shows that recent activity is higher than the same time last year. The National Health Service continues to prioritise cancer diagnosis, treatments and surgeries throughout the pandemic to ensure that, wherever possible, cancer treatment can continue safely.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how funding is determined for local authorities issuing discretionary payments to people isolating due to covid-19.

The discretionary funding is determined according to the COVID-19 Relative Needs Formula (RNF). The RNF is used to allocate funding for each local authority based on population size and levels of deprivation. It also takes account of allocations to authorities across previous tranches of funding.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what financial support is available to Britons returning from high-risk countries who cannot afford the cost of a mandatory hotel quarantine.

For those facing significant financial hardship as a result of the managed quarantine charge, there will be an opportunity to apply for a deferred repayment plan when booking. This is available for individuals who already receive income-related benefits and they will be required to pay in 12 monthly instalments.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of permitting covid-19 vaccinated (a) UK citizens and (b) international travellers returning from other countries into the UK without the requirement to quarantine.

Those entering the country internationally are required to quarantine in a hotel or at home. Further research and vigilance is needed to understand how effectively the current range of vaccines stop transmission of the virus and we must also monitor the potential emergence of further new variants. We will continue to keep options under review as more evidence emerges on the impact vaccines have on case rates, transmissions, hospitalisations and deaths.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department receives reimbursement from companies that do not uphold (a) the commitments and (b) delivery of services outlined in their contract with his Department.

The majority of contracts awarded by the Department have break clauses, along with clauses to manage product and service quality and delivery, meaning if the company supplies faulty products or services or misses delivery dates or key outputs, we are able to review the contracts and reclaim any money. Department only pays for goods and services received as standard.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to assess the mental wellbeing of people living alone who have been furloughed.

There are no plans to assess the mental wellbeing of this specific group.

However, Public Health England has developed a mental health and wellbeing surveillance tracker to monitor the impacts of COVID-19 on the population’s mental health. This is a proactive step which will help ensure that our response to the effects of COVID-19 on mental health and wellbeing is shaped by emerging data. Its report is regularly updated with the most recent information and is available at the following link:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-mental-health-and-wellbeing-surveillance-report

We recognise the effect that being furloughed and living alone may have mental wellbeing. We have published guidance on mental health and wellbeing on GOV.UK and the ‘Every Mind Matters’ portal. The Government has also invested £5 million in national loneliness charities, raising awareness and providing advice through the Let’s Talk Loneliness campaign.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what role the military played in Exercise Cygnus.

The Ministry of Defence was involved in the exercise at both the national and local level. At the national level, the Ministry provided policy advice to the participating Minister from that Department and responded to requests for military assistance which formed part of the exercise scenario. Standing Joint Command (UK) participated at the local level, with Joint Regional Liaison Officers providing advice to local authorities participating in the exercise.

The Ministry of Defence was further involved along with other Government departments in supporting the exercise development.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the effect on health and wellbeing of long-term isolation.

PHE has made no recent assessment of the effect on health and wellbeing of long-term isolation.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the (a) reasons for and (b) implications for his policies of the recent decline in the annual birth rate.

In their ‘Births in England and Wales: 2019’ report, the Office for National Statistics suggests that possible reasons for decreases in both the annual birth rate and the annual total fertility rate in recent years include improved access to contraception; the reduction in mortality rates of children aged under five years old, resulting in women having fewer babies; and lower levels of fertility or difficulties conceiving because of postponement in childbearing.

The Government’s overarching policy is that all women should receive safe, personalised care. Local Maternity Systems bring together providers, commissioners, women and their families to work in partnership to ensure services reflect the needs of their local populations.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to encourage the public to receive annual inoculations of the covid-19 vaccine following the first two doses.

More evidence is needed to understand whether a seasonal vaccination or booster dose might be needed. While further evidence is gathered, the Government is planning for a re-vaccination campaign which is likely to run later this year in autumn or winter. Over the longer term, re-vaccination is likely to become a regular part of managing COVID-19.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to tackle the long-term pressures on NHS services in response to the ageing population.

The NHS Long Term Plan sets out a range of important commitments to improve care and prevention to help control the growth in demand associated with an ageing population. This means treating people at the right time, in the right place, so that conditions are treated before they become serious and place greater pressure on the National Health Service.

The Government is supporting delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan through a historic long-term settlement, which will see NHS funding increase by £33.9 billion by 2023-24.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent steps he has taken to improve the health and fitness of children from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Department continues to deliver actions set out in the childhood obesity plan including our ambition to halve the number of children living with obesity and significantly reduce the gap in obesity between children from the most and least deprived areas by 2030. We have also confirmed that schools in England will benefit from £320 million from the PE and sport premium during the academic year 2020-21.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether vaccine roll-out was a part of Exercise Cygnus.

The aim of Exercise Cygnus was to assess the United Kingdom’s preparedness and response to a pandemic influenza as reflected in the UK’s worst-case planning scenario. Arrangements to access a pandemic vaccine is one aspect of our ‘defence in depth’ approach, as set out in the UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy 2011. The exercise was set in week seven of the UK’s response to a pandemic influenza. At this point, pandemic vaccine had been ordered but was not yet available.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of making the covid-19 vaccine mandatory for (a) the general population, (b) NHS staff, (c) police and other front-line workers and (d) care home staff.

The United Kingdom operates a system of informed consent for vaccinations. There are no current plans to make the COVID-19 vaccine compulsory.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason marriages can only take place under exceptional circumstances during 2021 covid-19 national lockdown.

Marriages should only take place in exceptional circumstances - for example, where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover or is to undergo debilitating treatment or life-changing surgery.

We understand these rules are difficult but reducing social contact is paramount to protecting the National Health Service and saving lives. The Government keeps its restrictions under continual review and will make changes if the data and science support it.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to allow marriages to resume, under all circumstances, when the covid-19 local alert level tier system is reintroduced in England.

Marriages should only take place in exceptional circumstances - for example, where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover or is to undergo debilitating treatment or life-changing surgery.

We understand these rules are difficult but reducing social contact is paramount to protecting the National Health Service and saving lives. The Government keeps its restrictions under continual review and will make changes if the data and science support it.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what information his Department holds on investigations that have been undertaken on determining the long-term effectiveness of the covid-19 vaccination.

Public Health England (PHE), through its surveillance strategy, is actively monitoring the effect of the COVID-19 vaccine on the population. This includes measuring the long-term effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines. The surveillance strategy at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccine-surveillance-strategy

PHE’s reports on vaccine effectiveness are available at the following link:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/phe-monitoring-of-the-effectiveness-of-covid-19-vaccination

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of making the wearing of face masks compulsory in public spaces.

The wearing of face coverings is already mandatory in most indoor, public settings in England. However, the legal requirement for wearing a face covering has not been extended to outdoor public spaces. The Regulations and guidance currently apply to indoor settings as there is stronger scientific evidence about the risk of transmission being greater in enclosed, indoor spaces where social distancing cannot necessarily be maintained. It is this risk that wearing a face covering will help reduce.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the average length of time is for people to receive the results of a covid-19 test in (a) England, (b) the North West, (c) London, (d) Lancashire and (e) Preston.

The data is not published in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what emergency plans are in place in the event that there are shortfalls in hospital oxygen supplies during the covid-19 outbreak.

In England the supply chain has significant capacity to meet large surges in demand and delivery of oxygen to hospital tanks is not a limiting factor. There is no national shortage of oxygen.

National Health Service hospitals are carefully managing their oxygen flow and infrastructure to manage the current need and have deployed a number of contingency measures such as improved monitoring and maintenance of their oxygen systems to ensure they are operating at maximum efficiency. Before the winter, over 30 upgrade projects were completed to improve the long term oxygen and medical supply infrastructure within hospitals. The NHS has invested £15 million to date and further improvements continue to be carried out.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to provide additional funding to local authorities for the provision of discretionary payments to people self-isolating during the covid-19 outbreak.

Since September 2020, the Government has provided an initial £50 million to local authorities, including £15 million for discretionary payments. The Government provided a further £10 million for discretionary payments in January 2021 and a further £10 million in February.

The Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme will continue into the summer and will be expanded to cover parents who are unable to work because they are caring for a child who is self-isolating. The funding made available for local authorities as part of this to make discretionary support payments will be increased to £20 million per month, to ensure local authorities can continue to make payments and support people on low incomes to stay at home and self-isolate when required to do so.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to support adults with long-term (a) physical and (b) mental health problems as a result of (a) covid-19 lockdowns and (b) remote working.

Several steps have been taken to support people with physical and mental health issues that have arisen from lockdown or remote working and prevent long-term complications.

NHS England and NHS Improvement launched ‘Your Covid Recovery’, a platform dedicated to helping people conquer the after-effects of COVID-19. The platform includes a range of information on how COVID-19 can affect someone’s mind and body – including possible interactions with cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions, and diabetes, and information for friends, families, and carers. It offers advice on how people can make sure they continue eating well, sleeping well, and exercising after having the disease.

Steps have been taken to increase access to health services at home and increase awareness across a wide range of physical health issues during the pandemic. This includes providing blood pressure monitors to people with high blood pressure who are shielding across England and free vitamin D supplements to those deemed to be high risk. In addition to this, guidance has been produced across several areas to increase awareness and provide digital resources for maintaining physical health. This includes the Health and Safety Executive guidance on home working and NHS England and NHS Improvement leading stakeholder guidance on maintaining musculoskeletal health, as well as digital weight management resources.

On mental health, the National Health Service has worked hard to keep mental health services going during the pandemic, utilising technology where needed but also face to face appointments where appropriate. All mental health trusts have established 24 hours a day, seven days a week urgent mental health helplines where people experiencing a mental health crisis can access support and advice.

To further support people’s mental health in the context of COVID-19, and the winter months, we have published our Wellbeing and Mental Health Support Plan for COVID-19 setting out the steps we have taken to strengthen the support available for people who are struggling, our commitments to ensure services are there to support those who need it, and the provision in place to keep our frontline workers well.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department made of the effect of cultural sensitivities on the implementation of covid-19 restrictions on days of (a) cultural or (b) religious celebrations.

The Government considers impacts on different groups of protected characteristics, including religious observance when making decisions on COVID-19 restrictions. The analysis and evidence is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-health-economic-and-social-effects-of-covid-19-and-the-tiered-approach

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the public receive the covid-19 inoculation once it is available to each demographic.

The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation has advised that the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme should prioritise individuals most at risk of mortality and protect health and social care staff and systems. As a result, vaccines are currently being given to care home residents and staff, followed by people over 80 years old and health and social workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and risk.

To ensure the public can receive the vaccine, the National Health Service, alongside local health and social care partners, has developed three different delivery models appropriate to the varying infrastructure, population, and logistical requirements in place. This will allow the vaccine to become available to a wider population through hospital hubs, vaccination centres, and local vaccination services.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to ensure that healthcare workers have the covid-19 inoculation.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) consists of independent experts who advise the Government on which vaccine/s the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation at a population level. In phase one of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, the JCVI has advised that prioritisation is specifically targeted to protect health and social care staff and systems, as well as to protect those individuals most at risk of mortality from COVID-19.

Healthcare workers have therefore been included in one of the top priority cohorts, as well as care home residents and staff and those over 80 years old.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the covid-19 inoculation will be compulsory for (a) healthcare workers and (b) the public.

Whilst vaccinations are one of the most effective methods to protect the public from illness and possible death caused by viruses and disease, there are no plans to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory. The United Kingdom operates a system of informed consent.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to communicate the importance of the covid-19 inoculation to different (a) age, (b) ethnic, (c) race, (d) gender, (e) religious and (f) socio-economic groups.

The Department, together with the National Health Service (NHS) and Public Health England, is providing advice and information at every opportunity to support those getting the vaccine and to anyone who might have questions about the vaccination process.

The Department, alongside the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and NHS England are holding regular meetings with local authorities, faith leaders and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) organisations to provide advice and information about COVID-19 vaccines and how they will be made available.

The communications plan includes targeted information and advice via TV, radio, and social media, translated into 13 languages. Print and online material, including interviews and practical advice, will also appear in 600 national, regional, local, and specialist titles, including BAME media, to maximise reach.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to tackle misinformation on the covid-19 vaccine.

The Government is committed to ensuring that people have access to accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines. The Department is leading extensive communications activity to reassure the public, providing advice for anyone who has questions about the vaccination process.

The Government’s Counter Disinformation Unit looks for trends on social media platforms to respond to misleading content rapidly. This can be a range of actions from labelling, to ‘downranking’, to removal where there is significant risk of harm, in line with the platform’s terms and conditions.

We have developed the SHARE checklist which aims to educate and empower those who see, inadvertently share and are affected by false and misleading information.

Facebook, Twitter and Google agreed to the principle that no company should profit from or promote COVID-19 anti-vaccine misinformation and disinformation and to respond to flagged content more swiftly.

The major platforms have updated their terms of service and taken positive steps to reduce the spread of harmful and misleading narratives and to promote Government and National Health Service messaging, including around anti vaccination content.

The Government’s response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation includes details of new laws to deal with harmful content and behaviour online, such as misinformation and disinformation that could cause significant physical or psychological harm to an individual.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that mental health providers are able to offer online consultations to patients who need them.

Talking therapies delivered by Improving Access to Psychological Therapies services will continue to be made available remotely so people can access help safely from home with face-to-face support provided to people, where appropriate, from within COVID-19 secure settings. Children and young people’s community mental health services will also continue to offer digital and remote access to maintain support and accept new referrals over the winter.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 12 October 2020 to Question 81551 on Coronavirus: Ethnic Groups, if his Department will make an assessment of the effect of unconscious bias on the treatment of BAME covid-19 patients.

Through Public Health England’s Beyond the Data review, stakeholders said that some black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities felt that they receive different treatment when compared with white patients and that this has further exacerbated fear within BAME communities and reluctance to seek medical care.

We are concerned that COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect on people from BAME backgrounds. The Minister for Equalities (Kemi Badenoch MP) has been tasked to lead the Government's work tackling this issue. With the support of the Race Disparity Unit, the Minister is also reviewing the effectiveness and impact of current actions being undertaken by relevant Government departments and their agencies to directly lessen disparities in infection and death rates of COVID-19.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 11 November 2020 to Question 104054 on Cancer: Cost of Living, if his Department will make an estimate of the average additional financial costs of living with cancer.

There are no plans to make such an estimate.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that data protection is maintained in the NHS covid-19 app.

The NHS COVID-19 app has been designed to use the minimum possible personal data or information. Expertise from across the United Kingdom Government and industry, including the National Cyber Security Centre, has been utilised to review our design and to help test and improve the app.

The app uses Bluetooth Low Energy to measure the distance between phones with the app downloaded, but it will never access location, contacts, or any other personal data saved in a phone.

There is an ongoing programme of monitoring and assessment to make sure that user data is safe and secure and to ensure that the app complies with protective measures established by data protection law.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help tackle the national backlog in endoscopy procedures.

In October 2020, the National Health Service issued £150 million in capital funding to regions to invest in diagnostic equipment. The recent spending review included an additional £325 million for the NHS to invest in new diagnostic machines to improve clinical outcomes, replacing over two thirds of imaging equipment that is over 10 years old.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will list the private companies that tendered for Government contracts relating to personal protective equipment.

The Government issued a public call to action to support the increased requirements of personal protective equipment (PPE). The aim was to reach suppliers who had experience of supplying PPE and also those who had no prior experience but who had access to sources of PPE through their business contacts. To date this has resulted in 15,000 suppliers offering their help and support. All offers were prioritised based on volume, price, clinical acceptability and lead time – this is the time from an offer being accepted by the Department to the supplier delivering those items.

Contracting authorities are allowed to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency in exceptional circumstances under the Public Contract Regulations 2015 using a direct award of a contract without a competitive tender process. The great majority of PPE contracts let by the Department were direct awards.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the roles were of private companies involved in Exercise Cygnus.

No private companies were invited to participate in Exercise Cygnus.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will list the private companies that tendered for the contract to run the Government's covid-19 contact-tracing system in England.

The contracts awarded to Serco and Sitel to provide non-National Health Service call handling services for the contact tracing initiative were direct awards under Lot 2 of Crown Commercial Service’s Contact Centre Services framework. Serco and Sitel are approved suppliers on this framework contract having gained their places through fair and open competition via an Official Journal of the European Union procurement.

All suppliers on Lot 2 were engaged in order to ascertain capabilities to meet the contract output specifications. The contracts were awarded based on consideration of available capacity; mobilisation and set up time; the ability to work jointly with other suppliers to provide a solution of this scale; and ensuring value for money.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will publish the science-based evidence on the transmission of covid-19 in places of (a) worship and (b) exercise.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has listened carefully to the views of the scientific community, the information from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and its sub-groups when taking decisions on the best way to tackle the pandemic. Data and scientific advice informing the fight against COVID-19 are published on gov.uk and specific relevant findings are shared in presentations accompanying significant policy announcements.

Unfortunately, we know that the virus spreads readily in indoor environments. These restrictions are difficult in the first instance, including for those who want to use gyms and places of worship, but that we have to find a balance to make sure we reduce the transmission rates and save lives.

We realise the impacts that these regulations have on people’s health and wellbeing and we aim to minimise the impact wherever possible and noting that these restrictions are time limited. The Government have published guidance on mental health and wellbeing which includes guidance on looking after physical wellbeing and this is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-public-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing/guidance-for-the-public-on-the-mental-health-and-wellbeing-aspects-of-coronavirus-covid-19#what-can-help-your-mental-health-and-wellbeing

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that gym closures during the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown do not have long term effects on public health.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has listened carefully to the views of the scientific community, the information from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and its sub-groups when taking decisions on the best way to tackle the pandemic. Data and scientific advice informing the fight against COVID-19 are published on gov.uk and specific relevant findings are shared in presentations accompanying significant policy announcements.

Unfortunately, we know that the virus spreads readily in indoor environments. These restrictions are difficult in the first instance, including for those who want to use gyms and places of worship, but that we have to find a balance to make sure we reduce the transmission rates and save lives.

We realise the impacts that these regulations have on people’s health and wellbeing and we aim to minimise the impact wherever possible and noting that these restrictions are time limited. The Government have published guidance on mental health and wellbeing which includes guidance on looking after physical wellbeing and this is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-public-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing/guidance-for-the-public-on-the-mental-health-and-wellbeing-aspects-of-coronavirus-covid-19#what-can-help-your-mental-health-and-wellbeing

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will provide funding from the public purse for (a) a one-off bonus and (b) an annual pay increase to health care workers in recognition of their efforts in responding to the covid-19 outbreak.

We are incredibly proud of all National Health Service staff and value their extraordinary commitment to providing world class care during these unprecedented times.

Over one million of ‘non-medical’ NHS staff, including nurses, continue to benefit from the three-year Agenda for Change (AfC) pay and contract reform deal, agreed in partnership with NHS trade unions and employer representatives. This is the final year of the deal and has seen year on year pay increases for all AfC staff including 16% increases for the lowest paid since 2017/18. For NHS medical staff not in existing multi-year pay and contract reform deals we accepted in full the Review Body for Doctors and Dentists Remuneration’s (DDRB) recommendation for a uniform 2.8% pay uplift in July 2020.

For recommendations on pay for NHS staff for 2021/22, we intend to look to the independent Pay Review Bodies (PRB) and we expect to issue a remit letter to the PRBs in the coming weeks. The Government will carefully consider the NHS PRB and DDRB’s recommendations when we receive them.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 22 September to Question 81545, what checks were made prior to direct awarding Ayanda Capital Limited a contract for providing PPE to the NHS.

Using regulation 32(2)(c) under the Public Contract Regulations 2015 Ayanda Capital was evaluated by Departmental officials on their financial standing, compliance with minimum product, service and technical specifications and ability to perform the contract. Contracts are awarded by the appropriate Departmental accounting officer in line with Departmental terms and conditions.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to regulation 32(2)(c) of the Public Contract Regulations 2015, what criteria constitutes an emergency.

Guidance on how contracting authorities should respond to COVID-19 was published on 18 March at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/procurement-policy-note-0120-responding-to-covid-19

Authorities are allowed to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency in exceptional circumstances using regulation 32(2)(c) under the Public Contract Regulations 2015. The Department assesses the market conditions for procuring supplies related to any procurement, including those relating to COVID-19, in accordance with procurement guidance and regulations. The Department has to demonstrate on a case by case basis that it is satisfied the tests set out in the guidance permitting use of the negotiated procedure without prior publication have been met. These are summarized as follows:

- you need to respond to the COVID-19 consequences immediately because of public health risks, loss of existing provision at short notice, etc;

- you are reacting to a current situation that is a genuine emergency - not planning for one;

- the COVID-19 situation is so novel that the consequences are not something you should have predicted;

- there is no time to run an accelerated procurement under the open or restricted procedures or competitive procedures with negotiation;

- there is no time to place a call off contract under an existing commercial agreement such as a framework or dynamic purchasing system; and

- you have not done anything to cause or contribute to the need for extreme urgency.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 14 September to Question 81560, what other approaches were considered in determining where procurement meets the tests for the use of Regulation 32.

Guidance on how contracting authorities should respond to COVID-19 was published on 18 March at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/procurement-policy-note-0120-responding-to-covid-19

Authorities are allowed to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency in exceptional circumstances using regulation 32(2)(c) under the Public Contract Regulations 2015. The Department assesses the market conditions for procuring supplies related to any procurement, including those relating to COVID-19, in accordance with procurement guidance and regulations. The Department has to demonstrate on a case by case basis that it is satisfied the tests set out in the guidance permitting use of the negotiated procedure without prior publication have been met. These are summarized as follows:

- you need to respond to the COVID-19 consequences immediately because of public health risks, loss of existing provision at short notice, etc;

- you are reacting to a current situation that is a genuine emergency - not planning for one;

- the COVID-19 situation is so novel that the consequences are not something you should have predicted;

- there is no time to run an accelerated procurement under the open or restricted procedures or competitive procedures with negotiation;

- there is no time to place a call off contract under an existing commercial agreement such as a framework or dynamic purchasing system; and

- you have not done anything to cause or contribute to the need for extreme urgency.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 14 September 2020 to Question 81561 on Public Sector: Contracts, in which (a) regional areas and (b) constituencies have are companies awarded contracts by direct award based.

As of the beginning of November 2020, 937 contracts worth an estimated £17.8 billion have been awarded by the Department and its executive agencies in response to the Covid-19 pandemic for a wide range of products and services including personal protective equipment, the Test and Trace initiative, ventilators, IT, logistics, medicines.

The great majority of these contracts have been let using a direct award. Contract Award Notices are published for each contract which contain information on the value of the contract, its duration and the name and address of the supplier.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 14 September 2020 to Question 81561 on Public Sector: Contracts; what the average value is of contracts awarded to suppliers through direct award.

As of the beginning of November 2020, 937 contracts worth an estimated £17.8 billion have been awarded by the Department and its executive agencies in response to the Covid-19 pandemic for a wide range of products and services including personal protective equipment, the Test and Trace initiative, ventilators, IT, logistics, medicines.

The great majority of these contracts have been let using a direct award. Contract Award Notices are published for each contract which contain information on the value of the contract, its duration and the name and address of the supplier.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 14 September 2020 to Question 81561 on Public Sector: Contracts, what the average length is of contracts awarded to suppliers through direct award.

As of the beginning of November 2020, 937 contracts worth an estimated £17.8 billion have been awarded by the Department and its executive agencies in response to the Covid-19 pandemic for a wide range of products and services including personal protective equipment, the Test and Trace initiative, ventilators, IT, logistics, medicines.

The great majority of these contracts have been let using a direct award. Contract Award Notices are published for each contract which contain information on the value of the contract, its duration and the name and address of the supplier.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the scientific basis is for the imposition of different attendance restrictions between weddings and funerals during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises the significance of life events, particularly funerals and treat them with sufficient sensitivity, which is why there are different exemptions to the rule of six for weddings and funerals. Allowing attendance at weddings of up to 15, and at funerals of up to 30, goes some way towards meeting the participants’ understandable wishes, while at the same time minimising the spread of the virus.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has listened carefully to the views of the scientific community, in particular the information from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies and its sub-groups when taking decisions on the best way to tackle the pandemic. Although gathering in larger groups does increase the risk of transmission, but we have been clear that people should follow social distancing rules when gathering with people they do not live with. We continue to keep these restrictions under constant review and will ensure they remain proportionate to the threat to public health posed by COVID-19.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the average additional financial costs of living with cancer.

No estimate has been made.

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 guidance he is providing to people who (a) work in and (b) commute from an area with different three-tier covid-19 restrictions.

Everyone is currently advised to work from home where possible. We do however recognise this is not possible for all, and some workers must continue to commute between different local alert levels.

In COVID-19 level alert medium and high areas, no restrictions will apply to travel or transport. We advise people to keep travel to a minimum in local COVID alert level high and people should not travel in or out of local COVID alert level very high areas, though travel for work can continue. People will be advised to walk and cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes if using public transport.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason local authorities are not running covid-19 testing in local communities.

Local and mobile testing is locally coordinated by Local Resilience Forums and Recovery Coordinating Groups and decisions are centrally executed at their direction. Local testing sites are run under the control of Directors of Public Health who are best placed to direct testing capacity to local groups with the greatest needs. Regional test sites are centrally controlled and coordinated. We work with local authorities wherever possible on-site selection, particularly when a site needs to be relocated. However, we are actively exploring ways of enabling increased local control. The co-design approach between local and national teams has been key in achieving the pace at which these sites have been set up.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to monitor the (a) clinical performance and (b) delivery rate of NHS treatments not related to covid-19.

The Department uses data published on a monthly basis to monitor compliance against performance standards. There are robust processes in place to hold NHS England and NHS Improvement to account and action to ensure compliance with different performance standards is discussed in the course of this process.

Guidance issued by NHS England and NHS Improvement at the end of July set the ambition for providers to recover elective services in October to 90% of last year’s levels for admissions, and 100% for outpatients. The Department continues to monitor performance against these ambitions.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the number of British residents that have contracted covid-19 on a flight in each of the last six months.

It is not possible to systematically identify where infection occurs in individual positive cases of COVID-19.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that care homes are prepared for a second wave of covid-19 ahead of winter 2020-21.

The Adult Social Care Winter Plan published on 18 September sets out the actions we are taking at a national level to support those who provide and receive care. It also outlines the actions every local area (local authorities and National Health Service partners) and every care provider must be taking right now to protect residents and staff in care homes.

Our commitments in The Adult Social Care Winter Plan includes:

- Continuing to engage with local authorities, care providers, people with care and support needs, and their families and carers to understand their needs and provide support;

- Provide £546 million through the Infection Control Fund, set up in May, which has now been extended until March 2021, to help the care sector restrict the movement of staff between care homes to stop the spread of the virus;

- We will support care homes and domiciliary care providers by providing free PPE for their Covid-19 needs until March 2021;

- Making the flu vaccine available for free to all health and care staff, personal assistants, and unpaid carers; and

- Introducing tightened measures which will enable residents and their loved ones to have safe visits to care homes.

Working together will ensure that high-quality, safe and timely care is provided to everyone who needs it, whilst protecting people who need care especially those who are older or living with underlying health conditions who may be more vulnerable to the virus, their carers and the social care workforce from COVID-19.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what his strategy is for administering a covid-19 vaccine once it has been approved by the Government.

We are preparing for the delivery of any potential COVID-19 vaccination programme as quickly as possible. The scale of what is rolled out and when will depend on a safe, effective vaccine being available. Plans include ensuring there is adequate of provision of transport, storage, personal protective equipment, and the consideration of the settings and workforce required to vaccinate against COVID-19.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to increase the frequency of his weekly review of lockdown measures across England.

National decision-making takes place through the Government’s Local Action Committee command structure. It can escalate concerns and issues to the COVID Operations Committee to engage ministers across Government. The command structure is as follows:

- The Local Action Committee (gold) meets weekly. However, additional meetings are held if the data indicates they are needed;

- The Weekly Containment Group (silver) meets weekly. However, they can be convened rapidly as required; and

- The Daily Containment Group (bronze) meets daily and provides situational awareness on the latest outbreaks and epidemiological picture. This group also reviews and evaluates local outbreak response and action extra support.

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, with reference to regulation 32(2)(c) of the Public Contract Regulations 2015, what assessment the Government makes when procuring (a) goods (b) services and (c) works of the ability of successful bidding companies to produce the items ordered.

Using regulation 32(2)(c) under the Public Contract Regulations 2015 suppliers will be evaluated by Departmental officials on their financial standing, compliance with minimum product, service and technical specifications and ability to perform the contract. Contracts are awarded by the appropriate Departmental accounting officer in line with Departmental terms and conditions.

Over 1,000 purchase orders have been raised with suppliers for COVID-19 related work under regulation 32(2)(c), the majority through a direct award. Contracts are awarded by the appropriate Departmental accounting officer in line with Departmental terms and conditions which contract management clauses to assess performance and value for money throughout the lifetime of the contract.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether regulation 32(2)c of the Public Contract Regulations 2015 applies to procuring vendors in making preparations for a second wave of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department assesses the market conditions for procuring supplies related to any procurement, including those relating to COVID-19, in accordance with procurement guidance and regulations. Where any procurement meets the tests for the use of Regulation 32 then that approached will be used; where it does not, other approaches will be considered.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many companies tendered for the Covid-19 contact-tracing system contract for England.

Guidance on how contracting authorities should respond to COVID-19 was published on 18 March at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/procurement-policy-note-0120-responding-to-covid-19

Authorities are allowed to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency in exceptional circumstances using regulation 32(2)(c) under the Public Contract Regulations 2015. These include a direct award due to extreme urgency or the absence of competition. Under the regulation contracting authorities may enter into contracts without competing or advertising the requirement.

Over 1,000 purchase orders have been raised with suppliers for COVID-19 related work, the majority through a direct award, this includes the contracts for the contact tracing system.

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 plans he has to increase mental health support as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

We are working with the National Health Service, Public Health England and other key partners to take an expert look at what we might anticipate by way of need and plan for how to support mental health and wellbeing throughout the next few weeks and months.

Our NHS Long Term Plan commitment to investing at least £2.3 billion of extra funding a year to mental health services by 2023-24 remains. We have provided £5 million of additional funding for mental health charities to support adults and children struggling with their mental wellbeing during this time.

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 recruit workers to the social care sector from within the UK.

In order to attract more people into social care, in April to July we rapidly increased the national recruitment campaign – with sustained activity across broadcast, digital and social media. The campaign highlighted the vital role that the social care workforce has played during the pandemic, along with the longer-term opportunity of working in case.

We are also working with the Department for Work and Pensions to provide job centre work coaches with resources to promote adult social care careers to jobseekers, including those who may have recently lost their jobs working in hard hit sectors such as hospitality, tourism and retail.

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 his Department is doing to ensure the availability of adequate (a) specialists and (b) treatment for patients facing long-term effects from covid-19.

The National Health Service and the wider scientific community are currently working to better understand the disease course of COVID-19 infection, including the prevalence, severity and duration of symptoms, and how best to support recovery. The National Institute for Health Research and UK Research and Innovation have invested £8.4 million in the Post-HOSPitalisation COVID-19 study (PHOSP-COVID), led by Christopher Brightling at the University of Leicester. This study is one of the world’s largest comprehensive research studies into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 on hospitalised patients.

The NHS is working to expand access to COVID-19 rehabilitation treatments for those who have survived the virus but still have problems with breathing, mental health problems or other longer-term complications. As part of this, in July the NHS launched ‘Your COVID Recovery’ service, a personalised programme to support the recovery of people who have been in hospital or suffered at home with the virus.

The research currently underway will inform future NHS service design and provision.

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 comparative assessment he has made the suicide rate for (a) Preston (b) Lancashire and (c) England between April 2020 to July 2020 with the same period in each of the last 2 years.

We have not made such an assessment. We do not yet have robust data to say what effect, if any, the COVID-19 pandemic has had on suicide rates.

We are nevertheless taking action to support people’s mental health and prevent suicides and self-harm. All National Health Service mental health providers have established 24 hours a day, seven days a week mental health crisis lines, and we have announced £9.2 million of additional funding to support mental health charities, including Samaritans and CALM.

Every local authority has a multi-agency suicide prevention plan in place. The expectation is that agencies will work together to ensure plans address the impacts of COVID-19 on specific groups.

We are working with the NHS and others to gather evidence and assess the potential longer-term mental health impacts of COVID-19 and plan for how to support the public’s mental health and wellbeing throughout the ‘recovery’ phase.

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 assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 lockdown on suicide rates.

We have not yet made such an assessment. We do not at this time have robust data to say what effect, if any, the COVID-19 pandemic has had on suicide rates.

Public Health England is currently piloting the development of a national surveillance system to monitor suspected suicide and self-harm, by collecting in near real time data from local systems which can be used to identify patterns of risk and causal factors, to inform national and local responses.

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 estimate his Department has made of the number of covid-19 patients who have been diagnosed with PTSD.

The Department has made no such estimate.

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 estimate he has made of the number of children of essential workers that tested positive for covid-19 between March and July 2020.

The Department does not currently hold this level of data.

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 assessment his Department has made of the effect of unconscious bias on the treatment of BAME covid-19 patients.

No such assessment has been made.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what unconscious bias training his Department offers to healthcare professionals.

There are elements of the Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Level 1 session, which deal with the concept of unconscious bias. This session is part of the e-Learning for Healthcare Statutory and Mandatory Training Programme and is aimed at all staff, including unpaid and voluntary staff.

Individual National Health Service organisations have responsibility for training their own staff and will provide further relevant training where appropriate.

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, the number of (a) British and (b) foreign travellers that have been fined for breaching quarantine rules following arrival to England from a non-exempt country in the last two months.

The Department does not collect this information.

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 plans he has to expand covid-19 testing to ensure all members of the public can access tests.

We are conducting over 300,000 tests a day and we are working with cutting-edge technology to increase the volume of tests and improve turnaround time. By November we will be able to conduct half a million tests a day and the vast majority of in-person test results are being returned the next day. We are increasing capacity through a combination of expanding our network of testing sites and laboratories, as well as investing in new technologies. We are also increasing our testing capacity which will allow us to expand asymptomatic testing to groups and areas at greatest risk, including in areas with local outbreaks.

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, how many British manufacturers (a) approached the National PPE Sourcing team and (b) were awarded contracts to supply personal protective equipment to the NHS.

We have rapidly processed over 24,000 offers of personal protective equipment (PPE) from over 15,000 suppliers who approached the National PPE Sourcing team, to ensure they meet the safety and quality standards that National Health Service staff need, as well as prioritising offers of larger volumes.

The company ownership and nature of business for each supplier cannot be readily identified from the available data held by the Department, therefore whether suppliers are British manufacturers is not verifiable.

We have contracted with over 175 new suppliers to deliver PPE at the scale and pace the United Kingdom requires. This includes signed contracts with 27 UK-based manufacturers for facemasks, visors, gowns and aprons, ensuring we build and maintain a domestic base for the future.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to England’s Covid contact-tracing system, what criteria his Department used to award Serco a contract in relation to that system.

Serco are an approved supplier on the Crown Commercial Services (CCS). The CCS undertook a pre-procurement exercise engaging with all suppliers under the Framework to understand which suppliers could establish the contact centre in the volumes required and the timescales needed. The Department has put in place arrangements to ensure robust contract management in line with relevant guidance.

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 assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the qualifications of Ayanda Capital Limited to ensure compliance with NHS safety standards in relation to masks supplied by that company.

Any personal protective equipment (PPE) provided by suppliers must meet strict safety standards as per the published technical specification for PPE at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/technical-specifications-for-personal-protective-equipment-ppe

When offers are being evaluated, the technical suitability of the products on offer are confirmed with separate teams at NHS Supply Chain.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the unrestricted travel into the UK in (a) April and (b) May 2020 on the domestic spread of covid-19.

On 17 March the Government advised against all non-essential international travel. The scientific advice was clear at that time that additional measures would not have had a significant impact while there was significant community transmission within the country. Information about the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies and the scientific and technical advice that they provide is available on GOV.uk.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on people that suffer from eating disorders.

We have not made such an assessment. However, we recognise the COVID-19 pandemic and associated social distancing and self-isolation measures will impact the mental health and wellbeing of the population. This impact may be greater for some vulnerable people, particularly for those with pre-existing mental health conditions such as eating disorders.

Since March, we have announced over £9 million of funding support for mental health charities supporting vulnerable people through the COVID-19 pandemic. We are delighted that the eating disorder charity Beat has been awarded grant funding through this process to continue the valuable work it does in supporting people with eating disorders.

Mental health services are open and working to support people with mental health issues through the coronavirus pandemic and NHS England has instructed all National Health Service mental health trusts to establish 24 hours a day, seven days a week mental health crisis lines for urgent NHS mental health support, including for people with eating disorders.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many NHS staff have sought mental health support through the NHS staff mental health hotline since its launch in April 2020.

The National Health Service staff support helpline was launched on 8 April 2020 and provides confidential listening, signposting, and support. It is operated by Samaritans from 7am – 11pm, seven days a week.

From 8 April 2020 until 12 June 2020 there have been 3,120 calls to the helpline. This information was collected by Samaritans.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to Exercise Cygnus that took place in 2016, whether an assessment was made of the potential effect of a pandemic on the mental health of (a) health and (b) care workers.

Whilst the scope of Exercise Cygnus did not cover the effect of a pandemic on the mental health of health and social care workers specifically, staff wellbeing is a core part of United Kingdom pandemic preparedness planning. This includes strengthening the health and social care sector to surge and flex beyond normal operations, as demonstrated by the considerable increase in capacity and capabilities to respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The wellbeing of health and social care staff has been central to the COVID-19 response, and the Government has implemented several measures to support staff, including a dedicated helpline and free access to several wellbeing apps for National Health Service and social care workers, and a CARE app which provides advice and wellbeing support to social care staff.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to Exercise Cygnus that took place in 2016, what the findings of that exercise were in relation to care homes; and whether any recommendations for that sector were (a) identified and (b) implemented as a result of that exercise.

The lessons identified as a result of Exercise Cygnus continue to be considered by the Government and a range of stakeholders, including expert advisory groups and local emergency planners.

Taking the recommendations from Exercise Cygnus, the Department commissioned further work on pandemic influenza preparedness from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services. This was completed in the spring of 2018 and included advice and guidance on planning for a pandemic, which was circulated to Directors of Adult Social Services.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to Exercise Cygnus that took place in 2016, what the key lessons learned from that exercise were for the preparedness of North West England to respond to a pandemic.

The Government has been extremely proactive in implementing lessons learnt around pandemic preparedness, including from Exercise Cygnus, to ensure that the United Kingdom remains well-prepared for infectious disease outbreaks. This includes being ready with legislative proposals and improving health sector plans to flex and expand systems beyond normal capacity levels.

The lessons learned from Exercise Cygnus continue to be considered by the Government and have been shared with a range of stakeholders, including local emergency planners, in reviewing response plans. Local planners are responsible for identifying and implementing specific lessons which most affect their areas (such as the North West).

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to assess the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the mental health of NHS staff.

The Government takes the health and wellbeing of National Health Service staff very seriously. At the beginning of the COVID-19 response, the Department commissioned NHS England and NHS Improvement to develop a comprehensive package of emotional, psychological, and practical support for all NHS staff. NHS England and NHS Improvement launched the support package on 8 April 2020 which can be accessed via the following link:

people.nhs.uk/help/

Development of the support package has been informed by both the experiences of NHS staff contacting the national telephone and text service, as well as expert advice and research into mental health needs following major incidents. The support package will continue to be updated by listening to feedback from NHS staff who use the services, including how COVID-19 response has affected them.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implication for his policies of the Care Quality Commission's published data of 2 June 2020 in relation to deaths of people with a learning disability as a result of covid-19; and if he will make a statement.

Since the start of this outbreak we have been working closely with the sector and public health experts to put in place guidance and support for adult social care, including for people with learning disabilities.

We have commissioned Public Health England to undertake a thorough analysis of the numbers of deaths of people with a learning disability. This will draw on data published by NHS England and the Care Quality Commission to give as complete a picture of the impact of COVID-19 on this group of people as possible.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason prior to the publication of the 2 June 2020 Public Health England report entitled Disparities on the risk and outcomes of COVID-19 a section was removed which included evidence from more than 1,000 organisations and individuals suggesting that discrimination and poorer life chances played a part in the increased risk of covid-19 among those with BAME backgrounds; and whether he plans to publish that section.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Edmonton (Kate Osamor MP) on 1 July 2020 to Question 59534.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to protect people from BAME backgrounds who have been identified as being in an at-risk group during the covid-19 outbreak; whether lockdown restrictions will be amended for those at-risk groups of people; and what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies on amending lockdown restrictions for those at-risk groups of the Public Health England report, Disparities on the risk and outcomes of covid-19, published on 2 June 2020.

We have all been struck by the conclusions of Public Health England’s report and will continue to help protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19 based on the best possible analysis available to us.

We are determined to get to the bottom of the report’s findings in a proper and scientific way and have already asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Equalities, (Kemi Badenoch MP), to take forward work to fill the gaps in our understanding, review existing policies and guidance and amend or develop new policies where needed and where the evidence supports us doing so. The Terms of Reference for that work can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/next-steps-for-work-on-covid-19-disparities-announced

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has plans to provide Local Resilience Forums with local operational control for covid-19 tracking and tracing.

Upper tier local authorities are leading local outbreak planning within a national framework, and with the support of NHS Test and Trace, Public Health England and other Government departments. In tier 2 areas, county councils are working closely with district councils who have responsibility for environmental health.

Each upper tier local authority has a local outbreak plan developed in line with the Association of Directors of Public Health guiding principles setting out how partners should work together to implement the plans and take a preventative approach.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has plans to ensure that Local Resilience Forums receive (a) positive, (b) negative and (c) void covid-19 test results within three hours of those tests being taken.

All upper tier local authorities have access to record level (including sex, age, occupation and postcode) test and case data. Directors of Public Health are also receiving fully identifiable test, case and contact tracing data where the case data includes, address, postcode, sex, age, NHS Number, occupation, test date, and additional data describing progress through the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing process. Public Health England (PHE) provides access to this data via a secure platform to Directors of Public Health to support them to carry out their outbreak management responsibilities. This data is currently updated on a daily basis.

PHE began providing record level positive test data, including postcodes, to local authorities (including Directors of Public Health) on 24 June.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the trends in the level of mental health issues experienced by former armed forces personnel; and how much funding his Department plans to allocate to the (a) treatment of and (b) suicide prevention for those personnel in the next three years.

Veteran mental health needs are very often no different to those of the general population. Data has shown that most patients suffer from common mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety and readily make use of the mainstream mental health services provided throughout the United Kingdom.

In England, bespoke veteran mental health services receive £10.2 million funding each year. This will increase by an extra £5 million which will go towards developing a High Intense Service to help veterans nearing crisis.

Every local authority has a multi-agency suicide prevention plan in place and we are investing almost £600,000 in 2019/20 to support local authorities to strengthen their plans. From 2019/20, we are also investing £57 million in suicide prevention through the NHS Long-Term Plan. 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.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent guidance he has issued to NHS hospitals on the bullying and harassment of junior doctors.

All National Health Service organisations should have in place a bullying and harassment policy that is easily accessible to staff – such as junior doctors - and is monitored regularly by senior managers.

The NHS Social Partnership Forum, chaired by Departmental ministers, has led a collective call to action to tackle bullying and harassment in the NHS. Working with NHS system leaders, NHS employers, staff and their trades unions, it encourages and supports the leadership and culture change required to eradicate bullying and harassment.

A ‘new offer’ will be published later this year alongside the final NHS People Plan and will detail the support that all NHS staff can expect to receive from their employer – including how the NHS will tackle bullying and harassment.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what reports his Department has received of (a) bullying and (b) harassment of junior NHS doctors working in hospitals.

The 2019 NHS Staff Survey published on 18 February 2020 shows that 14.6% of medical and dental staff in the National Health Service have personally experienced an instance of bullying, harassment or abuse from a manager; 21.3% from a colleague. These figures have decreased by 1.2% and 0.3% from the 2018 NHS Staff survey, respectively. This follows work that is being done by the NHS Social Partnership Forum working with NHS system leaders, NHS employers, staff and their trade unions to support the leadership and culture change required to eradicate all forms of bullying and of harassment.

However, this level of bullying and harassment is still unacceptably high. The final NHS People Plan, to be published later this year, will set out further action to tackle bullying and harassment as part of making the NHS the best place to work.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the level of vaping amongst children and young people; and what the implications are for the NHS with respect to the future treatment of young and adult patients with disorders associated with vaping.

While experimentation with e-cigarettes is not uncommon among young people, current and regular use remains low. E-cigarettes in the United Kingdom are tightly regulated by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR) and the Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations 2015 (NIP). These regulations aim to reduce the risk of harm to children; to protect against any risk of renormalisation of tobacco use; and to provide assurance on relative safety for users. The regulations include restrictions on mainstream TV and radio advertising; prevent sale to under 18s; and limit both tank sizes and nicotine content.

We are monitoring youth use closely and will take action, if necessary, to ensure that regular use among children and young people does not increase, and that e-cigarettes do not become a gateway to tobacco use. The Government has a statutory obligation to conduct post implementation reviews of TRPR by May 2021 and NIP later this spring. We continue to keep the evidence base on e-cigarettes under review and the next Public Health England annual review is due to be published later this month.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to (a) improve the accuracy of patient records for immunisations and (b) standardise the invite-reminder systems utilised by GP practices across England.

To improve patient record accuracy, the National Health Service is developing a platform that will enable immunisation information to be shared across approved systems. Following this, work will be initiated to support the delivery of reminder functionality that is of use to both GP practices and to individuals. This is in addition to updates to the 2020/2021 general practitioner (GP) contract, published on 6 February, which aim to ensure that call/recall services are being delivered in line with published standards and to move towards text-based reminders.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many GP patients in (a) Preston, (b) the North West and (c) England failed to secure a same-day appointment with their GP practice in each of the last three years.

The data on the number of patients that have failed to secure a general practice appointment is not collected or held centrally.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many vacant GP places there are in (a) Preston, (b) Lancashire and (c) the North West; and what (i) short- and (ii) long-term steps he is taking to tackle the shortage of GPs throughout the UK.

The data requested is not available in the format requested. NHS Digital publishes vacancy data for England only. Only a small proportion of practices in England provide data to NHS Digital on the vacancies they hold. The published data is therefore of limited use and cannot be disaggregated into vacancies by region or local area.

We recognise general practice is under pressure nationally and that is why we have committed to growing the workforce by 6,000 more doctors in general practice and 6,000 more primary care professionals. This is in addition to the 20,000 primary care professionals NHS England will provide funding towards through Primary Care Networks. The full People Plan, published later this year, will set out a broader strategy for a sustainable general practice workforce and how we will meet our commitments through both recruitment and retention programmes.

Growing the workforce will mean larger teams of staff providing a wide range of care options for patients and will free up more time for doctors to focus on those with more complex needs. This, alongside additional support and increasing the use of technology in general practice, will create an extra 50 million appointments a year by 2024/25 and improve patient access to primary care services.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he (a) is taking and (b) plans to take to tackle the over-prescription of opioids by GPs in deprived areas.

Guidance on opioid dependence is published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and was refreshed in July 2019. NICE is leading the development of new guidelines for safe prescribing of drugs associated with dependence. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) reviews how healthcare providers are using NICE guidelines and quality standards to prescribe safely.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care introduced prominent addiction warnings for all opioid medicines in 2019. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is seeking voluntary compliance from industry and, if necessary, the changes will be mandated. Packs including the warnings on product labelling began to be seen by patients in late 2019.

In September 2019 Public Health England published an evidence review of medicines associated with dependence or withdrawal. Alongside ongoing improvements to medicines safety and the use of prescribed drugs, NHS England and national partners are developing actions to reduce prescription medicine dependency.

A national review of overprescribing in the National Health Service is being led by Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Dr Keith Ridge and will be published in 2020. The review is looking at patients taking multiple medicines unnecessarily, the role of digital technologies in reducing overprescribing, and the increased role for alternatives to prescribing and other forms of care.

The UK Commission on Human Medicines Opioid expert working group is a comprehensive independent scientific review that will make recommendations this year about further regulatory action and information for clinicians and patients.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many (a) alcohol and (b) drug-related deaths have there been in the last five years in (i) Preston, (ii) Lancashire and (iii) the North West.

A total of 358 alcohol-related deaths in Preston, 3,075 alcohol-related deaths in Lancashire and 18,757 alcohol related-deaths in the North West occurred in the last five years for which data is available (2014 – 2018). This data is available on the Local Alcohol Profiles for England webpage published by Public Health England which can be viewed at the following link:

https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/local-alcohol-profiles

Drugs poisoning deaths are published by the Office for National Statistics for overlapping three-year periods and are shown in the following table. They cannot be summed to create figures for other time periods:

Year

Preston

Lancashire

North West

2012-14

22

234

1530

2013-15

27

240

1658

2014-16

31

265

1758

2015-17

39

283

1835

2016-18

39

299

1888

They can be viewed at the following link:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/datasets/drugmisusedeathsbylocalauthority

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much funding he plans to allocate to the prevention of child suicide over the next five years.

We are taking action to prevent child suicide through continued increasing investment in mental health services. Under the NHS Long Term Plan, mental health services will continue to receive a growing share of the National Health Service budget, with funding to grow by at least £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24. Spending for children and young people’s mental health services will grow faster than the overall spend on mental health, which will itself be growing faster than the overall NHS budget.

This increased funding will ensure that by 2023/24, at least an additional 345,000 children and young people aged 0-25 will be able to access support via NHS-funded mental health services and school– or college-based mental health support teams.

We are also investing £57 million specifically in suicide prevention and bereavement services in all areas of the country by 2023/24.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to assess the mental health of (a) primary and (b) secondary school aged children.

The Department has committed to conduct a survey every seven years on the prevalence of mental health conditions in children and young people. The most recent survey is the ‘Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2017’, published in November 2018.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that labelling on imported tobacco products complies with UK legislation.

All tobacco products imported into the United Kingdom are required to adhere to existing UK tobacco legislation. This is enforced by local authority trading standards officers.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with the UN on the (a) murder of George Floyd and (b) deaths of black men by armed police officers and members of the public in the US.

The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have been clear that the death of George Floyd was appalling, inexcusable and deeply distressing and we understand the strength of feeling around this issue. Domestic security policy is a matter for the US.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to the US Administration on threats to use military force against US citizens to suppress peaceful protests in that country.

Domestic security policy is a matter for the US. Our Embassy in the US has raised the issue of the protests with the US Administration. The violence we have seen is clearly very alarming. People must be allowed to protest peacefully - peaceful protest remains a vital part of a democratic society and we understand the strength of feeling around this issue.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to the Government of Israel on its proposed annexation of the West Bank.

The Foreign Secretary reiterated our opposition to the unilateral annexation of territory during a call with Alternate Israeli Prime Minister Gantz on 20 May and Israeli Foreign Minister Ashkenazi on 2 June. As we made clear at the UN Security Council remote meeting on the Middle East Peace Process on 20 May, we are concerned by reports that the new Israeli Government coalition has reached an agreement which may pave the way for annexation of parts of the West Bank. The UK position is clear: any unilateral moves toward annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel would be damaging to renewed efforts to restart peace negotiations, and contrary to international law.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on taking economic steps in response to the Government of Israel's proposed annexation of the West Bank.

We continue to work closely with international partners to advocate a two-state solution and encourage a return to meaningful negotiations between both parties. I reiterated, at the virtual meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee with Israel, the Palestinians, the EU, and the wider international community on 2 June, our concerns about reports that the new Israeli Government coalition has reached an agreement which may pave the way for annexation of parts of the West Bank. The UK position is clear: any unilateral moves towards annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel would be damaging to efforts to restart peace negotiations and contrary to international law.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the finding of the United Nations Human Rights Office report on business activities related to settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, published on 12 February 2020, reference A/HRC/43/71.

The UK, along with a number of other European countries, opposed the creation of the UN Human Rights Office's database. Ultimately it is the decision of an individual or company whether to operate in settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The British Government neither encourages nor offers support to such activity.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to support an increase in freelance working.

The Government recognises the importance of supporting the self-employed, including freelancers, during the COVID-19 outbreak and has taken steps to deliver a very substantial economic support package, designed to provide individuals and businesses with the assistance and certainty they need over the course of the pandemic. This includes over £33bn of support provided to eligible self-employed individuals through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), as well as increased levels of Universal Credit, Extended Loss Carry Back rules, the Recovery Loan scheme, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, self-isolation support payments and other business support grants.

As restrictions are eased, economic activity and demand will gradually pick up as a result, and the Government will continue to consider how it can support all parts of the labour market, recognising that businesses will need some time to recover and adapt.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions his Department has had with representatives of (a) Mastercard and (b) Visa on the interchange fee levied on consumers buying from an EU-based company following the UK's departure from the EU.

Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery.

Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-giftsand-overseas-travel

The Government has legislated to ensure that interchange fees remain capped for UK domestic card transactions, where both the card issuer and acquirer are located in the UK, through the Interchange Fee (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 made under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. Any changes in cross-border interchange fees between the UK and EU, as between the UK and other third countries, are a result of commercial decisions by card schemes.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that the covid-19 recovery plan considers the needs of the female workforce.

To protect people’s jobs and livelihoods across the UK since the emergence of Covid-19, the Government has already provided support on a scale unmatched in recent history. As of 28 February, 2.14 million jobs held by women were supported by the CJRS, and by 31 January 632,000 women had claimed for SEISS. Alongside this, the Government’s Plan for Jobs launched action to support individuals to get into work, including through the £2bn Kickstart scheme and £2.9bn Restart programme.

In addition to our Plan for Jobs, our plan to Build Back Better will support the female workforce and drive economic growth by investing in infrastructure, skills and innovation.

We also want to retain the positive culture shifts around flexible working that we have seen as a result of Covid-19 and support men and women to share care and work between them. We want to make it easier for people to work flexibly and in our manifesto we committed to further encouraging flexible working by consulting on making it the default unless employers have good reasons not to.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department plans to provide support to employers for retraining their workers following the end of the Government's covid-19 job support schemes.

The changes to the level of employer contributions under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme align with the Government’s plan for lifting restrictions over the coming months. As the economy reopens, it is right that the Government asks employers to contribute more in order to strike the right balance between supporting the economic recovery past the end of the roadmap, to allow businesses time to plan and adjust, and ensuring incentives are in place to get people back to work as demand returns.

The Government remains committed to ensuring it takes the right action at the right time to support individuals and businesses in every region and nation of the UK. The Plan for Jobs, reinforced by the 2020 Spending Review, launched immediate action to support individuals to get into work, including through the £2 billion Kickstart and £2.9 billion Restart schemes, and by doubling the number of DWP work coaches to 27,000. At Budget 2021, in order to provide further support to employment, the Government announced an additional £126 million for traineeships in England and set up a new £7 million fund to enable apprentices to work across different employers.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of potential effect on the level of employment of the scaling back of the Government's covid-19 job support schemes following the end of the covid-19 outbreak.

The changes to the level of employer contributions under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme align with the Government’s plan for lifting restrictions over the coming months. As the economy reopens, it is right that the Government asks employers to contribute more in order to strike the right balance between supporting the economic recovery past the end of the roadmap, to allow businesses time to plan and adjust, and ensuring incentives are in place to get people back to work as demand returns.

The Government remains committed to ensuring it takes the right action at the right time to support individuals and businesses in every region and nation of the UK. The Plan for Jobs, reinforced by the 2020 Spending Review, launched immediate action to support individuals to get into work, including through the £2 billion Kickstart and £2.9 billion Restart schemes, and by doubling the number of DWP work coaches to 27,000. At Budget 2021, in order to provide further support to employment, the Government announced an additional £126 million for traineeships in England and set up a new £7 million fund to enable apprentices to work across different employers.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on what basis are banks permitted to close customers’ bank accounts.

In most circumstances, the provision of a bank’s services is a commercial decision for the bank and the Government does not intervene in these decisions. The terms and conditions of the contract between the two parties govern the termination of that contract, and although the Treasury sets the legal framework for the regulation of financial services it does not have investigative or prosecuting powers of its own and is not able to intervene in account closures.

HM Treasury sometimes receives representations from consumers with questions or concerns about their banking. However, any dispute arising between a bank and its customers is usually best resolved by the parties involved. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules require the banks to properly investigate all complaints and, through ongoing supervision, it continues to monitor the banks’ complaint handling processes. If customers are unable to resolve the issue with their bank, they will be eligible for further review by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). The FOS provides a free, independent dispute resolution service for bank customers.

Customers who are experiencing financial difficulty following a bank account closure may wish to contact the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), an arms-length body of the Department for Work and Pensions. MaPS was established to support consumers with comprehensive, consistent, guidance for every stage of their financial lives. It offers free and impartial information on money matters, available to all online, face-to-face or via telephone. This includes an impartial Debt Advice Locator Tool for those needing debt advice immediately.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support is available to people who have had their bank account closed but are unavailable to access funds from that account.

In most circumstances, the provision of a bank’s services is a commercial decision for the bank and the Government does not intervene in these decisions. The terms and conditions of the contract between the two parties govern the termination of that contract, and although the Treasury sets the legal framework for the regulation of financial services it does not have investigative or prosecuting powers of its own and is not able to intervene in account closures.

HM Treasury sometimes receives representations from consumers with questions or concerns about their banking. However, any dispute arising between a bank and its customers is usually best resolved by the parties involved. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules require the banks to properly investigate all complaints and, through ongoing supervision, it continues to monitor the banks’ complaint handling processes. If customers are unable to resolve the issue with their bank, they will be eligible for further review by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). The FOS provides a free, independent dispute resolution service for bank customers.

Customers who are experiencing financial difficulty following a bank account closure may wish to contact the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), an arms-length body of the Department for Work and Pensions. MaPS was established to support consumers with comprehensive, consistent, guidance for every stage of their financial lives. It offers free and impartial information on money matters, available to all online, face-to-face or via telephone. This includes an impartial Debt Advice Locator Tool for those needing debt advice immediately.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what representations he has received of cases of NatWest closing customer accounts without explanation.

In most circumstances, the provision of a bank’s services is a commercial decision for the bank and the Government does not intervene in these decisions. The terms and conditions of the contract between the two parties govern the termination of that contract, and although the Treasury sets the legal framework for the regulation of financial services it does not have investigative or prosecuting powers of its own and is not able to intervene in account closures.

HM Treasury sometimes receives representations from consumers with questions or concerns about their banking. However, any dispute arising between a bank and its customers is usually best resolved by the parties involved. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules require the banks to properly investigate all complaints and, through ongoing supervision, it continues to monitor the banks’ complaint handling processes. If customers are unable to resolve the issue with their bank, they will be eligible for further review by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). The FOS provides a free, independent dispute resolution service for bank customers.

Customers who are experiencing financial difficulty following a bank account closure may wish to contact the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), an arms-length body of the Department for Work and Pensions. MaPS was established to support consumers with comprehensive, consistent, guidance for every stage of their financial lives. It offers free and impartial information on money matters, available to all online, face-to-face or via telephone. This includes an impartial Debt Advice Locator Tool for those needing debt advice immediately.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the economy in the event that the covid-19 outbreak causes a long-term decline in the annual birth-rate.

The Treasury monitors closely the impact of Covid-19 on the economy on an ongoing basis, although it does not prepare forecasts, which is the responsibility of the independent OBR. The OBR bases its forecasts on many factors and data, including labour market and population data, which will account for the impact of birth and retirement rates, among other factors.

The Treasury remains committed to ensuring we take the right action at the right time to support individuals and businesses in every region and nation of the United Kingdom. We have already announced considerable and unprecedented support for businesses and individuals through the pandemic.

The Government recognises the importance of supporting older workers to remain active in the labour market and is committed to supporting older workers to find and retain employment. The Government has recently refreshed it Fuller Working Lives strategy to include 50 PLUS: Choices, recognising the different situations and challenges currently faced by the over 50s. We are continuing to work closely with employers, while ensuring early and targeted employment and skills support is available to help over 50s stay in or return back to work. The Plan for Jobs package provides new funding to ensure more people, including those aged 50 and over, get tailored Jobcentre Plus support to help them find work and to build the skills they need to get into work.

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

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential economic effect of older workers taking early retirement as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Treasury monitors closely the impact of Covid-19 on the economy on an ongoing basis, although it does not prepare forecasts, which is the responsibility of the independent OBR. The OBR bases its forecasts on many factors and data, including labour market and population data, which will account for the impact of birth and retirement rates, among other factors.

The Treasury remains committed to ensuring we take the right action at the right time to support individuals and businesses in every region and nation of the United Kingdom. We have already announced considerable and unprecedented support for businesses and individuals through the pandemic.

The Government recognises the importance of supporting older workers to remain active in the labour market and is committed to supporting older workers to find and retain employment. The Government has recently refreshed it Fuller Working Lives strategy to include 50 PLUS: Choices, recognising the different situations and challenges currently faced by the over 50s. We are continuing to work closely with employers, while ensuring early and targeted employment and skills support is available to help over 50s stay in or return back to work. The Plan for Jobs package provides new funding to ensure more people, including those aged 50 and over, get tailored Jobcentre Plus support to help them find work and to build the skills they need to get into work.

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

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of taking steps to encourage companies to place parents on furlough while schools are closed as a result of the covid-19 national lockdown that has been in place since January 2021.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is available to the employers of anyone who is unable to work, including from home, due to caring responsibilities arising from COVID-19, such as caring for children who are at home as a result of school and childcare facilities closing. However, the furloughing of staff through the CJRS is a voluntary arrangement, entered at the employers’ discretion and agreed by employees. It is not for the Government to decide whether an individual firm should put its staff on furlough.

In the most recent national lockdown, the Government has chosen to keep early years settings open for all children. Vulnerable children and children of key workers can also continue to attend out-of-school settings, for example breakfast clubs and after-school clubs. Households with anyone aged under 14 can form a ‘childcare bubble’. This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on the rate of jobs being replaced by automation.

The objective of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is to enable employers to keep people in employment. So far, the CJRS has helped 1.2 million employers to pay the wages of 9.9 million jobs across all sectors of the economy.

Analysis published by HMRC shows that 90 per cent of employees that left the CJRS between April and July were still on their original payroll in August, suggesting they remained working for their original employer. The OBR have also estimated that unemployment would have been higher in the second quarter of 2021 in the absence of the CJRS and other measures.

The Government continues to monitor CJRS take-up, with HMRC's latest official statistics producing analysis of claims split by characteristics including employer size, sector of the economy, geography, age and gender.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what his Department’s long-term strategy is on protecting jobs in the (a) hospitality, (b) leisure and (c) retail sector.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic the Government has worked closely with the hospitality, leisure, and retail sector to understand the impact the pandemic has had, and how to protect jobs in these sectors.


The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which has been extended until April 2021, was introduced to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by COVID-19 retain their employees and protect the UK economy. All businesses across the UK can access the scheme, with employees receiving 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.


The wholesale and retail sector are responsible for the greatest total value of claims up to the end of October at £8 billion, supporting over 1.8 million jobs. In addition, by the end of October, the accommodation and food services sector had claimed £6.9 billion supporting over 1.6 million jobs, and the arts entertainment and recreation sector £2 billion supporting over 450,000 jobs. The Government continue to take a flexible approach and extended the CJRS to support jobs and provide businesses with certainty over the coming months.


In line with the extension to the CJRS, the Government also recently announced an extension to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) until April 2021, to support self-employed individuals, across the UK, whose businesses have been adversely impacted by Covid-19, which is particularly important for the leisure sector.


The job support schemes come in addition to the wide-ranging package of business support available that will indirectly support jobs in these sectors, including protecting businesses with cash grants, Government backed finance through loan schemes, ‘Pay as You Grow’ long-term repayments options, a VAT deferral for up to 12 months, a 12-month business rates holiday; and a moratorium on evictions to protect commercial tenants.


The Government keeps all available business support under review and is continuing to collect evidence on the impact of the pandemic on these industries.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the implications for its policies of the (a) UK’s ageing population and (b) recent reduction in annual birth rate.

It is the responsibility of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to publish analysis of the sustainability of the public finances. The OBR published its latest projections in its July 2020 Fiscal Sustainability Report. This incorporated its assessment of the effect of changing demographics on the public finances. The OBR expects demographic change and other cost pressures in health spending to put upward pressure on public spending while leaving revenues broadly unchanged.

The government is committed to fiscal sustainability and ensuring the long-term health of the public finances, and HM Treasury continues to review the UK’s fiscal framework to ensure it remains appropriate for both the macroeconomic context and the longer-term pressures related to demographic change. The government will set out further details on its plans to put the public finances back on a sustainable footing when the economic uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic recedes. The OBR’s FSR provides important analysis and scenarios which will be used to inform this review, alongside a consideration of the regularly updated population projections provided by the ONS.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he is putting contingency plans in place in the event that the covid-19 lockdown continues until (a) summer and (b) autumn 2021.

Throughout this crisis, the government has sought to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods while also supporting business and public services across the UK. To do this, the government has put in place an economic package of support which will provide businesses and individuals with certainty over the coming months, even as measures to prevent further spread of the virus change. The government has spent over £280 billion this year to provide this support.

As measures to control the virus change, it is right that government support should also evolve. Because of this, we continue to take a flexible approach and keep all impacts and policies under review.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department takes to consider the mental health of (a) business owners and (b) employees when providing financial support during the covid-19 outbreak.

Throughout this crisis, the government has sought to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods while also supporting businesses and public services across the UK. To do this, the government has put in place an economic package of support which will provide businesses and individuals with certainty over the coming months, even as measures to prevent further spread of the virus change. The government has spent over £280 billion this year to provide this support.

To support business owners, the government has implemented a package of support, including the Local Restrictions Support Grant, providing closed businesses with a grant of up to £3,000 per month. Local authorities have also recently received an additional £500 million, to a total of £1.6 billion, of discretionary funding to allow them to support their local businesses.

To support employees, The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until the end of April. This provides a substantial grant for employers to cover 80% of the wages of their employees.

At the Spending Review 2020, the Chancellor announced an additional £500 million to address waiting times for mental health services, give more people the mental health support they need, and invest in the NHS workforce. This builds on the comprehensive expansion of mental health services as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, which commits at least a further £2.3 billion a year by 23/24.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that businesses are (a) lawfully claiming and (b) distributing funds received under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme forms part of a wider national effort to protect people’s jobs. Fraudulent claims put at risk the provision of public services and the protection of livelihoods. This could include employers claiming on an employee’s behalf and not then paying them what they are entitled to, asking employees to do work while on furlough, or making a backdated claim that includes times when workers were working.

As part of HMRC’s commitment to transparency and to deter fraudulent claims, they will publish information about employers who claim for periods starting on or after 1 December 2020. This information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/employers-who-have-claimed-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

Employees can play a vital role by reporting fraudulent claims to HMRC, via their online fraud reporting tool: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/customs-excise-and-vat-fraud-reporting.

Compliance investigations are now under way, and HMRC are checking claims made through this scheme. Payments may be withheld or need to be repaid in full to HMRC if the claim is based on dishonest or inaccurate information or found to be fraudulent.

HMRC have made clear that they will not hesitate to act on reports of abuse, and the first arrest made in relation to CJRS fraud was on 8 July 2020.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that employees supported through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme are paid the national minimum wage.

Individuals are only entitled to the National Living Wage (NLW)/National Minimum Wage (NMW) for the hours they are working or treated as working under the NLW/NMW rules.

Therefore, under flexible furloughing, furloughed workers will be paid NMW for any hours the individual spends working. For hours not worked, i.e. time furloughed, workers will be paid the lower of 80 per cent of their salary, or £2,500. This amount – for hours not worked – is the amount the employer can claim for through the CJRS.

If they wish, employers can top up these payments voluntarily.

If workers are required to complete training courses during the hours they are furloughed, then they must be paid at least the appropriate 2020/21 NLW/NMW for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80 per cent of their monthly earnings that will be subsidised. Any training should be carried out in line with the latest public health guidance.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the potential long-term economic effect of mental health issues as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Secretary of State for the Department of Health and Social Care has primary responsibility for considering this issue.

However, at the Spending Review 2020, the Chancellor announced that the NHS will receive around an additional £500 million next year to address waiting times for mental health services, give more people the mental health support they need, and invest in the NHS workforce. This builds on the comprehensive expansion of mental health services as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, which commits at least a further £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24.

In addition, DHSC published ‘Staying mentally well this winter’ in November 2020, backed by an additional £50 million, which sets out the mental health and support available to people throughout the winter period and beyond.

A cross-Government group of ministers, led by the Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health and the Paymaster General, has been established to consider and respond to the longer-term impacts of the pandemic on mental health and wellbeing and will set out its plans in due course.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what proportion of the population must be vaccinated for covid-19 before economic support can be lifted.

Throughout this crisis, the government has sought to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods while also supporting business and public services across the UK. To do this, the government has put in place an economic package of support which will provide businesses and individuals with certainty over the coming months, even as measures to prevent further spread of the virus change. The government has spent over £280 billion this year to provide this support.

As measures to control the virus change, it is right that government support should also evolve. Because of this, we continue to take a flexible approach and keep all impacts and policies under review.

Vaccines are a foundation of our way out of this pandemic. As of 29 January, over 7.4 million people across the United Kingdom have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when Government grants to support local areas will made to those local authorities that went into Tier 3 prior to the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown.

Backdated payments for those areas which entered Tier 3 prior to 5th November will be made in the week commencing 14th December. A total of £6.5m will be paid to relevant Local Authorities. This funding will enable those Local Authorities to make payments of up to £1,500 per two weeks that businesses were closed under the previous Tier 3 restrictions.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of implementing a universal basic income.

There are fundamental problems with the realities of a Universal Basic Income. Providing sufficient support through a UBI would require both a significant reduction in other public spending and an increase in taxation. A flat rate UBI would also not account for the additional needs and costs faced by some and could markedly increase inequality.

We are focussed on helping people get into work, making up to £30 billion available through our Plan for Jobs and have supported those on the lowest incomes through the pandemic by investing an additional £7.4 billion in the welfare system this year.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of adopting a four-day working week.

Enforcing a four-day working week would likely increase business costs at a time where we should be supporting businesses. We need to help businesses by creating and protecting jobs, not adding to their costs. This is why the Government has extended a number of Covid support schemes, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, through the winter.

The UK’s flexible labour market allows employers to independently agree working arrangements with their workers. Enforcing a four-day working week would take that choice away from both workers and employers.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing free access to (a) tampons and (b) sanitary pads in England.

The Government is committed to tackling period poverty, and DHSC ministers are working with officials to develop a women’s health strategy.

Vital sexual and reproductive healthcare services have been maintained during the pandemic, including via online services, and NHS England announced in March 2019 that it will offer period products to every hospital patient who needs them. Last year we introduced the period product scheme to provide free period products for all learners who need them. This scheme will continue into 2021.

At Budget 2020 the Government announced that from January 2021, there will be no VAT charged on women’s sanitary products. And in the meantime, the £15m Tampon Tax Fund allocates the funds generated from the VAT on sanitary products to front line projects that directly improve the lives of disadvantaged women and girls.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that employees on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme are paid the national minimum wage.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is available to self-employed individuals who have been affected by reduced demand or have been unable to trade due to COVID-19, which they believe will lead to a significant reduction in their trading profits. Those receiving the SEISS cannot receive the national minimum wage as minimum wages do not apply to the self-employed.

The SEISS has provided and will continue to provide substantial support to those self-employed people who meet the eligibility criteria. The first SEISS grant supported 2.7 million individuals with claims totalling £7.8 billion. A further £5.9 billion has been claimed through the second SEISS grant.

The third SEISS grant will cover the three-month period from November 2020 until January 2021. This will be a taxable grant calculated at 80 per cent of three months’ average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total. Combined with up to £14,070 worth of support for each individual from the first and second grants, it makes the SEISS one of the most generous schemes for the self-employed in the world.

Moreover, the SEISS continues to be just one element of a substantial package of support for the self-employed. The Universal Credit standard allowance has been temporarily increased for 2020-21 and the Minimum Income Floor relaxed for the duration of the crisis, so that where self-employed claimants' earnings have fallen significantly, their Universal Credit award will have increased to reflect their lower earnings. In addition to this, the self-employed may also have access to other elements of the package, including Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, self-isolation support payments and other business support grants.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing support to newly self-employed individuals who have been ineligible for covid-19 support to date.

The Government has looked carefully at ways to support groups such as the newly self-employed, and acknowledges that it has not been possible to support everyone as they might want. The practical issues that prevented the Government from being able to include the newly self-employed in 2019-20 in the original Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), namely that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will not have access to their self-assessment returns in order to verify their eligibility, still remain.

The Government continues to work closely with stakeholders to explore how it can support different groups. The Government has engaged with various proposals but has not yet found a way to overcome the fundamental issue of safeguarding against fraud and abuse.

However, newly self-employed individuals who are ineligible for SEISS may still be eligible for other elements of the support available. The Universal Credit standard allowance has been temporarily increased for 2020/21 and the Minimum Income Floor relaxed for the duration of the crisis, so that where self-employed claimants' earnings have fallen significantly, their Universal Credit award will have increased to reflect their lower earnings. In addition to this, they may also have access to other elements of the support package, including Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, self-isolation support payments and other business support grants.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what fiscal steps he plans to take to help protect high streets from online competition during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government understands that this is a very challenging time for the UK’s retail sector, and recognises that high street retailers have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

The safe re-opening of our high street retailers is the most effective way we can support businesses. England has now moved back into a regional, tiered approach, and essential and non-essential retail, including indoor and outdoor markets and car boot sales are open in all three tiers. The Government has also extended opening hours in the run up to Christmas and during January - helping to make socially distanced shopping easier and safer.

The Government has also established the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund. The £50 million fund is for councils across England to support their local high streets get safely back to business. This fund builds on longer-term funds already in place to support their revival and boost their economic fortunes including the Future High Streets and Towns Funds.

This is in addition to the wide-ranging support the Government has already delivered: protecting high street jobs through the CJRS which has been extended until March; and protecting businesses with cash grants, Government backed finance through loan schemes, ‘Pay as You Grow’ long-term repayments options, a VAT deferral for up to 12 months, a 12-month business rates holiday; and a moratorium on evictions to protect commercial tenants.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what long term support he plans to make available to women who leave the workforce to (a) have children and (b) carry out other caring duties.

The Government is committed to supporting women who want to leave to the workforce in order to carry out childcare or other caring duties. Women who take leave from work to look after children are entitled to up to 52 weeks of leave are available, 39 weeks of which are paid – this is the longest maternity leave among all the OECD countries.

In order to support mothers in the longer term, the Government provides significant support for parents to help with the costs of childcare. This includes 15 hours of free childcare for disadvantaged 2 year olds; 15 hours for all 3-4 year olds; and a further 15 hours free for eligible working parents of 3 and 4 year olds. Tax Free Childcare provides eligible working parents with support worth 20% of their childcare costs, up to a cap of £2000 per child aged under 12 per year (or £4000 per child aged under 17 per year for disabled children). Parents are also entitled to claim Child Benefit.

The Government recognises and is committed to supporting people who give up the opportunity of full-time employment in order to provide regular and substantial care through Carer’s Allowance. The rate of Carer’s Allowance was increased in early April as part of the annual uprating process. Carers may be able to receive other support from the benefit system, including through Universal Credit, which includes an additional amount for carers at the rate of £162.92 per monthly assessment period. Carers receiving Universal Credit may also benefit from the extra £1040 that has been added to the standard allowance in Universal Credit this financial year.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that progress in closing the gender pay gap is not adversely affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

While evidence of the economic impact of the pandemic is still emerging, we know between April 2019 and April 2020, women’s median weekly pay increased by 2.5%, whereas men’s median weekly pay fell by 0.7%. The UK's gender pay gap has fallen to a record low of 15.5% from 17.4%, while the gender employment rate gap is at its lowest level on record at 6.6 percentage points.

The Government is committed to levelling up and making the UK a country where equality of opportunity exists for everyone. Coronavirus is the biggest challenge the UK has faced in decades and the government has taken unprecedented steps to protect and support jobs.

The Government has protected 4.5 million jobs held by women through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The government also introduced one of the most generous self-employed coronavirus support schemes in the world. Around 760,000 claims have been received from self-employed women for the first Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant and figures so far show 660,000 claims have been received by women for the second grant.

Some sector-specific support has helped to support women’s employment by helping some of the hardest hit sectors in which women are overrepresented. For example, the government extended the temporary reduced rate of VAT (5%) to goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors from 12 January to 31 March 2021. These are sectors that disproportionately employ women.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential long-term effects of the covid-19 outbreak on women’s (a) pay and (b) employment.

The Government continues to monitor the impact of Covid-19 on women and men in the labour market; however, the economic evidence of the impact of the pandemic is still emerging and inconclusive.

The Government has provided unprecedented support to protect and support jobs. For claims received up to 31st July 2020, 4.5 million jobs held by women had been supported by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme since its introduction. The latest data shows that at the end of August, 1.6 million jobs with a female employee were still being supported by the furlough scheme across the UK. In the Plan for Jobs, the Government announced a wide-ranging package of measures to support jobs which will help women across the country, including almost £900m to double the number of work coaches to 27,000 this year and the £2bn Kickstart Scheme, which will create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people (16-24) at risk of long-term unemployment across Great Britain.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, we know women have seen a smaller fall in employment than men, both in relative and absolute terms. Compared to the quarter ending February 2020, there were 200,000 fewer women employed in the quarter ending September 2020, whereas there were 370,000 fewer men employed. This implies a fall of 1.3% in female employment and 2.1% fall in male employment. The gender employment rate gap is at its lowest level on record at 6.6 percentage points.

Between April 2019 and April 2020, women’s median weekly pay increased by 2.5%, while men’s median weekly pay fell by 0.7%. The gender pay gap is also at its lowest level since records began, falling to a record low of 15.5%, from 17.4% last year.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to tackle (a) gender, (b) race and (c) socioeconomic inequality as part of his Winter Economic Plan.

The Government considers the equality impacts of individual policies on those with protected characteristics carefully and consistently, in line with both its legal obligations and its strong commitment to equality; and there are internal procedural requirements and support in place for ensuring that such considerations inform decisions taken by Ministers.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure the covid-19 outbreak does not increase (a) job security, (b) job opportunity and (c) pay inequalities among men and women.

To help protect people’s job security, the Government announced the unprecedented Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms keep millions of people in employment. Up to 30th June 4.5 million female employees have been supported through the Government’s furlough scheme. With the announcement of the Winter Economy Plan, the Government is adapting its response to the changing context, as we said we would. The Job Support Scheme will provide more targeted support, aimed at viable businesses who are facing lower demand due to Covid-19 to help keep their employees in work.

Alongside this, the government has announced additional support for working parents. Any working parent usually eligible for Tax Free Childcare or 30 hours free childcare will temporarily remain eligible if they fall below the minimum income requirement due to COVID-19. This supports individuals with childcare commitments who are temporarily working less as result of Covid-19. An IFS report (https://www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/publications/bns/BN223.pdf) found that gender differences in rates of part-time and fulltime paid work account for approximately half of the widening of the gender wage gap over the 20 years after the first child in a family is born, highlighting the importance of childcare for reducing pay inequalities between men and women.

Since 1 June, early years settings have already been able to welcome back children of all ages. The Government is continuing to work to understand how it can ensure that sufficient safe, appropriate and affordable childcare is available. Providers who run community activities, holiday clubs, breakfast and after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school provision for children can now operate with protective measures in place

In its Plan for Jobs, the Government has announced unprecedented support to help unemployed people in Great Britain find a job. We are providing £1.2bn to significantly expand and enhance work search support, including doubling the number of work coaches, additional investment into the Flexible Support Fund to provide direct support at a local level, and using externally contracted provision to expand support even further.

Recognising that young people are particularly at risk, the government has also launched a new £2bn Kickstart Scheme, creating hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across Great Britain, as well as a guaranteed foundation of support to all 18-24 year olds on Universal Credit in the Intensive Worksearch group, through its new youth offer.

These measures will help provide job opportunities to women.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to tackle potential increases in unemployment once the Government’s furlough scheme ends.

The Government has a broad set of policies in place to support businesses and individuals during COVID-19. The Government has designed the next stage of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) by balancing the need to protect jobs against the need to restart the economy as the Covid-19 backdrop improves. The CJRS scheme must be temporary and the Government must ensure people can get back to work when it is safe to do so and get the UK economy up and running again.

The Government has recently announced its Plan for Jobs. In it, in order to protect workers and encourage employers to minimise redundancies, the Government introduced a Jobs Retention Bonus. This will ensure that UK employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021.

The Government has also announced unprecedented support to help unemployed people in Great Britain find a job. The Government is providing £1.2bn to significantly expand and enhance work search support, including doubling the number of work coaches, additional investment into the Flexible Support Fund to provide direct support at a local level, and using externally contracted provision to expand support even further.

Recognising that young people are particularly at risk, the Government has also launched a new £2bn Kickstart Scheme, creating hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across Great Britain, as well as a guaranteed foundation of support to all 18-24 year olds on Universal Credit in the Intensive Worksearch group, through its new youth offer.

In England, the Government will also support people to build the skills they need to get into work, including by providing funding to triple the number of traineeships and sector-based work academy placements, new payments to employers to hire apprentices, and new funding to expand the National Career Service.

In addition to what is outlined in the Plan for Jobs, those who struggle to find work for a longer period will also benefit from a new, large-scale employment support offer. Further details will be announced shortly.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will create a dedicated covid-19 hardship fund for sole traders and other self-employed people ineligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, are eligible for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) if they have submitted their Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19, continued to trade, and have been adversely affected by COVID-19. To qualify, their self-employed trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to their non-trading income.

Individuals who are not eligible for the SEISS may benefit from other elements of the unprecedented financial support provided by the Government. This package includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support,?mortgage holidays, and other business support grants. On 8 July, the Government introduced the new Plan for Jobs which will make available up to £30 billion to assist in creating, supporting and protecting jobs.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to support people who are newly self-employed who started a business after April 2019 and do not qualify for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, are eligible for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) if they have submitted their Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19, continued to trade, and have been adversely affected by COVID-19. To qualify, their self-employed trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to their non-trading income.

Individuals who are not eligible for the SEISS may benefit from other elements of the unprecedented financial support provided by the Government. This package includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support,?mortgage holidays, and other business support grants. On 8 July, the Government introduced the new Plan for Jobs which will make available up to £30 billion to assist in creating, supporting and protecting jobs.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to support limited company directors who take a large part of their income in dividends and do not qualify for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, are eligible for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) if they have submitted their Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19, continued to trade, and have been adversely affected by COVID-19. To qualify, their self-employed trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to their non-trading income.

Individuals who are not eligible for the SEISS may benefit from other elements of the unprecedented financial support provided by the Government. This package includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support,?mortgage holidays, and other business support grants. On 8 July, the Government introduced the new Plan for Jobs which will make available up to £30 billion to assist in creating, supporting and protecting jobs.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend eligibility criteria to new starters who missed the date for enrolment in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme due to (a) the date of starting a new job and (b) their employer’s choice of timing in submitting paperwork to HMRC.

The Government has prioritised helping the greatest number of people as quickly as possible. For this reason, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has had to be set up to operate at significant scale and with limited manual intervention.

Extending the cut-off date beyond 19 March would significantly increase the risk of abuse and fraud, as claims could not be confidently verified against the risk of fraud using the data after 20 March, when the scheme became public.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of removing the £50,000 cap for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to allow people with profits in excess of that cap to access financial support.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) helps those adversely affected by COVID-19. Individuals can at present claim a taxable grant under the SEISS worth 80 per cent of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total.

The extension of the SEISS announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 29 May 2020 means that eligible individuals whose businesses are adversely affected by COVID-19 will be able to claim a second and final grant when the scheme reopens for applications in August. This will be a taxable grant worth 70 per cent of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

The SEISS is designed to target help at those who most need it. Those who had more than £50,000 from trading profits in 2018-19 had an average total income of more than £200,000.

Those with average trading profits above £50,000 may still be eligible for other elements of the unprecedented financial support package made available by the Government. These measures include Bounce Back Loans, tax deferrals, rental support, increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps the Government is taking to support freelancers and people on short-term PAYE contracts who are not entitled to support under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

The Government has prioritised helping the greatest number of people as quickly as possible, and the CJRS and SEISS have provided support to more than 11 million people across the country.

Those who are not eligible for the CJRS and SEISS may have access to other support that the Government is providing, including a package of temporary welfare measures, £3.2bn in funding for local authorities to support the most vulnerable people in society, mortgage payment holidays, and a nearly £1bn increase in support for renters through increases to the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the number of people in financial difficulty who are not eligible for any of the Government's support schemes during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has provided a comprehensive economic response that is one of the most generous of its kind in the world, taking unprecedented steps to support families, businesses and the most vulnerable. As well as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), this package includes Government-backed loans and grants to businesses, tax deferrals, rental support and mortgage and consumer credit holidays.

This package also includes extra funding for the welfare safety net to help those through this outbreak who are unable to access other forms of support. The temporary welfare measures include increases to Universal Credit and Local Housing Allowance, a relaxation of the Universal Credit minimum income floor, and making Statutory Sick Pay easier to access.

Now, the Government’s new Plan for Jobs will support, protect and create jobs. This plan will make available up to £30 billion to help kickstart the nation’s economic recovery ahead of a fuller package of medium-term recovery measures in the forthcoming Autumn Budget and Spending Review.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what contingency plans his Department have made to support the economy in the event that a second wave of covid-19 requires a reintroduction of lockdown restrictions.

In March 2020 the Government put in place strict social distancing measures to slow the spread of the Coronavirus so that the NHS would not be overwhelmed. Alongside this, the Government introduced an unprecedented package of support for businesses and individuals, including the CJRS which has helped 1.1 million employers across the UK furlough 9.4 million jobs.

The Government has set out a phased, cautious approach to reopening our economy, so that we do not risk a second peak of the virus. The Government has produced COVID-19 secure practical guidelines to support businesses to reopen and for workers to feel confident, safe and empowered to return to work. Public Health England, the Joint Biosecurity Centre and NHS Test and Trace constantly monitor levels of infection across the country, and will work with local authorities to implement additional measures if needed.

The Chancellor has announced further support for those sectors hardest hit, with a £1.57 billion package for the arts, and a cut in VAT to 5% for accommodation, attractions and the hospitality sector, and on 8th July set out a package of measures to support jobs across the UK, including a Job Retention Bonus to help firms keep furloughed workers and a new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what his Department's role was in Exercise Cygnus in October 2016.

HM Treasury participated in Exercise Cygnus in 2016. The aim of Exercise Cygnus was to assess the UK’s preparedness and response to a pandemic influenza that was close to the UK’s worst-case planning scenarios. The Government accepted all the recommendations from Exercise Cygnus. The lessons identified from the exercise have been incorporated into an on-going programme of work on the Government’s pandemic flu response plans.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what learning were shared with his Department after Exercise Cygnus in October 2016.

HM Treasury participated in Exercise Cygnus in 2016. The aim of Exercise Cygnus was to assess the UK’s preparedness and response to a pandemic influenza that was close to the UK’s worst-case planning scenarios. The Government accepted all the recommendations from Exercise Cygnus. The lessons identified from the exercise have been incorporated into an on-going programme of work on the Government’s pandemic flu response plans.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether people who work for the charity, voluntary and community sector organisations who have been furloughed may return to their places of work in a volunteering capacity whilst still receiving the support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The purpose of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is to support people who would otherwise have been made redundant. To prevent fraudulent claims, the Government made clear that individuals cannot work or volunteer for their organisation. This also serves to protect employees. If the Government allowed workers to volunteer for their employer, the employer could ask them to effectively work full time whilst only paying them 80% of the wages. These wages would also be paid at the Government’s expense, and therefore an abuse of the system. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport are working with other Government departments and the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector to identify areas where volunteers can contribute to the Covid-19 response.

On 8 April, the Chancellor announced a £750m support package for charities providing key services and supporting vulnerable people during the Covid-19 crisis. £360m will be allocated by central Government to charities in England based on evidence of service need. £370m will support smaller, local charities working with vulnerable people.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to allocate additional funding to the hospitality sector.

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. The hospitality sector continues to have access to a range of government support measures including, but not limited to:

  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all eligible retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in England
  • Small business grant funding (SBGF) of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • The retail, hospitality and leisure grant fund (RHLGF)
  • A Discretionary Grant Fund 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
  • Protection for commercial leaseholders against automatic forfeiture for non-payment until June 30, 2020 – with an option for the Government to extend if needed.

Support for businesses, including the hospitality sector, remains under constant review.

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.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether key workers working for an employer in receipt of public funding and classified on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable will be eligible to be furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Those working for fully funded public sector organisations, including those that need to shield, should be paid as normal out of existing budgets.

Arrangements should be made to facilitate working from home wherever possible, and reprioritisation and redeployment should be considered to minimise issues with service delivery.

Where an employee needs to shield in a public sector organisation that is not fully funded by public grants, and working from home is not possible, furloughing may be appropriate. However, CJRS claims should remain proportionate to the impact on revenue disruption, and those that need to shield should be furloughed before other staff.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent steps he has taken to mitigate the financial pressures faced by mortgage prisoners during the covid-19 lockdown; and what plans he has to enable mortgage prisoners to switch to new lenders.

On 17 March the Chancellor announced the availability of a three-month mortgage holiday as part of an unprecedented package of support for individuals, businesses and the economy affected by Covid-19. This help was further extended on 2 June through the publication of FCA guidance. This guidance applies to all firms that engage in mortgage activities to instruct them to offer support to customers that are experiencing financial difficulty due to COVID-19.

The Government has also taken action with the FCA to support mortgage prisoners by removing the regulatory barriers that previously prevented some from switching. Lenders are currently making the necessary adjustments and system changes to enable mortgage prisoners to switch and we expect them to start offering borrowers products using the new rules soon.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he has taken to (a) investigate and (b) take action against companies who utilised the loan charge method of tax avoidance.

Disguised Remuneration (DR) is a type of contrived tax avoidance where loans are paid, usually via an offshore trust, in place of ordinary remuneration with the sole purpose of avoiding income tax and National Insurance contributions. The loans are provided on terms that mean they are unlikely to be repaid. They are no different to normal income and are and always have been taxable.

Since their first use, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have opened tens of thousands of enquiries into DR schemes used by both companies and individuals, warned about use of these schemes in a number of Spotlight publications, successfully litigated cases through the courts and agreed settlements to help taxpayers exit tax avoidance.

The Government introduced targeted anti-avoidance legislation in 2011 to put beyond doubt the ineffectiveness of DR schemes. The Loan Charge was announced at Budget 2016 as part of a package of measures to tackle the use of DR schemes and gave taxpayers the choice of either repaying their loan in full, agreeing settlement terms with HMRC, or paying the Loan Charge.

The Government will continue to tackle this type of tax avoidance vigorously and on 19 March 2020, HMRC published their strategy for tackling promoters of mass-marketed tax avoidance schemes. This strategy outlines HMRC and Government ambitions to drive promoters of tax avoidance out of business.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he has taken to assess the financial effect of the 2019 loan charge on people facing repayment costs during the covid-19 outbreak.

Taxpayers who are liable to pay the Loan Charge have until 30 September 2020 to submit their Self-Assessment return for 2018-19 including details of their Loan Charge liability.

HMRC have made a clear commitment to support all taxpayers who need help to manage their disguised remuneration (DR) liabilities, including those affected by COVID-19. This includes those due to pay the Loan Charge as well as those settling their DR affairs with HMRC. Taxpayers do not have to pay everything in one go. Where a taxpayer cannot pay in full on time, HMRC will seek to agree a payment by instalments with them. The payment plan agreed will be based on what they can afford and there is no upper limit on how long HMRC can potentially spread payments.

HMRC have set up a helpline to support any businesses and self-employed taxpayers concerned about paying their tax, due to COVID-19.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to engage women's groups in discussions with her Department on measures preventing (a) gender-based violence and (b) domestic violence.

Tackling gender-based violence and domestic violence is a key priority for this government. This April we passed our landmark Domestic Abuse Act which will strengthen our response to perpetrators and importantly provide greater protection to victims of this heinous crime.

This year we will also be publishing two complementary strategies to further transform the government’s response to combating Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and Domestic Abuse (DA). To inform our approach we have delivered a robust and wide-reaching VAWG Call for Evidence which received approximately 180,000 responses, including from victims, the public, academics and victim support services and organisations representing women’s groups on VAWG and DA.

We meet regularly with organisations that support survivors to discuss our approach to the VAWG and DA strategies, and will continue to engage with their work and how we can work together, as well as with women’s, girls’ and victims’ organisations on this important work, including several sector-wide sessions in the previous months, individual calls with leading VAWG organisations, and participation in the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s regular sector calls.

We will continue this engagement as we seek to implement our ground-breaking Domestic Abuse Act, and as we finalise our complementary strategies for tacking VAWG and DA.

Victoria Atkins
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many asylum seekers her Department sent to live in Preston in each month of (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021.

The latest published Immigration Statistics detail the number of asylum seekers accommodated in each local authority area. These statistics can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/asylum-and-resettlement-datasets#asylum-support

Data is published on a quarterly basis, with the latest information published 25 February 2021.

The Home Office does not publish a breakdown of these statistics which disaggregates the number of asylum seekers accommodated in dispersal accommodation for the first time in each quarter in each of the last two years, by local authority. These figures are not available in a reportable format and to provide the information could only be done at disproportionate cost.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential effect of decriminalising the possession of (a) pepper spray and (b) non-lethal self-defence weapons on safety for women.

Pepper sprays are currently prohibited by law and we have no plans to change this. It has been the view of successive governments that the possession of items such as pepper sprays for personal protection is likely to lead to an increase in levels of violence as they could be used against the owners to incapacitate them, with serious consequences.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to incorporate women's groups into discussions with her Department on measures preventing (a) gender-based violence and (b) domestic violence.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Dissolution.

Victoria Atkins
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of giving Indefinite Leave to Remain to all migrant NHS workers and their families.

Workers from overseas in the NHS and wider health and care sector have made a huge contribution in tackling COVID-19 and the Government has taken unprecedented measures to ensure the sector is supported fully, including free 12-month visa extensions for those working in eligible occupations in health and social care.

Individuals working in healthcare, on a route which leads to settlement, will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) for themselves and their family, providing they meet the requirements, including a period of lawful residence in the UK without excess absences, sufficient knowledge of the English language and life in the UK. In sponsored work routes, settlement relies on applicants having worked in their sponsored job for five years. Given the wider requirements for a grant of ILR we will not be making a general grant of it to those working in the NHS.

We will though grant immediate indefinite leave to remain (ILR), free of any charges, to family dependants of NHS, health and care workers who unfortunately lose their lives as a result of contracting COVID-19. We hope this number will be limited.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many (a) British and (b) foreign travellers have been fined for breaching quarantine rules following arrival to England from a non-exempt country in the last six months.

On 30 September, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) published its latest report on the police use of Covid-19 enforcement notices issued under all emergency health protections. The data covers up to the 21 September and shows that 38 fines had been issued to individuals who have contravened the International Travel regulations by failing to self-isolate after arriving in England from a country on the UK government list. These were issued across 14 forces. The data does not specify the nationality of the recipient of a fine and this information is not held by the Home Office.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made on the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the rate of crime involving young people.

No data exists on the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the rate of crime involving young people. However, the National Police Chiefs Council reported on its website on 27 August 2020 that provisional data from police forces in England and Wales shows a reduction in crime during the Coronavirus outbreak and that the vast majority of the public are following government regulations enacted in response to the crisis. It also reported that the provisional data indicates certain crime trends are returning towards pre-lockdown levels. This report is available from:

https://news.npcc.police.uk/releases/provisional-data-shows-crime-slowly-returning-to-2019-levels

The Office for National Statistics published a report ‘Coronavirus and crime in England and Wales’ on 26 August 2020, which estimated a significant reduction in crime during April and May 2020 compared with a two-month average in the pre-lockdown period, and that reductions were seen across many types of crime. This report is available from:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/coronavirusandcrimeinenglandandwales/august2020

Police recorded crime statistics and Crime Survey of England and Wales data covering the period to June 2020 will be released in October 2020.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what comparative assessment she has made of the number of young people arrested for anti-social behaviour in (a) Preston, (b) Lancashire, and (c) England between April 2020 to July 2020 compared to the same period in each of the last 2 years.

The Home Office does not hold the information requested centrally.

The Home Office collects and publishes statistics on the number of arrests, including information on the number of arrests of those aged under 18 years old, on an annual basis only. Data are collected at Police Force Area level only, and information on the number of arrests at lower levels of geography are not held.

Data on arrests for the period up to March 2020 are scheduled to be published on 22 October 2020. Data for the period to March 2021 will not be published until 2021.

Data for the period up to March 2019 for both Lancashire and England and Wales can be found in the ‘Police Powers and Procedures, England and Wales’ statistical bulletin, available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/police-powers-and-procedures-england-and-wales-year-ending-31-march-2019

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to tackle racial bias in the issuance of covid-19 related fines.

Our dedicated police officers have gone above and beyond during this pandemic – keeping the public safe through engaging, explaining, encouraging, and enforcing only as a last resort.

While it is a complex picture, it is a concern to see disparity between white and black, Asian or ethnic minority people. Each force will be looking at this carefully to assess and mitigate any risks of bias – conscious or unconscious – and to minimise disproportionate impact wherever possible. Many forces have brought in community representatives to help them scrutinise the circumstances around each Fixed Penalty Notice and if it has been issued fairly.

We are clear that no one should be subject to police enforcement on the basis of race alone and we work closely with forces and the NPCC to address disproportionality in policing.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to tackle the increase in (a) xenophobia and (b) hate crimes reported in relation to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Home Office are working closely with the National Police Chief’s Council to ensure that all police forces are providing reassurance to affected communities and encouraging hate crime reporting during the pandemic. The Government are also working with civil society partners to understand whether there are issues of underreporting at this time.

Government continues to work with communities around the country and the police to ensure people of all backgrounds have access to the latest information and are supported through this period.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will investigate the number of BAME deaths in custody where restraint was used in the last 15 years; and what assessment she has made of the accuracy of the Report of the Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody which notes that every prosecution over a death in custody in the past 15 years has ended in acquittal.

Every death in custody is a tragedy, and we are committed to delivering meaningful and lasting change to prevent deaths in custody.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct publish figures for deaths in or following police custody each year. Prior to 2018/19 the data includes ethnicity but does not state whether restraint was used.

In 2018/19, there were 16 deaths in custody, of whom 15 individuals were white and one was black. Six of these 16 individuals had some force used against them either by officers or members of the public before their deaths, although this use of force did not necessarily contribute to their deaths. All six people were white.

The Ministerial Board on Deaths in Custody will continue to oversee and drive progress in response to the independent review. This includes ongoing work to make police procedures more accountable following a death in custody as part of a wider package of police integrity reforms.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what the timescale is for reviewing and updating the guidance on the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme; and whether she plans to introduce a (a) monitoring process to ensure that applicants are correctly assessed as being at immediate risk of harm and (b) standardised procedure across all police forces in England and Wales to protect potential victims from harm.

Domestic abuse is a devastating crime and the Government is committed to doing everything we can to tackle it.

The Domestic Abuse Bill includes proposals to place the guidance underpinning the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS, also known as “Clare’s Law”) on a statutory footing. The guidance is currently under review and will be issued after the Bill gains Royal Assent, to coincide with commencement. We plan to make a draft of the statutory guidance available for Lord’s Committee Stage.

As part of this review, we are working with police and the College of Policing to consider the issue of the timeliness of disclosure and effective safety planning, in particular where there is an identified risk of harm to the applicant.

Placing an express duty on police to have regard to the revised guidance is intended to improve its consistent application across all police forces.

Victoria Atkins
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
28th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many serving Armed Forces personnel have committed suicide in the last (a) month, (b) two months, (c) six months, (d) year and (e) two years; and in which service branches those suicides occurred.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 24 February 2020 to Question 1237 to the hon. Member for Newport East (Jessica Morden).

26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, for what reasons places of worship can remain open during the 2021 covid-19 national lockdown.

We understand the importance of communal worship, and the positive impact that this has on people’s mental and spiritual health during a very difficult time for us all. We have worked hard with faith leaders to produce guidance for the safe use of places of worship. We are grateful for the efforts of Faith Leaders, and their communities, to follow that guidance and to keep worshippers safe. Their efforts mean that all places of worship that comply with COVID-secure guidance, including implementing strict social distancing, wearing face coverings ensuring that worshippers do not mingle with others outside of their households have been able to remain open for communal worship during the latest period of restrictions.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what consultation his Department had with (a) religious leaders and (b) local authorities prior to the decision to place limitations on (i) weddings and (ii) civil ceremonies during the 2021 national covid-19 lockdown.

We engage regularly with the Places of Worship Taskforce, faith leaders and local authorities to discuss all aspects of the national restrictions implemented since the beginning of January.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the long-term effect on society of fewer marriages taking place during the covid-19 lockdowns.

Weddings and civil partnerships hold unique significance in people’s lives which is why they have only been suspended when transmission risks from the COVID-19 virus have been particularly high. We are aware that suspension, or restrictions on the number of attendees, may disproportionately affect faith communities where couples cannot start their life together or start a family before they are married. We have worked with the Places of Worship Taskforce to understand the needs of faith and belief wedding ceremonies and factors these into our planning.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, to what extent were religious leaders involved in the Government's discussions on the closure of places of worship during the second covid-19 lockdown in England.

The Places of Worship Taskforce met on 2 November following the Prime Minister’s announcement on the new national restrictions that came into effect on 5 November. This gave us the opportunity to share information with our faith groups, as well as hearing their concerns.

The Government has worked closely with the Taskforce and representatives from our major faiths throughout the pandemic.

3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans his Department had to provide additional funding to help end youth homelessness.

This Government implemented the Homelessness Reduction Act, the most ambitious reform to homelessness legislation in decades, which placed new duties on local housing authorities to take reasonable steps to try to prevent and relieve a person’s homelessness. means that many more young people who may not previously have been eligible for support, are now being helped to prevent homelessness before it occurs.

The Act also places a duty on public bodies, including Children’s Services, Youth Offending Institutions and Youth Offending Teams ensuring better partnership working with local authorities to prevent youth homelessness.

We have also put in place bespoke support for local authorities through our Homelessness Advice and Support Team, which includes dedicated youth homelessness advisor roles that have a commitment to work with local authorities to proactively promote positive joint working across housing authorities and children’s services, offering training, advice and support to all local authorities. Alongside this, the department has funded St Basil’s, a specialist youth homelessness charity, to develop and disseminate best practice pathways for preventing youth homelessness, as well as running the annual Youth Homelessness Parliament, giving young people a voice on the issues that affect them.

The Youth Advisers are working closely with local authorities on the particular challenges that young people and care leavers are facing during COVID-19.

Government has also provided significant additional funding to support people sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough during the pandemic. At the beginning of the crisis, our priority?was to?urgently bring?vulnerable people inside so they could?self-isolate and stop the virus spreading.?We backed this with £3.2 million in emergency funding for local authorities to support vulnerable rough sleepers, and a further £3.7 billion to help councils to manage the impacts of COVID-19,?including supporting homeless?people.

On 24 June we?announced that we are?providing local authorities with?a further?£105 million?to enable them?to?best?support the 15,000 people placed into emergency accommodation during the COVID-19 pandemic

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what legal requirements are in place to ensure that Building Regulation Completion Certificates have been issued before the release of funds by financial providers in the sale of a new build property.

The Building Regulations 2010 set standards for the design and construction of building work. The building owner will have usually received a completion certificate (from local authority building control) or a final certificate (from an approved inspector) before the building is occupied. These certificates are issued when the work is complete by a local authority for the sale of a new build property. In some circumstances a building may be occupied before the building owner has received the completion certificate or the final certificate. Part 3, Regulation 17(4) of the Building Regulations 2010 states that: ‘A certificate given in accordance with this regulation shall be evidence (but not conclusive evidence) that the requirements specified in the certificate have been complied with’.

There is no statutory link between the Building Regulations and the conveyancing process. The prospective buyer and their professional advisers should satisfy themselves that they have all material facts relating to the property before they commit to buying.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans his Department has to assist owners of new build properties with structural defects when insurance companies fail to accept liability.

The responsibility to set right any defects with the building work lies with the person who carried out the work. Warranties provide insurance against defects. It is the responsibility of the Financial Conduct Authority to regulate new build warranties and protect consumers.

To provide effective redress for owners of new build homes we will introduce legislation to require developers to belong to a New Homes Ombudsman.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he has taken to ensure that developers take responsibility for structural defects on new build properties.

We are committed to ensuring that developers take responsibility and treat new build homebuyers fairly. Where structural defects are found developers and warranty providers must take swift action to put these right.

The Government will introduce legislation to require developers of new homes to belong to a New Homes Ombudsman. Last year, we consulted on the design and delivery of a New Homes Ombudsman and we will publish the response soon, setting out a way forward.

10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to tackle delays in court proceedings in the criminal justice system.

We have responded quickly and innovatively to the challenge posed by the Covid-19 pandemic to our criminal courts and the wider justice system.

As one of the first among other comparable jurisdictions globally to resume jury trials, our Crown Courts currently list thousands of cases each week, including the listing of over 230 jury trials. We have invested a record £142m to improve court and tribunal buildings – the biggest single investment in court estate maintenance for more than 20 years – and are spending £110m on a range of emergency measures to tackle the impact of COVID-19, including the recruitment of 1,600 additional staff. The opening of 17 Nightingale Courts has unlocked vital additional capacity, and we have plans to open a further 40 Nightingale court rooms.

We continue to build on these steps and are working closely with criminal justice partners to further improve performance. We have piloted temporary ‘COVID operating hours’ at seven Crown Court sites and a targeted consultation is underway on the potential further roll out of COVID operating hours.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what his Department is doing to tackle the diversity gap in the upper levels of the legal profession.

The legal profession in England and Wales is independent of Government. Statutory responsibility for encouraging an independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession sits with the approved regulators, overseen by the oversight regulator, the Legal Services Board (LSB). Ministry of Justice Ministers encourage the sector to ensure it more closely represents the diverse society it serves through ongoing engagement with the regulators and the legal profession.

In 2017 the LSB published revised guidance for legal services regulators for encouraging a diverse workforce, and introduced new transparency duties at firm and chambers level to monitor and publish diversity statistics. In 2019 the LSB published a summary of the progress of regulators against four diversity outcomes, which showed positive examples of a new approach to diversity, but also areas where further action is required.

Alex Chalk
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
6th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what proportion of burials in England could be classified as natural burials for the most recent period in which figures are available.

This information is not centrally recorded.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Leader of the House, whether he plans to (a) make an assessment of the effect on the climate of and (b) estimate the savings accruing to the public purse from virtual participation in proceedings by Members of Parliament.

No. The Government firmly believes that our constituents are best served when Parliament meets physically to the fullest extent possible. The cost associated with virtual participation is not a matter for the Government but one for the House.

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons