Robert Halfon Portrait

Robert Halfon

Conservative - Harlow

Liaison Committee Sub-committee on the effectiveness and influence of the select committee system
13th Feb 2019 - 6th Nov 2019
Liaison Committee (Commons)
6th Nov 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Education Committee
12th Jul 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Minister of State (Department of Education) (Apprenticeships and Skills)
17th Jul 2016 - 12th Jun 2017
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
8th May 2015 - 17th Jul 2016
Public Administration Committee
12th Jul 2010 - 12th May 2014


Select Committee Meeting
Tuesday 18th May 2021
09:30
Education Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Accountability hearings
18 May 2021, 9:30 a.m.
At 10.00am: Oral evidence
Gillian Keegan MP - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills at Department for Education
View calendar
Oral Question
Tuesday 18th May 2021
11:30
Ministry of Justice
Oral Question No. 53
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he is taking to support victims of domestic abuse through the family court system.
Save to Calendar
Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 19th May 2021
09:30
Education Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Left behind white pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds
19 May 2021, 9:30 a.m.
At 10.00am: Oral evidence
Dr Tony Sewell CBE - Chair at Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities
Martyn Oliver - Commissioner at Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities
Professor Steve Strand - Professor of Education at University of Oxford
View calendar
Division Votes
Wednesday 28th April 2021
National Security and Investment Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 357 Conservative Aye votes vs 1 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 358 Noes - 269
Speeches
Monday 26th April 2021
Oral Answers to Questions

While I strongly support the Government’s summer holiday activities programme, there is a risk that disadvantaged pupils may be less …

Written Answers
Thursday 29th April 2021
Pupil Exclusions
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many pupils were removed from school admissions registers in the most …
Early Day Motions
Monday 22nd March 2021
30th anniversary of Sir John Major’s safe haven in and no-fly zone over the Kurdistan Region
That this House recognises the importance for relations between the UK and the Kurdistan Region in Iraq of the 30th …
Bills
Tuesday 22nd May 2018
Social Justice Commission Bill 2017-19
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will …
MP Financial Interests
Tuesday 14th April 2020
1. Employment and earnings
12 March 2020, received £200 from the Social Affairs Unit, 10 Greenwich Quay, London SE8 3EY, for an article for …
EDM signed
Thursday 11th February 2021
School breakfast
That this House notes that school breakfasts tackle classroom hunger and improve children’s energy, behaviour, and concentration, leading to improved …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Robert Halfon has voted in 257 divisions, and 7 times against the majority of their Party.

21 Oct 2020 - Free School Meals - View Vote Context
Robert Halfon voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 5 Conservative Aye votes vs 320 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 261 Noes - 322
17 Jun 2020 - Health and Personal Social Services - View Vote Context
Robert Halfon voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 104 Conservative Aye votes vs 124 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 253 Noes - 136
15 Apr 2021 - Domestic Abuse Bill - View Vote Context
Robert Halfon voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 2 Conservative No votes vs 352 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 360 Noes - 221
15 Apr 2021 - Domestic Abuse Bill - View Vote Context
Robert Halfon voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 2 Conservative No votes vs 351 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 352 Noes - 222
15 Apr 2021 - Domestic Abuse Bill - View Vote Context
Robert Halfon voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 1 Conservative No votes vs 352 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 361 Noes - 218
15 Apr 2021 - Domestic Abuse Bill - View Vote Context
Robert Halfon voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 2 Conservative No votes vs 351 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 351 Noes - 226
26 Apr 2021 - Domestic Abuse Bill - View Vote Context
Robert Halfon voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 2 Conservative No votes vs 351 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 351 Noes - 227
View All Robert Halfon 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
Gavin Williamson (Conservative)
Secretary of State for Education
(31 debate interactions)
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
(21 debate interactions)
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(20 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department for Education
(44 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(22 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(19 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Robert Halfon's debates

Harlow 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 Harlow signatures
Robert Halfon has not participated in any petition debates

Latest EDMs signed by Robert Halfon

22nd March 2021
Robert Halfon signed this EDM as the primary signatory on Monday 22nd March 2021

30th anniversary of Sir John Major’s safe haven in and no-fly zone over the Kurdistan Region

Tabled by: Robert Halfon (Conservative - Harlow)
That this House recognises the importance for relations between the UK and the Kurdistan Region in Iraq of the 30th anniversary of Sir John Major pioneering a safe haven and no-fly zone over Iraqi Kurdistan; believes that that has saved many Kurds from the genocidal vengeance of Saddam Hussein, provided …
4 signatures
(Most recent: 12 Apr 2021)
Signatures by party:
Conservative: 3
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
23rd February 2021
Robert Halfon signed this EDM as the primary signatory on Tuesday 23rd February 2021

Actions of Lloyds Pharmacy Clinical Healthcare Ltd during the covid-19 outbreak

Tabled by: Robert Halfon (Conservative - Harlow)
That this House recognises the concerns that residents of Harlow have raised over the actions of Lloyds Pharmacy Clinical Healthcare Ltd during the Covid-19 pandemic; condemns Lloyds’ proposals to remove overtime rates for working late and at weekends, to move their employees on to a six-day week with a requirement …
3 signatures
(Most recent: 1 Mar 2021)
Signatures by party:
Conservative: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Labour: 1
View All Robert Halfon's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Robert Halfon, 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.


Robert Halfon has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Robert Halfon has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

5 Bills introduced by Robert Halfon


The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. To amend the law relating to the Social Mobility Commission.


Last Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Friday 15th June 2018

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 prohibit charging for car parking at NHS hospitals for patients, staff and visitors; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Friday 15th June 2018
(Read Debate)

The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to limit levels of additional amounts charged by utility companies on bills not paid by direct debit; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Tuesday 11th February 2014

The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to make provision for receipts for vehicle fuel to display the amount of fuel duty paid and the amount of that duty to be spent on road building; and for connected purposes


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Tuesday 16th October 2012

The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to require the BBC to enable licence fee payers to vote on its strategic direction and aspects of senior salaries and programming, including referenda on particular issues; to provide for election of the BBC Trust and the non-executive members of the BBC Executive Board by licence fee payers; to make other provision relating to the governance of the BBC; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Tuesday 8th February 2011

Robert Halfon has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


419 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Explanation of written questions
3 Other Department Questions
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what assessment she has made of the effect of the gender pay gap on levels of (a) financial domestic abuse and (b) child poverty.

The UK’s gender pay gap is now at a record low of 15.5%, but the Government recognises that closing the gender pay gap alone will not eliminate social issues such as financial domestic abuse and child poverty. Targeted support and interventions are essential.

In December 2015, we introduced the new domestic abuse offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in order to tackle purposeful patterns of behaviour over time to exert power, control, and coercion over another person, which includes financial and economic abuse. We are including economic abuse in the new statutory definition of domestic abuse to acknowledge the impact that economic abuse can have on a victim’s life. This will raise awareness and enable frontline professionals and the criminal justice system to better recognise and tackle it.

Our ambition is to level up across the country and to continue to tackle child poverty through our reformed welfare system that works with the labour market to encourage people to move into and progress in work wherever possible. The latest data from 2018/19 showed that only 3% of children in households where both parents work full-time were in absolute poverty (before housing costs) compared to 47% where one or more parent was in part-time work.

Our £30bn Plan for Jobs will support economic recovery through new schemes including Kickstart and Job Entry Targeted Support. We are also doubling the number of work coaches who, through our Jobcentre network, will provide more people with the tailored support they need to move back into work and towards financial independence.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what his timescale is for further updating the policy on restrictions on the number of guests at wedding ceremonies as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Government is working closely with stakeholders in the wedding industry, the Places of Worship Taskforce, and the National Panel for Registration to keep our COVID-19 secure marriages and civil partnerships policies and guidance under review.

From 15 August 2020 receptions and other celebrations for weddings and civil partnerships can take place in a COVID-19 secure venue, however, this does not apply in areas under local restrictions. Capacity at wedding or civil partnership ceremonies (including the couple, guests, and third-party suppliers, but not venue staff or third-party catering staff) should be no more than 30 and safely accommodated with social distancing in a COVID-19 secure venue. We will reassess guidance in relation to larger wedding receptions in line with the development of the scientific advice. Further guidance on wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions can be found here.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if his Department will review the limit of 30 people attending wedding ceremonies as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Government is working closely with stakeholders in the wedding industry, the Places of Worship Taskforce, and the National Panel for Registration to keep our COVID-19 secure marriages and civil partnerships policies and guidance under review.

From 15 August 2020 receptions and other celebrations for weddings and civil partnerships can take place in a COVID-19 secure venue, however, this does not apply in areas under local restrictions. Capacity at wedding or civil partnership ceremonies (including the couple, guests, and third-party suppliers, but not venue staff or third-party catering staff) should be no more than 30 and safely accommodated with social distancing in a COVID-19 secure venue. We will reassess guidance in relation to larger wedding receptions in line with the development of the scientific advice. Further guidance on wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions can be found here.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Attorney General, how much funding his Department has allocated to (a) civil society and (b) campaigning bodies in each of the last three years.

The Attorney General’s Office has not allocated any funding to civil society or
campaigning bodies in the last three years.

Michael Ellis
Attorney General
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment his Department (a) has made and (b) plans to make of potential delivery methods for a covid-19 vaccine passport.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer to PQ 179365 on 20 April 2021, as well as the Written Ministerial Statement made on 29 April 2021.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Government plans to provide one service to support all covid-19 related needs across all industries where industries can access (a) vaccine status and (b) test results from the NHS.

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

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he is taking to ensure Harlow residents receive comparable levels of Government public health messaging through local media outlets as neighboring constituencies with printed newspapers.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given to PQ 33512 on 21 April 2020, PQ 40655 on 11 May 2020, PQ 45460 on 18 May 2020, and PQ 46692 on 29 May 2020.

OmniGOV is the appointed agency responsible for media buying across all Government campaigns. In performing this role, they are responsible for ensuring campaigns are delivered both effectively and cost-efficiently. Titles for this campaign are selected by OmniGOV based on their ability to communicate in a measurable and effective way with audiences at a national, regional and local level.

The press partnership is designed to support the printed media and to reach older audiences and audiences which consume less online media. The partnership has also been structured deliberately to favour smaller regional and local titles. We have not selected digital-only titles because we are already investing heavily in digital advertising. Every title is assessed by OmniGOV and by our media auditors.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, including Covid-19, to ensure our communications are efficient. Our Covid-19 messages have reached 95% of adults on average 17 times per week.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of Government public health messaging through local media outlets in Harlow.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given to PQ 33512 on 21 April 2020, PQ 40655 on 11 May 2020, PQ 45460 on 18 May 2020, and PQ 46692 on 29 May 2020.

OmniGOV is the appointed agency responsible for media buying across all Government campaigns. In performing this role, they are responsible for ensuring campaigns are delivered both effectively and cost-efficiently. Titles for this campaign are selected by OmniGOV based on their ability to communicate in a measurable and effective way with audiences at a national, regional and local level.

The press partnership is designed to support the printed media and to reach older audiences and audiences which consume less online media. The partnership has also been structured deliberately to favour smaller regional and local titles. We have not selected digital-only titles because we are already investing heavily in digital advertising. Every title is assessed by OmniGOV and by our media auditors.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, including Covid-19, to ensure our communications are efficient. Our Covid-19 messages have reached 95% of adults on average 17 times per week.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, when the Government procured the contract with OmniGov.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given to PQ 33512 on 21 April 2020, PQ 40655 on 11 May 2020, PQ 45460 on 18 May 2020, and PQ 46692 on 29 May 2020.

OmniGOV is the appointed agency responsible for media buying across all Government campaigns. In performing this role, they are responsible for ensuring campaigns are delivered both effectively and cost-efficiently. Titles for this campaign are selected by OmniGOV based on their ability to communicate in a measurable and effective way with audiences at a national, regional and local level.

The press partnership is designed to support the printed media and to reach older audiences and audiences which consume less online media. The partnership has also been structured deliberately to favour smaller regional and local titles. We have not selected digital-only titles because we are already investing heavily in digital advertising. Every title is assessed by OmniGOV and by our media auditors.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, including Covid-19, to ensure our communications are efficient. Our Covid-19 messages have reached 95% of adults on average 17 times per week.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps the Government has taken to ensure that OmniGov is supporting local news outlets in addition to regional providers.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given to PQ 33512 on 21 April 2020, PQ 40655 on 11 May 2020, PQ 45460 on 18 May 2020, and PQ 46692 on 29 May 2020.

OmniGOV is the appointed agency responsible for media buying across all Government campaigns. In performing this role, they are responsible for ensuring campaigns are delivered both effectively and cost-efficiently. Titles for this campaign are selected by OmniGOV based on their ability to communicate in a measurable and effective way with audiences at a national, regional and local level.

The press partnership is designed to support the printed media and to reach older audiences and audiences which consume less online media. The partnership has also been structured deliberately to favour smaller regional and local titles. We have not selected digital-only titles because we are already investing heavily in digital advertising. Every title is assessed by OmniGOV and by our media auditors.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, including Covid-19, to ensure our communications are efficient. Our Covid-19 messages have reached 95% of adults on average 17 times per week.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what criteria the Government set for OmniGov to support local news outlets when procuring the contract for Government advertising.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given to PQ 33512 on 21 April 2020, PQ 40655 on 11 May 2020, PQ 45460 on 18 May 2020, and PQ 46692 on 29 May 2020.

OmniGOV is the appointed agency responsible for media buying across all Government campaigns. In performing this role, they are responsible for ensuring campaigns are delivered both effectively and cost-efficiently. Titles for this campaign are selected by OmniGOV based on their ability to communicate in a measurable and effective way with audiences at a national, regional and local level.

The press partnership is designed to support the printed media and to reach older audiences and audiences which consume less online media. The partnership has also been structured deliberately to favour smaller regional and local titles. We have not selected digital-only titles because we are already investing heavily in digital advertising. Every title is assessed by OmniGOV and by our media auditors.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, including Covid-19, to ensure our communications are efficient. Our Covid-19 messages have reached 95% of adults on average 17 times per week.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what other advertising providers were considered when the Government procured the contract for Government advertising with OmniGov.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given to PQ 33512 on 21 April 2020, PQ 40655 on 11 May 2020, PQ 45460 on 18 May 2020, and PQ 46692 on 29 May 2020.

OmniGOV is the appointed agency responsible for media buying across all Government campaigns. In performing this role, they are responsible for ensuring campaigns are delivered both effectively and cost-efficiently. Titles for this campaign are selected by OmniGOV based on their ability to communicate in a measurable and effective way with audiences at a national, regional and local level.

The press partnership is designed to support the printed media and to reach older audiences and audiences which consume less online media. The partnership has also been structured deliberately to favour smaller regional and local titles. We have not selected digital-only titles because we are already investing heavily in digital advertising. Every title is assessed by OmniGOV and by our media auditors.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, including Covid-19, to ensure our communications are efficient. Our Covid-19 messages have reached 95% of adults on average 17 times per week.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, when the Government’s contract with OmniGov is due for renewal.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given to PQ 33512 on 21 April 2020, PQ 40655 on 11 May 2020, PQ 45460 on 18 May 2020, and PQ 46692 on 29 May 2020.

OmniGOV is the appointed agency responsible for media buying across all Government campaigns. In performing this role, they are responsible for ensuring campaigns are delivered both effectively and cost-efficiently. Titles for this campaign are selected by OmniGOV based on their ability to communicate in a measurable and effective way with audiences at a national, regional and local level.

The press partnership is designed to support the printed media and to reach older audiences and audiences which consume less online media. The partnership has also been structured deliberately to favour smaller regional and local titles. We have not selected digital-only titles because we are already investing heavily in digital advertising. Every title is assessed by OmniGOV and by our media auditors.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, including Covid-19, to ensure our communications are efficient. Our Covid-19 messages have reached 95% of adults on average 17 times per week.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he is taking to ensure that OmniGov supports the only remaining news outlet in Harlow constituency with Government advertising.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given to PQ 33512 on 21 April 2020, PQ 40655 on 11 May 2020, PQ 45460 on 18 May 2020, and PQ 46692 on 29 May 2020.

OmniGOV is the appointed agency responsible for media buying across all Government campaigns. In performing this role, they are responsible for ensuring campaigns are delivered both effectively and cost-efficiently. Titles for this campaign are selected by OmniGOV based on their ability to communicate in a measurable and effective way with audiences at a national, regional and local level.

The press partnership is designed to support the printed media and to reach older audiences and audiences which consume less online media. The partnership has also been structured deliberately to favour smaller regional and local titles. We have not selected digital-only titles because we are already investing heavily in digital advertising. Every title is assessed by OmniGOV and by our media auditors.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, including Covid-19, to ensure our communications are efficient. Our Covid-19 messages have reached 95% of adults on average 17 times per week.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the requirement of OmniGov to support local media in Harlow constituency with Government advertising.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given to PQ 33512 on 21 April 2020, PQ 40655 on 11 May 2020, PQ 45460 on 18 May 2020, and PQ 46692 on 29 May 2020.

OmniGOV is the appointed agency responsible for media buying across all Government campaigns. In performing this role, they are responsible for ensuring campaigns are delivered both effectively and cost-efficiently. Titles for this campaign are selected by OmniGOV based on their ability to communicate in a measurable and effective way with audiences at a national, regional and local level.

The press partnership is designed to support the printed media and to reach older audiences and audiences which consume less online media. The partnership has also been structured deliberately to favour smaller regional and local titles. We have not selected digital-only titles because we are already investing heavily in digital advertising. Every title is assessed by OmniGOV and by our media auditors.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, including Covid-19, to ensure our communications are efficient. Our Covid-19 messages have reached 95% of adults on average 17 times per week.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what requirements are included in the Government's contract with OmniGov on support for local media outlets for the promotion of Government messaging.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given to PQ 33512 on 21 April 2020, PQ 40655 on 11 May 2020, PQ 45460 on 18 May 2020, and PQ 46692 on 29 May 2020.

OmniGOV is the appointed agency responsible for media buying across all Government campaigns. In performing this role, they are responsible for ensuring campaigns are delivered both effectively and cost-efficiently. Titles for this campaign are selected by OmniGOV based on their ability to communicate in a measurable and effective way with audiences at a national, regional and local level.

The press partnership is designed to support the printed media and to reach older audiences and audiences which consume less online media. The partnership has also been structured deliberately to favour smaller regional and local titles. We have not selected digital-only titles because we are already investing heavily in digital advertising. Every title is assessed by OmniGOV and by our media auditors.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, including Covid-19, to ensure our communications are efficient. Our Covid-19 messages have reached 95% of adults on average 17 times per week.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what mechanisms are included in the Government’s contract with OmniGov to ensure that the contract provides value for money.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given to PQ 33512 on 21 April 2020, PQ 40655 on 11 May 2020, PQ 45460 on 18 May 2020, and PQ 46692 on 29 May 2020.

OmniGOV is the appointed agency responsible for media buying across all Government campaigns. In performing this role, they are responsible for ensuring campaigns are delivered both effectively and cost-efficiently. Titles for this campaign are selected by OmniGOV based on their ability to communicate in a measurable and effective way with audiences at a national, regional and local level.

The press partnership is designed to support the printed media and to reach older audiences and audiences which consume less online media. The partnership has also been structured deliberately to favour smaller regional and local titles. We have not selected digital-only titles because we are already investing heavily in digital advertising. Every title is assessed by OmniGOV and by our media auditors.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, including Covid-19, to ensure our communications are efficient. Our Covid-19 messages have reached 95% of adults on average 17 times per week.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he is taking to ensure that the Government’s advertising and public health messages are reaching residents in Harlow constituency through local media.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answers given to PQ 33512 on 21 April 2020, PQ 40655 on 11 May 2020, PQ 45460 on 18 May 2020, and PQ 46692 on 29 May 2020.

OmniGOV is the appointed agency responsible for media buying across all Government campaigns. In performing this role, they are responsible for ensuring campaigns are delivered both effectively and cost-efficiently. Titles for this campaign are selected by OmniGOV based on their ability to communicate in a measurable and effective way with audiences at a national, regional and local level.

The press partnership is designed to support the printed media and to reach older audiences and audiences which consume less online media. The partnership has also been structured deliberately to favour smaller regional and local titles. We have not selected digital-only titles because we are already investing heavily in digital advertising. Every title is assessed by OmniGOV and by our media auditors.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, including Covid-19, to ensure our communications are efficient. Our Covid-19 messages have reached 95% of adults on average 17 times per week.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what progress his Department is making on meeting the 2.3 per cent public sector apprenticeship target; and when his Department will meet that target.

As of 31 March 2020, the Civil Service has achieved a total of 2.1% of its total workforce as apprentices. Since 1 April 2020, Cabinet Office has achieved c.1% apprentice starts representing more apprentice starts at this stage in the financial year than in previous years. We run regular recruitment campaigns for apprentices; with a new campaign being advertised this week. The data for 2018/19 can be found here. The data for 2019/20 will be released on gov.uk by the end of September 2020.

Departments are committed to increasing the number of apprentices across the Civil Service and continue to work towards the 2.3% target. The current pandemic has had an impact on the Cabinet Office’s apprenticeship ambition due to priority work and logistics. With the current strategy and targets coming to an end in April 2021, the Civil Service is already focusing on how to continue to support the apprenticeship agenda and drive forward apprenticeship recruitment, pulling on the Plan for Jobs initiative and considering the current economic situation.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department is taking to meet the public sector apprenticeship target.

The Cabinet Office supports the use of apprenticeships as a means of building expertise, filling skills gaps and improving the diversity of our talent pool. The Department is in the final year of a three-year action plan to increase the number of apprenticeships in the Department. We run regular recruitment campaigns for apprentices.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what estimate he has made of the total amount of funding from the public purse given by his Department to (a) civil society and (b) campaigning bodies in each of the last five years.

Grant agreement terms and conditions prohibit grant funding being used for paid for lobbying and political campaigning.

Data regarding Cabinet Office funding in 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 is published in the Government Grants register on GOV.UK at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-grants-register. Data for the 2018/2019 financial year will be published in due course.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) Harlow Council and (b) other local authorities allocate funding from the Additional Restriction Grant to local businesses (i) quickly and (ii) in line with the needs of those businesses.

Throughout the pandemic, BEIS officials have worked closely with Local Authorities to ensure that grants are delivered as quickly as possible, while safeguarding public funds. As the range of grants available has increased, officials have continued regular briefings with all 314 Local Authorities. Ministers have also held regular conversations with leaders and chief executives.

We have published data that shows as of 17 January, £143 million has been paid out by Local Authorities to businesses in England through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) scheme, and that figure increases every day. My Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced a £425 million top-up to the ARG, to be allocated to Local Authorities which have spent their existing allocations by 30 June 2021.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much funding has been allocated to Harlow Council to provide Additional Restriction Grants to local businesses.

The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) is a discretionary scheme aimed at supporting businesses, including those that have not been mandated to close but have had their trade adversely affected by the nationalised restrictions. At the Budget on 3rd March, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced an additional £425 million will be made available via the ARG, meaning that more than £2 billion has been made available to Local Authorities since November 2020.

As at 18 December, 2020, Harlow Council had been allocated £1,741,340 in ARG funding. All data on Government allocations and Local Authority payments of the ARG is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-grant-funding-local-authority-payments-to-small-and-medium-businesses.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that electrical goods offered for sale by third party sellers on online marketplaces are safe for use in the UK.

The Government is committed to ensuring that only safe electrical goods can be sold in the UK. All distributors have a duty to act with due care to ensure products they are selling are safe, this includes online retailers selling goods via marketplaces.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is engaging proactively with major online marketplaces to ensure that they are playing their part in protecting UK consumers from unsafe products. The OPSS has recently taken action to ensure that a number of non-compliant products being sold by overseas third-party sellers have been removed from sale, including electrical appliances.

The OPSS is also developing a new voluntary commitment for online marketplaces to agree actions they will take to reduce the risks from unsafe products being sold online. This will enable online marketplaces to demonstrate their commitment to the safety of their consumers in the UK by publicly promising to work with UK regulators.

In order to ensure that the UK’s Product Safety framework is flexible and fit for the future, the OPSS is conducting a review. This will ensure we have a framework that delivers safety for consumers while supporting businesses to innovate and grow and will consider the impact on product safety (including electrical goods) of new business models such as third-party sales through online marketplaces.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much funding under the Additional Restrictions Grant has been allocated to Harlow Council.

The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) was announced in November 2020 to support businesses in England that are not mandated to close but are severely affected by Covid-19 restrictions. An initial £1.1 billion was allocated to Local Authorities to deliver to businesses under this scheme, and a further £500 million in top-up ARG funding was announced in response to the national restrictions that began on 5 January.

This funding is shared between all Local Authorities and they have the discretion to use the ARG scheme to help businesses in the way they see fit. We are working closely with Local Authorities to ensure that support is delivered to businesses that are in scope as quickly as possible. We are not able to share a breakdown of the funding allocated and distributed by Harlow Council at this stage. We will publish information on the scheme as a whole in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress his Department is making on meeting the 2.3 per cent public sector apprenticeship target; and when his Department will meet that target.

The Department gives full regard to the public sector apprenticeship target. The Department, and each of the Executive Agencies that contribute to our target, have apprenticeship plans that focus on specific capability needs and skills.

Departmental progress towards the 2.3% target is published annually on GOV.UK.

Data for 2017-18 is published at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/civil-service-apprenticeship-data-2017-to-2018.

Data for 2018-19 is published at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/civil-service-apprenticeship-data-2018-to-2019.

Data for 2019-20 will be published at the end of September 2020.

We are committed to increasing the number of apprentices and we are working towards the 2.3% target. The impact of the current pandemic has slowed recruitment due to priority work and logistics. With the current strategy and targets coming to an end in April 2021, the Department is already focusing on how best to support the apprenticeship agenda and drive forward apprentice recruitment.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of allowing retrospective claims for the green homes grant scheme to support businesses that will have work delayed until the scheme is introduced.

The Green Homes Grant scheme will be available from the 30th September. The scheme has been designed to encourage homeowners to consider improving the energy efficiency of their homes (something we know lots of households put at the bottom of their list of priorities because of the cost), and focus on those measures which give greatest thermal benefits and carbon reductions, but which consumers are typically less likely to install on their own. Therefore, retrospective claims will not be eligible.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to reach the public sector apprenticeship target.

The Department gives full regard to the public sector apprenticeship target. The Department, and each of the Executive Agencies that contributes to the Department’s target, have apprenticeship plans that focus on their specific capability needs and skills.

Together, we are promoting apprenticeships as a means of recruiting new and diverse talent. This includes exploring which roles are suitable for apprentices, and broadening our reach by advertising apprentice vacancies on the Government’s ‘Recruit an Apprentice’ service. The Department also promotes and encourages apprenticeships as a route for existing staff to build capability and develop new skills.

The Department, our Executive Agencies, and our wider public sector Partner Organisations, share our ideas and experience of delivering against the apprenticeship agenda, to build our apprentice numbers.

The Department offers a wide range of apprenticeships from Level 3 to Level 7. This week, our Permanent Secretary held a virtual “Meet and Greet” with apprentices, celebrating the great work that they do for the Department. We also celebrate the work of our apprentices and promote further use of apprenticeships through an annual Apprenticeship Awards ceremony.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans the Government has for the reopening of (a) beauty and (b) tanning salons as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

The Government has published safer working guidance on 23 June for close contact services, including beauty and tanning salons. Following my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s announcement, hairdressers and barbers in England will be able to reopen from 4 July, to offer hairdressing services, once they are following the COVID-secure guidelines. Other close contact services, like beauty and tanning salons, remain closed until further notice.

We are taking a phased, cautious approach to reopening our economy, working with businesses, trade associations and medical experts on the safest way to reopen close contact services like beauty and tanning salons where there is often greater risk of transmission due to prolonged periods of face-to-face contact and close proximity between staff and customers. We intend to allow close contact services to re-open as soon as it is safe to do so.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has to reopen tanning salons as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

We have been taking a phased, cautious approach to reopening our economy, so that we do not risk a second peak of the virus. On 23 June, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced details of businesses which would be allowed to reopen on 4 July, provided they are COVID-secure.

For those close contact businesses not opening on 4 July, such as tanning salons, we will be working closely to support those sectors and will set out further information in due course.

On 23 June, we published COVID-19 secure guidance for businesses in close contact services which will help businesses such as tanning salons prepare for reopening.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when his Department will publish guidance on the safe reopening and operation of tanning and beauty salons that operate from home.

On 13 May, five ministerial-led taskforces were set up to develop plans for how closed sectors could reopen safely, including Close Contact Services such as tanning and beauty salons.

As part of this work, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is engaging constructively with the Close Contact Services industry to develop guidance for them to reopen safely, given the higher risk of transmission in these environments where long periods of person to person contact is required. This work is progressing well.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the social distancing measures require (a) beauty salons, (b) nail parlours and (c) hairdressers to close to the public.

In order to further reduce the spread of the virus, on Friday 20 March, the Government told all businesses and venues in which activity necessitates prolonged social contact to close. This decision reflected clinical advice that the spread of infection is likely where people are in close contact for more than 15 minutes.

That is why, on 23 March, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced increased measures to reduce social contact and expanded the list of business that should close immediately to include hairdressers, beauty and nail Salons.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the total amount of funding from the public purse given by his Department to (a) civil society and (b) campaigning bodies in each of the last five years.

The majority of the Department’s funds have been allocated through our partner organisations to bodies which are classified as part of civil society, since that definition includes universities. Further details are set out in the Department’s accounts and those of our partner organisations. We do not specifically fund campaigning bodies.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he plans to take to support small businesses in (a) Harlow and (b) the UK.

The Government-backed British Business Bank helps to drive economic growth by making finance markets work better for smaller businesses, enabling them to prosper and grow. The British Business Bank is currently supporting over £7.2bn of finance to over 93,000 SMEs across the UK (as at September 2019). The Bank’s Online Finance Hub offers independent and impartial information on different finance options, helping smaller businesses to identify the right finance options for their needs.

The Bank’s Start Up Loans programme has delivered over 69,000 loans worth over £565m since it was established in 2012. In Harlow, the programme has delivered 75 loans worth over £598,000. Each Start Up Loan comes with 12 months free mentoring and support.

Harlow has also been invited to develop proposals a Town Deal of up to £25 million. The new Town Board met for the first time in January and is developing a Town Investment Plan. The Towns Fund will address various town centre issues, including business environment.

The objective of the Towns Fund is to drive the economic regeneration of towns to deliver long term economic and productivity growth, including through ensuring towns have the space to support small business development.

Harlow Enterprise Zone (EZ) is one of 45 government-designated EZs which aim to incentivise small business start-ups and growth principally by offering business rates relief and simplified planning. Key objectives include attracting increased inward investment, and the creation of job opportunities for local residents.

Government supports a network of 38 Growth Hubs across England, which offer free expert advice to on the most suitable business finance as well as access to regional and national organisations and networks. Businesses in Harlow and across Essex are encouraged to access support and advice at South East Business Hub[1].

Harlow firms are also encouraged to access the BEST (Essex) Growth Hub. Although physically based in Southend, the Growth Hub’s services are available to Harlow businesses.

The recently launched Government’s own Business Support Website brings together on one new and easy-to-use site, information, support and advice to businesses in England. The support is organised around four themes: Finance and business planning; Leadership and talent; Innovation and technology; and Exporting. The site also offers a live web chat facility with business advisers and the Business Support Helpline – 0300 456 3565.

[1] https://southeastbusiness.org.uk/

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what information she holds on the number of UK-based businesses operating in the Kurdistan Region in Iraq; and if she will make a statement.

We do not hold information on UK-based businesses operating in the Kurdistan Region in Iraq. Advice for businesses wishing to do business in Iraq, including the Kurdistan region, is available on Gov.uk.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans his Department has to increase investment into grassroots football.

The Government is committed to supporting grassroots sport and I welcomed its return on the 29th March.

During the pandemic, Sport England has provided £220m directly to support community sport clubs and exercise centres through this pandemic, via a range of funds including their £35m Community Emergency Fund. This support is available to both men’s and women’s clubs with the latest figures showing £10.5m has already been awarded to over 1,500 football clubs.

Sport England has provided funding to The Football Foundation which has run various funds to help grassroots clubs prepare for the return of football and re-open their facilities once safe to do so. This has included the Club and Pitch Preparation Funds and Matchday Support Fund.

The Government also has an established partnership with the Football Association and the Premier League focused on investment into community facilities, the Government contributing £18m each year. The three-way partnership sees a combined £70m go to new facilities delivered by the Football Foundation each year. Sport England and The FA have worked with the Foundation to produce a local football facility plan for every local authority in the country, mapping out the local investment needs. These can be found at https://footballfoundation.org.uk/local-plans.

Alongside this annual investment, the Government announced at Budget 21 an additional £25m of funding for community sport facilities across the UK.

The Government will continue to support grassroots sport in our local communities.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to support grassroots football in Harlow.

The Government is committed to supporting grassroots sport and I welcomed its return on the 29th March.

During the pandemic, Sport England has provided £220m directly to support community sport clubs and exercise centres through this pandemic, via a range of funds including their £35m Community Emergency Fund. This support is available to both men’s and women’s clubs with the latest figures showing £10.5m has already been awarded to over 1,500 football clubs.

Sport England has provided funding to The Football Foundation which has run various funds to help grassroots clubs prepare for the return of football and re-open their facilities once safe to do so. This has included the Club and Pitch Preparation Funds and Matchday Support Fund.

The Government also has an established partnership with the Football Association and the Premier League focused on investment into community facilities, the Government contributing £18m each year. The three-way partnership sees a combined £70m go to new facilities delivered by the Football Foundation each year. Sport England and The FA have worked with the Foundation to produce a local football facility plan for every local authority in the country, mapping out the local investment needs. These can be found at https://footballfoundation.org.uk/local-plans.

Alongside this annual investment, the Government announced at Budget 21 an additional £25m of funding for community sport facilities across the UK.

The Government will continue to support grassroots sport in our local communities.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the proposed European Super League on grassroots football.

The Government has been vocal in its opposition to these proposals, which are not in the interests of the game, and I was glad to see the withdrawal of all English teams from the project.

This is the right result for football fans, clubs and communities across the country.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of including in his legislative proposals on online harms a requirement for companies offering services to UK users to establish UK teams to moderate content from UK users which is reported to breach the platform’s standards to improve the accountability of those companies to UK users.

As part of the new online harms regulatory framework, Ofcom will set out how companies can fulfil their duty of care via codes of practice. The codes will outline the systems and processes companies must have in place to keep their users safe, including procedures on the training and support of human moderators.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of advising Ofcom as the Government’s intended social media regulator to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism and ensure that social media companies comply with it to help tackle the increase in online antisemitic attacks.

The Government is committed to tackling racism, including the spread of antisemitic content online. In December 2020, we published the Full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation, which sets out new expectations on companies to keep their users safe online. Under a new legal duty of care, in-scope companies, including social media, will need to tackle illegal antisemitic content and activity on their services.

In addition, companies providing high-risk, high-reach services will need to set clear terms and conditions stating what legal but harmful material they accept (and do not accept) on their service. This may include antisemitic hate speech, which does not meet the threshold of a criminal offence. Companies will need to enforce these terms and conditions consistently and transparently, and could face enforcement action if they do not. All companies in scope will be required to have effective and accessible user reporting and redress mechanisms.

The Online Safety Bill, which will give effect to the regulatory framework outlined in the Full Government Response, including the appointment of Ofcom as the regulator, will be ready this year. There are no plans to specify the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what the scientific basis is for the decision to prevent individuals who are over 18 years of age from participating in club swimming during the covid-19 outbreak.

As the Prime Minister said on 23 November, the national restrictions ended on Wednesday 2 December, and gyms and sport facilities can reopen across all tiers. This means that certain leisure and sporting facilities including swimming pools are able to open subject to relevant social contact rules in each tier.

As set out in the COVID Winter Plan the decision to allocate tiers is based on a range of factors and will be reviewed every 14 days. In Tier 3 areas we have taken further measures to limit social interactions and therefore opportunities for the virus to spread. For swimming pools specifically, the transmission concerns have always been around points of contact within facilities, such as changing rooms.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether the Government provides support to Parkrun.

Initiatives such as parkrun have had an important impact in driving participation in physical activity and in helping people, particularly those from under-represented groups such as women, disabled people and people from some lower socio-economic groups, to be more physically active.

Sport England, the lead organisation with responsibility for grassroots sport in England, awarded parkrun £3 million in December 2018 over a three-year period (2018-21) to increase participation in sport and physical activity.

An additional £60,000 was provided in March this year, to encourage more women to take part in parkrun events as part of International Women’s Day. Sport England have also supported parkrun across the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a flexible use of funding to support them through the crisis and have worked with them on the safe return of grassroots sport.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to support the recovery of the events sector from the covid-19 outbreak.

The Secretary of State announced an unprecedented £1.57 billion support package for the cultural sector which will benefit the events sector by providing support to venues and many other cultural organisations to stay open and continue operating. So far, over £500m has been announced from the Culture Recovery Fund for over 2,000 organisations across England including venues, festivals and theatres.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced that businesses will be protected from the threat of eviction until the end of year, providing commercial tenants with greater security and protecting vital jobs. This extension will protect businesses that are struggling to pay their rent due to the impact of COVID-19 from being evicted and help thousands of people working in the events sector to feel more secure about their jobs. The government will also extend the restriction on landlords using Commercial Rents Arrears Recovery to enforce unpaid rent on commercial leases, until the end of the year.

We recognise that the new national restrictions will have a significant impact on jobs and the economy, as well as on mental health and wellbeing. The Government has confirmed that there will be a full package of financial support in place, with the Job Retention Scheme extended until March. Businesses can continue to apply for government-backed loans, and self-employed individuals can access the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

We are continuing to meet with events stakeholders to provide support and guidance for the events sector during this time.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether snooker clubs are subject to the covid-19 10pm curfew restrictions.

Sport facilities such as gyms, leisure centres and sport clubs including snooker clubs are not required to close, however, hospitality areas which sell food and drink (such as cafes and bars) must close at 10pm. This does not apply to dispensing machines such as vending or coffee machines. Delivery services and drive-through services can continue after 10pm, where applicable.

Where a sport facility sells food and drink to consume on site, customers must eat and drink at a table.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to issue guidance on the conduct of (a) professional and (b) recreational darts during the covid-19 outbreak.

Sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active. The Government has made it clear that it will adopt a phased approach based on scientific and medical advice, and that the primary goal is to protect public health.

The Government has published guidance on GOV.UK allowing the phased return of sport and recreation activities in line with the latest medical guidance. The Government does not plan to publish sport-specific guidance. It is for the national governing bodies of sports to publish relevant guidance in accordance with the latest government guidance.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what progress his Department is making on meeting the 2.3 per cent public sector apprenticeship target; and when his Department will meet that target.

As of 31 March 2020, the Civil Service has achieved a total of 2.1% of its total workforce as apprentices against the legislative target for the public sector of 2.3% by March 2021. DCMS has achieved 1.9% apprentices of the total staff employed within the department. We are reviewing our departmental apprenticeship strategy and are working to achieve the target for 2020/21 through a mixture of new appointments and development opportunities for existing staff. Given this target is a percentage of the total workforce the percentage changes in line with workforce fluctuations over time therefore making it challenging to predict when a department will meet it. The data for 2018/19 can be found here. The data for 2019/20 will be released on gov.uk by the end of September 2020.

Departments are committed to increasing the number of apprentices across the Civil Service and continue to work towards the 2.3% target. The impact of the current pandemic has slowed recruitment due to priority work and logistics. With the current strategy and targets coming to an end in April 2021, the Civil Service is already focusing on how to continue to support the apprenticeship agenda and drive forward apprenticeship recruitment, pulling on the Plan for Jobs initiative and considering the current economic situation.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to further support the events industry during the covid-19 outbreak.

DCMS appreciates the important role that the events sector plays in the UK’s economy, and that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to many businesses operating in these sectors.

The Secretary of State provided a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of cultural and creative sectors. This support package will benefit cultural sector services by providing support to cultural venues and many other organisations in the Creative Industries that host live events, to stay open and continue operating.

From 15th August, and as part of the Government’s 5 stage roadmap to get performing arts and live entertainment sectors back up and running as soon as possible, organisations can now put on live indoor performances in front of a socially-distanced audience. This is in addition to the earlier announcement that from 11 July we can all enjoy performances outdoors with social distancing.

We are committed to continuing to work with the events sector to understand the difficulties they face and help them access support through these challenging times and through recovery. We recognise that the events industry and its supply chain has been severely impacted by Covid-19.

We are continuing to meet with stakeholders, including through the Events & Entertainment and Visitor Economy working groups and the Events Industry Senior Leaders Advisory Panel, to discuss the specific issues facing the sector.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether darts games are exempted from the covid-19 social distancing rule of six.

Organised sporting or licensed physical activity are allowed to continue in groups of more than six. This can be in any public place not under other public health restrictions

These activities either need to be organised by a national governing body, club, registered instructor/coach, business or charity; and/or involve someone who has received an official license to use equipment relevant to the activity. In all cases, the organiser must conduct a risk assessment and ensure compliance with COVID-19 Secure guidance.

Each darts club should follow Covid guidance developed by the National Governing Body, the England Darts Organisation to ensure a safe return to play.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of introducing a tailored funding support package for the events sector during the covid-19 outbreak.

DCMS appreciates the important role that the events sector plays in the UK’s economy, and that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to many businesses operating in this sector.

The Secretary of State announced an unprecedented £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of cultural and creative sectors which will benefit events professionals by helping music venues and many other organisations in the Creative Industries that host live events, to stay open and continue operating.

As part of this support package, the Emergency Grassroot Music Venues Fund is being shared among 135 venues across England who applied for support to survive the imminent risk of collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In response to the demand for help from some of the hardest hit in the sector, and to ensure the support would be felt far and wide, an additional £1.1 million was also brought forward, increasing the fund from £2.25 million to £3.36 million to help as many venues as quickly as possible.

From 15th August and as part of the Government’s 5 stage roadmap to get performing arts and live entertainment sectors back up and running as soon as possible, venues and organisations have been able to put on live indoor performances in front of a socially-distanced audience. This is in addition to the earlier announcement that from 11 July we can all enjoy performances outdoors with social distanced audiences.

We are committed to continuing to work with the events sector to understand the difficulties they face and help them access support through these challenging times and through recovery.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of reopening ice skating rinks for training purposes as covid-19 lockdowns are eased.

Sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active.The Government has made it clear that it will adopt a phased approach based on scientific and medical advice, and that the primary goal is to protect public health.

Ice-skating rinks were able to reopen from 15 August. These facilities are able to offer on-site services to customers, provided they are COVID-secure and follow Government guidance. Elite athletes have been able to access specialist sports facilities for training purposes since mid-April.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to reach the public sector apprenticeship target.

DCMS is committed to achieving the public sector apprenticeship target. We offer apprenticeships to both existing staff and as part of the hiring process for suitable roles. We offer a range of apprenticeship standards to existing staff which align with the types of role in the department. We promote apprenticeships as a key pillar of our learning and development strategy, building professional and functional capability and using a variety of means to engage staff and encourage participation. We work closely with recruitment teams both in DCMS and across the Civil Service and with learning providers to recruit diverse and high quality apprentices.

There have been a number of challenges to meeting the public sector apprenticeship target, including planning for and resourcing EU Exit and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both of these have impacted our apprenticeship recruitment over the past 12 months.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to allow soft play centres to reopen as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

On 13 August, the Government announced that indoor play and indoor soft play venues can open from 15 August. We have also been working with BALPPA, the trade body that represents the industry to develop guidance that lays out detailed measures that should be taken by indoor play and indoor soft play operators to make venues COVID-secure. These include closing ball pits and sensory areas, reducing capacity of venues and soft play frames, regular deep cleaning, pre-bookable timed sessions, increased sanitation, and a rigorous process to support track and trace. Sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active and the Government is committed to reopening facilities as soon as it is safe to do so. Since 4 July other indoor facilities, including some indoor games, recreation and entertainment venues have reopened.


As with all aspects of the Government’s response to COVID-19, we continue to be guided by public health considerations to ensure that as restrictions are eased people can return to activity safely.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with (a) the Secretary of State for Education and (b) telecommunication companies on reducing the cost of mobile data for families and children accessing online education resources, such as the Oak Academy.

It is essential that all children, regardless of their family circumstances, have the opportunity to continue to access high quality education throughout the COVID19 pandemic. Let me reassure you that the Government recognises the importance of both ensuring broadband connectivity and supporting children’s access to online learning during this time. My Department is working closely with the Department for Education to ensure vulnerable children have access to online educational resources. Furthermore my Department has previously agreed measures with telecoms providers to support vulnerable consumers more generally. These measures will also indirectly benefit children’s education. For example, as part of the voluntary commitments, the major telecoms providers committed to remove all data allowance caps on all current fixed broadband services.

The Department for Education has worked with major telecoms companies to zero rate (otherwise known as whitelisting) the Hungry Little Minds and EdenRed school meal voucher website. Zero-rating is a helpful way to provide families with support to access critical resources where the majority of content is held on one website. Most educational resources including Oak Academy, however, use content that is hosted elsewhere (such as on Youtube or Vimeo) meaning that they will still incur data charges.

The Department for Education is therefore working with the major telecommunications companies to improve internet connectivity for disadvantaged and vulnerable families more widely than selected websites. For families who rely on a mobile internet connection, mobile network operators are working to provide access to free additional data offering them more flexibility to access the resources that they need the most. The Department for Education has also delivered or dispatched over 200,000 laptops and tablets and over 47,000 4G wireless routers to local authorities and academy trusts who are best placed to prioritise children and young people who need devices.

The Department for Education has also launched a service to provide children and young people free access to BT wifi hotspots. 10,000 families will initially be able to access the scheme. This offer is currently being piloted and will be rolled out across England in the coming months. The Department for Education is currently working with BT to expand this offer to allow more children to access the internet through their network of BT wifi hotspots.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with (a) the Secretary of State for Education and (b) telecommunication companies on improving digital access to online education resources, such as the Oak Academy, for children from low income households.

It is essential that all children, regardless of their family circumstances, have the opportunity to continue to access high quality education throughout the COVID19 pandemic. Let me reassure you that the Government recognises the importance of both ensuring broadband connectivity and supporting children’s access to online learning during this time. My Department is working closely with the Department for Education to ensure vulnerable children have access to online educational resources. Furthermore my Department has previously agreed measures with telecoms providers to support vulnerable consumers more generally. These measures will also indirectly benefit children’s education. For example, as part of the voluntary commitments, the major telecoms providers committed to remove all data allowance caps on all current fixed broadband services.

The Department for Education has worked with major telecoms companies to zero rate (otherwise known as whitelisting) the Hungry Little Minds and EdenRed school meal voucher website. Zero-rating is a helpful way to provide families with support to access critical resources where the majority of content is held on one website. Most educational resources including Oak Academy, however, use content that is hosted elsewhere (such as on Youtube or Vimeo) meaning that they will still incur data charges.

The Department for Education is therefore working with the major telecommunications companies to improve internet connectivity for disadvantaged and vulnerable families more widely than selected websites. For families who rely on a mobile internet connection, mobile network operators are working to provide access to free additional data offering them more flexibility to access the resources that they need the most. The Department for Education has also delivered or dispatched over 200,000 laptops and tablets and over 47,000 4G wireless routers to local authorities and academy trusts who are best placed to prioritise children and young people who need devices.

The Department for Education has also launched a service to provide children and young people free access to BT wifi hotspots. 10,000 families will initially be able to access the scheme. This offer is currently being piloted and will be rolled out across England in the coming months. The Department for Education is currently working with BT to expand this offer to allow more children to access the internet through their network of BT wifi hotspots.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with (a) the Secretary of State for Education and (b) representatives from telecommunication companies on whitelisting educational websites for children from lower income households.

It is essential that all children, regardless of their family circumstances, have the opportunity to continue to access high quality education throughout the COVID19 pandemic. Let me reassure you that the Government recognises the importance of both ensuring broadband connectivity and supporting children’s access to online learning during this time. My Department is working closely with the Department for Education to ensure vulnerable children have access to online educational resources. Furthermore my Department has previously agreed measures with telecoms providers to support vulnerable consumers more generally. These measures will also indirectly benefit children’s education. For example, as part of the voluntary commitments, the major telecoms providers committed to remove all data allowance caps on all current fixed broadband services.

The Department for Education has worked with major telecoms companies to zero rate (otherwise known as whitelisting) the Hungry Little Minds and EdenRed school meal voucher website. Zero-rating is a helpful way to provide families with support to access critical resources where the majority of content is held on one website. Most educational resources including Oak Academy, however, use content that is hosted elsewhere (such as on Youtube or Vimeo) meaning that they will still incur data charges.

The Department for Education is therefore working with the major telecommunications companies to improve internet connectivity for disadvantaged and vulnerable families more widely than selected websites. For families who rely on a mobile internet connection, mobile network operators are working to provide access to free additional data offering them more flexibility to access the resources that they need the most. The Department for Education has also delivered or dispatched over 200,000 laptops and tablets and over 47,000 4G wireless routers to local authorities and academy trusts who are best placed to prioritise children and young people who need devices.

The Department for Education has also launched a service to provide children and young people free access to BT wifi hotspots. 10,000 families will initially be able to access the scheme. This offer is currently being piloted and will be rolled out across England in the coming months. The Department for Education is currently working with BT to expand this offer to allow more children to access the internet through their network of BT wifi hotspots.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what his timescale is for the reopening of snooker clubs as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active. Snooker clubs have been allowed to open since 4 July, as long as they can follow the COVID-secure guidelines.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what the Government's plans are for the safe reopening of ice rinks as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active.The Government has made it clear that it will adopt a phased approach based on scientific and medical advice, and that the primary goal is to protect public health. The Government is in discussions with representatives from the sport and physical activity sector about the steps required to reopen indoor sports venues and facilities, including ice rinks, as soon as it is safe to do so and will update the public when possible.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, for what reasons indoor (a) sports halls and (b) gyms are not allowed to re-open as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The consideration of different venues and activities are underpinned by understanding the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 associated with particular activities.

We recognise the importance of re-opening our indoor and outdoor facilities. However, there are concerns about transmission around points of contact within such facilities, like changing rooms due to the high volume of contacts. As such, we need to provide reassurance that these facilities will be safe, and are working hard to achieve this in the coming weeks.

The Government is actively working towards a safe way to re-open these facilities, with supporting guidance.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what the Government's plans are for the reopening of swimming pools as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active.The Government has made it clear that it will adopt a phased approach based on scientific and medical advice, and that the primary goal is to protect public health. The Government is in discussions with representatives from the sport and physical activity sector about the steps required to reopen sports venues and facilities, including swimming pools, as soon as it is safe to do so and will update the public when possible.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what guidance his Department has issued on the (a) reopening and (b) operation of (i) indoor sports halls and (ii) sports clubs and activities as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Indoor sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting people to be active and the Government is committed to reopening facilities, including sports halls, as soon as it is safe to do so.

We are holding regular discussions with representatives from the leisure sector and national sports organisations to develop guidance that will support them to open their facilities in a timely and safe manner once lockdown measures are eased.

As with all aspects of the Government’s response to Covid-19, we will be guided by the science to ensure that as restrictions are eased people can return to activity safely.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when he plans to enable indoor sports clubs and activities to operate as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Indoor sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting people to be active and the Government is committed to reopening facilities, including sports halls, as soon as it is safe to do so.

We are holding regular discussions with representatives from the leisure sector and national sports organisations to develop guidance that will support them to open their facilities in a timely and safe manner once lockdown measures are eased.

As with all aspects of the Government’s response to Covid-19, we will be guided by the science to ensure that as restrictions are eased people can return to activity safely.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how much of the Government's £750 million support package for charities has been allocated.

The £750 million funding package announced by the Government on 8 April is to ensure charities providing frontline services to vulnerable people affected by the pandemic can continue their vital work.

£360 million of this has been distributed to individual government departments based on evidence of service need. This includes £200 million to directly support hospices, which is being administered by the Department of Health and Social Care. Departments are using a range of approaches to allocating the remaining funding in order to meet identified needs quickly, including bidding processes and awarding funding directly. As applications are still open for several of the open funds, it is not possible to determine how much of this funding has been received by charities at this stage.

£370 million has been allocated to support small and medium sized charities during the pandemic. This includes £60 million funding through the Barnett formula to support charities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Of the £310 million to be spent in England, £200 million has been distributed to the National Lottery Community Fund to award grants through the Coronavirus Community Support Fund. Applications for this fund opened on 22 May.

In addition, the Government is matching public donations to the BBC Big Night In. The first £20 million of match funding went to the National Emergencies Trust. The 47 local Community Foundations across the UK, including Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland will then provide grant funding to eligible organisations within their community.

Further information on available funds and how to apply for them can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/financial-support-for-voluntary-community-and-social-enterprise-vcse-organisations-to-respond-to-coronavirus-covid-19.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on ensuring that community publications can be delivered by (a) local deliverers and (b) delivery companies under social distancing guidance.

The government considers continued access to quality news, including via community publications, to be vitally important at the current time. My officials and I are working closely with publishers to ensure that we are aware of any issues with delivery and are responding to concerns as a matter of urgency, including, where appropriate, raising issues with Cabinet colleagues.

For the most part delivery is able to continue as normal under social distancing guidance. Journalists and ancillary staff (including those responsible for delivery) have been recognised by the government as key workers and can continue to travel as necessary for work.

Where newspapers are delivered by young people of school age it is up to local authorities to decide whether this should continue, and safeguarding children’s wellbeing is rightly their priority. However, the Department for Education has advised local authorities to take account of employers’ measures to safeguard young workers and whether these are enough to address any safeguarding concerns.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to provide support for sports clubs and social enterprises that have their activities and income affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

Sports clubs and social enterprises form an integral part of this country and it is important they are given as much support as possible.

The government has announced a comprehensive and sizable package of direct fiscal support for business through tax relief and cash grants. This package means that all businesses eligible for small business rates relief and rural rates relief will receive a grant of £10,000 to help with the impact of Covid-19. Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors can receive even more: up to £25,000 per business, if they have a property with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000.

This comes on top of business rates holidays given to several hundred thousand businesses and compensation for statutory sick pay. As the Chancellor said, we plan to go further with regards to employment support and supporting people's jobs and incomes.

Sport England have also issued guidance (https://www.sportengland.org/news/coronavirus-information-sector) to the sport and leisure sector to introduce, for an initial period of three months, significant flexibility for funding partners to reflect the current circumstances. Relevant funding partners can get in touch with Sport England using funding@sportengland.org or on 03458 508 508.

We will continue to engage closely with the sector and the Government will do whatever it takes to get our nation through the impacts of COVID-19.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what estimate he has made of the total amount of funding from the public purse given by his Department to (a) civil society and (b) campaigning bodies in each of the last five years.

Civil Society forms an essential part of our communities up and down the country. It includes large, national charities, social enterprises, volunteers and small grassroots organisations but what joins them all is the idea of creating social value to help build a better society.

Government funding to civil society is ring-fenced for particular projects or programmes. Grant agreement terms and conditions prohibit grant funding being used for paid for lobbying and political campaigning.

The figures quoted below represent the total amount of expenditure incurred by the Office for Civil Society since it joined DCMS as part of a Machinery of Government transfer. Any information prior to 2015-16 would be held by the Cabinet Office.

2018-19£178,929,480
2017-18£228,705,555
2016-17£253,708,419
2015-16£169,082,246
Oliver Dowden
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
19th Dec 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if the Government will increase the annual sales limit on society lotteries to £50 million by the end of the first quarter of 2020.

New limits to the per draw sales, annual sales and maximum prize for society lotteries were announced on 16 July 2019. Affirmative secondary legislation is required to change the limits, and the Gambling Commission is also required to consult on changes to its Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP).

I hope to lay the draft Order in Parliament in January 2020, and the changes to come into force during 2020. The Order will include transitional arrangements for the first year, to enable operators to take advantage of the new limits as soon as possible.

The Gambling Commission has already launched its consultation in anticipation of the legislation, and this will help ensure the new limits can come into force as swiftly as possible. Their consultation also covers measures to improve transparency of society lotteries and will run until 12 March 2020.

I shall not be making any further statement at this time.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Dec 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government has taken to implement the society lotteries annual sales increased limit, announced in July 2019.

New limits to the per draw sales, annual sales and maximum prize for society lotteries were announced on 16 July 2019. Affirmative secondary legislation is required to change the limits, and the Gambling Commission is also required to consult on changes to its Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP).

I hope to lay the draft Order in Parliament in January 2020, and the changes to come into force during 2020. The Order will include transitional arrangements for the first year, to enable operators to take advantage of the new limits as soon as possible.

The Gambling Commission has already launched its consultation in anticipation of the legislation, and this will help ensure the new limits can come into force as swiftly as possible. Their consultation also covers measures to improve transparency of society lotteries and will run until 12 March 2020.

I shall not be making any further statement at this time.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that private early years providers do not charge top-up fees to parents entitled to free childcare under the Free Early Education Entitlement.

Government funding is intended to deliver 15 or 30 hours a week of free, high quality, flexible childcare for eligible two, three and four year olds across 38 weeks of the year. It is not intended to cover the costs of meals, additional hours or additional services, and providers may charge parents for these.

Our statutory guidance is clear that local authorities should work with providers to ensure all parents have fair access to a free place, which must be delivered completely free of charge. Providers should not charge parents “top-up” fees (any difference between a provider’s normal charge to parents and the funding they receive from the local authority to deliver free places) or require parents to pay a registration fee as a condition of taking up their child’s free place.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many and what proportion of primary and secondary school pupils anticipated to re-enrol on the school register in September 2020 re-enrolled on the school register in September 2020.

It has not proved possible to respond to the right 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, how many pupils were removed from school admissions registers in the most recent academic year for the reason that they were continually absent from school for a period of more than 20 days, under section 8(1)(h) of the amended Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006.

It has not proved possible to respond to the right 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 recent estimate he has made of the number of children who have dropped off the school register in September 2020.

It has not proved possible to respond to the right hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.
Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate his Department has made of the number of schools that have off-rolled pupils in England in the last academic year.

The information requested is not held by the Department and cannot be estimated from current data sources.

The Government is clear that off rolling is unacceptable in any form. The Department will continue to work with Ofsted to define and tackle it. Ofsted already considers records of pupils taken off roll and revisions to the framework in September 2019 strengthened the focus on this. Where inspectors find off rolling, this will always be addressed in the inspection report and, where appropriate, could lead to a school’s leadership being judged inadequate.

A pupil’s name can lawfully be deleted from the admission register only on the grounds prescribed in Regulation 8 of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended. All schools must notify the local authority when a pupil’s name is to be deleted from the admission register under any of the grounds prescribed in regulation 8. This should be done as soon as the ground for removal is met and no later than the time at which the pupil’s name is removed from the register.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the proportion of the schools budget spent on supply teachers in England in 2019-20 for which figures are available.

The Department publishes annual income and expenditure, including on supply teachers, for local authority-maintained schools and academies.

Published schools’ Consistent Financial Reporting and Academies’ Accounting Returns are available at the following link: https://schools-financial-benchmarking.service.gov.uk/Help/DataSources.

Spending on supply teaching staff comprises the following categories: supply teaching staff, plus supply teacher insurance, plus agency supply teaching staff, minus receipts from supply teacher insurance claims.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the level of teacher absence due to sickness in the 2019-20 academic year.

The Department collects information on teacher sickness absence from all state funded schools via the School Workforce Census, held in November each year since 2010. Each census collects data for absence from the previous academic year. The latest data available cover the academic year 2018/19.

Information on the number and rates of teacher sickness absence, published in the ‘School Workforce in England’ statistical publication, is available here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/school-workforce-in-england.

To reduce burdens on schools during the COVID-19 outbreak, the return of absence data for the 2019/20 academic year was not required in the 2020 School Workforce Census. Schools will not be asked to submit 2020 census absence data retrospectively in future censuses.

For the 2020/21 academic year, the Department has published detailed school workforce absence data from 19 January 2021. This data will be included as part of the publication ‘Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’, which is available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/attendance-in-education-and-early-years-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

The data is drawn from the educational setting status form, which was set up to help the Government monitor the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on schools, nurseries and colleges, focus support more effectively and keep children safe.

The Department plans to return to collecting information on teacher sickness absence in the 2020/21 academic year from all state funded schools via the School Workforce Census, held in November 2021. This data will be released, as per the usual timings, in the summer of 2022.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to increase training and education on cleaning and disinfection in schools and educational care facilities.

The Department has worked closely with Public Health England (PHE) to develop guidance based on the ‘system of controls’ that are required in schools to effectively reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Maintaining enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, is one element of the system of controls that schools are putting in place to reduce risks.

The guidance includes information on the enhanced cleaning measures that should be in place in schools and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/schools-coronavirus-covid-19-operational-guidance#system-of-controls.

PHE has also issued detailed guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings.

Implementing the system of controls in line with a wider risk assessment creates an inherently safer environment for staff and pupils. The Department continues to work with PHE to ensure that these measures are based on the latest medical and scientific advice. We have always been clear that we are committed to continuing to update these measures to ensure that we reduce risks as far as possible.

The Department continues to provide information to the sector on the guidance, and any changes to it, through regular departmental communications. We also continue to work with the sector to understand the impact of the system of controls on staff, pupils, and parents.

Whilst we do not have a grant specifically for infection control and prevention measures, we have provided additional funding to schools to help them to remain open and safe. Schools have continued to receive their core funding throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, regardless of any periods of reduced attendance, as part of the three-year increase to core funding.

Through the Exceptional Costs fund, schools were able to claim for three specific categories of additional spend between March to July 2020, including additional cleaning costs required due to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. We have paid schools £138 million for all claims within the published scope of the fund.

The Department has also made over £100 million available to support secondary schools, colleges, and specialist settings deliver onsite testing, and in doing so, break the chains of transmission of COVID-19 in schools and colleges. The Education and Skills Funding Agency make these payments automatically and retrospectively, with no requirement to make a claim to receive the funding for Test and Trace reported testing.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure effective infection control protocols are in place in schools in the UK.

The Department has worked closely with Public Health England (PHE) to develop guidance based on the ‘system of controls’ that are required in schools to effectively reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Maintaining enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, is one element of the system of controls that schools are putting in place to reduce risks.

The guidance includes information on the enhanced cleaning measures that should be in place in schools and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/schools-coronavirus-covid-19-operational-guidance#system-of-controls.

PHE has also issued detailed guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings.

Implementing the system of controls in line with a wider risk assessment creates an inherently safer environment for staff and pupils. The Department continues to work with PHE to ensure that these measures are based on the latest medical and scientific advice. We have always been clear that we are committed to continuing to update these measures to ensure that we reduce risks as far as possible.

The Department continues to provide information to the sector on the guidance, and any changes to it, through regular departmental communications. We also continue to work with the sector to understand the impact of the system of controls on staff, pupils, and parents.

Whilst we do not have a grant specifically for infection control and prevention measures, we have provided additional funding to schools to help them to remain open and safe. Schools have continued to receive their core funding throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, regardless of any periods of reduced attendance, as part of the three-year increase to core funding.

Through the Exceptional Costs fund, schools were able to claim for three specific categories of additional spend between March to July 2020, including additional cleaning costs required due to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. We have paid schools £138 million for all claims within the published scope of the fund.

The Department has also made over £100 million available to support secondary schools, colleges, and specialist settings deliver onsite testing, and in doing so, break the chains of transmission of COVID-19 in schools and colleges. The Education and Skills Funding Agency make these payments automatically and retrospectively, with no requirement to make a claim to receive the funding for Test and Trace reported testing.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that schools and educational care facilities are purchasing high quality disinfection products that are effective in preventing the transmission of covid-19.

The Department has worked closely with Public Health England (PHE) to develop guidance based on the ‘system of controls’ that are required in schools to effectively reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Maintaining enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, is one element of the system of controls that schools are putting in place to reduce risks.

The guidance includes information on the enhanced cleaning measures that should be in place in schools and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/schools-coronavirus-covid-19-operational-guidance#system-of-controls.

PHE has also issued detailed guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings.

Implementing the system of controls in line with a wider risk assessment creates an inherently safer environment for staff and pupils. The Department continues to work with PHE to ensure that these measures are based on the latest medical and scientific advice. We have always been clear that we are committed to continuing to update these measures to ensure that we reduce risks as far as possible.

The Department continues to provide information to the sector on the guidance, and any changes to it, through regular departmental communications. We also continue to work with the sector to understand the impact of the system of controls on staff, pupils, and parents.

Whilst we do not have a grant specifically for infection control and prevention measures, we have provided additional funding to schools to help them to remain open and safe. Schools have continued to receive their core funding throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, regardless of any periods of reduced attendance, as part of the three-year increase to core funding.

Through the Exceptional Costs fund, schools were able to claim for three specific categories of additional spend between March to July 2020, including additional cleaning costs required due to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. We have paid schools £138 million for all claims within the published scope of the fund.

The Department has also made over £100 million available to support secondary schools, colleges, and specialist settings deliver onsite testing, and in doing so, break the chains of transmission of COVID-19 in schools and colleges. The Education and Skills Funding Agency make these payments automatically and retrospectively, with no requirement to make a claim to receive the funding for Test and Trace reported testing.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many schools have claimed Government grant funding for increased infection control and prevention measures.

The Department has worked closely with Public Health England (PHE) to develop guidance based on the ‘system of controls’ that are required in schools to effectively reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Maintaining enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, is one element of the system of controls that schools are putting in place to reduce risks.

The guidance includes information on the enhanced cleaning measures that should be in place in schools and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/schools-coronavirus-covid-19-operational-guidance#system-of-controls.

PHE has also issued detailed guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings.

Implementing the system of controls in line with a wider risk assessment creates an inherently safer environment for staff and pupils. The Department continues to work with PHE to ensure that these measures are based on the latest medical and scientific advice. We have always been clear that we are committed to continuing to update these measures to ensure that we reduce risks as far as possible.

The Department continues to provide information to the sector on the guidance, and any changes to it, through regular departmental communications. We also continue to work with the sector to understand the impact of the system of controls on staff, pupils, and parents.

Whilst we do not have a grant specifically for infection control and prevention measures, we have provided additional funding to schools to help them to remain open and safe. Schools have continued to receive their core funding throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, regardless of any periods of reduced attendance, as part of the three-year increase to core funding.

Through the Exceptional Costs fund, schools were able to claim for three specific categories of additional spend between March to July 2020, including additional cleaning costs required due to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. We have paid schools £138 million for all claims within the published scope of the fund.

The Department has also made over £100 million available to support secondary schools, colleges, and specialist settings deliver onsite testing, and in doing so, break the chains of transmission of COVID-19 in schools and colleges. The Education and Skills Funding Agency make these payments automatically and retrospectively, with no requirement to make a claim to receive the funding for Test and Trace reported testing.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, from what date university students will be able to return to campus and resume in-person teaching.

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

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

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

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 29 January 2021 to Question 142897 on National Tutoring Programme, what the procurement arrangements are for the second phase of the National Tutoring Programme.

The Department began procurement proceedings for the second phase of the National Tutoring Programme on 25 February 2021, under the Open Procurement route to market to appoint a single Prime Delivery Partner responsible for delivering both Tutoring Partners and Academic Mentors. A contract is expected to be awarded in early May.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many (a) schools and (b) colleges have a designated lead for mental health.

The Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care jointly published ‘’Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health: A Green Paper’ in 2017, and a subsequent consultation response in 2018, setting out the government’s commitments to improve mental health support in and around schools and colleges. We remain committed to these proposals, including incentivising and supporting all schools and colleges to have an effective senior mental health lead by offering training free of charge to every school and college in England by 2025.

The government has prioritised providing bespoke training and support to meet the immediate challenges that all schools and colleges face in supporting the wellbeing of children and young people during the COVID-19 outbreak  through our £8 million Wellbeing for Education Return programme, delaying delivery of senior lead training.

The proportion of schools and colleges reporting they have a mental health lead has gone up, to over three quarters in 2018 (82% of schools, 91% of further education colleges) from under half of schools in 2016 (49% of schools, 69% of colleges), although these findings are based on different sources (the winter 2018 'School Snapshot Survey’ and the summer 2018 'Post-16 institutions and providers omnibus'). The ‘School Snapshot Survey’ and the ‘Post-16 institutions and providers omnibus' are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-snapshot-survey-winter-2018 and https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/post-16-institutions-and-providers-omnibus-wave-6-survey.

We have recently assessed the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the training needs of senior mental health leads. We have started to engage the training provider market, and key education, health and local authority stakeholders with a view to offering senior lead training from the beginning of autumn 2021.

Our intended option, subject to feasibility, is to provide schools and colleges with a grant and appropriate support to identify and purchase high quality training that meets their needs. This training is intended to provide individuals with the additional knowledge and skills needed to develop or introduce a positive whole-school or college approach to wellbeing and mental health, helping ensure pupils and students needing help with their mental health receive the appropriate support.      ​

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how his Department plans to promote discussions on money in primary schools during Global Money Week to build financial resilience to future economic shocks; and if he will make a statement.

It is important that pupils are well prepared to manage their money, make sound financial decisions and know where to seek further information, if required.

Financial education forms part of the citizenship curriculum which can be taught at all keys stages: https://www.gov.uk/national-curriculum. The curriculum aligns well with the aims of Global Money Week, in that it seeks to develop young people’s financial awareness and skills by helping them to look after their money and realise that future wants and needs may be met through saving. This is built on at secondary school to cover income and expenditure, credit and debt, insurance, savings and pensions, financial products and services, and how public money is raised and spent.

Citizenship is not a compulsory subject at primary school. Primary schools are free to include additional content on financial management, including working with external experts. The Department does not monitor this and trusts schools to use their professional judgement and understanding of their pupils to develop the right teaching approach for their particular context.

The Department will continue to work closely with the Money and Pensions Service and other stakeholders such as Her Majesty’s Treasury, to consider what can be discovered from such initiatives and whether there is scope to provide further support for the teaching of financial education in schools.

The Department did not promote discussions on money during Global Money Week in March as our focus was on the successful and safe re-opening of schools.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the provision of financial education in primary education; and whether his Department supports the aims of Global Money Week.

It is important that pupils are well prepared to manage their money, make sound financial decisions and know where to seek further information, if required.

Financial education forms part of the citizenship curriculum which can be taught at all keys stages: https://www.gov.uk/national-curriculum. The curriculum aligns well with the aims of Global Money Week, in that it seeks to develop young people’s financial awareness and skills by helping them to look after their money and realise that future wants and needs may be met through saving. This is built on at secondary school to cover income and expenditure, credit and debt, insurance, savings and pensions, financial products and services, and how public money is raised and spent.

Citizenship is not a compulsory subject at primary school. Primary schools are free to include additional content on financial management, including working with external experts. The Department does not monitor this and trusts schools to use their professional judgement and understanding of their pupils to develop the right teaching approach for their particular context.

The Department will continue to work closely with the Money and Pensions Service and other stakeholders such as Her Majesty’s Treasury, to consider what can be discovered from such initiatives and whether there is scope to provide further support for the teaching of financial education in schools.

The Department did not promote discussions on money during Global Money Week in March as our focus was on the successful and safe re-opening of schools.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to paragraph 102 of the Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth White Paper, published in January 2021, when he plans to introduce the three-point-plan to enforce the Baker Clause.

The Baker Clause was introduced in January 2018 to ensure that pupils in years 8-13 have opportunities to meet providers of technical education and apprenticeships.

The department will consult this spring on proposals to strengthen the legislation and confirm timescales for implementation at that point. Subject to the outcome of this consultation, we plan to establish a new minimum legal requirement about who is to be given access to which pupils and when and will lay regulations and publish updated statutory guidance, so that schools can prepare ahead of the legal changes coming into force. This is part of a three-point-plan and will be introduced alongside taking tougher formal action against non-compliance and making government-funded careers support for schools conditional on Baker Clause compliance.

We are determined to take action so that all young people can learn about the exciting, high-quality opportunities that technical education and apprenticeships can offer.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to page six of the guidance published by his Department in March 2021 entitled Face coverings in education, what reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils and students means.

The Department’s published guidance for schools to support the return to full attendance, can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.

As our published guidance outlines, schools have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils and students, to support them to access education successfully. Schools must continue to meet equalities duties outlined in the Equality Act 2010.

Guidance to help schools understand how the Equality Act affects them and how to fulfil their duties under the act is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/315587/Equality_Act_Advice_Final.pdf.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the guidance published by his Department entitled Schools coronavirus (COVID-19) operational guidance, what specific evidence is referred to in that guidance in respect of the effectiveness and safety of transparent face coverings; and if he will place a copy of that evidence in the Library.

The Department has published updated guidance for schools to support the return to full attendance, which includes updated advice on face coverings. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak and here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-in-education.

As the guidance outlines, some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. This includes people who cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness, impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in schools and we expect staff and pupils to be sensitive to those needs, noting that some people are less able to wear face coverings and that the reasons for this may not be visible to others.

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

Our guidance on the system of controls and the use of face coverings in schools is informed by the latest public health evidence and advice from Public Health England. Schools should follow the system of controls as outlined in our guidance and put in place proportionate control measures that suit their individual circumstances, based on a thorough risk assessment. This should include making reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils and students to support them to access education successfully.

The Department continues to provide information to the sector on our guidance, and any changes to it, through regular departmental communications. These additional precautionary measures will be kept under review and we will update guidance as necessary.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance he has issued to schools on ensuring that reasonable adjustments are put in place for (a) deaf and (b) other pupils who rely on lipreading or facial expressions when face masks or coverings are worn in classrooms.

The Department has published updated guidance for schools to support the return to full attendance, which includes updated advice on face coverings. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak and here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-in-education.

As the guidance outlines, some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. This includes people who cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness, impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in schools and we expect staff and pupils to be sensitive to those needs, noting that some people are less able to wear face coverings and that the reasons for this may not be visible to others.

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

Our guidance on the system of controls and the use of face coverings in schools is informed by the latest public health evidence and advice from Public Health England. Schools should follow the system of controls as outlined in our guidance and put in place proportionate control measures that suit their individual circumstances, based on a thorough risk assessment. This should include making reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils and students to support them to access education successfully.

The Department continues to provide information to the sector on our guidance, and any changes to it, through regular departmental communications. These additional precautionary measures will be kept under review and we will update guidance as necessary.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that deaf children are not disadvantaged by the use of face coverings in classrooms during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department has published updated guidance for schools to support the return to full attendance, which includes updated advice on face coverings. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak and here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-in-education.

As the guidance outlines, some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. This includes people who cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness, impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in schools and we expect staff and pupils to be sensitive to those needs, noting that some people are less able to wear face coverings and that the reasons for this may not be visible to others.

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

Our guidance on the system of controls and the use of face coverings in schools is informed by the latest public health evidence and advice from Public Health England. Schools should follow the system of controls as outlined in our guidance and put in place proportionate control measures that suit their individual circumstances, based on a thorough risk assessment. This should include making reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils and students to support them to access education successfully.

The Department continues to provide information to the sector on our guidance, and any changes to it, through regular departmental communications. These additional precautionary measures will be kept under review and we will update guidance as necessary.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Department's executive agency spend over £25,000, what the nature was of the research and development work conducted by Renaissance Learning UK Ltd for each transaction from (a) March 2020 to (b) December 2020.

The attached excel table summarises the total spend with the bodies listed for the period between March and December 2020, and the nature of the research and development work associated with each.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Department's executive agency spend over £25,000, what the nature was of the research and development work conducted by CARDIFF UNIVERSITY for each transaction from (a) March 2020 to (b) December 2020.

The attached excel table summarises the total spend with the bodies listed for the period between March and December 2020, and the nature of the research and development work associated with each.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Department's executive agency spend over £25,000, what the nature was of the research and development work conducted by KANTAR UK LTD for each transaction from (a) March 2020 and (b) December 2020.

The attached excel table summarises the total spend with the bodies listed for the period between March and December 2020, and the nature of the research and development work associated with each.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Department's executive agency spend over £25,000, what the nature was of the research and development work conducted by the Education Endowment Foundation for each transaction from (a) March 2020 to (b) December 2020.

The attached excel table summarises the total spend with the bodies listed for the period between March and December 2020, and the nature of the research and development work associated with each.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Department's executive agency spend over £25,000, what the nature was of the research and development work conducted by IPSOS Mori for each transaction from (a) March 2020 to (b) December 2020.

The attached excel table summarises the total spend with the bodies listed for the period between March and December 2020, and the nature of the research and development work associated with each.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department is making available to independent adult education training providers not in receipt of funding from the Adult Education Budget and who are meeting increased learner demand.

The department currently has an open opportunity on the government’s Contract Finder for the procurement of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) funded Adult Education Budget (AEB) contract for service. The opportunity was published on 5 February 2021 and the deadline for the receipt of the completed tenders is 10:00 on 22 March 2021. For more details are published here: https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/notice/fb94e7c6-b8be-4e89-b938-0058e3fca3dd?origin=SearchResults&p=1.

The adult education budget procurement will award ESFA funded AEB contracts for services for the delivery of adult education and training to learners in England that are resident outside of the devolved areas. This is an open procedure, and any supplier may submit a tender.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the use of Adult Education Budget funds by grant-funded adult education providers to deliver training and education.

We recognise the challenges that providers are facing as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and we fully appreciate the steps being taken to continue supporting learners to access high quality education and training. This includes quickly moving to remote learning and providing a wide range of brilliant high-quality, engaging classes.

We are continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB), providing £1.34 billion in the 2020/21 academic year.

Currently, approximately 50% of the AEB is devolved to seven Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) and the Mayor of London, acting where appropriate through the Greater London Authority (GLA). These authorities are now responsible for the provision of AEB-funded adult education for their residents and allocation of the AEB to providers. The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is responsible for the remaining AEB in non-devolved areas.

In recognition that the 2019/20 academic year was challenging, we introduced a one off exceptional end of year reconciliation process for ESFA AEB grant funded providers which lowered the threshold for reconciliation in line with providers’ average delivery of 68%.

In view of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, we are currently reviewing the end of year reconciliation position for the 2020/21 academic year. Any changes to the published arrangements will be communicated in due course.

For the 2020/21 academic year, we are also giving providers the opportunity to earn an additional 3% on top of their ESFA AEB allocation for over-delivery to support growth in adult skills participation.

In areas where the AEB has been devolved, MCAs and the GLA are responsible for assessing their providers’ delivery levels and considering any flexibilities in their areas.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support childminders' access to covid-19 tests.

Childminders currently have access to community testing and should continue to use local community testing programmes for regular asymptomatic testing. More information on where and how these can be accessed is found through the following link: https://www.gov.uk/find-covid-19-lateral-flow-test-site.

The Department is also continuing to work closely with colleagues across Government and local authorities to explore the most effective approach for testing childminders. We will update the sector on these developments as soon as we are able.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure every school in Harlow is aware of the National Tutoring Programme.

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

The Department does not hold the information requested on the number of pupils in Harlow who receive support from the NTP.

We are committed to ensuring that there is a strong take-up of the NTP and we are working to ensure that there is a high level of awareness amongst schools of the support available, particularly in areas with high numbers of disadvantaged pupils.

We have undertaken a range of communications and engagement activities to ensure that schools are aware of the support offered by the NTP. Our activities include offering school-focused webinars throughout the academic year and working with a range of key stakeholders to increase awareness and interest in the programme in areas that need it most (for example, through Opportunity Areas, multii-academy trusts and Regional Schools Commissioners). In addition, we have also been communicating with local authority groups, networks and teaching unions.

The NTP provides regular newsletters and blogs directly to schools, alongside targeted social media activity. Since the NTP went live in November 2020, we have continued to share case studies and good practice to show how tuition can support pupils effectively, including a guide of how to make the most out of tutoring during the most recent lockdown period. We will continue to monitor take-up of the NTP throughout the course of this academic year and ensure further communication is directed towards areas of lower take-up.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children in Harlow are involved in the National Tutoring Programme.

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

The Department does not hold the information requested on the number of pupils in Harlow who receive support from the NTP.

We are committed to ensuring that there is a strong take-up of the NTP and we are working to ensure that there is a high level of awareness amongst schools of the support available, particularly in areas with high numbers of disadvantaged pupils.

We have undertaken a range of communications and engagement activities to ensure that schools are aware of the support offered by the NTP. Our activities include offering school-focused webinars throughout the academic year and working with a range of key stakeholders to increase awareness and interest in the programme in areas that need it most (for example, through Opportunity Areas, multii-academy trusts and Regional Schools Commissioners). In addition, we have also been communicating with local authority groups, networks and teaching unions.

The NTP provides regular newsletters and blogs directly to schools, alongside targeted social media activity. Since the NTP went live in November 2020, we have continued to share case studies and good practice to show how tuition can support pupils effectively, including a guide of how to make the most out of tutoring during the most recent lockdown period. We will continue to monitor take-up of the NTP throughout the course of this academic year and ensure further communication is directed towards areas of lower take-up.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the role the National School Breakfast programme could play in helping children recover lost learning as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

This Government wants pupils to be healthy and well nourished. We encourage pupils to adopt a healthy balanced diet and healthy life choices through school funding, legislation and guidance.

The Department is investing up to £38 million in the National School Breakfast Programme (NSBP). This funding is enabling up to 2,450 schools to set up or improve breakfast clubs in disadvantaged areas of the country. The programme is designed to support schools in making their breakfast clubs sustainable for the longer term.

The Department knows that breakfast clubs can bring a wide range of benefits for children. An evaluation by the Education Endowment Foundation found that supporting schools to run a free of charge, universal breakfast club before school delivered an average of 2 months’ additional progress for pupils in Key Stage 1. Schools with breakfast clubs also saw an improvement in pupil behaviour and attendance.

The Department’s protective measures guidance for providers of before or after school clubs, and other out-of-school settings during the COVID-19 outbreak has been updated to make clear that providers who run community activities, holiday clubs, breakfast or after-school clubs, tuition, and other out-of-school provision for children, are able to continue to open for both outdoor and indoor provision, provided they follow the protective measures set out by the Government in this guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

Parents and carers are only able to access settings for certain essential purposes. Providers should only offer indoor and outdoor face-to-face provision to:

  1. vulnerable children and young people
  2. other children, where the provision is:
  • reasonably necessary to enable their parents and carers to work, search for work, undertake education or training, or attend a medical appointment or address a medical need, or attend a support group,
  • being used by electively home educating parents as part of their arrangements for their child to receive a suitable full-time education,
  • being used as part of their efforts to obtain a regulated qualification, meet the entry requirements for an education institution, or to undertake exams and assessments.

The Government is committed to helping children and young people make up education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Department has invested £1.7 billion to give early years, schools and colleges support to help pupils get back on track, including additional funding for tutoring, early language support, and summer schools.

The Department has also appointed Sir Kevan Collins as Education Recovery Commissioner who will advise ministers on the approach for education recovery, with a particular focus on helping students catch up on education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much his Department has spent on hiring external consultancies, research organisations and think tanks to conduct evaluations, research and/or analysis since March 2020; which organisations were so hired for that work; and what the nature of the work was that each of those organisations carried out.

A detailed analysis of the Department spend is published at the links below. The reports can be filtered by Research and Development.

Spend reporting for Financial Year 2020 to 2021: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dfe-and-executive-agency-spend-over-25000-2020-to-2021.

Spend reporting for Financial Year 2019 to 2020: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dfe-and-executive-agency-spend-over-25000-2019-to-2020.

Spend reporting for Financial Year 2018 to 2019: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dfe-and-executive-agency-spend-over-25000-2018-to-2019.

Additional Financial Years can be found following similar link formats.

In addition, the Department contributes to the annual Office for National Statistics Research and Development expenditure report. The latest publication can be found at the link below: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/governmentpublicsectorandtaxes/researchanddevelopmentexpenditure.

The next report covering the 2019-2020 financial year is due to be published in June 2021 by the Office for National Statistics.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish which (a) consultancies, (b) research organisations and (c) think tanks his Department has hired to conduct (i) evaluations and (ii) research for Departmental programmes; and how much his Department has spent with each of those bodies on each of those activities in (A) 2018-19, (B) 2019-20 and (C) 2020-21 to date.

A detailed analysis of the Department spend is published at the links below. The reports can be filtered by Research and Development.

Spend reporting for Financial Year 2020 to 2021: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dfe-and-executive-agency-spend-over-25000-2020-to-2021.

Spend reporting for Financial Year 2019 to 2020: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dfe-and-executive-agency-spend-over-25000-2019-to-2020.

Spend reporting for Financial Year 2018 to 2019: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dfe-and-executive-agency-spend-over-25000-2018-to-2019.

Additional Financial Years can be found following similar link formats.

In addition, the Department contributes to the annual Office for National Statistics Research and Development expenditure report. The latest publication can be found at the link below: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/governmentpublicsectorandtaxes/researchanddevelopmentexpenditure.

The next report covering the 2019-2020 financial year is due to be published in June 2021 by the Office for National Statistics.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether headteachers can enforce the wearing of face masks by all (a) pupils and (b) school staff when school premises are reopened during the covid-19 outbreak from 8 March 2021.

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

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

Face coverings are not compulsory, and the recently updated guidance does not create any new legal obligations. They are recommended in some circumstances for public health reasons as advised by PHE, whilst some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings altogether. The same exemptions will apply in schools and childcare facilities, and staff and others should be sensitive to those needs.

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

In addition, from 8 March, the Department now also recommends that in schools where pupils in Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn in classrooms unless social distancing can be maintained. The Department is recommending these additional precautionary measures for a time limited period until Easter. As with all measures, we will keep this under review and update guidance, as necessary.

In primary schools, the Department recommends that face coverings should be worn by staff and adult visitors in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible, for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas. Children in primary school do not need to wear a face covering and should not be asked to do so.

Schools should use standard behaviour management to enforce the system of controls, as necessary. No pupil should be denied education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the scientific basis is for his Department's guidance on the policy that it will not be mandatory for pupils to wear face masks when they return to school premises from 8 March 2021.

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

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

Face coverings are not compulsory, and the recently updated guidance does not create any new legal obligations. They are recommended in some circumstances for public health reasons as advised by PHE, whilst some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings altogether. The same exemptions will apply in schools and childcare facilities, and staff and others should be sensitive to those needs.

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

In addition, from 8 March, the Department now also recommends that in schools where pupils in Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn in classrooms unless social distancing can be maintained. The Department is recommending these additional precautionary measures for a time limited period until Easter. As with all measures, we will keep this under review and update guidance, as necessary.

In primary schools, the Department recommends that face coverings should be worn by staff and adult visitors in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible, for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas. Children in primary school do not need to wear a face covering and should not be asked to do so.

Schools should use standard behaviour management to enforce the system of controls, as necessary. No pupil should be denied education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
25th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department plans to take to support early years providers with the additional costs associated with (a) personal protective equipment and (b) enhanced cleaning measures.

Keeping children and staff safe is our utmost priority. We continue to work with the early years sector to understand how they can best be supported to ensure that sufficient safe, appropriate and affordable childcare is available for those who need it now, and for all families who need it in the longer term.

Most early years staff will not require personal protective equipment (PPE) beyond what they would normally need for their work. If a child already has routine intimate care needs that involve the use of PPE, the same PPE should continue to be used. Additional PPE for COVID-19 is only required in a very limited number of scenarios, for example, when:

  • a child becomes ill with COVID-19 symptoms, and only then if a 2 metre distance cannot be maintained
  • performing aerosol generating procedures when working with children who cough, spit or vomit but do not have COVID-19 symptoms, only any PPE that would be routinely worn, should be worn

The Department has published guidance for nurseries to follow, which provides further details about cleaning and PPE: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures.

For further information about cleaning, Public Health England has published guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings. This contains advice on the general cleaning required in addition to the existing advice on cleaning when there is a suspected case.

For further information about funding support, guidance is available through the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding allocated to sixth form students.

The government is investing an additional £291 million in 16 to 19 education in 2021 to 2022. This is in addition to the £400 million awarded in the 2019 Spending Review, which was the biggest injection of new money into 16-19 education in a single year since 2010. This has allowed us to raise the base rate of funding for all providers of 16-19 education, including school sixth forms and sixth form colleges, for the first time since the current funding system was introduced in 2013 – from £4,000 in each academic year up to 2019/20, to £4,188 this year and next year – as well as to make further funding increases targeted on high value and high cost programmes.



Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent progress has been made on the Government's consultation on the future of newly-reformed Applied General Qualifications.

The Department has consulted in 2 stages on proposals for the review of post-16 qualifications at level 3, which includes Applied General qualifications. The second stage of consultation ran from 23 October 2020 to 31 January 2021 and asked for views on the range of qualifications that will sit alongside A levels and T Levels in future.

No decisions have been made yet. The responses to the consultation are informing our thinking and we intend to publish a full response in due course.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on ensuring that the 16 to 19 tuition funding is not limited to students with low prior attainment in GCSE English and Maths.

I regularly meet with Cabinet colleagues on a range of issues, including the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on education.

The 16-19 Tuition Fund is focused on supporting those young people who are at significant disadvantage and whose learning has been impacted most severely by the outbreak.

Low prior attainment in GCSE English and/or maths at the expected standard at age 16 is the agreed measure used for disadvantage in 16-19 education and an established part of the 16-19 funding formula. Agreement to any extension of tuition funding for 16-19 students will continue to be based on this measure.

Funding is available to spend on those students without a grade 5 or above in English and/or maths GCSE, however providers are required to prioritise support for students who have not achieved a grade 4 in English and/or maths.  If providers have funding available within their allocations, they should consider whether any young people with a grade 4 also needed catch up support.

As further evidence emerges, we will consider if refinements to eligibility for tuition funding are needed to maximise its value and impact in providing catch-up support for 16-19 students.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reason mobile data increases are not available to young people over the age of 16 in sixth forms and further education colleges.

The Get Help with Technology (GHWT) service has been extended to provide support with devices and connectivity for disadvantaged 16-19 year olds. This forms part of a £400 million investment to help children and young people continue their education at home and access online social care services.

Schools with sixth form provision and further education providers are eligible to receive devices where they have students that are aged 16-19 who are in receipt of free meals, and where they have students aged 19 and over with an Education, Health and Care Plan who are also in receipt of free meals. All eligible providers were invited to order devices in January 2021. Over a million devices have now been dispatched to schools, trusts, local authorities and further education institutions since the start of the scheme.

Through the GHWT service, providers eligible to receive devices are also able to access support for connectivity for financially disadvantaged students where they do not have access to the internet at home.

The mobile data network offer has to date been focused on providing connectivity support to pupils in years 3-11 who have experienced disruption to their face-to-face education. The amount of free data provided will vary by operator and uplifts will be in place until the end of July 2021. However, we are working with mobile network operators to make this offer available for disadvantaged 16-19 year olds until the end of July 2021.

Currently,16-19 providers eligible for help via the GHWT service can access 4G wireless routers to provide connectivity support for financially disadvantaged learners without access to broadband at home.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to ensure that 16-19 year-olds receive adequate IT device support to continue their education remotely during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Get Help with Technology (GHWT) service has been extended to provide support with devices and connectivity for disadvantaged 16-19 year olds. This forms part of a £400 million investment to help children and young people continue their education at home and access online social care services.

Schools with sixth form provision and further education providers are eligible to receive devices where they have students that are aged 16-19 who are in receipt of free meals, and where they have students aged 19 and over with an Education, Health and Care Plan who are also in receipt of free meals. All eligible providers were invited to order devices in January 2021. Over a million devices have now been dispatched to schools, trusts, local authorities and further education institutions since the start of the scheme.

Through the GHWT service, providers eligible to receive devices are also able to access support for connectivity for financially disadvantaged students where they do not have access to the internet at home.

The mobile data network offer has to date been focused on providing connectivity support to pupils in years 3-11 who have experienced disruption to their face-to-face education. The amount of free data provided will vary by operator and uplifts will be in place until the end of July 2021. However, we are working with mobile network operators to make this offer available for disadvantaged 16-19 year olds until the end of July 2021.

Currently,16-19 providers eligible for help via the GHWT service can access 4G wireless routers to provide connectivity support for financially disadvantaged learners without access to broadband at home.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department plans to take with the new Education Recovery Commissioner to address the non-academic factors to support children’s attainment.

The Government is committed to helping children and young people make up for lost education as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Department has provided £1.7 billion to give early years, schools, and colleges support to help pupils get back on track, including additional funding for tutoring, early language support and summer schools. This support sits alongside the holiday activities and food programme available across the country.

The Department has appointed Sir Kevan Collins as Education Recovery Commissioner to advise on our recovery plan, with academic and non-academic factors in supporting attainment forming part of this work.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to ensure that university students receive adequate IT device support to continue their education remotely during the covid-19 outbreak.

The government is aware of the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 outbreak will have on some students.

We are making available an additional £50 million of hardship funding this financial year. In total, we have made £70 million of funding available for student hardship, given the £20 million made available to higher education (HE) providers in December 2020.

HE providers will have flexibility in how they distribute the funding to students, in a way that will best prioritise those in greatest need. Support can include assistance to help students access teaching remotely. The funding can be distributed to a wide population of students, including postgraduates (whether taught or research) and international students.

This money is in addition to the £256 million of Student Premium funding that HE providers are able draw on this academic year towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment.

We know that not all students will face financial hardship. The current measures aim to target support for students in greatest need and the government continues to monitor the situation going forward to look at what impact this funding is having.

The government has also invested over £400 million to help provide laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people so they can access education and social care services remotely. As part of this, we have provided devices for care leavers, including those who may be studying at university.

On 13 January 2021, I wrote to the Office for Students (OfS), the regulator for HE providers in England. I outlined government expectations of the HE sector: universities should maintain the quality and quantity of tuition and seek to ensure that all students, regardless of their background, have the resources to study remotely.

In June 2020, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, commissioned OfS chair Sir Michael Barber, to conduct a review of the shift toward digital teaching and learning in English HE since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. His report, published on 25 February 2021, is based on interviews, a call to evidence, roundtable discussions and surveys and includes ‘six actions’ university and college leaders can take for next academic year. Details of the ‘six actions’ can be found here: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/publications/gravity-assist-propelling-higher-education-towards-a-brighter-future/six-actions-for-2021-22/. The full report can be found here: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/publications/gravity-assist-propelling-higher-education-towards-a-brighter-future/.

HE providers must also continue to comply with their legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010, ensuring that education and learning is accessible to all students. When making changes to the delivery of their courses, providers need to consider how to support all students, particularly the most vulnerable, to achieve successful academic and professional outcomes.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on apprentices of not being able to sit functional skills tests in Maths and English since Ofqual ended teacher assessments for those apprentices on 31 July 2020 due to covid-19 restrictions.

We are committed to supporting apprentices to safely continue with, and complete, their programmes during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We know that some providers and apprentices have not been able to make appropriate arrangements so that the apprentice can safely take their Functional Skills assessment. We have worked with providers and employers to understand the impact of delays to assessments, and why some apprentices may not be able to progress to their end-point assessment because of this.

Provisional figures show that in the first quarter of the 2020/21 academic year, 30,100 apprentices achieved their apprenticeships (frameworks and standards). Latest data shows that 15,900 apprentices who are yet to achieve their Functional Skills Qualification (FSQ) are past the planned end date of their apprenticeship. A delay in achieving their FSQ is one reason why an apprentice may be past their planned end date, but there are many other potential reasons, including apprentices being put on furlough or taking a break in their learning due to disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. For those apprentices who were expected to have completed their apprenticeship but have not done so yet, we do not have data on the reason for the delay.

Together with Ofqual, we have consulted on alternative assessment arrangements for all vocational and technical qualifications, including FSQs for apprentices. Active apprentices that are deemed ready to take their FSQ test should continue to be supported to access a regular FSQ assessment. This may be at their place of work, where it is safe and appropriate to do so, or through flexibilities offered by the awarding organisation, such as remote assessment and invigilation. Where this is not possible, we have confirmed that apprentices may be able to access a teacher assessed grade or take their end-point assessment before achieving their functional skills later, or both.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect on apprentices who have been unable to sit their functional skills tests in Maths and English due to covid-19 restrictions since Ofqual ended teacher assessments on 31 July 2020.

We are committed to supporting apprentices to safely continue with, and complete, their programmes during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We know that some providers and apprentices have not been able to make appropriate arrangements so that the apprentice can safely take their Functional Skills assessment. We have worked with providers and employers to understand the impact of delays to assessments, and why some apprentices may not be able to progress to their end-point assessment because of this.

Provisional figures show that in the first quarter of the 2020/21 academic year, 30,100 apprentices achieved their apprenticeships (frameworks and standards). Latest data shows that 15,900 apprentices who are yet to achieve their Functional Skills Qualification (FSQ) are past the planned end date of their apprenticeship. A delay in achieving their FSQ is one reason why an apprentice may be past their planned end date, but there are many other potential reasons, including apprentices being put on furlough or taking a break in their learning due to disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. For those apprentices who were expected to have completed their apprenticeship but have not done so yet, we do not have data on the reason for the delay.

Together with Ofqual, we have consulted on alternative assessment arrangements for all vocational and technical qualifications, including FSQs for apprentices. Active apprentices that are deemed ready to take their FSQ test should continue to be supported to access a regular FSQ assessment. This may be at their place of work, where it is safe and appropriate to do so, or through flexibilities offered by the awarding organisation, such as remote assessment and invigilation. Where this is not possible, we have confirmed that apprentices may be able to access a teacher assessed grade or take their end-point assessment before achieving their functional skills later, or both.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the recommendations of his Department's joint consultation with Ofqual, Alternative arrangements for the award of VTQs and other general qualifications in 2021, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of implementing the recommendation that apprentices should have their functional skills in maths and English assessed by teachers under proposed alternative arrangements rather than wait until April 2021.

The majority of respondents agreed to the proposal outlined in the consultation and the decision is that all efforts should be made to allow Functional Skills learners, including apprentices, to take an assessment in line with public health measures or remotely where possible. Where assessments cannot take place on public health grounds or remotely, teacher assessed grades will be made available. There is currently no regulatory provision to award Functional Skills qualifications through teacher assessed grades until Ofqual introduce their regulatory framework, but the expectation is that all efforts should be made to deliver assessments in the first instance. The department sought clearance from Cabinet in developing the policy approach to awarding all Vocational and Technical Qualifications in light of the consultation.

Since September 2020, Ofqual has been working with the department to support awarding organisations to deliver Functional Skills assessments to apprentices, including the development and roll-out of remote solutions. We understand from Ofqual that of the eight awarding organisations that offer on-demand reformed Functional Skills qualifications, six have fully rolled out remote invigilation. Those awarding organisations that currently deliver remote invigilation have not reported any capacity or capability issues; however, they are not currently operating at full capacity due to low demand. Even where awarding organisations offer remote invigilation, learners will only be able to sit assessments if they have access to the relevant IT equipment and software. The two remaining awarding organisations are currently piloting remote solutions on a small-scale and have made remote invigilation available on request. Ofqual continues to monitor delivery of remote assessment and has recently published information on the types of assessment offered by all Functional Skills awarding organisations: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/awarding-of-functional-skills-in-2021.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish the outcome of (a) capability and (b) capacity assessments of awarding bodies undertaken by his Department to assess whether those bodies can offer mass volume remote testing of apprentices’ functional skills in maths and English between now and April 2021.

The majority of respondents agreed to the proposal outlined in the consultation and the decision is that all efforts should be made to allow Functional Skills learners, including apprentices, to take an assessment in line with public health measures or remotely where possible. Where assessments cannot take place on public health grounds or remotely, teacher assessed grades will be made available. There is currently no regulatory provision to award Functional Skills qualifications through teacher assessed grades until Ofqual introduce their regulatory framework, but the expectation is that all efforts should be made to deliver assessments in the first instance. The department sought clearance from Cabinet in developing the policy approach to awarding all Vocational and Technical Qualifications in light of the consultation.

Since September 2020, Ofqual has been working with the department to support awarding organisations to deliver Functional Skills assessments to apprentices, including the development and roll-out of remote solutions. We understand from Ofqual that of the eight awarding organisations that offer on-demand reformed Functional Skills qualifications, six have fully rolled out remote invigilation. Those awarding organisations that currently deliver remote invigilation have not reported any capacity or capability issues; however, they are not currently operating at full capacity due to low demand. Even where awarding organisations offer remote invigilation, learners will only be able to sit assessments if they have access to the relevant IT equipment and software. The two remaining awarding organisations are currently piloting remote solutions on a small-scale and have made remote invigilation available on request. Ofqual continues to monitor delivery of remote assessment and has recently published information on the types of assessment offered by all Functional Skills awarding organisations: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/awarding-of-functional-skills-in-2021.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Department's joint consultation with Ofqual, Alternative arrangements for the award of VTQs and other general qualifications in 2021, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential merits of apprentices taking their functional skills tests in maths and English assessed by teachers under proposed alternative arrangements rather than wait until April 2021.

The majority of respondents agreed to the proposal outlined in the consultation and the decision is that all efforts should be made to allow Functional Skills learners, including apprentices, to take an assessment in line with public health measures or remotely where possible. Where assessments cannot take place on public health grounds or remotely, teacher assessed grades will be made available. There is currently no regulatory provision to award Functional Skills qualifications through teacher assessed grades until Ofqual introduce their regulatory framework, but the expectation is that all efforts should be made to deliver assessments in the first instance. The department sought clearance from Cabinet in developing the policy approach to awarding all Vocational and Technical Qualifications in light of the consultation.

Since September 2020, Ofqual has been working with the department to support awarding organisations to deliver Functional Skills assessments to apprentices, including the development and roll-out of remote solutions. We understand from Ofqual that of the eight awarding organisations that offer on-demand reformed Functional Skills qualifications, six have fully rolled out remote invigilation. Those awarding organisations that currently deliver remote invigilation have not reported any capacity or capability issues; however, they are not currently operating at full capacity due to low demand. Even where awarding organisations offer remote invigilation, learners will only be able to sit assessments if they have access to the relevant IT equipment and software. The two remaining awarding organisations are currently piloting remote solutions on a small-scale and have made remote invigilation available on request. Ofqual continues to monitor delivery of remote assessment and has recently published information on the types of assessment offered by all Functional Skills awarding organisations: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/awarding-of-functional-skills-in-2021.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department plans to take with the new Education Recovery Commissioner to tackle non-academic factors to support children’s attainment.

The Government is committed to helping children and young people make up for lost teaching time as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In June 2020, the Department announced an initial package of support worth £1 billion, including £650 million to support schools to make up for lost teaching time and £350 million for the National Tutoring Programme. In January 2021, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, committed to work with parents, teachers and pupils to develop a long term plan to help pupils make up for lost teaching time over the course of this Parliament, alongside a commitment to fund more in tutoring, support to schools and summer activities.

Sir Kevan Collins has been appointed to advise on this broader plan. As outlined in the terms of reference, this will be informed by evidence so that schools can more effectively target resources and support at pupils and areas in greatest need. Academic and non-academic factors in supporting attainment will form a part of this work.

The terms of reference for the Education Recovery Commissioner is published here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/960070/Terms_of_reference.pdf#:~:text=Education%20Recovery%20Commissioner%3A%20role%20specification%20and%20terms%20of,approach%20for%20education%20recovery%2C%20with%20a%20particular%20focus.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much per pupil funding uplift will each secondary school in Harlow receive in 2021-22.

Secondary schools in Harlow are attracting £33.6 million in total next financial year - a 7.5% cash increase - through the schools national funding formula (NFF). For Harlow secondary schools, this reflects an increase of 2.4% in per-pupil pupil-led funding compared to the 2020-21 financial year. “Pupil-led” funding is the funding allocated to schools through the NFF on the basis of their pupils’ characteristics – this includes funding for “additional needs” factors in the NFF, such as deprivation and low prior attainment.

These figures are based on notional school-level NFF allocations; we do not update the constituency figures on actual school-level allocations.

Next financial year, at a national level, mainstream school funding will increase by 3.5% overall. The NFF continues to distribute this fairly, based on the needs of schools and their pupil cohorts. The NFF is levelling up school funding, delivering resources where they are needed most, while ensuring that every school is attracting at least 2% more pupil-led funding per pupil.

Every secondary school will receive at least £5,150 per pupil in 2021-22, delivering on the Government’s pledge to level up the lowest funded schools. On top of that these schools, and all schools, will receive additional funds to cover additional teachers’ pay and pension costs. This adds a further £265 to the minimum per pupil amounts for secondary schools.

The majority of secondary schools in Harlow attract an increase of 2% in pupil-led per pupil funding through the NFF in 2021-22. This is because these schools are on the funding formula “floor” which ensures that all schools attract a minimum uplift even where the core formula factors indicate that their funding should be lower.

For Burnt Hill Academy, St Mark’s West Essex Catholic School and Mark Hall Academy, the increase is higher with a 2.2%, 3.0% and 3.4% increase in pupil-led per pupil funding next financial year (2021-22) respectively, through the NFF.

With the NFF, school funding is now distributed to local authorities based on the individual needs and characteristics of every school in the country. Local authorities continue to have discretion over their schools funding formulae, in consultation with schools. The final funding allocations are therefore also influenced by the local authorities' own formulae.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much additional funding has been allocated to Harlow College under the (a) Getting Building Fund and (b) recent funding made available for T-Level delivery.

Significant central government funding has been provided to Harlow College for proposed remodelling of buildings, which will support T level delivery. This includes capital recently awarded through the T levels capital fund to support the delivery of Construction, Digital and Health and Science.

£1.5 million of the Getting Building Fund, administered by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, has also been awarded to extend the scope of the remodelling to provide additional workshop spaces, higher quality teaching areas, and a sustainable energy centre. This supports significant job creation in key sectors for Harlow and the surrounding areas.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many schools in Harlow have received funding from the (a) Condition Improvement Fund scheme and (b) £560 million of capital funding for school repairs and upgrades announced by the Prime Minister on 29 June 2020.

Schools and those responsible for school buildings receive condition funding through different routes depending on their size and type. Local authorities, larger multi-academy trusts (MATs) and large voluntary aided school bodies, such as dioceses, receive a School Condition Allocation (SCA) to invest in priorities across the schools for which they are responsible. Smaller or stand-alone academy trusts, other voluntary aided schools and sixth form colleges are able to bid to the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF). All schools are also allocated devolved formula capital to spend on small projects that meet their own priorities.

In financial year 2020-21, an additional £560 million of funding was allocated through SCAs and CIF, on top of over £1.4 billion in condition funding already committed this year. Of the £560 million, £182 million was allocated through CIF.

Four schools in Harlow initially benefitted from four projects being funded through CIF in 2020-21. A further three schools and three projects were successful, following the announcement of the additional funding, bringing the total to seven schools and seven projects.

As SCA funding is paid to bodies that span constituency boundaries, and decisions on investing in individual schools are taken at a local level, it is not possible to confirm how much SCA has been invested in schools in Harlow in 2020-21.

In 2020-21, Essex local authority was allocated £9,689,827 in SCA, including £3,072,985 from the additional £560 million to invest in its maintained schools, including schools in Harlow. Large MATs and large voluntary aided school bodies also received additional SCA funding from the £560 million to invest in schools for which they are responsible.

We have allocated £9.5 billion in condition funding since 2015 to maintain and improve school buildings, including the additional £560 million in the financial year 2020-21.

Capital allocations and annual CIF outcomes are published on GOV.UK.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to reopen applications for tutoring organisations to become approved tuition partners as part of the national tutoring programme, run by the Education Endowment Foundation.

The Department is very pleased that the National Tutoring Programme can be extended for another year, to the 2021/2022 academic year. Earlier this month, we held a market warming event for the second phase of the programme and we hope to be in a position where we can publicly confirm the procurement arrangements for the second phase soon.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made (a) of the number of schools without direct access to in-school counsellors to support children’s and young people’s mental health and well-being in schools and colleges and (b) how such provision varies by local authority.

We do not collect regular information on the provision of counselling in schools or colleges for pupils and staff. Our most recent survey of mental health provision in schools and colleges published in 2017 found that 61% of schools and colleges (56% of primary schools, 84% of secondary schools and 93% of colleges) reported offering access to counselling service for their pupils.

Counselling can play a particularly effective role as part of a whole-school or college approach. Many schools already provide their pupils access to counselling support. It is important for schools and colleges to have the freedom to decide what support to offer to students and staff based on their particular needs and drawing on an evidence base of effective practice. This support can come from a number of sources, including counselling.

To support the provision of counselling support in schools, the department published a blueprint for school counselling services. This provides schools with practical, evidence-based advice, informed by schools and counselling experts, on how to deliver high quality school-based counselling. It also offers information on how to ensure that vulnerable children, including those who have special educational needs and disabilities, are looked after children or identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, who have a higher prevalence to mental illness, can access counselling provision. Further guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/counselling-in-schools.

The government is investing £8 million in the new Wellbeing for Education Return programme which is funding expert advisers who will be able to train and support schools and colleges in every area of England and can make links to available local authority provision, including counselling. Alongside this, the department launched a £95,000 pilot led by the Education Support charity to provide online peer support and telephone counselling from experts to around 250 school leaders. The pilot will end in March 2021. The outcome of the pilot will inform any future wellbeing and mental health interventions for staff.

To increase support further in the long term, we remain committed to our joint green paper delivery programme with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England, including introducing new mental health support teams linked to schools and colleges, providing training for senior mental health leads in schools and colleges, and testing approaches to faster access to NHS specialist support.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the availability of in-school counsellors to provide face-to-face mental health support for teachers and staff in schools and colleges.

We do not collect regular information on the provision of counselling in schools or colleges for pupils and staff. Our most recent survey of mental health provision in schools and colleges published in 2017 found that 61% of schools and colleges (56% of primary schools, 84% of secondary schools and 93% of colleges) reported offering access to counselling service for their pupils.

Counselling can play a particularly effective role as part of a whole-school or college approach. Many schools already provide their pupils access to counselling support. It is important for schools and colleges to have the freedom to decide what support to offer to students and staff based on their particular needs and drawing on an evidence base of effective practice. This support can come from a number of sources, including counselling.

To support the provision of counselling support in schools, the department published a blueprint for school counselling services. This provides schools with practical, evidence-based advice, informed by schools and counselling experts, on how to deliver high quality school-based counselling. It also offers information on how to ensure that vulnerable children, including those who have special educational needs and disabilities, are looked after children or identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, who have a higher prevalence to mental illness, can access counselling provision. Further guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/counselling-in-schools.

The government is investing £8 million in the new Wellbeing for Education Return programme which is funding expert advisers who will be able to train and support schools and colleges in every area of England and can make links to available local authority provision, including counselling. Alongside this, the department launched a £95,000 pilot led by the Education Support charity to provide online peer support and telephone counselling from experts to around 250 school leaders. The pilot will end in March 2021. The outcome of the pilot will inform any future wellbeing and mental health interventions for staff.

To increase support further in the long term, we remain committed to our joint green paper delivery programme with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England, including introducing new mental health support teams linked to schools and colleges, providing training for senior mental health leads in schools and colleges, and testing approaches to faster access to NHS specialist support.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how the Wellbeing for Education Return programme has (a) supported children since its introduction in September 2020 and (b) how the funding for that programme has been distributed to date by region.

The department has worked with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Health Education England (HEE), Public Health England (PHE) and key voluntary sector organisations, to deliver Wellbeing for Education Return. This project, backed by £8m, has trained local experts to provide additional advice and resources for schools and colleges to help support pupil and student, parent and carer, and staff wellbeing, resilience and recovery in light of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown. It is intended to give education staff the confidence to support pupils and students, their parents, carers and their own colleagues, and know how and where to access appropriate specialist support where needed.

Wellbeing for Education Return funding was distributed to all local authority areas in England on 30 September 2020. Local authorities have been funded according to the number of state funded schools and colleges in their locality. Further details on allocations can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wellbeing-for-education-return-grant-s31-grant-determination-letter.

Local experts from 97% of England’s Local Authority areas have now been trained to deliver support and resources into schools and colleges.

Over 85% of local authority areas in England have reported that they are delivering additional training and support into local schools and colleges as a result of funding. Nationally, our information indicates that more than 15,000 education settings are being offered this additional training and support.

In recognition of the significant pressures on school and college staff, local areas are tailoring their support, and offering interactive training sessions and follow up support on key themes to support the mental health and wellbeing of staff and pupils in response to COVID-19.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much funding his Department is providing to (a) Place2Be and (b) other children’s mental health charities that provide support within schools and colleges, in academic year 2020-21; and how much of that funding has been distributed to date, by region.

The department does not provide specific funding to Place2Be or other mental health charities to provide support within schools and colleges.

It is up to schools and colleges to decide what support to offer to students, drawing on support from specialist services. Many schools use their funding to bring in support from charities, but we do not collect details of spend.

The Department for Education is currently providing the biggest increase to schools funding in a decade, with total additional investment of £14 billion across the next 3 years. There has already been a £2.6 billion increase in 2020-21, including £780 million for high needs, and there will be an increase of £4.8 billion compared to 2019-20 in 2021-22, including £730 million for high needs. There will also be an increase of £7.1 billion for schools and high needs compared to 2019-20, in 2022-23. High needs funding provides for children with complex special educational needs and disabilities including social, emotional and mental health issues, continues to be provided to local authorities as normal.

To support the return to school, the government has also announced an additional £650 million ‘catch up’ premium, as part of our wider £1 billion COVID-19 catch up package, to be shared across all state-funded schools over the 2020/21 academic year. This can be used to support pupils’ mental health and wellbeing, as a method of helping pupils to catch up after a period of disruption to their education.

On 27 January 2021, the government announced a further £300 million of new funding for high-quality tutoring to help children and young people catch up. The government will be working in collaboration with the education sector to develop specific initiatives for summer schools and a COVID premium to support catch up, alongside developing a long-term plan to support pupils to catch up over the course of this Parliament. Further detail on this funding and support will be confirmed in due course.

As part of our joint Green Paper delivery programme with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England, we are introducing Mental Health Support Teams to provide mental health support to groups of schools and colleges. These are currently being rolled out across England and charities are leading the provision of teams in some areas.

The government is also funding charities to provide wider support to children, young people and families affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The department is providing £11 million to the See, Hear Respond programme between June 2020 and March 2021), delivered by a consortium of national and local charities to support vulnerable children and young people whose usual support networks have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and associated restrictions. The programme provides support to those at risk of harm outside of the home, for new or struggling parents and to successfully connect or reintegrate children and young people back into education. It is particularly equipped to work with children under 5 years old and those who are experiencing a negative impact on their mental health.

Additionally, the government has provided £9 million funding to mental health charities – including Mind, the Samaritans, Young Minds, and Bipolar UK to help them adapt, expand and reach those who are most vulnerable.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will allow providers in receipt of 16 to 19 tuition fund allocations in academic year 2020-21 to use that funding to support tuition activity in academic year 2021-22.

The additional funding for the 16 to 19 tuition fund, of up to £96 million for the 2020/21 academic year, enables schools, colleges and other 16-19 providers to provide small group tuition for disadvantaged students whose learning has been disrupted as a result of COVID-19. This tuition can take place either in the classroom or virtually and includes both English and maths, among other courses. It is important for young people to be able to catch up now so one to one and small group sessions will continue virtually.

The 16-19 tuition fund forms part of catch up package worth £1 billion, including a ‘Catch up Premium’ worth a total of £650 million to support schools to make up for lost teaching time and the £350 million National Tutoring Programme is an ambitious scheme that will provide additional, targeted tuition support for disadvantaged pupils and students who need the most help to catch-up.

We are looking carefully at what additional support for 16-19 year olds may be needed for the 2021/22 academic year and will keep this under review.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what catch-up funding his Department plans to allocate to providers of education to 16 to 19-year-olds during the 2021-22 academic year.

The additional funding for the 16 to 19 tuition fund, of up to £96 million for the 2020/21 academic year, enables schools, colleges and other 16-19 providers to provide small group tuition for disadvantaged students whose learning has been disrupted as a result of COVID-19. This tuition can take place either in the classroom or virtually and includes both English and maths, among other courses. It is important for young people to be able to catch up now so one to one and small group sessions will continue virtually.

The 16-19 tuition fund forms part of catch up package worth £1 billion, including a ‘Catch up Premium’ worth a total of £650 million to support schools to make up for lost teaching time and the £350 million National Tutoring Programme is an ambitious scheme that will provide additional, targeted tuition support for disadvantaged pupils and students who need the most help to catch-up.

We are looking carefully at what additional support for 16-19 year olds may be needed for the 2021/22 academic year and will keep this under review.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what catch-up provision his Department will put in place to support 16 to 19-year-olds during the 2021-22 academic year.

The additional funding for the 16 to 19 tuition fund, of up to £96 million for the 2020/21 academic year, enables schools, colleges and other 16-19 providers to provide small group tuition for disadvantaged students whose learning has been disrupted as a result of COVID-19. This tuition can take place either in the classroom or virtually and includes both English and maths, among other courses. It is important for young people to be able to catch up now so one to one and small group sessions will continue virtually.

The 16-19 tuition fund forms part of catch up package worth £1 billion, including a ‘Catch up Premium’ worth a total of £650 million to support schools to make up for lost teaching time and the £350 million National Tutoring Programme is an ambitious scheme that will provide additional, targeted tuition support for disadvantaged pupils and students who need the most help to catch-up.

We are looking carefully at what additional support for 16-19 year olds may be needed for the 2021/22 academic year and will keep this under review.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to extend the National Tutoring Programme for students from disadvantaged backgrounds in post-16 education to the 2021-22 academic year.

The additional funding for the 16 to 19 tuition fund, of up to £96 million for the 2020/21 academic year, enables schools, colleges and other 16-19 providers to provide small group tuition for disadvantaged students whose learning has been disrupted as a result of COVID-19. This tuition can take place either in the classroom or virtually and includes both English and maths, among other courses. It is important for young people to be able to catch up now so one to one and small group sessions will continue virtually.

The 16-19 tuition fund forms part of catch up package worth £1 billion, including a ‘Catch up Premium’ worth a total of £650 million to support schools to make up for lost teaching time and the £350 million National Tutoring Programme is an ambitious scheme that will provide additional, targeted tuition support for disadvantaged pupils and students who need the most help to catch-up.

We are looking carefully at what additional support for 16-19 year olds may be needed for the 2021/22 academic year and will keep this under review.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what funding his Department will allocate to support catch-up provision for the academic year 2021-22 for students who are currently in year 11.

The additional funding for the 16 to 19 tuition fund, of up to £96 million for the 2020/21 academic year, enables schools, colleges and other 16-19 providers to provide small group tuition for disadvantaged students whose learning has been disrupted as a result of COVID-19. This tuition can take place either in the classroom or virtually and includes both English and maths, among other courses. It is important for young people to be able to catch up now so one to one and small group sessions will continue virtually.

The 16-19 tuition fund forms part of catch up package worth £1 billion, including a ‘Catch up Premium’ worth a total of £650 million to support schools to make up for lost teaching time and the £350 million National Tutoring Programme is an ambitious scheme that will provide additional, targeted tuition support for disadvantaged pupils and students who need the most help to catch-up.

We are looking carefully at what additional support for 16-19 year olds may be needed for the 2021/22 academic year and will keep this under review.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the number of students who were due to sit GCSE exams in summer 2021, whose GCSE exams were also cancelled in the 2019-20 academic year.

The Department concluded a successful Autumn exam series, allowing pupils who didn’t receive a grade in the summer 2020, and pupils who received a grade but wanted the chance to improve their grade, the opportunity to sit exams. We understand, however, that some pupils may have decided to wait until the Summer 2021 series to re-take their exams. The department and Ofqual have launched a two-week consultation on how fairly to award all pupils, including private candidates and those not in school or college this year, a grade that supports them to progress to the next stage of their lives. The Department will continue to engage with a range of relevant stakeholders when developing plans for our policy on GCSE, AS and A level assessments in 2021, as will the exams regulator Ofqual.

While the Department is unable to collect data on the number of individuals retaking their GCSEs, Ofqual will receive full entry data in the early Summer, enabling us to gain a broader understanding of the number of students who are due to enter for GCSEs. These data are usually published by Ofqual in May or June.

Full Autumn entry data can be found here for AS and A level here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/entries-for-as-and-a-level-autumn-2020-exam-series. For GSCE here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/entries-for-gcse-autumn-2020-exam-series. For GCSE English and Maths here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/entries-for-gcse-november-2020-exam-series. A summary is provided below.

Series

No. of entries

A level autumn 2020 series

20,100

AS level autumn 2020 series

1,925

GCSE autumn 2020 series (excludes English language & maths)

18,450

GCSE English language & maths November 2020 series

131,300

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children do not have access to a laptop or tablet for the purpose of remote learning in England, as of 11 January 2021.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services. This includes securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people, 750,000 of which were delivered to schools, academy trusts and local authorities by the end of last week.

Based on survey data, we know that schools already owned over 1.9 million laptops, and nearly one million tablets, before the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Government is providing significant additional support alongside other local initiatives. Ofcom’s UK-wide estimate is that between 1.14 million and 1.78 million children in total in the UK have no home access to a laptop, desktop or tablet.

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

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of Opportunity Areas in improving educational outcomes for disadvantaged children.

The effectiveness of the Opportunity Areas (OAs) in improving educational outcomes for disadvantaged children is being assessed in 2 main ways.

My officials sit on the local partnership boards in each of the 12 areas and work closely with the relevant local authority to design, procure, and monitor each local board’s chosen projects. Progress on every single project, across all 12 areas, is assessed on a monthly basis. Monthly spending figures, along with local intelligence regarding the take-up and effectiveness of different projects, is reported back to the department every month and reviewed by the senior official responsible for the programme as a whole. We continue to receive very positive feedback on the programme from schools and other stakeholders in each of the 12 areas.

In addition to this, the programme is subject to a detailed, formal evaluation process. Given the entrenched nature of some educational attainment issues, progress on any given measure is always likely to take time and be incremental. We are monitoring the programme very closely.

The evaluation has 3 main elements:

  • a qualitative evaluation, for the programme as a whole, being carried out by an external, independent contractor, the findings from which will be published in due course;
  • 5 smaller evaluations looking at individual projects in particular OAs (Blackpool, Bradford, Hastings, Norwich and North Yorkshire Coast), the findings from which will be published in the spring or summer of 2021; and
  • an internal evaluation by the department’s analysts assessing the impact of the programme by comparing the progress made in the OAs against similar non-OA districts.

Analysis of data from the academic year 2018/19 suggests the OAs are on a positive trajectory. For example:

  • early years outcomes for disadvantaged pupils have improved in 9 of the 12 OAs;
  • phonics results for all pupils have increased in 10 of the 12 OAs; and
  • key stage 2 combined attainment data for all pupils has increased by more than the national rate (between 2016 and 2019) in 10 of the 12 OAs.

To give some specific examples of progress towards the national average:

  • in Oldham, the proportion of all children achieving a good level of development rose 4 percentage points in the academic year 2018/19, to 68.1%, a significant step towards closing the gap with the national average, which increased 0.2 percentage points in that same period to 71.5%.
  • in Bradford, the proportion of pupils who achieved the expected level in reading, writing and maths at Key Stage 2 rose 2.1 percentage points to 62.7% in in the academic year 2018/19, a significant step towards closing the gap with the national average, which rose by 0.4 percentage points to 65.3% over the same period.
  • in Blackpool, the proportion of children achieving the expected standard in phonics in the academic year 2018/19 rose by 1.5 percentage points to 82.2%, putting it above the national average of 81.8%.
Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that the extended £220 million Holiday Activities and Food Programme will be spent in part by local authorities to provide (a) educational activities and (b) academic catch-up support to children who have lost learning as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The government recognises that school holidays can be difficult for some families, with children at risk of missing out on healthy meals, activities, and learning opportunities. Children should not go hungry and our ambitious plans will mean disadvantaged children have access to healthy food and enriching activities during the main holiday periods in which children can have fun experiences, be they through sport, the arts or many other activities.

From 2021, the Holiday Activities and Food programme will cover the Easter, summer and Christmas school holidays at a cost of up to £220 million. It will be available to children in every local authority in England, building on previous programmes – including this summer, which supported around 50,000 children across 17 local authorities.

We will expect local authorities to ensure the following minimum standards:

a) Holiday clubs are required to offer an element of nutritional education each day aimed at improving the knowledge and awareness of healthy eating for children. These could, for example, include activities such as getting children involved in food preparation and cooking, growing fruit and vegetables, and taste tests.

b) Clubs must include at least weekly training and advice sessions for parents, carers or other family members which provide advice on how to source, prepare and cook nutritious and low-cost food.

c) Clubs must be able to provide information, signposting or referrals to other services and support that would benefit the children who attend their provision and their families. This could include sessions or information provided by Citizen’s Advice, healthcare practitioners, Family Support Services or Children’s Services, Housing Support Officers, and organisations providing financial education.

Education recovery lies at the heart of our national mission as we recover from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Schools have been open for all pupils full-time since the start of the autumn term. It continues to be our aim that all pupils, in all year groups, remain in school full-time as this is the best place for them to be for their education, development and wellbeing.

However, we recognise that all children and young people have had their education disrupted as a result of COVID-19. The government has announced a catch up package worth £1 billion, including a ‘Catch up Premium’ worth a total of £650 million to support schools to make up for lost teaching time. Alongside the £650 million universal catch-up premium, we have launched the £350 million National Tutoring Programme (NTP) for disadvantaged pupils. The NTP went live on 2 November 2020 and schools are now able to access tuition to support disadvantaged pupils that needed the most help to catch-up.

Understanding the long-term impact of COVID-19 disruption on attainment and progress is a key research priority for the government, and we have commissioned an independent research and assessment agency to consider catch up needs and monitor progress over the course of the year. This will help inform strategic policy for supporting the school system.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to update the Department for Education strategy 2015-2020: world-class education and care this calendar year.

The Department will set out its strategy in its forthcoming Outcome Delivery Plan, to be published by the Cabinet Office in 2021.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department took to estimate private device ownership to inform its allocation of devices to support disadvantaged children in the 2020-21 academic year.

The Department has based allocations on estimates of children in years 3 to 11 without a device. The Department used data on the number of pupils eligible for free school meals, which was effectively equivalent to the estimate of children without private devices, and external estimates of the number of devices that schools already own.

Schools, local authorities and academy trusts can request additional devices if their allocation from the Department does not meet their needs. These requests can be submitted to covid.technology@educationg.gov.uk.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of pupils did not achieve a grade 4 or above in GCSE English in (a) 2017-18, (b) 2018-19 and (c) 2019-20.

The Department publishes the number of pupils at the end of key stage 4[1] who achieved the English and maths pillars of the English Baccalaureate[2],[3]. The attached table shows the percentage of pupils who did not achieve Ebacc pillars for English and Maths for each of the last 3 years.

The cancellation of the summer 2020 GCSE exams and the substantially changed method for awarding GCSE grades has impacted greatly on the results. Comparisons with earlier years are not recommended for the purposes of measuring changes in underlying pupil performance.

[1] Pupils are identified as being at the end of key stage 4 if they were on roll at the school and in year 11 at the time of the January school census for that year. Age is calculated as at 31 August for that year, and the majority of pupils at the end of key stage 4 were age 15 at the start of the academic year. Some pupils may complete this key stage in an earlier or later year group.

[2] All State-funded schools include local authority maintained mainstream schools, academies, free schools, city technology colleges, further education colleges with provision for 14 to 16 year-olds and state-funded special schools. They exclude independent schools, independent special schools, non-maintained special schools, hospital schools, pupil referral units and alternative provision. Alternative provision includes academy and free school alternative provision.

[3] Link to published data: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/key-stage-4-performance-revised.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of pupils did not achieve a grade 4 or above in GCSE Maths in (a) 2017-18, (b) 2018-19 and (c) 2019-20.

The Department publishes the number of pupils at the end of key stage 4[1] who achieved the English and maths pillars of the English Baccalaureate[2],[3]. The attached table shows the percentage of pupils who did not achieve Ebacc pillars for English and Maths for each of the last 3 years.

The cancellation of the summer 2020 GCSE exams and the substantially changed method for awarding GCSE grades has impacted greatly on the results. Comparisons with earlier years are not recommended for the purposes of measuring changes in underlying pupil performance.

[1] Pupils are identified as being at the end of key stage 4 if they were on roll at the school and in year 11 at the time of the January school census for that year. Age is calculated as at 31 August for that year, and the majority of pupils at the end of key stage 4 were age 15 at the start of the academic year. Some pupils may complete this key stage in an earlier or later year group.

[2] All State-funded schools include local authority maintained mainstream schools, academies, free schools, city technology colleges, further education colleges with provision for 14 to 16 year-olds and state-funded special schools. They exclude independent schools, independent special schools, non-maintained special schools, hospital schools, pupil referral units and alternative provision. Alternative provision includes academy and free school alternative provision.

[3] Link to published data: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/key-stage-4-performance-revised.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with (a) UCAS and (b) the Institute for Apprenticeships on the reform of the Higher Education admissions process to boost apprenticeships and Further Education.

Our government manifesto committed to “improve the application and offer system” in a way that is "underpinned by a commitment to fairness, quality of learning and teaching, and access".

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has announced his intention to consult widely on the options for reforming the university admissions system in favour of a post qualification admissions system.

The consultation process will give bodies such as UCAS and the Institute for Apprenticeships ample opportunity to make their views heard, along with other bodies from across the educational sector that could potentially be affected. A post-qualification admissions system would aim to make university admissions more transparent and to better help students make the choices that are right for them, from the full range of opportunities available in both the higher education and further education sectors.

We have introduced legislation designed to increase the number of opportunities for young people to meet providers and find out more information about technical options. The Baker Clause requires all maintained schools and academies to publish a policy statement setting out opportunities for providers of technical education and apprenticeships to visit schools to talk to all year 8 to 13 pupils and to make sure the statement is followed.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the evidence base if for the decision to allow face-to-face private music lessons in students' homes, if there is no other viable option, or in school settings, outside of the school day, but not to allow face-to-face private music lessons in music teachers' homes during the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, 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 outbreak. 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.

As outlined in the guidance for education and childcare settings on new national restrictions from 5 November, music lessons in music teachers' homes are permitted during the national restrictions but only if online lessons are not reasonably possible. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/education-and-childcare-settings-new-national-restrictions-from-5-november-2020#ooss.

Music teachers who are operating out of their own homes or private studios, should ensure they are only being accessed for face to face provision by parents if their primary purpose is registered childcare, or where they are providing other activities for children, where it is reasonably necessary to enable parents to work or search for work, or to undertake training or education, or for the purposes of respite care.

Out of school activities, including private tuition, that are primarily used by home educating parents as part of their arrangements for their child to receive a suitable full-time education may also continue to operate for face to face provision for the duration of the national restrictions.

Tutors that continue to operate face to face provision during this period should continue to undertake risk assessments and implement the system of controls set out in the protective measures for holiday clubs and after-school clubs and other out-of-school clubs for children during the COVID-19 outbreak guidance, available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/protective-measures-for-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak. Providers operating out of other people’s homes should also implement the guidance on working safely in other people’s homes, available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/homes.

All other out of school activities, not being primarily used by parents for these purposes and that can offer remote education, should close for face to face provision for the duration of the national restrictions. This will minimise the amount of mixing between different groups of people and therefore reduce the risk of infection and transmission of COVID-19.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support 16-19 year-olds with digital access to learning to ensure they can continue their education in the event that they are not in school.

Young people aged 16 to 19 without suitable laptops and tablets for education may be eligible for support through the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund. Providers make decisions as to who receives bursary funding, based on their own criteria. More information on support for 16 to 19 year olds can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/16-to-19-education-financial-support-for-students.

Where further education colleges are supplementing their on-site education with online education, the Department’s guidance asks colleges and other further education institutions to preserve provision on-site for all students who need it. This includes students without access to devices or connectivity at home.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to minimise the (a) incidences and (b) effect of pupil exclusion from school.

It is important that all schools should be calm and disciplined environments within which pupils feel happy and able to fulfil their potential, free from low-level disruption.

The Department supports head teachers using exclusion where warranted. It is clear that there is no right number of exclusions, and permanent exclusion should only be used as a last resort. Exclusion from school should not mean exclusion from high quality education.

The Department is pursuing an ambitious programme of work on school behaviour and to rapidly improve the availability of good alternative provision. This will ensure that permanently excluded children, and children at risk of exclusion, receive high-quality education and support suited to their individual needs. This includes a £10 million investment in behaviour hubs, which will enable schools and multi-academy trusts with exemplary behaviour cultures and practices to work in partnership with those that want to improve their behaviour culture. The Department is also working with Ofsted to eliminate off-rolling.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Department's guidance, Incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice, updated on 28 September 2020, what comparative assessment he has made of the effect of the incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice on the (a) number of apprentices hired and (b) timing of hiring decisions.

Apprenticeships will be more important than ever in helping businesses to recruit the right people and develop the skills they need to recover and grow. To help employers offer new apprenticeships, they are now able to claim £2,000 for every new apprentice they hire under the age of 25 before 31 January 2021, in recognition of the particular impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on the employment prospects of this group, and £1,500 for new apprentices aged 25 and over. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment we already provide for new 16-18-year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan.

Employers have been able to register to claim the incentive since 1 September. We are monitoring the take-up of the new payments and will assess their impact on apprenticeship starts, including how employers have used the incentive payments to support job creation through apprenticeships.

As part of the in-year apprenticeship statistics release due to be published on 26 November, we will publish data on the number of apprentices for whom employers have submitted claims for incentive payments.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to assess the efficacy of the incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice against a baseline hiring rate.

Apprenticeships will be more important than ever in helping businesses to recruit the right people and develop the skills they need to recover and grow. To help employers offer new apprenticeships, they are now able to claim £2,000 for every new apprentice they hire under the age of 25 before 31 January 2021, in recognition of the particular impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on the employment prospects of this group, and £1,500 for new apprentices aged 25 and over. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment we already provide for new 16-18-year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan.

Employers have been able to register to claim the incentive since 1 September. We are monitoring the take-up of the new payments and will assess their impact on apprenticeship starts, including how employers have used the incentive payments to support job creation through apprenticeships.

As part of the in-year apprenticeship statistics release due to be published on 26 November, we will publish data on the number of apprentices for whom employers have submitted claims for incentive payments.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate his Department has made of the number of children in England without a laptop or tablet.

The Department has already delivered over 220,000 laptops and tablets and over 50,000 4G wireless routers to disadvantaged children who would not otherwise have had online access, as part of over £160 million invested to support remote education and access to online social care.

The Department is now supplementing this support by making an additional 250,000 laptops and tablets available in the event that face-to-face schooling is disrupted as a result of local COVID-19 restrictions and children become reliant on remote education. We are also working with the major telecommunications companies to improve internet connectivity for disadvantaged and vulnerable families who rely on a mobile internet connection.

The laptops and tablets are an injection of support to help local authorities and academy trusts to provide access to remote education and online social care services during the COVID-19 restriction period.

The Department arrived at an allocated number of devices by estimating how many pupils are without access to a device. The Department did this by combining data on the number of pupils eligible for Free School Meals in each school, with an assumption that some pupils’ needs will be met by the devices provided by the schools. The Department used the BESA ICT 2019 survey data on the average number of laptops and tablets in primary and secondary schools and assumed that these are distributed between teachers and pupils.

The Department has published data about the delivery of laptops and tablets, which can be viewed here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/912888/laptops and tablets_and_4G_wireless_routers_progress_data_as_of_27_August_2020.pdf.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, by what date his Department completed distribution of all laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers to eligible pupils during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department has already delivered over 220,000 laptops and tablets and over 50,000 4G wireless routers to disadvantaged children who would not otherwise have had online access, as part of over £160 million invested to support remote education and access to online social care.

The Department is now supplementing this support by making an additional 250,000 laptops and tablets available in the event that face-to-face schooling is disrupted as a result of local COVID-19 restrictions and children become reliant on remote education. We are also working with the major telecommunications companies to improve internet connectivity for disadvantaged and vulnerable families who rely on a mobile internet connection.

The laptops and tablets are an injection of support to help local authorities and academy trusts to provide access to remote education and online social care services during the COVID-19 restriction period.

The Department arrived at an allocated number of devices by estimating how many pupils are without access to a device. The Department did this by combining data on the number of pupils eligible for Free School Meals in each school, with an assumption that some pupils’ needs will be met by the devices provided by the schools. The Department used the BESA ICT 2019 survey data on the average number of laptops and tablets in primary and secondary schools and assumed that these are distributed between teachers and pupils.

The Department has published data about the delivery of laptops and tablets, which can be viewed here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/912888/laptops and tablets_and_4G_wireless_routers_progress_data_as_of_27_August_2020.pdf.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many laptops, tablets and 4G routers the Government has distributed to eligible pupils during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Department has already delivered over 220,000 laptops and tablets and over 50,000 4G wireless routers to disadvantaged children who would not otherwise have had online access, as part of over £160 million invested to support remote education and access to online social care.

The Department is now supplementing this support by making an additional 250,000 laptops and tablets available in the event that face-to-face schooling is disrupted as a result of local COVID-19 restrictions and children become reliant on remote education. We are also working with the major telecommunications companies to improve internet connectivity for disadvantaged and vulnerable families who rely on a mobile internet connection.

The laptops and tablets are an injection of support to help local authorities and academy trusts to provide access to remote education and online social care services during the COVID-19 restriction period.

The Department arrived at an allocated number of devices by estimating how many pupils are without access to a device. The Department did this by combining data on the number of pupils eligible for Free School Meals in each school, with an assumption that some pupils’ needs will be met by the devices provided by the schools. The Department used the BESA ICT 2019 survey data on the average number of laptops and tablets in primary and secondary schools and assumed that these are distributed between teachers and pupils.

The Department has published data about the delivery of laptops and tablets, which can be viewed here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/912888/laptops and tablets_and_4G_wireless_routers_progress_data_as_of_27_August_2020.pdf.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of incentive payments for hiring new apprentices on the employment rate among 16-24 year old's since 1 August 2020.

Apprenticeships will be more important than ever in helping businesses to recruit the right people and develop the skills they need to recover and grow. To help employers offer new apprenticeships, they are now able to claim £2,000 for every new apprentice they hire under the age of 25 before 31 January 2021, in recognition of the particular impacts of COVID-19 on the employment prospects of this group, and £1,500 for new apprentices aged 25 and over. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment we already provide for new 16-18-year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan. The new payment means it is a great time for employers to offer new apprenticeship opportunities and take advantage of existing flexibilities to train their apprentices in a way that suits their needs.

Employers have been able to register to claim the incentive since 1 September. We are monitoring the take-up of the new payments and will assess their impact on apprenticeship starts to ensure it is helping employers to meet their skills needs and working for people of all ages.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of the £1,500 incentive for employers hiring a new apprentice aged 25 and over on the number of apprentices hired since 1 August 2020.

Apprenticeships will be more important than ever in helping businesses to recruit the right people and develop the skills they need to recover and grow. To help employers offer new apprenticeships, they are now able to claim £2,000 for every new apprentice they hire under the age of 25 before 31 January 2021, and £1,500 for new apprentices aged 25 and over. The new payment means it is a great time for employers to offer new apprenticeship opportunities and take advantage of existing flexibilities to train their apprentices in a way that suits their needs.

Employers have been able to register to claim the incentive since 1 September. The first payment is made 90 days from the apprentice’s start date and as such no payments have yet been made. We are monitoring the take-up of the new payments and will assess their impact on apprenticeship starts to ensure it is helping employers to meet their skills needs.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to increase uptake of free school meals.

The provision of free school meals, to children from out-of-work families or those on low incomes, is of the utmost importance to this government. There are currently 1.4 million pupils eligible for and claiming a free, nutritious school meal, saving families more than £400 per year.

We do not routinely collect information on the proportion of pupils that would be entitled to a free school meal but do not make a claim. Our last estimate is that take-up is around 89% of those who are entitled. Take-up may currently be higher as during the COVID-19 outbreak we are temporarily extending free school meal eligibility to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). Guidance on the NRPF extension is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/guidance-for-the-temporary-extension-of-free-school-meals-eligibility-to-nrpf-groups.

Whilst take-up of free school meals is strong, we want to make sure as many eligible pupils as possible are claiming their free school meals, and to make it as simple as possible for schools and local authorities to determine eligibility. To support this we provide an Eligibility Checking System to make the checking process as quick and straightforward as possible for schools and local authorities. We have also developed a model registration form to help schools encourage parents to sign up for free school meals and provide guidance to Jobcentre Plus advisers so that they can make Universal Credit recipients aware that they may also be entitled to wider benefits, including free school meals.

We are grateful for the hard work that school staff undertake throughout the school year to deliver this provision locally for the families that are eligible for free meals. During the COVID-19 outbreak, we are especially appreciative of the actions schools have taken to continue free school meal provision in challenging circumstances.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children eligible for free school meals are not registered for the scheme in the UK.

The provision of free school meals, to children from out-of-work families or those on low incomes, is of the utmost importance to this government. There are currently 1.4 million pupils eligible for and claiming a free, nutritious school meal, saving families more than £400 per year.

We do not routinely collect information on the proportion of pupils that would be entitled to a free school meal but do not make a claim. Our last estimate is that take-up is around 89% of those who are entitled. Take-up may currently be higher as during the COVID-19 outbreak we are temporarily extending free school meal eligibility to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). Guidance on the NRPF extension is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/guidance-for-the-temporary-extension-of-free-school-meals-eligibility-to-nrpf-groups.

Whilst take-up of free school meals is strong, we want to make sure as many eligible pupils as possible are claiming their free school meals, and to make it as simple as possible for schools and local authorities to determine eligibility. To support this we provide an Eligibility Checking System to make the checking process as quick and straightforward as possible for schools and local authorities. We have also developed a model registration form to help schools encourage parents to sign up for free school meals and provide guidance to Jobcentre Plus advisers so that they can make Universal Credit recipients aware that they may also be entitled to wider benefits, including free school meals.

We are grateful for the hard work that school staff undertake throughout the school year to deliver this provision locally for the families that are eligible for free meals. During the COVID-19 outbreak, we are especially appreciative of the actions schools have taken to continue free school meal provision in challenging circumstances.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children registered for free school meals did not take up their entitlement in 2019-20.

The provision of free school meals, to children from out-of-work families or those on low incomes, is of the utmost importance to this government. There are currently 1.4 million pupils eligible for and claiming a free, nutritious school meal, saving families more than £400 per year.

We do not routinely collect information on the proportion of pupils that would be entitled to a free school meal but do not make a claim. Our last estimate is that take-up is around 89% of those who are entitled. Take-up may currently be higher as during the COVID-19 outbreak we are temporarily extending free school meal eligibility to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). Guidance on the NRPF extension is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/guidance-for-the-temporary-extension-of-free-school-meals-eligibility-to-nrpf-groups.

Whilst take-up of free school meals is strong, we want to make sure as many eligible pupils as possible are claiming their free school meals, and to make it as simple as possible for schools and local authorities to determine eligibility. To support this we provide an Eligibility Checking System to make the checking process as quick and straightforward as possible for schools and local authorities. We have also developed a model registration form to help schools encourage parents to sign up for free school meals and provide guidance to Jobcentre Plus advisers so that they can make Universal Credit recipients aware that they may also be entitled to wider benefits, including free school meals.

We are grateful for the hard work that school staff undertake throughout the school year to deliver this provision locally for the families that are eligible for free meals. During the COVID-19 outbreak, we are especially appreciative of the actions schools have taken to continue free school meal provision in challenging circumstances.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on introducing automatic enrolment with an opt-out for pupils eligible for free school meals.

The provision of free school meals, to children from out-of-work families or those on low incomes, is of the utmost importance to this government. There are currently 1.4 million pupils eligible for and claiming a free, nutritious school meal, saving families more than £400 per year.

We do not routinely collect information on the proportion of pupils that would be entitled to a free school meal but do not make a claim. Our last estimate is that take-up is around 89% of those who are entitled. Take-up may currently be higher as during the COVID-19 outbreak we are temporarily extending free school meal eligibility to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). Guidance on the NRPF extension is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/guidance-for-the-temporary-extension-of-free-school-meals-eligibility-to-nrpf-groups.

Whilst take-up of free school meals is strong, we want to make sure as many eligible pupils as possible are claiming their free school meals, and to make it as simple as possible for schools and local authorities to determine eligibility. To support this we provide an Eligibility Checking System to make the checking process as quick and straightforward as possible for schools and local authorities. We have also developed a model registration form to help schools encourage parents to sign up for free school meals and provide guidance to Jobcentre Plus advisers so that they can make Universal Credit recipients aware that they may also be entitled to wider benefits, including free school meals.

We are grateful for the hard work that school staff undertake throughout the school year to deliver this provision locally for the families that are eligible for free meals. During the COVID-19 outbreak, we are especially appreciative of the actions schools have taken to continue free school meal provision in challenging circumstances.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress his Department is making on meeting the 2.3 per cent public sector apprenticeship target; and when his Department will meet that target.

The department is maintaining a strong performance on its internal apprenticeship programme, having met the 2.3 per cent public sector target for the past 3 years. We are confident that we will meet this target again in 2020/21 by the end of the financial year.

We have made plans for the department to support the government’s Plan for Jobs through 4 external apprentice recruitment campaigns that will close on 30 September. We are piloting a new approach to external recruitment for junior roles from 1 September to 31 December – all of these vacancies will be advertised as apprenticeships.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate he has made of the number of school-age children in England whose parents have elected to educate them at home; and what the sources are for that data.

The Department does not collect statistics on the number of children in home education.

In relation to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department is working closely with local authorities to encourage a return to full attendance in school and is monitoring the situation. Initial conversations with local authorities indicate that the majority have noticed an increase in enquiries from parents about home education. Where parents are anxious about the safety of their children returning to school, local authorities and school leaders are reinforcing that it is in the best interests of pupils to return to school.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the number of parents in England who elect to home-educate their school age children; and what plans his Department has to monitor that effect.

The Department does not collect statistics on the number of children in home education.

In relation to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department is working closely with local authorities to encourage a return to full attendance in school and is monitoring the situation. Initial conversations with local authorities indicate that the majority have noticed an increase in enquiries from parents about home education. Where parents are anxious about the safety of their children returning to school, local authorities and school leaders are reinforcing that it is in the best interests of pupils to return to school.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance has been provided to local authorities and schools to support the safe return of pupils with sight loss during the covid-19 outbreak.

The department has published guidance to support the return to school of all children and young people for the autumn term, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Guidance for the full opening of schools is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

Guidance for the full opening of special schools and other specialist settings is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings.

While the department will collect data on pupils with SEND characteristics overall, the department is not collecting data on attendance in relation to different individual SEND characteristics.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to monitor the characteristics of pupils returning to school and those remaining at home, including whether a pupil has sight loss, to ensure that pupils with special educational needs are not being excluded and disadvantaged.

The department has published guidance to support the return to school of all children and young people for the autumn term, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Guidance for the full opening of schools is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

Guidance for the full opening of special schools and other specialist settings is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings.

While the department will collect data on pupils with SEND characteristics overall, the department is not collecting data on attendance in relation to different individual SEND characteristics.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to meet the public sector apprenticeship target for 2020-21.

The department is maintaining strong performance on its internal apprenticeship programme, having met the public sector target for the past 3 years. We have made plans for the department to support the government’s Plan for Jobs through 4 external apprentice recruitment campaigns during the Autumn. We are also changing our recruitment approach, to ensure that all Executive Assistant and Executive Officer positions are filled using apprenticeships, for a pilot period between 1 September to 31 December 2020.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to reach the public sector apprenticeship target.

The department has successfully met its public sector target for the number of apprenticeship starts in each of the previous three years. The table below shows the target and actual number of starts, and the resulting percentage of the workforce that this represents.

Year

Target number of starts

Actual number of starts

Percentage of the workforce

2017/18

108

116

2.30%

2018/19

134

195

3.20%

2019/20

155

188

2.80%

Data taken from Department for Education Departmental Summary 2017/18, 2018/19, 2019/20.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the test phase of the National Retraining Programme, announced in October 2019.

The aim of the National Retraining Scheme is to help prepare adults for future changes to the economy, including those brought about by automation, and help them retrain into better jobs.

We have taken a user centred, test and learn approach to developing the National Retraining Scheme, starting small and developing products iteratively. Through this approach we have used a small proportion of the initial multi-year £100 million investment which started in financial year 2019-20 to develop the scheme, including exploring online training and in-work technical training alongside testing the first part of the scheme, Get Help to Retrain.

To date, nearly 2000 users have accessed Get Help to Retrain. The digital service helps users to understand their current skills, explore alternative occupations that they could do and sign up to the training they need to access opportunities for a broad range of good jobs.

Alongside developing Get Help to Retrain, we have undertaken extensive user research and testing whilst developing the National Retraining Scheme. This research and the pilots we have conducted will provide valuable evidence about how we can support adults and employers and will help inform the design of future adult skills provision.

We are continuing to explore the relationship between the National Retraining Scheme, the recently announced £2.5 billion National Skills Fund and other recent reforms to adult skills provision and funding. We will provide a further update in the next Spending Review.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much has been spent on the National Retraining Scheme to date.

The aim of the National Retraining Scheme is to help prepare adults for future changes to the economy, including those brought about by automation, and help them retrain into better jobs.

We have taken a user centred, test and learn approach to developing the National Retraining Scheme, starting small and developing products iteratively. Through this approach we have used a small proportion of the initial multi-year £100 million investment which started in financial year 2019-20 to develop the scheme, including exploring online training and in-work technical training alongside testing the first part of the scheme, Get Help to Retrain.

To date, nearly 2000 users have accessed Get Help to Retrain. The digital service helps users to understand their current skills, explore alternative occupations that they could do and sign up to the training they need to access opportunities for a broad range of good jobs.

Alongside developing Get Help to Retrain, we have undertaken extensive user research and testing whilst developing the National Retraining Scheme. This research and the pilots we have conducted will provide valuable evidence about how we can support adults and employers and will help inform the design of future adult skills provision.

We are continuing to explore the relationship between the National Retraining Scheme, the recently announced £2.5 billion National Skills Fund and other recent reforms to adult skills provision and funding. We will provide a further update in the next Spending Review.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many adults has the National Retraining Scheme helped to retrain to date in England.

The aim of the National Retraining Scheme is to help prepare adults for future changes to the economy, including those brought about by automation, and help them retrain into better jobs.

We have taken a user centred, test and learn approach to developing the National Retraining Scheme, starting small and developing products iteratively. Through this approach we have used a small proportion of the initial multi-year £100 million investment which started in financial year 2019-20 to develop the scheme, including exploring online training and in-work technical training alongside testing the first part of the scheme, Get Help to Retrain.

To date, nearly 2000 users have accessed Get Help to Retrain. The digital service helps users to understand their current skills, explore alternative occupations that they could do and sign up to the training they need to access opportunities for a broad range of good jobs.

Alongside developing Get Help to Retrain, we have undertaken extensive user research and testing whilst developing the National Retraining Scheme. This research and the pilots we have conducted will provide valuable evidence about how we can support adults and employers and will help inform the design of future adult skills provision.

We are continuing to explore the relationship between the National Retraining Scheme, the recently announced £2.5 billion National Skills Fund and other recent reforms to adult skills provision and funding. We will provide a further update in the next Spending Review.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the annual cost to the public purse is of free school meals.

Schools pay for benefits-related free school meals from their core funding. The department includes a factor value in the national funding formula (£450 per pupil), but both local authorities and schools have the freedom and flexibility to apply their own local formulae. Last year, around 1.4 million children benefitted from this important provision.

For universal infant free school meals, schools receive funding through a separate grant. We spend around £600 million each year ensuring 1.4 million infants receive a free meal through this programme. Universal infant free school meals allocations can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-infant-free-school-meals-uifsm-2019-to-2020.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether degree apprenticeships will be included in the temporary student number controls introduced for the higher education sector.

Apprenticeships will be excluded from student number controls. When monitoring potential recruitment above a student number control, a higher education provider will not be considered to have exceeded the student number control by virtue of the number of apprenticeship students that it has.

Apprenticeships are jobs with a sustained element of training, so this provision is delivered in conjunction with local employers where the apprentice is employed. Relationships between these employers and providers are usually well established, so they are unlikely to be vulnerable to aggressive recruitment practices and they pose little or no threat to the stability of the higher education sector.

However, despite apprentices being in full-time employment, they are sometimes also recorded as studying full-time in the Higher Education Students Early Statistics (HESES) data. This data is used to calculate and monitor student number controls.

For HESES20, the Office for Students will provide guidance on how apprentices are recorded in the data return, which will allow all apprenticeship places to be identified.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to support the families of pupils on free school meals in Harlow during the school summer holidays in 2020.

I refer the hon. Members to the answer I gave on 23 June 2020 to Question 54195.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what criteria he uses to define disadvantage when deciding which disadvantaged year 10 pupils are eligible for laptops and tablets under his scheme to support remote education during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has committed over £100 million to support remote education while schools are closed for most children.

We are providing laptops and tablets to disadvantaged children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for examinations in Year 10, those receiving support from a social worker, including pre-school children, or are a care leaver.

Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and children in Year 10 do not have internet connections, we will be providing 4G internet hotspots so that they can learn at home.

Local authorities, academy trusts and other relevant organisations overseeing schools have been given guidance on how to request and order devices. We believe that local authorities and academy trusts are best placed to identify and prioritise children and young people who need devices.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support schools remaining open for vulnerable children and children whose parents are key workers during (a) the Easter holidays and (b) bank holidays.

Schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year, as usual, regardless of any periods of partial or complete closure. This will ensure that they are able to continue to pay their staff and meet their other regular financial commitments, as we move through these extraordinary times.

The Department recognises that schools may face additional costs as a result of COVID-19. We have put in place a new process to reimburse schools for exceptional costs they may be facing. This includes support for pupils who are eligible for free school meals but cannot attend school and are not covered by the national voucher scheme, and additional premises costs for schools that remain open through the Easter holidays.

The scheme will give schools the reassurances they need to enable them to concentrate on their vital role in supporting the nation through this crisis. Details of the scheme were published on 7 April and are available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools/school-funding-exceptional-costs-associated-with-coronavirus-covid-19-for-the-period-march-to-july-2020.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on support for (a) students and (b) apprentices on placements at NHS hospitals during the covid-19 outbreak.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education and ministers at the department, are actively engaging with colleagues across government on issues raised by the covid-19 outbreak. The Department for Education is working closely with the Office for Students, the Department of Health and Social Care and other relevant parties to monitor the effects of covid-19 on registered English further and higher education providers and their students, including those on placements in NHS hospitals.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment the Government has been made of the role of Digital and Technology Solutions degree apprenticeships in filling (a) current and (b) future skills gaps in the digital industries.

An estimated additional 1.2 million people with specialist digital skills will be required by the UK economy by 2022. Now, more than ever, high-level skills in computing are essential to supporting a successful economy.

Apprenticeships can help employers in the digital sector address their current and emerging skills needs and build a diverse pipeline of talent for the future.

We have put employers at the heart of our apprenticeship system, empowering them to design the standards that they need. The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) supports employers to develop standards and acts as the guarantor of their quality. There are currently 22 standards available in the digital sector with a further 6 in development, ranging from level 3 to level 7.

IfATE conducts statutory route reviews to give employers the confidence that apprenticeship standards remain relevant and continue to deliver value for money for employers and government. The digital route review was the first of these reviews to be carried out. It reported in May 2019 and found that the level 6 Digital and Technology Solutions professional standard would be retained and revised, ensuring that the content was appropriate and up to date. The level 7 standard was introduced in August 2018 and therefore not in scope of the review.

Starts on both apprenticeship standards have grown, with 1,500 starts on the level 6 Digital and Technology Solutions Professional standard in 2018/19 and 180 starts on the level 7 Digital and Technology Solutions Specialist standard.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking in response to findings from National Apprenticeships week.

Our 13th annual National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) took place from 3 to 7 February. The theme of this year’s NAW was ‘Look Beyond’.

Focussing on diversity, as well as quality, this year’s NAW aimed to support the widening participation agenda. It aimed to support this agenda by highlighting the diversity and value that apprenticeships bring to employers, apprentices and communities across England. Nearly 900 events were held across the country.

We are currently analysing the detail of the evaluation and further information will be available after the Easter recess.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to increase funding for schools in Harlow.

?The Department is increasing school funding by £14 billion over the next three years, starting with £2.6 billion in 2020-21 and followed by increases of £4.8 billion and £7.1 billion in 2021-22 and 2022-23 respectively, compared to 2019-20.

Overall, school funding is increasing by 5% in 2020-21 alone – a significant increase, and we will continue to distribute that funding through the National Funding Formula (NFF), which ensures that funding is based on schools’ and pupils’ needs and characteristics. This will ensure that per-pupil funding for every school can rise at least in line with inflation next year; and faster than inflation for most.

Under the NFF schools in Harlow will attract an additional £4.6 million in total cash funding next year, a 7% increase compared to last year, taking their total cash funding up to £70.1 million. This reflects a 5.4% increase in per pupil funding when compared to last year.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the total amount of funding from the public purse given by his Department to (a) civil society and (b) campaigning bodies in each of the last five years.

The Department funds organisations across sectors to deliver its priorities. This ranges from large construction companies which build schools to small charities such as the Anna Freud Centre who are delivering looked-after children's mental health assessment pilots. We do not currently differentiate between charities, campaigning bodies or other non-profit organisations.

The Department does regularly publish a comprehensive supplier spend report here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dfe-and-executive-agency-spend-over-25000-2019-to-2020.

The Government also publishes a list of grant expenditure above £25,000 as part of routine Government Transparency. Reports dating from 2013 can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-grants-register.

DfE’s default commercial policy is that requirements provided by third party organisations are subject to competition. This includes contracts and general grants. Where the requirement will lead to a contract, the procurement must be compliant with the Public Contract Regulations 2015.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
21st Feb 2020
to ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he plans to take to ensure adequate funding for schools.

The Department is giving schools the largest cash boost in a decade, investing a total of £14 billion additional funding for schools over the next three years. This will allow school funding to increase by £2.6 billion in 2020-21, followed by increases of £4.8 billion and £7.1 billion in 2021-22 and 2022-23 respectively, compared to 2019-20.

We will continue to distribute funding through the National Funding Formula (NFF), which ensures that funding is based on schools’ and pupils’ needs and characteristics. This will ensure that per-pupil funding for every school can rise at least in line with inflation next year; and faster than inflation for most. On average schools are attracting 4.2% more per pupil.

We have also recently laid regulations in Parliament which give legal force to the new minimum per pupil funding levels. This will allow us to aid the lowest funded schools to ensure that every secondary school attracts at least £5,000 per pupil next year, and every primary school at least £3,750 – on the path to receiving at least £4,000 per pupil the following year.

Finally, we have removed the gains cap in the NFF for 2020-21, so that all schools will attract their full allocations under the formula. This means that we can deliver the greatest gains to areas historically underfunded to ensure that they have the right investment to deliver an outstanding education.

The Department will continue to move towards a ‘hard’ national formula as soon as possible, meaning a single national formula will determine every school’s final budget, rather than it being set independently by each local authority. We will work closely with local authorities and the sector in making this transition carefully.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure adequate funding for schools.

The Department is giving schools the largest cash boost in a decade, investing a total of £14 billion additional funding for schools over the next three years. This will allow school funding to increase by £2.6 billion in 2020-21, followed by increases of £4.8 billion and £7.1 billion in 2021-22 and 2022-23 respectively, compared to 2019-20.

We will continue to distribute funding through the National Funding Formula (NFF), which ensures that funding is based on schools’ and pupils’ needs and characteristics. This will ensure that per-pupil funding for every school can rise at least in line with inflation next year; and faster than inflation for most. On average schools are attracting 4.2% more per pupil.

We have also recently laid regulations in Parliament which give legal force to the new minimum per pupil funding levels. This will allow us to aid the lowest funded schools to ensure that every secondary school attracts at least £5,000 per pupil next year, and every primary school at least £3,750 – on the path to receiving at least £4,000 per pupil the following year.

Finally, we have removed the gains cap in the NFF for 2020-21, so that all schools will attract their full allocations under the formula. This means that we can deliver the greatest gains to areas historically underfunded to ensure that they have the right investment to deliver an outstanding education.

The Department will continue to move towards a ‘hard’ national formula as soon as possible, meaning a single national formula will determine every school’s final budget, rather than it being set independently by each local authority. We will work closely with local authorities and the sector in making this transition carefully.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will hold discussions with employers on implementing an apprenticeship program for prisoners.

Apprenticeships are paid jobs which include high-quality on-the-job and off-the-job training. All apprentices must hold a contract of employment, which means they are not currently available to prisoners.

The government recognises how important it is that those in custody are given the support, training, and routes into employment that best meets the needs of individuals, and their future employers. The department’s apprenticeship programme is supporting this by working with the Department for Work and Pensions, Youth Offending teams and local employers, to consider pilot schemes which promote and encourage apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities to ex-offenders and those at risk of offending aged 16-24.

The Ministry of Justice also supports a wider range of provision to support prisoners into employment on release and governors can now commission specific provision aimed at meeting the needs of their prisoners and local labour markets. This includes the New Futures Network, created in 2018 to broker partnerships between prisons and employers, helping businesses fill skills gaps and prisoners to find employment on release. Information, advice and guidance services are also available in prisons to help prisoners identify career aims and work towards achieving these.

The Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice are at the early stages of exploring the potential costs and benefits of the various options for a potential future prison apprenticeships programme to complement existing schemes. We would expect that a prison apprenticeship programme will need to use the same standards and frameworks as all apprenticeships.

At this time, we have not made any estimates of the time required to develop models of delivery for prison apprenticeships. We will consider any discussions with employers and Cabinet colleagues once we have first established the practicalities and value of a potential prison apprenticeship programme.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will take steps to introduce prison apprenticeships with the same standards as other apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships are paid jobs which include high-quality on-the-job and off-the-job training. All apprentices must hold a contract of employment, which means they are not currently available to prisoners.

The government recognises how important it is that those in custody are given the support, training, and routes into employment that best meets the needs of individuals, and their future employers. The department’s apprenticeship programme is supporting this by working with the Department for Work and Pensions, Youth Offending teams and local employers, to consider pilot schemes which promote and encourage apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities to ex-offenders and those at risk of offending aged 16-24.

The Ministry of Justice also supports a wider range of provision to support prisoners into employment on release and governors can now commission specific provision aimed at meeting the needs of their prisoners and local labour markets. This includes the New Futures Network, created in 2018 to broker partnerships between prisons and employers, helping businesses fill skills gaps and prisoners to find employment on release. Information, advice and guidance services are also available in prisons to help prisoners identify career aims and work towards achieving these.

The Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice are at the early stages of exploring the potential costs and benefits of the various options for a potential future prison apprenticeships programme to complement existing schemes. We would expect that a prison apprenticeship programme will need to use the same standards and frameworks as all apprenticeships.

At this time, we have not made any estimates of the time required to develop models of delivery for prison apprenticeships. We will consider any discussions with employers and Cabinet colleagues once we have first established the practicalities and value of a potential prison apprenticeship programme.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on (a) developing, (b) overseeing and (c) monitoring a prison apprenticeship programme.

Apprenticeships are paid jobs which include high-quality on-the-job and off-the-job training. All apprentices must hold a contract of employment, which means they are not currently available to prisoners.

The government recognises how important it is that those in custody are given the support, training, and routes into employment that best meets the needs of individuals, and their future employers. The department’s apprenticeship programme is supporting this by working with the Department for Work and Pensions, Youth Offending teams and local employers, to consider pilot schemes which promote and encourage apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities to ex-offenders and those at risk of offending aged 16-24.

The Ministry of Justice also supports a wider range of provision to support prisoners into employment on release and governors can now commission specific provision aimed at meeting the needs of their prisoners and local labour markets. This includes the New Futures Network, created in 2018 to broker partnerships between prisons and employers, helping businesses fill skills gaps and prisoners to find employment on release. Information, advice and guidance services are also available in prisons to help prisoners identify career aims and work towards achieving these.

The Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice are at the early stages of exploring the potential costs and benefits of the various options for a potential future prison apprenticeships programme to complement existing schemes. We would expect that a prison apprenticeship programme will need to use the same standards and frameworks as all apprenticeships.

At this time, we have not made any estimates of the time required to develop models of delivery for prison apprenticeships. We will consider any discussions with employers and Cabinet colleagues once we have first established the practicalities and value of a potential prison apprenticeship programme.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of sectors that would be suitable for a potential prison apprenticeship scheme.

Apprenticeships are paid jobs which include high-quality on-the-job and off-the-job training. All apprentices must hold a contract of employment, which means they are not currently available to prisoners.

The government recognises how important it is that those in custody are given the support, training, and routes into employment that best meets the needs of individuals, and their future employers. The department’s apprenticeship programme is supporting this by working with the Department for Work and Pensions, Youth Offending teams and local employers, to consider pilot schemes which promote and encourage apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities to ex-offenders and those at risk of offending aged 16-24.

The Ministry of Justice also supports a wider range of provision to support prisoners into employment on release and governors can now commission specific provision aimed at meeting the needs of their prisoners and local labour markets. This includes the New Futures Network, created in 2018 to broker partnerships between prisons and employers, helping businesses fill skills gaps and prisoners to find employment on release. Information, advice and guidance services are also available in prisons to help prisoners identify career aims and work towards achieving these.

The Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice are at the early stages of exploring the potential costs and benefits of the various options for a potential future prison apprenticeships programme to complement existing schemes. We would expect that a prison apprenticeship programme will need to use the same standards and frameworks as all apprenticeships.

At this time, we have not made any estimates of the time required to develop models of delivery for prison apprenticeships. We will consider any discussions with employers and Cabinet colleagues once we have first established the practicalities and value of a potential prison apprenticeship programme.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the length of time required to develop models of delivery for prison apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships are paid jobs which include high-quality on-the-job and off-the-job training. All apprentices must hold a contract of employment, which means they are not currently available to prisoners.

The government recognises how important it is that those in custody are given the support, training, and routes into employment that best meets the needs of individuals, and their future employers. The department’s apprenticeship programme is supporting this by working with the Department for Work and Pensions, Youth Offending teams and local employers, to consider pilot schemes which promote and encourage apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities to ex-offenders and those at risk of offending aged 16-24.

The Ministry of Justice also supports a wider range of provision to support prisoners into employment on release and governors can now commission specific provision aimed at meeting the needs of their prisoners and local labour markets. This includes the New Futures Network, created in 2018 to broker partnerships between prisons and employers, helping businesses fill skills gaps and prisoners to find employment on release. Information, advice and guidance services are also available in prisons to help prisoners identify career aims and work towards achieving these.

The Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice are at the early stages of exploring the potential costs and benefits of the various options for a potential future prison apprenticeships programme to complement existing schemes. We would expect that a prison apprenticeship programme will need to use the same standards and frameworks as all apprenticeships.

At this time, we have not made any estimates of the time required to develop models of delivery for prison apprenticeships. We will consider any discussions with employers and Cabinet colleagues once we have first established the practicalities and value of a potential prison apprenticeship programme.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of an apprenticeship scheme for prisoners.

Apprenticeships are paid jobs which include high-quality on-the-job and off-the-job training. All apprentices must hold a contract of employment, which means they are not currently available to prisoners.

The government recognises how important it is that those in custody are given the support, training, and routes into employment that best meets the needs of individuals, and their future employers. The department’s apprenticeship programme is supporting this by working with the Department for Work and Pensions, Youth Offending teams and local employers, to consider pilot schemes which promote and encourage apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities to ex-offenders and those at risk of offending aged 16-24.

The Ministry of Justice also supports a wider range of provision to support prisoners into employment on release and governors can now commission specific provision aimed at meeting the needs of their prisoners and local labour markets. This includes the New Futures Network, created in 2018 to broker partnerships between prisons and employers, helping businesses fill skills gaps and prisoners to find employment on release. Information, advice and guidance services are also available in prisons to help prisoners identify career aims and work towards achieving these.

The Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice are at the early stages of exploring the potential costs and benefits of the various options for a potential future prison apprenticeships programme to complement existing schemes. We would expect that a prison apprenticeship programme will need to use the same standards and frameworks as all apprenticeships.

At this time, we have not made any estimates of the time required to develop models of delivery for prison apprenticeships. We will consider any discussions with employers and Cabinet colleagues once we have first established the practicalities and value of a potential prison apprenticeship programme.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he plans to take to promote apprenticeships to young people in (a) Harlow and (b) the UK.

We have introduced a wide range of reforms to improve the quality of apprenticeships and to encourage employers across England to create more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities.

Since May 2010, there have been 4,392,000 apprenticeship starts in England. Of these, 7,200 apprenticeships starts have been in the Harlow parliamentary constituency.

From August 2020, all starts will be on the new apprenticeship standards which are replacing existing frameworks. These are designed and driven by industry to create apprenticeships that are high-quality providing employers in Harlow, and across England, with the skills they need. Over 510 standards have already been approved for delivery to apprentices.

We are working hard to encourage take up of our apprenticeship programme. The third phase of the Fire it Up campaign launched in January 2020 with a planned media investment for this phase of £2.9 million. It is targeting certain groups to widen participation in apprenticeships. Our 13th annual National Apprenticeship Week took place in February 2020. Nearly 900 events were held across the country, aiming to change perceptions of apprenticeships.

In January 2018, we introduced a legal requirement for schools to give training providers the chance to talk to pupils about technical qualifications and apprenticeships, so that young people hear about the alternatives to academic routes.

We also offer a free service to schools through the Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge for Schools and Colleges (ASK) programme to ensure that teachers have the knowledge and support to enable them to promote apprenticeships to their students. In the last academic year, ASK reached over 300,000 students throughout England. In Harlow, ASK has worked with 8 schools and colleges and has engaged with 840 students in the last three academic years.

In the 2019-20 financial year, funding available for investment in apprenticeships in England is over £2.5 billion – double what was spent in 2010. This is supporting employers of all sizes, across England, to provide high-quality apprenticeship opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. We are moving smaller employers onto our award-winning apprenticeship service to give them a greater choice of training providers. They can also benefit from transferred funds from levy payers. Levy transfers can help to support new starts in supply chains and address local skills needs.

Essex County Council and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership are members of the East of England Apprenticeship Ambassador Network. They are working with local employers to take advantage of transfers to support more small- and medium-sized employers in the area to offer apprenticeships.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of the £780 million of funding allocated to special educational needs in 2020-21 will be provided to further education colleges to help them support students with those needs.

Next year, we are providing a cash increase of £780 million in the high needs block of the Dedicated Schools Grant, an increase of 12% compared to this year, bringing the total amount for supporting those with the most complex special educational needs to £7.2 billion.

Although the Department for Education allocates a small amount of this funding directly to further education colleges, the vast majority of this funding is allocated to local authorities. Local authorities are then responsible for securing appropriate support for children and young people with complex special education needs, including support provided in further education colleges. In 2021 local authorities will report information about their spending on high needs in 2020-21, including how much they provided to further education colleges.

The latest available actual expenditure data reported by local authorities, for 2018-19, shows that they spent £373 million on special educational needs provision in further education.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to attract further education college teachers in subject areas where there are skill deficits.

Since 2013-14, we have invested over £140 million in further education (FE) teachers and leaders, including for workforce development, through the independent Education and Training Foundation.

In the 2 years to March 2020, we will have invested up to £20 million to support providers as they prepare for the introduction of T levels. This investment includes £5 million for Taking Teaching Further, a national programme that tests how best to attract experienced industry professionals into teaching in FE and how best to support an ongoing exchange between FE and industry. The programme focusses on supporting priority sectors, including the technical routes that will be taught first.

As part of our £400 million 16-19 funding increase in the 2020-21 financial year, we are investing a further £20 million in FE workforce development to help boost teacher recruitment and retention, for which we will announce more details soon.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
21st Apr 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 bringing forward legislative proposals on the licensing of tethered horses.

With reference to the answers I gave to the Rt Hon Member on 13 April 2021 to PQs 174090 and 174091, the Government considers that current legislation and guidance provides the right safeguards and powers in respect of horse tethering. However, we will continue to engage with key stakeholders to see if more can be done to promote best practice among horse owners and to optimise partnership working to tackle the issue of inappropriate horse tethering.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that tethered horses have access to clean water, adequate food and shelter from the prevailing winds, summer sun and flies.

This country leads the way in animal welfare, including setting standards for horse welfare. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, all owners and keepers of horses must provide for the welfare needs of their animals. I consider that current legislation and guidance provides the right safeguards and powers in respect of horse tethering. However, we will continue to engage with key stakeholders to see if more can be done to spread best practice among horse owners as well as increased partnership working in order to tackle the issue of inappropriate horse tethering.

Tethering can be a useful equine temporary management tool when it is used appropriately. The statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and Their Hybrids provides owners and keepers with general welfare information, including a specific section on the tethering of a horse. Whilst it is not an offence to breach the Code, if proceedings are brought against someone for a welfare offence under the 2006 Act, (including failing to tether a horse appropriately and ensuring that it’s welfare needs are met) it could be used as evidence in support of those proceedings.

The equine welfare sector promotes good welfare practice through their respective websites and via social media for example the National Equine Welfare Council’s compendium: http://www.newc.co.uk/advice/

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has plans to bring forward legislative proposals to ban the practice of horse tethering.

This country leads the way in animal welfare, including setting standards for horse welfare. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, all owners and keepers of horses must provide for the welfare needs of their animals. I consider that current legislation and guidance provides the right safeguards and powers in respect of horse tethering. However, we will continue to engage with key stakeholders to see if more can be done to spread best practice among horse owners as well as increased partnership working in order to tackle the issue of inappropriate horse tethering.

Tethering can be a useful equine temporary management tool when it is used appropriately. The statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and Their Hybrids provides owners and keepers with general welfare information, including a specific section on the tethering of a horse. Whilst it is not an offence to breach the Code, if proceedings are brought against someone for a welfare offence under the 2006 Act, (including failing to tether a horse appropriately and ensuring that it’s welfare needs are met) it could be used as evidence in support of those proceedings.

The equine welfare sector promotes good welfare practice through their respective websites and via social media for example the National Equine Welfare Council’s compendium: http://www.newc.co.uk/advice/

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to reduce the practice of horse tethering.

This country leads the way in animal welfare, including setting standards for horse welfare. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, all owners and keepers of horses must provide for the welfare needs of their animals. I consider that current legislation and guidance provides the right safeguards and powers in respect of horse tethering. However, we will continue to engage with key stakeholders to see if more can be done to spread best practice among horse owners as well as increased partnership working in order to tackle the issue of inappropriate horse tethering.

Tethering can be a useful equine temporary management tool when it is used appropriately. The statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and Their Hybrids provides owners and keepers with general welfare information, including a specific section on the tethering of a horse. Whilst it is not an offence to breach the Code, if proceedings are brought against someone for a welfare offence under the 2006 Act, (including failing to tether a horse appropriately and ensuring that it’s welfare needs are met) it could be used as evidence in support of those proceedings.

The equine welfare sector promotes good welfare practice through their respective websites and via social media for example the National Equine Welfare Council’s compendium: http://www.newc.co.uk/advice/

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he plans to review the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and their Hybrids.

This country leads the way in animal welfare, including setting standards for horse welfare. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, all owners and keepers of horses must provide for the welfare needs of their animals. I consider that current legislation and guidance provides the right safeguards and powers in respect of horse tethering. However, we will continue to engage with key stakeholders to see if more can be done to spread best practice among horse owners as well as increased partnership working in order to tackle the issue of inappropriate horse tethering.

Tethering can be a useful equine temporary management tool when it is used appropriately. The statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and Their Hybrids provides owners and keepers with general welfare information, including a specific section on the tethering of a horse. Whilst it is not an offence to breach the Code, if proceedings are brought against someone for a welfare offence under the 2006 Act, (including failing to tether a horse appropriately and ensuring that it’s welfare needs are met) it could be used as evidence in support of those proceedings.

The equine welfare sector promotes good welfare practice through their respective websites and via social media for example the National Equine Welfare Council’s compendium: http://www.newc.co.uk/advice/

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department takes to ensure that tethered horses are inspected regularly by their owners.

This country leads the way in animal welfare, including setting standards for horse welfare. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, all owners and keepers of horses must provide for the welfare needs of their animals.

The statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and Their Hybrids provides owners and keepers with general welfare information. The Code states that when horses are tethered, the need for regular supervision is paramount and that tethered horses should be inspected no less frequently than every six hours during waking normal hours.

Whilst it is not an offence to breach the Code, if proceedings are brought against someone for a welfare offence under the 2006 Act (including failing to tether a horse appropriately and ensuring that it’s welfare needs are met), it could be used as evidence in support of those proceedings.

The equine welfare sector promotes good welfare practice through their respective websites and via social media e.g. National Equine Welfare Council’s compendium: http://www.newc.co.uk/advice/

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has plans to bring forward legislative proposals to require local authorities to employ an Animal Welfare Officer.

Local authorities are responsible for enforcing certain animal related activities which are licensed, such as pet selling, dog breeding and selling, animal boarding, riding schools and the exhibiting of animals. Therefore, every local authority at district level will have access to officers who enforce animal welfare standards. Local authorities have powers, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, to investigate allegations of animal cruelty or poor welfare. Local authorities must be allowed to decide how to enforce the 2006 Act based upon local priorities and resources.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will bring forward legislative proposals on preventing people from keeping an animal in the event that a tether is their only method of keeping that animal.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 it is an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to an animal or to fail to provide for its welfare including if such an offence is caused by the inappropriate way it is tethered. The maximum penalty for causing unnecessary suffering or failing to provide for an animal's welfare is six months' imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. However, the Government is committed to increasing the maximum custodial penalty for causing unnecessary suffering from six months to five years. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, currently before Parliament, will implement this increase. The Government will support the Bill as it makes its way through Parliament. In addition, the statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and Their Hybrids provides owners and keepers with general welfare information, including a specific section on how to tether their horse. Whilst it is not an offence to breach the Code, if proceedings are brought against someone for a welfare offence under the 2006 Act, (including failing to tether a horse appropriately) it could be used as evidence in support of those proceedings. DEFRA keeps all such legislation under review to ensure existing laws provide for situations where people cause their animals unnecessary suffering, including through inappropriate tethering.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to stop horse tethering in dangerous locations.

This country leads the way in animal welfare, including setting standards for horse welfare. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, all owners and keepers of horses must provide for the welfare needs of their animals. The statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and Their Hybrids provides owners and keepers with general welfare information, including a specific section on the correct choice of site to tether a horse. Whilst it is not an offence to breach the Code, if proceedings are brought against someone for a welfare offence under the 2006 Act, (including failing to tether a horse appropriately) it could be used as evidence in support of those proceedings. In addition, the equine welfare sector promotes good welfare practice through their respective websites and via social media e.g. National Equine Welfare Council’s compendium: http://www.newc.co.uk/advice/.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what representations he has received on the Community Shop initiative to redistribute surplus food waste to help tackle child food insecurity; and whether he plans to make it his policy to support that initiative.

In 2018, a £15 million food waste fund was announced to do more to tackle food waste and make sure surplus food goes to those who have a need. Grants have been awarded to food redistribution organisations both large and small, including £1.9 million each for Community Shop, which has resulted in its Harnessing Harder to Reach Surplus programme, and FareShare and its Surplus with Purpose initiative.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, £5 million has been specifically made available to help redistribute surplus food to those in need including £1.8 million from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport fund in support of charities. Nearly 300 grants have been made available to over 230 charities. Grant recipients are now delivering their project activities and putting in place the new infrastructure that the funds have supported across their food redistribution networks.

Building on the significant support given to the most vulnerable during the pandemic, earlier this month a winter support package was announced, including a further £16 million to fund local charities to purchase food through well-established networks and provide immediate support to people of all ages.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Department is taking to redistribute surplus food into Government initiatives to tackle child food insecurity.

In 2018, a £15 million food waste fund was announced to do more to tackle food waste and make sure surplus food goes to those who have a need. Grants have been awarded to food redistribution organisations both large and small, including £1.9 million each for Community Shop, which has resulted in its Harnessing Harder to Reach Surplus programme, and FareShare and its Surplus with Purpose initiative.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, £5 million has been specifically made available to help redistribute surplus food to those in need including £1.8 million from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport fund in support of charities. Nearly 300 grants have been made available to over 230 charities. Grant recipients are now delivering their project activities and putting in place the new infrastructure that the funds have supported across their food redistribution networks.

Building on the significant support given to the most vulnerable during the pandemic, earlier this month a winter support package was announced, including a further £16 million to fund local charities to purchase food through well-established networks and provide immediate support to people of all ages.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Oct 2020
What steps his Department is taking to reduce the practice of horse tethering.

People who tether their horses inappropriately risk causing their animals distress and suffering and could be liable to prosecution for offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and their Hybrids provides keepers with information on how and when tethering may be used. We remain committed to tackling the issue of inappropriate horse tethering through effective partnership working, enforcement and dissemination of best practice.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress his Department is making on meeting the 2.3 per cent public sector apprenticeship target; and when his Department will meet that target.

As of 31 March 2020, the Civil Service has achieved a total of 2.1% of its total workforce as apprentices against the legislative target for the public sector of 2.3% by March 2021. Defra had achieved 1% of the total staff employed within the department.

In Defra group, we have taken the following steps towards the public sector apprenticeship target.

We have reactivated our ‘Early Talent’ Strategy for 2020/21 to focus on:

  • increasing the use of apprenticeships within external recruitment;
  • promoting the use of apprenticeships to support development of existing staff;
  • increasing and maximising the use of the levy; and
  • using targeted apprenticeship recruitment to improve the diversity of our workforce.

We have identified a number of levers that can be used to achieve the above and these are actively being discussed within the business. We continue to enhance the information and tools available to line managers to improve understanding.

While there are a number of standards that we can actively use, given the unique nature and breadth of our activities in Defra group, we continue to explore and invest in trailblazer activity.

Defra group has been focused on delivery against EU exit requirements and more recently COVID-19. Defra remains committed to the Civil Service Apprenticeship Strategy and is looking to increase our use of apprenticeships across Defra group over the next 12 months.

Given this target is a percentage of the total workforce, the percentage changes in line with workforce fluctuations over time, therefore making it challenging to predict when a department will meet the target. The data for 2018/19 can be found on the GOV.UK website at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/civil-service-apprenticeship-data-2018-to-2019. The data for 2019/20 will be released on GOV.UK by the end of September 2020.

Departments are committed to increasing the number of apprentices across the Civil Service and continue to work towards the 2.3% target. The impact of the current pandemic has slowed recruitment due to priority work and logistics. With the current strategy and targets coming to an end in April 2021, the Civil Service is already focusing on how to continue to support the apprenticeship agenda and drive forward apprenticeship recruitment, pulling on the Plan for Jobs initiative and considering the current economic situation.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to reach the public sector apprenticeship target.

In Defra group, we have taken the following steps towards the public sector apprenticeship target.

Defra group has recently reactivated its ‘Early Talent’ Strategy for 2020/21 and is intending to increase our activities around the following four themes:

a) Increasing the use of apprenticeships within external recruitment

b) Promoting the use of apprenticeships to support development of existing staff

c) Increasing and maximising the use of the levy

d) Using targeted apprenticeship recruitment to improve the diversity of our workforce

We have identified a number of levers that can be used to achieve the above and these are actively being discussed within the business, for example by: building an apprenticeship option into all new external recruitment activity; identifying executive sponsors; establishing a robust approach to learning and development; the creation of apprenticeship networks; and seeking to convert other early talent pipelines such as internships into apprenticeships.

We continue to enhance the information and tools available to line managers to improve understanding. For example, within recruitment processes we have introduced the use of Interactive Candidate Packs, appropriate selection processes such as Success Profiles, online advertising, case studies and trained selection panels.

While there are a number of standards that we can actively use, given the unique nature and breadth of our activities in Defra group, we continue to explore and invest in trailblazer activity.

Defra group has been focused on delivery against EU exit requirements and more recently COVID-19. Defra remains committed to the Civil Service Apprenticeship Strategy and is looking to increase our use of apprenticeships across Defra group over the next 12 months.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on re-opening dog grooming parlours to ensure the welfare of animals during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government's message to the public is clear: stay alert, control the virus and save lives. Dog grooming businesses play a key role in ensuring the welfare of the nation's pets and have been allowed to operate since advice to businesses was first published, within the strict advice on social distancing and hygiene.

The Canine and Feline Sector Group, which advises both the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England and Defra Ministers, has issued its own guidance to pet businesses, including dog groomers, on how they can continue to operate under current restrictions and in line with guidance around social distancing and hygiene: www.cfsg.org.uk/coronavirus/SiteAssets/SitePages/Home/CFSG%20Animal%20Business%20Guidance%2007.04.20.pdf.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what guidance he has issued to local authorities about the re-opening of rubbish tips; and if he will make it his policy that rubbish tips can remain open on condition that social distancing can be adhered to.

We published guidance on 7 April to help local authorities prioritise waste services at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-to-local-authorities-on-prioritising-waste-collections/guidance-on-prioritising-waste-collection-services-during-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic. This recommends keeping household waste recycling centres open if it is safe to do so.

The Government is working closely with local authorities and the waste industry to see how we can re-open these sites in the coming weeks, whilst observing social distancing and other requirements, to make sure collections are prioritised appropriately and that all parts of the waste system continue to run as smoothly as possible. We expect to publish further guidance shortly.

Local authorities should maintain black bag collections and prevent waste from building up to protect the environment and public health.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to ensure that the seasonal demand for fruit pickers will be met during the covid-19 outbreak; and what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on how those positions can be filled.

The ongoing impacts of the Coronavirus outbreak have meant that there will be a shortfall in the numbers of workers who usually travel to the UK from Europe to work during the harvest season, with the demand for workers peaking from late May through the summer.

Farming leaders have already kick-started a recruitment drive for work on farms, with thousands of British people already expressing an interest in picking up seasonal agricultural work over the coming weeks and months. With many British workers furloughed from their jobs, and students having to put their summer plans on hold, the Government is supporting industry efforts to help farmers bring in this year’s harvest, working to build on these numbers.

The majority of roles for the early part of the harvest season have already been filled. We are closely monitoring the situation and we will shortly be launching a public- facing campaign to highlight the roles available from late May onwards and to encourage people to apply. The Government has confirmed that those who have been furloughed from their jobs due to coronavirus, and who are contractually allowed to work for another employer, can take on this seasonal work.

A new Government-industry digital hub for seasonal work information and job opportunities has been launched to provide guidance on getting into farm work and links to the available jobs and recruiters. The website can be found at pickforbritain.org.uk and will be updated regularly over the coming weeks to help match jobs to workers as the demand grows.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the total amount of funding from the public purse given by his Department to (a) civil society and (b) campaigning bodies in each of the last five years.

The Department’s finance system does not categorise suppliers in a way that would enable separate identification of funding to civil society and campaigning bodies. The only way in which we could obtain the requested information would be to manually go though payments to all suppliers and categorise them individually. This could only be done at disproportionate cost.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he plans take to help mitigate the effects of climate change on the most disadvantaged in society.

Adapting to inevitable changes in our climate is vital which is why the Government is taking robust action to improve resilience to the effects of climate change across the whole country and economy, as set out in our current National Adaptation Programme [https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/climate-change-second-national-adaptation-programme-2018-to-2023].

The Government considers the distributional impact of our interventions on different groups, including disadvantaged groups. For instance, the formula for allocating the Government’s flood defence funding is weighted towards protecting people’s lives and homes. The most deprived areas of the country are eligible for higher payment levels than elsewhere, explicitly targeting higher Government investment in deprived areas.

Moving towards our net zero carbon emissions target offers the UK real opportunities such as new jobs, clean air and warm homes.?It is vital we make sure that these opportunities are inclusive, benefitting people across the UK.? HM Treasury will be conducting a review into the costs of decarbonisation, including how to achieve this transition in a way that works for households, businesses and public finances.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many local authorities hold contracts for waste management services with Veolia.

Defra does not retain a list of Veolia’s contracts with local authorities.

All companies that collect waste for local authorities must be registered waste carriers with the Environment Agency and must take that waste to a permitted or registered exempt site. The Environment Agency will hold registration details for these carriers.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent representations she has received on the conduct of Veolia management in Harlow.

Defra has not received any representations on the conduct of Veolia management in Harlow.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps her Department is taking to reach the public sector apprenticeship target.

DFID is committed to offering a range of apprenticeships to meet the public sector apprenticeship target.

Plans for our 2020 intake have been delayed whilst we respond to Covid-19, and establish the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office but we do expect to recruit a range of apprentices by the end of 2020.

Our apprenticeship schemes have been designed to be as inclusive as possible and encourage individuals from diverse backgrounds to apply.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, whether his Department plans to supply medical equipment to the Kurdistan Regional Government to help tackle the covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement.

The UK has announced up to £744 million of aid funding to support the global efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, including support to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and to the UN system to protect the most vulnerable.

Through the UN Supply Chain Taskforce, WHO is leading efforts to understand the availability, distribution and forecasting of crucial response commodities throughout the world. We are supporting these efforts to assess the levels of needs and preparedness across Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and working with multilateral partners including the UN, World Bank and International Monetary Fund to support the response.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what estimate she has made of the total amount of funding from the public purse given by her Department to (a) civil society and (b) campaigning bodies in each of the last five years.

UK-based charitable organisations are critical policy and programme partners for DFID. They are vital to DFID’s delivery capability, humanitarian response and research effort, and they actively engage with DFID on the international agenda for development, across a range of policy and technical issues. Funding opportunities include the Small Charities Challenge Fund, UK Aid Direct and UK Aid Match. However, a full answer to how much public funding has been given to civil society organisations could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

DFID does not fund campaigning, fundraising, or advocacy activities. These are listed as ineligible costs in our cost eligibility guidance for grants and contracts.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what plans she has to reallocate Official Development Assistance previously allocated to the European Union following the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

As a Member State, the UK spent approximately 10% of our Official Development Assistance (ODA) through the EU each year. Going forward we will be able to make our own decisions about where, when and how we invest that money. The UK will continue to play a leading role in tackling global development challenges in support of the national interest.

Under the Withdrawal Agreement the UK will honour its share of commitments made to the EU budget and off-budget funds during the period of our membership. For DFID, this means that we will meet our commitments to EU development programmes approved by 31 December 2020 until their closure. As these are multi-year programmes, this will result in a declining spending tail of ODA contributions that we expect to run until 2027.

Ministers will take decisions on reallocating ODA funding through normal departmental processes and DFID’s bid to the Spending Review, in line with the conclusions of the Integrated Review.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what her priorities are for her Department.

This Government is proud to maintain the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI on development and will do more to help countries receiving aid to become self-sufficient. The UK will continue to lead on promoting girls’ education around the world, tackling climate change, ending the preventable deaths of mothers, new-born babies and children by 2030, and also lead the way in eradicating Ebola and malaria. This will transform the lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable; and we are clear that a world in which free societies and liberal values are able to flourish is firmly in our own interests. The Integrated Security, Defence and Foreign Policy Review will be a wholesale reassessment of our foreign, defence, security and development policy.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, how much and what proportion of UK funding for the Iraq Humanitarian Fund is allocated to projects in the Kurdistan Region; and if he will make a statement.

The UK has committed approximately £94 million to the Iraq Humanitarian Pooled Fund since 2015. In 2018, the UK contributed £13 million to the Iraq Humanitarian Pooled Fund. That year, the Iraq Humanitarian Pooled Fund allocated $3.2 million to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq of a total of $36.6 million (including other donor funding). This equates to roughly 9% of Pooled Fund allocations to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

DFID has committed £261m in humanitarian support to Iraq since 2014, providing a vital lifeline to millions with shelter, medical care and clean water.

17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what progress her Department is making on meeting the 2.3 per cent public sector apprenticeship target; and when her Department will meet that target.

As of 31 March 2020, the Civil Service in England has achieved an average of 2.1% of its total workforce as apprenticeship-starts through the qualifying period against the legisla-tive target to achieve an average of 2.3% across the financial years 2017/18 to 2020/21. According to Cabinet Office statistics, the Department for International Trade, including UK Export Finance, has achieved 3.5% of its total workforce in England as apprentice-ship-starts in 2019/20, up from 1.1% in 2018/19.

We have plans in place to achieve our legislative target by the end of March 2021. DIT offers a range of apprenticeships across different disciplines to build both individual and departmental professional capability. The department continues to include apprenticeships as part of its workforce planning to ensure it maintains performance against the 2.3% target. The data for 2018/19 can be found here and the data for 2019/20 is here.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps her Department is taking to reach the public sector apprenticeship target.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) is committed to building a diverse, inclusive and expert department. Apprenticeships play an important role in delivering that commitment and helping our employees to achieve their full potential.

DIT offers a range of apprenticeships across different disciplines to build both individual and departmental professional capability. This year, we exceeded our Civil Service target (of 51) with 57 new apprenticeship starts.

We have achieved this by:

  • Putting in place good quality apprenticeships that reflect DIT priorities and with the right level of support for participants.

  • Offering (where appropriate) an apprenticeship qualification when recruiting to some entry-level roles externally.

  • Targeting key capability priorities within our current workforce, giving them additional opportunities to retrain and up-skill.

We intend to maintain this and have every confidence that we will achieve the target of 2.3% by March 2021 as part of the Civil Service.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what estimate she has made of the total amount of funding from the public purse given by her Department to (a) civil society and (b) campaigning bodies in each of the last five years.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) came to existence in July 2016. DIT secures UK and global prosperity by promoting and financing international trade and investment, and championing free trade. The Department does not specifically record this type of funding in its accounting records, and a search of other records has not identified any funding of civil society or campaign groups in this time period.

22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent steps her Department has taken to promote bilateral trade between (a) the UK and Iraq and (b) the UK and the Kurdistan Region; and if he will make a statement.

Total trade between the UK and Iraq was £720m for the four quarters ending Q3 2019. This represents a 45% increase (£246m) over the previous year.

Our efforts to increase trade with Iraq are on-going. Recent initiatives include Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner’s participation at the Iraq Britain Business Council Conference, a trade visit to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq by the Department for International Trade’s Iraq Director, our Consul-General in Erbil briefing locally based British businesses and the doubling of UK Export Finance’s market cover from £1bn to £2bn in April 2019.

9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much funding from the public purse has been allocated to the construction of the new Junction 7a on the M11.

Total project costs for the Junction 7a M11 scheme, including construction and widening of local link roads, is estimated to be around £81 million with an agreed funding contribution from Highways England of £41.7 million, which was provided to Essex County Council. Additionally, through the Department’s Large Local Majors programme, the scheme received £1.5 million of early development funding in 2017. The remainder of the project costs are being funded by Essex County Council and partners.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to urgently help resolve the delays at Felixstowe port.

Officials and I have actively engaged with the Port of Felixstowe, the port sector, and wider freight sectors, to understand the challenge of a global peak in container traffic, and the steps they are taking to address the demand surge impacts in the UK.

We will continue to monitor the situation, including convening a meeting of all relevant freight trade associations, to encourage all parties to work collaboratively to take the steps needed to resolve any remaining challenges.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many people have died by suicide on the railways in 2020.

There have been 157 suspected suicides on the rail network during period 2020/21 (182 during corresponding period 2019/20).

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many collisions there have been at Junction 7 on the M11 in each of the last three years; and what has been the nature of those collisions.

The number of reported personal injury road accidents on junction 7 of the M11 for the past three years can be found in the table below.

Reported personal injury road accidents on junction 7 of the M11, 2016 to 2018

Year

Fatal

Serious

Slight

2016

0

0

7

2017

0

1

5

2018

1

0

2

Source: DfT, STATS19

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what progress his Department is making on meeting the 2.3 per cent public sector apprenticeship target; and when his Department will meet that target.

As of 31 March 2020, the Civil Service has achieved a total of 2.1% of its total workforce as apprentices against the legislative target for the public sector of 2.3% by March 2021. Department for Transport (DfT) has currently achieved 1.3% of the total staff employed within the department for 2020/21. Given this target is a percentage of the total workforce, the percentage changes in line with workforce fluctuations over time therefore making it challenging to predict when a department will meet it. The data for 2018/19 can be found here. The data for 2019/20 will be released on gov.uk by the end of September 2020. Due to the diverse nature of our work, the central department (DfTc) and our executive agencies (DfT Group) have developed localised strategies to allow us to continue towards the Government target. In September 2020 DfTc additionally transitioned to a cohort-based model of recruitment for apprenticeships; further strengthening our ambition for apprenticeship recruitment, and providing economies of scale to improve quality of provision and overall employee experience for the apprenticeship community.

Departments are committed to increasing the number of apprentices across the Civil Service and continue to work towards the 2.3% target. The impact of the current pandemic has slowed recruitment due to priority work and logistics. With the current strategy and targets coming to an end in April 2021, the Civil Service is already focusing on how to continue to support the apprenticeship agenda and drive forward apprenticeship recruitment, pulling on the Plan for Jobs initiative and considering the current economic situation.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to meet the public sector apprenticeship target.

The Department remains fully committed to the Government’s apprenticeship agenda and is actively encouraging both the recruitment of apprentices externally, through proactive outreach and the utilisation of apprenticeships to develop internal capability and strengthen talent pipelines.

Due to the diverse work of the department, DfT core and each of its executive agencies (DfT Group) have developed localised strategies to support ongoing work against public-sector apprenticeship targets, and improve the overall quality of the apprentice experience.

For mainstream recruitment, we have embedded a process standard across DfT Group requiring vacancy holders to consider recruiting apprentices as the default resourcing option to fill vacant roles. This is alongside work with the policy, HR, project delivery, finance and other technical operational professions to actively encourage apprenticeship uptake to support skills and capability growth and talent retention.

From Autumn 2020 we plan to move to volume-based recruitment and apprenticeship management. Alongside this, we will continue to focus on developing our corporate support offer for apprentices and their line-managers, and strengthening supplier engagement to drive quality of provision.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what guidance he has issued on when driving instructors can return to work as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

As the health and safety of staff and customers is key, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is working closely with the Department for Transport to prepare for a safe return to testing. It will announce details of resumption in due course.

In the meantime, approved driving instructors (ADI) should continue to limit driving lessons to critical workers who are preparing for an emergency driving test.

The DVSA’s priority remains to protect the public and save lives. Driving lessons and tests have not yet been able to restart because the risk of transmission of the virus in vehicles is higher.

On 15 June 2020, the DVSA’s Chief Executive wrote to all ADIs updating them on the planning it is doing to help return to life that is as close to normal as possible, as quickly and fairly as possible, in a way that avoids a second peak of infections. That letter can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-letter

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to extend the duration of provisional driving instructor licences during the covid-19 outbreak to ensure that those licenses do not expire while trainee driving instructors are unable to undertake training.

There is no provision in legislation to extend the period of a provisional driving instructor trainee licence beyond six months.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
21st Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if the Government will extend the validity period of learner driver theory test certificates to ensure learner drivers who cannot take a practical driving test as a result of the outbreak of covid-19 do not have to retake the theory test.

The Department for Transport is aware of the issue of theory tests that are about to expire shortly. We are currently considering options on this matter. People can still apply for an emergency practical driving test if their work is critical to the COVID-19 response.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the total amount of funding from the public purse given by his Department to (a) civil society and (b) campaigning bodies in each of the last five years.

The Department does not categorise its suppliers by this type of sector so we are unable to extract information relating to which suppliers may fall into the categories of either civil society or campaigning bodies.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many fatal accidents have occurred on the Junction 7a section of the M11 in each year since 2010.

The number of reported fatal road accidents between junctions 7 and 8 of the M11 from 2010 to 2018 can be found in the table below.

Reported fatal road accidents between junctions 7 and 8 of the M11¹, 2010 - 2018

Year

Fatal accidents

2010

0

2011

0

2012

0

2013

0

2014

1

2015

0

2016

0

2017

0

2018

0

Source: DfT, STATS19

1. Not including slip roads or roundabouts

17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress her Department is making on meeting the 2.3 per cent public sector apprenticeship target; and when her Department will meet that target.

As of 31 March 2020, the Civil Service has achieved a total of 2.1% of its total workforce as apprentices against the legislative target for the public sector of 2.3% by March 2021. The Department for Work and Pensions has achieved 1.8% of the total staff employed within the department. The Department is looking to recruit more apprentices over the coming months, and current forecasts predict we could achieve the target in 2020/21. Given this target is a percentage of the total workforce the percentage changes in line with workforce fluctuations over time therefore making it challenging to predict when a department will meet it. The data for 2018/19 can be found here. The data for 2019/20 will be released on gov.uk by the end of September 2020.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what her Department is taking to reach the public sector apprenticeship target.

DWP has a total of twenty-four different apprenticeship programmes ranging from Level 2 to Level 7 (MBA level).

Continuous learning is an important part of our Capability strategy and through access to Apprenticeships, these schemes are available widely across all professional areas throughout the department.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has in place to support the extremely clinically vulnerable to covid-19 who have not been furloughed and are asked to return to work after 1 August 2020 in the event that they believe that their workplace is not covid-19-secure.

Guidance for the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

Guidance for employers can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Guidance for employees (including links to advice services if a person is worried about going back to work) can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/worker-support

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support her Department is providing to people on zero-hours contracts whose employment has been terminated as a result of covid-19 and do not qualify for Statutory Sick Pay because they are not self-isolating.

The Government has been clear in its commitment to support those affected in these difficult times and we have made a number of changes to the welfare system in the past fortnight to ensure people are supported in doing this. These changes include:

  • making it easier to access benefits. Those applying for Contributory ESA will be able to claim from day 1 – as opposed to day 8 - and we have removed the need for face-to-face assessment. Both Universal Credit and Contributory ESA can now be claimed by phone or online;
  • increasing the standard allowance of Universal Credit and working tax credit for this year by around £1000 per year;
  • temporarily relaxing the application of the Minimum Income Floor (MIF) for all self-employed claimants affected by the economic impact of COVID-19 to ensure that the self-employed can access UC at a more generous rate; and
  • increasing in the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants so that it covers the cheapest third of local rents – which is on average £600 in people’s pockets.

Together, these measures represent an injection of over £6.5 billion into the welfare system.

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

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent discussions she has had with supermarket chains and suppliers on ensuring that the foodbanks can meet the increased demand as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Food banks are independent charitable organisations and, as such, are best placed to decide on the most appropriate arrangements for supporting people who use them. As both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID 19 and we have been clear in our intention that no one should be penalised for doing the right thing. These are rapidly developing circumstances, we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

I also refer the honourable member to the response given by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in response to an oral question made on 19 March:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-03-19/debates/EBB8F3D7-F9F4-4C5C-B913-86FD27851B5D/VulnerablePeopleFoodSupplies

[Additionally announcements were made at the Prime Minister’s daily briefings on 21 and 22 March in relation to food supply]

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to section 2.1 of the 2021-22 priorities and operational planning guidance: Implementation guidance 25 March 2021, what the criteria is for determining exceptions to the proposal that Integrated Care System boundaries are changed to be consistent with upper tier boundaries from April 2022; and whether Herts and West Essex Integrated Care System meets those criteria for exception due to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow being on the Essex and Hertfordshire boundary.

Following discussions between the Department and NHS England and NHS Improvement, integrated care system (ICS) boundaries which are not aligned with local authority boundaries are being reviewed to ensure future arrangements can support effective partnership working between the National Health Service and local government. Hertfordshire and West Essex ICS has been identified as one of the areas included in this boundary review. NHS England and NHS Improvement are currently undertaking this boundary review exercise and no final decisions have yet been made.

As this work progresses engagement with local areas will take place including with NHS bodies, local authorities and other stakeholders in the affected areas in order to appropriately assess any potential effects a change of ICS boundaries in an area may have, this will include consideration of any potential impact on service providers.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy for the boundaries of the Herts and West Essex Integrated Care System to remain unchanged on 1 April 2022 as one of the national exceptions to the proposal to align integrated care systems with upper tier local authority boundaries set out in the White Paper on Integration and innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all.

Following discussions between the Department and NHS England and NHS Improvement, integrated care system (ICS) boundaries which are not aligned with local authority boundaries are being reviewed to ensure future arrangements can support effective partnership working between the National Health Service and local government. Hertfordshire and West Essex ICS has been identified as one of the areas included in this boundary review. NHS England and NHS Improvement are currently undertaking this boundary review exercise and no final decisions have yet been made.

As this work progresses engagement with local areas will take place including with NHS bodies, local authorities and other stakeholders in the affected areas in order to appropriately assess any potential effects a change of ICS boundaries in an area may have, this will include consideration of any potential impact on service providers.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason data on the uptake of Healthy Start vouchers is no longer publicly available; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of making that data available online prior to the value of that scheme increasing in April 2021 so that local teams may assess their progress in promoting that scheme and increasing uptake.

The NHS Business Services Authority launched a new Healthy Start website on 18 March 2021 in compliance with current accessibility standards and regulations. The previous uptake reports could not be made compliant with these accessibility standards and have been temporarily removed from the new website. The NHS Business Services Authority is prioritising work to re-publish the uptake data on the Healthy Start website.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason data on the uptake of Healthy Start vouchers is no longer publicly available; and if he will make that data available again online ahead of the increase in value of Healthy Start payments in April 2021 to allow local teams to assess their progress in promoting the scheme and increasing uptake.

The NHS Business Services Authority launched a new Healthy Start website on 18 March 2021 in compliance with current accessibility standards and regulations. The previous uptake reports could not be made compliant with these accessibility standards and have been temporarily removed from the new website. The NHS Business Services Authority is prioritising work to re-publish the uptake data on the Healthy Start website.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to his Department's pilot of transparent face masks, what evidence on the (a) effectiveness and (b) safety of those masks has been provided to other Government departments.

The ClearMask transparent mask used in the pilot undertaken in September has received approval from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for use during the COVID-19 pandemic and can be used in the National Health Service supply chain in healthcare settings, subject to a number of limitations. It is currently the only transparent mask that has been approved.

A transparent mask working group has been set up by NHS England and NHS Improvement. They are producing a new technical specification which gives testing, design and performance requirements for single-use transparent face masks which are intended to provide comparable protection to that of a Type IIR medical mask. It is intended that the technical specification, which has been informed by clinical usability assessments, can be used as part of the assessment of a broader scope of transparent facemask products. The technical specification will be published online once completed.

Work is also underway to evaluate Type IIR transparent masks for procurement, which will be assessed against the prevailing Type IIR standards.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he plans to take to ensure that the new public health science campus in Harlow will be supported with multi-year 2021 Spending Review approval.

The Government confirmed in 2015 its intention to proceed with development of the planned Public Health England science campus and headquarters in Harlow. This allowed the purchase of the site and considerable planning, design development and early enabling works to take place. Most recently, the 2020 Spending Review provided funding for the 2020/2021 financial year in excess of £120 million. Major construction could begin within a few months.

Multi-year approval, and commitment to the delivery of the programme in full, will be considered in the light of the design work for the National Institute for Health Protection and the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support (a) Public Health England and (b) its replacement the National Institute for Health Protection to tackle the covid-19 outbreak and future pandemics.

The Government has committed over £37 billion to support the essential work of NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England in tackling COVID-19. We have already brought this work together under unified leadership and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) will be established formally very shortly.

In addition, The Department of Health and Social Care has made available more than £6 billion to develop, manufacture and procure COVID-19 vaccines and continues to provide free personal protective equipment (PPE) to testing and vaccination centres to ensure frontline workers remain protected.

Future resourcing for the UKHSA will be determined in the next Spending Review.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to the support the delivery of public health solutions at the new public health science campus at Harlow.

The Government confirmed in 2015 its intention to proceed with development of the planned Public Health England science campus and headquarters in Harlow. This allowed the purchase of the site and considerable planning, design development and early enabling works to take place. Most recently, the 2020 Spending Review provided funding for the 2020/2021 financial year in excess of £120 million. Major construction could begin within a few months.

Multi-year approval, and commitment to the delivery of the programme in full, will be considered in the light of the design work for the National Institute for Health Protection and the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans the Government has for the new public health science campus at Harlow to play a leading role in the UK's preparedness against future pandemics.

The public health science campus at Harlow is not yet operating as a Public Health England facility. The modern state-of-the-art campus will bring the very latest technology and capabilities to support an efficient and effective response to future emergencies and pandemics.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support the delivery of the new public health science campus at Harlow.

The Government confirmed in 2015 its intention to proceed with development of the planned Public Health England science campus and headquarters in Harlow. This allowed the purchase of the site and considerable planning, design development and early enabling works to take place. Most recently, the 2020 Spending Review provided funding for the 2020/2021 financial year in excess of £120 million. Major construction could begin within a few months.

Multi-year approval, and commitment to the delivery of the programme in full, will be considered in the light of the design work for the National Institute for Health Protection and the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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, whether he has plans to promote the Healthy Start scheme via a new communications package to improve uptake when the value of the vouchers increases in April 2021; and if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of working with (a) food partnerships, (b) public health teams and (c) other local stakeholders to promote that scheme.

From April 2021 the Healthy Start voucher value will increase from £3.10 to £4.25. We will work closely with Healthy Start beneficiaries, retailers, local authorities and healthcare professionals to prepare for this.

The Healthy Start scheme continues to be promoted through the Healthy Start and Start4Life websites. All eligible beneficiaries receive a letter inviting them to apply for Healthy Start, together with a pre-populated application form.

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, for what reason there has been a reduction in uptake of the Healthy Start scheme since May 2020.

The number of beneficiaries receiving Healthy Start Vouchers has remained stable over the past year, at around 300,000. All eligible beneficiaries receive a letter inviting them to apply for Healthy Start, together with a pre-populated application form.

On 8 November 2020, it was announced that the value of the Healthy Start voucher in England will rise from £3.10 to £4.25 per week from April 2021. This will provide additional support to pregnant women and families on lower incomes to make healthy food choices.

In addition, we are developing a digital approach to Healthy Start, to make it easier for families to apply for, receive and use Healthy Start benefits.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce waiting times for (a) knee and (b) hip replacement surgery.

The recent Spending Review provided £3 billion for 2021/22 to support the National Health Service in tackling the impact of COVID-19. This included £1 billion to tackle long waiting lists and address backlogs by facilitating up to one million extra checks, scans and additional operations such as knee and hip replacement surgery.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support youth mental health services.

We are committed to achieving our NHS Long Term Plan ambitions for service transformation and expansion, backed by investment of £2.3 billion a year to mental health services by 2023/24. The investment will mean that, by 2023/24, an extra 345,000 children and young people aged 0-25 years old will be able to access mental health support via National Health Service-funded mental health services and school- or college-based mental health support teams, if they need them.

Through the Long Term Plan, we will extend current service models to create a comprehensive offer for 0-25 year olds that reaches across mental health services for children, young people and adults. The new model will deliver an integrated approach across health, social care, education and the voluntary sector, such as the evidenced-based ‘iThrive’ operating model which currently covers around 47% of the 0-18 year old population and can be expanded to 25 year olds.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that care homes in Harlow will receive rapid covid-19 tests.

All care homes, including those in Harlow, have access to lateral flow device kits and received deliveries in December and January and can now order their own kits.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many people have died by suicide in Harlow constituency compared to the national average in each of the last three years.

The Department does not hold the requested data.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking with the Department for Transport to help prevent suicides on the railways.

The fourth progress report of the cross-Government suicide prevention strategy recognises the importance of reducing access to the means to attempt suicide, including on railways.

Our cross-Government suicide prevention workplan, published by the Department of Health and Social Care in 2019, includes actions led by the Department for Transport to reduce suicides on our railways, such as the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign launched with Samaritans, and work with British Transport Police that brings together local health and social care partners to address identified problem sites.

The Department for Transport continues to meet with the transport industry and stakeholders to discuss best practice in suicide prevention on England’s transport networks.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when hospitals will resume face-to-face consultations within urology, neurology and dermatology departments during the covid-19 outbreak.

The resumption of face-to-face appointments for different specialities is dependent on clinical necessity, local circumstances and capacity.

The importance of providing face-to-face appointments for those who need them has been clearly communicated. Virtual consultations have been invaluable in protecting staff and patients from avoidable risk of infection during the pandemic. However, we appreciate that they are not appropriate in all cases and around two-thirds of outpatients are now being seen face-to-face.

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, whether (a) beauty, (b) physiotherapy and (c) other businesses that operate from a person's home can continue to remain open and see clients under Tier 2 (High) covid-19 restrictions in Essex.

New local alert levels announced on 12 October set out three tiers of restrictions that aim to control the chain of transmission in an area based on specific local circumstances. The Local Alert Level: High restrictions (tier 2) are primarily aimed at targeting household to household transmission by placing restrictions on indoor gatherings, which is recognised as a significant route of transmission.

Businesses based in a person’s home may remain open at this level, provided they follow COVID-secure guidance and are not subject to other closure rules, e.g. closure of hospitality venues between 10pm and 5am. Close contact services must also follow relevant guidance, including mandatory use of face coverings.

Further guidance is available at the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-covid-alert-level-high#business-and-venues

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/close-contact-services

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when GP surgeries will resume face to face consultations.

General practice is open and people should continue to access services by phone, online or in person.

On 31 August, NHS England and NHS Improvement issued guidance stating that general practitioner (GP) practices must offer face-to-face appointments at surgeries and continue to use remote triage, video, online and telephone consultations where appropriate – whilst also considering those unable to access or engage with digital services. On 14 September, NHS England and NHS Improvement wrote to GPs and their commissioners reiterating the importance of providing face to face appointments for those who need them and shared a communications toolkit designed to support clear communication with patients about how they can access the right type of appointment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to review the decision to require individuals to wear face coverings in places of worship during the covid-19 outbreak.

Members of the public must wear a face covering in a range of indoor public settings in England, which includes places of worship.

The wearing of face covering does not replace or change existing advice on other measures – such as hand washing, social distancing and self-isolation – which remain more important (because of stronger evidence and larger effects).

The Government is committed to following the evidence and will keep reviewing evidence from around the world and update our position as and when needed.

Guidance around using places of worship safely during the pandemic can be found online at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-during-the-pandemic-from-4-july

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the 30 person limit on funerals during the covid-19 outbreak includes funeral directors and staff members.

Funerals should have no more than 30 attendees. Attendance should also be kept within the capacity constraints of the venue, so that social distancing can continue to be adhered to.

Anyone working, for example officiants, staff employed by the venue or third party staff are not included in the 30 person limit.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 10 September 2020 to Question 81811 on Patients: Monitoring, whether he has had discussions with the Israeli company EarlySense on the NHS Long Term Plan and remote monitoring solutions.

No discussions have been held with EarlySense to discuss the NHS Long Term Plan or remote monitoring solutions.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much was spent on Healthy Start vouchers in 2019-20.

The total expenditure on Healthy Start vouchers in England, for the most recent year that data is available, 2018/19, was £44,787,081. This expenditure includes the expenditure on Healthy Start vouchers redeemed and the administrative costs for the scheme.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what value of Healthy Start vouchers have been redeemed in 2019-20.

The total expenditure on Healthy Start vouchers in England, for the most recent year that data is available, 2018/19, was £44,787,081. This expenditure includes the expenditure on Healthy Start vouchers redeemed and the administrative costs for the scheme.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the number of children living in food insecure households in England.

The Department’s Healthy Start scheme provides a nutritional safety net to hundreds of thousands of pregnant women and families with children under four in lower-income families. Healthy Start encourages a healthy diet by providing vouchers that can only be spent on fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables, plain cow’s milk and infant formula.

Free school meals, led by the Department for Education, play an important role in ensuring disadvantaged children receive a healthy, nutritious meal each day. They are aimed at families who are out of work or on low incomes.

Under the benefits-related criteria, there are currently around 1.4 million pupils eligible for and claiming a free school meal, saving families around £400 a year for each child.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress his Department has made on the digitisation of Healthy Start vouchers.

The Healthy Start scheme is kept under continuous review and the Government continues working to ensure that eligible families are aware of the scheme and how it will benefit them. The current uptake figure is 47%.

The scheme is promoted through the Healthy Start and Start4Life websites, reminding families to take up the vouchers. The Healthy Start Issuing Unit is also proactive in identifying and making contact with families who may be eligible for Healthy Start and issues invitations to apply for the scheme and pre-populated application forms by post.

The NHS Business Services Authority is delivering the project to digitise the Healthy Start Scheme. As part of the project, the NHS Business Services Authority holds monthly showcase events for stakeholders, this includes representatives from National Health Service trusts and local authorities. The NHS Business Services Authority will continue to communicate with all appropriate stakeholders in advance of each stage of the rollout of the digital project. The digital approach to Healthy Start will make it easier for families to apply for, receive and use Healthy Start benefits.

The project is due to begin the private beta phase later this year, followed by a public beta phase starting in early 2021, where new applicants will be able to apply for and use the digital service. The NHS Business Services Authority will also transfer beneficiaries who currently receive the paper-based voucher onto the new digital service from early 2021.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the level of take up of the Healthy Start voucher scheme in 2020.

The Healthy Start scheme is kept under continuous review and the Government continues working to ensure that eligible families are aware of the scheme and how it will benefit them. The current uptake figure is 47%.

The scheme is promoted through the Healthy Start and Start4Life websites, reminding families to take up the vouchers. The Healthy Start Issuing Unit is also proactive in identifying and making contact with families who may be eligible for Healthy Start and issues invitations to apply for the scheme and pre-populated application forms by post.

The NHS Business Services Authority is delivering the project to digitise the Healthy Start Scheme. As part of the project, the NHS Business Services Authority holds monthly showcase events for stakeholders, this includes representatives from National Health Service trusts and local authorities. The NHS Business Services Authority will continue to communicate with all appropriate stakeholders in advance of each stage of the rollout of the digital project. The digital approach to Healthy Start will make it easier for families to apply for, receive and use Healthy Start benefits.

The project is due to begin the private beta phase later this year, followed by a public beta phase starting in early 2021, where new applicants will be able to apply for and use the digital service. The NHS Business Services Authority will also transfer beneficiaries who currently receive the paper-based voucher onto the new digital service from early 2021.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress his Department is making on meeting the 2.3 per cent public sector apprenticeship target; and when his Department will meet that target.

The Department has taken a proactive approach to embedding apprenticeships so that they are a core part of our learning and development offer. We continue to increase the take-up of apprenticeships year on year. Apprentices currently make up 3.5% of the Department’s 2,044 headcount as at 1 September 2020.

We have refreshed our apprenticeship strategy for 2020/21 and are further developing our engagement strategy to continue raising awareness and improve take-up. We are continuing our proactive approach by aligning apprenticeship opportunities more closely with recruitment activity. Given the target is a percentage of the total workforce, the percentage changes in line with workforce fluctuations making it challenging to predict when the Department might meet this.

The impact of the current pandemic has impacted on the number of apprenticeship opportunities we have been able to create. However, we are focused on how we can continue to support the apprenticeship agenda and drive forward recruitment through our apprenticeship strategy, which will enable us to keep making improvements.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to make an assessment of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the early diagnosis of leukaemia and the outcomes for people treated for leukaemia since March 2020.

No assessment has been made. The full extent of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on early diagnosis rates or outcomes will not be known until the pandemic is over, and until the data is fully available.

NHS England and NHS Improvement is continuing the roll-out Rapid Diagnostic Centres (RDCs) across the country to bring together diagnostic equipment and expertise. RDCs will initially focus on diagnosing cancers where patients often present with non-specific symptoms, such as blood cancer, and may go to their general practitioner many times before being sent for appropriate tests. RDC compliant pathways should be in place for all patients, including children, by 2023/24.

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, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a screening service for prostate cancer.

The United Kingdom National Screening Committee (UK NSC) opened its three-month public consultation of prostate cancer screening/prostate-specific antigen testing in men over the age of 50 in June 2020. The consultation is due to close on 21 September 2020.

The UK NSC will then review the evidence and comments received before making a recommendation.

Further information and how to participate in the consultation is available at the following link:

https://legacyscreening.phe.org.uk/screening-recommendations.php

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 steps his Department is taking to ensure the availability of cervical screening to people who show symptoms of cervical cancer.

Women with symptoms of cervical cancer are urged to speak to their general practitioner (GP) as soon as possible. Cancer services continued during the COVID-19 crisis, although some appointments were rescheduled to protect vulnerable patients from having to attend hospitals. The recovery and restoration of screening and cancer services is well underway with detailed guidance issued by NHS England and NHS Improvement, including ensuring patients have clear information on how to access services and are confident about making appointments for current concerns.

NHS England is investing more than £258 million in initiatives to improve access to general practice as part of the delivery of the GP Five Year Forward View. More than half the country is now benefitting from improved access to all routine appointments (including cervical screening), at evening and weekends.

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, pursuant to the Answer of 24 July 2020 to Question 71027 on Patients: Monitoring, what steps his Department is taking to close staffing gaps in the elderly care sector; and what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of introducing new remote monitoring technologies to help improve the quality of care for patients and safety for health workers.

In April to July this year, we increased the national recruitment campaign in order to attract more people into social care 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 social care.

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.

The NHS Long Term Plan published last year set out our plan for greater use of digital technology and devices to transform care, including remote monitoring to support patients digitally and help National Health Service clinicians to predict and prevent events that might otherwise lead to a spell in hospital.

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, whether clear face masks are available on the NHS Supply Chain for health and social care settings to purchase.

The United Kingdom Government’s national personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement team has been working extremely hard to source clear face masks which comply with UK safety standards.

At the time of writing, the first batch of 20,250 clear face masks were sent out to National Health Service regions over a week ago. The second batch is due to be sent out this week. We have also sent clear masks to NHS Blood and Transplant services, as well as to the National Supply Disruption Response hotline. We also plan for clear masks to be available in social care settings and will communicate to providers how they can access this product as soon as possible.

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, how many clear face masks have been distributed to health and social care settings to allow lip reading and communication for deaf patients and staff.

The United Kingdom Government’s national personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement team has been working extremely hard to source clear face masks which comply with UK safety standards.

At the time of writing, the first batch of 20,250 clear face masks were sent out to National Health Service regions over a week ago. The second batch is due to be sent out this week. We have also sent clear masks to NHS Blood and Transplant services, as well as to the National Supply Disruption Response hotline. We also plan for clear masks to be available in social care settings and will communicate to providers how they can access this product as soon as possible.

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 assessment he has made of the availability of clear face masks to health and social care settings to allow lip reading and communication for deaf patients and staff.

The United Kingdom Government’s national personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement team has been working extremely hard to source clear face masks which comply with UK safety standards.

At the time of writing, the first batch of 20,250 clear face masks were sent out to National Health Service regions over a week ago. The second batch is due to be sent out this week. We have also sent clear masks to NHS Blood and Transplant services, as well as to the National Supply Disruption Response hotline. We also plan for clear masks to be available in social care settings and will communicate to providers how they can access this product as soon as possible.

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, if he will work with FIXR to incorporate contact tracing into their app.

The Department currently has no plans to work with FIXR to incorporate contact tracing into their app.

The NHS Test and Trace App is part of the wider National Health Service Test and Trace service and aims to help break chains of COVID-19 transmission. It complements enhanced contact tracing. It will allow users to check if they have COVID-19 symptoms and order a test if needed. It will also ensure that users are alerted if they have been near other app users who have tested positive for COVID-19 and helps users keep track of any self-isolation period and how to access advice. It also lets users know the level of coronavirus risk in their postcode district and lets them check-in to different venues using QR codes so that they can receive alerts it they have visited a venue where they may have come into contact with COVID-19.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans the Government has to implement the recommendations of the Cumberlege review.

The Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review published its report on 8 July. All the report’s recommendations will be considered carefully.

The Government will provide an update in due course.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when GP surgeries will move from total triage to regular service as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The way in which people access general practice services changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Practices are offering more triage and remote consultations by telephone and online, in the first instance, in order to see as many patients as possible while protecting staff and patients from avoidable risk of infection.

The total triage model enables general practitioner practices to ensure that every patient receives care from the right person or service at the right time. It does not restrict the type of appointment practices can offer.

On 31 July NHS England and NHS Improvement issued guidance on moving to Phase 3 in the response to COVID-19. Guidance made clear that practices must continue to offer face-to-face appointments at their surgeries as well as continuing to use remote triage and video, online and telephone consultation wherever appropriate – whilst also considering those who are unable to access or engage with digital services.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will provide guidance on the use of face masks for people with asthma.

The Government announced that from Friday 24 July, members of the public must wear a face covering when visiting a shop or supermarket in England. Guidance on how to wear and remove a face covering was published online at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own

People do not have to wear a face covering if they have a legitimate reason not to. Those with disabilities or health conditions including breathing difficulties or other respiratory conditions are exempt from wearing a face covering, regardless of the venue. The list of exemptions is not exhaustive and would extend to someone who has a justifiable reason for not wearing one on the grounds of health or disability.

Messaging around exemptions is included as a key part of Government communications on when and how to wear a face covering. The Government also continues to engage with stakeholders and charities on the issue of exemptions to support these groups.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reach the public sector apprenticeship target.

The Department has taken a proactive approach to apprenticeships and is working to embed apprenticeships so that they are a core part of our learning and development offer. We continue to increase the take-up of apprenticeships year on year and apprentices currently make up 2.5% of the Department’s 1,808 workforce.

We are refreshing our apprenticeship strategy and working on our engagement strategy across the Department to continue raising awareness.

We are continuing with our proactive approach to align apprenticeships opportunities more closely with our recruitment activity.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will provide further clarification on the criterion used to define close proximity for the purposes of Test and Trace.

Since NHS Test and Trace was launched, on 28 May 2020, it has reached more than 144,000 people who may have otherwise unknowingly spread the virus to others.

A contact is defined as someone who:

- has had close contact (for instance direct face-to-face contact) with someone with COVID-19; or

- spent more than one minute within one metre, or 15 minutes within two metres, of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

We would also look to trace people who have travelled in a small vehicle with someone with COVID-19 or sat next to them on a plane.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart on a resolution to the remote monitoring of patients developed in Israel.

My Rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has not had any discussions with his Israeli counterparts on their approach to remote monitoring of patients. The Department and NHSX engages with its international counterparts on a wide range of issues, including those relating to COVID-19. As a Department, we are open to learn from innovations in any country round the world and within and outside of COVID-19.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many people are currently working towards nursing degree apprenticeships in England.

Public sector organisations in scope to meet the public sector apprentice target provide data annually to the Department for Education. Data on the numbers of people currently working towards nursing degree apprenticeships, termed ‘participation’, is not available in year.

Available data on apprentice starts and participation is included in the following table.

-

2017/18

2018/19

2019/20 (August - April

Starts1

300

1,040

770

Participation

300

1,330

-

Note:

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/apprenticeships-and-traineeships-june-2020

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to extend the validity of NHS maternity exemption certificates.

The Government has no current plans to extend the period of maternity exemption certificates.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what financial support is available for health and social care charities during the covid-19 outbreak.

On 8 April, the Chancellor announced £750 million to support the charity sector in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This fund comprises three elements:

- £360 million has been allocated by central Government to charities in England based on evidence of service need, including £22 million for health and social care charities and £200 million for hospices;

- £370 million to support charities working with vulnerable people. In England, £200 million of this support will be provided through the National Lottery Community Fund’s “Coronavirus Community Support Fund”, which charities can apply directly for. This will provide support for thousands of charities on the frontline of helping vulnerable people affected by COVID-19; and

- The Government will match whatever the public decides to donate to the BBC Big Night In fundraising event that took place on 23 April, starting with a contribution of at least £20 million to the National Emergencies Trust appeal.

Charities can also access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and they are able to benefit from the three-month VAT deferral scheme. Charity shop premises will benefit from the new enhanced retail rate relief at 100%.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will issue guidance to private social care providers to enable them to assist with the timely distribution of personal protective equipment to care homes.

Public Health England have issued guidance on the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE), including to the care sector, to help social care providers respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance explains when PPE is required and can therefore support decisions around distribution of PPE. Guidance published include:

Infection prevention and control:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control

How to work safely in care homes, and a video on putting on and removing PPE in care homes:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-how-to-work-safely-in-care-homes

The Government has also outlined a detailed PPE plan and an Adult Social Care Action Plan at the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe-plan

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-adult-social-care-action-plan

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the timetable is for ensuring that private social care providers are supplied with personal protective equipment for use by care home workers during the covid-19 outbreak.

Public Health England have issued guidance on the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE), including to the care sector, to help social care providers respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance explains when PPE is required and can therefore support decisions around distribution of PPE. Guidance published include:

Infection prevention and control:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control

How to work safely in care homes, and a video on putting on and removing PPE in care homes:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-how-to-work-safely-in-care-homes

The Government has also outlined a detailed PPE plan and an Adult Social Care Action Plan at the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe-plan

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-adult-social-care-action-plan

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Department is taking to make personal protective equipment available to private companies during the covid-19 outbreak.

Manufacturers have reported constraints on supply of new stocks of personal protective equipment and some clinical consumables due to an increase in global demand and the impact of COVID-19 on supply. The Government is constantly monitoring this and working to secure additional stocks to further enhance our preparedness. We have central stockpiles of a range of products and we are prioritising sectors which have a clinical need to receive these supplies.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will enable food banks to distribute instant formula baby milk during the covid-19 outbreak.

Food banks are independent charitable organisations and, as such, are best placed to decide on the most appropriate arrangements for supporting people who use them.

Food banks already offer a wider range of goods depending on availability, which can include formula milk.

The Healthy Start scheme provides vouchers for lower-income families which can be exchanged for fruit, vegetables, milk, infant formula and free vitamins.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with NHS professionals on prescribing longer courses of medication for people who have to self-isolate and require regular medication during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Government has advised that the duration of prescriptions should not be increased as this would put strain on the supply chain and presents a potential risk to patient safety.

Steps have been taken to reduce the need for a longer course of medicine. Patients, who are required to shield during the COVID-19 pandemic due to a medical condition as identified by NHS England and NHS Improvement, may have any prescription medication that they require delivered to their homes if they do not have family members, friends or a carer who can collect medicines on their behalf. Pharmacies can advise the patient of the potential for a local volunteer to act on their behalf to collect their medicines or, if this is not possible, arrange for the delivery of the medicines either themselves or through another pharmacy.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that the prices of (a) hand sanitiser, (b) paracetamol and (c) other medical supplies in chemists and pharmacies do not increase as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society do not encourage or support profiteering or taking advantage of the current coronavirus outbreak. The Competition and Markets Authority are monitoring the situation and will look into reports of profiteering and take action to regulate prices. More information can be found at the following link:

https://www.rpharms.com/coronavirus/

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of trainee doctors accelerating or pausing their courses in order to assist with frontline support in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The General Medical Council (GMC) already has powers to register professionals in an emergency.

We are working closely with all the healthcare professional bodies to ensure they have plans in place to identify, contact and register key groups of staff which could enable them to assist with frontline support in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

As part of its planning and preparation, the General Medical Council (GMC) is preparing to contact to those doctors with a United Kingdom address, who are fully qualified and experienced, of good standing, and who have given up their registration or licence to practise within the last three years, outlining the process they would need to follow and informing them of what they should do if they want to opt out.

In all around 15,000 doctors will be contacted.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to support Public Health England (PHE) to tackle covid-19; and what plans the Government has to use the facilities at the PHE Harlow site to tackle that virus.

In January, the Department formed a COVID-19 Incident Response Centre, bringing together a number of Government departments and arm’s length bodies including Public Health England (PHE). With the Department’s support PHE has reprioritised much of its other business. The Department is working closely with PHE to ensure it has the resources it needs to carry out its critical work on the pandemic response.

In 2015 the Government confirmed £400 million of capital funding to proceed with development of the planned PHE science campus and headquarters in Harlow. Enabling work on site has started and the programme will progress subject to Full Programme Business Case approval later this year.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to the support the delivery of public health solutions at Public Health England's campus in Harlow.

In 2015 the Government confirmed an initial £400 million of funding to proceed with development of the planned Public Health England science campus and headquarters in Harlow. Enabling work is underway on site, and the programme will progress to Full Programme Business Case approval later this year.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking with Public Health England (PHE) to prepare for outbreaks of (a) covid-19 and (b) other viruses that may occur in the future; and what plans PHE has to use the facilities at the future site at Harlow for those preparations.

We are currently responding across all sectors to the COVID-19 virus and we will incorporate any lessons learnt from this outbreak, into future planning.

Public Health England has recently published guidance for COVID-19 and regularly updates guidance on a range of topics. For example, guidance for staying at home and educational settings were published on 12 March and can be found at the following link.

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance

In 2015 the Government confirmed £400 million of capital funding to proceed with development of the planned Public Health England science campus and headquarters in Harlow. Enabling work is underway on site, and the programme will progress to Full Programme Business Case approval later this year.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether plans for the introduction of free parking at hospitals in England for certain patient groups will include all hospital visits for people aged 25 and under with cancer.

The Government plans to offer free hospital car parking to disabled people, frequent outpatient attenders, parents of sick children staying overnight and staff working night shifts.

The Department is developing its proposals for implementing these commitments working closely with the National Health Service. This includes work to ensure that NHS organisations are supported to implement the required changes effectively.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the introduction of free parking at hospitals in England for certain patient groups will include hospital appointments for people with long term side effects of having had cancer as a child or young person and who may never be discharged.

The Government plans to offer free hospital car parking to disabled people, frequent outpatient attenders, parents of sick children staying overnight and staff working night shifts.

The Department is developing its proposals for implementing these commitments working closely with the National Health Service. This includes work to ensure that NHS organisations are supported to implement the required changes effectively.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government will take to ensure compliance with guidance on free parking at hospitals in England for certain patient groups.

The Government plans to offer free hospital car parking to disabled people, frequent outpatient attenders, parents of sick children staying overnight and staff working night shifts.

The Department is developing its proposals for implementing these commitments working closely with the National Health Service. This includes work to ensure that NHS organisations are supported to implement the required changes effectively.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support hospitals will receive in ensuring that hospital car parking is free for identified groups.

The Government plans to offer free hospital car parking to disabled people, frequent outpatient attenders, parents of sick children staying overnight and staff working night shifts.

The Department is developing its proposals for implementing these commitments working closely with the National Health Service. This includes work to ensure that NHS organisations are supported to implement the required changes effectively.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the announcement on 27 December 2019 on the introduction of free parking at hospitals in England for certain patient groups, what the definition of long-term conditions will be; and whether that definition will include serious and life-threatening conditions for which the outcome is highly uncertain.

The Government plans to offer free hospital car parking to disabled people, frequent outpatient attenders, parents of sick children staying overnight and staff working night shifts.

The Department is developing its proposals for implementing these commitments working closely with the National Health Service. This includes work to ensure that NHS organisations are supported to implement the required changes effectively.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the introduction of free parking at hospitals in England for certain patient groups will include parents and carers of children and young people with serious and complex health conditions who are attending hospital on an unplanned basis.

The Government plans to offer free hospital car parking to disabled people, frequent outpatient attenders, parents of sick children staying overnight and staff working night shifts.

The Department is developing its proposals for implementing these commitments working closely with the National Health Service. This includes work to ensure that NHS organisations are supported to implement the required changes effectively.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the total amount of funding from the public purse given by his Department to (a) civil society and (b) campaigning bodies in each of the last five years.

Under transparency reporting requirements central government bodies publish all items of expenditure over £25,000 to improve the transparency of how public funds are used.

The link below gives access to the Department’s published ‘transparency data’ for each of the last five years:

https://data.gov.uk/dataset/0351cb08-2fcc-43df-914a-c1822d82b766/spend-over-25-000-in-the-department-of-health

The data contains expenditure transactions with both internal and external organisations and confirms the date the transaction took place, the supplier (i.e. who the Department gave the money to), the value, and the expense type and purchase order line description which together indicate the purpose of the spend.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress has been made on plans for the development of a new hospital in Harlow; and if he will make a statement.

In September 2019 the Government announced the Health Infrastructure Plan - a new, strategic approach to improving our hospitals and health infrastructure, and rolling programme of investment, to ensure that our health infrastructure is fit-for-purpose for decades to come.

The Princess Alexandra Hospitals NHS Trust’s major scheme is one of the six projects that will form the first £2.7 billion phase of the major hospital rebuilds. This money has been committed by the Government and gives the green light for a phased redevelopment of its estate.

The Trust are currently working with local clinical commissioning groups to finalise the Pre-Consultation Business Case, before progressing to consultation. After that, the Trust will work towards submission of the Outline Business Case, which will then go through a single Departmental/National Health Service process as part of the streamlined approvals that the Government is implementing.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on funding for the development of the proposed new hospital in Harlow.

In September 2019 the Government announced the Health Infrastructure Plan - a new, strategic approach to improving our hospitals and health infrastructure, and rolling programme of investment, to ensure that our health infrastructure is fit-for-purpose for decades to come.

The Princess Alexandra Hospitals NHS Trust’s major scheme is one of the six projects that will form the first £2.7 billion phase of the major hospital rebuilds. This money has been committed by the Government and gives the green light for a phased redevelopment of its estate.

The Trust are currently working with local clinical commissioning groups to finalise the Pre-Consultation Business Case, before progressing to consultation. After that, the Trust will work towards submission of the Outline Business Case, which will then go through a single Departmental/National Health Service process as part of the streamlined approvals that the Government is implementing.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will meet with the hon. Member for Harlow to discuss the steps his Department is taking to address the effect of workplace bullying on mental health.

I understand that the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility (Kelly Tolhurst MP) has already agreed to meet with the Rt. hon. Member for Harlow and I would be happy to join that meeting.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the long-term effect on (a) UK foreign policy and (b) bilateral relations with the Kurdistan Region of the 1991 decision to initiate a safe haven and no-fly zone over the Kurdistan Region.

UNSCR 688, and the subsequent initiation of no-fly zones over the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) represented a historic moment for Iraqi Kurds, and for the UK-KRI partnership. The no-fly zones provided a crucial security umbrella to protect the Kurdish people, and to promote stability in the region.

In the years since, we have further strengthened our relationship with the KRI. Many of their interests and values align with our own: a belief in diversity, tolerance, and publicly stated commitment to preventing extremism are some examples. The UK will continue to play its part in supporting the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to build a more peaceful, more prosperous future.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 29 January 2021 to Question 140775 on Iran: Nuclear Fuels, what the timetable is for action to tackle Iran’s non-compliance with the JCPoA.

We have made our position clear to Iran in recent E3 statements, at the Joint Commission and at the JCPoA ministerial meeting on 21 December, that implementation of the new nuclear law is jeopardising our efforts to preserve the JCPoA and risks compromising the important opportunity for a return to diplomacy with the new US Administration. We remain in close contact with the other remaining JCPoA participants to assess how to best address Iran's non-compliance within the framework of the JCPoA.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 26 January 2021 to Question 140776, how many Palestinian children received copies of UNRWA’s self-learning material; and what steps UNRWA is taking to retrieve that material and counter harmful educational messages.

We contacted UNRWA directly regarding this issue. UNRWA informed us that they had identified the material in question through its own regular monitoring and took swift action to correct the issue. The Agency also conducted a review to address any education materials in breach of its policies. UNRWA has reported that these materials are no longer circulated and are not used in current lessons. The issue was rectified by November 2020.

We continue to monitor the situation to ensure self-learning materials remain in line with UN values.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with the permanent members of the UN Security Council on reports that Iran is advancing research on uranium metal production.

Iran has no credible civilian use for uranium metal, which could provide knowledge gains applicable to a weapons programme. We strongly urge Iran to halt this activity, and return to compliance with its JCPoA commitments without delay. We continue to engage closely with the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council to address Iran's non-compliance.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the findings of the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education's report on the content of educational material published by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency during the Covid-19 pandemic to assist remote learning, published in January 2021.

The UK government has zero-tolerance to incitement of violence, and we have raised this issue with UNRWA. We understand that as soon as the mistake was identified, UNRWA took swift action to correct the issue and conducted a thorough review to address any education materials in breach of its policies. We continue to monitor the situation to ensure self-learning materials remain in line with UN values. No UK funds were used for the development of UNRWA's self-learning material.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the suitability of the existing premises for the UK Consulate-General for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and northern Iraq.

The Consulate-General Erbil provides an effective platform for delivering our objectives in conjunction with the Embassy in Baghdad. The FCDO regularly reviews whether the existing premises meet HMG needs and provide value for money. Our physical footprint has remained in one location since 2015 throughout periods of regional instability and provides a fit for purpose and secure diplomatic presence.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential role of the UN in assisting the federal and regional governments of Iraq to support (a) resolution of the status of disputed territories in Iraq and (b) a budget deal and a revenue-sharing agreement between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the federal government.

We work closely with the UN and international partners to encourage the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to resolve their issues, including on a sustainable budget and disputed internal boundaries. The recent agreement on Sinjar, which the UN supported, is a positive step in this regard. I discussed these issues with the Governments of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq during my visit in December 2020.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what the policy priorities are of the UK Consulate-General for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and northern Iraq.

The UK supports a strong and successful Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) within a thriving Iraq. During my December visit to Erbil, I discussed the mutual desire to deepen the UK-KRI partnership with the leadership of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The UK looks forward to continued close engagement with the KRG as a critical and valued partner in the region; progressing security cooperation, increasing our business links, and supporting sustainable economic reform that delivers for all Iraqis.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of his visit to the Kurdistan region in Iraq.

The UK supports a strong a successful Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) within a thriving Iraq. During my December visit to Erbil, I discussed the mutual desire to deepen the UK-KRI partnership with the leadership of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The UK looks forward to continued close engagement with the KRG as a critical and valued partner in the region; progressing security cooperation, increasing our business links, and supporting sustainable economic reform that delivers for all Iraqis.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the report by the APPG on the Kurdistan Region in Iraq on bilateral relations; and if he will make a statement.

As I [Minister Cleverly] discussed with the APPG on 7 December, there is much to welcome in the APPG's report on the bilateral relationship between the UK and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. During my [Minister Cleverly] December visit to Erbil, I [Minister Cleverly] discussed the mutual desire to deepen our partnership with the leadership of the Kurdistan Regional Government. The UK will continue to work closely with both the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to urge a sustainable budget settlement, increase business cooperation, and to support economic reform that delivers for all Iraqis.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department has taken in response to the burning on 17 October 2020 in Baghdad of a Kurdish party office and the flag of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq; and if he will make a statement.

We strongly condemned the attack on the Kurdistan Democratic Party's office in Baghdad and made clear that addressing political difference through dialogue not violence was a fundamental element of a functioning democracy. The UK has welcomed steps taken to hold those responsible to account. We continue to work with the Government of Iraq on enhancing security measures, including through discussions during the Iraqi Prime Minister's Guest of Government visit to the UK on 22 October.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what progress his Department is making on meeting the 2.3 per cent public sector apprenticeship target; and when his Department will meet that target.

Following the creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on 2 September 2020, a new apprenticeship strategy is being planned. This will establish how the FCDO will achieve its new combined apprenticeship target, in support of the Civil Service's commitment to meeting the public sector apprenticeship target.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart on helping Israel develop further diplomatic ties with Arab states following its normalisation agreements with the UAE and Bahrain.

During his visit to Israel on 24 August, the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs met Prime Minister Netanyahu, Alternate Prime Minister and Defence Minister Gantz, and Foreign Minister Ashkenazi. They discussed normalisation of relations in the region, alongside a range of other bilateral, regional, security issues. We warmly welcome the agreement between Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. This is an historic step which sees the normalisation of relations between three great friends of the UK.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his P5+1 counterparts on the report of 4 September 2020 from the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran’s stockpile of uranium is over 10 times the limit agreed in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon is critical for our collective security. The Government remains deeply concerned by Iran's growing uranium stockpile and by Iran's actions to break other Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action limits. This is why the UK, with France and Germany, triggered the deal's Dispute Resolution Mechanism (DRM) on 14 January. E3 Foreign Ministers discuss this regularly, including most recently at their meeting on 10 September. The findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency's report of 4 September was discussed at the Board of Governors meeting on 15 September, where the UK, France and Germany set out our concerns about the size of Iran's stockpile. We remain committed to working with partners to use the DRM to find a diplomatic way forward.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to reach the public sector apprenticeship target.

Since 2016, we and our Executive Agency, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Services, have held annual external apprenticeship recruitment campaigns enrolling new entrants and existing staff, onto a range of programmes from level 2 to level 7 (post-degree). Our current apprenticeships include business administration, human resources and finance and accounting. In 2019, we opened our level 3 business administration programme to non-graduates only, to broaden opportunities to join our department.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what estimate he has made of the total amount of funding from the public purse given by his Department to (a) civil society and (b) campaigning bodies in each of the last five years.

This information is not held centrally and to compile it would incur disproportionate cost

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what his policy is on proposals to redraft the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to include provisions to curtail Iran’s international aggression and financing of terrorism.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) is the best means available to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. We remain committed to the deal and urge Iran to return to full compliance immediately. We, along with France and Germany, have made clear that we want to build on the JCPoA with a long-term successor that includes regional security issues and Iran's ballistic missile programme. The UK remains determined to work with Iran on a diplomatic way forward and believes discussion on these issues should take place while the current nuclear deal remains in place.

22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the reform partnership between the UK and the Kurdistan Regional Government; and if he will make a statement.

​The UK continues to enjoy a close relationship with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq and to support economic and security reform. I reiterated our commitment to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq when I spoke to KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on 8 January, and these messages were reaffirmed by the British Ambassador to Iraq when he met the political leadership of the Kurdistan Region on 16 January. As part of this support, we have contributed £16 million to a World Bank Trust Fund which can provide technical assistance to both the Government of Iraq and the KRG to deliver economic reforms. We are also supporting reform of the Kurdish Peshmerga reform including through a British Army officer based in Erbil.

22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent diplomatic steps his Department has taken to support peace and stability in (a) Iraq and (b) the Kurdistan region; and if he will make a statement.

​The UK is working actively to support continued peace, stability and democracy in Iraq following recent events. Since early January Ministers have engaged closely with the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), including Iraqi President Salih, Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul-Mehdi, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hakim and KRG Prime Minister Barzani. In his conversation with his Iraqi counterpart on 6 January, the Prime Minister reaffirmed our strong support for Iraq's sovereignty and security. We have also reiterated the continued importance of the Global Coalition's role in supporting the Iraqi security forces including the Kurdish Peshmerga to prevent any resurgence of Daesh. The UK continues its support for the consolidation of democracy in Iraq including the Kurdistan Region. In light of ongoing protests in Iraq, we have encouraged political dialogue and emphasised the need to respect the right to peaceful protest.

22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to support the development of democracy in (a) Iraq and (b) the Kurdistan Region in that country; and if he will make a statement.

​The UK is working actively to support continued peace, stability and democracy in Iraq following recent events. Since early January Ministers have engaged closely with the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), including Iraqi President Salih, Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul-Mehdi, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hakim and KRG Prime Minister Barzani. In his conversation with his Iraqi counterpart on 6 January, the Prime Minister reaffirmed our strong support for Iraq's sovereignty and security. We have also reiterated the continued importance of the Global Coalition's role in supporting the Iraqi security forces including the Kurdish Peshmerga to prevent any resurgence of Daesh. The UK continues its support for the consolidation of democracy in Iraq including the Kurdistan Region. In light of ongoing protests in Iraq, we have encouraged political dialogue and emphasised the need to respect the right to peaceful protest.

22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what projects are in place under the reform partnership between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the UK; and if he will make a statement.

​The UK continues to enjoy a close relationship with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq and to support economic and security reform. I reiterated our commitment to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq when I spoke to KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on 8 January, and these messages were reaffirmed by the British Ambassador to Iraq when he met the political leadership of the Kurdistan Region on 16 January. As part of this support, we have contributed £16 million to a World Bank Trust Fund which can provide technical assistance to both the Government of Iraq and the KRG to deliver economic reforms. We are also supporting reform of the Kurdish Peshmerga reform including through a British Army officer based in Erbil.

10th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is is taking to support people who have been unable to access the Government's covid-19 financial support schemes to date.

Throughout this crisis, the Government has sought to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods while also supporting businesses and public services across the UK, putting in place an economic package of support worth over £280 billion this year. These support measures are carefully designed to complement each other to ensure jobs and livelihoods are protected. Support is targeted to make sure public funds are used responsibly, helping those who need it most as quickly as possible, while minimising fraud risk. The Government has engaged closely with proposals put forward by stakeholder groups, and will continue to do so.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent steps he has taken to reduce the cost of living for people experiencing economic hardship.

The Government has announced wide-ranging support for people at risk of experiencing economic hardship, including: income support schemes, mortgage holidays, extra support for renters, additional support through the welfare system worth £7.4 billion in 2020-21, a £500 million local authority hardship fund to help people with their council tax bills, a £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme to support families with the cost of food and bills, help with utility bills, and £500 payments to support low income individuals to self-isolate under NHS Test and Trace.

As the Government has done throughout this crisis, we will continue to consider how best to support people as the public health and economic contexts develop.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect of the increased national insurance threshold on the cost of living for residents of (a) Harlow constituency and (b) the UK.

In April 2020 the Government increased the Primary Threshold (PT) and the Lower Profits Limit (LPL), the point at which employees and the self-employed start paying the main rate of National Insurance contributions, by over £850 to £9,500. While HM Treasury does not publish tax information at constituency level, at the national level this was a tax cut for 31 million working people, saving the typical employee about £104 and a typical self-employed person about £78 in 2020/21. From April 2021, the PT/LPL will increase to £9,568.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what fiscal support he has made available to help small businesses in Harlow in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

Throughout this crisis, the Government has sought to support businesses, jobs and public services up and down the UK. That is why it has spent over £280 billion to make a package of support available for businesses which has included billions in wage support, loans, tax deferrals, Business Rate reliefs and sector-specific grants.

Following the implementation of the latest national lockdown in January, the Government announced additional funding for businesses worth £4.6 billion across the UK. This includes a £500m payment to local authorities, to top up their allocation from the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG), which has already provided local authorities with £1.1 billion.

This funding will ensure that local authorities can provide discretionary grants to businesses which are not eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Grants, but which are nonetheless experiencing a severe impact on their business due to the national lockdown. These businesses may also be eligible for further aspects of our generous support package outlined above.

We remain 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.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to extend the mortgage holiday.

We have extended the period that borrowers can apply for a mortgage holiday to support all homeowners in financial distress. Mortgage borrowers who have not yet taken a payment holiday are able to take a payment holiday for up to six months. Borrowers who have taken an initial payment holiday can top this up to six months. The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA’s) guidance released on 17 November sets out that mortgage holidays (up to a maximum of 6 months) will remain an option for borrowers until 31 March 2021. However, the FCA guidance also notes that all payment holidays will need to end by 31 July 2021.

For borrowers that have already taken a full six months payment holiday, the FCA’s guidance sets out that firms should continue to provide support through tailored forbearance options for those borrowers that are facing ongoing financial difficulties. This could include granting new mortgage payment holidays.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to support self-employed individuals who have not previously earned enough money to be eligible for support during the covid-19 outbreak.

Throughout the crisis, the Government’s priority has been to protect lives and livelihoods. This is why it has introduced a comprehensive package of support that self-employed individuals can benefit from.

Applications are open for eligible individuals to claim the third grant under the Self Employment Income Support Scheme. The third taxable grant is worth 80% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total. There will also be a fourth grant covering February 2021 to April 2021. The Government will set out further details, including the level of the fourth grant, in due course.

Those ineligible for the 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 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)
20th Oct 2020
What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education on additional financial support in helping to close the disadvantage attainment gap.

I have regular discussions with the Secretary of State on Education policy. We are committed to ensuring no child, whatever their background, falls behind as a result of this pandemic. Our £1 billion catch-up plan includes £350 million for a National Tutoring Programme targeted at disadvantaged children. We have also provided over £2.4 billion of Pupil Premium funding this year for the most disadvantaged.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department plans to introduce support for people who are ineligible for existing covid-19 support schemes.

The Government has prioritised helping the greatest number of people as quickly as possible, including self-employed individuals, businesses of all sizes and the unemployed. The Government’s package of support to date totals over £190bn, with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme alone having supported the wages of people in 9.6 million jobs. As the restrictions have changed, support has also evolved. The Government recognises it is not possible to preserve every job or business indefinitely, and will focus on targeting support as effectively as possible. Most recently, the Government announced a package of measures in the Winter Economy Plan, including the Job Support Scheme, that will continue to protect jobs and businesses through the uncertain months ahead.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reason his extension of the Self-employed Income Support Scheme is a grant covering 20 per cent on average monthly trading profits.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant Extension has been introduced to help the self-employed who are actively trading but are suffering from reduced demand due to COVID-19, to help them continue to trade through the winter months. The Government has broadly aligned the size of the grant with the Government’s contribution provided for employees through the Job Support Scheme.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what progress his Department is making on meeting the 2.3 per cent public sector apprenticeship target.

As of 31 March 2020, the Civil Service has achieved a total of 2.1% of its total workforce as apprentices against the legislative target for the public sector of 2.3% by March 2021. HM Treasury Group has achieved 2.4% of the total staff employed within the department and those of its arms length bodies which are in scope for the target. We are also on track to meet our target in the current year 2020/21. Given this target is a percentage of the total workforce the percentage changes in line with workforce fluctuations over time therefore making it challenging to predict when a department will meet it. The data for 2018/19 can be found here. The data for 2019/20 will be released on gov.uk by the end of September 2020.

Departments are committed to increasing the number of apprentices across the Civil Service and continue to work towards the 2.3% target. The impact of the current pandemic has slowed recruitment due to priority work and logistics. With the current strategy and targets coming to an end in April 2021, the Civil Service is already focusing on how to continue to support the apprenticeship agenda and drive forward apprenticeship recruitment, pulling on the Plan for Jobs initiative and considering the current economic situation.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department plans to publish local data on the cost to the public purse of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Government has no plans to publish local data on the costs of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This is because HM Revenue and Customs do not have complete data for the value of claims by area.

Claims are made by employers in respect of their PAYE schemes and the scheme addresses tend to reflect business headquarters and payroll office locations (where these differ) rather than where employees live or work. Using scheme level data would potentially give a misleading picture. In addition, for claims for fewer than 100 employees HMRC do not collect the amount claimed for each employment, so the data at employment level is incomplete.

For these reasons, the cost of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in Harlow is unavailable.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the cost is of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in Harlow to date.

The Government has no plans to publish local data on the costs of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This is because HM Revenue and Customs do not have complete data for the value of claims by area.

Claims are made by employers in respect of their PAYE schemes and the scheme addresses tend to reflect business headquarters and payroll office locations (where these differ) rather than where employees live or work. Using scheme level data would potentially give a misleading picture. In addition, for claims for fewer than 100 employees HMRC do not collect the amount claimed for each employment, so the data at employment level is incomplete.

For these reasons, the cost of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in Harlow is unavailable.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps the Government is taking to financially support individuals who are required to self-isolate as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has committed to an unprecedented package to support individuals through this difficult time. This includes the introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention and Self-Employment Income Support Schemes, as well as injecting an additional £9 billion into the welfare system according to Office for Budget Responsibility estimates.

Individuals asked to isolate by the Test and Trace service will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are unable to work from home. This is in addition to changes already made, which make SSP payable from day one rather than day four of absence from work. Employees will still be entitled to claim SSP from their employers even if they are asked to self-isolate several times. An SSP Rebate Scheme was announced at Budget to support SMEs which may face a financial strain due to staff absences caused by Covid-19.

Self-employed people are eligible for “new style” Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if they are incapable of work due to COVID-19, including all those who are required to self-isolate according to Government guidance. The Government has made it easier for people to claim by removing the seven-day waiting period which means people can get support from day one.

The welfare system is best placed to provide support for those not eligible for SSP. This group will benefit from changes to the welfare system to support the most vulnerable. These changes include a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit (UC) standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element, and a nearly £1 billion increase in support for renters through increases to the Local Housing Allowance rates for UC and Housing Benefit claimants.

In addition, the Department for Health and Social Care recently launched a trial for a new payment for those self-isolating in the highest risk areas in England. Starting with a trial in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham, individuals will be eligible if they are unable to work from home while self-isolating. This payment is in addition to the welfare safety net and SSP, providing a further incentive to self-isolate.

It will be available to people currently receiving at least one of the following benefits: Universal Credit, Working Tax Credits, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit, or Housing Benefit.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support he plans to make available to people shielding and unable to work from home who were not furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by 10 June 2020 cut-off date and who reside in an area under a local lockdown.

On 22 June, the Prime Minister announced that the Government will relax the current public health guidance for those identified as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) to shield at home. This means from 1 August they will be able to return to work if they are unable to work from home, provided their workplace is COVID-safe.

It is important that this group continue to take careful precautions, and employers should do all they can to enable them to work from home where this is possible, including moving them to other roles if required. Where this is not possible, those who have been shielding should be provided with the safest on-site roles that enable them to maintain social distancing from others.

If employers cannot provide a safe working environment, the CEV will continue to have access to an unprecedented package of financial support. This is not limited to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, but also includes changes to Statutory Sick Pay to make it payable from Day 1, the introduction of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, and an increase in the generosity of welfare payments worth a further £8bn.

This support is also available for those who live in areas affected by local lockdowns.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the oral contribution of the Prime Minister of 10 June 2020, Official Report column 281, what steps he is taking to support people who are newly shielding after the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme cut-off date and unable to work from home.

On 22 June, the Prime Minister announced that the Government will relax the current public health guidance for those identified as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) to shield at home. This means from 1 August they will be able to return to work if they are unable to work from home, provided their workplace is COVID-safe.

It is important that this group continue to take careful precautions, and employers should do all they can to enable them to work from home where this is possible, including moving them to other roles if required. Where this is not possible, those who have been shielding should be provided with the safest on-site roles that enable them to maintain social distancing from others.

If employers cannot provide a safe working environment, the CEV will continue to have access to an unprecedented package of financial support. This is not limited to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, but also includes changes to Statutory Sick Pay to make it payable from Day 1, the introduction of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, and an increase in the generosity of welfare payments worth a further £8bn.

This support is also available for those who live in areas affected by local lockdowns.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to cover in full the potential loss of earnings for people notified via the NHS Test and Trace service as needing to self-isolate due to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has announced an unprecedented package to support individuals through this difficult time. This includes the introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention and Self-Employment Income Support Schemes, as well as injecting an additional £8bn into the welfare system.

DWP has laid new regulations to ensure that people asked to isolate by the Test and Trace service will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are unable to work from home. This is in addition to changes already made, which make SSP payable from day one rather than day four of absence from work. Employees will still be entitled to claim SSP from their employers even if they are asked to self-isolate several times. The SSP Rebate Scheme was announced at Budget to support SMEs which may face a financial strain due to staff absences caused by Covid-19.

Self-employed people are eligible for “new style” Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if they are incapable of work due to Covid-19, including all those who are required to self-isolate according to Government guidance. The Government has made it easier for people to claim by removing the seven-day waiting period which means people can get support from day one.

The Government is committed to helping the lowest paid through the coronavirus outbreak, and the welfare system is best placed to provide this support.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on ensuring that the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is reaching all those businesses that will benefit from that scheme.

The Government has set out an unprecedented package of support for all businesses affected by this crisis, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

As of 12 May, 36,000 facilities, with a value of over £6 billion, had been approved for SMEs through CBILS. The Government continues to monitor closely the impact of its policies and keeps all policies under review.

The Government has taken further action by launching the Bounce Back Loan Scheme to ensure that the smallest SMEs, who may have struggled to see their finance applications approved as quickly as they need, can access finance. Businesses can apply for a loan from £2,000 up to £50,000, capped at 25% of a firm’s turnover. The Government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee on each loan, to give lenders the confidence they need to support the smallest businesses in the country. The Government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments and fees charged to the business by the lender. The interest rate after the first 12-month period has been agreed between the Government and lenders at 2.5%. No early repayment fees will be charged to a borrower.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to his Department's news story, Chancellor sets out extra £750 million coronavirus funding for frontline charities, published on 8 April 2020, when his Department plans to publish guidance on who is eligible to apply for that funding.

The Government knows that some charities are providing critical services and wider support to vulnerable people and communities during the pandemic. The new package of support will enable such organisations to continue providing essential services to those most in need.

  • £360m will be allocated by central government to charities based on evidence of service need. This will include up to £200m support for hospices, with the rest going to organisations like St Johns’ Ambulance and the Citizens Advice Bureau as well as charities supporting vulnerable children, victims of domestic abuse, or disabled people.
  • £370m will support smaller, local charities working with vulnerable people. This will provide support for thousands of charities on the frontline of helping vulnerable people affected by Covid-19.
  • A contribution of at least £20m to the National Emergencies Trust appeal.

This funding package will help charities providing essential services to continue their operations and to weather the storm until we return to more normal times. Funding for charities will be made available in the coming weeks and further information will be announced on Gov.uk. The Government’s aim is to get funding to those in greatest need as soon as possible.

Many charities and social enterprises will also benefit from the existing measures announced to support employers and businesses. Under these measures, like other businesses, charities can defer their VAT bills and pay no business rates for their shops next year. All charities are eligible for the job retention scheme and the right answer for many charities will be to furlough their employees with the government paying 80% of wages.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to his Department's news story, Chancellor sets out extra £750 million coronavirus funding for frontline charities, published on 8 April 2020, how his Department plans to decide which charities will be eligible for that funding; and who will make that decision.

The Government knows that some charities are providing critical services and wider support to vulnerable people and communities during the pandemic. The new package of support will enable such organisations to continue providing essential services to those most in need.

  • £360m will be allocated by central government to charities based on evidence of service need. This will include up to £200m support for hospices, with the rest going to organisations like St Johns’ Ambulance and the Citizens Advice Bureau as well as charities supporting vulnerable children, victims of domestic abuse, or disabled people.
  • £370m will support smaller, local charities working with vulnerable people. This will provide support for thousands of charities on the frontline of helping vulnerable people affected by Covid-19.
  • A contribution of at least £20m to the National Emergencies Trust appeal.

This funding package will help charities providing essential services to continue their operations and to weather the storm until we return to more normal times. Funding for charities will be made available in the coming weeks and further information will be announced on Gov.uk. The Government’s aim is to get funding to those in greatest need as soon as possible.

Many charities and social enterprises will also benefit from the existing measures announced to support employers and businesses. Under these measures, like other businesses, charities can defer their VAT bills and pay no business rates for their shops next year. All charities are eligible for the job retention scheme and the right answer for many charities will be to furlough their employees with the government paying 80% of wages.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to his Department's news story, Chancellor sets out extra £750 million coronavirus funding for frontline charities, published on 8 April 2020, how children's cancer charities such as CLIC Sargent will be able to access that funding.