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Written Question
Support for Mortgage Interest
Wednesday 29th June 2022

Asked by: Mick Whitley (Labour - Birkenhead)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of restoring Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) to a means-tested benefits system in place of the current loan system.

Answered by David Rutley - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

No assessment has been made of changing Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) loans to a means-tested benefit system.


Written Question
NHS: Long Covid
Wednesday 29th June 2022

Asked by: Mick Whitley (Labour - Birkenhead)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that NHS trusts are given up-to-date guidance on supporting employees with long covid.

Answered by Edward Argar - Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

NHS England and NHS Improvement published guidance for National Health Service organisations to support NHS employees affected by the long term effects of COVID-19 infection, which is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/supporting-our-nhs-people/support-now/supporting-long-covid

These guidelines are developed and updated as required by NHS England and NHS Improvement, with support from a Task and Finish Group comprised of representatives from the Department, Health Education England and NHS Employers. The membership also includes NHS colleagues with lived experience of Post-COVID-19 syndrome.


Written Question
Support for Mortgage Interest
Wednesday 29th June 2022

Asked by: Mick Whitley (Labour - Birkenhead)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of changing the Support for Mortgage Interest loan system to a means-tested benefit system.

Answered by David Rutley - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

No assessment has been made of changing Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) loans to a means-tested benefit system.


Written Question
Tomography: Waiting Lists
Tuesday 28th June 2022

Asked by: Mick Whitley (Labour - Birkenhead)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce wait times for diagnostic scans.

Answered by Edward Argar - Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The ‘Delivery plan for tackling the COVID-19 backlog of elective care’ published in February 2022 sets out how the National Health Service will increase capacity in and expand elective services in the next three years. We have committed to invest £2.3 billion to increase the volume of diagnostic activity and reduce patient waiting times. This includes the launch of up to 160 community diagnostic centres (CDCs) in the next three years to address backlogs for checks, such as magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound and computed tomography scans. Since July 2021, CDCs have provided more than 1 million diagnostic scans.


Written Question
Refugees: Ukraine
Tuesday 28th June 2022

Asked by: Mick Whitley (Labour - Birkenhead)

Question to the Home Office:

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, (a) what steps her Department is taking to prevent the exploitation of Ukrainian refugees being facilitated on social media sites and (b) what discussions her Department has had with social media companies regarding this issue.

Answered by Kevin Foster - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

The Homes for Ukraine is a unique scheme which has been set up specifically to support those escaping the conflict in Ukraine who are not able to rely on family support. The scheme cannot be directly accessed through social media sites.

To access the scheme the sponsor and/or their prospective guest must apply for visas through the Home Office run website. This action initiates the first stage in the multi-layered safeguarding defence system which has been built into the scheme. Neither Facebook nor any other social media platforms are part of the scheme design.

The Government is committed to tackling all forms of exploitation, including those facilitated online by organised crime groups and we will continue to clamp down on those who exploit vulnerable people while providing tailored support for victims to help their recovery.

We are working both domestically and internationally to minimise the risk of trafficking and exploitation to the Ukrainian people through the routes they take to the UK and once they arrive here.

To address the domestic risk, we are working with the Department for Housing, Levelling Up and Communities and the NCA to ensure that law enforcement bodies are linked into the scheme to assess potential risks around those looking to exploit the vulnerable and assist with any safeguarding enquiries and that local authorities are aware of who to work with, on the ground, to help mitigate those risks.

To address the international risk, we are providing funding, improving agency capability and pivoting our existing projects in neighbouring countries.


Written Question
Long Covid
Monday 27th June 2022

Asked by: Mick Whitley (Labour - Birkenhead)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when she will make a decision on the potential classification of long covid as an occupational disease.

Answered by Chloe Smith - Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)

When deciding whether to prescribe new diseases or making any changes to the appropriate prescriptions under the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit Scheme, Ministers are guided by the recommendations of the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (“IIAC”), which is independent of Government. IIAC is investigating whether long-COVID can be prescribed as an occupational disease for the purposes of IIDB.

We will carefully consider any recommendations that IIAC may make with regards to COVID19 and the list of prescribed diseases.


Written Question
Youth Services: Finance
Monday 27th June 2022

Asked by: Mick Whitley (Labour - Birkenhead)

Question to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport:

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if she will set out a long-term funding strategy for youth services in England.

Answered by Nigel Huddleston - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

Local Authorities have a statutory duty to allocate funding to youth services in line with local need. This is funded from the Local Government settlement, which was over £12 billion last year. DCMS are currently reviewing the guidance associated with the statutory duty.

Last year, DCMS conducted a Youth Review to ensure that our spending, policy and programmes meet the needs of young people. The review heard from over 6,000 young people and 120 youth organisations. Grounded in the findings from this review, the government has committed to a National Youth Guarantee: that by 2025 every young person will have access to regular clubs and activities, adventures away from home and volunteering opportunities. This will be supported by a three year £560 million investment in youth services, reflecting young people's priorities and addressing the inconsistencies in national youth spending, with a firm focus on levelling up.


Written Question
NHS: Long Covid
Monday 27th June 2022

Asked by: Mick Whitley (Labour - Birkenhead)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the number of frontline NHS workers who have been diagnosed with long covid.

Answered by Maria Caulfield - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)

No specific estimate has been made. While the Office for National Statistics has estimated the proportion of people self-reporting the long term effects of COVID-19 by sector, including for healthcare, this does not specifically record front-line National Health Service staff.


Written Question
Protective Clothing: Testing
Thursday 23rd June 2022

Asked by: Mick Whitley (Labour - Birkenhead)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has had recent discussions with the Health and Safety Executive on fit testing issues for personal protective equipment within the NHS.

Answered by Edward Argar - Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

There have been no recent discussions with the Health Safety Executive about fit testing issues with personal protective equipment used by the National Health Service.


Written Question
Healthy Start Scheme
Monday 20th June 2022

Asked by: Mick Whitley (Labour - Birkenhead)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many and what proportion of people who are eligible for the Healthy Start scheme have not yet registered for it; and whether his Department is taking steps to encourage uptake in that scheme.

Answered by Maggie Throup - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)

In March 2022 there were 547,719 eligible beneficiaries for the NHS Healthy Start scheme. Of these, 394,348 were in receipt of Healthy Start or 72% nationally. The NHS Business Services Authority promotes the Healthy Start scheme through digital channels and has created free tools to allow stakeholders promote the scheme locally.