Stuart Anderson Portrait

Stuart Anderson

Conservative - Wolverhampton South West

3 APPG memberships (as of 4 May 2022)
Armed Forces Covenant, Black Country Economy, Reserves and Cadets
3 Former APPG memberships
Black Country, British Sikhs, Veterans
Armed Forces Bill Select Committee
22nd Feb 2021 - 22nd Feb 2021
Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill
22nd Feb 2021 - 22nd Feb 2021


Oral Question
Monday 6th June 2022
14:30
Department for Work and Pensions
Oral Question No. 16
What steps the Government is taking to ensure people of all ages can benefit from employment and training programmes.
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Select Committee Meeting
Tuesday 7th June 2022
14:00
Select Committee Meeting
Monday 13th June 2022
14:30
Department Event
Monday 13th June 2022
14:30
Ministry of Defence
Oral questions - Main Chamber
13 Jun 2022, 2:30 p.m.
Defence (including Topical Questions)
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 15th June 2022
09:30
Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 15th June 2022
10:30
Department Event
Wednesday 22nd June 2022
11:30
Northern Ireland Office
Oral questions - Main Chamber
22 Jun 2022, 11:30 a.m.
Northern Ireland
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Division Votes
Tuesday 24th May 2022
Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 283 Conservative Aye votes vs 0 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 285 Noes - 208
Speeches
Tuesday 24th May 2022
Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill
I do not want to pre-empt the rest of the hon. Gentleman’s speech—it is vital that victims groups should be …
Written Answers
Friday 27th May 2022
Press Freedom
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps she is taking to help promote …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
None available
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
Monday 1st March 2021
7. (ii) Other shareholdings, valued at more than £70,000
Until 18 May 2020, Travel Safety Ltd, a company which provides technology to help companies keep their staff safe while …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Stuart Anderson has voted in 491 divisions, and 2 times against the majority of their Party.

24 Jun 2020 - Demonstrations (Abortion Clinics) - View Vote Context
Stuart Anderson voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 43 Conservative No votes vs 56 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 213 Noes - 47
27 Apr 2021 - Delegated Legislation - View Vote Context
Stuart Anderson voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 77 Conservative No votes vs 222 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 431 Noes - 89
View All Stuart Anderson 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
Johnny Mercer (Conservative)
(9 debate interactions)
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
(9 debate interactions)
Vicky Ford (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
(9 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Cabinet Office
(93 debate contributions)
Home Office
(21 debate contributions)
Ministry of Defence
(18 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(10 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Stuart Anderson's debates

Wolverhampton South West 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 highest Wolverhampton South West signature proportion
Petitions with most Wolverhampton South West signatures
Stuart Anderson has not participated in any petition debates

Latest EDMs signed by Stuart Anderson

Stuart Anderson has not signed any Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Stuart Anderson, 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.


Stuart Anderson has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Stuart Anderson has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Stuart Anderson has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

Stuart Anderson has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


436 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
22 Other Department Questions
16th May 2022
To ask the Prime Minister, what plans he has to celebrate Black Country Day on 14 July 2022.

As a former resident of Bilston, I am proud of the enormous contribution that the Black Country has made and continues to make to the UK. I encourage everyone to join in as we celebrate the region's industrial heritage, history and culture on Black Country Day.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
26th Apr 2022
To ask the Prime Minister, whether he has plans to celebrate Black Country Day on the 14 July 2022.

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

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps he is taking to help ensure that new housing developments deliver the infrastructure that communities require.

It is important that new housing development is supported by the provision of infrastructure and appropriate services. Local authorities have responsibilities for planning for local development and the infrastructure to support it.

Where new development is proposed, contributions from developers play an important role in delivering the infrastructure to support communities and local economies. Local planning authorities can use the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and Section 106 planning obligations (together called ‘developer contributions’) to secure funding from new development to contribute towards the delivery of infrastructure.

However, the existing developer contributions regime is discretionary, subject to negotiation and renegotiations based on developers’ viability assessment.

The Government has proposed to introduce a new ‘Infrastructure Levy’, to replace the existing system of developer contributions, which aims to capture a greater share of the uplift in land value that comes with development. Through the Levy, local authorities will have greater flexibility to determine how contributions are spent to shape and support both existing and new communities.

Stuart Andrew
Minister of State (Minister for Housing)
7th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps he is taking to help ensure that property agents are (a) suitably qualified and (b) accountable to leaseholders.

The Government is committed to promoting fairness and transparency for tenants and homeowners and making sure that consumers are protected from abuse and poor service. This commitment includes raising professionalism and standards amongst property agents (letting, estate and managing agents), protecting consumers while defending the reputation of good agents from the actions of rogue operatives. We therefore welcome the ongoing work being undertaken by the industry itself to raise professionalism and standards across the sector, including on codes of practice for property agents.

The Government is considering the recommendations in the final report on the regulation of property agents from Lord Best’s working group, including on qualifications. We will continue to work with industry on improving best practice.

Leaseholders have a range of powers to hold a property agent to account. They may complain directly to the agent, and then to the relevant Government-approved redress scheme to which a property agent must belong. They may also apply for an Order to the First-tier Tribunal under Section 24 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 to change their managing agent if they are unhappy with the service that they are receiving.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
26th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps he is taking to encourage local planning authorities to adopt a brownfield first housing policy.

The National Planning Policy Framework expects local authorities to make the most of brownfield land for development. Local authorities are best placed to assess potential sites, and each authority now publishes a register of brownfield suitable for new homes. We have introduced Permission in Principle, an extra route to planning permission for land on these registers, giving certainty from the outset that the principles of a redevelopment scheme are acceptable.

This Government is putting significant investment into brownfield redevelopment through the £4.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund, the £4.95 billion Home Building Fund, and the £400 million Brownfield Housing Fund. Local authorities not eligible for support from the latter have been able to bid for assistance from the £75 million Brownfield Land Release Fund. This is designed to unlock brownfield sites and release serviced plots on local authority owned land. At Spending Review 2021, the Government announced a £1.8 billion package of investment to regenerate communities and level up the country, unlocking up to 160,000 new homes in total. There is tax relief on work to decontaminate land, and we have reformed permitted development and Use Class rules so yet more homes can be created on previously developed land.

Christopher Pincher
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to protect residents from excessive increases in council tax payments.

Council tax levels are set by local authorities, although the Secretary of State determines referendum principles to ensure that residents can have the final say over excessive increases. The provisional local government finance settlement will set out full details of the proposed referendum principles for 2022-23. The settlement and referendum principles will be subject to agreement by Parliament in the usual way. Local authorities maintain locally designed council tax support schemes to help people facing financial difficulty.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that there is a sufficient local provision of graveyards and cemeteries in place and that those sites are kept maintained and secure.

The Department does not hold data on the local provision of graveyards and cemeteries. Local authorities play a vital role in providing essential services to their communities, and they are best placed to determine local provision.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
27th Oct 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what steps have been taken to help ensure that people from ethnic minority backgrounds are represented at COP26.

We want a broad range of diverse voices at COP26. This includes Indigenous Peoples, women, people with disabilities, youth, older persons, faith and frontline groups. This is to amplify and learn from those most affected by climate change and to inspire increased climate ambition.

In line with the UK’s commitment to inclusivity, we are determined to ensure Glasgow is as inclusive as possible - despite the challenges presented by COVID-19. Through our diverse programme of events, as well as the efforts we have put into getting delegates to Glasgow, all participants will be able to benefit from the very best in climate leadership. To facilitate participation:

  • We offered free vaccinations to those from other countries who could not otherwise access them.

  • We provided free visas to registered attendees with UNFCCC accreditation.

  • We funded the required Managed Quarantine for delegates coming from ‘red list’ countries.

  • We also worked with transit countries for Pacific Small Island Development States (SIDs) to identify solutions to overcome barriers to travel.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department has taken to (a) increase the number of conservation areas and (b) protect those areas from excessive development.

The designation of conservation areas is a matter for local planning authorities. They are required by law to determine from time to time whether any part of their area should be designated as a conservation area. The planning system protects conservation areas in a number of ways – as designated heritage assets, the National Planning Policy Framework gives them strong policy protections; the demolition of unlisted buildings within them requires planning permission; permitted development rights (which allow certain development without a planning application) are more restricted and there are protections for trees within them.

Christopher Pincher
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what recent discussions her Department has had with the Ministry of Defence on ensuring women can access careers in the Armed Forces.

Equality Hub Ministers have frequent discussions with Ministerial colleagues from across government on a range of equalities issues.

The Ministry of Defence aims to significantly improve the recruitment and retention of women in the Armed Forces with the ambition to achieve 30% inflow of women by 2030. To realise this goal, the single Services have taken a range of steps to improve the experience of women in the Armed Forces, as they continue to do for all serving personnel. This includes all roles being open to women, targeted programmes to increase the recruitment of women, introducing flexible service, flexible and parental leave, the provision of sanitary boxes, and reviewing women specific combat requirements.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
15th Oct 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what steps he is taking to ensure that faith communities are effectively represented at COP26.

Representing over 80% of the world’s population, faith and spiritual groups have a unique perspective on climate change, in making the moral case to individuals, communities and states to protect the planet and support the most vulnerable in society. This is why the UK COP26 Presidency is working with faith leaders from across the globe to inspire a global response to climate change and drive real world action.

We have worked in collaboration with Italy and the Vatican to convene global faith leaders ahead of COP26. On 4 October 2021, I travelled to the Vatican where Pope Francis presented me with a signed joint Appeal from faith leaders calling on the international community to raise their climate ambition.

I have also established a dedicated civil society engagement team who work with faith communities. In April 2021, I met UK-based faith leaders to discuss how the UK Presidency can best work with faith leaders to deliver an inclusive and ambitious COP26. Officials worked with faith leaders in the UK and across the globe to produce the COP26 faith toolkit. This contains guidance on how religious, faith and spiritual communities can support climate action in the run up to and beyond COP26.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what initiatives have been put in place to support urban areas to develop allotments and community gardening initiatives.

The Government recognises through our National Planning Policy Framework the important role that allotments can provide in enabling and supporting healthy lifestyles within our communities. The Framework is clear that local planning policies should be based on robust and up-to-date assessments of the need for open space and opportunities for new provision, which can include allotments, and their plans should then seek to accommodate this.

Our National Model Design Code states that as part of open space design for large developments there should be the consideration of allotments and community growing projects for food production, learning and community engagement.

Christopher Pincher
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps he is taking to promote house ownership.

We are committed to helping make the dream of home ownership a reality and offer several schemes to support this. For example, our recently launched First Homes programme offers discounts of at least 30% to first time buyers, and our Help to Buy scheme and Shared Ownership also offer routes into home ownership.

More detail on all of these schemes and others are available on the Government’s home ownership website: www.ownyourhome.gov.uk.

Christopher Pincher
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
22nd Sep 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what recent discussions she has had with Ministerial colleagues on improving social mobility in the most deprived parts of the country.

Levelling up is at the heart of the Government’s agenda to build back better after the pandemic. Responsibility for driving forward the levelling up agenda has recently moved to the new Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to embed levelling up commitments and create tangible improvements in every part of the UK.

The Minister for Women and Equalities announced the Equality Data Programme to ensure that geographic and socio-economic inequality is considered, alongside other factors, when identifying barriers to opportunity. Furthermore, since April, the Social Mobility Commission has been sponsored by the Equality Hub in the Cabinet Office, so that it can play a wider role in tackling socio-economic inequality.

Additionally, the Government will publish a landmark Levelling Up White Paper later this year, setting out bold new policy interventions to improve livelihoods and opportunity in all parts of the UK.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to support the (a) public and (b) private sector to renovate derelict buildings into community hubs.

In July, my department launched a 4-year UK-wide £150 million Community Ownership Fund to support voluntary and community organisations to bring buildings such as community hubs at risk of loss into community ownership. The fund enables groups to bid for up to £250,000 of match funding. These buildings can be publicly or privately owned, and funding can be used to support renovation as part of an asset purchase. The second round of the Community Ownership Fund will be launched in December and third round in May 2021.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what progress the Social Mobility Commission has made on levelling up life chances across the country; and what steps she is taking to implement the recommendations made by that Commission.

The Social Mobility Commission (SMC) is an advisory body required by statute to do three things: 1) monitor progress on social mobility outcomes across the UK in an annual report 2) undertake research to inform recommendations for how government might improve social mobility in England and 3) share knowledge about how social mobility can be improved more widely.

The SMC has taken recent steps to improve how it delivers against these statutory objectives, including:

  • Producing a body of research work to help national and local leaders understand and address regional disparities in a more effective way through reports including, 'The long shadow of deprivation' (2020), and 'Moving out to move on' (2020).
  • Translating the insights from its reports into comprehensible actions that young people can take to improve their own outcomes.
  • Establishing an employers’ programme which has been successful in driving change in how employers both recruit and promote people from working class backgrounds.

The Commission’s work is an important part of the data-driven approach within the Equality Hub in the Cabinet Office. The Hub will consider its research and recommendations, with a view to using its evidence to inform the wide-ranging programme of work across Government to level up the country.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what steps he is taking to ensure that schools are represented at COP26.

All young people, including those of school-age, are an important voice and we recognise they are calling for urgent action, which is why we have established a dedicated COP26 youth engagement team in the Cabinet Office, who are ensuring youth voices are heard at COP26.

In the run up to the conference in November, the UK COP26 Presidency launched the Together for our Planet Schools Pack which was sent to approximately 30,000 schools across the UK. The pack is designed to engage students on climate action and help them to learn more about COP26.

At the conference itself, the UK COP26 Presidency is delighted to host Youth & Public Empowerment Day on Friday 5 November. We will also be reaching out to local school groups as part of our wider engagement activity to participate within a focused programme of activity in the UK-managed Green Zone at COP26.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps the Government is taking to (a) combat period poverty and (b) enable young people to help tackle that issue.

The Period Poverty Taskforce has begun a programme of work to tackle stigma and shame surrounding menstruation; established research priorities to improve the evidence surrounding period poverty and menstrual stigma in the UK and has begun to identify access barriers and the groups that are most affected by them. In addition to this, The Department for Education launched a new scheme which makes free period products available in state-funded primary schools, secondary schools and colleges in England, to ensure that menstruation does not present a barrier to young people’s learning.

The work of the Taskforce was paused on 20 March 2020 in light of COVID-19 to allow the GEO secretariat to be redeployed to respond to the pandemic, and to ensure that we were not asking businesses to volunteer resources at this difficult time. Further announcements on the plans and the work of the Taskforce will be made in due course.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what support the Government has made available to help ensure that the mental health conditions of armed forces veterans are not perceived by employers as career limiting (a) in and (b) out of the armed forces.

Veterans offer huge skills, talents and economic potential to society, including employers. One of the commitments in the Government’s Veterans Strategy Action Plan, published in January this year, is to tackle the outdated and incorrect perceptions that some in society hold about veterans. We are working closely with the business community - for example Deloitte’s Veterans Work programme, and research organisations such as the Forces in Mind Trust - to identify perceived barriers and break them down by showcasing the incredible achievements of veterans, including those who, like people from across society, have been affected by mental health challenges.

Alongside this the Government works closely with employers, for example through the MOD’s Career Transition Partnership, to provide a platform which brings together those leaving the Armed Forces and employers seeking to access the talent of the Armed Forces community together. Many people serve full and exceptional careers in the Armed Forces whilst successfully managing mental ill-health. However, there are instances where the severity of mental ill-health means serving in the Armed Forces is no longer a viable option. Transition and welfare support is available for those who are discharged as a result of mental ill-health.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what opportunities the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities plans to make available to people in (a) Wolverhampton South West constituency and (b) the rest of the UK to engage with the work of the Commission.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which was established on 16 July of this year, has set out an ambitious plan of engagement and analysis to deliver against its terms of reference.

The Commission intends to engage with individuals and organisations nationwide in order to deliver its work, and has already held initial meetings with some of the key stakeholders, delivery partners and agencies for employment, education, health and criminal justice.

Its work will be crucial in informing and improving the national conversation on race and also demonstrates this government’s mission to level up opportunity for everyone - whatever their background. Further updates on the Commission's progress will be posted on its website in due course.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps she is taking to encourage diversity in senior professions in relation to (a) age, (b) class, (c) ethnicity, (d) gender and (e) sexuality.

This Government is actively working on these issues. To encourage greater age diversity in workplaces, we have published a strategy 'Fuller Working Lives: A Partnership Approach', which aims to increase the retention, retraining and recruitment of older workers by bringing about a change in the perceptions and attitudes of employers.

On levelling up opportunity regardless of social class, the Social Mobility Commission’s latest report (published on 10 June 2020) recognises progress in improving life chances for poorer groups and keeping disadvantaged pupils in education for longer. In line with that, we have launched a £1 billion package to directly tackle the impact of lost teaching time due to COVID-19, including a £350 million National Tutoring Programme targeted at those children and young people who need the most help.

On gender and ethnicity in senior professions, we support the business-led voluntary Hampton-Alexander and Parker Reviews respectively. The FTSE 100 and 350 have achieved their 33% women on boards targets and there are now only two all male boards, against 152 in 2011. We also support the Financial Reporting Council’s efforts to improve the quality of company diversity reporting, including by ethnicity.

Finally, in relation to sexuality, in Autumn 2019, we brought together participants from over 150 businesses to share experiences and best practice in making workplaces genuinely LGBT-inclusive and we are exploring what more can be done to tackle LGBT workplace discrimination.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Attorney General, what steps he is taking to strengthen young people's (a) engagement with and (b) understanding of (i) the work of the Crown Prosecution Service and (ii) other services provided by his Department.

The CPS has a strong record of outreach programmes to engage young people in its work, and to promote career opportunities, including through apprenticeships.

The CPS has over 400 apprentices currently enrolled onto programme across England and Wales and has a strong record of consistently meeting the apprenticeship targets as set out by Cabinet Office. At the end of June 2021, CPS was at 4.9% apprenticeship starts against the 2.3% target. 49% of the apprentices are aged 16 to 24 years old and 4% are aged under 19 years old.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th Mar 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the Government’s plans to tackle suicide among veterans.

The Government is clear that any suicide is a tragedy and is fully committed to tackling suicide among veterans. In September 2021, we announced a new method for recording veteran suicide. We expect the first reports from this data to be available in 2023.

Concurrent to that work, the MOD, ONS and OVA are working collaboratively to publish a 10-year lookback on veteran deaths through suicide, alcohol misuse and drug abuse. Having a better understanding of the number of veterans taking their own lives will help inform future policy and interventions in support of veterans.

Our ambition is to ensure that no veteran’s request for help goes unanswered. The veterans' mental health and wellbeing service, Op COURAGE, was allocated £17.8million funding last year and an extra £2.7million over the next three years. Further, we are supporting veteran-friendly accreditation for GPs and veteran-aware training for social work teams.

Additional funding has been awarded to service charities involved in supporting the mental health of veterans, such as through the £5million Afghanistan Veterans Fund, as well as an additional £10 million to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)
21st Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent progress has made on (a) delivering on the aims of the Places for Growth Programme and (b) employing more civil servants outside of London.

More than 2,000 Civil Service jobs have already been relocated from Greater London.

Places for Growth is contributing towards the Declaration on Government Reform and Levelling Up agenda by significantly increasing the geographic spread of Civil Servants across the UK, increasing opportunities for people from a wider range of places and closing the distance between national and local decision-makers. This is being delivered by moving 15,000 Civil Service roles out of Greater London by 2025.

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government efficiency)
2nd Dec 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department is taking to support veterans with mental health needs.

Our ambition is to ensure that no veteran’s request for help goes unanswered. The veterans' mental health and wellbeing service, Op COURAGE, has been allocated £17.8m funding this year and will benefit from a boost of £2.7m over the next three years. The Prime Minister recently announced an additional £5 million for service charities following the UK's withdrawal from Afghanistan, which will be used on a range of projects including increasing capacity in mental health support. In March, the government also announced an additional £10 million to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to distribute to charitable projects supporting veterans’ mental health needs. This is on top of the annual £10 million awarded to the Trust.

The upcoming ‘Strategy for our Veterans Action Plan’ will further outline the Government’s plans to support veterans.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department is taking to support veterans with housing needs.

This year, we have committed £750 million to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping - aiming to end rough sleeping within the parliament.

I am committed to providing veterans with a gold standard of support; that means services that are easily accessed and which meet veterans needs. We have already taken steps to improve veterans access to social housing, removing the local connection requirement and giving vulnerable veterans priority access, and I look forward to announcing further steps later this year when I publish the Veterans Strategy Action Plan.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent progress the Government has made on the Places for Growth programme.

As part of Budget 2020, the Government committed to moving 22,000 Civil Service roles out of central London within the next decade. These roles will be moving to locations across the UK, including Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff, Darlington and Wolverhampton. 11 departments have announced their location plans so far.

Places for Growth is working closely with Government departments as part of the Spending Review and has early commitments to move up to 15,000 Civil Service roles by 2024/25. Additional plans for the relocation of roles will be finalised in the coming weeks.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
12th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps are being taken to support the mental health needs of veterans.

The majority of veterans successfully access mental health services available to the general population. For those who require bespoke treatment, NHS England’s Op COURAGE brings together three NHS England veterans’ mental health services into a single pathway with a common point of access. £17.8m has been provided for these services this financial year, and an additional £10m has also been allocated to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to distribute to charitable projects supporting veterans’ mental health needs.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what plans he has in place to estimate the proportion of people who have passed away from covid-19 compared with other primary causes.

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

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking in response to the recommendations of the National Audit Office’s review of the Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme.

Based on the report by the National Audit Office and its recommendations, the Committee of Public Accounts took evidence from HM Treasury and the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy and published its report on the Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme on 1 December 2021. The government response to the Committee’s report was published on 24 February with the government agreeing with all of the Committee’s recommendations.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support the growth and sustainability of independent shops, cafes, and restaurants on high streets.

In July 2021, the Department launched the first-ever hospitality strategy to support the reopening, recovery and resilience of England’s pubs, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs. We have also launched the Hospitality Sector Council to oversee the delivery of the strategy, including working with the sector to make hospitality a career option of choice and looking at the labour and skills shortages.

In order to help address the immediate challenges of labour shortages in the hospitality sector, the Department for Work and Pensions is working hard to fill ongoing vacancies by using work coaches to help find local talent, and Plans for Jobs programmes, such as Kickstart and Sector-based Work Academy Programmes.

The Department for Education has also added hospitality and catering qualifications to the Free Courses for Jobs, as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee. Additionally, we are increasing employer-led apprenticeship funding to £2.7 billion by 2024-25, extending the £3,000 incentive payment for every apprentice a business hires up until 31 January 2022, and improving the apprenticeship system for employers.

On 15 July, we published the Build Back Better High Streets Strategy, where we committed to continue working with the retail sector, and the Retail Sector Council in particular, on its long-term strategic needs to ensure that businesses are profitable, resilient, innovative and support local economies in socially and environmentally responsible ways.

On 20 January, BEIS and HMT jointly launched Help to Grow Digital, a UK wide Government scheme offering eligible small and medium sized businesses access to digital technology to supercharge their business growth and help drive our recovery from coronavirus.

On 18 August, the Retail Sector Council launched a national online initiative to help small independent retailers (SMEs) cut their carbon footprint and become more environmentally friendly. Green Street is an informative and accessible Hub, built by retailers for retailers to encourage planet friendly shopping.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what long-term measures the Government has put in place to support the hospitality sector to meet its recruitment needs.

The Department has launched the first-ever hospitality strategy to support the reopening, recovery and resilience of England’s pubs, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs. As part of this, we have set up the Hospitality Sector Council to oversee the delivery of the strategy, including working with the sector to make hospitality a career option of choice and looking at the labour and skills shortages.

In order to help address the immediate challenges of labour shortages in the hospitality sector, the Department for Work and Pensions is working hard to fill ongoing vacancies by using work coaches to help find local talent, and Plans for Jobs programmes, such as Kickstart and Sector-based Work Academy Programmes. The Department for Education has also added hospitality and catering qualifications to the Free Courses for Jobs, as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee. Additionally, we are increasing employer-led apprenticeship funding to £2.7 billion by 2024-25, extending the £3,000 incentive payment for every apprentice a business hires up until 31 January 2022, and improving the apprenticeship system for employers.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to promote awareness on how to gain competitive fuel prices from providers.

The Government’s analysis shows that changes to retail prices of petroleum products such as petrol and diesel are primarily driven by the changes in global market prices for crude oil and in exchange rates.

There are both free and subscription-based mobile phone applications available which allow drivers to compare fuel prices at forecourts.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to help support historical buildings to become carbon neutral.

As set out in the recent Heat and Buildings Strategy, the Government is committed to decarbonising all homes and buildings in line with the Government’s Net Zero emissions target.

The Government recognises this includes ensuring that more historic buildings have the right energy efficiency measures and low carbon heat. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, recently published the Planning for the Future White Paper, committing to reviewing and updating the planning framework for listed buildings and conservation areas, to ensure their significance is conserved while allowing, where appropriate, sympathetic changes to support their continued use and address climate change.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what incentives the Government has put in place to encourage businesses to contribute towards the Government's Net Zero by 2050 carbon emissions target.

Businesses have significant power to drive change towards achieving our domestic net zero goal both through reducing their own emissions is important, but also their role in designing the ground-breaking new technologies, world leading products and innovative approaches to reach net zero, with the private sector providing much of the investment needed.

The policies and spending brought forward in the Net Zero Strategy mean that since the Ten Point Plan, £26 billion of government capital investment for the green industrial revolution has been mobilised. The Strategy will leverage up to £90 billion of private investment by 2030.

The UK’s industrial sector plays both an essential role in the economy and is a major source of CO2 emission. The Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy, published in March 2021, and expanded in the Net Zero Strategy, sets out how industry can decarbonise in line with net zero, while transforming industrial regions by attracting inward investment, future-proofing businesses, and securing the long-term viability of jobs.

The Net Zero Strategy sets out the Government’s intention to work with businesses to produce their own business specific plans, while also encouraging businesses to take action in the run up to COP by joining the global ‘Race to Zero’ campaign, which already includes over half of FTSE 100 companies.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to encourage start-ups in green growth sectors such as carbon capture.

Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) is integral to the UK’s Green Industrial Revolution. Building on the UK’s industrial strengths and capabilities, we are leading efforts to establish this critical technology.

In July this year we launched call 1 of a CCUS Innovation 2.0 competition[1] to:

  • support cost reductions in carbon capture, usage and storage;
  • to help UK industry to understand the opportunity for deploying next generation carbon capture technology on industrial, waste, or power generation sites for 2030;and
  • made available £19.5m of grant funding available as part of CCUS Innovation 2.0, eligible to small and medium enterprise (SME) applicants.

In order to support green growth sectors, since 2012 we have now run 8 rounds of the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund (EEF)[2].

The EEF seeks the best ideas, irrespective of source, across these energy technology areas from the public and private sector. It particularly aims to assist small and medium-sized enterprises, including start-ups, and those companies that are selected will receive additional funding for incubation support.

We also launched a £70 million Direct Air Capture (DAC) and Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) Innovation competition in 2021.

The programme is currently in Phase 1 of the programme and has 23 innovation projects developing a range of technologies.

[1] CCUS Innovation 2.0: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ccus-innovation-20-competition

[2] Energy Entrepreneurs Fund: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/energy-entrepeneurs-fund

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support start-ups in the manufacturing sector.

The Government is committed to supporting UK manufacturing businesses, including start-ups and recognises the vital role they play in the UK economy, by driving innovation, exports, job creation and productivity growth.

We are committed to supporting manufacturers to take advantage of innovative technology and we recently announced £8 million in new government funding for the Made Smarter Adoption programme to help Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) increase productivity, competitiveness and drive up efficiency by adopting industrial digital technology, building on the success of our Made Smarter North West Pilot.

The Government’s business support schemes have been put in place to help eligible businesses to get through the pandemic, from all regions and backgrounds. Information on these schemes and other resources is available via the free Business Support Helpline.

The Start Up Loans Company, part of the Government-owned British Business Bank, provides loans and pre- and post-application support to new entrepreneurs, including a year of free business mentoring for successful applicants. Since 2012, over 86,000 Start Up Loans worth over £769 million have been issued to new entrepreneurs. We are also investing £147 million through the Made Smarter Innovation programme to help forward-thinking UK manufacturers create new, green products and processes, slash carbon emissions, drive up productivity and create thousands of highly skilled new jobs across the country.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps are being taken to improve the availability of electric vehicle charge points in Wolverhampton.

The Government’s On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) is available to all UK local authorities to provide public chargepoints for their residents without access to private parking. In 2021/22, £20 million is available under the scheme to ensure more local authorities and residents can benefit. Amendments have been made to the ORCS to encourage ambitious local authority projects, and improve access to the funding for local authorities in areas of limited electrical capacity.

Local authorities in England can also take advantage of Energy Saving Trust’s Local Government Support Programme, fully funded by the Department for Transport, which offers support to help authorities develop and deliver EV strategies, and programmes to increase adoption of ultra-low emission vehicles. This includes support with the roll out of charging infrastructure through applying for ORCS funding.

In addition, Government is investing almost £40 million in projects to support innovation in wireless and on-street charging technology to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that people can easily access advice on home insulation measures and services.

The Simple Energy Advice Service (SEA) provides impartial and tailored advice to help people improve their household’s energy efficiency and make their homes greener. SEA consists of an easy-to-use website supported by a call centre and the website has been accessed by over 1.5 million users. The Government is currently undertaking user research into improving the service.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) also published an EPC Action Plan detailing a series of commitments to engage consumers to support policy and drive action. The Government is also working with Local Authorities through the Local Energy Programme to develop support for retrofit programmes by addressing local barriers to clean growth activity.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
16th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of services delivered by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

BEIS officials review Acas’ performance on a regular basis as set out in the ‘Acas Framework Document’. This document sets out the broad framework within which Acas operates including the performance expectations for the services they deliver.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what incentives are being put in place to encourage the transition to electric vehicles.

The Government had already committed £1.5 billion to support the early market and remove barriers to ZEV ownership. Alongside the new phase out dates for new petrol and diesel cars and vans, we pledged a further £2.8 billion package of measures to support industry and consumers to make the switch to cleaner vehicles. This includes up to £1 billion to support the electrification of UK vehicles and their supply chains.

The Government will provide £1.3 billion to support the continued roll-out of chargepoint infrastructure at homes, workplaces, residential streets and across the wider roads network, to provide motorists with confidence to purchase an EV. Government and industry have already supported the installation of nearly 25,000 public charging devices. This includes more than 4,500 rapid devices – one of the largest networks in Europe.

Government grants for plug in vehicles continue to be available to help reduce the up-front purchase price of electric vehicles, with total money committed at £582 million for cars, vans, motorcycles and taxis to 2022/23.

The March 2020 Budget included the extension of favourable benefit in kind tax rates for zero emission vehicles out to 2025: company car tax is 1% in 2021/22 and 2% in 2022/23 through to 2024/25; and all zero emission cars are exempt from vehicle excise duty (VED).

Local Authorities may also provide additional incentives such as free parking and exemption from the congestion charge.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent estimate he has made of the number of high street shops which have been empty for more than twelve months.

BEIS does not hold this data but in 2019 the Local Data Company’s report on Retail & Leisure Market vacancies put the 1 year+ vacancy rate at 7.4%. ONS data indicates that there were nearly 320,000 retail units in the UK in 2019 which suggests around 22,700 stores had been vacant for a year or more. This represents the most recent estimate available.

In order to mitigate against a rise in the number of vacant units, the Government has introduced a range of measures to protect businesses that are struggling to pay their rent due to Covid-19. We have extended the moratorium on commercial landlords’ right to forfeiture for the non-payment of rent to the 25 March 2022 and we will introduce legislation to help landlords and tenants resolve historic Covid-19 rent debt through binding arbitration if necessary.

We continue to reduce the financial burden on retailers by providing eligible retail properties in England with 66% business rates relief for the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022, capped at £2 million per business for properties that were required to be closed on 5 January 2021, or £105,000 per business for other eligible properties.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what advice and support is available to help homeowners increase their household energy efficiency.

Our Simple Energy Advice Service (SEA), which was launched in 2018, provides impartial and tailored advice to help people improve their household energy efficiency and make their homes greener and cheaper to run. The SEA, which consists of an easy-to-use website supported by a call centre which members of the public may contact for digital assistance, has been accessed by over 1.4 million unique users since its launch.

Homeowners may also refer to the advice provided by their Energy Performance Certificate, which are tailored to the characteristics of the property following an assessment of the building and recommend measures to improve household energy efficiency.

At a local level, the Government has supported skills development and advice provision through a number of local supply chain demonstration pilots, which tested new approaches to supporting home energy retrofit in the able-to-pay sector in England and recognise the importance of locally provided advice. We are also working with Local Authorities through the Local Energy Programme to develop support for local retrofit programmes by addressing local barriers to clean growth activity.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what funding the Government has allocated to new carbon capture technologies.

Research and innovation into CCUS has been a key priority for the UK. Between 2004-2019 the UK has provided over £295m in public funding for CCUS Research and Innovation. In the BEIS Energy Innovation Programme (2011-2016) more than £41m was provided to CCUS innovation projects. These were funded by the Call for CCUS Innovation, Carbon Capture & Utilisation Demonstration (CCUD) programme and the Energy Entrepreneur Fund (EEF) scheme.

Under the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (2021-2025), the BEIS CCUS Innovation 2.0 programme is seeking to fund next generation CCUS technology with up to £20m available.

The Carbon Capture and Storage Infrastructure Fund (CIF) which is expected to support Transport & Storage and Industrial Carbon Capture was first announced at the Budget in March 2020, and its allocation of £1bn was confirmed at the Spending Review in November 2020.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that contracts of employment take into consideration the mental health needs of employees.

Under health and safety legislation, employers have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees; Under equality legislation employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees, which can include those with mental health needs.

The Government is working to equip employers with the knowledge and confidence to manage health and disability in the workplace. This includes advice on creating inclusive workplaces and working practices and help providing modifications and adjustments where needed to support individual employees, covering both mental and physical health conditions.

In 2019, Public Health England published a series of toolkits in partnership with Business in the Community to help every organisation support the mental and physical health of its employees. Government continues to work with Business Leaders via the ‘Thriving at Work Leadership Council' to break down stigma and also promotes mental health resources available at the Mental Health at Work website. The Department for Work and Pensions’ Disability Confident scheme will continue working with employers to actively promote best practice in supporting the mental and physical health of employees.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what financial support the Government is providing to low-income households that need new or replacement boilers.

The Energy Company Obligation scheme (ECO), worth £640 million per annum, sets an obligation on larger energy suppliers to install energy efficiency and heating measures in the homes of low income and vulnerable households in Great Britain. A capped amount of replacement boilers is allowed, though there is no cap when certain insulation measures are installed alongside.

Under the current iteration of ECO, over 157,000 boilers had been installed up to the end of December 2020.

Furthermore, under the Warm Home Discount (WHD), the Industry Initiatives element of the scheme allows suppliers to support low income and vulnerable households through a range of measures, including replacement boilers in certain circumstances.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to support hair and beauty businesses in Wolverhampton South West constituency.

We have put in place one of the most generous packages of support in the world worth over £280 billion. For Hair and Beauty businesses, this includes business rates holidays, various loans schemes and the extended furlough scheme. Closed businesses such as hairdressers, like those in your constituency, can also receive a grant of up to £3,000 a month and a one-off payment up to a maximum £9,000.

I meet with the sector regularly to understand the impact of the pandemic on businesses.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will take steps to extend the range of roles that are eligible for the right to reasonable time off work to carry out public duties.

The Government is keen to see greater corporate responsibility on the part of employers and encourages the public sector, charities and businesses to consider their impact on society. Employer-supported volunteering can help to build stronger communities and a stronger economy, by helping charities and community groups to do more and by creating a more motivated and productive workforce.

Employees have the right to reasonable time off work to carry out specified public duties such as those of a magistrate or a local councillor. There are currently no plans to extend the range of roles.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to help reduce the cost of utility bills for vulnerable people experiencing financial hardship.

The Government and regulators have worked with regulated industries to support consumers who are struggling financially.

Examples of the support provided include in the financial services sector, where the FCA advises that consumers can apply, until the end of March, for payment deferrals including on mortgages, loans, credit cards, overdrafts, and motor finance. In the energy sector, BEIS secured a voluntary agreement with energy companies to support their customers impacted by Covid-19 and struggling with energy bills, including taking action to keep households on supply. Ofcom has also recently asked telecoms providers to bring in further support, including proactively engaging with those in debt, and waiving penalty charges.

Details of the support available to consumers struggling to pay their essential bills can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/advice-for-people-who-are-struggling-to-pay-essential-bills-because-of-coronavirus.

The Government has also through the COVID Winter Grant Scheme provided £170m to local authorities in England, to provide support for vulnerable households particularly affected by the pandemic, and help with the cost of food, energy, water bills and other essentials.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will take steps to roll out lateral flow testing to support the safe re-opening of venues in the night-time economy.

The Government recently (10 January 2021) announced the expansion of rapid, regular testing to include people without symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), which is now available across the country. The offer is currently targeting people who are unable to work from home during the national lockdown. The Government will keep under review any further expansion to support wider sectors. All coronavirus business support information is available on GOV.UK.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to put in place a long-term funding strategy for energy efficiency beyond the Green Homes Grant.

The Ten-Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution committed to the extension of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) by a further 4 years from 2022 to 2026. The successor ECO scheme from 2022 will require larger energy suppliers to improve the energy efficiency of homes, focusing on those less able to pay across Great Britain.

The 2019 Conservative manifesto committed to a £3.8billion Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF). A £50 million SHDF Demonstrator was launched in 2020 to test innovative approaches to retrofitting social housing at scale and upgrading the energy performance of poorer-performing homes. A further £60 million has been allocated to continue the development of the SHDF in the next year.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what additional support the Government is providing to local authorities to ensure the provision of accessible electric vehicle charge-points in built-up areas.

The Government is investing over £2.8bn‎ across the whole of the UK to help people buy zero emission vehicles and accelerate the roll out of charging infrastructure. The Government’s On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) has supported over 60 local authorities to fund more than 2,000 chargepoints for residents who do not have off-street parking. The doubling of funding for the ORCS to £20 million announced last year by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport will allow local authorities to install up to 7,200 charging devices, making charging at home and overnight easier for those without an off-street parking space. Government recognises the need to address non-financial barriers faced by Local Authorities and provides regularly updated guidance on chargepoint procurement and installation via the Energy Savings Trust.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the statutory provision for time off to fulfill public duties to (a) charity trustees and (b) other roles.

Employer-supported volunteering can help to build stronger communities and a stronger economy, by helping charities and community groups to do more and by creating a more motivated and productive workforce. Employees have the right to reasonable time off work to carry out specified public duties such as those of a magistrate or a local councillor. Whilst there are currently no plans to assess the current provisions, the Government is keen to see greater corporate responsibility on the part of employers and to encourage the public sector, charities and businesses to consider their impact on society.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many jobs the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution will create in Wolverhampton South West constituency.

As we rebuild, we must build back better, greener, and faster. This means supporting green jobs, levelling up, accelerating our path to net zero, and creating long-term advantage for the UK.

Spanning clean energy, buildings, transport, nature and innovative technologies, the Ten Point Plan will mobilise £12 billion of government investment to unlock three times as much private sector investment by 2030. In doing so we will plan will we will support a further 90,000 green jobs across the UK by 2024, and up to 250,000 by 2030, building on the 460,000 jobs that already exist in the low carbon economy today.

Support for green jobs across the UK, including the West Midlands, will be delivered by:

  • Investing £1 billion to make our homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient, supporting around 50,000 jobs across the UK
  • Doubling the Green Recovery Challenge Fund with an extra £40 million
  • Backing our world-leading automotive sector, including in the West Midlands and North East and Wales to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, and transforming our national infrastructure to better support electric vehicles. To support this acceleration, nearly £500 million will be spent in the next four years for the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries, and other strategic technologies as part of our commitment to provide up to £1 billion, boosting international investment into our strong manufacturing bases such as in the Midlands and North East, and safeguarding 169,000 jobs in the automotive sector.

The Ten Point Plan is the foundation towards a green industrial revolution in the UK. We will set out further measures as we run up to COP26 to support the growth of the low carbon economy – starting with the Energy White Paper.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has in place to ensure that (a) vulnerable and elderly people who have difficulty using technology and (b) other vulnerable and elderly people are able to access Green Homes grants.

For elderly or vulnerable homeowners who are unable to apply to the scheme digitally, an assisted digital route has been made available by the scheme administrator. More information can be found on the Green Homes Grant Contact Us page, with a phone lines for scheme application (0300 131 0053) open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday. Furthermore, the Simple Energy Advice (SEA) website, used to find accredited installers for measures under the scheme, also offers a non-digital route for elderly and vulnerable homeowners to search for suitable installers. Homeowners can contact 0800 444 202 between 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday.

Outside of the voucher scheme, support is available to vulnerable and elderly households on low incomes via the £500m Local Authority Delivery (LAD) element. Local Authorities have a comprehensive understanding of their local community and are able to identify vulnerable households through a variety of referral routes, such as a ‘cold home referral’ from the health and charity sectors.

Lastly, we are working closely with other governmental departments, such as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Office for Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), to help raise homeowners’ awareness of the scheme.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that fireworks are not sold to people under 18 years of age.

It is illegal to sell fireworks or sparklers to any person under the age of 18 years and all premises supplying fireworks are required to display a notice highlighting it is illegal to sell fireworks to under 18’s or for those under 18 to possess fireworks in a public place.

Local Authority Trading Standards have powers to enforce the law and work with businesses to help them comply. The Government has worked with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute to provide training to front-line officers on firework enforcement. The maximum penalty for supplying fireworks to a person under 18 is a fine or three months imprisonment.

The Government launched an awareness campaign on 20 October to promote the safe and considerate use of fireworks, and we have partnered with organisations including retail bodies to ensure retailers understand their responsibilities when selling fireworks.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that fireworks are used safely in (a) private homes and (b) commercial settings (i) on 5 November and (ii) during the traditional firework period.

There is a comprehensive regulatory framework in place for fireworks to reduce the risks to people and disturbance to animals. Existing legislation controls the sale, availability and use of fireworks, as well as setting a curfew and noise limit.

In order to further promote the safe and considerate use of fireworks, we launched a public awareness campaign on fireworks on 20 October, where we have partnered with stakeholders including animal welfare organisations and retail bodies.

People must follow the national coronavirus restrictions or those relevant in their local area. Information on the national and local COVID alert levels across the UK can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress he has made on the distribution of Green Home Grants.

The Green Homes Grant opened to applications on the 30 September 2020. As of 2nd November 2020, 31,279 grant applications have been received. BEIS will continue to monitor application data as the scheme progresses.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what funding his Department provides to service stations in (a) the UK and (b) Wolverhampton South West constituency for installing electric car charge-points.

The Government has published a vision for rolling out high-powered chargepoints across the motorway and A-road network in England. Today, a driver is never more than 25 miles away from a rapid chargepoint anywhere along England's motorways and major A roads.

By 2023, we aim to have at least six high-powered, open access?chargepoints (150 to 350 kilowatt capable) at motorway service areas in England, with some larger sites having as many as 10 to 12. By 2035, we expect the number to increase to around 6,000 high-powered chargers across the network.

This vision will be supported by a Rapid Charging Fund, which was announced at Budget as part of a £500 million commitment for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. To target spending from this Fund effectively, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles has commenced a comprehensive review of electric vehicle infrastructure to complete later this year.

Highways England has now completed its commitment to ensure there is a rapid chargepoint every 20 miles along 95% of the Strategic Road Network by March 2020. The management of motorways and major roads is a devolved matter and the UK Government is working with partners in the Devolved Administrations to ensure that there are coordinated plans in place for the development of a rapid charging infrastructure across the UK.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what financial support is available to encourage businesses to manufacture environmentally friendly product packaging.

The Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging programme will tackle the challenge of plastic pollution in the environment through the development of a more sustainable plastic packaging value chain in the UK. We will invest £60 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which is expected to be matched by funding of up to £149 million from industry over the next 5 years.

This support will encourage businesses to develop more environmentally friendly packaging as well as novel infrastructure to recycle it at the end of its life. This investment will drive research and innovation to develop more sustainable materials and packaging designs, business models which drive the adoption of reusable and refillable packaging, new recycling processes and infrastructure to deliver a reduction in the negative environmental impacts caused by plastic packaging.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what financial support is available to businesses which operate childcare activity groups in rented spaces and who have lost income as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government put forward a package of support to help businesses with their ongoing business costs in recognition of the disruption caused by Covid-19. This included the?Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF).?This funding was provided to support the smallest businesses and small businesses in some of the sectors?hardest hit by the measures taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

In addition, on?1 May,?the Government announced the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund. This scheme was intended to support small businesses?in some of the hardest hit sectors?that were previously outside the scope of the Small Business and Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grant Funds.

We asked local authorities to prioritise the following types of businesses for grants from within this funding pot:

  • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces. Examples could include units in industrial parks, science parks, and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment.
  • Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment.
  • Bed & breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of business rates.
  • Charity properties in receipt of Charitable Rate Relief, which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.

Local authorities have been responsible for defining the precise eligibility for this Fund?and?may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need,?subject to those businesses meeting the specific eligibility criteria.

Guidance for Local Authorities was published 13 May: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-business-support-grant-funding.

Businesses which were not eligible for or have not received grant funding should be able to benefit from other measures in the Government’s unprecedented package of support for business:?https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what financial support is available to help with (a) repairing flat roofs and (b) other energy efficiency initiatives for an apartment complex for people who do not receive support from the social security system.

The Green Homes Grant voucher scheme is available to homeowners and landlords for grant funding towards energy efficiency measures and low-carbon heat, covering up to two thirds of the cost up to a maximum of £5000.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to encourage environmentally-friendly industry and manufacturing in the (a) Wolverhampton South West constituency and (b) UK.

Achieving Net Zero remains a priority and the Government will consider how transitioning to a carbon neutral economy, creating new sources of competitive advantage in green manufacturing and sustainable business, will feature in a post-COVID-19 economy. We recognise that policies and measures to support low carbon technologies can be drivers of economic growth and new jobs in the Wolverhampton South constituency and across the UK, for example electric vehicle manufacturing in the Midlands.

The Government has just launched the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, a scheme set up to help businesses with high energy use to reduce energy bills and cut carbon emissions. This scheme will support businesses to invest in energy efficient, low carbon technologies and in doing so help to place industry on a path to a low carbon future.

The Industrial Clusters Mission will establish the world’s first net-zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040 and at least one low-carbon cluster by 2030. To kick start the Mission, we will be investing up to £170 million via the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge (IDC) fund to support the deployment of low-carbon technologies and enabling infrastructure in one or more clusters.

The Made Smarter Review found that greater adoption and innovation of industrial digital technology in UK manufacturing could deliver a 4.5% reduction in CO2 emissions and over £10 billion in reduced resource costs. Through our Made Smarter programme, we are investing up to £167 million to support digitalisation in UK manufacturing and through which we are already seeing examples of the role digital technology plays in increasing the resilience of firms in the sector.

Finally, the BEIS Local Energy Programme is designed to maximise local contribution to clean growth, decarbonisation, and to help reach net zero targets. The programme works with Local Enterprise Partnerships, Local Authorities and Communities in England to drive development of clean growth as a key part of Local Industrial Strategies and support local clean growth investment. The key focus is mobilisation of green finance to support projects at local level that wouldn’t otherwise happen. The Local Energy Programme, which includes the Midlands Energy Hub, addresses barriers to clean growth activity and equips areas to drive private sector investment into clean growth across a pipeline of local projects.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
10th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to encourage businesses to allow flexible working during the covid-19 outbreak.

Since Covid-19 measures were introduced many more people have been working from home with many businesses rapidly adapting to remote working, using new technology and finding new ways of working. The Government is keen to do more to promote flexible working in all its forms.

All employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employer have the right to request Flexible Working. In our manifesto we said that, subject to consultation, we would introduce measures to make flexible working the default.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to help ensure the long-term sustainability of the community radio sector.

The Government has for a number of years provided financial support to the community radio sector by way of the Community Radio Fund (CRF), which distributes £400,000 on an annual basis to help fund the core costs of running licensed community radio stations and enable the sector to move towards self-sustainability. Furthermore, in the last two financial years, we have supported the CRF to go beyond this core funding, with significant uplifts targeted on tackling loneliness and to reflect the sector’s important contribution to the government’s ambitions on levelling up.

We have also recently commissioned a full external evaluation of the CRF, the report of which will be published shortly. We will be working closely with Ofcom, as the administrators of the Fund, on potential improvements to the running of the Fund in the light of the findings of that evaluation, to ensure that it works as efficiently and effectively as possible.

In addition, we have in recent years worked to support the growth of small-scale Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), both through passing the necessary legislation and in working with sector stakeholders to support the rollout of licences. Small-scale DAB represents a low-cost route to broadcasting on a terrestrial digital platform, and we envisage it enabling a significant number of new community services to launch as well as allowing existing stations to move onto digital over the coming months and years.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to promote English Tourism Week from 18 to 27 March 2022.

English Tourism Week will be an excellent opportunity to showcase some of the best tourist attractions and destinations around the country. The ‘Be Our Guest’ campaign will highlight the opportunities of domestic tourism for inbound visitors as well as our domestic population.

Our arms-length body, VisitEngland, has launched the next phase of its domestic marketing campaign, Escape the Everyday. The campaign will focus on cities as they are impacted by lower numbers of international visitors and it will target a ‘pre-nester’ audience (18-34 year olds), encouraging them to book a short city-break.

The National Lottery Days Out Scheme will still be running during English Tourism week, therefore there will be opportunities for National Lottery Players to visit attractions by claiming a £25 voucher.

I also plan to visit some of England’s fantastic tourist destinations and attractions during the week. The Government is committed to the sector’s recovery post-pandemic and English Tourism Week will be an opportunity to celebrate the resilience of the sector and demonstrate our world-class offer.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
4th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that under-represented communities in the West Midlands are involved in the work of the Public Broadcasting Review.

The Government’s strategic review of public service broadcasting (PSB) is about ensuring that viewers across the whole of the UK continue to benefit from a modern PSB system capable of meeting their needs now and in the future. To do so, the government and Ofcom have both engaged with stakeholders up and down the UK, including the West Midlands.

As part of their ‘Small Screen: Big Debate’ review of PSB, which the government’s strategic review draws on, Ofcom conducted research groups and stakeholder engagement meetings across the UK, including in the West Midlands. The Campaign for Regional Broadcasting Midlands also responded to Ofcom’s accompanying call for evidence on the independent production sector. These responses helped inform Ofcom’s final recommendations to the government which were published in July last year.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
10th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if she will commit to bringing forward legislative proposals to reform football governance in the next Queen's Speech.

The Government welcomes the Independent Fan Led Review of Football Governance and has endorsed in principle the primary recommendation of the review, that football requires a strong, independent regulator to secure the future of our national game.

The Government will continue to engage with stakeholders as we work towards issuing a full response to the report in the Spring. We will, of course, consider the requirement for legislation in due course.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
5th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to help increase internet connectivity in the West Midlands.

It is the government's view that the best way to achieve nationwide gigabit coverage is to create a competition-friendly environment in areas where deployment is commercially viable, while focussing government funds on the 20% of the country where commercial deployment is unlikely. As a result of this approach, over 65% of premises in the UK can access gigabit-capable networks, up from just one in ten in November 2019. By 2025 the government is targeting a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage.

Based on data from www.thinkbroadband.com, almost 74% of premises in the West Midlands currently have access to gigabit broadband, while 98% have superfast broadband availability. Delivery of superfast and gigabit broadband continues in a number of areas within the West Midlands including Herefordshire, Shropshire and Warwickshire through projects under the Superfast Broadband Programme. Warwickshire, Wolverhampton and Stoke-on-Trent have also benefitted from the government’s Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme, which provides public funding to support the installation of full-fibre broadband infrastructure.

The Government is now investing £5 billion through Project Gigabit to support gigabit broadband coverage in areas not covered by commercial roll-out. The latest Project Gigabit Quarterly Publication, published in October 2021, provides an update on the delivery plan and target timeline for the regional supplier procurements for the West Midlands counties of Warwickshire (Lot 11), Staffordshire (Lot 19), Shropshire (Lot 25), Worcestershire (Lot 24) and Herefordshire (Lot 15). Further Regional Supplier procurements for areas including Birmingham and the Black Country (Lot 35), where very extensive commercial delivery continues, are also being considered, and further information will be provided in future quarterly updates.

As part of Project Gigabit, the government is also investing up to £210m in the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) to support rural communities with the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections. The GBVS provides a micro-grant of up to £1,500 for residents and up to £3,500 for businesses towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband. Home and business owners can check the eligibility of their addresses at the GBVS website.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to embed physical activity over the course of people's lives.

Sports and physical activity are crucial for our mental and physical health. The Chief Medical Officer is clear that being physically active is important to long-term health and crucial for keeping people healthy. That is why we made sure that people could exercise throughout the national restrictions and provided an unprecedented £1 billion of financial support to sport and leisure organisations during the pandemic.

The government launched its sports strategy, Sporting Future in 2015 and we’ve achieved a huge amount since then. Sport England has allocated over £1.5 billion to nearly 5,000 organisations across the UK. Sport England has also published its new ten year strategy which focuses on driving up activity levels and helping to improve physical and mental health. We want to see physical activity embedded in people’s lives, with children doing at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, and adults 2.5 hours a week.

At the recent Spending Review, £205 million was announced to build or transform up to 8,000 state-of-the-art community football pitches and multi-use sports facilities across the UK. Earlier this month, we announced £30 million for PE teacher training and to open up school facilities to provide access to the wider community. This was in addition to, £30 million package to renovate 4,500 park tennis courts across the country.

The government believes these steps will help ensure that everyone can keep active throughout their lives.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what financial support is available to help museums and other historic sites undertake upgrades or expansion projects.

Historic England, funded by DCMS, is the government's statutory advisor on heritage and tasked with protecting the historical environment of England by preserving and listing historic buildings, ancient monuments and advising central and local government. Historic England currently offers c. £11 million per year for capital works to heritage sites across the country, through their Repair Grants for heritage at risk.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund is an arms length body of DCMS and distributes both Lottery player funding and government funding. The National Lottery Heritage Fund has a range of grants open to both museum and heritage organisations from £3,000 - £5M, which includes grants for maintenance and capital projects.

National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England also offer support by distributing grants via the government funded Culture Recovery Fund which includes a significant allocation for capital funding to cultural and heritage sites. In 2021/22 £33.6 million is available through the Grants for Programmes of Major Works and Additional Repair Grants for Heritage at Risk schemes.

Investment is also being made in vital infrastructure, repair and maintenance work for museums.

The Museum Estate and Development Fund (MEND) will provide £18.8m in capital funding grants of between £50k-£5m for infrastructure, repair and maintenance work in regional accredited museums.

In addition, over the past three years, government has distributed £131m capital funding among DCMS-Sponsored bodies, including the national museums and galleries, to enable them to carry out essential estates maintenance and improvement works.

22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what support is available to assist with the upkeep of places of worship to prevent the need for major remedial works.

We recognise the importance of carrying out routine repairs and maintenance in order to reduce the need for major remedial works in places of worship, and the great challenge to raise funding to carry out this work, particularly at the present time. Listed places of worship represent some of the nation's finest heritage, and we support them through the DCMS run Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme, which makes grants equal to the VAT paid on maintenance and repairs. The scheme will continue to benefit listed places of worship across the country, all of which have provided a much needed space for rest, contemplation and well-being during these difficult times, when they have been able to be open.

Listed places of worship may also benefit from the latest round of Cultural Recovery Funding with the £300 million package announced in June representing the latest and final tranche of funding for the CRF. The National Lottery Heritage Fund is distributing £40m in partnership with Historic England, based on criteria set by DCMS.

There are a number of sources of funding available for places of worship. The National Lottery Heritage Fund supports a broad range of projects that connect people and communities to the national, regional and local heritage of the UK. This includes historic buildings, monuments and the historic environment. This funding can be used for repairs and conservation.

21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to enhance online safety.

In May we published the Online Safety Bill in draft. This is a major milestone in the development of a new regulatory framework to keep users safe online. For the first time, tech companies are going to be accountable to an independent regulator to keep their users safe. The draft bill will be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny in this session, with the Joint Committee due to report by 10 December.


We are also taking steps to educate and empower users to make more informed and safer choices online. In July we published the first government Online Media Literacy Strategy, which sets out the government’s approach to improving media literacy capabilities among internet users in England. The Media Literacy Strategy will promote media literacy as a complementary tool to the new regulatory regime, providing coordination to the main organisations seeking to empower users with the skills and knowledge they need to stay safe online.

7th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of open-access youth services.

As part of the Youth Review, announced in the 2020 Spending Review, we are assessing the level of provision of youth services across England. Findings from the Youth Review will be published at the time of the 2021 Spending Review.

The Youth Investment Fund remains a Manifesto commitment, designed to achieve levelling up across the country over the course of this parliament. In the 2020 Spending Review, £30 million of this was committed to the fund as capital investment for 2021-22. This will provide investment in new and refurbished safe spaces for young people in left behind places, so that they can access youth workers, and enjoy beneficial activities outside of school, including sporting and cultural pursuits. Plans for the remainder of the Youth Investment Fund will be announced at the 2021 Spending Review, based on findings from the Youth Review.

17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with representatives of the youth sector on ensuring that the Youth Investment Fund tackles local priorities.

Ministers and officials are in regular contact with the youth sector during the development of the Youth Investment Fund. Officials are working with representatives from the youth sector and young people to shape the design and delivery of the fund. Feedback from the sector on previous funding programmes such as the Youth Covid Support Fund has also been key to development of the Youth Investment Fund. This will ensure a delivery model that is inherently placed based and locally led, achieving maximum impact for young people in left behind places.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with the BBC on the reform to the over 75's TV Licence concession.

The government regularly meets the BBC to discuss a wide range of issues, including the over 75s concession. The government remains deeply disappointed with the BBC’s decision to restrict the over 75 licence fee concession to only those in receipt of pension credit. We recognise the value of free TV licences for over-75s and believe they should be funded by the BBC.

However, the Digital Economy Act 2017 provides that the future of the concession is the responsibility of the BBC, not of the government. The BBC must ensure that it supports those affected by its decision, and it must look at how it uses its substantial licence fee income to support older people.

26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that football supporters from (a) Wolverhampton and (b) the West Midlands are consulted as part of the review of football governance.

The Government has made it clear that fans will be at the heart of the governance review. Football begins and ends with fans, and the Chair of the review, the Honourable Member for Chatham and Aylesford, is committed to ensuring that their voices will be heard.

We are currently working on the next steps for the review, but rest assured, fans from all parts of the country will have a chance to input into the review.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking support the tourism and wider visitor economy to reopen safely as covid-19 restrictions are eased in (a) Wolverhampton South West constituency and (b) throughout the West Midlands.

My Department is taking a number of steps to encourage tourism across the country once restrictions are eased, including in Wolverhampton and the West Midlands.

The Global Travel Taskforce last year committed the Government to publish a Tourism Recovery Plan in support of the sector. The Government intends to set out proposals in the Spring, including plans for a marketing campaign to welcome visitors back to the UK as soon as it is safe to do so.

We are working with VisitBritain, VisitEngland and local partners to champion the UK’s diverse tourism offer through the Escape the Everyday campaign.

We will continue to work with industry to provide assurance regarding when people can safely visit attractions - as demonstrated through the We’re Good to Go industry standard, which has been used by over 45,000 businesses, including many in the West Midlands.

The March Budget included £700m of extra funding to support our world-leading arts, culture and sporting institutions - protecting the venues which make the UK an attractive destination to visit.

In total, over £25bn has been provided to the tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors in the form of grants, loans and tax breaks.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to enhance local networks through which people are signposted to positive social action and volunteering opportunities.

Volunteers have been critical to the ability of local communities to respond to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Local networks between councils, community groups, the voluntary sector and individual citizens have enabled an army of volunteers to step up and help during a time of national crisis.

Through the Covid-19 response, the government has funded the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership to help charities - large and small - to work together to identify and reach communities most in need, signposting volunteering needs and opportunities across a network of more than 200 organisations. Over £6million of funding for the Partnership has so far been committed up to 30th June 2021 with an option to extend should the need continue.

The government will continue to draw upon the lessons of volunteering, both from the Covid-19 period and more broadly, to develop current and future policy.

8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the timeframe in which successful applicants to the Culture Recovery Fund have to spend their funding; and whether he plans to make further rounds available to help people to safely recover and reopen after the covid-19 outbreak.

Last year the government announced the unprecedented £1.57 billion support package for the culture sector, of which over £1 billion has now been allocated to over 3,000 arts and culture organisations across the country. This funding is supporting the arts and culture sector up and down the country to survive the pandemic.

In order to support organisations as they prepare to welcome back audiences and visitors between April and June of this year, a second round of the Culture Recovery Fund has been announced. Over £300m of grants and £100m in repayable finance are available during this second round to support the costs organisations face.

An assessment was made of the merits of extending the timeframe in which successful applicants to the Culture Recovery Fund can spend existing funding. Relevant Arms Length Bodies have now contacted all recipients from the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund to confirm that they can request permission to use unspent funds from their round one awards until June 2021 on any eligible costs set out in guidance for the first or second rounds of the fund. We continue to keep the situation under review in order to provide as much support as we can to the sector.

4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that companies and regulators work more closely together to tackle online abuse and enhance online safety.

Online abuse of any kind is unacceptable. In December we published the full government response to the Online Harms White Paper, which set out the new expectations on companies to keep their users safe online. Under the new laws, all companies will need to take swift and effective action against criminal online abuse.

My department is also working closely with the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum established by the CMA, ICO and Ofcom to ensure effective coordination between regulators on cross-cutting digital issues.

15th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that elderly people are able to access online services safely.

The Government supports the provision of basic digital skills training for adults in community settings through the Adult Education Budget. We have introduced new essential digital skills qualifications (EDSQs) based on new national standards for essential digital skills. Adults with no or low digital skills can study essential digital skills qualifications for free.

Public libraries are also a vital component in tackling digital exclusion. There are around 2,900 public libraries in England providing a trusted network of accessible locations offering free Wi-Fi, computers, and other technology. The library staff, supported by volunteers, have been trained on digital skills to enable them to provide library users with support in using digital. Their vital role has been recognised in exceptions to tier and national restrictions, where after the first lock-down public libraries have been permitted to allow people to use library buildings for public PC use to access essential public services.

As set out in the Full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper Consultation, the Government is developing an Online Media Literacy Strategy. This Strategy will explore the existing media literacy landscape, and ensure a strategic and coordinated approach to media literacy education. We are committed to ensuring that the Strategy is inclusive and supports all users, including older people, to improve their media literacy levels. The Strategy will be published in Spring 2021.

8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to tackle loneliness in winter 2020-21.

This government is committed to tackling loneliness. We have delivered millions in funding, are encouraging organisations to take action and are aiming to reduce the stigma of loneliness through our campaign ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’.

We announced a £7.5 million funding package to tackle loneliness in late December, which is in addition to the £24 million we have already provided this financial year to organisations which support people experiencing loneliness or social isolation. We have also launched the £4 million Local Connections Fund, made up of £2 million from government and £2 million from the National Lottery Community Fund, supporting small local organisations tackling loneliness.

We established a Tackling Loneliness Network, bringing together over 70 organisations across public, private and voluntary organisations to share expertise and develop innovative ways to tackle loneliness.

The ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’ campaign continues to share practical tips and signpost support. Our winter calendar, which ran throughout December, had over 12 million impressions on social media, with a range of corporate and third sector partners promoting our messages on their channels.

6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what support is being made available to (a) photographers and (b) other freelancers who work primarily in the wedding, conference, and events sector in response to the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown; and what his Department's long-term strategy is regarding support for people who work in that sector.

We are aware that the wedding, conference and events sectors have been severely impacted by Government measures to control the spread of Covid-19. We have introduced a range of support measures to assist businesses and individuals during this period, including various government-backed loans and business grants. Self-employed individuals can seek support through the self-employed support scheme.

The Chancellor also announced that Local Authorities in England will be given an additional £594 million discretionary funding to support their local businesses. This builds on the £1.1 billion discretionary funding which local authorities in England have already received to support their local economies and help businesses impacted.

It is up to each local authority to determine eligibility for the Additional Restriction Grant based on their assessment of local economic need; however, we encourage local authorities to support businesses which have been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, but which are ineligible for the other grant schemes.

We continue to engage with stakeholders, including through the Tourism Industry Council and the Events Industry Senior Leaders Advisory Panel, to monitor the situation facing the sector and to assess how we can support its long term recovery. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy is engaging with representatives from the wedding industry to discuss the longer-term reopening of that sector.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to tackle false advertising on online shopping websites.

DCMS is considering how online advertising is regulated in the UK through our Online Advertising Programme (OAP). This work will look at the extent to which the current regulatory regime is equipped to tackle the challenges posed by the rapid technological developments seen in online advertising.

Our aim is to foster fair, accountable and ethical online advertising that works for citizens, businesses and society as a whole.

This work will complement other reviews in this area, including work by the CMA, the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.

15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to support businesses in the events and conference sector which have been affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government remains committed to working towards achieving football stadiums’ maximum socially distanced capacity as soon as it is safe to do so.

From Wednesday 2 December, it has been possible for fans to be readmitted to sports grounds where local COVID alert levels allow. The Government continues to be in close contact with the Sports Technology Innovation Group, formed of sporting bodies and health experts, and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority to assess the latest thinking and high-tech solutions that could enable further spectators to return.

We will continue to work with both bodies, alongside the football authorities, to determine the next steps in viably increasing spectator capacities without compromising public safety.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with the West Midlands Combined Authority on maximising opportunities for trade, tourism and investment in the region ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The Government is working in partnership with the West Midlands Combined Authority to deliver a Tourism, Trade and Investment Programme to run alongside the Commonwealth Games. The Government is investing £21.3m into the programme with an additional £2.6 million provided by the West Midlands Combined Authority.

The Tourism, Trade and Investment Programme aims to attract investment, businesses and visitors to the region. More generally, the Government is working with all delivery partners, including the West Midlands Combined Authority, to ensure the region maximises the national and international economic opportunities of hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the time trial race for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games starting and ending at West Park in Wolverhampton, what steps the Government plans to take to help Wolverhampton benefit from increased tourism and trade from that event.

Birmingham 2022 will be the biggest sporting event ever held in the West Midlands. With the potential to attract a global audience of 1.5 billion and around 1 million tickets available, the Games provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase the best the West Midlands has to offer to the rest of the world. Hosting the start and finish of the time trial race offers Wolverhampton a unique chance to set out a spectacular experience for both visitors and those watching on TV.

In order to maximise the economic benefits of hosting the Games, the government is investing £21.3 million into a £24million Tourism, Trade and Investment Programme which aims to attract investment, businesses and visitors to the region and ensure we deliver a Games legacy for Wolverhampton and other towns and cities across the region.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with youth sector representatives on the Youth Investment Fund.

Ministers and officials are in regular contact with the youth sector

Ministers continue to regularly engage with senior sector leaders, attend roundtables and hold conversations on the impact of Covid on the youth sector and young people, and the development of the Youth Investment Fund.

Officials hold fortnightly meetings with senior representatives from the Back Youth Alliance, a coalition of leading national youth organisations, as well as meeting with the sector to discuss specific issues.

13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking to improve online safety (a) in general and (b) for people in protected characteristic groups.

The Government is firmly committed to making the UK the safest place to be online, Under the new online harms legislation, companies will need to have robust systems and processes in place to keep their users safe, including those in protected characteristic groups.

Further details will be included in the full government response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation, which we will publish later this year.

5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what his timeframe is for making available funding from the Youth Investment Fund; and what categories of youth provision he plans to prioritise.

DCMS officials continue to assess how COVID-19 is impacting on young people and youth services. We will continue to engage with the youth sector as plans for the Youth Investment Fund develop, and expect to publish further details in due course.

16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) Wolverhampton Wanderers and (b) other UK football supporters are able to access football matches during the period when they cannot watch in person as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government was pleased to see both the Premier League and English Football League announcements on widening broadcasting coverage for upcoming games.

All Premier League matches in September will be broadcast live, while the EFL announced that, while stadiums remain closed, every EFL game that has not been selected for live coverage will be streamed on club websites.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government plans to take to (a) ensure the democratic accountability of football club owners to fans and supporters (I) at AGMs and (ii) more widely, (b) improve processes of due diligence of prospective owners of football clubs and (c) enhance the local ownership of football clubs throughout the UK.

Football clubs are the heart of local communities, they have unique social value and many with a great history. It is vital they are protected.

The Government’s Expert Working Group on football supporter ownership and engagement in 2016 set out a number of recommendations to encourage greater engagement between supporters and those that run their club, while also helping to remove barriers to supporter ownership. The Premier League and English Football League now require clubs to meet with supporters at least twice a year to discuss strategic issues, giving fans the opportunity to shape the direction of the club.

The Government has also committed to undertaking a fan led review of football governance, which will include consideration of the Owners’ and Directors’ test. We are currently deciding the scope and structure of the review.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what funding his Department makes available to communities to promote exercise and fitness.

Sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active. It is important that exercise facilities remain accessible for people from all backgrounds as we make efforts to return to normality after the Covid lockdown period.

Once lockdown was announced, Sport England launched a successful online campaign ‘Join the Movement’ specifically aimed at promoting exercise and fitness in and around the home.

Sport England has announced a £210 million package of financial support to help community sports and exercise clubs through this crisis.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the financial sustainability of (a) civil society organisations and (b) charities in (i) Wolverhampton South West and (ii) England during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has made available an unprecedented £750 million package of support, specifically for charities, social enterprises and the voluntary sector. This will ensure charities and other civil society organisations, including those at risk of financial hardship, can continue their vital work during the Covid-19 outbreak.

£200 million of this money is being distributed by the National Lottery Community Fund through the Coronavirus Community Support Fund which is mainly targeting smaller and local VCSE organisations. Under the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, a total of 518 awards valued at £12.36 million has been allocated to organisations in the West Midlands, as at 28th August 2020.

£360 million has been allocated by central government departments with £200 million of this directly supporting hospices across the country. From this money, a total of 40 awards to the value of £3.1 million have been allocated to organisations in the West Midlands, as at 28th August 2020.

A further £4.8 million will be distributed to the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership - a group that comes together to improve national and local coordination before, during and after emergencies - to help strengthen the voluntary sector’s response to coronavirus and future emergencies.

To support the BBC’s 'Big Night In', the Government matched the generous donations of the public across the country with grants to the National Emergencies Trust working in Partnership with the UK Community Foundations (£20million) and to the remaining £17million being shared by Comic Relief and Children in Need. £1.14 million from the National Emergencies Trust grant was allocated to the Heart of England Community Foundation. Under the National Emergencies Trust, Comic Relief and Children in Need grants, a total of 125 awards valued at £723,029 have been made to organisations in the West Midlands as at 28th August 2020.

The ‘Community Match Challenge’ which is matching funds raised by philanthropists, foundations and grant making organisations will further support small to medium sized organisations from across the country working with those who are most vulnerable and have been hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak. This Fund closed for bids on 2nd August and the outcome will be announced shortly.

In addition to the £750million, a further £150m has been unlocked from dormant bank and building society accounts which will be directed to charities, social enterprises and individuals.

Finally, civil society organisations and charities can access additional business support measures including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Bounce Back Loans.

14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans the Government has to commemorate VJ Day in 2020.

On 15 July, the Government launched its website to help the public mark the 75th anniversary of Victory Over Japan Day on 15 August. Further information on how to get involved will be made available shortly at https://ve-vjday75.gov.uk/

18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking support (a) theatres, (b) museums and (c) other tourist attractions in Wolverhampton after the covid-19 outbreak.

In order to support the sustainability of the Arts sector, including theatres and museums, DCMS has worked closely with Arts Council England (ACE) to provide a tailored package of financial support. In March, ACE announced a £160m emergency response package to complement the financial measures already announced by the Government and to ensure immediate resilience of this vital sector.

This package includes £140 million of support for artistic organisations including theatres and museums; and £20 million of financial support for individuals, including self-employed theatre practitioners, so they can better sustain themselves, and their work, in the coming months. More than 9000 individuals and organisations have been successful in applying for this emergency funding. Additionally, the National Lottery Heritage Fund launched the £50 million Heritage Emergency Fund, and Historic England has launched two £2 million Emergency Funds.

The Secretary of State, myself and officials continue to consult the Art and Tourism sectors extensively to ensure we fully understand the impacts of Covid-19 and remain well placed to respond as it develops.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on preparations for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Birmingham 2022 will be at the heart of a memorable summer of sport and a year of national celebration in 2022. We will continue to work with our partners to closely monitor the situation over the next two years and ensure we can deliver a fantastic Games in 2022.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make it his policy to establish an online Coronavirus charity support finder to signpost Government financial support that is available.

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. £360m is being distributed via individual government departments based on evidence of service need. Up to £200m of this will directly support hospices and be administered by the Department of Health and Social Care. Departments are using a range of approaches to allocating funding in order to meet identified needs quickly, including bidding processes and awarding funding directly. Applications are now open for funding for the distribution of food to vulnerable people, safe accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse, armed services charities, and charities working to tackle loneliness and homelessness. Further information has been released on gov.uk.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will publish an online resource signposting charities to these funding opportunities available for applications through government departments. We expect this resource to be published shortly.

13th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps are being taken to support the (a) recruitment and (b) retention of teachers in (i) early years and (ii) primary education.

The department recognises the huge contribution the early years and teaching workforces make to giving every child the best start in life, especially during this period of education recovery.

The department continues to work with the early years sector to build our understanding of our workforce needs, including any issues related to recruitment and retention. The government is committed to ensuring there are routes to graduate level qualifications, alongside wider professional development activity for the workforce.

As part of our work to support recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the department announced up to £153 million in programmes to support workforce development. This includes increasing the number of places available for early years initial teacher training (EYITT). We are also developing new early years training routes.

The department recognises more needs to be done to ensure that primary teaching remains an attractive, high-status profession. At the heart of the Schools White Paper’s vision to boost literacy and numeracy outcomes is the need for an excellent teacher for every child. We aim to continue attracting and retaining the highly skilled teachers that every child needs. The Schools White Paper can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/opportunity-for-all-strong-schools-with-great-teachers-for-your-child.

To do this, the department is taking action to improve teacher recruitment and retention by transforming the training and support we provide, not only to attract more people into teaching, but to encourage them to stay and thrive in the profession. Every teacher now has access to a golden thread of high-quality, evidence-based training and professional development at every stage of their career.

The department is creating an entitlement to at least three years of structured training, support, and professional development for all new teachers, bringing teaching into line with other prestigious professions such as law, accountancy, and medicine. Underpinning this is the new Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Core Content Framework and the Early Career Framework (ECF). Together, these ensure that new teachers will benefit from at least three years of evidence-based training, across ITT and into their induction. We also remain committed to increasing teacher starting salaries to £30,000 to make teaching an attractive graduate option.

Beyond the first few years of teaching, our priority is to help all teachers and school leaders to continuously develop their expertise throughout their careers so every child in every classroom in every school gets the best start in life. Teachers can now benefit from an updated suite of National Professional Qualifications (NPQs). Aimed at those who want to develop expertise in high-quality teaching practice, to those leading multiple schools across trusts, these professional development programmes are now free to access for those eligible to apply.

Teacher retention is key to ensuring effective teacher supply and quality, and we are taking action to support teachers to stay in the profession and thrive. The department has published a range of resources to help address teacher workload and wellbeing and support schools to introduce flexible working practices.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the provision of services for children with special educational needs and disabilities in (a) Wolverhampton and (b) the West Midlands.

In Wolverhampton, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission conducted a special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) inspection in September 2021. Inspectors identified six areas of significant weakness. As a result, Wolverhampton was required to produce and publish a Written Statement of Action (WSoA) which sets out how they intend to address these areas of concern. The WSoA is published on the local authority website.

We are committed to supporting and monitoring progress of the identified areas for improvement and have put in place regular monitoring and challenge meetings with SEND advisers from the department and NHS England.

In the West Midlands the SEND inspection framework assesses at a local authority level so there is no single assessment for West Midlands. However, as highlighted in the SEND and Alternative Provision Green Paper, there is inconsistency in the standard of services for children and young people with SEND and their parents in the West Midlands as there is across the country. The Green Paper, published on 29 March 2022, sets out a suite of proposed reforms that seek to create a coherent education, health and care system that works in the interests of all children in England and levels up opportunities.

The department is providing opportunities for children, parents, carers and those working across the SEND system to provide feedback during the 13-week consultation period which runs to 1 July 2022.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
3rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help promote the take up of careers in teaching (a) humanities and (b) arts subjects.

The number of teachers remains high, with over 461,000 working in state-funded schools across the country, 20,000 more than in 2010. Over 37,000 new trainee teachers were recruited to start training in the 2021/22 academic year.

The department is driving an ambitious transformation programme to overhaul the process of becoming a teacher, from stimulating initial interest through world-class marketing through to the start of training.

In October 2021, the government’s new digital service, ‘apply for teacher training’, was rolled out. This is a key milestone in the delivery of a more streamlined, user-friendly application route. New data and insight from government services will also drive innovation with a view to boosting recruitment in priority subjects.

To promote careers in teaching humanities and arts subjects, the department uses a combination of financial incentives, marketing, and school experience.

Trainee teachers on both undergraduate and postgraduate initial teacher training (ITT) courses are able to apply for student finance, regardless of the subject they train to teach. This includes a tuition fee loan, maintenance loan and additional means-tested funding for trainees in particular circumstances, including those with children, adult dependants, or a disability. Trainees on employment-based courses are ineligible for student finance as they earn a salary whilst they train instead.

In addition, the department is offering a £15,000 tax-free bursary for both languages and geography trainee teachers starting ITT courses in the 2022/23 academic year. The government will review the need for financial incentives across all subjects before announcing the bursaries for the 2023/24 academic year.

The department’s teaching marketing campaign provides inspiration and support to explore a career in teaching and directs people to the ‘Get Into Teaching service’. Through the website, prospective candidates in any phase or subject can access support and advice through expert one-to-one teacher training advisers, a contact centre, and a national programme of events. The ‘get school experience’ digital service also arranges school experience placements between prospective candidates and schools. This service is available here: https://schoolexperience.education.gov.uk/.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure wraparound childcare is available for new parents who wish to return to work.

Ensuring parents can continue to access childcare remains a priority for the government. The department has issued guidance to childcare providers to ensure they can continue to operate whilst reducing transmission of COVID-19, alongside accompanying guidance for parents and carers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-parents-and-carers-of-children-attending-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

The government announced on 21 December 2021 that a further £102 million would be made available for local authorities to support businesses severely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. This grant gives local authorities discretionary funding to support any sector within their area that requires it and this may include wraparound childcare providers.

Parents have the ‘right to request’ wraparound childcare and the department has published guidance for schools on how to respond to such requests: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/778997/Rights_to_request_guidance-2019.pdf. Schools should not refuse a request without a reasonable justification.

All local authorities also have a legal duty to ensure there are sufficient childcare places, so far as is reasonably practicable, for working parents in their area with children aged 0-14, or up to 18 for disabled children. Parents may contact their local Family Information Service who can give advice on childcare providers in their area.

New parents may benefit from our Tax-Free Childcare scheme which provides working parents with financial support with their childcare costs. For every £8 a parent or carer deposits into their account, they will receive a £2 top-up, up to the value of £500 every three months, or £1,000 if their child is disabled. Tax-Free Childcare is available for children aged 0-11, or 0-16 if their child is disabled, and can be used for a range of childcare providers, such as childminders, nurseries, and play schemes. It can be also used in conjunction with 30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds and can be used to help pay for additional hours a parent wants to take up.

We would strongly advise all new parents to find out what government childcare support may be available to them by visiting the government’s Childcare Choices website: https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to increase the availability of defibrillators at school sites.

All new and refurbished state funded schools are required to have at least one defibrillator installed on their premises, and we encourage all other schools to include defibrillators as part of their first aid equipment.

Defibrillators are currently available for schools and other education providers in the UK to purchase through the NHS Supply Chain’s defibs4schools programme at a reduced cost. These arrangements are available to all UK schools, including academies and independent schools, sixth-form colleges, further education institutions and early years settings.

The department wants as many schools as possible to have this equipment and we are exploring all available options to see what more we can do.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that families have access to wrap-around childcare, including after-school clubs.

​Ensuring parents can continue to access childcare remains a priority for the government. The department recognises the important role wraparound childcare, such as before and after-school clubs, plays in providing additional childcare options to parents and carers, as well as providing enriching activities and promoting the wellbeing of children. We have prioritised these childcare settings to help them remain open throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, and continue to encourage schools to ensure they are offering this provision.

Parents have the ‘right to request’ wraparound childcare, and the department has published guidance for schools on how to respond to such requests which is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/778997/Rights_to_request_guidance-2019.pdf. Schools should not refuse a request without a reasonable justification.

All local authorities also have a legal duty to ensure there are sufficient childcare places, so far as is reasonably practicable, for working parents in their area with children aged 0-14, or up to 18 for disabled children. Parents may contact their local Family Information Service who can give provide advice on childcare providers in their area.

In addition, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on 27 October, that the department will be providing over £200 million a year for the continuation of the Holiday Activities and Food programme, which provides enriching activities and healthy meals for disadvantaged children during school holidays. Local authorities will be able to use the funding for this programme, which is delivered through grants, to arrange childcare provision.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support the additional needs of children with special educational needs in the recovery from the covid-19 outbreak.

Since June 2020, we have announced more than £3 billion to support education recovery in schools which includes support for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), 16-19 providers and in early years settings to help pupils make up education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Our recovery programmes have the flexibility to support those pupils most in need, including children with SEND, with additional funding provided for those interventions that the evidence tells us will have a significant impact, high quality tutoring and great teaching.

We have consistently prioritised children who attend specialist settings by providing additional uplifts both in the 2020 Catch-up Premium and in the 2021 Recovery Premium and providing the flexibility to deliver provision based on pupils’ need. Additionally, specialist settings received an uplift to deliver the summer schools programme.

We have also ensured that settings have the flexibility to target this to meet the needs of their pupils and students. In addition, we continue to work hard to ensure children and young people are given access to therapies and equipment so that the right support is in place for all children and families, including addressing the backlog in assessments, we are providing over £42 million in 2021-22 to continue funding projects to support children with SEND. This investment will ensure that specialist organisations around the country can continue to help strengthen local area performance, support families, and provide practical support to schools and colleges. This includes £27.3 million to the Family Fund in 2021-22 to support over 60,000 families on low incomes raising children and young people with disabilities or serious illnesses.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support the delivery of (a) adult education and (b) other lifelong learning programs.

We are continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) (£1.34 billion in 2021/22). The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to level 3, to support adults to gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship or further learning.

Starting this year, the government is investing £2.5 billion in the National Skills Fund in England.

Since 1 April this year, the government is supporting any adult who does not have A-level equivalent or higher qualifications, to access over 400 fully funded level 3 courses, with Free Courses for Jobs. This offer is a long-term commitment, backed by £95 million from the National Skills Fund in year one.

Complementing this support for adults, Skills Bootcamps offer free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. We are now expanding the Skills Bootcamp programme across the country during the 2021-22 financial year, with £43 million from the National Skills Fund.

As part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, from 2025 we will introduce a Lifelong Loan Entitlement equivalent to four years of post-18 education. People will be supported to study throughout their life, with the opportunity to train, retrain and upskill as needed in response to changing skills needs and employment patterns. It will help transform post-18 study, delivering greater parity between further and higher education.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will take steps to ensure that young people leave school with an effective education in (a) democratic processes, (b) the rule of law and (c) respect for others.

All schools must offer a curriculum which is broad and balanced, and which prepares pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. The Department expects all schools to promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance.

Through citizenship, which is a statutory subject at Key Stages 3 and 4 of the National Curriculum, pupils are taught about Parliament, voting and elections, the legal system in the United Kingdom, different sources of law and how the law helps society deal with complex problems. The subject helps to prepare pupils to play a full and active part in society and teaches them how to explore political and social issues, to weigh up evidence, to debate, and to make reasoned arguments. Pupils should also be taught about the diverse national, regional, religious and ethnic identities in the United Kingdom and the need for mutual respect and understanding.

Pupils are also taught about respect and tolerance through relationships education, which is compulsory for all school-aged pupils. The statutory guidance on relationships, sex and health education sets out the content to be covered for each subject, which includes teaching about treating everyone with respect regardless of their background and characteristics: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/relationships-education-relationships-and-sex-education-rse-and-health-education. Pupils are also taught about their legal rights and responsibilities regarding equality, particularly with reference to the protected characteristics, as defined in the Equality Act 2010.

As with other aspects of the curriculum, schools have flexibility over how they deliver these subjects, so they can develop an integrated approach that is sensitive to the needs and background of their pupils.

16th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what duties the Free Speech and Academic Freedom Champion will have to ensure adequate community engagement.

The Director for Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom will be responsible for overseeing the performance of the Office for Students’ (OfS) freedom of speech functions, including the monitoring and enforcement of freedom of speech registration conditions, the new complaints scheme and the new duties on students’ unions under the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill. Further details of the role will be available when the position is advertised in due course.

The OfS is anticipated to consult on regulatory changes, to develop the new complaints scheme and to draft guidance.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what financial assistance is available to support schools and colleges with the cost of essential maintenance work.

The Department has allocated £11.3 billion in capital funding since 2015 to improve the condition of the school estate, including £1.8 billion committed in this financial year. Allocations are informed by consistent data on the condition of the school estate.

Schools, and those responsible for school buildings, access condition funding through different routes depending on their size and type. Local authorities, large multi-academy trusts and large voluntary-aided school bodies, receive an annual formulaic school condition allocation to invest in the schools for which they are responsible.

Smaller multi-academy trusts, stand-alone academies, voluntary-aided schools not in large voluntary-aided school bodies and sixth form colleges are able to bid to the Condition Improvement Fund each year. All schools also receive funding to spend on their own capital priorities through an annual devolved formula capital allocation. Capital funding beyond the 2021/22 financial year will be determined at the Spending Review.

In addition, the Department delivers major rebuilding and refurbishment programmes centrally. My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, announced a new, 10 year School Rebuilding Programme last June, which will replace school buildings in poor condition with modern, energy-efficient designs. The Department has announced the first 50 schools to benefit from this, as part of a commitment to 500 projects over the next decade. We expect to confirm a further 50 projects this year and plan to consult on the approach to prioritising future projects later in 2021.

25th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to enhance access for veterans to a higher education.

The Department for Education co-funds two schemes with the Ministry of Defence (MOD). The Service Leavers Scheme (or Publicly Funded Further Education/Higher Education Scheme) and the Armed Forces Bereavement Scheme contribute to the delivery of the joint cross-government strategy of support for Service Leavers and their families as part of the Armed Forces Covenant, which emphasises the mutual obligation between the nation, the government and the Armed Forces. The Department for Education provides a grant of £5 million to MOD to support the higher education (HE) aspects of these schemes for study in England.

Furthermore, my right hon. Friend, Prime Minister, announced in September 2020 the government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee, which promises to help people across England get the skills they need at every stage of their life. As part of this, the ‘free courses for jobs’ offer, which started in April 2021, gives an estimated 11 million adults in England who are 24 and over, and do not yet have A levels or equivalent qualifications, the opportunity to take their first level 3 qualification for free.

The Publicly Funded Further Education/Higher Education Scheme provides service leavers access to a first full level 3 (GCE A Level or vocational equivalent), or a first HE qualification (a foundation degree or first undergraduate degree or equivalent) with tuition fees funded to a maximum of £9,250 per year of study. Full details of this scheme can be found at the Enhanced Learning Credits Administration Service website: www.enhancedlearningcredits.com.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to help schools (a) set up and (b) grow onsite libraries.

The Department believes that all pupils deserve to be taught a knowledge-rich curriculum that promotes the extensive reading of books and other kinds of texts, both in and out of school. School libraries complement public libraries in allowing pupils to do this. It is for individual schools to decide how best to provide and maintain a library service for their pupils, including whether to employ a qualified librarian. Many head teachers recognise the important role school libraries play in improving literacy and encouraging pupils to read for pleasure and ensure that suitable library facilities are provided. These may take different forms and could be a book corner in a school classroom, rather than a separate space.

The Department is also committing £1.8 billion this financial year in capital funding to help maintain and improve the condition of school buildings, including primary school libraries. Local authorities, academy trusts, and other responsible bodies are best placed to prioritise capital allocations according to local need, including on library facilities where that is the priority.

7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to improve literacy rates among primary school-aged children.

The Government continues to drive improvements in literacy levels by ensuring high quality systematic synthetic phonics teaching in all our schools to give all children the firm foundation on which to progress through school, and to help them develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information.

England achieved its highest ever score in reading in 2016, moving from joint 10th to joint 8th in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) rankings. This improvement is largely attributable to increases in the average performance of lower performing pupils and boys. These are the first international assessment results from the cohort of pupils who benefited from the changes in primary curriculum and assessment introduced since the 2010 election.

In 2019, 82% of pupils in Year 1 met the expected standard in the phonics screening check, compared to just 58% when the check was introduced in 2012. For disadvantaged pupils, this has gone from 45% in 2012 to 71% in 2019. Furthermore, 2019 results showed that by the end of Year 2, 91% of pupils met the expected standard in the phonics screening check.

In 2018, the Department launched a £26.3 million English Hubs Programme to improve the teaching of reading. This focuses on supporting children making the slowest progress in reading, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and is providing intensive support to over 875 partner schools. We have since provided a further £17 million in this school-to-school improvement programme, which focusses on systematic synthetic phonics, early language, and reading for pleasure.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the English Hubs programme has continued to offer support and training to schools across the country by bringing much of their offer online. This has involved opening virtual training and professional development events to a wider pool of schools and distributing materials targeted specifically at remote education and recovery. The English Hubs have adapted to providing intensive support remotely and have delivered more than 1,400 days of specialist phonics training to over 875 partner schools this academic year.

27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that school-aged children have access to affordable extra-curricular sports activities.

It is up to schools to decide what sport and extra-curricular activities to offer to their pupils. The Government is committed to ensuring all children have access to high quality clubs, competitions and activities outside school, which are easy to find and participate in, and support their recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. That is why £10.1 million of extra funding was recently announced to support schools to open their sports facilities outside of school hours, allowing them to work with local sports clubs to provide children with an increased selection of high quality extra-curricular activities. On top of wider economic support, the Government has announced a £100 million support fund for local authority leisure centres to ensure facilities remain available once public health restrictions are lifted. Sport England has provided £270 million directly to support community sport clubs and exercise centres through the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ministers recently hosted a roundtable with National Governing Bodies of Sport to discuss increasing opportunities for children to get active, including taking part in extra-curricular sport. This resulted in the launch of the new Active Recovery Hub. The hub provides schools and parents with activities from over forty sport providers to keep children of all ages active, including hundreds of ideas for extra-curricular activities.

The Department is also ensuring children have the opportunity to take part in extra-curricular sport during the school holidays. The Holiday Activities and Food Programme will provide children with the opportunity to take part in a range of engaging activities, including sport. We will also be providing funding to secondary schools to deliver a short summer schools programme blending academic education and enrichment opportunities, such as sport.

26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that schools deliver adequate financial education, including on debt management.

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

15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of increasing the length of time students spend in general education to ensure that (a) students with learning disabilities and (b) other students are not disadvantaged by the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on their development and progression.

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

The Department has appointed Sir Kevan Collins as Education Recovery Commissioner to oversee a long-term plan. Sir Kevan will engage with parents, pupils, and teachers in the development of this broader approach and review how evidence-based interventions can be used to address the impact the COVID-19 outbreak has had on education. We will share further details in due course.

9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to support students experiencing hardship as a result of the outbreak of covid-19, with particular reference to (a) term-time accommodation costs and (b) income lost from possible redundancies.

The government is aware of the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 outbreak will have on some students. We have made an additional £70 million of student hardship funding available to higher education (HE) providers this financial year. The new funding means that universities are able to help students impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, for example those facing additional costs for alternative accommodation, loss of employment, or extra costs to access their teaching online.

Providers will have flexibility in how they distribute the funding to students, in a way that will best prioritise those in greatest need, including those that have already applied for hardship funding previously but now need additional support. 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 HE providers are able draw on this academic year towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment, and mental health support, as well as to support providers’ access and participation plans.

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

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.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what financial support and assistance is available to people who plan to train as teachers in (a) religious studies and (b) other humanities subjects at (i) undergraduate and (ii) postgraduate level.

All trainee teachers on both undergraduate and postgraduate initial teacher training (ITT) courses are able to apply for student finance, regardless of the subject they train to teach. The only ITT courses that are ineligible for student finance are employment based courses, where trainees earn a salary whilst they train.

Providing they are eligible, trainee teachers in subjects such as religious education and other humanities can access a tuition fee loan, so they do not have to pay the fee upfront. They can also receive a means tested maintenance loan of up to £12,382 to support their living costs. Additional means tested funding is available from Student Finance England for trainees in particular circumstances, including those with children, adult dependants, or a disability.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of (a) extending the PE and sport premium and (b) making available equivalent funding to all school age groups.

Physical education (PE) and school sport plays an important role in supporting children and young people to be physically active during the current COVID-19 restrictions. That is why the Department confirmed that the primary PE and sport premium would continue at £320 million for the 2020/21 academic year. The premium can be used to support remote teaching of PE as well as teaching in school.

To support sport and physical activities to resume, the Department has additionally announced £10.1 million of funding for the 2020/21 academic year to help school sports and swimming facilities to open outside of school hours.

The Department is considering arrangements for the primary PE and sport premium for the 2021/22 academic year and will confirm the position as soon as possible. The Department is working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Department of Health and Social Care on how to support better PE, sport and physical activity provision for all children and young people, including in secondary schools, as part of the continuing work to deliver our joint schools sport and activity action plan, published in 2019.

12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what Government support is being provided to ensure that children with special educational needs can access (a) specialist playgrounds and (b) play centres that cater for children with sensory needs in their local area.

We continue to prioritise support for children and young people with special educational needs, including those with sensory needs, and their families. Children and young people with an education, health and care plan should be allowed to continue attending their education setting if their parent wants them to (or, for post-16 provision, if the young person wants to attend). This will mean that those children and young people can continue to access sensory support at their school or college.

Parents and carers may continue to access respite care to support them in caring for their disabled children during the national lockdown, including both services which care for children away from home and care which is delivered in the family home. Guidance for parents on early years providers, schools and colleges, which sets out that respite provision for families of disabled children can continue to operate, is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

In terms of access to specialist playgrounds, under national lockdown rules, outdoor playgrounds can remain open. The full guidance for this can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-playgrounds-and-outdoor-gyms/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-playgrounds-and-outdoor-gyms.

We are also providing £40.8 million for the Family Fund this year to support over 85,000 families on low incomes raising children with disabilities or serious illnesses. This includes £13.5 million to specifically address needs arising from the COVID-19 outbreak. These grants can be used to purchase a range of things including sensory toys and equipment.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what financial support his Department provides to non-maintained nurseries.

Nurseries, childminders and pre-schools, who have provided crucial support throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, are now more vital than ever.

We have provided extra security to nurseries and childminders that are open by paying local authorities for the autumn term for childcare places at the level we would have funded before COVID-19 – regardless of how many children were attending.

Early years settings will continue to benefit from a planned £3.6 billion spending in the 2020-21 financial year on our early education entitlements, paid to local authorities to create free early education and childcare places for children.

On SEND, the £14.4 billion funding package we announced for schools in total across three years between 2019-20 and 2022-23 - includes over £730 million additional funding to be allocated in 2021-22 for high needs, which covers children and young people aged 0 to 25. The additional high needs funding will bring the total high needs budget to over £8 billion next year.

In 2019 the government pledged a new £1 billion fund to help create more high quality, affordable childcare, including before and after school and during the school holidays. We are already delivering on this pledge with a £220 million Holiday Activities and Food Programme to provide enriching activities and a healthy meal for disadvantaged children in the Easter, Summer and Christmas holidays in 2021.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced at the Spending Review a £44 million investment in 2021-22, for local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers for the government’s free childcare entitlement offers. This will pay for a rate increase that is higher than the costs nurseries may face from the uplift to the national living wage in April.

We continue to ensure early years providers can access the package of additional support provided by the government, which includes business rates relief, income support and job retention schemes.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that people have access to flexible adult learning courses during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department wants to ensure that a wide range of opportunities are available to adults to meet their future skills needs.

We are continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB), worth £1.34 billion in the 2020-21 financial year. The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to level 3, to support adults to gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship, or further learning. Our funding rules allow for flexibility in course delivery, and providers already offer shorter/more flexible courses. More information about the AEB is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/adult-education-budget-aeb-funding-rules-2019-to-2020.

As part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee recently announced by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, the department is launching skills bootcamps, which will be available in 6 areas across the country. The bootcamp training courses will provide valuable skills based on employer demand and are linked to real job opportunities, helping participants to get jobs, and employers to fill much-needed vacancies. The department is planning to expand the bootcamps to more of the country from spring 2021, and we want to extend this model to include other technical skills training. More information about the launch of skills bootcamps is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/major-expansion-of-post-18-education-and-training-to-level-up-and-prepare-workers-for-post-covid-economy.

In April 2020, the department introduced the Skills Toolkit, an online platform providing free courses to help individuals build the skills that are most sought after by employers. We have recently expanded the platform so that people can now choose from over 70 courses, covering digital, adult numeracy, employability, and work readiness skills, which have been identified as the skills employers need the most. These courses will help people stay in work, or take up new jobs and opportunities. More information about the Skills Toolkit is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-free-online-learning-platform-to-boost-workplace-skills.

Through our lifelong loan entitlement, the department will also make it easier for adults and young people to study more flexibly. This will allow people to space out their studies across their lifetimes, transfer credits between colleges and universities, and enable more part-time study.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has put in place following the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to support employers in (a) retaining and (b) upskilling workers (i) now and (ii) in the future.

The government is providing £2.5 billion (£3 billion when including Barnett funding for devolved administrations), for the National Skills Fund.

The National Skills Fund will support adults to learn and reach their potential in the labour market.

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

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

The government remains committed to consulting on aspects of the National Skills Fund to ensure that we develop a fund that helps adults learn valuable skills and prepare for the economy of the future. We are continuing to review the ongoing implications of the COVID-19 outbreak and we are considering the most appropriate time and approach we can take to launch the consultation, ensuring we have meaningful discussions with employers, providers and users.

Alongside the National Skills Fund, the department has been working to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. In his Summer Economic Update, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced investment of over £500 million to deliver a package of support for people to access the training and develop the skills they will need to go on to high-quality, secure and fulfilling employment. The Skills Recovery Package included:

  • Apprenticeships: A new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire who is aged 24 or below, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire who is aged 25 and over, from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021.
  • Traineeships: £111 million to triple the scale and reform traineeships for those aged 16 - 24 (25 with an Education, Health and Care plan): with additional funding available to providers in 2020-21 to support 30,000 new places. We have also introduced, for the first time, payments of £1,000 per trainee for employers who offer new or additional work placements (up to 10 trainees).
  • Careers information, advice and guidance: £32 million over 2 years to help 269,000 more people of all ages receive advice from the National Careers Service.
  • Sector-based work academy programme (SWAP): £17 million to triple the number of SWAP placements in 2020/21, enough funding to support an extra 40,000 job seekers with additional training opportunities and the chance of a job.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer also announced a new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people aged 16 to 24 claiming Universal Credit. Funding available for six-month job placements will cover 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week – and employers will be able to top this wage up. Employers can apply next month and the scheme will start in autumn. There will be no cap on the number of places available.

The government appreciates the importance of adult education to improving people’s life chances. We will continue to explore options within adult education to aid the post COVID-19 recovery.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to improve diversity among (a) students and (b) academic staff in higher education.

It is crucial that we tap into the talent the UK has to offer and that higher education is available to all who are qualified by attainment to pursue it.

The government brought forward sweeping reforms of higher education to promote equality of opportunity through the Higher Education and Research Act (2017). This includes a mandatory condition of registration which requires all higher education providers in England registered with the Office for Students (OfS) to publish data including the number of applications for admissions, offers made and acceptance rates broken down by gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background. The OfS has issued guidance to higher education providers on how to comply with the transparency condition.

Higher education providers wishing to charge higher level tuition fees must have an Access and Participation Plan agreed by the OfS. Through these plans, providers set out the measures they will take to ensure that students from disadvantaged backgrounds and unrepresented groups can access and succeed in higher education. Ambitious new five-year Access and Participation Plans have been agreed for 2020-21 to 2024-25, which include targets and measures to close long standing gaps in equalities.

Recent data shows that the black ethnic group have seen the greatest proportional increase in progression rates to higher education by age 19 – from 44.1% in 2009-10 to 59.1% in 2018/19.

The OfS has also made available online an interactive dashboard of data, which will help to evaluate access and participation at specific universities and colleges. The dashboard can be used to compare different student groups (for example, disabled students or students by their ethnic background) and their peers, and reveal gaps in access, continuation, success and progression. More information is available at:
https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/data-and-analysis/access-and-participation-data-dashboard/.

Higher education providers are independent and autonomous institutions and are responsible for their own decisions on employment issues. We expect providers, like all employers, to give due consideration to their obligations under the Equality Act 2010 and the way their employment practices affect different sections of their communities and staff at different stages of their careers.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what after-school support is available for the children of parents who are returning to work following the outbreak of covid-19.

As of 4 July, providers offering out-of-school activities and wraparound care to children, such as after-school, breakfast, and extracurricular clubs, have been able to open for both indoor and outdoor provision with safety measures in place.

Out-of-school and after-school provision will continue to be permitted to operate both on or away from school premises during the autumn to support working parents and carers. We have updated the COVID-19 guidance for providers of holiday and after-school clubs and other out-of-school settings. The guidance outlines the protective measures that settings should put in place to minimise the risk of infection and transmission of the virus, and to operate as safely as possible when all children return to school. The guidance is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/protective-measures-for-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he has taken to ensure that children and young people have been receiving healthy and nutritious meals during the 2020 school summer holidays.

We knew that some families would face increased pressure on household budgets over the summer due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We therefore established the COVID-19 Summer Food Fund to provide supermarket vouchers for children who receive benefits-related free school meals.

Families were free to select the most appropriate food and drink for their child. When selecting products, we encouraged families to consider health and nutrition and signposted that the School Food Standards act as a useful guide. There were a number of online resources available to support families in preparing healthy and nutritious food, including on the NHS Eat Well website and recipes produced by the Change4Life campaign.

In addition, our £9 million Holiday Activities and Food Programme worked across 17 local authority areas, providing thousands of children with access to healthy meals and enriching activities. Family Action and Magic Breakfast also continued to offer healthy meals through our National School Breakfast Programme during the summer holidays in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

These schemes were part of a wider package of government support, which included a £63 million fund for local authorities to help those struggling financially due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. This allowed local authorities to provide financial help to those facing severe hardship to allow them to pay for food and other necessities.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress the Government has made on allocating funding through the Holiday Activities and Food scheme.

The Holiday Activities and Food programme are integral to our approach to provide healthy food to children over the summer. It will ensure thousands of disadvantaged children have access to healthy meals and holiday activities in summer 2020 – building on the success of the 2018 and 2019 programmes – and remaining committed to supporting children and families through the disruption caused by COVID-19.

On Monday 22 June the Department for Education published an announcement with the details of the Holiday Activities and Food programme and the areas that were successful in receiving the funding for 2020. Grant funding was allocated based on a competitive bidding process. The successful bidders and areas are:

  • StreetGames (Newcastle, North East region);
  • Gateshead Council (Gateshead - North East region);
  • Edsential (Cheshire West and Chester, Halton, Wirral - North West region);
  • Spring North (Blackburn with Darwen - North West);
  • Leeds Community Foundation (Leeds and Bradford - Yorkshire & the Humber region);
  • Voluntary Action Sheffield (Sheffield - Yorkshire & the Humber region);
  • Suffolk County Council (Suffolk - East of England region);
  • Mayor’s Fund for London (Lambeth and Southwark - London);
  • Tower Hamlets Local Authority (Tower Hamlets - London);
  • The Romsey School (Hampshire, Southampton, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight - South East region).
Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the quality of education for children receiving remote tuition due to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department is continuing to assess the impact of school closure on children and young people’s educational attainment.

We have published a comprehensive range of advice and guidance to support schools during this time. This includes a list of high-quality online resources, which have been assessed with support from some of the country’s leading educational experts, to help pupils learn at home.

We have worked with schools to produce case studies guidance on remote education practice. This guidance provides an opportunity for schools to learn from each other's emerging practice as they develop their own approaches.

We are supporting sector-led initiatives such as the Oak National Academy. This new enterprise has been created by 40 teachers from schools across England. It will provide 180 video lessons for free each week, across a broad range of subjects, for every year group from Reception through to year 10. By 28 June, 4.1 million unique users had accessed the Oak National Academy website and 14.7 million lessons had been viewed.

Additionally, the BBC has developed resources for families as part of a comprehensive new education package, which is now available on TV and online at BBC Bitesize.

We have committed over £100 million to boost remote education, this includes: providing devices and internet access for those who need it most, ensuring every school that wants it has access to free, expert technical support to get set up on Google for Education or Microsoft’s Office 365 Education, and offering peer support from schools and colleges leading the way with the use of education technology.

We expect all pupils to return to school in the autumn, and the Department published guidance on 2 July. Given the possibility that groups of pupils need to self-isolate, such as for a local lockdown, all schools will also be expected to have remote education contingency plans in place by the end of September. The guidance sets out what is expected from schools for their remote education provision.

22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department is providing to (a) students who are home schooled to access exam centres for exams taking place in summer 2020 and (b) teachers at those exam centres facilitating those exams.

Following the cancellation of this year’s exams, the exam boards will be providing students with calculated grades, wherever possible. No exams will take place in summer 2020.

There will be an opportunity for students to sit exams in the autumn term, if they feel their calculated grade does not reflect their ability. There will also be a small group of students for whom there is not enough evidence for a calculated grade to be derived in the summer, including some home educated students. It is particularly important that these students are able to achieve grades through the additional exam series.

We have published guidance that sets out our expectation that the exam centre that submitted entries for students for exams in summer 2020 should enter them in the autumn if they wish to take exams, or take responsibility for ensuring that they have somewhere appropriate to sit their exams in exceptional cases where attending the original centre is not the best option for the student. This arrangement extends to all students who wish to take exams in the additional autumn series, including those who are home educated.

22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support people who do not have a support network to access childcare as they return to work as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

From 1 June, early years settings have been able to welcome back all children.

Local authorities are responsible for ensuring that there are sufficient childcare places and we continue to liaise with local authorities to obtain information about the supply and demand for childcare. Anyone who needs help or advice in accessing registered childcare should contact their local authorities.

Guidance for parents and carers about opening from 1 June can be found at:

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

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what (a) financial and (b) educational support is provided to postgraduate students whose education has moved online.

This is a difficult and uncertain time for students, but we are working with the sector to make sure all reasonable efforts are being made to enable students to continue their studies.

Eligible students studying designated postgraduate courses online are entitled to apply for a postgraduate loan. The rate of loan is the same for all students.

Higher education providers are working to ensure that learning and teaching continues and is completed through the use of online teaching and other digital delivery. Providers will contact students to tell them how this will affect their studies.

The Office for Students, the higher education regulator in England, has produced guidance on practical ways in which students can complete their studies whilst ensuring quality and standards are upheld. This covers teaching, learning and assessment during this difficult time - further details are available here: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/publications/guidance-for-providers-about-quality-and-standards-during-coronavirus-pandemic/.

The government is also working closely with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, the professional bodies and the Office for Students to ensure students continue to leave university with qualifications that have real value, reflect their hard work and allow people to progress.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he has taken to ensure that (a) children from disadvantaged families and (b) other children have adequate access to food during all school holidays.

I refer the hon. Members to the answer I have given today to Question 54195.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has plans to reimburse students that have paid deposits on (a) private and (b) university housing for the 2020-21 academic year and whose education may be disrupted as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

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

The government encourages universities and private hall providers to be fair in their decisions about accommodation charges for this period.

Information published by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) gives guidance (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cma-to-investigate-concerns-about-cancellation-policies-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic/the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-consumer-contracts-cancellation-and-refunds) on the COVID-19 outbreak’s effects on consumer contracts and may be helpful to students, including those who have already paid deposits for accommodation.

The guidance sets out the CMA’s view on how the law operates to help consumers understand their rights and to help businesses treat their customers fairly. Students may be entitled to refunds from certain accommodation providers depending on the terms of their contract and their particular circumstances. If students need help, organisations such as Citizens Advice offer a free service, providing information and support.

Students who have already signed an accommodation contract for next year and, because of COVID-19, think it may no longer fit their requirements, should talk directly to their housing provider.

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

We have worked closely with the Office for Students to enable higher education (HE) providers to draw on existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. As a result, providers will be able to use the funding worth around £23 million per month for June and July, towards student hardship funds.


We have also asked that HE providers pay particular attention to the additional financial hardships that are being faced by student staff who have been reliant on income from campus-based jobs at this time.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that (a) vulnerable pupils and (b) pupils living with vulnerable relatives are supported when schools re-open following covid-19 lockdown measures.

Keeping people safe continues to be the government’s main priority. We have been clear that the wider opening of schools must be done in a way that is measured, reduces risk, is guided by science, and ensures that safety remains the absolute priority. We published guidance for parents and carers to help them prepare for the opening of schools and educational settings to more pupils from 1 June.

The guidance is clear that children and young people who are considered extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding should continue to shield and should not be expected to attend. Clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) people are those considered to be at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. A minority of children will fall into this category, and parents should follow medical advice if their child is in this category. Children and young people who live in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding should only attend school if stringent social distancing can be adhered to, and where the child or young person is able to understand and follow those instructions. If a child or young person lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable), including those who are pregnant, they can attend their education or childcare setting. The guidance for parents and carers is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/reopening-schools-and-other-educational-settings-from-1-june#should-i-keep-my-child-at-home-if-they-have-an-underlying-health-condition-or-live-with-someone-in-a-clinically-vulnerable-group.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans there are for integration of key worker children and other children when they return to school after the covid-19 lockdown measures are eased.

As a result of the huge efforts everyone has made to adhere to strict social distancing measures, the transmission rate of COVID-19 has decreased and the Government’s five tests have been met. Based on all the evidence, the Department asked primary schools to welcome back children in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside priority groups (vulnerable children and children of critical workers), from 1 June. From 15 June, secondary schools can invite year 10 and 12 pupils (years 10 and 11 for alternative provision schools) back into school for some face-to-face support with their teachers, to supplement their remote education, which will remain the predominant mode of education for these pupils this term. Priority groups can continue to attend full-time.

The Department has published a range of guidance for schools and nurseries to help them prepare for wider opening, including guidance on implementing protective measures and a planning guide for primary schools. These are available on GOV.UK:

This guidance sets out a range of principles for creating small, consistent groups to lower the risk of transmission. Children of critical workers and vulnerable children who are in reception, year 1 or year 6 should be included in groups with their own year group, up to a maximum size of 15 pupils. Vulnerable children and children of critical workers in other year groups should also be split into small groups of no more than 15.

5th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to ensure university students are not financially penalised due to a delay to the academic year as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Students will continue to receive payments of maintenance loans for the remainder of the current academic year.

Universities offering good tuition online will continue to charge fees. However, the government has been clear that if universities want to charge full fees, they will have to ensure that good-quality courses are delivered which are fit for purpose and help students progress towards their qualifications.

The government’s clear expectation is that providers should make all reasonable efforts to enable students to complete their studies. If institutions are unable to facilitate adequate online tuition then they should seek to avoid charging students for any additional terms they may need to undergo as a consequence – therefore avoiding effectively charging them twice.

If students are concerned, there is a process in place. They should first raise this with their university. If their concerns are unresolved, students can contact the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to promote entrepreneurship programmes for 2020 graduates at higher education establishments during the covid-19 outbreak.

The UK is home to leading universities that generate many of the skills that our economy needs.

The higher education sector plays an important role in teaching a broad range of skills in undergraduate and postgraduate study (for example, in relation to problem solving, analytical thinking, collaboration, teamwork, management and entrepreneurship), which enables millions of people to fulfil their potential. Responsibility for entrepreneurship programme falls to universities as autonomous institutions that set their own curriculum in line with wider regulatory steers and it is for them to determine the support and skills that their graduates need.

There are a range of master’s courses available to students that have entrepreneurship on their curriculum. Postgraduate loans are available to eligible students studying for designated master's courses on a part-time or full-time basis.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of replacing tuition fees with a teaching grant for courses taken by (a) health professionals and (b) other key workers.

The government subsidises the costs of higher education through the teaching grant and write-off of unpaid tuition fee loans, which ensures a sustainable system. Nurses and other healthcare students are currently eligible for a range of financial grant support in addition to tuition fee and living cost loans. There is also a range of additional support and bursaries for students in other professions where they are considered to be critical workers.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has plans to introduce financial support for independent schools affected by the covid-19 outbreak which are not eligible for the business interruption loan scheme.

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

Our latest guidance setting out the financial support that is available to independent schools is set out below: 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#independent-schools.

The guidance clarifies that this financial support includes the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which many independent schools will be eligible to apply for, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for furloughed workers and the Statutory Sick Pay relief scheme for non-public sector employers.

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

24th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he is taking steps to ensure that online access to learning is put in place for pupils and students at schools and higher education institutions that have not developed online resources; and if he will make a statement.

The Department is committed to ensuring that children can continue to learn at home in these very difficult circumstances. We recognise that many schools and colleges have already shared resources for children who are at home, and we are grateful for this.

The higher education regulator in England, the Office for Students, has produced guidance on practical ways in which university students can complete their studies whilst ensuring quality and standards are upheld.

The Government is working closely with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education to ensure students continue to leave university with qualifications that have real value, reflect their hard work and allow people to progress.

The Department has issued guidance for schools which signposts to an initial list of free online resources identified by educational experts and teachers. Many other suppliers have also helpfully made their resources available for free. The guidance is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources.

The Department has also issued information, guidance and support to parents and carers of children who at home, which is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/supporting-your-childrens-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

Leading state schools have collaborated to open The Oak National Academy, which was launched online on 20 April. This new initiative is led by 40 teachers who have assembled video lessons and resources for any teacher in the country to make use of if they wish to do so. 180 video lessons will be provided each week, across a broad range of subjects, for every year group from Reception through to Year 10. Additionally, the BBC has developed resources for families as part of a comprehensive new education package, which is now available on TV and online.

Devices will be ordered for the most disadvantaged children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for examinations in Year 10, for those who receive support from a social worker, and for care leavers.

Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and children in Year 10 do not have internet connections, we are working to provide 4G connectivity to them so that they can study at home.

Local authorities, trusts and other relevant organisations overseeing schools have been given guidance on how to place online orders for Government-funded and allocated devices for eligible children and young people.

The Department is also working with major telecommunications providers to exempt certain educational resources from data charges, so that this does not add to household expense.

14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that UK dairy farmers benefit from trade agreements and that UK industry standards are retained in those agreements.

Global demand for British food and drink is enormous, because British food and drink is the best in the world. We are an independent trading nation and have already started seizing new opportunities for British farmers that were previously denied to us. Recent Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Australia and New Zealand have achieved complete tariff removal for exports of our dairy products into those countries. We aim to deliver the export potential in international markets by further improving access for UK dairy products, by raising awareness, and by encouraging broader participation in exporting in both scale and variety.

The Government will help our farmers capitalise on global demand and will support companies through all stages of the export journey. Our online platform GREAT.gov.uk, the Export Support Service, Export Academy, UK Tradeshow Programme and UK Export Finance all serve our desire to grow UK exports.

In September last year, to mark Back British Farming Day, Government announced a package of support including establishment of a new UK-wide Food and Drink Exports Council to bring together industry and governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to boost exports from all parts of the UK and building export capability in the sector (especially in SMEs); and the appointment of dedicated agri-food attachés, providing on-the-ground support to unlock and drive export opportunities from strategic locations around the world, covering the growth markets of the Gulf, Africa, South America, and the Asia-Pacific region.

The UK Government has made a clear manifesto commitment that in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards. The independent Trade and Agriculture Committee (TAC) recently published their report into the Australia free trade agreement, concluding that the deal reinforces our statutory protections in these areas.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education on ensuring conservation education is taught in schools in England.

I recently met with DfE's Minister Walker to discuss the importance of increasing children's connection and access to nature and to expand educational opportunities to support green skills and jobs. Defra and DfE worked closely on the Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy which was published on Thursday 21 April. The strategy includes the following commitments where conservation education will play a key role in delivery:

1. A commitment from DfE to increase opportunities for all children and young people to spend time in nature, learn more about it, and get involved in improving their local environment.

2. A commitment to build on the investment into the Children and Nature Programme by engaging with Defra on more research into outdoor learning and how to help schools deliver it. DfE also commit to embedding the learning from the Children and Nature Programme into their two new initiatives - the National Education Nature Park and the Climate Leaders Award. By 2030, they anticipate that participation in the National Education Nature Park, and increased opportunities to connect with nature, will increase the number of young people who become data scientists, ecologists and biologists.

3. A goal to introduce a new natural history GCSE by 2025, which will include developing a deeper understanding of conservation. This will be accompanied by a pathway of learning for children up to GCSE level so that they have the knowledge and skills to undertake the GCSE. This includes a new Primary Science Model Curriculum with an emphasis on nature. This will raise the profile of education on nature and climate change and help to ensure that young people have the right skills to progress into a career in green jobs if they choose to do so.

4. The Strategy recognises the 25 Year Environment Plan as a driver of green jobs and skills needs alongside the Net Zero Strategy and sets out the natural environment training on offer. DfE have also committed to working with Defra to help develop this offer where gaps are identified through the Green Jobs Delivery Group.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to encourage self-sufficiency in food production.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain, as demonstrated throughout the COVID-19 response. Our high degree of food security is built on supply from diverse sources; strong domestic production as well as imports through stable trade routes. We produce 60% of all the food we need, and 74% of food which we can grow or rear in the UK for all or part of the year, and these figures have changed little over the last 20 years.

Strong domestic food production supports our food security. The UK enjoys considerable self-sufficiency in food, with nearly 100 percent sufficiency in poultry, carrots and swedes. 88% of cereals consumed in the UK in 2020 were produced domestically.

In addition, UK consumers have access through international trade to food products that cannot be produced here, or at least not on a year-round basis. This supplements domestic production, and also ensures that any disruption from risks such as adverse weather or disease does not affect the UK's overall security of supply.

Recognising the importance of food production, the Government has set out a legal obligation on the Government to produce an assessment of our food security at least once every three years. The first UK Food Security Report was published in December 2021. It recognised the contribution made by British farmers to our resilience, and the importance of strong domestic production to our food security. This report will serve as an evidence base for future policy work.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to promote locally sourced produce in (a) supermarkets and (b) high street shops.

What we eat and drink, and how and where it is made, is part of our nation’s story. It provides employment opportunities, contributes to local economies, shapes the landscapes we all value and engenders local pride and identity, right across the UK.

As a Government, we have a Manifesto commitment that we want people at home and abroad to be lining up to buy British. We can all celebrate and support our exceptional British food and drink products by choosing to buy local, seasonal and sustainable produce from local shops and high streets.

I am acutely aware of the critical role supermarkets and high street shops play in our food supply chain; both as the direct links to the consumer, and also because of their ability to influence the rest of the food chain. However, we also need to recognise that supermarkets and other retailers are privately owned, and sourcing decisions are a commercial matter.

We welcome efforts from all parts of the food chain to promote and source local, British products, and I know that many supermarkets are already taking steps to do so. For example, a growing number of major retailers are now launching initiatives to provide practical support to high potential small food and drink businesses here in the UK.

We are engaging with retailers to identify opportunities to further strengthen their offer on locally sourced food. This includes ensuring a simple and accessible process for local producers to get their products stocked, greater visibility of the local offer in store and on e-shopping platforms and strong representation of local produce across a broader range of product categories.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to promote responsible ownership of cats, dogs, and other pets.

The Government shares the public’s high regard for animal welfare and we are committed to making the UK a world leader in the protection of animals. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (2006 Act), it is an offence to cause any animal unnecessary suffering or to fail to provide for its welfare needs.

The 2006 Act is backed up by a series of Codes of Practice for the welfare of several species including Dogs, Cats, and other types of animal which may be kept as pets. These codes provide owners with information on how to meet their responsibility to provide for the welfare needs of their animals, as required by the 2006 Act.

In the Licensing of Activities involving Animals Regulations 2018 made under the 2006 Act certain animal related activities must be licensed, such as pet selling, dog breeding and selling, animal boarding, riding schools and the exhibiting of animals. Licences must meet strict statutory minimum welfare standards which are enforced by local authorities who have powers to issue, refuse or revoke licences. Such standards include the requirement for pet sellers to provide prospective owners with information on how to care for the animal.

My Department also supports the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) which was created to combat growing concerns about the irresponsible advertising of pets for sale, rehoming and exchange, including through social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram. We have backed a set of Minimum Standards that PAAG developed which several of the UK’s largest classified websites have agreed to meet. Meanwhile my department maintains a national communications campaign (Petfished) to raise awareness of issues associated with low-welfare and illegal supply of pets. This includes providing clear signposting on where responsible breeders and rehoming centres can be found and encouraging prospective buyers to research the seller thoroughly before they visit and decide to purchase. The campaign provides a list of red flags for buyers to look out for when searching for a pet online.

The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill was granted Royal Assent on 29 April. This realises the Government’s manifesto commitment to increase the sentences available to our courts for the most serious cases of animal cruelty. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 (the Act) came into force on the 29 June providing one of the toughest sanctions in Europe and strengthening the UK's position as a global leader on animal welfare.  The Act’s new maximum sentence of five years and/or an unlimited fine will apply to the most serious animal cruelty offences, including causing unnecessary suffering, and is a significant step forward in improving animal welfare.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to reduce the amount of single-use plastics.

The Government's 25 Year Environment Plan sets out our ambition to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042. The Resources and Waste Strategy, published December 2018, sets out how we want to achieve this and move towards a circular economy where resources are kept in the system for as long as possible.

In October 2020, we introduced measures to restrict the supply of single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds. The single-use carrier bag charge, which has led to a 95% reduction in the use of single-use carrier bags by the main supermarkets, has also been increased to 10p and extended to all retailers. We will be consulting later this year on banning a range of single-use plastic items, including single-use plastic plates, cutlery, and polystyrene cups. We will continue to review the latest evidence on problematic products and materials to take a systematic approach to reducing the use of unnecessary single-use plastic.

Our Environment Bill will enable us to change significantly the way that we manage our waste and take forward a number of proposals from the Resources and Waste Strategy, which will reduce consumption of single-use plastic further. The Bill includes key powers to create Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes; introduce Deposit Return Schemes (DRS); and establish greater consistency in the recycling system. Furthermore, from April 2022, plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled content will be subject to a tax of £200/tonne. Further details on the development of this tax can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/introduction-of-plastic-packaging-tax/plastic-packaging-tax#detailed-proposal.

The Government has put together a package of over £100 million for research and innovation to tackle the issues that arise from plastic waste. £38 million was set aside through the Plastics Research and Innovation Fund, the last funding competition of which opened in June 2020. The Government has also committed £60 million of funding through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, alongside a £150 million investment from industry, towards the development of smart, sustainable plastic packaging (SSPP), which will aim to make the UK a world leader in sustainable packaging for consumer products.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made on the resilience of food supply chains to (a) supermarkets and (b) high street food stores.

The UK has a high level of food security built on diverse and robust supply chains, from strong domestic production and trade with a range of stable sources. The food industry is experienced in dealing with disruptions to food supply, as we have seen throughout the Covid-19 response.

In addition, the Government has well-established ways of working with the food industry to ensure that food supply, which is one of the UK's Critical Infrastructure sectors, can continue to operate. This includes extensive and ongoing engagement with food retailers in preparedness for, and response to, potential food supply chain disruptions and continuing to work with businesses to minimise disruption from the issue of staff having to isolate.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps are being taken to consult communities on recommendations from Henry Dimbleby’s independent review of the food system.

We would like to thank Henry Dimbleby and his team for their work on this independent review examining our food system and the vital role it plays in all our lives. We will consider the review carefully, and respond with a White Paper in the next six months, which will set out the Government's ambition and priorities for the food system.


As we develop the White Paper we are committed to listening to opinions from stakeholders across the food system, and will engage in dialogues with a wide range of interested parties.


As was the case following the first report from this review, we will also work collaboratively across Government, through regular inter-Departmental meetings of officials and Ministers that will draw upon the input from external engagement.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to strengthen local sustainable food supply chains.

As a Government, we have a manifesto commitment to get people both at home and abroad lining up to buy British. We will always champion our farmers and producers, supporting them to grow more of our great British food, and to provide a reliable and sustainable food supply to the British public.

By showcasing the UK’s excellent food and drink, we will encourage consumers to explore more of our regional products, including our iconic geographical indications (GIs), such as Vale of Evesham Asparagus.

We will be consulting on a refreshed version of the Government Buying Standards for Food this summer. We will be seeking views on how the standards can promote even greater uptake of local, sustainably produced food by public procurers and their suppliers. We are also working closely with the Crown Commercial Service to develop a trial in the South West region which will create new and exciting routes into public sector food procurement for high quality, sustainable and locally sourced food and drink.

Sustainability and achieving the net zero target are priorities for Government. We are therefore developing a range of measures which will enable farmers to optimise sustainable food production, reduce emissions from agriculture, and allow consumer choices to drive those changes. These measures include the Agriculture Act, our future farming policy, our forthcoming Food Strategy White Paper and the 25 Year Environment Plan.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the amount of plastic used in packaging.

Through powers being taken in the Environment Bill, the Government intends to introduce Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging. These measures will place the cost of managing packaging waste on those businesses that place packaged goods on the UK market.

In doing so we will incentivise businesses to think carefully about how they can reduce the packaging they use, design and use packaging that is easily recyclable, and encourage more use of reusable and refillable packaging.

For plastic that is used in packaging, we want more of it to be recycled. Producers will be required to meet higher plastic packaging recycling targets and through our measures that we are consulting on currently for more consistent recycling collections in England, all households and businesses will be able to recycle rigid plastic packaging. We are also consulting on the inclusion of plastic film and flexible plastic packaging in the core set of materials for collection in England.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to encourage communities to engage in (a) tree planting and (b) community garden initiatives.

We are committed to increasing tree planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by the end of this parliament. We will take steps to improve public access to trees and woodlands in a responsible way, encourage community-led tree planting and invest in partnerships with communities and local government.

This includes steps to empower local authorities to support communities in tree planting. Local tree and woodland strategies offer an opportunity for local communities to decide where new trees will be planted and how existing trees will be protected.

We are opening the Local Authorities Treescape Fund, to work in partnership with Nongovernmental Organisations, local landowners, and community groups to deliver strategic planting and natural regeneration of trees outside of woodlands for the benefit of local communities and nature.

We are also supporting a number of initiatives to inspire communities to engage with tree planting and community gardens:

  • The Queen’s Green Canopy Project will see communities, charities, schools, and local councils planting trees across the UK in celebration of the Queens Platinum Jubilee.
  • The ‘Plant for our Planet’ initiative has also been introduced to encourage individuals, communities, and businesses to help protect the natural world, either by starting a new activity or by joining an existing project.

The National Planning Policy Framework already makes clear that planning policies and decisions should aim to achieve healthy, inclusive and safe places which enable and support healthy lifestyles, especially where this would address identified health and wellbeing needs, for example through the provision of safe and accessible green infrastructure. The Government also recently sought views on the draft National Model Design Code, and supporting Guidance Notes, which sets out how local design codes may specify levels of green infrastructure provision, including allotments, community gardens and street trees, as a critical component of well-designed places that provide multiple benefits for biodiversity, nature, recreation, climate change resilience and health and wellbeing.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what safeguards are in place to ensure that companies who are granted wildlife licences by Natural England carry out an acceptable standard of work under those licences; and what compensation is available to help protect consumers against excessive expenses in the event that those services so provided are not adequate.

Wildlife licensing authorities assess applications to conduct otherwise unlawful activities impacting protected species. The assessment of an application focuses on the justification for the activity and the consequences for the protected species. It is commonplace for this assessment to consider the suitability of an applicant for a licence to conduct the proposed works, as this is relevant to the conservation and welfare of protected species, but the emphasis is on the consequences for the wildlife, and not the service provided by that person or company.

There are no provisions within wildlife legislation in England concerning compensation for inadequate service for activities conducted under a wildlife licence. Anyone engaging the services of a third party to conduct licensed works is encouraged to check the experience and qualifications of service provider and to get more than one quote for the work. It is also worth considering employing a member of a relevant professional body as membership of such bodies is typically subject to professional standards and may include recourse to a complaints procedure regarding the conduct of members.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he has taken to strengthen protections for bees and other pollinators since the end of the transition period.

Pollinators are a priority for this Government and we remain committed to working with our many partners to further the goals set out in our National Pollinator Strategy. We continue to take a range of steps to restore habitats, reduce pressures on pollinators, and maintain healthy bee populations.

We recently launched the next round of Countryside Stewardship for agreements starting in January 2022. Countryside Stewardship continues to support land managers in delivering environmental benefits to their land. We are also introducing new schemes that will pay farmers to improve the environment, through paying for measures such as integrated pest management and other actions that support biodiversity, including pollinators

We now operate an autonomous GB pesticides regime and will continue to ensure that decisions on the use of pesticides are based on careful scientific assessment of the risks, with the aim of achieving a high level of protection for people and the environment. Pesticides that pose unacceptable risks, including to pollinators, are not authorised. We have also just consulted on the revised National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides and are analysing the responses. The draft plan lays out how we intend to support the uptake of integrated pest management, and how we can further minimise risks to pollinators.

In light of the changes to honey bee import rules, we are listening to beekeepers and their associations as part of our monitoring of the new arrangements. Guidance on the new rules was published prior to the end of the transition period and updates have been made in response to questions raised. Regular discussions take place with colleagues in the Devolved Administrations, with the aim of maintaining suitable trading arrangements for the UK beekeeping sector.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to encourage the growth of local hospitality-based businesses that specialise in healthy vegan and vegetarian eating options.

We are keen to ensure we have a vibrant and diverse hospitality sector.

As such, we are continuing to work across the entire hospitality sector with the aim of ensuring it is in a strong position to restart as soon as the conditions are right to ease restrictions.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to encourage (a) growth and (b) production of food in the UK for the domestic market.

This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only.

The Government published ‘The Path to Sustainable Farming: An Agricultural Transition Plan 2021 to 2024’ on 30 November. As we set out in this document, by the end of the agricultural transition we want to see a renewed agricultural sector, producing healthy food for consumption at home and abroad, where farms can be profitable and economically sustainable without subsidy.

‘The Path to Sustainable Farming’ provides detail on our plans to support farmers to increase their productivity in an environmentally sustainable way, including through the Farming Investment Fund. This will provide targeted support to businesses so that they can invest in equipment, technology, and infrastructure that will improve their productivity and deliver environmental and other public benefits.

The document also describes our plan to hugely increase the money available to farmers and land managers to invest in the environment through our Environmental Land Management scheme. These measures will ensure that food production today, does not come at the expense of food production tomorrow and that by having healthier soil, and cleaner and more plentiful water, we will have a more resilient base for food production.

This country has a proud agricultural heritage, and is fortunate to have the climate, landscape, and entrepreneurial farmers and growers to enable production of a diverse and delicious range of fruits and vegetables all year round. We produce 64% of our entire food supply need, and that increases to 77% for indigenous food that we can grow or rear here in the UK for all or part of the year. These figures have been steady over the past 20 years.

Consumers also have access to food products that cannot be produced here, or at least not on a year-round basis, through international trade. This supplements domestic production, and also ensures that any disruption from risks such as adverse weather or disease does not affect the UK’s overall security of supply.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to improve animal welfare standards.

This country has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world. Having modernised standards for dog breeding, pet sales and other licensed activities involving animals, the Government is planning further improvements in a number of areas, some of which are manifesto commitments. On 30 November we published plans to deliver a better and fairer farming system in England that will help farmers adapt and plan for the future.

The proposals will transform the way we support farmers, in the most significant change to farming and land management in 50 years. This includes the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, which we are co-designing with industry, to promote the production of healthier, higher-welfare animals at a level beyond compliance with current regulations. A consultation on plans to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening was launched on 3 December along with proposals to better protect animal welfare during transport.

On 6 December we launched a call for evidence exploring options consistent with World Trade Organisation rules to address the shark fin trade. The UK has a strong track record in marine conservation and has been pressing for stronger international action to protect sharks against unsustainable fishing practices and shark finning. We want to better understand shark fin trade and its impacts both in the UK and overseas.

We are also committed to legislating for animal sentience, to tackling puppy smuggling, to banning primates as pets and to increasing the maximum custodial penalty for animal cruelty from six months’ imprisonment to five years. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, currently before Parliament, will achieve this increase and has the support of Government as it makes its way through Parliament.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what his timeline is for the second part of the National Food Strategy; and how members of the public can engage with that strategy.

In 2019, Defra commissioned Henry Dimbleby to carry out an independent review of the food system. Part Two of the independent review is expected to be published in Spring 2021 and the Government has committed to responding to this final report with a Food Strategy White Paper within six months.

The independent review held a call for evidence in autumn 2019 and received a large number of responses from the public. The review also held a public dialogue process throughout 2020, engaging with 200 members of the public from five geographic locations to understand their values and priorities relating to the food system. It will continue to undertake a wide-ranging engagement programme as part of its development process.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that untreated sewage is not released into (a) rivers and (b) other inland waters.

During periods of significant rainfall untreated sewage diluted by rainwater will discharge through storm overflows to avoid streets, premises and sewage treatment plants from being flooded. Water companies are committed in the 5-year business planning period (2020-2025) to a significant programme of improvements to the monitoring and management of storm overflows at a cost of around £1.2 billion. This includes over 700 schemes to provide environmental improvements by reducing spills from frequently spilling overflows. As part of this investment, ‘Event Duration Monitoring’ is currently being installed on most storm overflows to improve our understanding, and to trigger investigations and improvements by water companies when overflows operate too frequently.

I recognise that there is more to do with regards to the management of sewage pollution. I met water company CEOs in September and made clear that the volumes of sewage discharged into rivers and other waterways in extreme weather must be reduced. To achieve this, I have set up a new Taskforce bringing together Government, the water industry, regulators and environmental NGOs. This Taskforce will set out clear proposals to address the volumes of sewage discharged into our rivers. The Taskforce is also exploring further short-term actions water companies can take to accelerate progress on storm overflows.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he has taken to support (a) litter picks and (b) other community-based anti-litter schemes.

The Government continues to use its influence to support national clear-up days, which help to empower and engage communities in tackling this problem and to change attitudes towards littering.

This month, we are encouraging as many people and businesses as possible to participate in the Great British September Clean and Great British Beach Clean, while following Government guidance on staying safe outside your home.

Community-based anti-litter projects have also been supported through the Litter Innovation Fund, which was launched in 2018 to pilot and evaluate innovative new ways to tackle litter. This was jointly funded by Defra and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. A total of 28 small-scale local anti-litter projects were awarded through the scheme, which was unfortunately disrupted earlier this year due to coronavirus restrictions.

Reports from the first-round projects, and the list of successful applicants in the second round, are available from the Waste and Resources Action Programme’s website: www.wrap.org.uk/content/litter-innovation-fund.

Defra also support several anti-litter campaigns, including the national “Keep It, Bin It” and “Love parks” campaigns run by Keep Britain Tidy, and our own “Respect the outdoors” campaign which launched this summer.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to encourage tree planting in schools.

Since 2016 our Trees for Schools programme, delivered in partnership with the Woodland Trust and England’s Community Forests, has given hundreds of thousands of primary aged school children the chance to plant, care for and learn about trees. Over 1 million new trees have been planted in school grounds and communities, often in our most urban and deprived communities. This contributes to our 25 Year Environment Plan commitment to connect more people with nature.

We are currently consulting on a new England Tree Strategy and would welcome views as part of that on what more we can do to connect people, especially children, with trees and woodlands in the future.

https://consult.defra.gov.uk/forestry/england-tree-strategy/

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that future trade deals deliver high standards of food produce for people (a) in Wolverhampton South West constituency and (b) throughout the UK.

Our manifesto made a clear commitment that in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards. The Government has already published a suite of documents which set out the UK's approach to trade deals with the US, Japan and Australia and New Zealand, which all reaffirm this commitment. The EU Withdrawal Act will transfer all existing food safety provisions, including existing import requirements, onto the UK statute book. The Government will stand firm in trade negotiations to ensure any future trade deals live up to the values of farmers and consumers both in Wolverhampton South West and throughout the UK.

The Government has in place a range of stakeholder and expert groups to feed into our policy development on trade. These include the Strategic Trade Advisory Group, the Agri-Food Expert Trade Advisory Group, which are subject to regular review, as well as the various supply chain advisory groups such as the Arable Group, Livestock Group and Food and Drink Panel.

We are on the side of UK farmers in trade negotiations, which is why in addition to these groups we announced last week that we will establish a Trade and Agriculture Commission. This will ensure that the UK’s trade policy fully considers our agricultural industry and our commitment to maintain our high standards.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the recent increase in water consumption by households across Wolverhampton compared to normal levels of consumption; and what assessment he has made of the reasons for that increase.

We know that demand for water has increased in the recent months. Three main factors have contributed to this:

  • A period of significantly less rainfall than average
  • Hot weather
  • Behavioural changes as a result of lockdown, such as recreational use of water and personal hygiene

Severn Trent is the water supplier for Wolverhampton. The CEO of Severn Trent Water attended the National Drought Group chaired by the Environment Agency on 5 June 2020 to discuss the current risks and approaches to the dry weather and water demand management.

The link to their annual performance report, which includes information on consumption, for 2019 is: www.stwater.co.uk/content/dam/stw/regulatory-library/STW-Annual-performance-report%202018-19.pdf

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to ensure that air quality levels in (a) Wolverhampton South West and (b) the rest of England remain lower than they were prior to the covid-19 outbreak.

Air pollution poses one of the biggest environmental threats to public health. Our ambitious plans to decarbonise transport, improve air quality and support more active forms of travel have not changed, including the £3.8 billion we are already investing to clean up our air. Our recent rapid call for evidence will ensure we can fully understand the impact that coronavirus is having on changes in air pollution emissions, concentrations and exposure. Wolverhampton is part of the 2017 UK plan to tackle roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations; for Wolverhampton this includes the retrofitting of existing bus fleet and implementation of traffic management measures.

Rebecca Pow
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 plans he has to provide support to key workers who have pets at home while they are at work during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government's message to the public is clear: stay alert, control the virus and save lives. Dog walking businesses, home boarders and dog day care providers play a key role in ensuring the welfare of the nation's pets and can operate 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 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.

If key workers need further help in meeting the welfare needs of their animals, they are advised to contact their relevant local authority which will be coordinating volunteers to help during this difficult time.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to ensure that dairy farmers (a) benefit from trade agreements and (b) have standards retained.

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

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
28th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to ensure that new trade deals support UK farmers and food producers.

As a result of the recent agreements, businesses will benefit from the elimination of tariffs on all British exports to Australia and New Zealand. These deals are a gateway to joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), where British food and drink exports were worth £1.8 billion in 2020.

In addition to securing trade deals, we continue to support our farmers by knocking down trade barriers across the globe, from securing access to sell British pork in Mexico, to reopening the American market for British lamb.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to increase awareness of the role of Trade Envoys and business opportunities in new and emerging markets.

The Prime Minister’s Trade Envoys support British business overseas and help attract investment into the UK. The programme works in collaboration with other trade promotion activities of the Department’s, focusing on emerging and high growth markets where additional senior interactions can be valuable. We engage with key stakeholders, chambers of commerce, trade associations and business organisations to ensure they are aware of Trade Envoys and have access to them.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
28th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps the Government is taking to help support international collaboration in green growth sectors.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) plays a critical role in delivering the UK’s ambitious domestic and international climate goals. DIT is using its international trade and investment levers to increase green investment, low-carbon supply chains, and clean exports. Our ambitious Free Trade Agreements and bilateral relations are reducing barriers to green trade.

To support the UK’s COP26 presidency, DIT’s global network is working with international businesses, investors, and government partners. This builds on the recent Global Investment Summit where the UK hosted the world’s leading businesses and investors to encourage collaboration and increase investment across green industries.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what support and advice his Department provides to small and medium sized businesses to export to (a) Commonwealth countries and (b) non-Commonwealth countries.

The Department for International Trade provides a range of support and advice services for SMEs looking to export both to the Commonwealth and beyond. These include a domestic network of International Trade Advisers (ITAs); hubs in Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh and Darlington; sector specialists in our Export & Investment teams; grants from the Internationalisation Fund; in market advice from the Enhanced International Support Service; webinars, workshops and virtual events from the Export Academy; financial exporting support from UKEF’s specialist Export Finance Managers; and local market connections provided by DIT staff in 119 different countries around the world.

DIT is running the export and investment programme for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022 and uses Commonwealth events to promote closer trading ties among the businesses of member states.

16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps the Government is taking to support the West Midland's economic recovery from the covid-19 outbreak through exports.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) delivers a range of export services across the West Midlands. These include: providing support in accessing international opportunities; participation in trade missions; providing export credit and insurance through UK Export Finance (UKEF); access to DIT’s international network; and support provided by experienced International Trade Advisers (ITAs). These advisers are also helping West Midlands companies to cope with the impacts of Covid-19 and their preparations for EU transition.

As I announced last month, as part of our response to Covid-19, the Export Growth Plan has additional measures supporting the West Midlands including a new Internationalisation Fund through ESIF providing grants to SMEs, the recruitment of additional ITAs and a new Export Academy providing training and expertise for exporters.

29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what safeguards are in place to help ensure consumer confidence in food quality standards as part of future trade agreements.

HM Government is proud of its high food safety standards. Having left the EU, and as we leave the transition period, we will take back control of our laws, standards and regulations. Without exception, imports will meet our stringent standards.

The Food Standards Agency will continue to oversee our food standards, for both domestic production and?imports, and provide independent advice to HM Government.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what progress the Government has made in improving the connectivity of the Wolverhampton South West constituency to the rest of the rail network.

The recently awarded £1.05 billion City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement will enable West Midlands Combined Authority to review its priorities and the value of commencing early business case development for schemes such as the new railway station proposed at Tettenhall.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what funding her Department provides to local authorities to support the delivery of effective road safety interventions.

Road safety is a priority for the Government and the Department for Transport is working with road safety stakeholders and local authorities to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads. We have some of the safest roads in the world, but the Government is not complacent and there is more work to be done.

The Secretary of State for Transport has committed to tackling dangerous cycling by making sure that we will be able to prosecute dangerous cyclists more easily. Our award-winning Safer Roads Fund has seen the Department funding local authorities £100 million across England to fix the 50 most dangerous “A-roads”. This fund is expected to save 1,500 lives over the next 20 years and is already improving safety for all road users.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
27th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to reduce the cost of train fares in (a) the West Midlands and (b) across the UK.

Increases to regulated rail fares in England will be capped and tied to the Retail Price Index (RPI) figure for July 2021 (3.8 per cent). The Government has deliberately continued to use the July RPI figure as it was lower than subsequent months. In addition, as in 2021, we have temporarily frozen fares for passengers to travel at the lower price for the entirety of January and February 2022, with fares changing on 1 March 2022.

The fares rise in the West Midlands will be in line with the national rise. Rail fares outside England are a devolved matter and decisions regarding fares increases are for the devolved administrations.

We have recently introduced flexible season rail tickets, in England, which provide better value to most two to three day-a-week commuters than buying daily tickets or traditional seasons. We have also saved a generation of passengers a third off their rail fares, including the 16-17 Saver and 26-30 Railcards and, most recently, the Veterans Railcard. Railcard discounts are available UK wide.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to support road safety for deaf and blind people.

The Government takes road safety very seriously. Any death on the road is completely unacceptable, and while the UK has some of the safest roads in the world, we will continue to focus on making them safer through our new integrated strategy to boost safety for all road-users, the Road Safety Strategic Framework.

Those most at risk when using the highway, such as deaf and blind people, are one of our priority groups, and recent proposed updates to The Highway Code specifically consider the needs of those groups to ensure they are safe in their interactions with other road users. We are also currently preparing updates to the Guidance on the use of Tactile Paving Surfaces and Inclusive Mobility. These support local authorities to deliver accessible transport and pedestrian environments.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
24th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to encourage train operators to operate more affordable and flexible services.

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, published May 2021, contains a number of passenger-focused reforms that will bring in improved services and encourage the use of rail. The Spending Review 2021 confirmed £5.7bn of funding over three years to support essential rail services, and will see Government investing £360m in modernising ticketing and retailing systems, delivering a major overhaul to the way in which rail travel is bought and paid for.

There are a number of railcards available that offer discounts against most rail fares. We have saved a generation of passengers at least a third off their fares through the 16-17 and 26-30 railcards and went even further in November 2020 by extending these savings to former servicemen and women through a new Veterans Railcard.

We have introduced flexible season tickets across England this year; tickets launched on the 21 June and became available for use on the 28 June. This is a national product, priced to provide better value and convenience for commuters travelling two to three days a week.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
29th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to encourage the transition to active travel options, such as cycling and walking.

The Department is investing an unprecedented £2 billion in active travel over the course of this Parliament. This is the biggest ever boost for walking and cycling and it will enable delivery of the Prime Minister’s long term cycling and walking plan, Gear Change, published in July 2020.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that (a) roads are adequately maintained and (b) potholes are fixed promptly.

The Department is providing over £5 billion of investment for highways maintenance to eligible local highways authorities in England, outside of London, over this Parliament.

Well-planned maintenance to prevent potholes and other defects from forming in the first place is vital, and the Department advocates a risk-based, whole life-cycle asset management approach to all aspects of the local highway network.

To assist local authorities in treating potholes and other road defects, the Department worked with the Association of Directors, for Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) to publish Potholes: a repair guide.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much his Department has spent on the development of local cycle lane networks in the last five years.

At the time of the February 2020 report to Parliament on the delivery of the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS), published at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/936926/cycling-and-walking-investment-strategy-report-to-parliament-document.pdf, a total of around £2.4 billion of investment in cycling and walking was projected over the five years from 2016/17 to 2020/21. Over half of this funding has gone into providing better infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians. A further £250 million of active travel funding was provided in 2020/21 at the start of the pandemic. The details of how the funding was allocated over the years 2019/20 and 2020/21 will be set out in the next CWIS report to Parliament in due course.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to support the transition to electric vehicles with sufficient supply of electricity.

To prepare for this the Government is working with Ofgem, the independent regulator, and the energy industry to plan for electric vehicle uptake and ensure the energy system can meet future demand in an efficient and sustainable way. The capacity market is our principal tool for ensuring security of supply. It has successfully brought forward a diverse range of new capacity, such as renewables, storage and gas plants, to replace older capacity as it retires off the system. We are confident it will enable us to meet energy demand, including that arising from greater uptake of EVs, in the future. The UK electricity market is already set up to bring forward investment in generation to meet demand. For example, the Contracts for Difference scheme supports significant investment in low carbon generation.

EVs also offer new opportunities for consumers to be part of a smarter and more flexible energy system. Smart charging can help reduce constraints on the network by shifting charging to off-peak periods. In 2019 the Government consulted on mandating that all private charge points sold or installed in the UK must have smart functionality and meet device level requirements. We intend to lay the relevant legislation later this year.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to help ensure that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency respond to enquiries in a timely manner.

Throughout the pandemic the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s contact centre has actively managed its operation and flexed the services for customers in line with the available resources. This has included procuring the use of an additional building to increase the number of staff able to take calls within the social distancing guidelines. To help respond to more enquiries, remote working has been increased with staff handling email, webchat, social media and more recently, telephone customer contacts.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent steps have been taken to tackle pavement parking.

The Department carried out a public consultation on this which closed on 22 November 2020. We have been carefully considering the 15,000 responses which have been received and will publish the consultation response in the autumn.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to tackle neighbourhood (a) speeding and (b) traffic issues.

The Government believes that any form of dangerous or inconsiderate driving behaviour is a serious road safety issue. All available research shows a link between excessive speed and the risk of collisions.

We expect all drivers to observe the speed limit, and enforcement is a matter for the police. Policing of our roads, and how available resources are deployed, is the responsibility of individual chief officers, taking into account the specific local issues.

Last July, the Department for Transport launched a Call for Evidence as part of a wider Roads Policing Review: a thorough examination of roads policing in England and Wales and its relevance to road safety. Responses to the Call for Evidence have been analysed and the Government response is currently being prepared for publication this summer. The response will address the key points raised by respondents, including feedback on speed enforcement.

Tackling neighbourhood traffic issues is the responsibility of local councils, and the Department for Transport publishes guidance to help them. Local Transport Notes summarise the latest and most important ideas about traffic management issues and can be viewed at www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-transport-notes.

Councils, as traffic authorities, have a statutory duty under the Traffic Management Act 2004 to manage their networks with the aim of ‘securing the expeditious movement of traffic’. They are free to make their own decisions about the streets under their care and are responsible for ensuring that their actions are within the law. Councils are accountable to their electorate for their decisions and their performance and councillors are responsible for ensuring that local decisions about street infrastructure take account of the needs and opinions of local people.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what long term investment he is making in community transport infrastructure to support the mobility of elderly and disabled people across the West Midlands.

The Government understands that community transport operators provide vital services particularly for older and disabled people, linking them with their communities, helping take them to shops, work, school, and medical appointments.

Bus Service Operator Grant (BSOG) is paid annually to operators of community transport services (as well as eligible bus services), to recover fuel costs. Community Transport operators receive approximately £2.3 million BSOG funding per year to support these vital services.

Since January 2014, around £43 million of BSOG is also paid annually to local authorities to support socially necessary bus services that are not commercially viable. In 2020 – 2021, Transport for West Midlands received £ 1,792,259 and Coventry City Council received £58,686 of BSOG funding.

We also continue to make investment in step-free access to railway stations through our Access for All programme across the country, with £350 million provided for this between 2019 and 2024. In the West Midlands, this includes providing an accessible route at Smethwick Rolfe Street station and tactile safety strips on platforms at Wolverhampton.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what funding his Department has made available from the public purse to support cycle (a) hire and (b) repair programmes in the West Midlands.

On 7 February 2020, the Department published a detailed breakdown of annual investment in cycling and walking from 2016/17 to 2018/19, which includes information on how much funding has been provided to local and combined authorities in the West Midlands over that period. Copies of the report and other associated information are available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/investment-schedule-in-cycling-and-walking-interventions.

Under the Active Travel Fund, the Department made available around £17 million to Transport for the West Midlands (TfWM) in 2020/21 for schemes to boost cycling and walking. It is up to TfWM to determine in discussion with its seven constituent authorities where this funding is spent. In the current financial year the Department will be providing both revenue funding and capital funding to local authorities for active travel schemes. TfWM is due to receive £1.9 million of revenue funding to support local capacity building and behaviour change initiatives such as cycle hire and repair schemes.

The Department will make a further announcement in due course about TfWM’s capital funding allocation for 2021/22.

In 2020/21 the Department also made available over £20 million nationally for the Fix Your Bike voucher scheme and for pop-up “Dr Bike” maintenance stations.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans the Government has to enhance the connectivity of the Wolverhampton South West constituency to the rest of the rail network.

I understand that my Hon. Friend has submitted a bid to round three of the Restoring Your Railway Ideas Fund to reopen a station in the Tettenhall area. Outcomes will be announced this summer.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the Government has provided financial assistance to help support taxi and private hire vehicle drivers who have lost earnings during the covid-19 outbreak with (a) overhead, (b) maintenance and (c) licensing costs.

The Government has announced several measures available to UK businesses, including the taxi and private hire sector, to support them through this challenging time. The majority of taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers are self-employed and can therefore apply for grants through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). Over the first three rounds of the scheme, a total of up to £21,570 has been made available. HMRC will announce details of the fourth grant on 3 March 2021.

Owners, operators and drivers of taxis and PHVs may also be eligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) or the coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS).

In addition, some local authorities are using discretionary grants to support local businesses, including taxi and PHV businesses. Owners, operators and drivers of taxis and PHVs should contact the relevant local authority regarding these schemes.

The Government has launched a ‘support finder’ tool (https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder) to help businesses and self-employed workers quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment has been made of the potential merits of providing compensation to learner drivers whose theory test certificate has expired before the completion of their driving course due to the covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

There are no plans to make compensation available to those whose theory test certificates have expired. The cost of paying any compensation would fall to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and subsequently to other feepayers were the DVSA to put in place arrangements to pay it. This would be unfair to the other fee payers who would not benefit from the arrangement.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to (a) improve road safety for pedestrians and (b) tackle pavement parking.

The Department recently consulted on proposed changes to The Highway Code which include clarifying existing rules on pedestrian priority on pavements, and providing more clarity on the need for drivers and riders to give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross the road. The consultation closed on 27 October with over 20,000 responses received and we are currently undertaking a full analysis of all replies.

The Department also carried out a public consultation on possible solutions to the complex pavement parking problem, which closed on the 22 November with over 15,000 responses received. The Department is now carefully analysing the responses and the results will inform future policy decisions.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much funding Wolverhampton has been allocated for active travel options; and what projects the funds are being spent on.

Under the Active Travel Fund, the Department has made available around £17 million to Transport for the West Midlands (TfWM) this financial year for schemes to boost cycling and walking.

It is up to TfWM to determine in discussion with its seven constituent authorities where this funding is spent. The Spending Review last month confirmed that a further £257 million would be made available for cycling and walking schemes in England next financial year. The Department will make a further announcement in due course about how that funding will be split between different schemes and different regions of the country.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will take steps to increase the (a) line speed and (b) services on the Birmingham-Black County-Shrewsbury route.

The Department is working with local stakeholders such as Midlands Connect to consider the suitability of options to reduce rail journey times on the section of line between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury.

Since the pandemic began West Midlands Trains has been operating one train per hour between Birmingham and Shrewsbury, with extra services at peak times, alongside the hourly Transport for Wales service. My officials are working with West Midlands Trains, Network Rail and the West Midlands Rail Executive to assess options for the best future service pattern to balance frequency, capacity and reliability for the route given the uncertainty in passenger demand caused by the pandemic.

In addition, Avanti West Coast provides a direct peak time return service from Shrewsbury and Telford to London via Birmingham.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the merits of Network Rail's proposal in the Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy to electrify the Birmingham-Black Country-Shrewsbury route.

The Department will consider the recommendations of TDNS carefully and will develop individual electrification schemes where appropriate, ensuring that they are deliverable and provide value for money for taxpayers.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has for investment in the Birmingham-Black Country-Shrewsbury Line.

Midlands Connect are developing proposals to improve journey times between Birmingham and Shrewsbury. We expect to receive a business case in due course.

Proposals are also being developed to improve the service using existing infrastructure, including adding an additional London to Shrewsbury via Birmingham service on a Sunday morning from May 21 and an extra Shrewsbury to London via Birmingham return service on Weekdays and Saturdays from December 2022. These proposals are subject to an assessment of COVID impacts.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans his Department has to help ensure that people in Wolverhampton South West constituency can access safe cycling and walking travel options.

The Government is investing £2 billion in cycling and walking schemes this parliament, supported by a new long-term vision to deliver better streets for cycling published in July.

£3,850,997 million was allocated to the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority area in June from tranche 1 of the Active Travel Fund. Tranche 2 allocations will be announced shortly. Decisions on allocating the remaining funding this parliament will be confirmed in due course.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what safeguards are in place to ensure that e-scooters used on roads and highways have been legally approved.

The Department is running trials of rental e-scooters to assess their impacts when used on the road and cycle lanes. All e-scooters used in the trials must have approval from the Department – all other e-scooters remain illegal. We have set high standards, which includes having suitable lighting and braking, and passing stability tests designed to replicate use on uneven road surfaces.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) guidance on social distancing due to the covid-19 outbreak is being enforced on public transport and (b) reports of breaches from members of the public are taken seriously and investigated.

The Department’s Safer Transport guidance and communications strongly advise passengers to maintain their distance where possible. Social Distancing is not required by law, however on 13 October 2020, Ministers from the Department for Transport met with transport sector representatives from all modes, and discussed the need for a renewed focus on enforcement and compliance with Coronavirus regulations and guidance.

According to British Transport Police (BTP) and Transport for London (TfL) data, over 165,000 interventions were made by officers against passengers refusing to comply with facial coverings regulations in the period up to 8 October. 7,731 passengers were prevented from boarding a service and 5,891 were directed to leave a service. BTP, TfL and police forces across the country issued 608 fixed penalty notices in the same period.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what guidance his Department has published on using motorway lanes safely.

Highway code rules for Motorways (253 to 273) include rules for signals, joining the motorway, driving on the motorway, lane discipline, overtaking, stopping and leaving the motorway. The relevant advice on using motorway lanes safely is covered in the Highway code rules 264 to 266.

Highways England provides information and helpful guidance on using motorways safely on its website page ‘Safer Driving On Motorways’ which can be found at: https://highwaysengland.co.uk/road-safety/

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to (a) increase the number of electric vehicles on the UK's roads and (b) ensure the adequate supply of electricity for those vehicles.

The Government is investing?around?£2.5bn?,?with grants available for ultra-low emission vehicles, as well?as funding?to support charge point infrastructure at homes,?workplaces,?on residential streets?and across the wider roads network. The Government consulted on bringing forward an end to the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans, from 2040 to 2035, or earlier if a faster transition appears feasible. The responses are helping to inform our thinking on what further appropriate measures to achieve a faster transition will need to be. The Transport Secretary has also announced that the Government will consult on measures to improve the consumer experience of using the public charging network, so that charging an electric vehicle is as straightforward as refuelling a conventional vehicle today.

The Government and Ofgem are considering the implications of electric vehicle policy for the energy system. We are engaging with stakeholders, including network companies, to ensure that increasing demand can be accommodated whilst minimising the impact on businesses, workers and consumers across the UK, building on the significant demand and supply-side measures in place. The impacts presented in the National Grid’s latest Future Energy Scenario are readily manageable by the electricity system. The capacity market is our principal tool for ensuring we have sufficient generation capacity to meet demand on an annual basis. It should be possible to manage additional demand arising from greater uptake of EVs through adjustments to the amount of capacity secured in the four-year period ahead Capacity Market auctions. The electricity market is already set up to promote investment in generation capacity to meet demand; for example, the Contracts for Difference scheme facilitates significant investment in low-carbon generation. This complements numerous measures to ensure a smarter, more flexible energy system, increasing the efficiency of the electricity system to prepare for electric vehicles.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that people using public transport wear appropriate face coverings during the covid-19 outbreak.

Since the introduction of mandatory face coverings on public transport and in transport hubs in England from 15 June, the Department for Transport has taken a series of steps to ensure people comply with the legislation and wear appropriate face coverings.

To help introduce this policy, we focused on informing the public of the new requirements. The Department ran a successful communications campaign through its social media channels and produced a range of materials, including posters, videos and guidance, to support operators in conveying the new rules and exemptions from the policy to passengers.

With regards to enforcement, the regulations made under the Public Health Act 1984 include new powers for operators to deny access to a service, or direct someone to leave a service, who is not wearing a face covering without a valid exemption. There are also powers for the police, British Transport Police and Transport for London authorised personnel to issue a fixed penalty notice of £100. As the Prime Minister announced on 13 August 2020, we are bringing forward stronger enforcement measures which mean fines for repeat offenders double at each offence, up to a maximum value of £3,200.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that public transport is accessible to people with disabilities during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government remains as committed to delivering inclusive transport for all passengers as they were before the COVID-19 pandemic. Our expectation is that transport operators should continue to assist disabled passengers who need assistance. I made this clear in my open letter to the rail industry on 8 April 2020 (www.gov.uk/government/speeches/letter-from-the-rail-minister-to-the-rail-delivery-group-on-maintaining-accessibility-during-the-covid-19-outbreak).

We have also made clear to local authorities that the Public Sector Equality Duty still applies and that they must continue to consider the needs of disabled people. An accessible public realm is vital to enabling disabled people to access public transport. On 9 May the Department published statutory guidance to local authorities on reallocating road space which makes clear that authorities must consider the needs of disabled people and those with other protected characteristics when making changes to their transport networks (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reallocating-road-space-in-response-to-covid-19-statutory-guidance-for-local-authorities/traffic-management-act-2004-network-management-in-response-to-covid-19). Public Sector Equality Duty requirements apply to temporary measures as they do to permanent ones.

I am meeting regularly with key disability stakeholders, including Disability Rights UK, Scope, Guide Dogs and Transport for All, to hear directly from them about the experiences of disabled people using transport. This engagement helps the Department take action quickly if we find that passengers are not receiving the assistance to which they are entitled. Many stakeholder groups have also developed their own “model guidance”, which we have shared with Train Operating Companies.

The Government has launched an active communications campaign which advises people about exemptions to the face coverings rules for disability and health reasons. The publication reminds people that not all disability is visible and includes a non-compulsory exemption card should people want to use it.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to help drivers involved in non-fault accidents penalised by insurance companies.

The setting and the adjustment of premiums following a claim are commercial decisions for individual insurers based on their underwriting experience and the Government does not generally intervene or seek to control the market.

The motor insurance market is very competitive and we encourage policyholders to shop around to find the best deal. Many insurers will offer considerable discounts to attract new customers and it is possible that a driver might find a better offer if he or she fully explains the circumstances of a no fault claim.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what progress he has made on the roll-out of e-scooter trials in the West Midlands.

The Department is accelerating trials of rental e-scooters that will assess their safety and the impacts they have on the road. We will soon lay regulations to enable trials. We are working with local authorities to develop their delivery plans for trials, including with authorities in the West Midlands.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the proposals on (a) e-scooters and (b) other transport modes in his policy paper Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy on pedestrian safety.

We have recently published a call for evidence as part of the Future of Transport Regulatory Review. The call for evidence does not make specific proposals but seeks to gather evidence about the impacts e-scooters and other types of transport may have.

We have not yet made an assessment on pedestrian safety as a result of e-scooters and similar new vehicles. This will be done as we bring forward proposals and will be informed by the current call for evidence and, in due course, a number of real world trials.

Safety will always be our top priority when considering whether new vehicle types may be used on the road in this country.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
3rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to reduce unemployment rates across the West Midlands.

Throughout the pandemic, the UK Government has provided over £400 billion to support the economy, including funding for our Plan for Jobs. The Kickstart Scheme has enabled young people to move into employment, with many of these securing permanent jobs. Alongside this, the Restart Scheme offers a fresh start to those who have been unemployed for over 9 months. The scheme breaks down employment barriers that could potentially prevent jobseekers from finding work. In addition, to support those who may need extra help, we are delivering the following employability programmes; Job Entry Targeted Support, Intensive Personalised Employment Support and Work & Health Programme.

Way to Work is a campaign to help half a million job ready claimants into work by the end of June 2022. We are building on the success of Kickstart to work closely with employers and aim to move claimants into work quicker; through recruitment days, job fairs and work trials. We will be stepping up our expectations of claimants and taking a robust approach to ensure agreements made through the Claimant Commitments are adhered to.

In addition, our jobcentre teams are helping employers find the right people for their vacancies, particularly through the Sector-based Work Academy Programme (SWAP), Skills Bootcamps, Apprenticeships and Traineeships. For example, the local team are working with the West Midlands Mayoral Authority to help equip people with the skills needed to fill vacancies for the upcoming Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Across the West Midlands, Jobcentres work collaboratively with the National Career Service (NCS) and Further Education Colleges to provide careers information, advice, and guidance so that jobseekers can make informed decisions on learning, training, and work. Collaborating with partners such as the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the seven West Midlands Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and local Chambers of Commerce, to progress our strategic aims to increase diversity in the workplace, promote Disability Confident to reduce the disability gap in the workplace and increase skills provision in those sectors that are experiencing labour shortages.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to increase the number of employment and training opportunities available to (a) young people and (b) disabled people.

Through Jobcentre Plus, DWP is helping young people to find the right support, education or training that will ultimately lead to sustained employment opportunities and career progression. The Plan for Jobs provides a comprehensive package of support for young people, including the Youth Offer and Kickstart.

The Kickstart scheme is dedicated to helping 16 to 24-year olds at risk of long-term unemployment develop their skills and experience through fully funded six-month jobs.

We are extending the DWP Youth Offer to 2025 and have expanded eligibility to include 16 and 17-year olds, in addition to 18 to 24-year olds, who are claiming Universal Credit and in the Intensive Work Search group. As part of this, Youth Hubs offer a range of dedicated local services, including mental health support, alongside skills, training, and employment provision. Youth Employability Coaches work closely alongside Disability Employment Advisors who specialise in helping claimants who have a disability or health condition to move into the labour market.

We have increased the number of work coaches providing individually tailored support which will help the newly unemployed, enable us to continue supporting those with complex needs, and to work with partners to ensure they get the help they need.

A range of DWP initiatives are supporting disabled people and people with health conditions to live independent lives and start, stay and succeed in employment.

The UK Government will provide £1.3bn over the Spending Review 2021 period to provide support for disabled people and people with health conditions. We will extend the Work and Health Programme, expand the Intensive Personalised Employment Support programme, and expand employment support in NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapy services across England.

Through the Disability Confident scheme, DWP is engaging with employers and helping to promote the skills, talents and abilities of people with disabilities and health conditions. Through the scheme, DWP is providing advice and support to help employers feel more confident about employing disabled people, by signposting them to appropriate advice guidance and support.

Core skills are fundamental in securing, retaining and progressing in work. This Government has invested in apprenticeships, traineeships, vocational and basic skills training, alongside careers advice and Sector-based Work Academy Programmes (SWAPs). This all forms part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee. DWP actively seeks to provide claimants with upskilling opportunities, and our delivery approach is aligned to wider Government support for priority areas as part of the economic recovery – ensuring those looking for work, including young people and disabled people, are well positioned to gain employment in these sectors.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to support (a) young carers and (b) carers who are retired and care for a spouse or close relative who is also retired.

DWP provides support for adult carers, including both younger and pensioner carers, through a range of social security benefits depending on their individual circumstances. Some benefits, including Universal Credit and Pension Credit, are designed to provide extra support for carers. Others living in the same household as the carer, including potentially the disabled person being cared for, may be receiving benefits in their own right, so would also be able to contribute to overall household finances.

The Government is committed to making sure young carers are not left behind and to do so in a way that supports their own health and wellbeing. Support for carers is not just restricted to that from Central Government though. Under the Children’s and Families Act 2014, young carers are entitled to a young carers assessment from their Local Authority.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to promote awareness of (a) winter fuel payments and (b) associated welfare provision.

Winter fuel payments are supporting over 11 million pensioners with their energy bills. We are also continuing to encourage those eligible for Pension Credit to make a claim. Pension Credit provides invaluable financial support for vulnerable pensioners. Around 1.4 million eligible pensioners across Great Britain receive some £5bn in Pension Credit, which tops up their retirement income and is a passport to other financial help such as support with housing costs, council tax, heating bills and a free TV licence for those over 75.

Cold Weather Payments are also available and help vulnerable people in receipt of certain income-related benefits to meet additional heating costs, during periods of unseasonably cold weather between 1 November and 31 March. This includes older people in receipt of Pension Credit.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is responsible for the warm home discount scheme and the majority of those in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit receive their rebate automatically without needing to claim.

Details of all three schemes can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment

https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment

https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme

The Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Act 2021 introduced a double lock and allowed the Government to increase pensions by the higher of inflation or 2.5%. From April 2022 state pensions will be increased by 3.1% and this represents an additional £4bn spend on pensioner benefits in 2022/23.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what long-term steps the Government is taking to help young people on universal credit who are not working into work.

We have announced our Plan for Jobs expansion which will see another £500 million invested in supporting people into jobs, with young people at the heart of this through Kickstart and our DWP Youth Offer.

The Kickstart scheme is dedicated to helping 16-24-year olds at risk of long-term unemployment develop their skills and experience through 6-month jobs. Around 112,000 Kickstart jobs have been started and the scheme will continue until March 2022, offering jobs and experience to many thousands more young people.

We are extending the DWP Youth Offer to 2025 and have expanded eligibility to include 16 and 17-year olds, in addition to 18 to 24-year olds, who are claiming Universal Credit and searching for work. The Youth Offer currently provides intensive work search support through the Youth Employment Programme, specialised Youth Employment Coaches for young people with additional barriers to work, and over 150 Youth Hubs across England, Scotland and Wales.

DWP is working in collaboration with the Department for Education, National Careers Service, devolved administrations, and other partners to deliver a comprehensive package of support for young people.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to help reduce the number of people not in (a) employment, or (b) training across (i) the constituency of Wolverhampton South West, (ii) the West Midlands and (iii) the UK.

Through our Plan for Jobs, we are targeting tailored support schemes of people of all ages to help them prepare for, get into and progress in work. These include: Kickstart, delivering tens of thousands of six-month work placements for Universal Credit claimants aged 16-24 at risk of unemployment; we have also recruited an additional 13,500 Work Coaches to provide more intensive support to find a job; and introduced Restart which provides 12 months’ intensive employment support to Universal Credit claimants who are unemployed for a year. Our Plan for Jobs interventions will support more than two million people.

DWP offers significant support to unemployed people across Great Britain to access employment opportunities through our network of Jobcentres. Our Work Coaches provide support on finding a job, help with retraining or skills advice, CV, job applications and access to new vacancies we record every day, in addition to signposting to the Find a Job service.

In Wolverhampton, the Youth Hub, based at ‘The Way’, opened on 5th October 2021. DWP Work coaches, in collaboration with City of Wolverhampton Council and a range of partners such as Black Country Impact and Princes Trust, provide bespoke support to customers to move closer to work or opportunities. Across The Black Country district, we regularly host and support Jobs fairs that aim to provide the greatest opportunity for our claimants to find work.

The DWP Support for Schools programme has a relationship with a number schools across the Wolverhampton borough. The team provides advice on routes into traineeships and apprenticeships, promoting the parity of vocational and academic pathways into work. They also provide advice on local labour market including employability and soft skills that employer’s value, for example team working and commitment.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that people over the age of 50 can access personalised (a) financial and (b) careers advice.

In 2019, the government launched an online Mid-life MOT to encourage individuals to optimise re-skilling prospects and improve health and longer-term financial resilience. The Mid-life MOT acts as a vital prompt to engage more people in planning more actively for later life – both for work and retirement. It provides individuals in their 40s, 50s and 60s with signposting to information and guidance on wealth, work and wellbeing, providing a holistic assessment to ensure that individuals can plan for the later life that they want. We continue to work with organisations, and with employers, on how they can offer the Mid-life MOT.

The government also ensures that all savers have access to free, impartial financial guidance as they approach retirement. Pension Wise, part of the Money and Pension Service (MaPS), is available from age 50 and helps consumers understand their options and make informed decisions when accessing their pension savings. MoneyHelper Pensions, also provided by MaPS, provides guidance on all areas of UK pensions to the public regardless of age.

DWP published its consultation on draft regulations implementing a stronger nudge to pensions guidance in July 2021. These regulations propose requiring occupational pension schemes to ensure that members who wish to access their pension have either received, or opted out of receiving, pensions guidance.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that mental health is included in the decision-making processes on provision of social security.

The impact of a claimant's mental health is taken fully into consideration when deciding on their entitlement to health and disability benefits. Decision makers receive mental health awareness training, have access to guidance and to the support of healthcare professionals when considering entitlement to benefit. The Green Paper on health and disability benefits, which was published on 20 July, explores how the welfare system can better meet the needs of disabled people, including those with mental health conditions, now and in the future, to build a system that enables people not only to receive the benefits to which they are entitled but to live independently, and move into work where possible.

28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent estimate her Department has made of the number of young people resident in the Wolverhampton South West constituency who are informal carers; and what steps her Department is taking to ensure that those young people receive adequate welfare support.

The Government recognises and appreciates the vital contribution made by informal carers, including younger carers, who provide invaluable support for relatives, partners, friends and neighbours who are ill, frail or disabled.

Carers aged 16 and over can apply for Carer’s Allowance if they meet the qualifying conditions, such as providing 35 hours of care or more a week, and not being in full-time education. As of November 2020, there were 75 carers aged 16 to 25 in the Wolverhampton South West constituency that were receiving Carer’s Allowance. There will undoubtedly be other young carers in the constituency who are not receiving benefits, but the department does not hold any information on them.

As well as Carer’s Allowance, carers have access to the full range of social security benefits according to their circumstances.

The Government is also committed to making sure young carers are not left behind and to do so in a way that supports their own health and wellbeing. Under the Children’s and Families Act 2014, young carers are entitled to a young carers assessment. And, the Government’s focus on supporting carers during the pandemic has included: providing over £11 million to the “See, Hear, Respond” programme to support young carers; guidance tailored to carers; actions to help carers self-identify; and ongoing to work to help carers access the support they need.

24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support her Department provides people who have become carers during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department has provided significant additional support for carers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The role that unpaid carers play has perhaps been more important than ever over the last year or so. That is why we have focussed on ensuring carers do not inadvertently stop receiving Carer’s Allowance because of changes to patterns of care. This includes allowing emotional support to count towards the 35 hours of care being provided by the carer as well as relaxing the rules around breaks in care. These changes aim to support carers whose role, in many cases, became harder due to the need to self-isolate or shield the person they care for. These provisions will be in place until the end of August 2021 providing unpaid carers receiving Carer’s Allowance with some extra flexibility in the way they provide care.

As well as Carer’s Allowance, carers have access to the full range of social security benefits. For example, carers on Universal Credit can receive around an additional £1,950 a year through the Carer Element. And due to the temporary Covid-19 uplift, around 300,000 carer households receiving Universal Credit benefitted from an additional £1,040 during the 20/21 financial year. So this Government has chosen to focus extra support on those carers who need it most.

And very importantly the Department worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England to help identify unpaid carers who were eligible for a Covid vaccine as part of Priority Group 6. As a result, more than half a million carers receiving benefit received a letter inviting them to book an appointment for a vaccine.

19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many youth employability coaches will be based in the City of Wolverhampton.

We do not publish YEC numbers by area, but I can confirm that Wolverhampton does have Youth Employability Coach representation within its Jobcentres.

Youth Employability Coaches are providing flexible support to young people with significant complex needs and barriers to help them move into employment and offering six weeks of in-work support when they start work. This support is one element of the DWP Youth Offer, alongside the Youth Employment Programme and Youth Hubs designed to support young people enter the labour market.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will ensure that there are sufficient local employment and training opportunities for people with severe learning disabilities once they have completed further education.

The increased number of work coaches recruited under our Plan for Jobs will enable us to continue supporting those with complex needs, and to work with partners to ensure they get the help they need. People in particular disadvantaged groups will continue to benefit from support via the increased Flexible Support Fund.

The Intensive Personalised Employment Support Programme (IPES) started on 2 December 2019. It provides highly personalised packages of employment support for disabled people who want to work but have complex needs or barriers and require specialist support to achieve sustained employment.

25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support is in place to ensure that older workers have access to the skills and training required to participate effectively in the future workforce.

The Department is committed to supporting over 50s jobseekers, and a range of special support is available for this group. As part of the 50 PLUS: Choices agenda we have created a network of 50 PLUS Champions (formerly Older Claimants Champions) throughout all of the 37 Jobcentre Plus districts, who work collaboratively with Work Coaches to raise the profile of over 50s claimants, highlighting the benefits of employing them and sharing best practice.

DWP is also piloting 50+ mentoring circles in England to address any confidence barriers experienced by over 50s claimants and to support them in moving into new jobs, particularly where their sectors have been adversely affected by COVID-19.

More broadly, the department is supporting people of all ages back in to work through the Plan for Jobs. This provides new funding to ensure more people of all age groups get tailored Jobcentre Plus support to find work, including through building new skills. This includes £895m for 13,500 additional Work Coaches; a £150m increase in the Flexible Support Fund to help those facing redundancy; and £10m for the Job Finding Support Service which will provide tailored one-to-one job finding support online to the recently unemployed.

The Government also aims to increase Sector-based Work Academy programme placements, which provide unemployed participants of all ages with training, work experience and a guaranteed interview for a real job. We are also investing £238m into Job Entry: Targeted Support (JETS) to offer enhanced support to those who have been made unemployed for three months.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to increase the uptake of carer's allowance.

1 million carers were entitled to Carer’s Allowance in 2010/11. By 2025/26 we forecast that this will have increased to just over 1.5 million.

Information on Carer’s Allowance is widely available, including online through Gov.uk. Organisations supporting carers, and other stakeholders and partners, also make information available on carers benefits, including Carer’s Allowance.

Carer’s Allowance can be applied for online and since this option was made available in October 2013 over 1.5 million people have applied that way. Since April 2020, over 90% of Carer’s Allowance applications have been made online and over 90% of those customers have said they are happy with the online service.

16th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment has been made of the access of carers to employment opportunities; what potential barriers to working have been identified; and what steps she plans to take to tackle those barriers.

Many carers experience considerable challenges balancing work with caring responsibilities. This can have a big impact on their careers and limit their participation in the workplace. The impact falls disproportionately on women, who make up 60 per cent of carers.

Regulations for flexible working arrangements may be particularly beneficial for carers, the Government has made a clear commitment to encourage flexible working, and will be consulting on making it the default position. The Government has also consulted on proposals to introduce a new employment right to one week’s additional leave for unpaid carers, to support those with caring responsibilities balance employment. The consultation received a significant number of replies, and the Government will issue its response in due course on the way forward.

Carers are being particularly impacted by COVID-19 and the government is committed to promoting the benefits of retaining them in the workforce, for both carer and employer. To support carers to remain in work during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department have been working with employer organisations to encourage employers, including small and medium sized enterprises, to retain employees who are carers, hosting a series of webinars delivered by the Business Champion for Older Workers and Employers for Carers. Carers can also access other resources, for example the Business in the Community (BITC) Supporting Carers toolkit, or COVID 19: Supporting Carers in the work place, published in March 2020.

For those who become unemployed, The Government’s Plan for Jobs provides new funding to ensure more people, including those aged over 50, get tailored Jobcentre Plus support to help them find work and to build the skills they need to get into work. As part of the Jobcentre Plus offer for over 50s, we are also providing dedicated support through 50 PLUS Champions, and mentoring circles to ensure they fully benefit from the Plan for Jobs package and existing Jobcentre Plus support.

Jobcentre Plus is geared-up to offer advice to those claiming welfare benefits. They also offer on a voluntary basis, to all carers working less than 16 hours per week and irrespective of benefit status (subject to any existing conditionality): adviser support; access to the Flexible Support Fund; and payment for replacement care, childcare, travel and course costs to allow the carer to undertake approved activity or interviews with Jobcentre Plus, providers or employers.

26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps are being taken to support bereaved partners who were not married or in a civil partnership.

We intend to take forward a Remedial Order to remove the incompatibilities from the legislation governing Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Support Payment by extending these benefits to cohabitees with children. The Order will be laid before the House in due course.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress she has made on delivering the Kickstart scheme for young people in the Wolverhampton South West constituency.

As of 19/01/2021 over 100,000 jobs have been approved for the Kickstart Scheme. We are not yet able to break starts data down to constituency level.

Our local Job Centre networks are working with employers and Gateways in all areas, including Wolverhampton South West, to encourage more Kickstart jobs to be created and offering support to help them do so.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many job work coaches her Department is planning to deploy in in Wolverhampton.

The Department currently has 131 Work Coaches allocated to two Wolverhampton Jobcentres, with a 55 further new entrants due to be deployed by early 2021.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking with Birmingham 2022 and the West Midlands Combined Authority to ensure that the Commonwealth Games generates local opportunities for employment and training.

DWP and WMCA are working closely with Birmingham City Council and the Organising Committee for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to secure new opportunities for residents. WMCA have recently launched a Commonwealth Games Jobs and Skills Academy to link local residents to the thousands of training, volunteering and employment opportunities expected to be generated through the Games.

The Jobs and Skills Academy will be supported by a joint team of DWP and WMCA staff who will work closely with Games contractors, local authorities, local Jobcentres and the region’s college and provide network to match local people in to the opportunities generated.

To date, we have already supported a number of local residents into construction training and jobs linked to the Games and WMCA has invested over £1m in higher level skills training to help local businesses prepare for Games related opportunities.

DWP are supporting through the secondment of staff to support the Academy and in considering the opportunities our Flexible Support Fund may offer to engage with communities to break down barriers to accessing these opportunities

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to encourage eligible people to apply for pension credit.

While over 1.5 million pensioners currently receive Pension Credit, the Government wants to make sure that all pensioners eligible can claim the Pension Credit to which they are rightly entitled.

In February we launched a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of Pension Credit and help dispel some of the misconceptions that people might have about Pension Credit eligibility. We are also continuing to work with our stakeholders to help spread the messages from the campaign.

Our online Pension Credit toolkit (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pension-credit-toolkit) has been updated with the recent awareness campaign materials to supplement the resources it already contains for those working with pensioners, such as guides and information designed to help older people understand how they could get Pension Credit.

In May this year we launched an online claim service for Pension Credit to supplement the existing telephone and postal claim services (https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit). The online service enables pensioners to apply for Pension Credit at a time that best suits them.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to help ensure equity of employment opportunity in Wolverhampton South West constituency.

DWP offers significant support to unemployed people across Great Britain to access employment opportunities through our network of Jobcentres. Our work coaches provide support on finding a job, help with retraining or skills advice, CV, job applications and access to the new vacancies we record every day, as well as signposting to our new Jobhelp website.

The Department is working closely with other government departments, external organisations and local partners to support people into work. The Kickstart scheme was recently announced to help young people aged 16-24 find 6-month work places in Wolverhampton. We have also partnered with employers in the area to deliver Mentoring Circles and Sector-based Work Academy Programmes.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of increasing the level of the cap on the carer's allowance income threshold to help support greater participation in the workforce.

Carer’s Allowance (CA) does not have a general income test. Rather it has a weekly earnings limit which acts as the test as to whether the carer is in gainful employment or not (this is a basic qualifying condition for CA).

Whilst the Government does not link the earnings limit to any other particular factor, it does keep it under regular review and increases it when it is warranted and affordable. The increase in the CA earnings limit from £123 to £128 a week in April 2020 was in line with average earnings growth.

DWP is undertaking research into carers employment and potential barriers to working. We will look at any findings from the research and other evidence with an open mind when the level of the earnings limit is next considered.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that older workers are able to contribute to the economic recovery from the covid-19 outbreak.

DWP has been working with employer organisations – including CIPD, British Chambers of Commerce, ACAS, Local Enterprise Partnerships and the Government Business Champion for Older Workers – to reach small and medium enterprises by hosting webinars to spread important messages about the need to support their older workers in order to retain them in the workforce and maintain their well-being and productivity.

Government has also provided £1.2bn to enhance work search support service in Great Britain, which includes doubling the number of frontline Work Coaches in Jobcentre Plus by the end of the financial year, increasing the flexible support fund, extending the rapid response service, increasing the number of Sector Based Work Academies, and expanding the work and health programme.

Government recognises the importance of planning effectively for the future and in encouraging productive workplace conversations. We therefore support the mid-life MOT and launched a webpage in 2019 which offers support to those considering a change in career in its stock-take across the key areas of work, health and finances.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of universal credit applicants who (a) do not have access to a computer and (b) are self-isolating due to the covid-19 outbreak.

Our Universal Credit Claimant Survey from June 2018 found that 96 per cent of claimants have regular access to the internet. Of these, 9 in 10 claimants have access at home via a computer or through a mobile phone. This can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-full-service-claimant-survey

For those claimants who are unable to access or use our digital services, there is assistance available to make and maintain their claim using the Freephone Universal Credit helpline.

Running alongside the national Jobcentre offer from 1 April 2019 is the Citizens Advice Help to Claim which support claimants in making a Universal Credit claim. Help to Claim offers tailored, practical support to help people make their claim up to receiving their first full correct payment on time. It is widely available online, through a freephone number and face to face through local Citizens Advice services.

Information on the number of Universal Credit applicants who are self-isolating due to Covid-19 is not available.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to provide welfare support to people with carers having to shield themselves during the covid-19 outbreak; and if she will make a statement.

DWP has now introduced two important temporary measures to help unpaid carers through the current emergency:

  • unpaid carers will be able to continue to claim Carer’s Allowance if they have a temporary break in caring, because they or the person they care for gets coronavirus or if either have to isolate because of it. (Under normal rules there are restrictions on breaks in care, but these have been lifted.); and
  • providing “emotional support” (rather than just more traditional forms of care) to a disabled person will also now count towards the Carer’s Allowance threshold of 35 hours of care a week. This recognises that the nature of caring might have to change during the current emergency.

If there are particular circumstances that mean that someone who was providing care for a disabled person ceases to be paid Carer’s Allowance or the Universal Credit carer element, then, depending on their circumstances and the benefits they claim, the disabled person may be able to receive an additional amount of benefit, specifically designed to help with the costs of care.

20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has plans to provide financial support for burial costs to people in financial hardship with relatives who have died as a result of covid-19.

The Government provides support to bereaved families in a number of ways. The Funeral Expenses Payments scheme provides a significant contribution towards the cost of a simple, respectful funeral arranged by recipients of certain income based benefits or tax credits. The scheme pays necessary burial and cremation costs in full, as defined by legislation, plus up to £1000 for other expenses such as the cost of a coffin, church and funeral director fees, which was increased from £700 on 8 April. Scotland has a similar scheme, the Funeral Support Payment scheme. Support for funeral costs for all young people under 18 is provided by the Children’s Funeral Fund for England, with similar schemes in Scotland and Wales. Interest-free Social Fund Budgeting Loans and Universal Credit Budgeting Advances can also be used for funeral expenses. Further financial support is available through Bereavement Support Payments which help working age people whose spouse or civil partner dies.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to minimise the number of stillbirths in (a) the West Midlands and (b) England.

In the West Midlands, there has been progress towards full implementation of the Saving Babies Lives Care Bundle version 2 (SBLCBv2) to reduce perinatal mortality. This aims to support the national ambition to halve the rates of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths and intrapartum brain injuries by 2025. This ambition was extended to include reducing the rate of preterm births from 8% to 6% by 2025. Integrated care boards in the Midlands are being supported by the Midlands Perinatal Team to achieve full implementation by March 2023. In addition, a Midlands preterm birth strategy is in development with collaboration from clinical leads to reduce preterm births across the region.

In England, the Government's ambition is to halve the rate of stillbirths at 2010 levels by 2025, with a 20% reduction by 2020. The Office of National Statistics’ data published on 17 February 2022 shows that between 2010 and 2020, the stillbirth rate reduced from 5.1 per 1000 births to 3.8 per 1000 births, or a reduction of 25.2%. In the West Midlands Government Office Region, stillbirth rates reduced by 17.0%. We continue to work with all regions, including the West Midlands, to meet the national ambition.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to raise awareness of eating disorder services in the (a) West Midlands and (b) UK.

The four clinical commissioning groups in the West Midlands are promoting eating disorder services via campaigns and communication strategies tailored to the local populations.

The Department is also supporting Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Eating disorder services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are a devolved matter.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help increase the number of new doctors who choose to specialise as community GPs.

Health Education England’s (HEE) ‘Choose GP’ campaign promotes the benefits and opportunities of a career as a general practitioner (GP). It is aimed at foundation-year doctors considering specialty training options or a change in career path who wish to train as a GP. In addition, HEE continues to work with medical schools to enhance the profile of GPs. We have increased the number of GP training places with 4,000 trainees accepting a place in 2021/2022, an increase from 2,671 trainees in 2014.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to support people and families affected by Alzheimer's disease.

Following diagnosis, those with dementia should receive information on local services and access to relevant advice and support. Carers should be made aware of and offered the opportunity for respite and supported with their caring responsibilities. The Department’s guidance ‘After diagnosis of dementia: what to expect from health and care services’ is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/after-a-diagnosis-of-dementia-what-to-expect-from-health-and-care-services/after-diagnosis-of-dementia-what-to-expect-from-health-and-care-services

We are working with stakeholders and the health and care system to identify and implement actions to support people with dementia and their carers. We will be setting out our plans on dementia for England for future years in 2022. This new dementia strategy will include a focus on improving the experience of being diagnosed and living with dementia.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve primary care networks and deliver care closer to home.

As members of Primary Care Networks (PCNs), general practices work with community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and voluntary services in their local area to deliver integrated services. Sustainability and transformation partnerships and integrated care systems are responsible for putting in place high quality support for PCN development.

We are introducing new service requirements and income-protecting the Investment and Impact Fund, an incentive scheme focused on supporting PCNs. Additional financial support has also been given to PCNs for COVID-19 vaccinations, with extra funding for Clinical Directors and management leadership of vaccination sites. PCNs are entitled to significant funding for additional staff, in order to support delivery of better services for patients closer to home.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support is available for (a) young carers and (b) people who have become carers during the covid-19 outbreak.

Local authorities have a duty to assess the needs of young carers, under the Children and Families Act 2014, which has remained in place throughout the pandemic. Local authorities must ensure young carers are identified and referred to appropriate support if needed and that the young carer is not taking on excessive or inappropriate care and support responsibilities. Adult carers also have legal rights to an assessment of and support for their needs where eligible from their local authority under the Care Act 2014.

We have also provided funding to a number of charities to support carers, produced guidance for carers, provided access to personal protective equipment and priority access in phase one of the COVID-19 vaccination programme. In addition, we have invested nearly £5 billion towards education recovery, which includes £1 billion for schools to support young carer’s mental health and wellbeing alongside academic recovery. We will work with the sector, including unpaid carers, to develop our future plans to support carers and will publish further detail in a white paper for reform later this year.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance his Department has issued to (a) healthcare practitioners and (b) other relevant figures to support the transition from child to adult mental health support services.

While the Department has not issued such guidance, in January 2015, NHS England published a model specification for transitions from child and adolescent mental health services, to support better planning and delivery by local providers.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support elderly residents with the cost of domiciliary care.

From October 2023 the Government will be introducing a far more generous means testing regime which will allow more people to be eligible for some state support towards the cost of their domiciliary care. In addition, there will be a new £86,000 cap on the amount required to pay towards the cost of care.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to reduce waiting lists for child and adolescent mental health services.

We are investing an additional £79 million in 2021/22 to significantly expand children’s and young people’s mental health services. This will allow approximately 22,500 more children and young people to access community health services and 2,000 more to access eating disorder services as well as accelerating the coverage of mental health support teams in schools and colleges.

We remain committed to the aim of the NHS Long Term Plan to invest at least a further £2.3 billion a year into mental health by 2023/24. This will see an additional 345,000 children and young people a year accessing National Health Service-funded mental health support. In addition, NHS England and NHS Improvement have consulted on the potential to introduce a new waiting time standard for children and young people presenting to community-based mental health services, to receive care within four weeks from referral. This consultation closed on 1 September 2021 and the outcomes will inform a recommendation to Government in due course on whether and how to implement this new access standard.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that patients and communities are involved with the work and governance of Integrated Care Systems.

The proposed Health and Care Bill places a duty on integrated care boards to promote the involvement of patients and their carers and representatives in decisions related to their care. The integrated care partnership will also be required to involve residents and local Healthwatch organisations when preparing integrated care strategies. The Department will issue guidance in relation to the partnerships to reinforce the importance of representation and engagement.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help improve access to defibrillators in (a) schools and (b) the wider community.

Since May 2019 new and refurbished schools are required to have at least one automated external defibrillators (AED) as part of the Schools Rebuilding Programme and Free Schools Programme. Schools outside that criteria are encouraged to purchase an AED, as part of their first aid equipment. The Government has published guidance on how schools can buy, install and maintain an AED at a reduced cost through the NHS Supply Chain’s defibs4schools programme.

The NHS Long Term Plan sets out an ambition to ensure fast and effective action that will help save lives of people suffering a cardiac arrest. A national network of community first responders and defibrillators will help save up to 4,000 lives each year by 2028. This will be supported by educating the general public, including young people of school age, about how to recognise and respond to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the number of pharmacists who have become independent prescribers.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is the independent regulator of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacies in Great Britain. The GPhC’s register, which pharmacists must apply to for an annotation to be added to their register entry before practising as an independent prescriber, shows that as of June 2021 there are 9,252 independent pharmacist prescribers in England

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that integrated care systems are democratically accountable.

Integrated care boards (ICBs) will be democratically accountable for National Health Service spend and outcomes via NHS England to the Government and ultimately to Parliament.   Both ICBs and integrated care partnerships (ICPs) will work to create a culture of ‘mutual accountability’ between partner organisations in healthcare, public health and social care, working closely with local government.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to scale up domestic manufacturing of (a) medicines and (b) covid-19 vaccines.

In April 2021, the Government launched the £20 million Medicines and Diagnostics Manufacturing Transformation Fund to incentivise companies to invest the United Kingdom. In addition we are working with industry on building robust and resilient UK supply chains for the future. We have invested over £350 million to secure and increase our capabilities to manufacture vaccines in order to respond to COVID-19 and future pandemics.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what financial support is available to help run day centre provision and other activities for elderly people.

Under the Care Act 2014, decisions on how care is commissioned is devolved to local authorities, who are responsible for shaping their local markets to ensure that all people have a range of high-quality, person-centred care and support options available to them.

We are providing councils with access to over £1 billion of additional funding for social care in 2021-22. This will support local authorities to maintain care services, including day services, while keeping up with rising demand and recovering from the impact of COVID-19. We have provided over £2 billion for adult social care, in addition to over £6 billion which has been made available to local authorities to address pressures on their services. We have encouraged local authorities to allocate funding from the £1.49 billion Infection Control Fund to support the resumption of community and day support services.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support for prescription costs is available to people with (a) Turner Syndrome and (b) other long-term medical conditions.

Approximately 89% of prescriptions are dispensed free of charge and extensive arrangements are in place to ensure that prescriptions are affordable for everyone. A broad range of prescription charge exemptions are in place, for which those with Turner Syndrome and other long-term conditions may qualify. To support those with the greatest need who do not qualify for a prescription charge exemption or the NHS Low Income Scheme, pre-payment certificates are available. A holder of a 12-month certificate can get all the prescriptions they need for just over £2 per week.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to reduce waiting times for child and adolescent mental health services.

The Department is piloting a four week waiting time for access to specialist mental health treatment for children and young people in 12 areas of England as an integral part of the implementation programme for the Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision Green Paper. The pilots will inform a recommendation to the Government on the potential development of access and waiting-time standards for all children and young people who need specialist mental health services.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to level up mental health and wellbeing services in the City of Wolverhampton.

The Black Country and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) advises that across Wolverhampton, all registered patients have access to mental health and wellbeing services. A Joint Public Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Wolverhampton has been developed by the local authority and the local CCGs covering all tiers of service provision and support for all ages.

There is programme of work to put in place a common and standard service in the Black Country to eliminate any variations in existing mental health delivery.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure the equitable distribution of mental health and wellbeing services across the city of Wolverhampton.

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

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to develop holistic treatment for people living with dementia.

Personalised care and support planning is supported by ‘Dementia: Good Care Planning – information for primary care and commissioners’ which sets out the development of care and support planning following an initial holistic assessment of a person’s health and well-being needs within the context of their whole life and family situation. The guide is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/dementia-good-care-planning-information-for-primary-care-and-commissioners/

This holistic approach is also set out in ‘Dementia wellbeing in the COVID-19 pandemic’ resource which sets out the adjustments and amendments needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/C0747_Dementia-wellbeing-in-the-COVID-19-pandemic.pdf

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether Integrated Care Systems will be required to evaluate the effectiveness of local measures introduced to tackle obesity.

Integrated care boards will be directly accountable for the spend and performance of the services they commission, including local measures to reduce obesity.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of (a) access to weight management services and (b) home working during periods of national restrictions as a result of the covid-19 outbreak on the prevalence of obesity.

Public Health England (PHE) has conducted qualitative research on the changes to weight management services during the first lockdown period. The research found that the COVID-19 pandemic had reduced access to weight management services with face-to-face services suspended. The impact of remote provision on client engagement and uptake appeared to be variable in England. PHE currently has no data available on the impact of the pandemic on population obesity prevalence as data collection on national surveys has largely been suspended due to the pandemic.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to Public Health England's, Health Matters: Prevention - A Life Course Approach, published in May 2019, what steps his Department is taking to promote regular (a) physical and (b) mental exercise.

In summer 2020, Public Health England launched the ‘Better Health’ programme with a high-profile television, radio and digital campaign to support the nation to take simple steps to look after their physical and mental health. The Better Health programme directs people to evidence-based apps and tools to support them make and sustain changes to improve their health. This includes the NHS 12-week Weight Loss app, Couch to 5K, Mind Plan and Active 10.

In 2019, the United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers issued guidelines on the amount and type of physical activity we should aim to do at each stage of our lives. The guidelines reinforce the importance of muscle strength and cardiovascular activities across all age groups for better physical as well as mental health and wellbeing.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what funding is available to local community groups as part of the Government's strategy to encourage healthy and active lifestyles.

This information is not collected centrally.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve public confidence in the covid-19 vaccination programme.

The Department, the National Health Service and Public Health England, are providing advice and information at every possible opportunity to support those getting the vaccine and those who have questions about the vaccination process. Our communications include targeted information and advice via TV, radio and social media. This has been translated into 13 languages. Print and online material has also been made available, including interviews, and practical advice has appeared in hundreds of national, regional, local and specialist titles.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS are holding regular meetings with local authorities, faith leaders and black, Asian and minority ethnic organisations to provide advice and information about COVID-19 vaccines and how they will be made available. New campaigns will help tackle vaccine misinformation online through a series of shareable videos.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing changes to the means test for adult social care to allow for the (a) effects of inflation and (b) current interest rates.

The means test threshold is reviewed on an annual basis. The next review is due in January 2022.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what his timeframe is for bringing forward legislative proposals to reform the funding of adult social care.

We are committed to bringing forward a proposal for social care this year to ensure that everyone is treated with dignity and respect and to find long term solutions for one of the biggest challenges we face as a society.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what effect the proposed transition to Integrated Care Systems in England will have on the national provision of weight management services.

Local authorities and clinical commissioning groups are responsible for commissioning weight management services. Integrated Care Systems (ICS) are an opportunity for collaborative working between National Health Service organisations, local authorities and other system partners. ICS guidance set out that NHS organisations, in partnership with local councils and others, should take collective responsibility for managing resources, delivering NHS care, and improving the health of the population they serve. NHS England is working closely with ICS to support their ambitions around obesity.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support is in place for young people who require physiotherapy sessions additional to those commissioned by Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Physiotherapy services are primarily commissioned by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). Physiotherapy services are commissioned across primary, secondary and tertiary care, taking place in the community, general practitioner practices, patients’ homes, acute hospitals, schools, nurseries in addition to other high street settings.

Outside of the CCG arrangements, NHS England is responsible for specialised commissioning – which can include specialist rehabilitation for young people with complex rehabilitation needs. Local authorities can fund physiotherapy services, both in education and also via personal care budgets. Schools can directly employ physiotherapy services, and this is indeed the case in some Special Educational Needs schools. Physiotherapists could be employed directly out of personal healthcare budgets. Local authorities can also offer physiotherapy as part of wider health and wellbeing schemes, targeted at both their young and adult populations.

Physiotherapy provision can also be accessed via private practitioners, or via the third sector, including charity and voluntary organisations.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of (a) BAME and (b) other stillbirths in the West Midlands region.

All maternity services have been asked to ensure that continuity of carer (CoC) is rolled out to women from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and for women from the most deprived communities. The overall target for March 2021 is 35% of all women should be on a continuity pathway with at least as many women from the BAME communities and the most deprived communities receiving CoC as white women.

Every maternity service in the National Health Service is actively implementing elements of the Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle which comprises four key elements of care to support providers, commissioners and healthcare professionals to take action to reduce stillbirths.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that people (a) from a BAME background and (b) who are more vulnerable to covid-19 receive the vaccination in a timely manner.

On 13 February the Government published the United Kingdom COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake Plan, which aims to improve uptake across all communities on a national scale, including those from black, Asian or other minority ethnic backgrounds and those who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. The plan takes a local, community-led approach, with support provided from the Government, NHS England and NHS Improvement and local authorities to coordinate and enable action.

On 25 January we released £23.75million funding to support our Community Champions Scheme. Through the Community Champions scheme councils and voluntary organisations will deliver a wide range of measures to communicating accurate health information. The funding is specifically targeted at areas with plans to reach groups such as older people, disabled people and people from ethnic minority backgrounds who according to the latest evidence are more likely to suffer long-term impacts and poor outcomes from COVID-19. Each of the sixty councils in receipt of funding have developed their own plan to improve communications with these groups including helplines, school programmes, workplace engagement, phoning those in at risk groups as well as training sessions to help people provide information and advice. On 24 February 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine deployment programme, working with partners, made available an extra £4.2 million initially, to further support and enable locally led community engagement in all areas with health inequalities to support those who are most vulnerable to get their vaccine.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 15 September to Question 82393, which (a) Ministers and (b) officials his Department is engaging with on the implementation of the Government's obesity reduction strategy, and if he will make a statement.

Ministers and officials across Government work very closely on reducing obesity and implementing the measures set out in ‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’. Areas of collaboration include the Department working with:

- HM Treasury on fiscal measures including the soft drink industry levy;

- the Department for Education on early years, school food and sports in schools;

- the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on advertising restrictions, the Nutrient Profiling Model, and broader sport and physical activity policy;

- the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government on planning;

- the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on food labelling including the marketing and labelling of infant foods, the National Food Strategy and the Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering Services;

- the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on regulatory measures impacting businesses;

- the Department for Transport on promoting active travel and the living streets project;

- the Department for Work and Pensions on food poverty; and

- the Department for International Trade on front-of-pack nutrition labelling.

We will continue to consider the views of a wide range of stakeholders and experts as we implement the obesity strategy and will continue to listen going forwards.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 15 September 2020 to Question 83952, for what reason funding is not being made available to help small businesses and voluntary groups support of the Government's obesity reduction strategy; and if he will make a statement.

Local authorities and clinical commissioning groups are responsible for commissioning weight management services.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 15 September 2020 to Question 82393, what (a) research and (b) evidence his Department is using to inform policy on the expansion of weight management services.

We are using a range of evidence including published literature and considering the evidence and views of expert stakeholders, including patient groups. We will continue to consider the views of a wide range of stakeholders and experts as we develop our plans for implementing the obesity strategy including the expansion of weight management services and we will continue to listen going forwards.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what financial support from the public purse is available for UK medical research charities.

The United Kingdom is home to globally-recognised medical research charities, which are an integral part of our world-leading life sciences sector. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Department of Health and Social Care officials are working closely with medical research charities to understand the impact of the pandemic, identifying how we can work together, and ensure patients benefit from charity-funded research.

The Sustaining University Research Expertise (SURE) Fund aims to help to sustain the research capacity?of the university research base as a whole. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are asking universities in receipt of SURE funding to demonstrate how these funds are being utilised to sustain research in areas typically funded by charities and business. Charities also have access to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, will pay no business rates for their shops for the 2020 to 2021 tax year and can get a Business Interruption Loan.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what safeguards have been put in place in the logistics supply chain to ensure that a vaccination for covid-19 when approved, can be (a) quickly and (b) efficiently distributed.

The Government has asked the National Health Service to be ready to deploy any safe, effective vaccines when available. As part of the extensive planning, the NHS is working with all stakeholders, including the United Kingdom logistics industry, to be ready to mobilise when a vaccine becomes available. This includes working with partners to ensure there is dedicated logistics to support the national effort.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what funding he plans to allocate to improve access to affordable physiotherapy.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have been clear in their guidance that non-COVID-19 health services such as physiotherapy should be maintained as far as possible. The ‘Help Us to Help You’ campaign is underway to encourage the public to access the NHS services they need. Anyone who is concerned or needs treatment should come forward.

To further support the National Health Service, the Government is providing an additional £3 billion of funding, which includes funding for continued access to independent sector providers to carry out routine NHS treatments and procedures for non-COVID-19 health services, including physiotherapy. Furthermore, the five-year GP Contract announced funding for 20,000 new primary care healthcare professionals, such as physiotherapists. By 2024, all adults in England will to be able to see a musculoskeletal first contact physiotherapist at their local general practitioner (GP) practice without being referred by a GP.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that elderly and vulnerable people can access urgent dental and GP appointments during the winter months.

General practice continues its vital role in supporting high-risk patients with ongoing care needs, including those who have been in the ‘shielding’ cohort, those who may need to shield in future, care home residents and those needing COVID-19 aftercare and support.

NHS England and NHS Improvement guidance on COVID-19 states that all general practitioner practices must offer face-to-face appointments at their surgeries as well as using remote triage and video, online and telephone consultation wherever appropriate – whilst also considering those who are unable to access or engage with digital services.

Practices continue to undertake routine and preventative work including vaccinations and immunisations and screening, as well as supporting their more high-risk patients with ongoing care needs.

National Health Service high street dental services are able to offer face-to-face care and there are currently no plans to restrict NHS dental provision during the winter months. NHS England and NHS Improvement issued guidance setting out the priority order in which patients should be seen – focused on urgent treatment, particularly vulnerable groups and then routine care which is overdue.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 15 September 2020 to Question 83952, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of allocating funds to small businesses and voluntary groups as part of the Government's tackling obesity strategy.

There has been no central assessment of the potential merits of allocating funding to local groups, small businesses or voluntary groups as part of the Government's strategy to reduce obesity. We have invested £3.279 billion in local authority public health services through the Public Health Grant in 2020/21, in addition to what the National Health Service spent on preventative interventions such as our world-class immunisation and screening programmes.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 15 September 2020 to Question 83952 on Obesity, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of allocating funding to local groups tackling obesity.

There has been no central assessment of the potential merits of allocating funding to local groups, small businesses or voluntary groups as part of the Government's strategy to reduce obesity. We have invested £3.279 billion in local authority public health services through the Public Health Grant in 2020/21, in addition to what the National Health Service spent on preventative interventions such as our world-class immunisation and screening programmes.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve the (a) accuracy and (b) speed of results to people through the test and trace system.

Turnaround times for most testing routes continue to fall, with 97.6% of in-person test results returned the next day after the test was taken. Of those people who took their tests in-person, at either a local or regional test centre, 97.6% received their results the following day, while the median turnaround time for home test kits was just 35 hours.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will put incentives in place to encourage young people to pursue careers in front-line medical services.

The Government has introduced a number of initiatives to encourage demand from all sectors of society, including young people, to train to pursue careers in medical, and wider healthcare professions.

The Government has funded an additional 1,500 medical school places in England, which saw five new medical schools open as part of this expansion. One of the criteria for universities securing additional training places included the need to demonstrate that these universities were widening access and increasing social mobility.

A new financial support package of at least £5,000 has been made available from September 2020 to all eligible pre-registration nursing, midwifery and most allied health students, and most allied health students, at English universities.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to encourage the BAME community in (a) Wolverhampton and (b) England to access dementia-related care when needed.

The Government is committed to delivering high quality care and support for every person with dementia regardless of age, background or culture, and central to this is the provision of personalised care.

NHS England and NHS Improvement published Phase 3 of COVID-19 response in which they asked all trusts and partners to address inequality in the National Health Service provision and outcomes including an urgent action to restore NHS services inclusively, so that they are used by those in greatest need.

Nationally, media spend has been upweighted to target black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) audiences including press, radio, digital display and social.

We have also provided financial support to the Race Equality Foundation to provide additional services to BAME communities with dementia during the COVID-19 pandemic. The money is part of a UK-wide £750 million package of support for the voluntary sector announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in April.

Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group works with the Wolverhampton Mental Health Stakeholder Forum to engage with BAME and community groups to influence ongoing work with commissioners and providers to support the development of culturally competent services and pathways.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans are in place to increase the number of biomedical testing laboratories in the West Midlands to expand the national and regional capacity for identifying and responding to (a) existing and (b) future health threats.

The Department has announced a new laboratory based in Leamington Spa opening in 2021, cementing the United Kingdom as a world leader in diagnostics. When at full capacity, the laboratory will be able to process up to 300,000 polymerase chain reaction tests per day.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that all care workers have adequate supplies of personal protective equipment in (a) Wolverhampton South West constituency and (b) across the UK.

Across the United Kingdom, everybody working on the frontline deserves to have the equipment they need to do their job safely. A large number of Government departments are working together to make sure that happens. Amid unprecedented global pressures on supply chains over 3.5 billion items of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been delivered to frontline workers thanks to the efforts of the Government, the National Health Service, industry and the armed forces to massively scale up distribution networks.

We have significantly strengthened and diversified our supply chains for PPE – looking to new suppliers abroad as well as boosting our domestic manufacturing capability. This has helped to build resilience into the future. We have moved from an emergency situation a few months ago to a stable position, which allows us to prepare for any second spike or a new wave in the autumn or winter.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has in place to ensure that the mental health and wellbeing of people (a) in and (b) leaving social care is supported over the long term.

Local authorities must promote wellbeing when carrying out any of their care and support functions relating to an individual.

The promotion of Wellbeing (also known as the Wellbeing Principle) is the principle duty of the Care Act 2014. The Care Act guidance states that the care and support system works to actively promote wellbeing and independence, and does not just wait to respond when people reach a crisis point.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support he is providing to children in the high-risk vulnerable category who were advised to shield during the beginning of the covid-19 outbreak with any mental health issues they may have upon returning to school.

Shielding for the clinically extremely vulnerable has been paused since the start of August in most of the country. Shielding is still advised in specific areas of the country where prevalence of the virus is higher.

We are taking action to ensure that children and young people have access to support in schools. Our £8 million Wellbeing for Education Return programme will provide schools and colleges all over England with the knowledge and access to resources they need to support children and young people, teachers and parents. On 8 September, the Government extended Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters webpage with content specifically for children and young people and their parents and carers. The campaign will raise awareness of the guidance and tools available to support mental wellbeing and ensure children and young people who need urgent support are directed towards the right services.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support is providing to people with mental health conditions as an alternative to medically prescribed drugs.

The most appropriate form of treatment for an individual patient is a matter for clinicians and patients, based on each patient’s individual clinical circumstances.

Over 1 million people with mental health conditions are now accessing psychological and talking therapies through Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services each year. Under the NHS Long Term Plan, the Government is committed to an additional 380,000 people per year being able to access National Institute for Health and Care Excellence-approved IAPT therapies by 2023/24.

In addition, we are developing new and integrated models of primary and community mental health care which will give 370,000 adults with severe mental illnesses greater choice and control over their care and support them to live well in their communities by 2023/24.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what financial support is available for small businesses and voluntary groups to support the Government's obesity reduction strategy.

There are no current plans to allocate funding to small businesses and voluntary groups to support the obesity strategy.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department takes to ensure that independent pharmacists are able to obtain essential medicine at fair and reasonable prices.

The Department relies on competition to keep the prices of unbranded generic medicines down. This has led to some of the lowest prices in Europe and allows prices to react to the market. In an international market this ensures that when demand is high and supply is low, prices in the United Kingdom can increase to help secure the availability of medicines for UK patients. The costs of branded medicine are controlled by the 2019 Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access and the statutory scheme for branded medicines.

We are clear that companies should not capitalise on the current COVID-19 situation by charging unjustifiably high prices for certain drugs or devices. Concerns about potential drug pricing abuses are a matter for the Competition and Markets Authority.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what funding his Department plans to allocate to the NHS to deliver the Government's new obesity strategy, announced on 27 July 2020; and if he will make a statement.

Through the obesity strategy we are committed to expanding weight management services and will provide further details on this later in the year.

We are already backing all National Health Service organisations with significant funding commitments including the Chancellor’s latest fund for the healthcare response to COVID-19, which stands at £31.9 billion for this year alone. This is in addition to the Long Term Settlement that will see NHS funding increase by £33.9 billion by 2023-24.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to ensure that people who require outpatient services have access to them as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

As outlined in the latest guidance issued to local National Health Service providers and commissioners on the next phase of the NHS response to COVID-19, trusts and systems are now expected to deliver 100% of their last year’s activity for first outpatient attendances and follow-ups (face to face or virtually) from September, through the balance of the year. This is to be done by re-establishing (and where necessary, redesigning) services to deliver through their own local NHS (non-independent sector) capacity.

To reduce infection risk and to support social distancing, clinicians have been advised to consider avoiding asking patients to attend physical outpatient appointments where a clinically appropriate and accessible alternative exists. The guidance is available via the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2020/07/Phase-3-letter-July-31-2020.pdf

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what safeguards he is putting in place to ensure that vulnerable and elderly people have access to GP surgeries during and following the covid-19 outbreak.

General practice continues its vital role in supporting high-risk patients with ongoing care needs, including those who have been in the ‘shielding’ cohort, those who may need to shield in future, care home residents and those needing COVID-19 aftercare and support.

Following NHS England and NHS Improvement guidance issued on 31 August on moving to Phase 3 in the response to COVID-19, all general practitioner practices must offer face-to-face appointments at their surgeries as well as using remote triage and video, online and telephone consultation wherever appropriate – whilst also considering those who are unable to access or engage with digital services.

In addition, general practices should restore activity to usual levels where clinically appropriate, and reach out proactively to clinically vulnerable patients and those whose care may have been delayed.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what meetings he has had with (a) Ministers, (b) officials in other Departments, (c) NHS England, (d) patients and (e) other stakeholders on the development of a new plan to reduce obesity prevalence.

We published ‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’ on 27 July. The strategy demonstrates an overarching campaign to reduce obesity, takes forward actions from previous chapters of the childhood obesity plan and sets our measures to get the nation fit and healthy, protect against COVID-19 and protect the National Health Service.

Our policies are informed by the latest research and emerging evidence, including from debates in Parliament and various reports from key stakeholders including the Health and Social Care Select Committee. We have also captured analysis from the National Institute for Health Research Obesity Policy Research Unit, which was established as part of our initial childhood obesity plan, through £5 million investment over five years.

There are ongoing discussions between Ministers and officials as part of developing and delivering the obesity programme.

‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’ is available at the following link:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/tackling-obesity-government-strategy/tackling-obesity-empowering-adults-and-children-to-live-healthier-lives

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to undertake (a) a public consultation and (b) focus group meetings with patients on the development of a new plan to reduce obesity prevalence; and if he will make a statement.

We published ‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’ on 27 July. The strategy demonstrates an overarching campaign to reduce obesity, takes forward actions from previous chapters of the childhood obesity plan and sets our measures to get the nation fit and healthy, protect against COVID-19 and protect the National Health Service.

Our policies are informed by the latest research and emerging evidence, including from debates in Parliament and various reports from key stakeholders including the Health and Social Care Select Committee. We have also captured analysis from the National Institute for Health Research Obesity Policy Research Unit, which was established as part of our initial childhood obesity plan, through £5 million investment over five years.

There are ongoing discussions between Ministers and officials as part of developing and delivering the obesity programme.

‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’ is available at the following link:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/tackling-obesity-government-strategy/tackling-obesity-empowering-adults-and-children-to-live-healthier-lives

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to ensure all personnel in hospitals wear appropriate personal protective equipment.

The Government is committed to ensuring that frontline staff in hospitals are equipped with the right personal protective equipment (PPE) not only for their protection, but to enable them to continue to deliver the first-class level of care that is amongst the best in the world.

Since 25 February 2020 the Department has distributed over three billion PPE items for use by health and social care services in England. Over 31 billion items of PPE have been ordered overall from United Kingdom-based manufacturers and international partners to provide a continuous supply in the coming months.

We have published and continually updated our guidance on who needs PPE and when they need it, and the routes to ensure those who need it can get it at the right time, including hospital personnel.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what financial support is available to organisations and charities that help people with cancer.

We recognise that many charities are facing difficult decisions at the exact time their services are needed most and on 8 April 2020 the Chancellor announced £750 million to support the charity sector in response to COVID-19.

The Department does not routinely provide financial support to charities. However, of the £360 million allocated by central Government as part of that announcement, £200 million is for hospices and £22 million for health and social care charities. The £22 million includes the following cancer charities who were awarded grants in July:

- Jo’s Cervical Cancer - £435,000;

- Blood Cancer UK - £341,000; and

- Anthony Nolan - £325,000.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to ensure a successful transition of young people from children's hospital services to adult's hospital services during the covid-19 outbreak.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have been working with key stakeholders during the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure that children and young people continue to access high quality care


On 16 March 2020 NHS England and NHS Improvement released clinical guidance for managing paediatric patients during the COVID-19 pandemic that included principles set out in the NHS Long Term Plan for moving to a 0-25 age model of care and supporting older patients in children’s units if required.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to ensure the (a) safety of patients in hospitals who have been advised to shield and (b) continuity of care for patients in hospitals with dementia and Alzheimer's disease who require personal assistance from relatives or informal carers during and following the covid-19 outbreak.

National Health Service guidance states that wherever care at home is not possible, providers should ensure safe care for patients who are shielding in infection-controlled clinical settings, in line with the latest infection prevention and control guidance. This guidance includes details on how providers can ensure the safety of patients in hospitals and minimise the risk of infection and can be found at the following link:

www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2020/06/C0583-nhs-update-on-shielding-june-2020.pdf

NHS England and NHS Improvement’s guidance on ‘Visiting healthcare inpatient settings during the COVID-19 pandemic’ advises that patients, including people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, may be accompanied in hospital where appropriate and necessary to assist with the patient’s communication and/or to meet the patient’s health or social care needs. This guidance is available at the following link:

www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/visitor-guidance/

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has made to ensure that there are adequate supplies of anaesthetics to support local NHS services (a) during the covid-19 outbreak and (b) after the end of the transition period.

As part of our concerted national efforts to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are doing everything we can to ensure patients continue to access safe and effective medicines, including anaesthetics. The Department is working closely with the pharmaceutical industry, the National Health Service and others in the supply chain to help ensure patients can access the medicines they need, and precautions are in place to reduce the likelihood of future shortages.

The United Kingdom is now in a Transition Period until 31 December 2020 after leaving the European Union on 31 January on the basis of a deal. The issue that now faces both us and the EU is what kind of trading relationship, and other forms of cooperation, we will have in future. During this Transition Period, it remains our objective to negotiate a future relationship with the EU and in our respective published negotiating documents, we have both stated objectives to reach an agreement on trade in goods. The UK’s published approach sets out how we want to facilitate trade in medicinal products, and support high levels of patient safety.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to ensure that all hospitals are adequately supplied with personal protective equipment for (a) staff, (b) patients and (c) visitors.

Providing hospitals with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and protecting the general public from COVID-19 is the Government’s primary concern. Since 25 February we have delivered over 2.3 billion items of PPE across the health and social care system within England, plus tens of millions more will have been distributed by the devolved administrations.

Guidance on PPE for hospital staff, patients and visitors has been published online. Existing guidance covers the wearing of masks for use in clinical settings, both where COVID-19 is confirmed and where it may be present. Staff in non-clinical settings should wear surgical masks, either Type 1 or Type 2. Patient and visitors face coverings can be cloth and/or homemade. However, where applicable, visitors to high risk COVID-19 areas of the hospital or visitors of patients with confirmed COVID-19 must wear appropriate PPE as per the current infection prevention and control guidance.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much and what financial support is in place for non-clinical and therapeutic settings treating patients with (a) MS, (b) cancer and (c) strokes with (i) mental health interventions and (ii) pain relief.

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are responsible for commissioning care and prevention services for patients with multiple sclerosis, cancer and strokes. In doing so, CCGs need to ensure that the services they provide, including those in non-clinical and therapeutic settings are fit for purpose, reflect the needs of the local population and are based on the available evidence and take into account national guidelines


In addition to CCG funding of NHS services, on 22 May, the Government announced £22 million of funding for health and social care charities, many of whom provide non-clinical and therapeutic support services to patients with these conditions. The Department is engaging with the relevant charities directly to ensure the money goes out to the charities as quickly as possible.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support his Department has put in place to ensure that vulnerable people that do not have internet access are able to access urgent dental treatment.

Internet access is not required to access dental care. Patients who need urgent dental treatment should contact their usual dental practice by phone or, if they do not have a regular practice and/or it is out of hours, can telephone NHS 111. Practices have been gradually restarting face to face care from 8 June. Patients needing urgent dental care will therefore either be offered care at their usual practice or telephone triaged to one of the over 600 urgent dental care centres NHS England set up during the peak of the pandemic and which remain open for urgent dental treatment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support is available to vulnerable people that require urgent dental treatment but have no access to the internet.

Internet access is not required to access dental care. Patients who need urgent dental treatment should contact their usual dental practice by phone or, if they do not have a regular practice and/or it is out of hours, can telephone NHS 111. Practices have been gradually restarting face to face care from 8 June. Patients needing urgent dental care will therefore either be offered care at their usual practice or telephone triaged to one of the over 600 urgent dental care centres NHS England set up during the peak of the pandemic and which remain open for urgent dental treatment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to enable people aged over 65 years old that do not have access to the internet to order home testing kits.

Tests can be booked by calling 119 in England and Wales or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland from any telephone.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to provide mental health support for non-clinical front line workers helping to tackle the covid-19 outbreak.

‘Our Frontline’ - a collaboration between Mind, Samaritans, Shout and Hospice UK - provides information, emotional support and access to a crisis text service for people working on the frontline.

In addition, the Department has commissioned NHS England to develop a comprehensive emotional, psychological and practical support package for all NHS staff, including non-clinical frontline workers, during and following the COVID-19 response. This currently includes: free access to well-being apps, a confidential staff support helpline, and a dedicated helpline offering bereavement support. The Department is working to extend this package of support to the social care workforce.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the level of health of people reliant on care provided by domiciliary care staff; and what protection is being provided to those staff visiting multiple private homes in one day.

We do not currently hold data on trends in the level of health of those receiving domiciliary care. NHS Digital do however collect and publish an annual survey on the quality of life of individuals in state funded domiciliary care, their satisfaction with services, and other important outcomes which is available at the following link:

https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/adult-social-care-outcomes-framework-ascof.

Care staff visiting multiple private homes in one day should receive personal protective equipment (PPE) from the care provider they work for in line with the latest government recommendations. To support staff in using this equipment, Public Health England published tailored guidance on the use of PPE in domiciliary care on 27 April. This is available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/882376/Domiciliary_guidance_England.pdf.

It includes clear guidance and illustrative case studies that explain how care workers visiting multiple homes in one day should use PPE.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to provide simultaneous sign language interpretation at the Government's daily covid-19 briefing.

The Government is committed to ensuring deaf people can fully participate and play a full role in society. We support initiatives aimed at improving understanding of the needs of deaf people and how the barriers they face can be removed, as well as giving deaf people more say in how they access services.

We worked with the BBC to introduce a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter on Monday 16 March to accompany the Prime Minister’s daily COVID-19 press conference. The BSL interpreter is available on the BBC News Channel and BBC iPlayer. We intend to continue to work with the BBC to ensure there is a BSL interpreter in our daily updates on COVID-19 and are prioritising the exploration of additional methods to ensure that all disabled people have access to pertinent communication in accessible formats.


Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessments he has made of the adequacy of support provided for care homes to provide sufficient food to residents during the covid-19 pandemic.

The United Kingdom’s food supply chain remains resilient and the Environment Secretary continues to meet regularly with representatives of the food industry to ensure people can get the food and groceries they need.

The Cabinet Office, working in partnership with the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, have launched Food2Care as a response to reports of care home owners’ concerns about food availability from supermarkets, and the increased risk of introducing Covid-19 into their residential premises if kitchen staff have to make regular shopping trips.

Foodservice wholesalers know the product and menu requirements care homes have, and they work every day with the manufacturers to meet the needs of residents. They can help design meals and menus, and they know what other similar businesses are buying. They have temperature-controlled delivery vehicles and online ordering platforms and experienced telephone sales teams.

Catering packs are larger than supermarket ones and come with nutritional and allergen information. Distributors can provide advice and Government guidance on food storage and preparation – everything care homes need to ensure their residents and teams are fed during these unprecedented times. More information can be found at the following link:

www.food2care.co.uk

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps she is taking to help promote media freedom globally.

The UK is committed to defending media freedom and continues to raise it on the global stage. Working with the Media Freedom Coalition we have issued statements condemning attacks on media freedom in Myanmar, Hong Kong and most recently in Ukraine by Russia as well as the situation of journalists in Russia itself. We are continuing to support the work of the Coalition by funding a Secretariat for two years. We are providing support to journalists in Ukraine by extending our existing three-year, £9 million project to support media freedom in Ukraine with £1 million of urgent support. We have also provided an additional £250,000 to the UNESCO Global Media Defence Fund to support journalists in Ukraine.

More widely our £3 million commitment over 5 years to support the Global Media Defence Fund has supported over 3000 journalists, 170 lawyers and 65 civil society organisations worldwide through legal assistance and other support. The UK has also provided over £500 million in ODA to support the media and the free flow of information in the past 5 years. We used our G7 Presidency to secure strong commitments, including support to the Global Media Defence Fund, improve the effectiveness of our diplomatic networks in protecting journalists, and to address the financial crisis facing media across the world.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department has taken to increase access to clean water for drinking and sanitation in developing counties, including desalination projects, in the last three years.

The UK has strong track record of supporting people in developing countries with clean water and sanitation. In the five-year period to 2020, we helped over 60 million people to gain access to clean water and/or sanitation, having also reached over 60 million people from 2011 to 2015. This was achieved using a mix of technologies and approaches depending on the location and context. We have also supported WHO and UNICEF to strengthen national service delivery and track progress towards water and sanitation global goal targets.

Desalination processes are utilised in limited instances by FCDO partners including UNICEF, primarily in coastal areas where freshwater is scarce. The capital and operational costs of desalination can be high and care is needed to mitigate the environmental impact of the brine produced by these systems. Nevertheless, in some situations including emergencies, desalination may be less expensive than options such as water trucking from a distant source. Therefore, the UK will continue to consider desalination, alongside alternatives, where water supply is needed.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent progress she has made with her international counterparts on tackling human rights abuses in human rights priority countries.

The UK works to promote human rights across all 31 human rights priority countries, drawing on the range of diplomatic and development levers available to encourage States to meet their international human rights obligations. The forthcoming 2021 FCDO Annual Human Rights and Democracy Report will set out recent engagement and work on human rights across all human rights priority countries. Examples include Myanmar, where we continue to use all available multilateral fora to condemn human rights violations committed by the military regime. Most recently in February we secured a UN Security Council Press Statement which called for an end to the violence and respect for human rights.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to tackle persecution of religious minorities.

The UK is committed to defending freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) for all, and promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities. Promoting the right to FoRB is one of the UK's longstanding human rights priorities.

Bilaterally, Ministers and officials regularly raise specific cases of concern, and do not shy away from challenging those we believe are not meeting their obligations. We raise our concerns both in public and in private. Multilaterally, we work with UN, G7, and other multilateral fora to promote FoRB. In May 2021, we ensured that FoRB was included in the G7 communiqué for the first time, demonstrating our leadership in this field. This year, our Special Envoy for FoRB, Fiona Bruce MP, will Chair the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance to bolster joint international action on FoRB.

In addition to our bilateral and multilateral work, we will host an international Ministerial conference on 5-6 July 2022, in London. The UK-hosted International Ministerial Conference on FoRB will drive forward international efforts on this agenda and demonstrate the UK's leading role in supporting freedom and openness. This conference will allow us to use our global influence to promote and protect freedom of religion or belief for all internationally.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to promote trade across the Commonwealth.

We are committed to working with our friends and allies in the Commonwealth to remove unnecessary barriers to free and fair trade. At CHOGM18, Heads of Government adopted the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment with the ambition of enhancing cooperation and boosting intra-Commonwealth trade to $2 trillion by 2030. Programmes such as the UK-funded Commonwealth Trade Facilitation Programme have helped member states implement the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement, and our SheTrades programme has supported over 3,500 women-owned businesses in the Commonwealth to participate in international trade and helped generate £32million in sales for Women Owned Businesses.

The UK already has trade deals with 33 Commonwealth members. In addition, a further 15 Commonwealth members who qualify as developing countries benefit from reduced tariffs under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP). The Government is currently reviewing the GSP, with the aim of making it more generous and simpler for partner countries and businesses to use, and will launch a new Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS) in 2022. The DCTS will be a major opportunity to grow free and fair-trade with our Commonwealth partners,  allowing them to diversify and grow their economies.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to strengthen cultural exchange programmes across the Commonwealth.

Cultural exchange, including the delivery of in person and digital programmes across the arts, education and English in over 50 Commonwealth countries is facilitated through our diplomatic missions and the British Council, as the UK's international organisation for cultural relations. In 2020/21, funding of £25.4 million to the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, further supported educational and cultural exchange in the Commonwealth. In 2022, Her Majesty The Queen's Platinum Jubilee and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games provide valuable opportunities to strengthen cultural relations across our Commonwealth family. Ahead of the Games, the Commonwealth Connections Project will twin 60 schools across the West Midlands with schools in other Commonwealth countries, encouraging these young people to explore shared Commonwealth values; whilst an exciting Commonwealth Games Cultural Programme will boost collaborations between artists in the West Midlands and Commonwealth countries.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to strengthen connections to the Commonwealth among young people.

As Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, we have championed the voice of its young people and supported enhanced participation in decision-making, including through national youth networks. At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2018, the UK announced a new £5m contribution to the Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships endowment fund, supporting the creation by 2025 of 150 new scholarships which enable Commonwealth students to study in one another's countries.

The FCDO continues to fund the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission, in 2020/2021 contributing over £25m to support over 700 new awards for individuals from Commonwealth countries to study at UK universities. In addition, the UK's Chevening scholarship supported 450 scholars from the Commonwealth to study for a Master's degree at UK universities. The FCDO's £1,030,661 annual contribution to the Commonwealth Youth Programme supports a range of youth-centric pan-Commonwealth initiatives, showcasing and celebrating the achievements of young people in driving democracy and development. It also provides technical assistance for national and regional youth policies and programmes. The Government of Rwanda have identified Youth as one of its five policy pillars for the upcoming Kigali CHOGM. The UK is working to encourage Leaders to reaffirm their commitment to ensuring that all girls and boys get 12 years of quality education.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
2nd Mar 2021
What steps he is taking to strengthen health systems in developing countries.

The UK has been at the forefront of the international response to COVID-19, pledging up to £1.3 billion to address the health, humanitarian, and socio-economic impacts. We are working to strengthen global health security against future pandemics through the Prime Minister’s Five-Point Plan, and to end preventable deaths of mothers, new-born babies and children. We recently announced £340 million core contribution to WHO (2020-24), to support WHO’s work including on maternal and child health and strengthening health systems.

The UK is also a leading donor to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and Gavi which are helping to keep essential health services going during the pandemic. Our investments in the Global Financing Facility are helping strengthen health systems alongside the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when his Department plans to publish the proposed health systems strengthening position paper.

We expect to publish a health systems strengthening position paper this year. This approach will form a central part of the government's wider effort towards ending the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children, and strengthening global health security. It will take account of the lessons learnt from the response to COVID-19, and the need to build resilient health systems for the future.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to strengthen domestic healthcare systems in developing countries and increase the training of professionals to lead them.

The UK has placed strengthening health systems at the heart of our global health work to achieve Universal Health Coverage, end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths and ensure country systems are prepared for and can respond to health threats, such as COVID-19.

The UK has a wide portfolio of health system investments. This includes support to the multilaterals such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance and WHO. We provide strategic bilateral support at country and regional levels, share public health expertise with developing countries, support research and development and use our strong diplomatic networks at a country, regional and global level to support evidence-based health policies. We recognise that having a strong health workforce is an essential building block for an inclusive, resilient health system. Our health systems programmes support health workforce education and training, curriculum development, continuing professional development, qualification development, and national health workforce policy.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to help protect human rights and the right to peaceful protect (a) in India and (b) around the world.

Respect for human rights and democratic freedoms underpin the UK's foreign policy. UK Ministers and officials have regular and frank discussions about the full range of human rights concerns, wherever they occur, and we use our bilateral relationships, our development programmes, and our presence in multilateral institutions to drive progress. In discussions with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ministers and officials raise the most pressing human rights issues of the day. We also set out concerns on a wide range of countries at every session of the Human Rights Council. The UK co-sponsored a resolution on Peaceful Protests at the 44th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

We engage with India on a range of human rights matters, including at ministerial level. On his visit to India in December 2020, the Foreign Secretary discussed human rights with the Minister of External Affairs, Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to help tackle the persecution of religious minorities abroad.

The UK remains deeply concerned about the severity and scale of violations and abuses of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in many parts of the world. The UK is committed to defending FoRB for all, and promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities. Where we have concerns, we raise them directly with governments, including at Ministerial level.

In 2019, the Bishop of Truro released a report commissioned by the then FCO with recommendations to improve the lives of people persecuted for their religion, faith or belief. Of the 22 recommendations, we have fully delivered 10, made good progress on a further 8, and we are confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the independent review in 2022.

The Minister responsible for Human Rights, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon has underlined the UK's commitment to FoRB, including in November 2020 at the Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Ministers' Forum of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance. On 20 December 2020, the Prime Minister appointed Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton, as his Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief. Mrs Bruce will work with ministers, officials and others to deliver the Government's goal of seeing everyone, everywhere able to have and practise a faith, belief, or no religious belief, in accordance with their conscience.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
6th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what plans his Department has to repatriate people with non-UK passports that have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

From the outset, our priority for the charter flight programme has been getting British travellers home. But after we launched the charter flight programme, it became clear that there are people with indefinite leave to remain (ILR) who normally reside in the UK, and want to get back, particularly in countries such as India and Pakistan. So where possible, we are working to help vulnerable UK residents with ILR. This is beyond the scope of our standard consular assistance, which is usually just for UK nationals. But these are exceptional times. We are seeking to help vulnerable people with ILR wherever possible, provided that they have lived in the UK within the last year.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
10th May 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that High Street retailers benefit from proceeds of the Digital Services Tax.

The Government is currently consulting on the proposal for an Online Sales Tax as a means to rebalance the taxation of the retail sector between online and in-store retail.

The Digital Services Tax, on the other hand, is a 2 per cent tax on the revenues of search engines, social media services, and online marketplaces which derive value from UK users. It is a temporary solution to the challenges posed by digitalisation to the international system for taxing corporations’ profits.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what fiscal steps he plans to take to (a) support the future of independent shops on high streets and (b) encourage more local businesses to set up high street stores.

In July 2021, the Prime Minister launched a strategy for the high street to transform town centres into vibrant places to live, work, and visit, and confirmed 15 Town Deals worth £335 million to revitalise towns across England.

Alongside this funding, the Government is providing a new temporary relief worth almost £1.7 billion for eligible retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses, resulting in over 90 per cent of retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses receiving at least a 50 per cent reduction in their business rates bills in 2022-23, when taken together with Small Business Rates Relief.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th Jan 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to support households with the cost of living.

We are taking targeted action to help families with the cost of living, including through freezing fuel and alcohol duties, the energy price cap, the Warm Home Discount and the £500m Household Support Fund to help the most vulnerable families this winter.

In the longer term the best approach to managing the cost of living is to get people into work and help them progress – which we are doing through our Plan for Jobs.

We are also making work pay. We are doing this by reducing the Universal Credit taper rate from 63% to 55% and increasing work allowances by £500 per year, which means that 1.9m households will on average keep around an extra £1,000 on an annual basis, as well as increasing the National Living Wage to £9.50 per hour for workers aged 23 and over, which is expected to benefit over 2 million workers.

Simon Clarke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
8th Dec 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to protect businesses from charge-back fraud.

Chargebacks form part of commercial card scheme rules which allow a cardholder to request a refund though their debit card issuer (e.g. their bank) in certain circumstances, for example in cases of non-delivery, or if a purchase is not successful.

The Government considers chargebacks to be an important consumer protection. However, it is important to note that the chargeback facility is not a statutory protection, but is instead a commercial offering provided by card schemes at their own discretion, and which participating banks, merchants, and relevant parties subscribe to. Commercial card schemes have established processes in place to investigate chargeback claims from customers, and to mitigate against chargeback fraud.

The Government works closely with industry to close down the vulnerabilities that fraudsters exploit. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) requires banks to maintain effective systems and controls to prevent the risk that they might be used to further financial crime. This includes controls to prevent fraud.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Nov 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the impact of business rates on new shops setting up in high streets and city centres.

Business rates is a tax that applies to all non-domestic properties in England.

Throughout the pandemic the Government has provided unprecedented business rates support to eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England worth £16 billion in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

The business rates review confirmed a new temporary relief worth almost £1.7 billion for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in 2022-23 which, together with SBRR, will result in over 90% of retail, hospitality and leisure businesses receiving at least a 50% reduction in their business rates bills.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent steps he has taken to tackle tax evasion.

Since 2010, the Government has introduced over 150 new measures to tackle tax avoidance, evasion and other forms of non-compliance, and has secured and protected over £250 billion in tax revenues that would have otherwise gone unpaid. These efforts have helped to reduce the tax gap to a record low of 4.7% for the year 2018-19.

At Spring Budget 2021, the Government announced a further 14 measures to tackle tax non-compliance, forecast to raise £2.2 billion over the next five years. The Government remains committed to reducing the tax gap and will bring forward further measures in the autumn.

2nd Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent fiscal steps he has taken to support businesses in the social enterprise sector.

The Government recognises the important social and economic contribution that social enterprises are making across every industry in this country.

Last year, the Government made available an unprecedented £750 million package of support, specifically for charities, social enterprises and the voluntary sector, along with an additional £150 million from dormant bank and building society accounts. This funding has helped over 13,000 organisations continue to deliver vital services for those most affected by the pandemic.

In addition, at Budget 2021 the Chancellor extended the Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) for two years until April 2023. This ensures the scheme will continue to incentivise individuals to invest in social enterprises, while also allowing more time for the Government to assess the most effective way to support the social investment sector sustainably. Since SITR was launched in 2014-2015, social enterprises have raised funds of £15.8m through the scheme, with £3.3m raised in 2019-2020.

30th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect of the level of business rates on retail unit vacancy.

Eligible businesses in the retail sector have paid no business rates in the 15 months to 1 July 2021, and over 90% of businesses will have their rates bills cut by 75% across the year in 2021-22. The Government has also decided to freeze the business rates multiplier in 2021-22, saving businesses in England an estimated £575m over the next five years.

The Fundamental Review of Business Rates will consider ideas for reform on all elements of the business rates system and the Review will conclude in the autumn.

9th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will introduce additional specific measures to compensate for directors' of limited companies loss of earnings during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has provided substantial levels of support throughout this crisis to support people’s jobs and livelihoods, and to support businesses and public services across the UK, spending over £280 billion over the last year.

Directors who pay themselves a salary through a PAYE scheme are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). However, some directors pay themselves in large part through dividends, while taking a small salary.  Dividends are not covered by this scheme nor by the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).  This is because income from dividends is a return on investment in the company, rather than wages. Under HMRC’s current reporting mechanisms it is not possible to distinguish between dividends derived from an individual’s own company and dividends from other sources.

The Government continues to work closely with stakeholders to explore how it can support different groups. The Government has engaged with various proposals put forward by stakeholder groups to assess if any are viable, and it continues to review these proposals to ensure they overcome the fundamental issues of protecting taxpayer money and safeguarding against fraud and abuse from organised criminals and others who would seek to exploit these schemes.

Individuals who are not eligible for the CJRS or SEISS may be eligible for other Government support. The Government has boosted the generosity of the welfare system through a temporary £20 a week increase in the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element. The Government has also increased the Local Housing Allowance rates for Housing Benefit and Universal Credit. Other support measures include rental support, mortgage holidays, enhanced Statutory Sick Pay and council tax support through local authorities.

10th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on confidence among high street businesses and shoppers of extending business rates relief for the hospitality, retail, and leisure sector for an additional year.

The Government has taken the unprecedented step of providing over £10 billion in business rates relief this year for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties.

As announced at the Spending Review, to support businesses the Government will freeze the business rates multipliers for one year and will announce any decisions on future rate reliefs in the New Year.

2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to tackle the effect of covid-19 outbreak on levels of household debt in (a) Wolverhampton South West constituency and (b) the UK.

The Government has delivered unprecedented support for living standards during this challenging time, protecting livelihoods with the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and temporary welfare measures.

The Government has extended the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme until 31 March 2021. Eligible employees will continue to receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The Government has increased the overall level of the third grant under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to 80 per cent of average trading profits, meaning that the maximum grant available has now increased to £7,500.

The Government has provided Local Authorities with £500 million to support people who may struggle to meet their council tax payments this year. The Government expects that this will provide all recipients of working age local council tax support with a further reduction in their annual council tax bill of £150 this financial year.

These measures are in addition to the changes this Government has made to make the welfare system more generous, worth over £7 billion according to recent OBR estimates. This includes a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element, and a nearly £1 billion increase in support for renters through increases to Local Housing Allowance rates.

We have also worked with mortgage lenders, credit providers and the Financial Conduct Authority to ensure the financial sector provides support for people across the UK to manage their finances by providing payment holidays on mortgages and consumer credit products.

The Government has also provided unprecedented support for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This support includes the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme, Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme, Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Future Fund which, as of 15 November, have collectively supported over 1.4 million businesses with facilities worth in excess of £65bn. The Chancellor has announced that the Government has extended the application deadline for these schemes to a single date, 31 January 2020, meaning that even more businesses will have access to financial support.

To help people in problem debt get their finances back on track, an extra £37.8 million support package is being made available to debt advice providers this financial year, bringing this year's budget for free debt advice in England to over £100 million.

In May, the Government also announced the immediate release of £65 million dormant assets funding to Fair4All Finance, an independent organisation that has been founded to support the financial wellbeing of people in vulnerable circumstances. The funding is used to increase access to fair, affordable and appropriate financial products and services for those in financial difficulties.

From May 2021 the Breathing Space scheme will offer people in problem debt a pause of up to 60 days on most enforcement action, interest, fees and charges, and will encourage them to seek professional debt advice.

Data on levels of over-indebtedness in Wolverhampton South West was last published in 2018 by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), who continue to fund local delivery of debt advice through Wolverhampton Citizens Advice. MaPS will be publishing updated figures in 2021.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support is available for small brewers experiencing financial hardship as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises that breweries have been acutely disrupted by recent necessary restrictions to the hospitality businesses they supply. That is why the Government has extended the unprecedented package of support measures, to protect businesses and jobs. This includes:

  • An extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until 2 December
  • Cash grants of up to £3,000 per month to help businesses that are closed with their costs, including paying their supply chains
  • £1.1 billion of Discretionary Grant funding for local authorities to target support to the businesses that are most important to their local economy
  • Plans to extend existing loan schemes to the end of January and an option to top-up Bounce Back Loans
  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all eligible retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in England until the end of March, worth £10 billion in tax foregone.

Small breweries have and will continue to benefit directly from Government support schemes, and indirectly from the support offered to the pubs and restaurants they supply, protecting jobs in the industry. The Government is continuing to collect evidence on the impact of the pandemic on the sector and to work with businesses and representative groups to inform our efforts to support this sector.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what support is available for self-employed people who have taken out business loans and are continuing to experience financial hardship as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises the impact that the changing path of the virus has had on the self-employed and has taken action to increase the level of assistance available.

The Government has confirmed that it will provide further taxable grants through the SEISS Grant Extension. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced today that the third grant will cover 80% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits for 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2020, and capped at £7,500 in total. This provides equivalent support to the self-employed as is being provided to employees through the Government's contribution in the CJRS. The fourth grant will cover a three-month period from 1 February 2021 until 30 April 2021. The Government will review the level of the fourth grant and set this in due course.

Furthermore, the Chancellor previously announced approved additional funding to support cash grants of up to £2,100 per month for businesses who may be adversely affected by the restrictions in high-alert level areas. These grants will be available retrospectively for areas who have already been subject to restrictions, and come on top of higher levels of additional business support for Local Authorities moving into Tier 3 which, if scaled up across the country, would be worth more than £1 billion. These grants could benefit about 150,000 businesses in England, including hotels, restaurants, B&Bs and many more businesses which are not legally required to close but have been adversely affected by local restrictions nonetheless.

For those requiring further assistance, a comprehensive package of financial support is available. The Government has temporarily increased the Universal Credit standard allowance for 2020-21 and relaxed the Minimum Income Floor for the duration of the pandemic meaning that where self-employed claimants' earnings have significantly fallen, their Universal Credit award will have increased to reflect their lower earnings. In addition to this, the self-employed also have access to other elements of the package, including Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, and mortgage holidays.

2nd Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what support he plans to make available for previously furloughed employees in the night-time industry and other sectors which are not yet safe to re-open according to covid-19 regulations.

The Government recognises the extreme disruption the steps necessary to combat COVID-19 are having on businesses and workers in the night-time economy across the UK. On 9 October, it was announced that where the Government has had to go further and close business premises in some areas, the Job Support Scheme is being expanded to protect jobs and UK businesses. The scheme will cover businesses that are legally required to close their premises as a direct result of coronavirus restrictions set by one or more of the four governments in the UK. The Government will provide employers with a grant for employees unable to work, covering two thirds of their usual wages, subject to a cap. Support will be available to eligible businesses from 1 November.

The Government has built flexibility into the Job Support Scheme to provide emergency short-term support for jobs and businesses, which forms part of the Government’s wider package of measures to support businesses adjusting to the impact of coronavirus. The Government will continue to work with businesses and representative groups to ensure that support provided is right for the night-time industry and other affected sectors.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support his Department is providing (a) nightclubs and (b) other business operating in the night time economy that have paused trading for a prolonged period of time as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is aware of the intense disruption to businesses in the night time economy caused by the pandemic, and has sympathy with all those affected. Businesses in this industry are currently able to benefit from the Government’s unprecedented package of support:

  • All retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses are benefitting from 100% business rates holiday for the entirety of the 2020-21 financial year, and if those businesses occupy a premise with a Rateable Value less than £51,000 they were also eligible for a cash grant from their local authority.
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Bounce Back Loan Scheme remain open and are ensuring that eligible businesses which are facing cash flow difficulties can access finance.
  • The Job Retention Scheme will remain open for firms to use until the end of October.
  • Finally, the Government has introduced a ban on evictions of commercial tenants for non-payment of rent, and has extended this until the end of September, and has published a Code of Practice to support best practice among landlords and tenants.

Government have implemented a cautious and phased approach to reopening the economy, guided at all times by medical and scientific experts. It is Government’s objective to return to our way of life as soon as possible, and we are continuously reviewing our guidance, considering both the risks to public health and to the economy. However, nightclubs continue to present a risk to public health, and these venues should remain closed or be supported by their local authority to adapt, for example by temporarily repurposing their premises.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support is available to (a) workers on zero hour contracts and (b) agency workers who have been advised to continue to self-isolate during 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.

If an employee earns average weekly earnings of at least £120 per week, they will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they have been ill or self-isolating; this includes agency workers and those on zero-hour contracts. The Government is committed to supporting individuals financially through this difficult time. For that reason the Government has changed the rules so that SSP is now payable from day 1, not day 4 for COVID-19 cases.

It is important to note that SSP is a statutory minimum and employers, who are responsible for paying SSP, will often pay more than this. More than half of employees receive more than this when they are off sick so many people will not see any fall in income during their isolation period.

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.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support is available during the covid-19 outbreak for directors of limited companies who are (a) paid in dividends and (b) not eligible for universal credit.

Directors of limited companies who pay themselves a salary through their own company are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The CJRS is available to employers, including owner-managers, and individuals paying themselves a salary through a PAYE scheme are eligible. Where furloughed directors, including companies with a sole director, need to carry out particular duties to fulfil their statutory obligations, they may do so provided it is no more than would reasonably be judged necessary for that purpose.

They may also be able to benefit from other elements of the comprehensive package of support for individuals and businesses. This package includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at

www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

As the economy reopens, it is right that state support is reduced and the focus shifts to getting people back to work. On 8 July, the Government introduced the new Plan for Jobs which will make available up to £30 billion to assist in creating, supporting and protecting jobs. The Plan includes the Kickstart Scheme, reduces the level of VAT for the hospitality and accommodation sector, and creates jobs through £8.6 billion of infrastructure, decarbonisation and maintenance projects. More information can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-plan-for-jobs-documents/a-plan-for-jobs-2020.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support is available for self-employed publicans who are not eligible for (a) universal credit and (b) the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme is just one element of a comprehensive package of support available for individuals and businesses that publicans can benefit from. This package includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

As the Government now begins to re-open the economy, it is right that state support is reduced and the focus shifts to getting people back to work. On 8 July, the Government introduced the new Plan for Jobs which will make available up to £30 billion to assist in creating, supporting and protecting jobs. For example, it is supporting jobs through the Kickstart Scheme, protecting jobs by reducing the level of VAT for the hospitality and accommodation sector and creating jobs through £8.6 billion of infrastructure, decarbonisation and maintenance projects. This is alongside many other measures that will help support people and kickstart the economic recovery. More information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-plan-for-jobs-documents/a-plan-for-jobs-2020

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what (a) rent assistance and (b) other forms of financial support is available for market traders and stallholders who have been adversely affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has delivered one of the most generous and comprehensive packages of support globally, with a total fiscal response of close to £200bn. Many of the measures introduced, including loan schemes, tax deferrals, Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme remain open and have been designed to be accessible to businesses in most sectors and across the UK.

Eligible market stalls with a rateable value could also benefit from flat rate payments of £10,000 under the grant scheme for the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors. Moreover, in recognition that some market traders were excluded from this grant fund because of the way they interact with the business rates system, the Government encouraged Local Authorities to include these businesses as a priority group for the Discretionary Grant Fund.

In terms of rent assistance, the Government encourages tenants to continue to pay their rent in full where they are in a position to do so, although we recognise that others may not be in this position. We welcome the fact that many local authorities and other operators have been able to be flexible in their approach and negotiate suitable arrangements including rent concessions for a significant number of market traders in support of the industry, recognising the financial strain the pandemic has placed on their finances.

Steve Barclay
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to (a) backdate the stamp duty holiday for people who have recently purchased a property and (b) provide financial support to people who have recently moved home with reduced disposable income to spend on renovations.

To boost the housing market and confidence, the Government has decided to cut Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) by temporarily increasing the nil band rate of SDLT to £500,000. This applies from 8 July 2020 to 31 March 2021 and will not be backdated.

Property sales which have exchanged but not yet completed will still be eligible to take advantage of the Stamp Duty holiday.

The Government has also confirmed a range of other housing announcements, including a new £2bn ‘Green Homes Grant’ for homeowners and landlords.

7th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will allocate funding for financial support for people who are moving homes whose household income has been adversely affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has introduced a temporary increase to the Nil Rate Band of Residential SDLT from £125k to £500k. This will apply from 8 July 2020 until 31 March 2021 and will mean that nearly 9 out of 10 people getting onto or moving up the property ladder will pay no SDLT at all, saving on average £4,500. The Government has also raised the Local Housing Allowance rate to the 30th percentile, providing additional financial support for private renters. These measures, alongside other interventions in the Plan for Jobs announced by the Chancellor on 8 July, mean that people can be more confident to move.

2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to provide additional financial support to disadvantaged areas in Wolverhampton South West constituency; and what steps he is taking to tackle levels of unemployment in that constituency area.

The government recognises that every region and community will be feeling the impact of this crisis and remains committed to helping the unemployed return to work and supporting those most vulnerable to job losses.

The Government has taken unprecedented steps to support people and businesses around the country, including in Wolverhampton. This includes the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme, where in the West Midlands as of 31 May, we have supported about 697,000 jobs. We have also supported 185,000 self-employed in West Midlands through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, with claims for grants worth £521m. Local Authorities have also paid out about £10.57 billion of business grants from the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund – including over £1bn to around 88,600 business premises in the West Midlands (by 28th June). We have also allocated £58m of the hardship fund to the West Midlands.

Looking ahead, the government has allocated up to £124.1 million to fund shovel-ready projects across the West Midlands to help provide a boost to the local economy and create jobs. This investment is being targeted on areas that are facing the biggest economic challenges as a result of the pandemic. We have allocated £84m through the Brownfield Fund to deliver much needed new homes in the West Midlands while protecting greenfield sites from unnecessary development. We have also allocated £12.75 million accelerated funding from the Towns Fund to kick-start activity in towns and high streets in 15 towns across the West Midlands including Wolverhampton, helping them to meet immediate challenges from the pandemic.

We will continue to work closely with local areas to make sure that individuals and businesses are directed to the right support during this difficult period

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to improve economic opportunities across the UK after the lifting of lockdown restrictions due to the covid-19 outbreak.

We recognise that every region and community will be feeling the impacts of this crisis. This is why the Government has put in place unprecedented support to protect workers and businesses across the country. As we move forward, the government will continue to engage local leaders and to level up opportunity across the UK.
Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, what support he plans to provide for self-employed people who (a) do not have tax returns for the financial year 2018-19 and (b) are not eligible for universal credit.

It has not been possible to include those who began trading after the 2018-19 tax year in the SEISS. This was a very difficult decision and it was taken for practical reasons. As the Chancellor highlighted when announcing the SEISS, in order to ensure that the scheme is deliverable, only those who are already in self-employment and had a tax return for 2018-19 are able to apply. Unlike for employees, self-employed income is not reported monthly, but at the end of each tax year on the individual’s Income Tax Self Assessment return. This means that the most reliable and up-to-date record of self-employed income is from 2018-19 tax returns.

The Government recognises that those who started trading more recently will not have submitted a tax return for the 2018-19 tax year, and it has considered alternative approaches. This included using tax returns for 2019-20, now that these can be submitted to HMRC.

However, there would be significant risks for the public purse if the Government relied on 2019-20 returns for the SEISS, as this would create an opportunity for fraudulent activity.

18th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support is available for currency exchange bureaus affected by covid-19.

The Government has announced unprecedented support for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency including almost £300 billion of guarantees – equivalent to 15% of UK GDP. Currency bureaus, along with other businesses, may benefit from a range of support measures including:

  • Small business grant funding (SBGF) of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
  • The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBL) for small and micro enterprises
  • VAT deferral for up to 12 months
  • The Time To Pay scheme, through which businesses in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, can receive support with their tax affairs
  • Protection for commercial leaseholders against automatic forfeiture for non-payment until June 30, 2020

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

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
21st Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of reviewing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in the event of future lockdowns to offer rotating short-term funding to avoid employers furloughing all staff simultaneously.

The arrangement between workers and their employers remains subject to negotiation. To be eligible for the scheme, each employee must be furloughed for a minimum of 3 weeks at a time. This is consistent with public health guidance seeking to minimise the number of people outside their homes on a regular basis. There is no restriction on the number of times an individual could be furloughed or the maximum period, other than the life of the scheme. Employers may also be able to benefit from other schemes and measures such as the VAT deferral and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme. Further details can be found online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme in place for 4 months starting from 1 March 2020, but it may be extended if necessary and employers can use this scheme anytime during this period. The Government will make future decisions on the scheme taking into account further developments such as the forthcoming review of non-pharmaceutical interventions.

18th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to enhance identification checks for commercial institutions reviewing credit applications to reduce fraud.

It is important that banks and other lenders identify their customers for their own commercial purposes and as part of the fight against financial crime. Firms are required by law to identify and verify their customers’ identity when they establish a business relationship. Each firm will then have their own policies on identification, and on the circumstances in which other checks should be undertaken. Firms are assisted in making such policies through industry-produced guidance notes. The Government also issues good practice guidance on Identity Proofing and Verification of an Individual.

Given the unprecedented situation resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government is alert to the issue of fraud and so continues to work closely with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), industry, and the National Economic Crime Centre to ensure that businesses, individuals, and families are not the target of fraudulent activities.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
25th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to (a) support groups for victims of domestic abuse and (b) increase the availability of such groups.

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

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of Action Fraud.

Based out of the City of London Police, Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime and works alongside the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau who are responsible for the assessment of the reports.

In light of advances in technology and growing demand on the service, as well as reports such as Sir Craig Mackey’s independent review of Action Fraud (https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/assets/About-us/action-fraud-report.pdf), we are working with the City of London Police on plans to refresh and upgrade the current Action Fraud service. We are working to make continuous improvements to the service to make it easier for victims to report fraud, including increasing the number of staff in the call centre.

At the same time City of London Police have launched a competitive procurement for a new service, to be operational by 2024. This will improve the service to victims, provide greater intelligence and insight to policing on fraud and cybercrime affecting communities, and allow for greater prevention and disruption at scale.

We are spending an additional £400 million over the next three years to tackle economic crime including fraud, which follows the extra £63m investment prioritised in 2021. Some of this funding will be used in the programme to refresh and upgrade the Action Fraud service.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of (a) street lighting and (b) CCTV cameras in areas with a high level of crime.

The Government recognises that improved street lighting and CCTV can make a real difference in cutting crime and helping to deliver the safer streets the public wants.

That is why we established the Safer Streets Fund (SSF) to support local initiatives designed to reduce crime in areas disproportionately and persistently impacted and prevent it from happening in the first place. We have run three rounds of the SSF, investing £70 million across England and Wales, and have announced there will be £50 million of Government funding for the SSF for each of the next three years.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to help ensure that local authorities have adequate resources to effectively respond to local anti-social behaviour issues.

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 provides a range of flexible tools and powers to local agencies to tackle anti-social behaviour. Local areas decide how best to deploy these powers depending on the specific circumstances of each individual case.

The provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for 2022-23 makes available an additional £3.5 billion to councils, including funding for adult social care reform. This is an increase of over 4% in real terms, which will ensure councils across the country have the resources they need to deliver key services. In total, we expect Core Spending Power to rise to £53.9 billion in 2022-23, against £50.4 billion in 2021-22.

The Government is also providing around £1.6 billion additional grant in 2022-23. This includes additional funding for Supporting Families and Cyber Resilience, which will be distributed outside of this Settlement. We are allocating most of that funding through the provisional Settlement, including through a one-off 2022/23 Services Grant to councils to spend on vital frontline services, worth £822 million.

This funding will be given to councils to spend as they see fit, recognising that councils are placed to deal with local issues. The Government aims to publish a final settlement confirming allocations to individual local authorities in February 2022.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
17th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when the public consultation on the revised national police funding formula will open.

The government recognises that the current police funding formula is out of date and no longer accurately reflects demand on policing.

A review of the funding formula is now underway, and we are working closely with the policing sector and relevant experts to develop proposals for new funding arrangements. A full public consultation will take place before any new funding arrangements are put in place.

We have previously confirmed our intention to complete this work before the next General Election.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
2nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to promote awareness among, and increase the number of, licensed premises that accept the PASS CitizenCard as a suitable form of identification when alternatives such as provisional driving licence cannot be presented.

The Government and Police fully support the Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) and encourages all shops and licensed premises to accept PASS accredited cards as proof of age.

Home Office officials continue to work closely with the PASS Board and Age Verification Providers Association in the development of technical standards for digital proof of age PASS accredited cards that would expand their use through technology such as smart phones.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to increase police visibility and trust in local communities.

The Government is delivering on the people’s priorities by recruiting an additional 20,000 police officers and putting violent criminals behind bars for longer.

To the end of September this year, Police forces in England and Wales have recruited an additional 11,053 police officers as part of the police uplift programme, 55% of the 20,000-recruitment target by 2023.

Whilst decisions about the deployment of officers are a matter for Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables, these decisions are expected to be informed by local need.

The Beating Crime Plan published on 27 July laid out the Government’s plan for tackling crime and its commitment to reconnect the police with the public. It can be found at:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1015382/Crime-plan-v10.pdf

The police's ability to fulfil their duties is dependent on their capacity to secure and maintain public trust and support for their actions, as part of the model of policing by consent. That is why the Government will also be looking carefully at strengthening the system of local community scrutiny and the value and use of body-worn video.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
23rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what guidance she has provided to local authorities on effectively tackling (a) anti-social behaviour and (b) other low-level crimes.

The Government is committed to tackling and preventing anti-social behaviour (ASB) and crime. We know the serious impact that anti-social and criminal behaviour has on both individuals and communities.

We have provided the police, local authorities and other local agencies with a range of tools and powers that they can use to respond quickly and effectively to all forms of ASB through the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. These powers are deliberately local in nature, and it is for local agencies to determine whether their use is appropriate in the specific circumstances.

In January of this year we updated the statutory guidance to support local agencies to make effective use of these powers and take the multi-agency approach that is needed to tackle and prevent anti-social behaviour, in a way that takes account of the needs of the victim and the community. The revised guidance can be found at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/956143/ASB_Statutory_Guidance.pdf

The Beating Crime Plan published on 27 July laid out the Government’s plan for tackling crime and its commitment to working with local agencies and partners to drive down anti-social behaviour using the full range of powers and tools in the 2014 Act. It can be found at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1015382/Crime-plan-v10.pdf

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
17th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what guidance her Department has issued to local authorities on tackling (a) speeding and (b) other traffic issues.

The Home Office is responsible for policy on enforcement of road traffic legislation and for ensuring the availability of appropriate enforcement powers to the police. We do not issue guidance to local authorities on speeding and other road traffic issues.

However, the Home Office has contributed to guidance published by the Department for Transport in 2007 on the deployment, visibility and signing of speed cameras which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/use-of-speed-and-red-light-cameras-for-traffic-enforcement-guidance-on-deployment-visibility-and-signing.

The Department for Transport also issues guidance on speed limits to local traffic authorities, to ensure limits are appropriately and consistently set whilst allowing for flexibility to deal with local circumstances.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps are being taken to enhance community trust engagement with local policing teams.

The police's ability to fulfil their duties is dependent on their capacity to secure and maintain public trust and support for their actions, as part of the model of policing by consent.

That is why the Government is committed to giving police the resources they need to support local communities, including the recruitment of an additional 20,000 police officers by March 2023. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the police have now recruited an extra 9,814 officers, 49% of the 20,000-officer target. (as at 30 June 2021), and have therefore exceeded the first target of 6,000 additional officers by March 2021.

The first round of the Safer Street Fund was launched on 26 January 2020, providing £25m to support areas in England and Wales disproportionately affected by neighbourhood and acquisitive crimes, such as burglary and theft. This money has been invested in well evidenced crime prevention measures, including improved street lighting and home security. A second one-year, £20m round of the Safer Streets Fund was launched on the 28 January 2021, to support even more local areas disproportionately affected by neighbourhood crimes. 50 successful projects across England and Wales were announced on 3 June.

On 15 March 2021, an additional £25m was announced to run a further round of the Safer Streets Fund, bringing total investment into the Safer Streets Fund to £45m over the 2021/22 financial year. For round three of the Fund, there is a shift of focus to championing creative and innovative methods to improve public safety in local areas, with a particular focus on women and girls’ safety and feelings of safety, as well as funding more traditional crime prevention interventions such as improved streetlighting and CCTV.

The Government has put in place measures to ensure that policing is subject to appropriate levels of transparency and accountability. This includes regular inspections by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), publication of data on the use of police powers and strengthening the police complaints and discipline systems.

The Government will also be looking carefully at strengthening the system of local community scrutiny and the value and use of body-worn video.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
11th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to protect consumers from scams, fraud, and rogue trading on the doorsteps of private homes.

Fraudsters are sophisticated and will exploit any vulnerabilities they can, especially as more of us find ourselves at home and online.

The Government recognises the serious risks presented by scams and fraud and the huge financial and emotional impact they can have on victims. We are working collaboratively with law enforcement and the private sector to reaffirm messages to consumers setting out how they can protect themselves from fraud, scams, and rogue traders.

We know one of the best ways to deal with these crimes is for consumers to be well-informed on how to protect themselves. This is why we published guidance on how to spot potential frauds and the steps to take to avoid them. This advice can be accessed at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-fraud-and-cyber-crime.

Alongside this, consumers can also keep abreast of scam and fraud trends through alerts provided by Action Fraud, the national reporting service for fraud and cybercrime, via their website:

www.actionfraud.police.uk/news

Further details can be found through the ScamSmart campaign run by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) at:

https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart.

We continue to encourage anyone who has been a targeted by fraud to report it. Action Fraud can be contacted by phone on 0300 123 2040 or through their website:

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime.

This information is being used by the City of London Police alongside crime reports to identify, disrupt and stop fraudsters. Any contact with rogue traders should also be reported to Trading Standards at

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/report-to-trading-standards/

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
21st May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to improve community safety.

This Government is committed to cutting crime and delivering the safer streets that the public deserves.

The Government is also committed to recruiting 20,000 additional police officers by March 2023 and despite the challenges of COVID-19, as at 31 March 2021, 8,771 officers were recruited through the Uplift programme. Deployment of the new officers will be a matter for Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables but their presence should contribute to making streets safer.

The Safer Streets Fund was launched on 26 January 2020, providing £25 million in 2020/21 to support 52 areas across England and Wales persistently and disproportionately affected by neighbourhood and acquisitive crimes, like burglary, robbery and theft. The fund is being used by Police and Crime Commissioners to invest in well evidenced, physical crime prevention measures, such as improved street lighting and CCTV.

On 28 January 2021, we launched a second £20m round of the Safer Streets Fund, for 2021/22. This second round will give funding to Police and Crime Commissioners and Local Authorities to invest in crime prevention, both in commercial and residential areas.

We have also announced we are investing a further £25 million in the Safer Streets Fund for the 2021/22 financial year, building on the £45 million already committed between 2020 and 2022. This additional funding will look to deliver innovative and evidence-based crime prevention measures in public spaces, with a focus on ensuring women and girls feel safe in the public domain.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to improve police presence and trust in local communities.

The Government is committed to giving police the resources they need to tackle the scourge of crime, including supporting police forces to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers by March 2023. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the police have now recruited an extra 8,771 officers, 44% of the 20,000-officer target, and have therefore exceeded the first target of 6,000 additional officers by March 2021. The police workforce is now more representative of the communities it serves than ever before, with the latest data showing the highest proportion of black, Asian, and minority ethnic and female officers since records began.

In 2021-2022, we are providing £425m to spend on the recruitment of 6,000 additional officers by 2022. Of this, PCCs will receive £415m for territorial policing and Regional Organised Crime Units.

The police's ability to fulfil their duties is dependent on their ability to secure and maintain public trust and support for their actions, as part of the model of policing by consent.

That is why the Government have put in place measures to ensure that policing is subject to appropriate levels of transparency and accountability. This includes regular inspections by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), publication of data on the use of police powers and strengthening the police complaints and discipline systems.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
19th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of powers available to local authorities to tackle anti-social behaviour that occurs between private dwellings.

It is important that local authorities have the powers they need to tackle all local issues quickly and effectively. That is why we introduced a range of flexible tools and powers to tackle anti-social behaviour through the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The powers in the 2014 Act are deliberately local in nature and it is for local authorities to determine how best to respond to each individual case. The powers support appropriate action to resolve housing-related anti-social behaviour, including through setting restrictions or positive requirements on individuals.

The Government updated statutory guidance in January 2021 to emphasise the importance of focusing on the impact of anti-social behaviour on victims and further to support local authorities to make effective use of these powers.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what funding the Government makes available for locally-led projects that aim to tackle anti-social behaviour and create safer communities.

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 provides the police and local authorities with flexible tools and powers they can use to respond quickly and effectively to anti-social behaviour. The powers in the 2014 Act are local in nature, and it is for local agencies to determine whether their use is appropriate in the specific circumstances.

It is for Chief Constables and PCCs, as operational leaders and elected local representatives, to decide how best to respond to local crime priorities but to help ensure that the police have the resources they need, we have given them the biggest funding increase in a decade and are recruiting 20,000 additional officers by March 2023, which provides extra resource to protect the public and keep us safe.

Our £25m Safer Streets Fund is also supporting areas that are disproportionately affected by acquisitive crimes, and through effective crime prevention measures, such as improved streetlighting and CCTV, many of the projects are also helping to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will bring forward legislative proposals to strengthen police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments at the earliest opportunity so that local authorities do not have to fund enforcement and alternative provision projects.

As we set out in the briefing accompanying the Queen’s Speech in December 2019, it is our firm aim to bring forward legislation this session.

The Home Office launched a public consultation in November 2019 to seek views on how we could strengthen the police’s powers to tackle unauthorised encampments. We will publish a response to that consultation in the usual way.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what incentives her Department has put in place to increase the diversity of local police officers.

Policing remains an attractive and well-paid career, with a pension that is among the best available.

Every force should be striving to become representative of the communities it serves. We have been clear that the uplift in officers is a once in generation opportunity to improve diversity. We are supporting forces with a variety of attraction and recruitment strategies, whilst delivering a campaign that’s been designed to reach the widest and most diverse audience possible.

Some forces have made significant improvements in the rate of black, Asian and minority ethnic joiners through successful positive action measures. Information is available on police.uk that shows the ethnicity and gender representation for each police force compared to local force area populations. This allows the public to hold forces to account.

The Government has also supported innovative schemes, such as Police Now, which are making the police workforce more diverse than ever before; showing that we can attract the brightest and best into policing, whilst introducing new perspectives from some of the country’s most challenging neighbourhoods.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
13th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what the remit is of the Government's review of the restrictions on asylum seekers' right to work; and when the Government plans to publish the outcome of that review.

Asylum seeker right to work is a complex issue. A review of the policy is ongoing, and we are considering the evidence put forward on the issue. The findings of the review will be announced once the work has been completed.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)