Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Portrait

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi

Labour - Slough

Shadow Minister (Transport)

(since April 2020)
Defence Committee
2nd Mar 2020 - 11th May 2020
Defence Sub-Committee
5th Mar 2020 - 11th May 2020
Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee
23rd Jul 2018 - 6th Nov 2019
Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee
23rd Jul 2018 - 6th Nov 2019


Oral Question
Wednesday 6th July 2022
11:30
Wales Office
Oral Question No. 1
What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the adequacy of the passport application processing service for people in Wales.
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Department Event
Thursday 15th September 2022
09:30
Department for Transport
Oral questions - Main Chamber
15 Sep 2022, 9:30 a.m.
Transport (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.
Division Votes
Wednesday 29th June 2022
Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 147 Labour Aye votes vs 0 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 175 Noes - 271
Speeches
Thursday 30th June 2022
Oral Answers to Questions
This Government are presiding over complete transport chaos. We have had backlogs at the ports and backlogs at airports, even …
Written Answers
Thursday 30th June 2022
Train Operating Companies: Staff
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what savings from overall staffing costs have been sought from the train …
Early Day Motions
Tuesday 19th December 2017
NATIONAL SIKH WAR MEMORIAL
That this House appreciates the extraordinary bravery and sacrifices of Sikh soldiers in service of Great Britain, including during both …
Bills
None available
MP Financial Interests
Monday 15th November 2021
4. Visits outside the UK
Name of donor: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qatar
Address of donor: Qatar Embassy, 1 South Audley Street, London W1K 1NB …
EDM signed
Monday 18th January 2021
Godfrey Colin Cameron
That this House is deeply saddened by news of the death of Godfrey Colin Cameron, a hardworking member of Parliamentary …
Supported Legislation
Wednesday 5th February 2020
Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Act 2021
A Bill to impose duties on certain education and training providers in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi has voted in 412 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi 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
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(20 debate interactions)
Lindsay Hoyle (Speaker)
(18 debate interactions)
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government efficiency)
(17 debate interactions)
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Department Debates
Department for Transport
(67 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(43 debate contributions)
Department for Education
(32 debate contributions)
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View all Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi's debates

Slough Petitions

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

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

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

Petitions with most Slough signatures
Petition Debates Contributed

The Government needs to change the law so laboratory animals are included in the Animal Welfare Act. Laboratory animals are currently not protected by the Act and are therefore victims of 'unnecessary suffering' (see section 4 of the Act: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/45/section/4).

We would like the Government to ban all animal testing UK, including for the development of cosmetics, household products and medicines. Alternatives need to be actively funded. Many products that are tested on animals end up not being suitable for humans. Animal testing is outmoded and should end.

The Government must recognise the urgent need to use animal-free science and publish a clear and ambitious action plan with timetables and milestones to drive the phase-out of animal experiments. As well as preventing animal suffering, this will benefit public health and business.

Call on the government to consider holding debates in Parliament between MPs and university students to raise/discuss issues that affect them. It will allow students to voice their opinions and concerns about tuition fees of £9250 a year which are too high, particularly as grants have been removed

We ask Parliament to repeal the High Speed Rail Bills, 2016 and 2019, as MPs voted on misleading environmental, financial and timetable information provided by the Dept of Transport and HS2 Ltd. It fails to address the conditions of the Paris Accord and costs have risen from £56bn to over £100bn.

Undocumented Migrants are suffering in silence, with no access to adequate Financial support, or any help. The Government should grant an urgent Amnesty of 5years to those with no criminal record so that they could live their lives as normal human beings and pay tax to help the UK economy.

As a country we see many water-related fatalities every year. We see many more call outs to water related incidents. Throughout lockdown year our coastguards were tasked to almost double the call outs than in the previous year. Our children NEED to learn about Cold water shock & rip currents.

The Government must make a public statement on the #kissanprotests & press freedoms.

India is the worlds largest democracy & democratic engagement and freedom of the press are fundamental rights and a positive step towards creating a India that works for all.

The Home Secretary said what happened to victims of child sexual exploitation gangs was “one of the biggest stains on our country’s conscience.” Last year local authorities identified 18,700 suspected victims of child sexual exploitation. We want an independent public inquiry into Grooming Gangs.

The Government is refusing to release official research on the characteristics of grooming gangs, claiming it is not in the “public interest”.

We, the British public, demand the release of the official research on grooming gangs undertaken by the Government in full.

A significant number of students will sit their final 2021 examinations. The outcome of which undoubtedly will be their passport, for many of their future life chances and successes. In order for this to be done fairly, it is imperative that the amount of content they are tested on is reduced.

We want the Education Secretary and the Government to step in and review the exam board’s decision on how GCSE and A-Level grades will be calculated and awarded due to the current coronavirus crisis. We want a better solution than just using our previous data to be the basis of our grade.


Latest EDMs signed by Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi

14th January 2021
Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi signed this EDM on Monday 18th January 2021

Godfrey Colin Cameron

Tabled by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)
That this House is deeply saddened by news of the death of Godfrey Colin Cameron, a hardworking member of Parliamentary security staff and member of the PCS trade union who passed away aged just 55 after contracting covid-19; extends our sincere condolences to his devoted wife Hyacinth, children Leon and …
139 signatures
(Most recent: 8 Feb 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 117
Scottish National Party: 15
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 2
Alba Party: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
4th June 2020
Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi signed this EDM on Wednesday 17th June 2020

Legal Aid and Advice

Tabled by: David Lammy (Labour - Tottenham)
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 (S.I., 2020, No. 515), dated 15 May 2020, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18 May 2020, be annulled.
138 signatures
(Most recent: 11 Feb 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 115
Liberal Democrat: 9
Scottish National Party: 5
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 2
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Green Party: 1
Alba Party: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Alliance: 1
View All Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, 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.


Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi has not introduced any legislation before Parliament


1687 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
36 Other Department Questions
20th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, if he will commit to a deadline on bringing forward legislative proposals to assist existing leaseholders.

The Government remains committed to creating a fair and just housing system that works for everyone. We have already made great strides with the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022, which will come into force from 30 June 2022. This Act is the first part of major two-part legislation this parliament to implement leasehold and commonhold reforms. In the next parliamentary session we will legislate to reform the leasehold system, including by supercharging leaseholders' ability to buy their freeholds, helping millions of households genuinely to own their own home.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the number of refuge services available to people fleeing domestic violence.

Many local areas already provide services that ensure those fleeing from devastating abuse have somewhere safe to go, but this has not been uniform across the country and the right support has not always been available for all victims.

That is why we introduced a new statutory duty on local authorities within the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 to ensure that all victims, including children, have access to safety and support within safe accommodation when they need it.

This has been backed by £125 million funding for 2021/22 and a further £125 million funding will be allocated to local authorities for the delivery of their duties in 2022/23.

Local authorities are required to report back to Government on a yearly basis on how they have delivered their duties and I am chairing, alongside the Domestic Abuse commissioner, a National Expert Steering Group to oversee delivery and ensure it meets the needs of all victims.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, with reference to rising house prices, what recent steps he has taken to help first-time buyers own a property.

We committed in the Levelling Up White Paper to supporting more first-time buyers onto the housing ladder. Since 2010, Government-backed schemes have helped over 758,000 households to purchase a home, including Help to Buy and Right to Buy. Our new First Homes scheme provides homes discounted by at least 30% for first-time buyers.

Stuart Andrew
Minister of State (Minister for Housing)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, with reference to his Department's white paper, entitled Levelling Up the United Kingdom, published 2 February 2022, what discussions his Department has had with local leaders on plans for the rail network in their respective regions.

The White Paper provides a clear plan to level up every corner of the UK, underpinned by 12 ambitious missions. These include that by 2030, local public transport connectivity across the country will be significantly closer to the standards of London, with improved services, simpler fares and integrated ticketing.

Matters relating to the future of the rail network are for the Department for Transport (DfT) and Ministers from DfT routinely engage with local authorities and metro mayors on issues relating to rail infrastructure. Details of ministerial meetings with external organisations are published on GOV.UK.

Neil O'Brien
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Prime Minister, what the differences will be between the new Office of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Office.

I refer the Hon. Member to my answer given to 114642.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
27th Jan 2022
To ask the Prime Minister, whether his Parliamentary Private Secretary arranged or attempted to arrange any charter flights to evacuate (a) any animals, (b) any constituents from Slough constituency and (c) any of the other remaining UK nationals in Afghanistan as of 27 January 2022.

I have been asked to reply. I refer the Hon. Member to the answer I gave to the Hon. Member for Putney on 31 January in PQ 112703.

Ben Wallace
Secretary of State for Defence
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps he is taking to increase the energy efficiency of new and existing homes.

The Government remains committed to meeting its target of net zero emissions by 2050. We recognise the important contribution that the energy efficiency of buildings has in meeting this.

In December we introduced an uplift in standards which delivers a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions for new homes. This is a stepping-stone to the 2025 Future Homes Standard.

The Heat and Buildings Strategy, which we published in October, sets out our approach to improving the energy efficiency of existing homes in more detail.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
21st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what data his Department holds on the median energy efficiency score for house builds completed in 2021 in (a) Slough and (b) the South East.

The Department makes this data publicly available via the Open Data Communities Service: https://opendatacommunities.org.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
21st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what recent steps he has taken to ensure the Government target for all social homes to meet a minimum standard of EPC C is met.

In the Clean Growth Strategy, published in 2017, the Government made a commitment for as many homes as possible to achieve EPC band C by 2035 where cost-effective, practical and affordable. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to heat decarbonisation, and our approach to regulation demonstrates this. Social housing currently has the most energy efficient homes of all tenures, with 66% of homes already EPC C or above. Work led by DLUHC on the Decent Homes Standard review will consider how the standard can work to support better energy efficiency and the decarbonisation of social homes.

We will continue to ensure financial support is targeted to those who need it most, supporting the most vulnerable in society in switching to low-carbon heating and improving the energy efficiency of their homes. We are boosting funding for the BEIS-led Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF), investing a further £800 million over 2022/23 to 2024/25, which will upgrade a significant amount of the social housing stock currently below EPC C up to that standard, delivering warm, energy-efficient homes, reducing carbon emissions and fuel bills, tackling fuel poverty, and supporting green jobs. This £800 million brings the total committed funding for the SHDF and associated demonstrator to just over £1billion, representing a very significant investment that will drive the decarbonisation agenda across this important sector on the pathway to net zero. My officials work very closely with BEIS to support the SHDF.

In the Heat and Buildings Strategy, the Government also committed to consider setting a long-term regulatory standard to improve social housing to EPC band C, with levers required to decarbonise the stock in line with Net Zero. We will consult the sector before setting any such standard.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, whether he plans to extend the Voluntary Right to Buy Scheme to housing association tenants following the Midlands Voluntary Right to Buy pilot.

This Government remains committed to the Right to Buy and to spreading the dream of home ownership to even more people. The Midlands pilot of the Voluntary Right to Buy scheme completed in 2021 and an independent evaluation of the pilot was published in February 2021. The Government is looking at the evaluation's findings, which will be used to inform future policy, and we will announce further details on the Voluntary Right to Buy in due course.

Christopher Pincher
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, whether progress has been made on the national rollout of the Voluntary Right to Buy Scheme following the independent evaluation of the Midlands Voluntary Right to Buy pilot.

This Government remains committed to the Right to Buy and to spreading the dream of home ownership to even more people. The Midlands pilot of the Voluntary Right to Buy scheme completed in 2021 and an independent evaluation of the pilot was published in February 2021. The Government is looking at the evaluation's findings, which will be used to inform future policy, and we will announce further details on the Voluntary Right to Buy in due course.

Christopher Pincher
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, how many applications for the Building Safety Fund are outstanding in (a) Slough, (b) the South East and (c) England.

As of 31 December 2021, out of a total of 2825 registrations, there are 5 outstanding applications in Slough, 49 in the South East of England, and 717 across England. Outstanding applications are defined as registrations where eligibility is under review or where further information is required to determine eligibility.

The Department is awaiting further information for 515 registrations across England. Applicants should provide any information requested by the Department promptly to make sure that their registration is processed without delay.

Christopher Pincher
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
2nd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, whether his Department has made or commissioned an assessment of the mental health impact on leaseholders of remediation costs for non-compliant cladding.

The Department has regular engagement with leaseholder groups and recognises the impact on residents living in high-rise buildings with unsafe cladding. That is why the Government is investing over £5 billion to remediate high rise residential buildings with unsafe cladding.

Mental health is one of the Government’s top priorities and we are working across Government to ensure that all people, regardless of their residential situation, get the help and support they need. Where residents of buildings fitted with unsafe cladding need mental health support, they should make contact with their GP to discuss these issues so they may be referred to mental health services as appropriate.

Christopher Pincher
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
2nd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what the average response time is for Building Safety Fund applications; and whether his Department has a target response time for applications to that fund.

The Government acknowledges that remediation of unsafe cladding is complex and each individual project will vary in their journey through the funding application process. Information on the Building Safety Fund application process can be found in the guidance available at: www.gov.uk/guidance/remediation-of-non-acm-buildings. The latest Building Safety Fund statistics, showing registration and application progress, are available at: www.gov.uk/guidance/remediation-of-non-acm-buildings#building-safety-fund-registration-statistics

It is the responsibility of the applicant to submit correctly completed applications as soon as possible. The quicker an applicant submits their application, the quicker their application will be processed. A poorly completed full application will result in delays.

Christopher Pincher
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
2nd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to ensure decisions on Building Safety Fund applications are communicated in a timely manner to (a) building owners and (b) occupants.

The Department is progressing registrations to the Building Safety Fund as quickly as possible. Progress is communicated to registrants who we expect will ensure that their leaseholders and residents are kept fully informed. It remains the responsibility of the building owner or managing agent to keep leaseholders and residents updated about the progress of the building’s application to the Building Safety Fund.

Christopher Pincher
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
2nd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his policies on social housing of the finding by Shelter on increases in the number of people living in overcrowded conditions in social housing in the last five years, published on 28 July 2021.

By law, local authorities must ensure that overcrowded households in social housing who are seeking a transfer are given 'reasonable preference' (overall priority). Statutory guidance encourages local authorities to consider giving 'additional preference' (high priority') to families in severe overcrowding which poses a serious health hazard. The social housing waiting list in England has decreased by 37 per cent since 2012.

Our £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme will deliver up to 180,000 affordable homes, should economic conditions allow. The provision of affordable housing is a key element of the Government's plan to end the housing crisis and tackle over-crowding.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
24th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what estimate he has made of the number of leaseholders that are facing remediation costs for (a) non-compliant cladding and (b) non-cladding related building defects in (i) Slough, (ii) the South East and (iii) the UK.

The Government’s £5.1 billion investment in building safety will fund the cost of replacing unsafe cladding for leaseholders in residential buildings 18 metres and over in England. This will make homes safer and protect leaseholders in those buildings from the cost of cladding remediation.

Work is underway to collect data on a sample of 11-18 metre residential buildings in England. The information collected will include the existing building condition including the materials in use on the external wall system, and the costs of making the building safe. We will publish further details in due course.

The Government remains committed to protecting leaseholders from unaffordable costs, who bought their flats in good faith and are innocent parties. Further detail on the support offer for leaseholders in residential buildings of 11-18 metres will be released when all options have been fully considered.

Christopher Pincher
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
15th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, whether his Department plans to offer financial support to leaseholders of high-rise apartments facing remediation costs for non-cladding related building defects.

Government support is focused on cladding because unsafe cladding acts as an accelerant to fire spread, and funding will remove the biggest obstacle to remediation proceeding. Government funding also covers the cost of any works which are integral to the safe removal and replacement of an unsafe cladding system.

This can include associated costs such as fire cavity barriers where they are integral to the cladding replacement. Detailed information on works eligible for funding can be found in the Building Safety Fund prospectus, available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remediation-of-non-acm-buildings#prospectus---outlining-eligibility-for-the-fund .

Our guidance is clear that building safety is the responsibility of building owners and we have given advice on a range of safety issues to provide clarity.

Christopher Pincher
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, whether his Department has a deadline by which (a) ACM and (b) non-ACM cladding should be removed.

The removal and replacement of unsafe cladding is the responsibility of the owners of individual buildings. The Government is supporting the remediation of unsafe cladding on eligible residential buildings of 18 metres and above through the provision of £5.1 billion in funding and the provision of expert construction consultancy support to building owners, and where remediation is not happening quickly enough we are supporting enforcement action against them.

This data can be found here:

ACM data: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/aluminium-composite-material-cladding#acm-remediation-data

Building Safety Fund (non-ACM) data: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remediation-of-non-acm-buildings#building-safety-fund-registration-statistics

Christopher Pincher
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
23rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, with reference to the Government's press release, Ambitious plans to drive levelling up agenda, published on 19 September 2021, whether the removal of local government from his Department's name reflects a change in the priority of local government in Government policy.

No.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
22nd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, for what reason local government has been removed from his Department's name; and what assessment he has made of the effect of that change to his Department's title on the Government's plans to tackle the challenges faced by local authorities.

As a new Department with the unique and defining purpose of levelling up communities across the entirety of the UK the new Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has a broad and ambitious set of objectives, working to provide equal opportunity across the UK so that the talent and ambition match the opportunities people can access. To do this, DLUHC leads the Levelling Up agenda across government, working with other departments and in partnership with local government

The change of name of the Department reflect the enhanced focus the Government is placing on its intention to deliver improvement across the whole of the United Kingdom. With its newly expanded remit, the Department will be even better placed to support the Government in its plans to tackle the challenges faced by local authorities.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Prime Minister, whether he raised any concerns regarding the plans for NATO withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan during his discussions with the President of the United States.

My recent discussions with President Biden have covered a number of issues including: the rapid and safe evacuation of our nationals and those who previously worked with our governments, the importance of not losing the gains made in Afghanistan over the last twenty years, protecting ourselves against any emerging threat from terrorism, and continuing to support the people of Afghanistan. We also agreed on the need for the global community to come together to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. I outlined UK plans to play a leading role in pursuing these objectives, including through regional partners, the UN and the G7.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
16th Jul 2021
To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the House of Commons Commission, what steps the House of Commons Commission is taking to protect the safety of all Parliamentary staff from covid-19.

The House of Commons Commission has ensured that the House Service has implemented the working safely during coronavirus guidance to ensure we remain a Covid-secure workplace.

At every stage of the Government roadmap, or when updated guidance has been published, the Parliamentary Covid risk assessment has been reviewed and updated to ensure the appropriate mitigations are put in place. The latest version of the risk assessment was published in the last week, incorporating Government guidance on ‘how to stay safe and help prevent the spread from 19 July’ and the sector specific guidance published on the 14th July.

The risk assessment has been made available to all and can be found at

https://www.parliament.uk/globalassets/transparency-publications--hoc-transparency-publications/health-and-safety/hop-v1-hop-covid-risk-assessment-issued.pdf

To complement the Parliamentary Covid risk assessment the individual risk assessment tool has been in use since November 2020, to allow the House Service to identify those at higher risk and ensure appropriate measures are in place.

17th Jun 2021
To ask the Prime Minister, with reference to WhatsApp communications dated 27 March 2020, published by Dominic Cummings on 16 June 2021, if he will publish his WhatsApp communications with (a) Dominic Cummings and (b) the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care between 1 February 2020 and 16 June 2021 on the roll out of covid-19 testing.

I refer the Hon Member to the response I gave him on 21 June, UIN 16936.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Prime Minister, with reference to WhatsApp communications dated 27 March 2020, published by Dominic Cummings on 16 June 2021, whether his assessment on that date was that the roll out of covid-19 testing was totally hopeless.

Throughout this pandemic, the whole of Government’s priority has been to save lives, protect the NHS, and support people’s jobs and livelihoods, right across the United Kingdom. We have stood side-by-side with the private sector, procuring enormous volumes of goods and expertise with extreme urgency – often, these were literally matters of life and death. This has delivered:

  • The biggest vaccination programme we have ever undertaken.

  • The largest diagnostic network in British history – with over 190 million tests conducted.

  • A stockpile of over 32 billion items of PPE as a result of a phenomenal cross-government, international purchasing effort.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
19th May 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, if she will hold discussions with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on collecting data on domestic abuse survivors’ access to Discretionary Housing Payments.

Equalities Ministers meet frequently with Ministerial colleagues across government to discuss a range of issues.

Since 2011, the Department for Work and Pensions has provided local authorities (LAs) with Discretionary Housing Payments funding of over £1 billion, to support vulnerable groups. The allocation of these payments is for LAs to decide, in line with their own priorities and reflecting government guidance aimed at targeting funds to those most in need, including domestic abuse survivors.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, with reference to the Department of Health and Social Care’s press release on uptake of covid-19 vaccinations within the Black community published on 30 March 2021, what steps she is taking to tackle low levels of trust in institutions and authorities within the Black community; and what information her Department holds on levels of trust amongst the Black community in those institutions and authorities.

The Government has access to, and regularly monitors, data with breakdowns by ethnicity on trust in public institutions, trust in government, attitudes towards the vaccine programme and wider government policy on COVID-19. The Government also carefully monitors data on vaccine uptake, intention to take a vaccine and reasons for hesitancy. This is from a number of sources, including data from the ONS and other surveys.

There is a significant cross-government programme of work underway to increase confidence in the vaccination programme and to drive uptake among ethnic minority groups. This includes hosting vaccination centres in places of worship, tackling misinformation through the Counter Disinformation Unit and, through the Government's Community Champions scheme, using trusted local voices to encourage uptake.

There is also a wider government communications campaign using media medics and recognised voices across ethnic minority and faith communities to build trust and encourage vaccine uptake.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
8th Mar 2021
To ask the hon. Member for City of Chester, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing automatic voter registration.

The Commission supports electoral registration reforms that would make it easier for people to register or to update their details throughout the year. This might include adding people automatically from other datasets, or other automated solutions which still require confirmatory action by the voter.

In 2019, the Commission investigated the feasibilty of such reforms. It found these were possible from a technical perspective and could be implemented without radically altering the structure of the electoral registration system in the UK.

The Commission's view is that this could help improve registration levels among some under-registered groups, including the youngest part of the franchise. This would ensure that as many people as possible are able to participate in our democracy.

18th Jan 2021
To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, pursuant to the Answer of 18 January 2021 to Question 136593, whether Members' staff working on the parliamentary estate or in a constituency office incur a work-related expense that is additional to usual living costs by needing to purchase food at that location.

As is common in most employment arrangements, Members' employees are expected to provide for their own nourishment and refreshment at work, whether they purchase that or bring it in from home. The position is different for volunteers as they are not employed and provided with a salary from which to provide that sustenance. For that reason, volunteers can claim for the additional costs associated with volunteering for an MP, for example when on the parliamentary estate or in a constituency office (which includes food) which Members' staff cannot.

18th Jan 2021
To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, pursuant to the Answer of 18 January 2021 to Question 136594, for what reasons IPSA recognise that Members' staff incur additional costs while working at home through introducing a monthly working from home payment, but do not consider volunteers to be similarly incurring additional costs while volunteering from home for an hon Member.

The payment the Hon Member refer's to is IPSA's administration of the tax-free allowance which can be paid to employees who are required to work from home, under HMRC rules. As a tax mechanism, this does not apply to people who volunteer.

12th Jan 2021
To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, pursuant to the Answer of 11 January 2021 to Question 133126, for what reasons IPSA has not included the geographical restrictions of volunteer subsistence expenses within the wording of the (i) scheme as it relates to volunteers and (ii) IPSA model volunteer contract; what steps IPSA has taken to ensure that policy complies with section 5(1) of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009; where previously IPSA has published its policy of geographical restrictions of volunteer subsistence costs; when and with whom IPSA consulted ahead of introducing that policy; what steps IPSA took to communicate that policy; on what dates that communication occurred; and whether IPSA has undertaken an assessment of the appropriateness of that policy position during the covid-19 outbreak.

IPSA has informed me that the arrangements for volunteer expenses were updated in March 2014 when the new model volunteer agreement was produced. This was communicated through the IPSA bulletin at the time and is available on the IPSA website. The Hon. Member is correct that there is no geographical stipulation in the volunteer expenses rules. There is a balance to strike when drawing up policy and guidance between on the one hand brevity and clarity and on the other detailing all possible scenarios. There will always be an element of judgement and interpretation when unusual situations such as the Covid19 pandemic occur.

12th Jan 2021
To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, on which dates in January 2021 the directors of IPSA (a) met and (b) plan to meet to discuss volunteer subsistence costs; and if IPSA will publish minutes relating to (i) those meetings and (ii) other senior IPSA management meetings in the past six months on volunteer subsistence costs.

There have not been any specific director meetings on volunteer expenses but the policy team and the Chief Executive of IPSA considered carefully the issue of food costs for volunteers who are working from home. A guiding principle in the stewardship of the use of public funds is that reimbursement is appropriate where there is a work-related expense that is additional to usual living costs. In this case, volunteers working on the parliamentary estate or in a constituency office would be incurring additional expense by needing to purchase food. This is not the case when the volunteer is at home as they would not incur additional food costs whilst working for an MP.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, if IPSA will provide volunteers working at home during the covid-19 outbreak with the lunch expenses as provided for in the model volunteer agreement.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) provides funding for staffing and business costs to support MPs in their parliamentary functions, in line with the rules and general conditions set out in its Scheme.

MPs may claim for the cost of reasonable food and travel expenses to be paid to volunteers who are supporting their parliamentary work, to ensure they are not out of pocket as a result of their volunteer activities. This may include, for example, the purchase of lunch when working away from home. Volunteer expenses may only be reimbursed to cover actual costs incurred as a result of supporting the MP and are not intended to be used as a daily food allowance to fund the consumption of food and drink in a volunteer's own home.

24th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps the Government is taking to reduce the gender pay gap in the public sector.

We are working across government and with representative bodies to address the gender pay gap in different public sector workforces.

This includes supporting the Department of Health and Social Care and the independent review of the gender pay gap in medicine led by Dame Jane Dacre. We are also encouraging initiatives in other public sector workforces, including policing and different parts of the education sector.

To support all employers, we have published evidence-based guidance on practical actions they can take to create more inclusive workplaces.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
24th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what recent steps she has taken to ensure that more women are appointed to (a) leadership and (b) executive roles in companies.

The Government has commissioned and supports the business led, independent Hampton-Alexander Review which has a 33% target for women on boards and in senior leadership positions across the FTSE350 by close 2020.

The Government also supports the recently launched Leaders As Change Agents board which is working to increase diversity in critical decision-making roles.

Women hold a higher percentage of senior leadership positions than ever before. I am pleased to report the good news that the FTSE100 have achieved their 33% target ahead of schedule. The FTSE350 have 31.5% women on boards and 28.2% of women in executive positions and their direct reports.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
31st Mar 2021
To ask the Attorney General, what estimate she has made of the number of CPS prosecutions that have been classified as no longer in the public interest as a result of delays in criminal trials beginning in each of the last five years.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) case outcome records compiled in the Case Management System include an allocation of a principal reason for finalised prosecutions not resulting in a conviction (non-conviction outcomes), including the numbers which failed for public interest reasons.

The CPS does not have a specific reason accounting for delays in criminal trials. However, the category ‘Other charge/indictment; loss/harm minor from single incident; delay between offence/charge and trial’ may be allocated. This can apply where there has been a delay since the commission of the offence, or since the defendant was charged, leading either to the case being dropped by the CPS, or stopped by the court on the grounds of abuse of process. It is not possible to further disaggregate these reasons.

The table below shows the number of defendants allocated this reason in each of the last five years, and the six months April to September 2020

2015-2016

2016-2017

2017-2018

2018-2019

2019-2020

April - Sept 2020

Other charge/indictment, loss/harm minor from single incident, delay between offence/charge and trial

5,706

4,711

4,011

4,194

4,417

6,107

% Other charge/indictment, loss/harm minor from single incident, delay between offence/charge and trial

0.9%

0.8%

0.8%

0.8%

1.0%

4.3%

Total Non-Conviction Outcomes

107,579

94,692

84,834

80,474

70,816

21,857

% Non-Conviction Outcomes

16.9%

16.1%

15.9%

16.3%

15.7%

15.4%

Total Completed Prosecution Outcomes

637,778

588,021

533,161

494,811

451,046

141,885

Data Source: CPS Case Management Information System

Between April and September 2020, the volume of completed prosecution outcomes reduced due to court closures and social distancing. However, the volume of cases dropped by the CPS are not as reliant on court hearings and were less impacted.

In response to COVID-19 the CPS introduced an Interim Case Review Guidance on the Application of the Public Interest, as part of the COVID-19 crisis response. The guidance is to be applied for charging decisions, including decisions on whether to continue or discontinue a case that has already been charged. The guidance advises that when considering the question of whether a prosecution is a proportionate response, prosecutors should do so in the context of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the potential delay to criminal proceedings. Application of the principles set out in this guidance may have contributed to an increase in the proportion of cases dropped under the category of ‘Other charge/indictment; loss/harm minor from single incident; delay between offence/charge and trial’.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Attorney General, what proportion of the vehicles used by her Department on Government business are electric vehicles.

The Department for Transport is responsible for all government vehicles managed by the Government Car Service.

The Attorney General’s Office, Government Legal Department, Serious Fraud Office and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate have no other vehicles to report.

The Crown Prosecution Service currently lease 4 vehicles, none are currently electric vehicles.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
26th May 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the covid-secure bar in operation within Downing Street on 17 November 2020 as referred to in WhatsApp messages between Downing Street aides published in media reports on 25 May 2022, whether his Office holds information on the (a) opening times and (b) covid-secure measures that were in place.

I refer the Hon. Member to the Second Permanent Secretary's report and its conclusions, alongside the Prime Minister's statement to the House of 25 May 2022.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
25th May 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether any alcohol consumed at Downing Street gatherings, for which fixed penalty notices were issued due to breaches of covid-19 regulations, was purchased from the public purse.

No.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
25th May 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the fixed-penalty notices issued to Downing Street staff for breaching covid-19 regulations, whether any staff (a) have been dismissed and (b) are being investigated for (i) misconduct or (ii) gross misconduct.

Following the completion of the Metropolitan Police investigation and publication of the Second Permanent Secretary’s Report, the Cabinet Office and other relevant Government departments are carefully considering findings in relation to allegations of misconduct by their staff, with proper regard to existing disciplinary processes.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
24th May 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how empty glass bottles in Number 10 Downing Street are recycled.

As part of the Cabinet Office’s Environmental Policy, glass receptacles, including bottles, collected from the Cabinet Office’s central London estate, are recycled via the Government Property Agency’s facilities management contract with Mitie FM.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, (a) what assessment his Department made to the threat that Russian cyber-attacks poses to UK security and (b) what measures his Department has introduced to improve the UK's cyber-security capabilities.

As set out in the recently published National Cyber Strategy we will make sure that the UK continues to be a leading, responsible and democratic cyber power, and that we are able to protect and promote our interests in the rapidly evolving online world. We will build on the previous strategy as well as the work of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). The NCSC engages directly with UK industry and the government, providing advice on actions to take in response to the cyber threats.

We are not aware of any current specific threats to UK organisations in relation to events in and around Ukraine. In heightened periods of international tension, all organisations should be vigilant to the risk of cyber compromise and follow the NCSC’s guidance during such periods of heightened cyber risk.

A core component of our National Cyber Strategy is to strengthen the cyber security of government and public services. The Government Cyber Security Strategy, launched in January 2022, will make sure that core government functions are resilient to cyber attacks. This work will be supported by an enhanced assurance regime to raise standards and a new Government Cyber Coordination Centre. The delivery of both the National and Government strategies is supported by £2.6 billion of investment over three years.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
8th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the responsibilities of the Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency are.

The Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP was appointed as the Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency, in the Cabinet Office, on 8 February.

The Minister of State will be responsible for realising the opportunities arising from Brexit and increasing the efficiency of government.

A full list of ministerial responsibilities will be published in due course.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether his new Chief of Staff will receive remuneration for that role in addition to his Ministerial salary.

I refer the Hon. Member to the reply I gave to the Hon. Member for Blackpool South on 7 February 2022 (Hansard volume 708, column 700).

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
13th Dec 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the 10 Downing Street Quiz held on 15 December 2020, at what time did that quiz (a) start and (b) finish; and what the estimated cost to the public purse was of that event.

I refer the Hon Member to the answers given by my Rt Hon Friend the Prime Minister at Prime Minister's Questions on 8 December and those given by me in the House on 9 December. Copies of the terms of reference for the Cabinet Secretary’s investigations have been placed in the Libraries of the House and are also available on the GOV.UK website.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
13th Dec 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the alleged 10 Downing Street quiz held on 15 December, (a) what the quiz questions were, (b) what the answers to the quiz were and (c) whether any prizes were given out.

I refer the Hon Member to the answers given by my Rt Hon Friend the Prime Minister at Prime Minister's Questions on 8 December and those given by me in the House on 9 December. Copies of the terms of reference for the Cabinet Secretary’s investigations have been placed in the Libraries of the House and are also available on the GOV.UK website.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
13th Dec 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the 10 Downing Street Quiz held on 15 December 2020, who attended that event physically; and how Tier Two covid-19 restrictions on that date were complied with by attendees.

I refer the Hon Member to the answers given by my Rt Hon Friend the Prime Minister at Prime Minister's Questions on 8 December and those given by me in the House on 9 December. Copies of the terms of reference for the Cabinet Secretary’s investigations have been placed in the Libraries of the House and are also available on the GOV.UK website.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
24th Nov 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the benefits of offering all press conferences in British Sign Language.

The Government provides a BSL Interpreter for COVID press conferences and COVID data briefings on its social media channels to make essential public health information widely accessible. The Cabinet Office is also examining how we could extend similar provision for all public broadcasts (including non-COVID broadcasts) from No9 Downing Street.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, for what reason his Department has withdrawn from Stonewalls' Diversity Champions programme.

Cabinet Office ceased its Stonewall membership in 2020 on the grounds of delivering value for the taxpayer.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
6th Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, for what reason press conferences from his office are not offered with a British Sign Language translator; and if he will make a statement.

As a matter of practice, the BBC has, since March 2020, provided BSL interpretation on its News Channel in respect of the vast majority of Covid media briefings, and continues to do so. A clean feed of the BSL interpretation has, since May, been made available for use on government social media channels.

In the relatively rare event that the BBC chooses not to provide BSL interpretation, we will be notified in advance of the briefing. We will then arrange for an independent organisation to provide BSL interpretation of the briefing in question, further to an arrangement that came into effect on 26 November. That BSL interpretation will be made available on government social media channels (including the No 10 YouTube channel). It will also be made available to broadcasters and other media outlets for TV and social media channels.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the Civil Service management code, what his Department's guidance is on personal relationships between (a) employees and (b) line managers.

The Ministerial Code states: "Working relationships, including with civil servants, ministerial and parliamentary colleagues and parliamentary staff should be proper and appropriate". Ministers are personally responsible for deciding how to act and conduct themselves in the light of the Code and for justifying their actions and conduct to Parliament and the public.

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants. Departments and agencies are responsible for defining the standards of conduct they require of their staff.

Notwithstanding, the Government also recognises that all individuals have a right to a private life, and does not seek to restrict the personal relationships and friendships between adults.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the Ministerial Code, what his Department's guidance is on personal relationships between Ministers and (a) officials and (b) advisers.

The Ministerial Code states: "Working relationships, including with civil servants, ministerial and parliamentary colleagues and parliamentary staff should be proper and appropriate". Ministers are personally responsible for deciding how to act and conduct themselves in the light of the Code and for justifying their actions and conduct to Parliament and the public.

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants. Departments and agencies are responsible for defining the standards of conduct they require of their staff.

Notwithstanding, the Government also recognises that all individuals have a right to a private life, and does not seek to restrict the personal relationships and friendships between adults.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the (a) Prime Minister's and (b) Government's compliance with section 9.1 of the Ministerial Code.

The Government throughout the pandemic has been extremely mindful of the importance of keeping both Parliament and the public informed when decisions are taken.

The Prime Minister met with the Speaker last week and agreed that Parliament will be informed as announcements are made, and that we also reach as many members of the public as possible.

The Government has provided more than 80 Covid-19 statements to Parliament since the first on 23 Jan 2020. This is in addition to the various debates in government, backbench and opposition time, oral questions, urgent questions and legislation debates.

The regulations to keep England in step 3 of the Roadmap were debated and approved by both Houses on 16 June.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment they have made of the potential (a) threats and (b) opportunities of artificial intelligence in respect of their Department’s responsibilities.

The information requested on spend is not held centrally.

The opportunities and considerations associated with the use of AI continue to be explored, as outlined in the guidance on building and using artificial intelligence in the public sector, published on GOV.UK at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/a-guide-to-using-artificial-intelligence-in-the-public-sector

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, to what extent their Department makes use of artificial intelligence in the implementation of its policies; and how much was spent from their Department’s budget on artificial intelligence in each of the last three years.

The information requested on spend is not held centrally.

The opportunities and considerations associated with the use of AI continue to be explored, as outlined in the guidance on building and using artificial intelligence in the public sector, published on GOV.UK at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/a-guide-to-using-artificial-intelligence-in-the-public-sector

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
27th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 26 May 2021 to Question 3121 on Emergencies: Mobile Phones, whether he has plans to assess the potential effect of the Emergency Alerts Service issued alert on telecommunication capacity in emergency areas as a result of any significant increase in access to the telecommunication demand following recipients' receipt of an alert, including a significant surge in (a) phone calls, (b) messages and (c) access to data and links provided through the alert.

Further to the Written Ministerial Statement published on 17 May 2021, we will consider how best to inform Hon. Members as part of the ongoing development of protocols for use.

To date, experience in other countries indicates that phone networks can handle a rise in calls made after an alert is sent. The number of phones which receive an alert has no impact on the Emergency Alert system - a number of countries conduct similar nationwide tests with no negative impact. Links embedded in alerts will always refer to the gov.uk website, which has been designed in a way to handle significantly higher rates of visits than normal websites and has been proven to be able to handle millions of visits in the seconds after announcements are made.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
27th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 26 May 2021 to Question 3121 on Emergencies: Mobile Phones, if he will make it his Department's policy that hon. Members are notified of alerts issued to their constituents through the Emergency Alerts Service either simultaneously or immediately afterwards, whichever ensures that there is no delay to constituents' receipt of that alert.

Further to the Written Ministerial Statement published on 17 May 2021, we will consider how best to inform Hon. Members as part of the ongoing development of protocols for use.

To date, experience in other countries indicates that phone networks can handle a rise in calls made after an alert is sent. The number of phones which receive an alert has no impact on the Emergency Alert system - a number of countries conduct similar nationwide tests with no negative impact. Links embedded in alerts will always refer to the gov.uk website, which has been designed in a way to handle significantly higher rates of visits than normal websites and has been proven to be able to handle millions of visits in the seconds after announcements are made.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
20th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what estimate he has made of the value of (a) buildings, (b) nuclear power stations and (c) other UK assets owned outside the UK; and which countries' residents rank highest in terms of their ownership of such UK assets.

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

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he has made an assessment of the potential effect of the Emergency Alerts Service issued alert on telecommunication capacity in emergency areas as a result of any significant increase in access to the telecommunication demand following recipients' receipt of an alert.

I refer the Hon. Member to the Written Ministerial Statement published on 17 May 2021. No personal data is used at any stage of the message sending process. The Government is committed to ensuring Emergency Alerts reach members of the public during an emergency as quickly as possible; as such it is not possible to provide advance notice to Hon. Members prior to transmission of an alert, similar to other local responses.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
18th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether individuals will be able to opt-out of the UK's Emergency Alerts Service.

I refer the Hon. Member to the Written Ministerial Statement published on 17 May 2021. No personal data is used at any stage of the message sending process. The Government is committed to ensuring Emergency Alerts reach members of the public during an emergency as quickly as possible; as such it is not possible to provide advance notice to Hon. Members prior to transmission of an alert, similar to other local responses.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
18th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what estimate he has made of the average number of alerts that will potentially be issued through the UK's Emergency Alerts Service on an annual basis; and what safeguards will be in place to ensure that only serious emergencies trigger the alerts so as to ensure messages are always taken seriously.

I refer the Hon. Member to the Written Ministerial Statement published on 17 May 2021. No personal data is used at any stage of the message sending process. The Government is committed to ensuring Emergency Alerts reach members of the public during an emergency as quickly as possible; as such it is not possible to provide advance notice to Hon. Members prior to transmission of an alert, similar to other local responses.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
18th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will make it his Department's policy to ensure that hon. Members are notified of alerts issued to their constituents through the Emergency Alerts service at the time of those alerts.

I refer the Hon. Member to the Written Ministerial Statement published on 17 May 2021. No personal data is used at any stage of the message sending process. The Government is committed to ensuring Emergency Alerts reach members of the public during an emergency as quickly as possible; as such it is not possible to provide advance notice to Hon. Members prior to transmission of an alert, similar to other local responses.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
18th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Emergency Alerts service will send the personal user data of the recipient of an alert through that service to the Government.

I refer the Hon. Member to the Written Ministerial Statement published on 17 May 2021. No personal data is used at any stage of the message sending process. The Government is committed to ensuring Emergency Alerts reach members of the public during an emergency as quickly as possible; as such it is not possible to provide advance notice to Hon. Members prior to transmission of an alert, similar to other local responses.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what proportion of the vehicles used by the Prime Minister's office on Government business are electric vehicles.

Further to the answer given to PQ 112105, the Cabinet Office uses vehicles from the Government Car Service, alongside other providers.

The Government Car Service is already electrifying its vehicles, with nearly 50% of their fleet either full battery electric or plug-in hybrid.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what proportion of the vehicles used by his Department on Government business are electric vehicles.

Further to the answer given to PQ 112105, the Cabinet Office uses vehicles from the Government Car Service, alongside other providers.

The Government Car Service is already electrifying its vehicles, with nearly 50% of their fleet either full battery electric or plug-in hybrid.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
4th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on ensuring veterans can access mental health services when the November 2020 covid-19 restrictions come into effect.

In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions are not normally disclosed.

Throughout the pandemic, NHS England and NHS Improvement have ensured those who require NHS services have been able to access them as easily and safely as possible. This includes veteran specific services, such as the Veterans Trauma Network, Transition Intervention and Liaison Service and Complex Treatment Service which continued with the majority of care being delivered through on-line and telephone consultations. Providers continue to look at how face-to-face appointments can be delivered safely whilst maintaining a video and digital offer throughout November 2020.

The charity sector also provides support for veterans seeking support with their mental health and wellbeing. The Government recognises this important role and £10m of additional funding was made available to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust in the Budget specifically for veterans wellbeing support and a further £6m through the COVID-19 Impact Fund. In addition to this the Government has funded research to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of our veterans.

16th Mar 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 16 March 2020 to Question 23469, whether any of the Prime Minister's special advisers had developed vetting level security clearance as of 2 March 2020.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer I gave to PQ 23479 on 16 March 2020 with regards to vetting of Special Advisers.

Data related to the number and costs of special advisers is published annually. Publication of the costs for the most recent reporting period will follow in due course.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 13 March 2020 to Question 25183 on Ministerial Policy Advisors: Dismissal, if he will publish the payments that specialist advisers received on termination of their employment which (a) were and (b) were not in accordance with section 14b of the Model Contract for Special Advisers in each of the last six months.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer I gave to PQ 23479 on 16 March 2020 with regards to vetting of Special Advisers.

Data related to the number and costs of special advisers is published annually. Publication of the costs for the most recent reporting period will follow in due course.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Mar 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the ONS data on the well-being of adults, if he will make it his policy to collect data on the well-being of children at the same (a) level and (b) frequency and (c) data size as for adults.

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)
13th Mar 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what sample size the Office for National Statistics uses to produce well-being data for (a) adults and (b) children.

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)
12th Mar 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, when he plans to respond to Questions 23469 and 25181 tabled on 4 March 2020 by the hon. Member for Slough.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer which I gave to PQ 25181 on 13 March 2020 and to PQ 23469 on 16 March 2020.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Mar 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 9 March 2020 to Question 25185, for what reasons only figures for the Home Office were supplied and not figures for all government departments; whether those figures provided include grievances against Ministers; for what reasons grievances against those in Government who hold public office are not recorded separately to grievances against Government employees; and if he will publish information on grievances against all Ministers (a) individually or (b) by Department.

As I set out in my answer to Question 25185, the annual report of the Independent Adviser on Ministerial Interests sets out details of investigations undertaken by the Adviser into alleged breaches of the Ministerial Code. The next annual report will be published in due course.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 3 March February 2020 to Question 22028, how much money has this Government spent on (a) recruiting and (b) dismissing special advisers since the Prime Minister took office.

Special advisers are appointed in line with the provisions of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. The Model Contract for special advisers sets out notice and severance pay entitlements for special advisers upon termination of their employment.

Data related to the number and costs of special advisers are published annually. The most recent report was published 20 December 2019 and is available online and in the Library of the House.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 3 March February 2020 to Question 22028 on Ministerial Policy Advisors, for what reason costs relating to the (a) recruitment and (b) dismissal of special advisers are not contained in his Department's Annual Report on Special Advisers.

Special advisers are appointed in line with the provisions of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. The Model Contract for special advisers sets out notice and severance pay entitlements for special advisers upon termination of their employment.

Data related to the number and costs of special advisers are published annually. The most recent report was published 20 December 2019 and is available online and in the Library of the House.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 03 March February 2020 to Question 22028 on Ministerial Policy Advisors, whether any special advisors received payment as a result of a termination of their employment which was not in accordance with section 14b of the Model Contract for Special Advisers in the most recent reporting period for which figures are available.

Special advisers are appointed in line with the provisions of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. The Model Contract for special advisers sets out notice and severance pay entitlements for special advisers upon termination of their employment.

Data related to the number and costs of special advisers are published annually. The most recent report was published 20 December 2019 and is available online and in the Library of the House.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many allegations of (a) bullying and (b) harassment have been made against each Minister holding office in his Government by (i) civil servants and (ii) other Ministers, in each of the last twelve months.

I refer the Hon. member to the answer given by my Rt. Hon. friend, the Member for Louth and Horncastle, to PQ 251302 on 15 May 2019 and to the answer given by my Rt. Hon. friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in response to an urgent question on the 2nd March 2020 (Official Record, Vol. 672 Col.609)

The annual report of the independent Adviser on Ministerial Interests sets out details of investigations undertaken by the adviser into alleged breaches of the Ministerial Code.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether all of the Prime Minister's special advisers had developed vetting level security clearance as of 2 March 2020.

As with all civil servants, special advisers are subject to National Security Vetting. Vetting requirements are determined for each role on a case by case basis.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how much money has been spent on (a) recruiting, (b) employing and (c) dismissing special advisers since he took office.

A report on the numbers and costs of special advisers is provided to Parliament and published on an annual basis. The report for financial year 2018/2019 was published in December 2019 and can be accessed here: Annual Report on Special Advisers 2019.

The report covering the current financial year will be published in due course.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether his Department plans to update the National Cyber Security Strategy on the use of artificial intelligence.

Our current National Cyber Security Strategy (2016-2021) is delivering transformational change, building new capabilities and intervening to address the cyber threat.

Our manifesto has committed to investing more in cyber security, embracing new technologies and legislating to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.

The government's future approach to cyber security will form part of the Integrated Security, Defence and Foreign Policy Review, which will consider all aspects of our defence and security capabilities, including ways in which technological changes could have implications for our security.

29th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of trends in the levels of real-terms research funding since 2010.

The Office for National Statistics publishes data on UK gross expenditure on research and development (GERD). Its latest published figures show £38.5 billion in 2019 compared to £25.9 billion in 2010, a nominal increase of about 49%. Adjusted for changes in the GDP deflator, this suggests an increase in constant prices of about 26% over the same period.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the provisions within the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 relating to the public register of beneficial owners of non-UK entities that own or buy land in the UK, for what reason her Department provided for an 18-month transition period for those provisions.

The Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 requires overseas companies already owning land in England and Wales, and Scotland, to register their beneficial owners within six months. The six-month transitional period gives existing owners of property, with the vast majority legitimately holding property through overseas entities, time to understand and comply with the new rules.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with travel companies on failures to refund passengers who have had their package holiday cancelled due to the covid-19 pandemic.

The Government is working closely with the travel sector and consumer advocacy bodies to assess the impact of cancellations made in light of the Covid-19 outbreak. Ministers and officials from across government meet representatives from the travel industry regularly.

We are committed to doing all we can to ensure business are fulfilling their obligations to consumers to exercise their rights for Covid19-related refunds. The Government is working closely with the relevant authorities, including Trading Standards, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), and the Civil Aviation Authority.

The CMA has issued guidance on cancellations and refunds and has been monitoring and investigating the sector, undertaking enforcement action where appropriate. The CMA also has the power to take firms to court if they fail to comply with legislative requirements.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to section 28 of the Additional Restrictions Grant guidance for local authorities, published in December 2021, whether businesses which pay business rates are eligible for the additional restrictions grant.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Government has delivered an unprecedented package of support for businesses. Over £26bn has been allocated on business grants with a further £1 billion of support announced, in December 2021, for businesses in England most impacted by Omicron.  From this, £635 million has been made available for local authorities to support the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors and over £100 million of discretionary funding for businesses severely impacted by Omicron through the Additional Restrictions Grant scheme.

Local Authorities are encouraged to support businesses from all sectors that have been severely impacted by restrictions, or by the Omicron variant, including those paying business rates.

Further information on eligibility can be found in the guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-restrictions-support-grants-lrsg-and-additional-restrictions-grant-arg-guidance-for-local-authorities

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the number of covid-19 vaccine doses that his Department will have donated to COVAX by the end of January 2022.

To date, COVAX have accepted UK donations of 26.2 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Of this, 6.2m doses have already been delivered via COVAX to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. A further 11 million doses have been received by COVAX and have been, or shortly will be, allocated and delivered in line with COVAX’s fair allocation model. The remaining 9 million doses that have been committed will be received by COVAX by the end of 2021.

In addition, the Government announced at the G20 in October that the UK will donate at least 20 million more doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca from the remainder of our contract in 2022 and will donate all the 20 million Janssen doses ordered by the Government to COVAX. Janssen aim to prioritise these deliveries to countries based on need, so COVAX will receive the much-needed vaccines as soon as they come off the production line.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether it is his policy to issue any further drilling permits for oil fields in the North Sea.

While the Government is working hard to drive down demand for fossil fuels, there will continue to be ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming years, as recognised by the independent Climate Change Committee, with the UK expected to remain net importers of both oil and gas throughout the transition.

As a result of the review of future oil and gas licensing announced earlier this year, BEIS will introduce a new Climate Compatibility Checkpoint for all future licences. This checkpoint will be just one additional layer of scrutiny on top of the existing rigorous regulatory processes carried out by the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning, and the Oil and Gas Authority’s own assessment of net zero impacts as part of its consents process. BEIS will be seeking input on the design of the checkpoint in due course.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential environmental impact of the Cambo Oil Field on (a) the surrounding wildlife, (b) achieving net zero emission by 2050 and (c) global temperatures.

The Cambo oil field was first licensed in 2001. Development proposals for fields with existing licences, such as Cambo, are subject to a rigorous scrutiny process prior to consent by the independent Oil and Gas Authority, as well as an environmental impact assessment and a public consultation by the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning. Any assessment of the environmental impacts associated with the proposed project is in accordance with the Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration, Production, Unloading and Storage (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2020. No decision has yet been taken on the Cambo project.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of the procurement by the UK of the covid-19 booster jab through COVAX on developing countries.

We have already secured the doses we need for everyone in the UK who requires a booster this Autumn/Winter

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether it is the policy of his Department to use COVAX to procure more doses of the covid-19 booster jab.

We have already secured the doses we need for everyone in the UK who requires a booster this Autumn/Winter

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will ensure future research funding allocations retain their real-terms value in line with inflation.

In announcing the Spending Review 2021, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer reiterated the Government’s commitment to cement the UK as a ‘scientific superpower’.

All future funding decisions will be subject to the outcome of the Spending Review, and we are working with HM Treasury to agree an ambitious R&D package.

The Spending Review will conclude on 27 October. We will then undertake the Departmental allocations process.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to protect the long-term ability of university chemistry departments to develop the chemistry talent pipeline.

The Government is committed to cementing the UK’s status as a global science superpower, and recognises that great people are at the heart of great research and development (R&D).

In July, we published the R&D People and Culture Strategy which sets a long-term course for research talent development and underlines our goal to ensure the UK is the most exciting place in the world for top research and innovation talent.

The Strategy sets out the actions that government and the sector, including universities, will take to ensure the UK R&D workforce has the capability and capacity it needs both now and in the future - across all disciplines.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of investing in a significant R&D programme in digital chemistry and materials innovation.

The Government’s long-term objectives for R&D are clear: to invest in the science and research that will deliver economic growth and societal benefits across the UK for decades to come, and to build the foundations for the new industries of tomorrow.

We are investing a record £14.9 billion in R&D in 2021/22 and remain committed to achieving our target of increasing total R&D investment to 2.4% by 2027.

In July 2021, the Government published the Innovation Strategy, which included an assessment of the seven technology families where the UK has globally competitive R&D and industrial strength. The families included Advanced Materials and the application of Artificial Intelligence (an AI specific strategy launched in September 2021). The Innovation strategy considered how the government could support the development of these technologies by de-risking industry activity through investment, prioritisation and the use of its convening power. The National Science and Technology Council, chaired by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister, will help identify and prioritise technologies that will make the UK a Science and Tech superpower.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of trends in the number of shops closing since 1 January 2021.

The Government recognises the challenge that empty properties on our high streets poses and the risk of the number of vacant units increasing due to the economic impacts of Covid-19.

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.

On 15 July, the Government published the Build Back Better High Streets Strategy focusing on five key priorities: breathing new life into empty buildings; supporting high street businesses; improving the public realm; creating safe and clean spaces; and celebrating pride in local communities.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will take steps to improve the workplace treatment of app-based courier drivers.

The UK has one of the best employment rights records in the world. We have made good progress in bringing forward measures that add flexibility for workers while ensuring the protection of employment rights, such as banning the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.

An individual’s entitlement to rights at work is determined by their employment status, employee, worker or self-employed. App-based courier service workers can be classed under any of these depending on their employment relationship. Employees are entitled to all rights including unfair dismissal (subject to qualifying periods) and have responsibilities towards their employer. So-called “limb (b) workers” are only entitled to some rights such as the National Minimum Wage but have increased flexibility and fewer obligations to their employer. The self-employed generally have no employment rights but have complete flexibility in their work.

We understand the importance of clarity around employment status and to ensure that individuals and businesses in the gig economy are aware of their rights and responsibilities. The Government is currently considering options to improve clarity around employment status, and we are working with stakeholders and cross-Government on how best to address it in a post-Covid scenario.

The Health and Safety Executive recently updated its guidance to cover gig economy, agency and temporary workers, which can be found here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/vulnerable-workers/gig-agency-temporary-workers/index.htm.

For health and safety purposes, gig economy workers should be treated no differently to other workers.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the prevalence of app-based courier services dismissing their couriers as a result of (a) technical issues, (b) traffic delays and (c) app malfunctions.

The UK has one of the best employment rights records in the world. We have made good progress in bringing forward measures that add flexibility for workers while ensuring the protection of employment rights, such as banning the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.

An individual’s entitlement to rights at work is determined by their employment status, employee, worker or self-employed. App-based courier service workers can be classed under any of these depending on their employment relationship. Employees are entitled to all rights including being protected against unfair dismissal (subject to qualifying periods) and have responsibilities towards their employer.

An employer needs to have a valid reason and take appropriate steps if they are to dismiss an employee. Employees who consider that their dismissal was unfair can complain to an employment tribunal, generally subject to a qualifying period of continuous service. While this does not go into details, the Government publishes quarterly tribunal statistics, including on unfair dismissal claims.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th 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 the workplace treatment of (a) app-based courier drivers and (b) other gig economy workers.

The UK has one of the best employment rights records in the world. We have made good progress in bringing forward measures that add flexibility for workers while ensuring the protection of employment rights, such as banning the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.

An individual’s entitlement to rights at work is determined by their employment status, employee, worker or self-employed. App-based courier service workers can be classed under any of these depending on their employment relationship. Employees are entitled to all rights including unfair dismissal (subject to qualifying periods) and have responsibilities towards their employer. So-called “limb (b) workers” are only entitled to some rights such as the National Minimum Wage but have increased flexibility and fewer obligations to their employer. The self-employed generally have no employment rights but have complete flexibility in their work.

We understand the importance of clarity around employment status and to ensure that individuals and businesses in the gig economy are aware of their rights and responsibilities. The Government is currently considering options to improve clarity around employment status, and we are working with stakeholders and cross-Government on how best to address it in a post-Covid scenario.

The Health and Safety Executive recently updated its guidance to cover gig economy, agency and temporary workers, which can be found here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/vulnerable-workers/gig-agency-temporary-workers/index.htm.

For health and safety purposes, gig economy workers should be treated no differently to other workers.

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, pursuant to the Answer of 21 May 2021 to Question 1169, whether he has (a) considered that evidence from Acas' fact finding exercise and (b) drawn any conclusions from that evidence.

Last year, we asked the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) to collect evidence into how fire and rehire is being used by employers. This report was published on 8 June and is available from https://www.acas.org.uk/fire-and-rehire-report.

The Government has considered the findings of the report. We remain clear that we expect all employers to treat their employees fairly and in the spirit of partnership. Using threats about firing and rehiring as a negotiation tactic is unacceptable. We expect employers and employees to negotiate new terms and conditions and there are laws around how this must be done, and protections in place when firms are considering redundancies.

This is clearly a complex area for both businesses and workers. That is why we have asked Acas to produce better, more comprehensive, clearer guidance to help employers explore all the options before considering “fire and rehire” and encourage good employment relations practice.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the sale and use of fireworks on pets and other animals.

The Government takes the issues associated with the sale and use of fireworks seriously and we understand the concerns that some people have about the potential for distress to be caused to animals. That is why there is a comprehensive regulatory framework in place for fireworks, that aims to reduce the risks and disturbances to both people and animals.

Through our public awareness campaign for the 2021 fireworks season, we will also be promoting the safe and considerate use of fireworks to the general public, to ensure that those using them do so safely and considerately.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential impact that fireworks may have on vulnerable residents.

The Government takes the issues associated with the sale and use of fireworks seriously and we understand the concerns that some people have about the potential for distress to be caused to vulnerable people. That is why there is a comprehensive regulatory framework in place for fireworks, that aims to reduce the risks and disturbances to both people and animals.

Through our public awareness campaign for the 2021 fireworks season, we will also be promoting the safe and considerate use of fireworks to the general public, to ensure that those using them do so safely and considerately.

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, pursuant to the Answer of 15 June 2021 to Question 12262, what steps is the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) taking to promote its call to evidence on the UK product safety review to (a) leading e-commerce companies and (b) consumer rights organisations; and what is the timeframe for the OPSS to (i) complete and (ii) report on that review.

The OPSS has undertaken extensive engagement with a wide range of stakeholders to promote the Call for Evidence and to hear their views. This has included engagement with leading e-commerce companies and consumer rights organisations, who have participated in a number of thematic roundtable meetings across the Call for Evidence. A crosscutting consumer-focused roundtable was also held as part of our programme of engagement.

Following closure of the Call for Evidence on 17 June, submissions will be assessed and analysed, alongside wider evidence, to inform the Government’s review of the product safety framework and a response, including a list of contributors, will be provided in due course. The OPSS will continue to engage with a wide range of stakeholders as it takes forward its review.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment they have made of the potential (a) threats and (b) opportunities of artificial intelligence in respect of their Department’s responsibilities.

Any spend by the Department on external facing digital services are subject to Cabinet Office digital and technology spend controls. Artificial Intelligence is treated as novel and contentious, and as such subject to additional scrutiny. This means threats associated with any application of Artificial Intelligence by the Department will be considered and assessed as part of this governance process.

In July 2020, Cabinet Office tasked all government departments to produce an Automation Blueprint. As part of this the Digital directorate within the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy identified potential opportunities for the application of Artificial Intelligence. There are a number of projects currently being undertaken or considered by the Department, in some cases the progression will be dependent on availability of budget from next financial year. BEIS Analysts use machine learning techniques, under the umbrella of artificial intelligence, where appropriate as part of analysis supporting policy development.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to what extent their Department makes use of artificial intelligence in the implementation of its policies; and how much was spent from their Department’s budget on artificial intelligence in each of the last three years.

There are a number of projects currently being undertaken or considered by the Department.

BEIS Analysts use machine learning techniques, under the umbrella of artificial intelligence, where appropriate as part of analysis supporting policy development.

Machine Learning projects are being

(i) undertaken:

  • Identifying the location of industrial strengths;
  • Pilot for targeting communications about business support;
  • Categorising internal documents by subject.

(ii) considered:

  • Project to understand the labour market through analysing job adverts;
  • A pilot for organising internal processes;
  • A pilot for predicting economic impacts using real time indicators.

The Department’s expenditure on artificial intelligence in each of the last three years will only be obtainable at disproportionate cost.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government has a strategy to help ensure that the UK becomes a world leader in (a) research and development, (b) regulation and (c) safe adoption of artificial intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform our lives, unlock high-skilled jobs, and increase productivity. My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced in his Ten Tech Priorities that the UK will be building on our work in AI and publishing our National AI Strategy later this year.

In particular, the AI Strategy will focus on

○ Growth of the economy through widespread use of AI technologies;

○ Ethical, safe and trustworthy development of responsible AI;

○ Resilience in the face of change through an emphasis on skills, talent and R&D.

The AI strategy will align with the Government’s plans to boost R&D investment, helping our AI pioneers to accelerate bringing new technologies to the market.

The independent Regulatory Horizons Council (RHC) has been appointed to scan the horizon for new technological innovations and provide the Government with impartial, expert advice on the regulatory reform required to support its rapid and safe introduction, while protecting citizens and the environment.

The RHC is to provide recommendations for fusion energy; unmanned aircraft (incl. drones); gene-based technologies and medical devices and have identified provisional future work including AI in Healthcare and Space and Satellites.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he is taking steps to review intellectual property legislation as it relates to the protection of (a) artificial intelligence technology and (b) inventions made by artificial intelligence.

The Government conducted a call for views on artificial intelligence (AI) and intellectual property (IP) in 2020, inviting stakeholders to share their thoughts on how AI impacts on the IP framework and help our understanding of any impact IP might have for AI, in the near to medium term.

In March this year, the Government published its response and proposed eleven actions to explore issues raised in the call for views process, with the aim of providing a system better equipped to meet the Government’s wider ambition for the UK to be a leader in AI technology. These include consulting on a range of possible policy options, including legislative change, for protecting AI generated inventions which would otherwise not meet inventorship criteria and commissioning an economic study to enhance our understanding of the role the IP framework plays in incentivising investment in AI.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure home teeth-whitening kits sold online do not contain dangerous levels of hydrogen peroxide.

Cosmetic products such as teeth whitening kits sold in the UK must meet some of the strictest safety requirements in the world and may only be placed on the market if they meet strict safety requirements, including specific restrictions on the use of potentially harmful chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) works with colleagues in local Trading Standards to take effective enforcement action where products are identified online that do not meet the UK’s product safety requirements and expects online platforms to act quickly to remove them from sale.

Through its Call for Evidence, OPSS is reviewing the UK’s product safety framework to ensure it is fit for purpose, protects consumers, and enables businesses to safely innovate and grow. The implications of non-traditional models of supply, including e-commerce, and how it has changed the way products are distributed, forms of part of the review.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government has (a) undertaken a recent review and (b) plans to review any national security implications arising from Chinese-based ownership of £143 billion of UK assets.

As set out in the Integrated Review, the UK will continue to pursue a positive trade and investment relationship with China, while ensuring our national security and values are protected.

The Government currently has powers under the Enterprise Act 2002 to intervene in certain mergers and takeovers on public interest grounds, including national security. The National Security and Investment Act 2021, due to come into force later this year, will modernise and strengthen our national security investment screening powers.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government has (a) made contingency plans and (b) undertaken any cross-government exercises to respond to a scenario where there is a significant deterioration in or complete loss of all satellite capability and the operational use of space.

The UK Space Agency, as an executive Agency of BEIS, is the lead department assessing and mitigating space-based risks to Critical National Infrastructure (CNI). There are heavy dependencies between the CNI sectors such as defence operations, communications, aviation and shipping, which we are engaged in identifying, as well as working to ensure the impact of disruptions to space services is understood and mitigated.

The UK Space Agency is developing a comprehensive response framework that includes processes to follow for a range of incidents, including those that may cause deterioration in or complete loss of all satellite capability. We are continuing to mature our risk-specific plans.

In 2020 we ran our first UKSA-led cross-government discussion exercise which focussed on the risk of conjunctions and explored impacts such as significant loss of satellite capability. We are continuing to develop our exercising package and hope to exercise a wider range of scenarios, including a potential scenario that explores complete loss of all satellite capability, in due course.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions the Government has had with (a) Government and inter-governmental space agencies and (b) Governments of countries with an active space programme on their efforts to support clean space and reduce the amount of human-made orbital debris.

The Government actively participates in multi-lateral intergovernmental fora, including the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its Subcommittees and the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee. Within these forums, the Government continues to work collaboratively with its international partners to define best practice, develop associated guidelines and support initiatives to promote sustainability and limit the generation of orbital debris.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to (a) prevent and (b) reduce the amount of space debris.

The Government is committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of outer space and has taken proactive measures to prevent, mitigate and remove space debris.

In carrying out safety assessments under its licensing process for activities in outer space, the UK Space Agency considers operators’ collision avoidance and debris mitigation measures as applied over the entire time the spacecraft remains in orbit around the Earth.

The Government also actively participates in a number of multi-lateral fora, including the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its Subcommittees (UN COPUOS) and the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), as well as a number of bodies defining safety standards. Within these fora, the Government works collaboratively with international partners to define best practice and the associated guidelines that will ensure space remains accessible for future generations.

Finally, the UK plays a leading role in supporting the development of technology for the sustainable and responsible use of space, having invested strongly in European Space Agency (ESA) programmes aimed at preventing collisions in space, improving detection and tracking of objects in space and fielding demonstration missions of active capture and safe de-orbiting of spent satellites. The UK Government has also licensed a number of UK-operated technology demonstration missions for active debris removal in orbit.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment the Government has made of the potential effect of a Kessler Syndrome type of occurrence in space on the UK's (a) national security, (b) domestic and international defence operations, (c) economy, (d) communications capability, (e) scientific research capability, (f) weather forecasting, (g) aviation and shipping sectors, (h) GPS needs; and what assessment the Government has made of the level of risk of an event of that kind occurring.

The UK Space Agency, as an executive Agency of BEIS, is the lead department assessing and mitigating space-based risks to Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), covering the aspects including those highlighted in (a) to (h). There are heavy dependencies between the CNI sectors such as defence operations, communications, aviation and shipping, which we are engaged in identifying as well as working to ensure the impact of disruptions to space services is understood and mitigated. A Kessler Syndrome incident is a theoretical risk which has the potential to significantly impact operational services, up to and including a total loss. This has never been experienced, but we are working to understand the likelihood, assess the impacts and mitigate the risk.

The Government is committed to regularly reviewing and assessing risks to ensure that they are accurately prioritised in our resilience framework. Our Space Surveillance and Tracking function is dedicated to reducing the risk from orbital hazards. We supplement US data with UK sensors and analysis to monitor orbital collisions and other events, working in conjunction with MOD Space Operations Centre. We also support several programmes and initiatives looking at options for safely removing orbital debris.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ban fire and rehire practices.

We have been very clear that using threats about firing and re-hiring simply as a negotiating tactic is completely unacceptable. We continue to emphasise that we always expect employers to treat employees fairly and in the spirit of partnership.

As we have been concerned by reports of inappropriate use of fire and rehire during negotiations, we engaged Acas to conduct a fact-finding exercise about how fire and rehire has been used in practice. We are now giving this evidence full consideration.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to better understand the changing risks from the expansion of small satellite constellations that use cheaper commercial components and the increased reliance on space-enabled technologies, to allow the Government to better plan for and mitigate the impact of severe space weather.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) works closely across Government and other infrastructure operators to ensure that the impacts of a severe space weather event are well understood, and the appropriate steps are taken to ensure Great Britain’s preparedness for major space weather events.

BEIS is due to publish a new space weather strategy later this year, which proposes undertaking targeted work to better understand the impact of space weather on space-enabled technologies.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on the travel photography industry.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has sought to keep as many business sectors open as we can to protect the economy, whilst delicately balancing the need to protect the NHS and save lives. The Department engages regularly with business representatives, stakeholders and local partners to understand the impact of Covid-19 across all sectors of the economy.

In addition, the Government has provided an unprecedented package of support to businesses and individuals affected by the pandemic, including those in the travel photography industry. This support includes grants, loans, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self Employment Income Support Scheme, the trade credit insurance guarantee and tax deferrals.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, on which date the Government last undertook a cross-departmental exercise on responding to a simulated severe space weather event; and what lessons were learnt from that exercise.

The Government last held a cross-departmental exercise on responding to a simulated severe space weather event on 23rd July 2015. This exercise was held by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and was hosted by the Government Chief Scientific Advisor.

The key lessons learnt include the need for more coordinated work in understanding and planning for impacts to passengers and operators across a range of transport sectors; the need for a clear narrative on secondary impacts; and the need to define the role of a Lead Government Department during a space weather emergency. Following this exercise, it was determined BEIS to be designated the Lead Government Department for a severe space weather event.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government plans to conduct a cross-government exercise to respond to a simulated severe space weather event.

BEIS is due to publish a new space weather strategy later this year, which will set out a five-year road map for how we intend to boost resilience and continue to increase our preparedness for a severe space weather event.

The space weather strategy will set out further details on assurance of resilience to a severe space weather event, including appropriate exercising.

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 assessment he has made of the adequacy of financial support available to serviced office providers during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has introduced an unprecedented package of support for businesses including grants for those businesses that are required to close or which are severely affected by the restrictions put in place to tackle Covid-19.

For those businesses who have not been mandated to close under the National Restrictions, support may be available through the discretionary Additional Restrictions Grant. Local Authorities are encouraged to support businesses from all sectors that may have been severely impacted by restrictions but are not eligible for the Restart Grant scheme. Local Authorities can use their local expertise to target businesses to support in their local area. Local Authorities are responsible for the administration for the Grant Scheme.

My Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced an additional £425m will be made available via the Additional Restrictions Grant meaning that more than £2bn has been made available to Local Authorities since November 2020.

Businesses and entrepreneurs that have not been able to access support, or who are unsure about the support that may be available, can also contact their nearest Business Growth Hub. Government has supported the establishment of a network of 38 of these hubs, led by each Local Enterprise Partnership area in England. Expert advisers can offer businesses of all sizes free, tailored 1-1 guidance on areas such as planning, building resilience, and funding. The hubs can also signpost further resources such as webinars and networking opportunities. LEP and Growth Hub contact details are listed online: www.lepnetwork.net/local-growth-hub-contacts/. Firms based in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales can access similar business support through the devolved governments.

The Government’s free Business Support Helpline FREEPHONE 0800 998 1098 also provides impartial advice and can often signpost firms to further specialised sources of information.  The Government publishes online all information detailing the support available to businesses who have been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. This can be found online: www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the proportion of coal from the proposed coal mine in Cumbria which will be (a) burned for energy, (b) exported, and (c) used in domestic steel production.

In their planning application to Cumbria County Council (https://planning.cumbria.gov.uk/Planning/Display/4/17/9007), West Cumbria Mining have stated that at full annual production the Whitehaven Mine will produce and sell 2.78 mega tonnes per annum of premium metallurgical coal for the use in steel making. Of this, 360,000 tonnes per annum is destined for use in the UK steel industry and the remaining 2.42 mega tonnes per annum is destined for European steel makers.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
15th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of financial support available to businesses affected by the covid-19 outbreak that are not eligible for an Additional Restrictions Grant.

The Government understands the considerable difficulties faced by UK businesses that have been adversely affected by a drop in business or closure due the coronavirus pandemic.

In November, at the beginning of the second national lockdown, the Government made available £1.1bn in discretionary funding allocated to each local authority to support businesses via the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG). This was topped up with a further £500m in January 2021. Local authorities have significant discretion in the businesses they support and the amount of grant funding per business based on local priorities.

Since March 2020, we have made available a range of business support measures including loans, small business grants through local authorities, mortgage holidays and VAT deferral.

We have also updated the support available to fit the restrictions necessary: we have increased the overall level of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme grant to 80% of trading profits covering November to January for all parts of the UK.

We have also extended the Bounce Back Loan Scheme application deadline to the end of March 2021, to further support eligible firms who need it during this ongoing period of difficulty.

We would always encourage businesses that have not been able to access support, or who are unsure about what support is available, to contact their nearest Business Growth Hub for advice. Government has established a network of 38 of these hubs, one in each Local Enterprise Partnership area in England. Businesses of all sizes are able to access free, tailored guidance from expert advisers who make up the Hub teams. All contact details are online at www.lepnetwork.net/local-growth-hub-contacts/.

The free Business Support Helpline offers impartial advice to businesses across England (FREEPHONE 0800 998 1098) provides with free, impartial business support.

Firms based in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales can access business support through their devolved Governments.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the level of support available to small businesses in Slough during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is making substantial business grants available through Local Authorities to support businesses that have been mandated to close or had their trade affected by national or local Covid-19 restrictions.

The Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) will offer grants of up to £1,500 per two-week period, available to all businesses in England that have been required to close due to local and national restrictions.

The Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) is a discretionary fund designed to support those businesses that whilst not mandated to close, are severely impacted by restrictions.

On top of the support being provided centrally, the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership has committed £11.3 million of capital to create a funding escalator of loans and equity. This will support expansion plans and help with short-term cash flow issues. In addition, Thames Valley Berkshire Business Growth Hub Recovery and Growth Programme is supporting businesses to help them plan their recovery, build resilience and maximise opportunities to grow.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of the vehicles used by his Department on Government business are electric vehicles.

BEIS currently contracts with the Government Car Service, which is a division within the Department for Transport, for the provision of two cars.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-car-service.

The vehicle fuel type can vary depending on which car has been allocated to cover on that day. Generally, the cars are electric or hybrid

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what financial support is available for the warehouse industry as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The UK government announced in March 2020 an initial package of support to protect businesses and workers against the economic emergency caused by the Coronavirus outbreak. This included around £300bn in the form of guarantees and loans aimed at eligible businesses from all business sectors (including the distribution and storage sectors) across the UK.

The financial support includes the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Schemes (the CBILS, Bounce Back Loan scheme), the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and funds allocated by Local Authorities – the Small Business Grant Fund and the additional Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund.

Eligible businesses from all sectors can apply for support under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which is helping businesses avoid having to lay staff off during the worst of the outbreak. By midnight 14 June, 9.1m jobs had been furloughed, with 1.1m employers furloughing. In total, £20.8bn has been claimed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme up to this point. This system will last until end of October 2020, with government contributions gradually decreasing.

Government continues to engage with businesses and their representative organisations to monitor the operation and success of the business support schemes.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what advice and support the Government is providing to businesses that have taken on planned seasonal debt in the low season in the expectation of being able to repay that debt in the high season but may be unable to do so as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has made a package of temporary measures available to support public services, people, and businesses through this period of significant disruption. These measures are intended to help businesses that may experience cashflow problems and include:

Grant funding of up to £10,000 for small businesses in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief, administered through local authorities in England.

  • Grant funding of up to £25,000 for retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses that own property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which offers loans of up to £5 million for small and medium-sized enterprises through the British Business Bank.

We would also encourage businesses to consult their creditor in the first instance. If businesses have an existing loan or asset purchase, such as a lease or hire purchase agreement, they may wish to ask for a repayment holiday.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
27th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to protect the supply security of critical materials.

In order to ensure UK industrial consumers have continued access to the critical materials they need, our approach is based on free, fair, and open trade internationally.

We continue to monitor the situation closely as we engage with our industrial base on this important matter.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of progress on decarbonising energy for (a) heat and (b) transport.

We have committed to publishing a heat policy roadmap in 2020. This will set out our plans to deliver the low carbon heat needed to meet our climate targets, and a programme of work to enable key strategic decisions in the first half of the 2020s on how we achieve mass transition to low carbon heating.

In the meantime, we continue to support low-carbon heating through the Renewable Heat Incentive and the Heat Networks Investment Programme, and we are developing policies to deliver low carbon heating in the 2020s and meet our climate targets. A Future Homes Standard, introduced by 2025, will require new build homes to be future proofed with low carbon heating and world leading levels of energy efficiency. We are also committed to phasing out the installation of fossil fuel heating systems in off gas grid properties and accelerating the decarbonisation of our gas supplies by increasing the proportion of green gas in the grid. We will be consulting on these commitments in due course.

We are preparing an ambitious, cross-modal Transport Decarbonisation Plan to step up our efforts and deliver the carbon emission reductions needed for the sector to play its part in reaching net zero by 2050. On roads, delivering on our Manifesto commitment, we will soon consult on the earliest date we can phase out the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment she has made of trends in the level of jobs in the low carbon and renewable economy.

We want to deliver on our net zero commitment in a way that maximises the economic benefits of our transition to cleaner economic growth, creating green jobs and new business opportunities across the country. There are now over 460,000 people working in low carbon businesses and their supply chains across the country, up from the revised 2017 estimate of 447,000 and low carbon exports are worth billions of pounds each year. According to a recent estimate, the UK low-carbon economy could grow more than four times faster than the rest of the economy between 2015 and 2030 – delivering £170 billion of exports and supporting up to 2 million jobs.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate she has made of the rate of reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in each of the last five years.

The UK Greenhouse Gas Inventory publishes assessments of annual greenhouse gas emissions. The table below shows the annual percentage change in the UK’s emissions of carbon dioxide for the years 2014-2018. Data are not yet available for 2019 emissions.

Year

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Change in UK carbon dioxide emissions from previous year

-8.4%

-3.9%

-5.5%

-3.3%

-2.4%

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
23rd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps her Department is taking to encourage employers to offer flexible working to their employees.

All employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employer have the right to request Flexible Working.

The Government wants to take this further and, subject to further consultation, we will look to introduce steps in an employment bill to make flexible working the default - unless employers have good reason not to.

The Government has also consulted on proposals for large employers (with over 250 employees) to publish their parental leave and pay and flexible working policies and to advertise jobs as open to flexible working.  We are considering next steps.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of the expansion rate of offshore wind deployment.

We have provided more support for offshore wind than any other country in the world, helping us to reach record levels of renewable electricity generation in 2019. In 2010 offshore wind generated 0.8% of the UK’s annual electricity. In 2018 it was 8% and by 2030 is projected to account for more than a third of generation.

The UK accounts for around one third of world’s offshore wind capacity and has the world’s largest offshore wind market with 9.8GW of installed capacity which is expected to rise to 14GW by 2023 and 19.5GW by 2026. The most recent (September 2019) Contract for Difference auction brought forward 5.5GW of new offshore wind capacity, 2.5 GW more than the 2017 auction.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
6th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans the Government has to negotiate alignment with the EU on employment rights after the UK leaves the EU.

The Government is committed to protecting workers’ rights and enhancing these where it is right for the UK. The Political Declaration sets out the UK’s ambition on employment provisions in our future trade agreement with the EU. In order to prevent either Party gaining an unfair trade advantage, the UK will seek a reciprocal agreement to maintain social and employment standards at the current high levels. This will both help maintain fair and open competition in trade and protect workers’ rights in the UK.

26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment has she made of the adequacy of funding made for youth services.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer I gave on 28/04/22 to Question 159010.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether she has taken recent steps to help ensure young people have access to youth services.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer I gave on 28/04/22 to Question 159010.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether she has made a recent assessment of the adequacy of the provision of youth services by local authorities.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer I gave on 28/04/22 to Question 159010.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether she plans to extend enabling powers on prominence and access in television to UK radio services online and on smart speakers.

The government is considering the recommendations made by the Digital Radio and Audio Review in October 2021 and will publish its response shortly.

The Review included a number of detailed recommendations about the need for new regulation to ensure that radio listeners continue to have free access to radio services when listening on smart speaker devices and to ensure that radio services are not discriminated against by platforms that carry audio services. The government will address these important issues as part of the government’s overall response to the Review.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of including the recommendations of the digital radio and audio review published on 21 October 2021 in the broadcasting white paper.

The government is considering the recommendations made by the Digital Radio and Audio Review in October 2021 and will publish its response shortly.

The Review included a number of detailed recommendations about the need for new regulation to ensure that radio listeners continue to have free access to radio services when listening on smart speaker devices and to ensure that radio services are not discriminated against by platforms that carry audio services. The government will address these important issues as part of the government’s overall response to the Review.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the Competition and Markets Authority's recommendations on illegal ticket resale.

The Government is committed to cracking down on unacceptable behaviour in the ticketing market and improving people’s chances of buying tickets at a reasonable price. DCMS works with all other relevant Departments to ensure this is the case, including the Home Office.

We have strengthened the law in relation to ticketing information requirements and have introduced a criminal offence of using automated software to buy more tickets online than that allowed.

We also support the work of enforcement agencies in this area, such as the Competition and Markets Authority, National Trading Standards, and the advertising industry's own regulator the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The Government is considering its response to the CMA report on Secondary Ticketing which will be issued shortly.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether her Department's policy is to withdraw the BBC from Stonewalls' Diversity Champions programme.

The BBC is operationally and editorially independent from the government and the government cannot intervene in the BBC’s day-to-day operations.

The BBC’s membership of external schemes is a decision for the BBC.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment they have made of the potential (a) threats and (b) opportunities of artificial intelligence in respect of their Department’s responsibilities.

The Government is aware of a broad range of views on the potential of artificial intelligence but is also informed of the technology’s risks and threats.

The Office for AI (a joint DCMS and BEIS unit) commissioned GDS to conduct a root-and-branch review of AI adoption in the public sector, to identify opportunities to increase productivity and service quality through the application of AI and related technologies.

The findings of the review revealed that leaders across the public sector could benefit from better understanding the technology, the opportunities it presents and the limitations of its use. A guide to using artificial intelligence in the public sector was published to meet this need, drawing on best practice from the commercial sector and public sector.

Accompanying the AI Guide are the Guidelines on AI Procurement co-published in collaboration with the World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. These guidelines will inform and empower buyers in the public sector, helping them to evaluate suppliers, then confidently and responsibly procure AI technologies for the benefit of citizens.

Furthermore, the Office for AI, co-published with the Central Digital & Data Office, the Ethics, Transparency and Accountability Framework for Automated Decision-Making. This is a seven-point framework - aimed at civil servants - to help government departments use automated or algorithmic decision-making systems safely, sustainably and ethically.

To help identify and address the risks and threats of AI the government commissioned the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation to review the risks of bias in algorithmic decision-making. The review, which was published at the end of last year, identified a number of potential areas for further action, and I’m pleased that progress has already been made on a number of them.

As we look to ‘Build Back Better’ from the pandemic the government is committed to improving vital public services and driving efficiencies across the public sector through the ethical, safe and trustworthy deployment of responsible AI. Later this year we will publish a new National AI Strategy to help us achieve that ambition. I am pleased that officials from across the civil service and the wider public sector have been contributing to the strategy’s development.

10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to what extent their Department makes use of artificial intelligence in the implementation of its policies; and how much was spent from their Department’s budget on artificial intelligence in each of the last three years.

The opportunities and considerations associated with the use of AI continue to be explored, as outlined in the guidance on building and using artificial intelligence in the public sector, published on Gov.uk at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/a-guide-to-using-artificial-intelligence-in-the-public-sector

The specific information requested on Artificial Intelligence spend within digital budgets is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate costs.

9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether the Government is seeking international regulatory standards and safeguards on the development of artificial intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform our lives, unlock high-skilled jobs, and increase productivity.

The UK has a history of innovation-friendly approaches to regulation, in areas such as FinTech, HealthTech and online harms, and is committed to ensuring the necessary regulations exist to provide assurance and confidence around the development and use of new and emerging technologies.

The UK is playing a leading role in international discussions on AI ethics and potential regulations, including work at the Council of Europe, UNESCO, the OECD and the Global Partnership on AI , and we will continue to work with international partners including the European Union and the US to support the development of the rules around the use of AI for the benefit of our economies and societies.

Furthermore, the UK recently published Guidelines on AI Procurement in collaboration with the World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. These guidelines will inform and empower public sector buyers across nations, helping them to evaluate suppliers, then confidently and responsibly procure AI technologies, which meet high ethical standards, for the benefit of their citizens.

27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to improve data connectivity in the South East.

The Government is committed to delivering nationwide gigabit connectivity as soon as possible. It is the Government's view that the best way to achieve this 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, there is now a thriving market of over 80 providers rolling out gigabit broadband all over the UK. We are also investing £5bn to ensure the hardest-to-reach areas in the UK receive coverage through Project Gigabit.

This approach is working. According to ThinkBroadband, in the South East, gigabit connectivity has increased from just 8% at the start of 2020 to 35% today. Average download speeds have also increased by 40% in the same period, from below 40 megabits per second to over 56 megabits per second.

There are 23 Superfast projects in the Government’s Superfast Broadband Programme in the South East, which have already provided coverage to 497,000 premises. Local Full Fibre Network projects have been completed in both Mid and West Sussex. 94 Rural Gigabit Connectivity hub sites have been contracted in the South East area and 48 sites, including schools have been delivered. The South East has benefited from the Voucher scheme which has seen 6,466 voucher connections with a value of over £13m invested in connectivity in the area coupled with a further £8.8m Top Up Vouchers issued. There are also a further 11,069 issued vouchers that are pending connections, totalling more than £19m.

Areas in the South East will also be amongst the first to benefit from our £5 billion Project Gigabit programme. Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are in Phase 1b of the delivery plan, with Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, East and West Berkshire, Oxfordshire, East Sussex, Kent and Surrey all currently in line for Gigabit-capable rollout through Phase 2.

Furthermore, on 9 March last year, the Government agreed a £1 billion deal with the Mobile Network Operators to deliver the Shared Rural Network. This will see the operators collectively increase 4G mobile phone coverage throughout the UK to 95% by the end of the programme, underpinned by legally binding coverage commitments. The South East will benefit from the operator-led element of the Shared Rural Network which will see operators collectively invest over £530 million in a shared network of new and existing phone masts. This will help tackle partial not spots - areas where there is currently coverage from at least one, but not all operators. There have already been 700 new and upgraded sites announced by the operators this year and they are on track to eliminate the majority of these partial not spots by mid-2024.

27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to increase participation and representation of people from Asian backgrounds in football (a) nationally and (b) within their local communities.

The Government is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in sport and physical activity, including football. Our strategy ‘Sporting Future’ sets out a clear ambition to increase levels of physical activity amongst under-represented groups, working closely with our arm’s length and national bodies to achieve this. We are in regular dialogue with the football authorities across a range of matters, including increasing diversity.

We support the efforts of The FA in their work with Asian communities, as the largest ethnic minority group in the country, through the FA Asian Inclusion Plan. The plan focuses on tackling Asian underrepresentation at all levels of the game, both locally and nationally. The five pillars of the strategy work to ensure that intersectional participation, and representation, is occurring from grassroots all the way through to elite pathways and governance. Further details about the plan can be found here: https://www.thefa.com/news/2021/may/06/fa-asian-inclusion-strategy-update-20210506

We also welcomed the launch of The FA’s ‘Football Leadership Diversity Code’ last year, which is a step in the right direction to ensure English football better represents our modern and diverse society, on and off the pitch. The FA has committed to following this with a version adapted for the National League System and grassroots clubs this year.

Opportunities for participation are crucial too. The Government invests £18m a year into football facilities, through the Football Foundation, to improve access to quality facilities across the country with an additional £25m announced at Budget for this year as well. Inclusivity forms a part of the assessment criteria for any application for funding from the Foundation, with it being a core value of the organisation.

However, there is still progress to be made and the Government will continue to liaise closely with the football authorities on their efforts to improve diversity in the sport.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he has taken to tackle online misinformation on covid-19.

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

We are working with social media platforms to support the introduction of systems and processes that promote authoritative sources of information, and to help them identify and take action to remove incorrect claims about the virus, in line with their terms and conditions. We have also launched a toolkit with content designed to be shared via Whatsapp and Facebook community groups, as well as Twitter, Youtube and Instagram, to tackle false information spread through private channels. The campaign is fronted by trusted local community figures such as imams, pastors and clinicians in short, shareable videos which include simple tips on how to spot misinformation and what to do to stop its spread. This toolkit is based on the core principles of the SHARE checklist, which aims to increase audience resilience by educating and empowering those who see, inadvertently share and are affected by false and misleading information.

The Online Safety Bill will be ready this year. As set out in the full government response, the Online Safety Bill will introduce a duty of care requiring companies to address harms on their online platforms, such as misinformation and disinformation. The new laws will have robust and proportionate measures to deal with misinformation and disinformation that could cause significant physical or psychological harm to an individual, such as anti-vaccination content and falsehoods about COVID-19. However, we are clear that companies should not wait for legislation to be in place to take action against online harms.

22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he plans to (a) expand the eligibility criteria and (b) increase the funding available for Arts Council England grants.

There are no current plans to change the eligibility criteria or increase funding for Arts Council England grants.

Alongside regular Arts Council England funding, such as National Portfolio and Project Grants funding, last year the government announced the unprecedented £1.57 billion support package for the culture sector. Over £1.2 billion worth of funding from the Culture Recovery Fund has already been allocated across all four nations of the UK. A further £300 million of support was announced by HM Treasury at the Spring Budget and criteria for applicants will be announced shortly.

Rigorous criteria have rightly been applied to all applicants to the first and second rounds of the Culture Recovery Fund, to ensure support is provided to organisations that have national and local importance. Our Arms Length Bodies, including Arts Council England, have the delegated authority to take decisions on grant applications due to their long established grant delivery role, their expertise and understanding of the sectors in which they operate.

DCMS works closely with the sector, Arm’s Length Bodies, the Culture Recovery Board, HM Treasury and the National Audit Office to keep the progress of fund allocations and the level of need in the sector under close review.

21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what further financial support seasonal businesses in the exhibition industry that are affected by the covid-19 outbreak will receive from April 2021 to the end of 2021.

Events and exhibition businesses will continue to be able to apply for Government support during this period, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until September. Events businesses can apply for a variety of generous Government backed loan schemes, including the Recovery Loan scheme from 6 April. In addition, the discretionary Additional Restrictions Grant guidance for Local Authorities specifically refers to mobile businesses and suppliers in the events sector.

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.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he has taken to provide financial support for businesses within events and exhibitions sector that will be affected by the covid-19 outbreak over the next 12 months.

Events and exhibition businesses will continue to be able to apply for Government support during this period, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until September. Events businesses can apply for a variety of generous Government backed loan schemes, including the Recovery Loan scheme from 6 April. In addition, the discretionary Additional Restrictions Grant guidance for Local Authorities specifically refers to mobile businesses and suppliers in the events sector.

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.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what financial support is available to events and exhibition businesses (a) currently and (b) between 15 April 2021 and the end of 2021.

The Government has extended a number of financial support schemes, which events businesses can continue to access well into 2021.

Events and exhibition businesses will continue to be able to apply for Government support during this period, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until September. Events businesses can apply for a variety of generous Government backed loan schemes, including the Recovery Loan scheme from 6 April. In addition, the discretionary Additional Restrictions Grant guidance for Local Authorities specifically refers to mobile businesses and suppliers in the events sector.

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.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on news outlets in Slough.

The Government recognises the vital role of local newspapers in supporting communities and local democracy through their provision of reliable, high-quality information. The government has been engaging closely with the sector, including publishers present in Slough, and with market experts to continue to inform our understanding of the financial pressures the industry has been facing, including with respect to the reduction in advertising revenues, and the impact of this on business continuity. Many local newspapers have been able to benefit from a unique and unprecedented government advertising partnership, designed to deliver important messages to UK citizens. Newspapers received up to £35 million additional government advertising revenue as part of the first phase of our coronavirus communications campaign. The campaign has subsequently been extended with at least 60% funding going to smaller regional and local titles.

We are aware that the pandemic has had a significant effect on many local newspapers and, in some cases, has led publishers to make difficult decisions with regard to title closures or suspensions and staff redundancies. We will maintain our dialogue with the sector as the situation continues to develop, ensuring that we have the information needed to inform the development of effective support measures.

9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what information his Department holds on the effect of reduced advertising revenues during the covid-19 outbreak on local newspapers.

The Government recognises the vital role of local newspapers in supporting communities and local democracy through their provision of reliable, high-quality information. The government has been engaging closely with the sector, including publishers present in Slough, and with market experts to continue to inform our understanding of the financial pressures the industry has been facing, including with respect to the reduction in advertising revenues, and the impact of this on business continuity. Many local newspapers have been able to benefit from a unique and unprecedented government advertising partnership, designed to deliver important messages to UK citizens. Newspapers received up to £35 million additional government advertising revenue as part of the first phase of our coronavirus communications campaign. The campaign has subsequently been extended with at least 60% funding going to smaller regional and local titles.

We are aware that the pandemic has had a significant effect on many local newspapers and, in some cases, has led publishers to make difficult decisions with regard to title closures or suspensions and staff redundancies. We will maintain our dialogue with the sector as the situation continues to develop, ensuring that we have the information needed to inform the development of effective support measures.

9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment has he made of the effect of (a) suspension and (b) permanent closure of local newspapers during the covid-19 outbreak on local democracy.

The Government recognises the vital role of local newspapers in supporting communities and local democracy through their provision of reliable, high-quality information. On 6 October last year, the government published Research into Recent Dynamics of the Press Sector in the UK and Globally, a report on the importance of newspaper provision to local communities which explored the impact of suspensions and closures on local democracy. The research, which was conducted before the onset of Covid-19, found that changes in news provision and consumption over time had a direct impact on participation levels in local elections in England, underlining the vital importance of a sustainable local news industry to a properly functioning democracy.

Throughout the pandemic, I have kept in close contact with stakeholders from across the sector to understand the financial pressures they have been facing and how these are impacting business continuity. We do not hold comprehensive figures on the number of titles suspended or closed but are continuing to develop our understanding of the impact of Covid-19-related title closures and suspensions on local news provision and democratic engagement in the light of the findings of our research.

9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he plans to introduce sector-specific financial support for (a) public interest journalism and (b) local newspapers affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

The government recognises the vital role of newspapers in supporting communities and democracy at a local and national level through ensuring the provision of reliable, high-quality information.

We understand the acute financial pressures newspapers have been facing due to steep drops in advertising revenues and the particular implications of lockdowns on print circulation. To support news publishers to date, the government has introduced a series measures including the extension of business rates relief for local newspapers in England for an additional five years; and the zero-rating of VAT on e-newspapers, which was brought forward to May 2020 in response to the effects of the pandemic. The introduction of further Covid-19-related financial support is the responsibility of the Treasury.

Many newspapers have benefitted from a unique and unprecedented government advertising partnership, designed to deliver important messages to UK citizens. Newspapers received up to £35 million additional government advertising revenue as part of the first phase of our coronavirus communications campaign. The campaign has since been extended, with at least 60% funding going to smaller regional and local titles. Some publishers have also made use of wider government measures as well, such as the job-retention scheme which we have extended until the end of April 2021.

Longer term, we will continue to consider all possible options in the interests of promoting and sustaining high-quality news journalism, including pursuing options for financial support such as funding for innovation in the sector and tax reliefs.

2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that individuals in the UK who publish criminal acts or statements on social media can be brought to justice.

Whilst the vast majority of social media usage has nothing to do with serious violence, we know there is evidence of harmful and/or illegal content available online which glorifies violence and criminality.

That is why we have provided £1.5million to the Metropolitan Police Service to deliver the Social Media Hub which includes a dedicated team of police officers and staff. This additional police resource is taking action against online gang related material, focusing on investigative, disruption and enforcement work against specific gang targets, as well as making referrals to social media companies so illegal and harmful content can be taken down.

29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent support he has made available to National League football clubs in (a) Slough and (b) England to ensure they can continue playing for the rest of the season.

On 19 November 2020, the government announced a £300 million Sports Winter Survival Package (SWSP) to provide a lifeline to organisations that would otherwise not survive the winter as a result of the restriction on spectators announced from 1 October. A provisional allocation of £25 million was made to support the National League, covering steps one to six, aiming to protect the immediate future of non-league football in England. A further announcement on 27 January 2021 confirmed that Steps 3-6 of the National League system will receive up to £10 million of grant support from the Package to protect the immediate future of approximately 850 clubs over the winter period. Sport England and the Independent Board are currently finalising the details of this support, which will include any support for National League clubs in Slough, should they be eligible.

The SWSP support is in addition to the £10 million emergency package we facilitated for the National League from the National Lottery, in October last year, has benefitted the 66 clubs in the steps 1 and 2, and has enabled them to continue playing behind closed doors after the return of fans was paused last autumn.

The support packages that have been available to the National League are in addition to the multi-billion pound package of cross-sector business support from the Government that has enabled many sports clubs and leisure businesses to survive, including the furlough scheme and business interruption loan scheme. Sports have accessed many hundreds of millions of pounds of support through this.

The Government remains committed to engaging across the sector to maintain a complete picture of the financial impact of Covid-19 to ensure sports venues survive this difficult period wherever possible.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the Government's fiscal policy on the continued operation of local newspapers.

The government is committed to supporting local and regional newspapers as vital pillars of communities and local democracy, ensuring the provision of reliable, high-quality information. Local newspapers have benefited from a number of recent fiscal interventions, including the extension of business rates relief for local newspapers in England for an additional five years; the investment of £2 million in the Future News Fund, which sought to explore new ways of sustaining the industry in a changing landscape; and the zero-rating of VAT on e-newspapers, which was brought forward to May 2020 in response to the effects of the pandemic. In addition, many newspapers have benefitted from a unique and unprecedented government advertising partnership, designed to deliver important messages to UK citizens. Newspapers received up to £35 million additional government advertising revenue as part of the first phase of our coronavirus communications campaign. The campaign has since been extended to also cover business readiness for the end of the transition period and the value of the Union, with at least 60% funding going to smaller regional and local titles.

Some news publishers have made use of wider government measures as well, such as the job-retention scheme which we have extended until the end of March 2021.

Longer term, we will continue to consider all possible options in the interests of promoting and sustaining high-quality news journalism.

11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the financial support available to local newspapers during the covid-19 outbreak.

The government is committed to supporting local and regional newspapers as vital pillars of communities and local democracy, ensuring the provision of reliable, high-quality information. Local newspapers have benefited from a number of recent fiscal interventions, including the extension of business rates relief for local newspapers in England for an additional five years; the investment of £2 million in the Future News Fund, which sought to explore new ways of sustaining the industry in a changing landscape; and the zero-rating of VAT on e-newspapers, which was brought forward to May 2020 in response to the effects of the pandemic. In addition, many newspapers have benefitted from a unique and unprecedented government advertising partnership, designed to deliver important messages to UK citizens. Newspapers received up to £35 million additional government advertising revenue as part of the first phase of our coronavirus communications campaign. The campaign has since been extended to also cover business readiness for the end of the transition period and the value of the Union, with at least 60% funding going to smaller regional and local titles.

Some news publishers have made use of wider government measures as well, such as the job-retention scheme which we have extended until the end of March 2021.

Longer term, we will continue to consider all possible options in the interests of promoting and sustaining high-quality news journalism.

3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what proportion of the vehicles used by his Department on Government business are electric vehicles.

The department uses four vehicles overall, two main and two support. Both of the main vehicles are listed as electric on the Vehicle Enquiry Service via gov.uk. Both of the support vehicles are older models and are not electric.

23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on supporting people who live with problem gambling.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) work closely together on matters related to gambling harm, including on measures and services in place to support problem gamblers. The government has committed to review the Gambling Act 2005 to ensure it is fit for the digital age and further details will be announced in due course. In addition, at the time of the General Election the government committed to developing a strategy on addictions, including gambling, although this has been delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. DCMS and DHSC will continue to work closely together and with wider government in the delivery of these commitments.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make an assessment of the adequacy of the Government support made available for people who were in temporary and freelance roles in the live music industry prior to start of the covid-19 outbreak.

Over two thirds of eligible people in the cultural sectors have benefitted from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). We’ve supported the self-employed with over £13 billion in grants and the Chancellor has doubled the generosity of the self-employed grant extension scheme from 20% to 40% of people’s profits. The expanded Jobs Support Scheme, announced by the Chancellor on 22 October, will include more generous and frequent cash grants, and more help for the self-employed.

DCMS continues to engage with HMT to feed into their assessment of the potential impacts of Government support. We will ensure the needs of our sectors are also factored into the developing economic response, and that DCMS sectors, including the live music industry, are supported throughout this time.

The Arts Council England has made £119 million available to individuals, with £23.1 million already distributed and £95.9 million currently available to apply for via open funds.

The £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund will benefit freelancers, because it will invest in organisations and help them to reopen, and restart performances. So far, over £500m has been announced from the Culture Recovery Fund to protect cultural organisations across England, almost a fifth of which has gone to the music sector.

21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his policies of the recent Concert Promoters Association report which states that 26,100 jobs are expected to have been made redundant in the live music industry by the end of 2020 without further Government intervention.

DCMS continues to engage with HMT to feed into their assessment of the potential impacts of Government support. We will ensure the needs of our sectors are also factored into the developing economic response, and that DCMS sectors, including the live music industry, are supported throughout this time.

An unprecedented £1.57 billion support package for the cultural sector has benefitted the creative industries by providing support to venues and many other cultural organisations to stay open and continue operating. So far, over £500m has been announced from the Culture Recovery Fund to protect cultural organisations across England, almost a fifth of which has gone to the music sector. This support package will benefit employment, because it will invest in organisations and help them to reopen, and restart performances.

As part of this package, £3.36 million has been shared among 136 venues across England who applied for the Emergency Grassroot Music Venues Fund. This funding has supported grassroots venues to survive the imminent risk of collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The expanded Jobs Support Scheme, announced by the Chancellor on 22 October, will include more generous and frequent cash grants, and more help for the self-employed.

21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the funding allocated from the public purse to the National Citizens Service.

Around 600,000 young people have taken part in the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme since its inception, with almost 100,000 young people taking part in 2019. Consecutive, independent evaluations have demonstrated the positive impacts that NCS delivers both to its participants and their communities. The most recent evaluation shows that for every £1 of taxpayer money spent on the 2018 summer programme, £3.49 is provided back to society in terms of the economic benefit.

10th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what funding his Department has allocated to stand-up comedy performers who have been unable to work as a result of the covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The Government appreciates that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to many of DCMS’ sectors, including the live comedy sector, which is why we announced unprecedented support for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency.

The Government’s response has been one of the most generous and comprehensive in the world, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. The Government has adapted the welfare system so that the self-employed can access Universal Credit in full, to help people get quicker and more generous support when they need it most.

3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to mitigate the effect of the covid-19 guidelines on the development of grassroots theatre.

We have announced a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of sectors, including performing arts and theatres, museums and galleries, heritage sites, live music venues and independent cinema.

Alongside this, DCMS continues to work with representatives from the cultural sector, including theatre, to develop supporting guidance and remains committed to getting the curtain up at venues across the country as soon as it is safe to do so.

2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the economic effect of covid-19 guidance on self-employed make-up artists in the film and television industry.

No assessment has been made. However, we appreciate that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to many of DCMS’ sectors including the creative industries which is why the Government has announced unprecedented support for businesses and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency.

Government supported the publication last month of the British Film Commission’s guidance on working safely during Covid-19. This includes information for hair and make-up artists and will help productions restart, with associated economic benefits.

We are also pleased to see that the film and television industry have developed initiatives to support self-employed workers in these sectors to get back to work safely, in line with Covid-19 guidance. For example, ScreenSkills recently launched free ‘Coronavirus basic awareness on production’ training via their website, and the Film and TV Charity has established a package of support for workers in the industry including financial advice and the Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund.

12th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 20 January 2020 to Question 3870, for what reasons that answer did not include an assessment of the effect of the policy to no longer fund free TV licences for people aged over 75 on loneliness among older people.

Following the licence fee settlement agreement in 2015, the future of the over 75 licence fee concession is the responsibility of the BBC, not of the government. Therefore, the BBC is responsible for conducting an assessment of the effect of the policy to no longer fund free TV licences for all people aged over 75 on loneliness among older people from 1 June 2020.

The BBC acknowledged the impact of loneliness when, following public consultation, it set out its decision on the future of the concession. This can be viewed online: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/reports/consultation/age/decision-document.pdf

You will also be aware that, recognising the exceptional circumstances of the national Coronavirus situation, the BBC Board has decided to change the start date of the new policy. The current plan is to now bring it into place on 1 August and the BBC will keep the issue under review.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what estimate he has made of the proportion of homes that will have full-fibre broadband by 2025.

The Government’s Manifesto set out its ambition to bring full fibre and gigabit capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the effect of the policy to no longer fund free TV licences for people aged over 75 on loneliness among older people.

Following the licence fee settlement agreement in 2015, the future of the over 75s concession and how it is funded is the responsibility of the BBC, not of the government.

The government is 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.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to increase the availability of youth services.

This government is investing £500 million over five years through the new Youth Investment Fund to increase the availability of youth services. The fund will be used to build new youth centres across the country, refurbish existing youth facilities, provide mobile facilities for harder to reach areas, and invest in the youth work profession and frontline services. Government is funding up to £7 million through the Youth Accelerator Fund that will expand existing successful projects delivering positive activities, and address urgent needs in the youth sector by delivering extra sessions in youth clubs.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many looked-after children local authorities reported as being placed outside of their local authority area between January 2020 to December 2020.

The children looked after return (SSDA903 return) collects information about children who are looked after by local authorities from 1 April to 31 March each year. The latest figures show there were 32,890 new placements outside the local authority boundary for children looked after during the year ending 31 March 2021. If a child had more than one placement in the year, then all placements are counted.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of SATs in measuring children’s learning and attainment.

The main purpose of statutory assessment, as set out in the Standards and Testing Agency’s test frameworks is to ascertain what pupils have achieved in relation to the age-related attainment targets set out in the national curriculum. These test frameworks are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-curriculum-assessments-test-frameworks. A validity framework to demonstrate how well the tests meet this purpose is published in the appendices of the test handbook, available on GOV.UK.

Due to the cancellations of the statutory assessments in 2020 and 2021, the most recent version of the test handbook is from 2019 and is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2019-national-curriculum-test-handbook.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential impact of SATs on primary children’s mental health.

The department knows that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people and will have an impact in the longer-term. We expect leaders and teachers to consider their pupils’ mental health and wellbeing as a priority and identify those who may need additional support.

Although schools should encourage all pupils to work hard and achieve well in primary assessments, the department does not recommend that they devote excessive time to preparation, and certainly not at the expense of pupils’ mental health and wellbeing. Schools should support a culture of wellbeing amongst staff and pupils.

Children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing is a priority for this government. The department is continuing to help schools support children and young people’s wellbeing, announcing in May 2021 more than £17 million of mental health funding to improve mental health and wellbeing support in schools and colleges. This includes £9.5 million dedicated to training senior mental health leads in over 8,000 schools and colleges, with an additional £3 million announced this year to extend this training to even more schools and colleges. The training will equip leads with the skills and knowledge to develop a culture and ethos that promotes positive mental health wellbeing, as well as how to make the best use of local resources to support children and young people experiencing issues such as anxiety.

The department has also recently brought together all its sources of advice for schools and colleges into a single site on GOV.UK, which includes signposting to external sources of mental health and wellbeing support for teachers, school staff and school leaders. This site is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/mental-health-and-wellbeing-support-in-schools-and-colleges#mental-health-and-wellbeing-resources.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support is available for adoptive parents to ensure they can maintain the cultural, religious and linguistic values of their adopted child's community.

The department’s statutory guidance on adoption makes it clear that all families should help children placed with them to understand and appreciate their background and culture. Where the child and prospective adopter do not share the same background, the prospective adopter will need flexible and creative support.

All adoptive families are entitled to an assessment of support. Adoption agencies should set out in the family’s support plan the training and support they will offer to ensure that child can embrace important cultural, religious or linguistic values of their community, to understand their background and origin.

Our National Adoption Strategy sets out our key aims to driving improvements in all areas of adoption policy, including support for adoptive families.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when the Children’s Social Care Digital Programme guidance will be published.

Guidance for local authorities on improving case management systems for children's social care services was published by the department on 9 March 2022. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/childrens-social-care-improving-case-management-systems.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many family hubs he estimates will be established in (a) England and (b) the South East by 2024.

In the 2021 Budget, the government announced £82 million to create a network of family hubs. This is part of a wider £300 million package to transform services for parents, carers, babies, and children in half of local authorities across England. It builds on the £39.5 million the government had already committed to family hubs to champion the model, including a £12 million transformation fund which will support at least 12 local authorities in England to transform to a family hub model of service delivery.

Family hubs are a way of joining up locally to improve access to services, the connections between families, professionals, services, and providers, and putting relationships at the heart of family help. They bring together services for children of all ages, with a great Start for Life offer at their core. How services are delivered varies from place to place and the department will work with local authorities eligible for the funds above to establish ambitious plans for their family hubs, considering local circumstance and need. More detail will be set out in due course.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care will be published.

The review is scheduled to share its final recommendations in the spring and the government will respond to the recommendations once the review concludes.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many looked after children local authorities reported as being placed outside of (a) their local authority area and (b) England in the year January 2020 to December 2020 inclusive.

The latest figures on children looked after by the locality of the placement are shown in the attached table. The children looked after collection (SSDA903 return) collects information about children who are looked after by local authorities from 1 April to the 31 March each year and these are the time periods presented in the attached table. Figures have been provided for the years ending 31 March 2020 and 31 March 2021.

A range of figures on children looked after by placement location in a different format to that provided in the table are published in the table ‘National – Children looked after by placement type, distance and the locality of placement’ in the annual statistical release available here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoptions.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to Children’s social work workforce, published on 24 February 2022, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that vacant social worker positions are filled.

The government works closely with local authorities to recognise and understand their workforce pressures, and to ensure that there are enough high-quality child and family social workers in the system.

The number of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) child and family social workers employed by local authorities in England is increasing every year. On 30 September 2021, there were 32,500 FTE child and family social workers employed by local authorities in England. This is an increase of 2.0% compared to 2020, and an increase of 14.1% compared to 2017. The average social worker at a local authority in England held 16.3 cases in 2021, the same as in 2020, and down from 17.8 in 2017. 16.7% of social worker posts were vacant, up from 16.1% in 2020. This represents a total of 6,520 vacancies. However, there was considerable variation between regions – the North East had the lowest vacancy rate (8.7%), and London had the highest (23.5%). It is important to note that the 4,995 social worker who left their roles in 2021 includes all social workers who have moved between local authorities but are still working in children’s social care.

While we recognise the picture local authorities are seeing on the ground may vary from place to place, we are working closely with local authorities and using central programmes and funding to respond to their needs.

We are supporting the recruitment and retention of social workers through our investment in fast-track initial social worker training programmes, and in professional development programmes to improve leadership. We are also seeing some innovative practices from local authorities that are driving down agency rates and stabilising their workforces.

Our COVID-19 Recovery Action Plan aims to stabilise and strengthen children’s social care as we transition out of the COVID-19 pandemic, so that we deliver well for children and young people and provide a strong foundation for longer-term reform, informed by the independent review of children’s social care.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to Children's social work workforce, published on 24 February 2022, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of child social care provision in England.

The government works closely with local authorities to recognise and understand their workforce pressures, and to ensure that there are enough high-quality child and family social workers in the system.

The number of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) child and family social workers employed by local authorities in England is increasing every year. On 30 September 2021, there were 32,500 FTE child and family social workers employed by local authorities in England. This is an increase of 2.0% compared to 2020, and an increase of 14.1% compared to 2017. The average social worker at a local authority in England held 16.3 cases in 2021, the same as in 2020, and down from 17.8 in 2017. 16.7% of social worker posts were vacant, up from 16.1% in 2020. This represents a total of 6,520 vacancies. However, there was considerable variation between regions – the North East had the lowest vacancy rate (8.7%), and London had the highest (23.5%). It is important to note that the 4,995 social worker who left their roles in 2021 includes all social workers who have moved between local authorities but are still working in children’s social care.

While we recognise the picture local authorities are seeing on the ground may vary from place to place, we are working closely with local authorities and using central programmes and funding to respond to their needs.

We are supporting the recruitment and retention of social workers through our investment in fast-track initial social worker training programmes, and in professional development programmes to improve leadership. We are also seeing some innovative practices from local authorities that are driving down agency rates and stabilising their workforces.

Our COVID-19 Recovery Action Plan aims to stabilise and strengthen children’s social care as we transition out of the COVID-19 pandemic, so that we deliver well for children and young people and provide a strong foundation for longer-term reform, informed by the independent review of children’s social care.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing an online portal to allow headteachers to alert (a) his Department, (b) the Children's Commissioner for England and (c) other relevant authorities about missing or absent pupils where schools have safeguarding concerns.

Safeguarding of children and young people is the statutory responsibility of local partners, including schools, the local authority, police and health. There are already clear responsibilities and arrangements in place for schools to notify the local authority of pupils who are not attending school or where there are safeguarding concerns. The statutory guidance, Keeping Children Safe in Education, sets out this process along with the role of each school’s Designated Safeguarding Lead in coordinating and making referrals to children’s social care and the police as appropriate. These clear, statutory responsibilities, alongside our commitment to introduce a local authority registration system for children not in school, mean that an online portal is not required at this time.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
27th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice review will be published.

The department is currently conducting a major review of the special educational needs and disability (SEND) system. In the first three months of this year the department will launch a consultation on our proposals. The department will need to consider the outcome of the consultation to determine whether any legislative changes are required in relation to any parts of the SEND system.

The SEND Code of Practice is statutory guidance about the exercise of SEND functions under Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014. The department will therefore be consulting on updating the Code as part of delivering a reformed SEND system.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent progress his Department has made on reviewing the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice.

The department is currently conducting a major review of the special educational needs and disability (SEND) system. In the first three months of this year the department will launch a consultation on our proposals. The department will need to consider the outcome of the consultation to determine whether any legislative changes are required in relation to any parts of the SEND system.

The SEND Code of Practice is statutory guidance about the exercise of SEND functions under Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014. The department will therefore be consulting on updating the Code as part of delivering a reformed SEND system.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps has his Department taken to support the teaching of religious education in schools.

The government firmly believes in the importance of good quality religious education (RE) as it is essential in developing children’s knowledge of British values and traditions, and those of other countries. It is a compulsory subject for all state-funded schools, including academies, for all pupils up to the age of 18.

The department supports the teaching of RE in several ways, including through central funding, curriculum support and teacher training.

Each local authority is required by law to establish a Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE), and department funding is provided via the central schools services block of the national funding formula. We do not specify what proportion of funding is allocated to specific services, but it is expected that some is allocated by local authorities to their SACRE-related activity. The responsibilities of each SACRE include:

  • advising the local authority on all aspects of its provision for RE in its schools
  • advising on matters relating to training for teachers in RE and collective worship
  • developing ways of supporting schools in the delivery of locally agreed RE syllabuses and monitoring its delivery

In relation to the curriculum, Oak National Academy, funded by the department, provides lesson plans, teaching materials and curriculum maps for RE for key stages 1 to 4. Further information is available here: www.thenational.academy.

In relation to teacher training, subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) courses may be appropriate in cases where a Schools Direct lead school or an initial teacher training provider identifies applicants who have the potential to become outstanding teachers but who need to increase their subject knowledge in a range of subjects, including an 8 week religious education course. Further information is available here: www.gov.uk/guidance/subject-knowledge-enhancement-an-introduction.

The 8 week SKE can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis, and it must be completed before qualified teacher status can be recommended and awarded.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
10th Jan 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) Slough and (b) the South East.

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission carry out local area special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) inspections. Inspectors will look for evidence of how children and young people with SEND are identified, how their needs are assessed and met, and how they are supported to move on to their next stage of education, the world of work and wider preparation for adulthood.

Slough had a local area SEND inspection between 27 September 2021 and 1 October 2021 and are required to produce a Written Statement of Action (WSoA) to improve in 7 areas of significant weakness, which is concerning. Slough are required to send their proposed WSoA within 70 working days of receiving their Ofsted SEND report (due 18 February 2022), and Ofsted will decide if it is acceptable. The department and NHS England advisers are providing support and challenge to Slough in their producing of the WSoA.

Across the south-east of England, there are 10 local areas that were not required to produce a WSoA following an Ofsted inspection. There are 2 local areas that have an active WSoA, and 3 local areas that have an active Accelerated Progress Plan and are making good progress against their individual plans. One local area has an inspection pending, and one was inspected in December and awaits the inspection report.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
24th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the financial impact of interest-bearing student loans on Muslim students.

The government undertook an assessment of the impact of interest-bearing loans on Muslim students in the impact assessment for the Higher Education and Research Act, which was published in December 2017, and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-and-research-act-impact-assessments.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
24th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the effects of increasing student loan contributions for graduates on the accessibility of higher education for people from lower-income backgrounds.

The student loan system in England removes financial barriers for those hoping to study higher education courses, while sharing its costs between learners and the general taxpayer.

In 2020, record rates of English 18-year-old state school students who were in receipt of free school meals at age 15 were accepted on full time university courses (up 1.4 percentage points to 20.3%). These students were 74% more likely to go to university in 2020 than in 2009.

After finishing study, monthly student loan repayments are linked to income, not to interest rates or the amount borrowed. This protects lower earners, and any outstanding debt is written off after 30 years at no detriment to individual borrowers.

As part of the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding we are carefully considering a range of options to ensure that student finance continues to deliver value for money for both students and the taxpayer. The interim conclusion of the review was published on 21 January 2021, and we will conclude the review in full in due course.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
24th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will carry out an impact assessment of potential increases to student loans contributions on graduates’ standard of living.

I refer the hon. Member for Slough to the answer I gave on 22 November 2021 to Question 74983.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress his Department has been made on implementing the Takaful fund for student finance.

I refer the hon. Members for Luton North and Slough to the answer I gave on 21 September 2021 to Question 49129.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to support subject-specific professional development for science teachers.

We are committed to ensuring that all schools have access to highly skilled teachers. The department funds a package of programmes to support subject-specific professional development for science teachers. These include the network of Science Learning Partnerships delivering local continuous professional development (CPD) and support to increase the take up of triple science, Project Enthuse which provides bursaries for teachers to participate in CPD, the Isaac Physics programme which offers support and activities in physics problem-solving to teachers and students studying GCSE and A level physics, and the Stimulating Physics Network to improve the take up of physics. In addition, we also recently announced our levelling-up premium which offers incentives of up to £3,000 to recruit the best teachers across the country.

The department is providing every early career teacher access to free, high-quality training and support underpinned by the Early Career Framework (ECF). The ECF was designed in consultation with the education sector and is designed to work for all early career teachers regardless of their subject, phase or context.

The training providers delivering these programmes will build on the curriculum knowledge embedded in the Initial Teacher Training core content framework and have ensured that content includes materials and exemplification that is applicable to all teachers to help them deliver high quality curriculum content.

Building on this, National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) are designed to help the teaching profession hone and develop the skills they already have, helping them to become more effective teachers and leaders inside and outside the classroom. The department is committed to ensuring that NPQs offer the best possible support to teachers and leaders wanting to expand their knowledge and skills.

The department will be introducing a reformed suite of NPQs from Autumn 2021. All teachers and school leaders in state funded schools and 16-19 organisations are able to access this new fully funded suite of qualifications. Each qualification continues to build on embedding excellence in curriculum design and delivery.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to support early career science teachers whose training was disrupted by the covid-19 outbreak.

The department is creating a world-class teacher development system by transforming the training and support teachers and head teachers receive at every stage of their career. We are investing an unprecedented amount of funding to improve the quality and delivery of professional development for teachers giving us a significant opportunity to impact pupil outcomes.

The department acknowledges the disruption to teacher training for early career science teachers, indeed for all teachers, during the COVID-19 outbreak. That is why we ensured that Initial Teacher Training (ITT) trainees and their tutors were designated as critical workers at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak. We encouraged schools to host ITT trainees throughout the national lockdowns and beyond to provide as many trainees as possible with a varied training experience in schools.

The sector coordinated examples from ITT providers of flexible and innovative approaches to placements, which were shared through sector channels. Those trainees whose courses were severely disrupted and needed extra time to qualify were given government funded course extensions, allowing them the opportunity to achieve Qualified Teacher Status.

As part of the education recovery plan announced in June 2021, we secured over £250 million of additional funding to provide 500,000 world-leading training opportunities for teachers and leaders, wherever they are in their career. The package includes £69 million to extend the rollout of the Early Career Framework (ECF) reforms to meet far higher than expected demand for the programme. The ECF reforms are transforming support for early career teachers, introducing the most significant reform to teaching since it became a graduate only profession.

The department is investing over £130 million a year to ensure that all new teachers have access to a fully funded entitlement to an extended two-year induction to the profession. The structured package of support is linked to the best available research evidence, alongside funded time off timetable in the second year of teaching and support for mentors.

The ECF was designed in consultation with the education sector and covers five core areas: behaviour management, pedagogy, curriculum, assessment and professional behaviours, and is designed to work for all early career teachers regardless of their subject, phase or school. The lead providers delivering the programme have ensured that there are materials and exemplification to cover a range of subjects, including science.

More widely we are committed to gathering evidence about the implementation and impact of the ECF, to ensure that it continues to provide the best support for new teachers entering the profession. Therefore, we are working with the Education Endowment Foundation to design a comprehensive package of evaluation activity which will ensure the reforms remain relevant, up to date and open to all.

We are committed to ensuring that all schools have access to highly skilled teachers. The department funds a package of programmes to support subject-specific professional development for science teachers. These include the network of Science Learning Partnerships delivering local continuing professional development (CPD) and support to increase the take up of triple science and Project Enthuse which provides bursaries for teachers to participate in CPD.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when his Department plans to publish its plans for alternative student finance for students whose religion prohibits them from taking out a student loan payment.

The government has been considering Alternative Student Finance carefully, alongside its other priorities, as it concludes the Post-18 Review of Education and Funding and responds to the detailed recommendations of the independent panel chaired by Sir Philip Augar.

We will provide an update on this matter when we conclude the Post-18 Review.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Government's announcement that schools in the United Kingdom will be encouraged to celebrate One Britain One Nation Day on 25 June 2021, what assessment he has made of potential difficulties of implementing that announcement given that (a) Northern Ireland is not located in Great Britain and (b) many schools in Scotland will be closed for the summer holidays on that day.

The Department is supportive of One Britain One Nation’s broad aims to help children learn about equality, kindness and pride. The Government believes in the importance of these shared values which are taught and reinforced every day in schools across the UK.

Participation, and the nature of it, is a matter for schools.

11th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment they have made of the potential (a) threats and (b) opportunities of artificial intelligence in respect of their Department’s responsibilities.

Guidance for public sector organisations on how to use automated or algorithmic decision-making systems in a safe, sustainable and ethical way is available on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ethics-transparency-and-accountability-framework-for-automated-decision-making.

The Government Automation Taskforce, with the Government Digital Service and the Office for Artificial Intelligence (AI), have developed a 7-point framework to ensure the responsible and ethical use of AI and intelligent automation across the public sector: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ethics-transparency-and-accountability-framework-for-automated-decision-making/ethics-transparency-and-accountability-framework-for-automated-decision-making. It builds on existing Government and third-party guidance and legislation.

This framework is intended to significantly reduce the likelihood of an algorithmic or automated decision-making related incident. It should help to build trust, send clear intent and progress the Government’s effort to ensure the safe and ethical use of algorithms and automated systems.

The Department uses elements of automation, robotics and machine-learning, although much of the work remains experimental. The majority of automation that has been developed is for internal use. It is aimed at improving our operational processes across the Department and not to aid implementation of policies.

10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, to what extent their Department makes use of artificial intelligence in the implementation of its policies; and how much was spent from their Department’s budget on artificial intelligence in each of the last three years.

The Department uses elements of automation, robotics, and machine learning, although much of the work remains experimental. Most of the automation that has been developed is for internal use and is aimed at improving operational processes across the Department, not directly to aid implementation of policies. Automation and robotics work is used to reduce the administrative burden brought about from back office processes and the processes involved in exchanging data and information with providers, employers, and other Government Departments. Machine learning is used as a technique to inform an evidence base. Neither our robotics, automation, or machine learning work are used in isolation to make decisions and do not drive decisions or actions directly or in an automated fashion.

9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to support teachers to deal with instances of sexual abuse in the classroom.

The Department is updating statutory guidance for Keeping Children Safe in Education for this September, ensuring schools have even clearer guidance on how to deal with reports of sexual abuse.

The Department has already introduced the new compulsory Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) curriculum, and from next term we expect the RSHE curriculum to be implemented in full and have asked head teachers to dedicate time from inset days to consider how best to do this.

The Department will also be investing additional money to further test the impact of support and supervision models for designated safeguarding leads in up to 500 more schools.

20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of primary school children’s water safety education in the context of school and leisure centre closures during the covid-19 outbreak.

Water safety is a vital life skill, which is why it is a mandatory part of the curriculum for Physical Education at primary school. The Department has discussed the ‘Impact of Coronavirus on school swimming and water safety’ report with Swim England. We recognise that children have missed out on opportunities to learn to swim due to COVID-19 restrictions and we are working closely with Swim England and other swimming and water safety organisations to support pupils returning safely to swimming and promoting water safety education.

This includes an additional £10.1 million to improve use of school sport facilities, including swimming pools. Water safety education is a priority for the summer period to enable children to know how to be safe and in around water. This is why the Department has made new virtual water safety lessons available through Oak National Academy and will support the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s Drowning Prevention Week 2021.

19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of Swim England’s recent findings that a quarter of a million children are unable to swim the length of a standard swimming pool on water safety risks on rivers and lakes over the summer period.

Water safety is a vital life skill, which is why it is a mandatory part of the curriculum for Physical Education at primary school. The Department has discussed the ‘Impact of Coronavirus on school swimming and water safety’ report with Swim England. We recognise that children have missed out on opportunities to learn to swim due to COVID-19 restrictions and we are working closely with Swim England and other swimming and water safety organisations to support pupils returning safely to swimming and promoting water safety education.

This includes an additional £10.1 million to improve use of school sport facilities, including swimming pools. Water safety education is a priority for the summer period to enable children to know how to be safe and in around water. This is why the Department has made new virtual water safety lessons available through Oak National Academy and will support the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s Drowning Prevention Week 2021.

18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he is taking steps to ensure that children who have missed out on swimming lessons as a result of school and leisure centre closures are able to learn about water safety.

Water safety is a vital life skill, which is why it is a mandatory part of the curriculum for Physical Education at primary school. The Department has worked with Oak National Academy and swimming and water safety organisations to make virtual lessons on water safety available to all schools.

The Department is also working with the Royal Life Saving Society UK to continue to support the Drowning Prevention Week in June 2021 in order for as many schools as possible to have access to these water safety resources.

13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions his Department has had with academy schools charging parents for school meals (a) over period where schools were closed as a result of covid-19 restrictions and (b) at increased rates while schools were open compared with pre-pandemic rates.

Schools are responsible for setting the prices at which they charge parents for the provision of school meals. This must, however, be within the parameters set under the law.

State-funded schools, including all academies apart from 16-19 academies, must provide meals for all registered pupils upon request and meals must be provided free of charge for those who meet the entitlement conditions for free school meals.

Where schools charge for meals, the prices they charge should not exceed the costs they have incurred in providing those meals.

If parents or pupils at a school feel they are being charged unfairly, they should contact the school at first instance and follow the steps in the school’s complaints procedure. If, having done this, they feel that their complaint was not dealt with correctly, they can ask the Department for Education to consider their complaint using the following link: https://form.education.gov.uk/service/Contact_the_Department_for_Education.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will take steps to help ensure that no maintained nursery school closes in Slough constituency as a result of reductions in the Maintained Nursery School supplementary funding; and what steps he is taking to provide financial support to maintained nursery schools at risk of closure.

Maintained nursery schools (MNSs) are an important part of the early years sector and provide valuable services, especially in disadvantaged areas. This government remains committed to the long-term funding of MNSs. Early years providers, including MNSs, have continued to receive early education entitlements funding during the COVID-19 outbreak.

For the financial year 2021-22, we have increased the hourly funding rates for all local authorities by 8p an hour for the two-year-old entitlement and, for the vast majority of areas, by 6p an hour for the three- and four-year-old entitlement. This funding rate increase is paid for all the hours of childcare delivered by all types of providers in the local authority’s area, including MNSs. In addition to the hourly funding rate increase, we have also re-confirmed circa £60 million, nationally, in supplementary funding for MNSs for the financial year 2021-22, to allow local authorities to preserve MNS funding levels.

Details of funding paid to local authorities can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/early-years-funding-2021-2022.

The supplementary funding is demand-led, so the amount of funding local authorities will receive will follow the number of three- and four-year-olds taking up the universal 15 hours at MNSs in their area.

There is a presumption against the closure of maintained nursery schools, and any alternative provision must be of equal quality, preserve expertise and be more accessible for parents. The guidance that sets this out can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/851585/Opening_and_closing_maintained_schools1012.pdf.

This does not mean that MNSs can never close, and it is important to note that this decision is for a local authority to take, but it means that there are safeguards in place where closure cannot be avoided.

Like private nurseries, MNSs typically rely on private income for a proportion of their income, unlike most state-funded schools. Therefore, we have ensured that access to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is also available to MNSs, in line with published guidance. On 3 March 2021, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that the CJRS will be extended until the end of September 2021. As long as the staff meet the other criteria for the scheme, schools and early years providers are able to furlough their staff if they have experienced a drop in either their income from parents or government. MNSs were also able to access free school meals vouchers via Edenred.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the covid-19 advice on face coverings in educational settings, what steps he is taking to support students who rely on lip reading.

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

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

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

In addition, from 8 March, we now also recommend that in schools and colleges where pupils and students in year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn in classrooms unless social distancing can be maintained.

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

Some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. This includes people who cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in education settings.

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

The Department is recommending these precautionary measures for a limited time during this period of high COVID-19 prevalence in the community. These measures will be in place until Easter, and as with all measures, we will keep this under close review.

24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure the (a) accuracy and (b) availability of covid-19 test at-home kits for secondary school pupils, as required twice a week when they return to school.

Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests have been widely and successfully used to detect asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. The speed and convenience of the tests supports the detection of the virus in asymptomatic individuals, who would not otherwise have been tested. LFD tests are approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, and are highly specific, with a low chance of false positive test results. They are also very sensitive and able to identify the majority of the most infectious yet asymptomatic individuals. These tests are an additional layer of health protection in addition to hand washing, face covering and social distancing.

For students, they will need to be tested 3 times at an onsite asymptomatic testing site, upon their return to school or college. The Department is aware that LFD tests are more effective when individuals are used to swabbing so this will give students the opportunity to become used to swabbing in a supervised environment first. They will then be provided with home test kits for twice weekly testing.

Test kits are being delivered to secondary schools and colleges from 24 February 2021. There will be a sufficient number of kits for the first 3 to 4 weeks of testing. Secondary schools and colleges will then automatically receive a re-stock of test at home kits between 8 March and 15 March so pupils can collect them after test 3. Schools can provide testing kits in 2 packs of 3, or 1 pack of 7 to each member of staff or student so that they are able to test twice a week.

Students aged 18 and over should self-test and report the result, with assistance if needed. Students aged between 12 and 17 should self-test and report with adult supervision. The adult may conduct the test if necessary. When testing at home, children aged 11 who attend a secondary school, should be tested by an adult.

From 15 March onwards there will be a reordering process for schools and colleges to receive more test stock. It will be the responsibility of the school or college to manage test stock and reordering, as well as exercising appropriate oversight and governance of the testing programme.

24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 12 February 2021 to Question 149320, what assessment he has made of the timeframe for the mobile data offer and 4G wireless routers to end.

The Department has delivered over 70,000 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home and continues to deliver them where children require remote education. More information on the number of routers delivered can be found by clicking on the ‘download associated files’ link here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/laptops-and-tablets-data. Data for these routers is also being funded by the Department until the end of July 2021, to align with the end of the academic year.

The Department has partnered with the UK’s leading mobile network operators to provide free data to disadvantaged families, which will support access to educational resources. Families will benefit from this additional data until July 2021, and schools are able to request free mobile data uplifts via the Get Help with Technology service: https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk/.

24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 12 February 2021 to Question 149320, what estimate he has made of the number of 4G wireless routers delivered to pupils without connection at home in (a) Slough, (b) the South East and (b) England.

The Department has delivered over 70,000 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home and continues to deliver them where children require remote education. More information on the number of routers delivered can be found by clicking on the ‘download associated files’ link here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/laptops-and-tablets-data. Data for these routers is also being funded by the Department until the end of July 2021, to align with the end of the academic year.

The Department has partnered with the UK’s leading mobile network operators to provide free data to disadvantaged families, which will support access to educational resources. Families will benefit from this additional data until July 2021, and schools are able to request free mobile data uplifts via the Get Help with Technology service: https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk/.

24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 4 February 2021 to Question 145105, what steps he is taking to ensure that families, schools and staff are informed of the support available to pupils with autism and other special educational needs and disabilities.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, we have issued guidance for all schools and colleges including specialists settings, available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak and https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings. Our guidance sets out how schools can best support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The department has worked closely with stakeholders, including the Council for Disabled Children, Contact, Nasen and the National Network of Parent Carer Forums in developing this guidance.

The department regularly signposts guidance, announcements and publications that are relevant to children and young people with SEND, including through email alerts to key stakeholders such as commissioners, providers, and voluntary and community sector organisations. This has included issuing several ministerial open letters to families and stakeholders.

We have also announced over £42 million to continue funding projects in the 2021-22 financial year to support children and young people with SEND. This includes investment to continue strengthening participation of parents and young people in the SEND system, ensuring they have a voice in designing policies and services and have access to high quality information, advice, and support.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department is taking steps to help ensure that all children in (a) Slough and (b) England have access to (i) a device, (ii) broadband and WiFi, (iii) stationery and (iv) space for home schooling.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. This significant injection of laptops and tablets is on top of an estimated 2.9 million already owned by schools before the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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

As of Monday 15 February, over one million laptops and tablets have been delivered to schools, trusts, local authorities, and further education providers. This includes over 490,000 laptops and tablets delivered since the 4th January 2021. We are making further deliveries all the time and expect to achieve our overall commitment of delivering 1.3 million devices by the end of the spring term.

We have partnered with the UK’s leading mobile operators to provide free data to help disadvantaged children get online as well as delivering 60,000 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home.

A number of these laptops, tablets and routers have been delivered to Slough local authority and academy trusts in Slough, details of which are available through this link: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/laptops-and-tablets-data/2021-week-7.

Where pupils continue to experience barriers to digital remote education, we expect schools to work to overcome these barriers. This could include distributing school-owned laptops or supplementing digital provision with different forms of remote education, such as printed resources or textbooks. This should be supplemented with other forms of communication to keep pupils and students on track or answer questions about work.

Guidance, resources and support for teachers and school leaders on educating pupils and students during the current COVID-19 restrictions are available on the get help with remote education page: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-remote-education.

We know this is a challenging time for parents, carers, and children and that many parents and carers are balancing various responsibilities while supporting their children with education at home. We have published information for parents and carers on remote education and how they can best support their child while learning from home, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/supporting-your-childrens-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19?priority-taxon=b350e61d-1db9-4cc2-bb44-fab02882ac25. This includes resources and advice to help parents and carers on how to establish a routine with their child, and how best to support mental health and wellbeing during this period.

Some pupils and students who have difficulty engaging in remote education may be considered to be vulnerable children and young people and therefore eligible to attend provision. It is up to the child or young person’s education provider or local authority to make this decision. The decision would be based on the needs of the child or young person and their family, and a range of other factors as set out in the guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision#vulnerable-children-and-young-people. Lack of access to a device and/or the internet in itself does not automatically mean that the child is vulnerable.

9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the press release published by his Department on 20 December 2020 entitled One million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people, what progress has been made on distributing the 440,000 devices to assist pupils with home learning.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. This significant injection of laptops and tablets is on top of an estimated 2.9 million already owned by schools before the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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

As of Monday 15 February, over one million laptops and tablets have been delivered to schools, trusts, local authorities, and further education providers. This includes over 490,000 laptops and tablets delivered since the 4th January 2021. We are making further deliveries all the time and expect to achieve our overall commitment of delivering 1.3 million devices by the end of the spring term.

We have partnered with the UK’s leading mobile operators to provide free data to help disadvantaged children get online as well as delivering 60,000 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home.

A number of these laptops, tablets and routers have been delivered to Slough local authority and academy trusts in Slough, details of which are available through this link: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/laptops-and-tablets-data/2021-week-7.

Where pupils continue to experience barriers to digital remote education, we expect schools to work to overcome these barriers. This could include distributing school-owned laptops or supplementing digital provision with different forms of remote education, such as printed resources or textbooks. This should be supplemented with other forms of communication to keep pupils and students on track or answer questions about work.

Guidance, resources and support for teachers and school leaders on educating pupils and students during the current COVID-19 restrictions are available on the get help with remote education page: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-remote-education.

We know this is a challenging time for parents, carers, and children and that many parents and carers are balancing various responsibilities while supporting their children with education at home. We have published information for parents and carers on remote education and how they can best support their child while learning from home, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/supporting-your-childrens-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19?priority-taxon=b350e61d-1db9-4cc2-bb44-fab02882ac25. This includes resources and advice to help parents and carers on how to establish a routine with their child, and how best to support mental health and wellbeing during this period.

Some pupils and students who have difficulty engaging in remote education may be considered to be vulnerable children and young people and therefore eligible to attend provision. It is up to the child or young person’s education provider or local authority to make this decision. The decision would be based on the needs of the child or young person and their family, and a range of other factors as set out in the guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision#vulnerable-children-and-young-people. Lack of access to a device and/or the internet in itself does not automatically mean that the child is vulnerable.

9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he has taken to ensure that school pupils and their families have access to the educational resources they need to support learning at home in (a) Slough, (b) the South East and (c) England during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. This significant injection of laptops and tablets is on top of an estimated 2.9 million already owned by schools before the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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

As of Monday 15 February, over one million laptops and tablets have been delivered to schools, trusts, local authorities, and further education providers. This includes over 490,000 laptops and tablets delivered since the 4th January 2021. We are making further deliveries all the time and expect to achieve our overall commitment of delivering 1.3 million devices by the end of the spring term.

We have partnered with the UK’s leading mobile operators to provide free data to help disadvantaged children get online as well as delivering 60,000 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home.

A number of these laptops, tablets and routers have been delivered to Slough local authority and academy trusts in Slough, details of which are available through this link: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/laptops-and-tablets-data/2021-week-7.

Where pupils continue to experience barriers to digital remote education, we expect schools to work to overcome these barriers. This could include distributing school-owned laptops or supplementing digital provision with different forms of remote education, such as printed resources or textbooks. This should be supplemented with other forms of communication to keep pupils and students on track or answer questions about work.

Guidance, resources and support for teachers and school leaders on educating pupils and students during the current COVID-19 restrictions are available on the get help with remote education page: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-remote-education.

We know this is a challenging time for parents, carers, and children and that many parents and carers are balancing various responsibilities while supporting their children with education at home. We have published information for parents and carers on remote education and how they can best support their child while learning from home, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/supporting-your-childrens-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19?priority-taxon=b350e61d-1db9-4cc2-bb44-fab02882ac25. This includes resources and advice to help parents and carers on how to establish a routine with their child, and how best to support mental health and wellbeing during this period.

Some pupils and students who have difficulty engaging in remote education may be considered to be vulnerable children and young people and therefore eligible to attend provision. It is up to the child or young person’s education provider or local authority to make this decision. The decision would be based on the needs of the child or young person and their family, and a range of other factors as set out in the guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision#vulnerable-children-and-young-people. Lack of access to a device and/or the internet in itself does not automatically mean that the child is vulnerable.

9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to support school pupils and families with access to (a) technology and (b) broadband and WiFi in (i) Slough and (ii) England (A) during the covid-19 outbreak and (B) in the long term.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. This significant injection of laptops and tablets is on top of an estimated 2.9 million already owned by schools before the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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

As of Monday 15 February, over one million laptops and tablets have been delivered to schools, trusts, local authorities, and further education providers. This includes over 490,000 laptops and tablets delivered since the 4th January 2021. We are making further deliveries all the time and expect to achieve our overall commitment of delivering 1.3 million devices by the end of the spring term.

We have partnered with the UK’s leading mobile operators to provide free data to help disadvantaged children get online as well as delivering 60,000 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home.

A number of these laptops, tablets and routers have been delivered to Slough local authority and academy trusts in Slough, details of which are available through this link: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/laptops-and-tablets-data/2021-week-7.

Where pupils continue to experience barriers to digital remote education, we expect schools to work to overcome these barriers. This could include distributing school-owned laptops or supplementing digital provision with different forms of remote education, such as printed resources or textbooks. This should be supplemented with other forms of communication to keep pupils and students on track or answer questions about work.

Guidance, resources and support for teachers and school leaders on educating pupils and students during the current COVID-19 restrictions are available on the get help with remote education page: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-remote-education.

We know this is a challenging time for parents, carers, and children and that many parents and carers are balancing various responsibilities while supporting their children with education at home. We have published information for parents and carers on remote education and how they can best support their child while learning from home, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/supporting-your-childrens-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19?priority-taxon=b350e61d-1db9-4cc2-bb44-fab02882ac25. This includes resources and advice to help parents and carers on how to establish a routine with their child, and how best to support mental health and wellbeing during this period.

Some pupils and students who have difficulty engaging in remote education may be considered to be vulnerable children and young people and therefore eligible to attend provision. It is up to the child or young person’s education provider or local authority to make this decision. The decision would be based on the needs of the child or young person and their family, and a range of other factors as set out in the guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision#vulnerable-children-and-young-people. Lack of access to a device and/or the internet in itself does not automatically mean that the child is vulnerable.

9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what financial support is available for families on low incomes in (a) Slough and (b) England that are required to purchase educational resources as a result of school closures during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department continue to expect all primary schools, secondary schools, and further education (FE) institutions in England to provide remote education for the majority of their pupils and students.

The Government is providing over £400 million to support remote education and online social care, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. This includes over one million laptops and tablets that were delivered to schools, FE institutions, academy trusts and local authorities by 15 February 2021. More information on the number of devices delivered to schools, trusts and local authorities can be viewed here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/laptops-and-tablets-data/2021-week-7.

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

The Department has also made £4.84 million available for Oak National Academy both for the summer term of the academic year 2019-20, and then for the 2020-21 academic year, to provide video lessons in a broad range of subjects for Reception up to Year 11.

All four major mobile network operators, Vodafone, O2, Three and EE, have also committed to working together to make access to Oak National Academy free for school children. The Department is grateful to BT and EE, who have made access to BBC Bitesize resources free from the end of January 2021.

The BBC has adapted their education support for the 2021 spring term and is making educational content available on the television. This helps to ensure all children and young people can access curriculum based learning from home, even if they do not have access to the internet.

The Department is aware that this is a challenging time for parents, carers, and children and that many parents and carers are balancing various responsibilities while supporting their children with education at home.

The Department has published information for parents and carers on remote education and how they can best support their child while being taught from home. This includes resources and advice to help parents and carers on how to establish a routine with their child, and how best to support mental health and wellbeing during this period. The published information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/supporting-your-childrens-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19?priority-taxon=b350e61d-1db9-4cc2-bb44-fab02882ac25.

Parents and carers should not feel that they need to set work and/or are required to purchase educational resources for their child. If parents or carers feel they need further support or additional materials for their children, they are encouraged to discuss this with their school or FE institution first.

4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to implement the recommendations from the January 2021 briefing by the Child Poverty Action Group on Digital exclusion during the covid-19 pandemic.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. The Government is providing this significant injection of laptops and tablets on top of an estimated 2.9 million already owned by schools before the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

As of Monday 8 February 2021, over 986,000 laptops and tablets have been delivered to schools, academy trusts, local authorities and further education providers.

Laptops and tablets are owned by schools, academy trusts, local authorities or further education providers who can lend these to the children and young people who need them most, during the current COVID-19 restrictions.

We have partnered with the UK’s leading mobile operators to provide free data to help disadvantaged children get online as well as delivering 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home.

We are grateful to EE, Lycamobile, O2, Sky Mobile, Smarty, Tesco Mobile, Three, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile and Vodafone for supporting the mobile data offer. We are currently engaged with additional mobile network operators and continue to invite a range of mobile network providers to support the offer.

4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that early years providers are covid-19 secure.

Keeping children and staff safe is our utmost priority. The department has published ‘Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’ guidance and ‘Education and childcare settings: national lockdown from 5 January 2021’ guidance for early years settings to follow, which can be accessed via these links: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures and https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/958670/Education_and_childcare_settings_national_lockdown_from_5_January_2021.pdf.

The public health advice in the guidance includes a Public Health England-endorsed system of controls, building on the hierarchy of protective measures that have been in use throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. When implemented in line with a revised risk assessment, these measures create an environment where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced for children and staff.

The system of controls provides a set of principles that, when followed, will effectively minimise risks. All elements of the system of controls are essential. All settings must cover them all, but the way different settings implement some of the requirements will differ based on their individual circumstances.

Setting leaders will be best placed to understand the needs of their settings and communities, and to make informed judgments about how to balance delivering high quality care and education with the measures needed to manage risk.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to support children and young people who are home-schooled to access (a) a laptop and (b) broadband and WiFi in (i) Slough and (ii) England.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. This significant injection of laptops and tablets is on top of an estimated 2.9 million already owned by schools before the start of the outbreak.

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

The Department has partnered with the UK’s leading mobile operators to provide free data to help disadvantaged children get online, as well as delivering 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home to support online learning.

As of Monday 8 February 2021, over 986,000 laptops and tablets have been delivered to schools, trusts, local authorities and further education providers.

More information on the number of devices delivered to schools, trusts and local authorities, can be viewed here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/laptops-and-tablets-data.

The Department has been investigating an issue with malware that was found on a small number of the laptops provided to schools. In all known cases, the malware was detected and removed at the point schools first turned the devices on.

The Department takes online safety and security extremely seriously and any schools that have concerns about devices should contact the support desk at https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that children and young people in education have access to (a) a laptop and (b) broadband and WiFi in (i) Slough and (ii) England.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. This significant injection of laptops and tablets is on top of an estimated 2.9 million already owned by schools before the start of the outbreak.

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

The Department has partnered with the UK’s leading mobile operators to provide free data to help disadvantaged children get online, as well as delivering 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home to support online learning.

As of Monday 8 February 2021, over 986,000 laptops and tablets have been delivered to schools, trusts, local authorities and further education providers.

More information on the number of devices delivered to schools, trusts and local authorities, can be viewed here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/laptops-and-tablets-data.

The Department has been investigating an issue with malware that was found on a small number of the laptops provided to schools. In all known cases, the malware was detected and removed at the point schools first turned the devices on.

The Department takes online safety and security extremely seriously and any schools that have concerns about devices should contact the support desk at https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many laptops to support online learning during the covid-19 outbreak have been provided to school pupils in Slough.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. This significant injection of laptops and tablets is on top of an estimated 2.9 million already owned by schools before the start of the outbreak.

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

The Department has partnered with the UK’s leading mobile operators to provide free data to help disadvantaged children get online, as well as delivering 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home to support online learning.

As of Monday 8 February 2021, over 986,000 laptops and tablets have been delivered to schools, trusts, local authorities and further education providers.

More information on the number of devices delivered to schools, trusts and local authorities, can be viewed here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/laptops-and-tablets-data.

The Department has been investigating an issue with malware that was found on a small number of the laptops provided to schools. In all known cases, the malware was detected and removed at the point schools first turned the devices on.

The Department takes online safety and security extremely seriously and any schools that have concerns about devices should contact the support desk at https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what representations he has received on incidences of computers allocated to support online learning during the covid-19 outbreak being infected with malware.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. This significant injection of laptops and tablets is on top of an estimated 2.9 million already owned by schools before the start of the outbreak.

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

The Department has partnered with the UK’s leading mobile operators to provide free data to help disadvantaged children get online, as well as delivering 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home to support online learning.

As of Monday 8 February 2021, over 986,000 laptops and tablets have been delivered to schools, trusts, local authorities and further education providers.

More information on the number of devices delivered to schools, trusts and local authorities, can be viewed here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/laptops-and-tablets-data.

The Department has been investigating an issue with malware that was found on a small number of the laptops provided to schools. In all known cases, the malware was detected and removed at the point schools first turned the devices on.

The Department takes online safety and security extremely seriously and any schools that have concerns about devices should contact the support desk at https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk.

28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps he has taken to ensure that pupils with autism and other special educational needs and disabilities are adequately supported while schools are closed during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown period.

During this period of national lockdown, primary schools, secondary schools, further education (FE) colleges, alternative provision and special settings will remain open to vulnerable children and young people, including those with education, health and care plans (EHCPs).

Where, for any reason, it is not possible for a child or young person with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) – including children both with an EHCP and those who are supported through SEND support – to attend their education setting during this period, they should receive remote education and support. The legal duty on schools and FE colleges to use their best endeavours to meet the special educational needs of their pupils and students, including those supported through SEND support, remains unchanged, whether they are attending school or FE college or are at home for any period.

To support remote learning, the department has made £4.84 million available for Oak National Academy, both for the summer term of the academic year 2019-20, and then for the 2020-21 academic year, to provide video lessons in a broad range of subjects for Reception up to year 11. This includes specialist content for pupils with SEND, along with therapy-based lessons and resources across occupational therapy, physical therapy, sensory therapy and speech and language therapy. A link to the Oak National Academy’s specialist resources can be found here: https://classroom.thenational.academy/specialist.

To support schools to make up for lost learning time, the department has also provided a £1 billion package of support. This includes a £650 million catch up premium directly allocated to schools, with additional weighting for specialist settings, recognising the significantly higher per-pupil costs that they face. The package also includes a £350 million National Tutoring Programme, which will increase access to high-quality tuition for disadvantaged pupils, helping to accelerate their academic progress and tackling the attainment gap between them and their peers.

To specifically support children and young people with autism, the department has funded the Autism Education Trust (AET) since 2011 to deliver autism awareness training to staff in early years settings, schools and colleges. To date, the AET has trained more than 287,000 people – promoting a whole-school approach to support for pupils with autism. Resources and training via the AET have been available throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he has taken to ensure mental health support is available for secondary schools pupils in (a) Slough and (b) England.

We know that the COVID-19 outbreak and the associated measures and restrictions, such as social distancing and school closures, will be impacting on the mental wellbeing of many people, including children and young people. The government has made pupil wellbeing and mental health a central part of our response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and the support we have already put in place for schools will be critical during this time.

We have ensured that schools have the flexibility to offer a place in school as a vulnerable child to any pupils for whom being in school will help them to manage their mental health or to access support more easily. Decisions will be informed by the school’s experience of how pupils have been affected so far.

Schools will also continue to offer pastoral support to pupils working remotely at home, informed and supported by training and expert advice that we have made available, including through the £8 million Wellbeing for Education Return scheme. Wellbeing for Education Return is an initiative led by the Department for Education alongside the Department for Health and Social Care, Health Education England, Public Health England and key voluntary sector organisations. Wellbeing for Education Return has trained local experts to provide additional advice and resources for schools and further education (FE) providers to help support the wellbeing, resilience and recovery of pupils, students, parents and carers and staff in light of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown.

Slough Borough Council received Wellbeing for Education Return funding of £22,850 on 30 September 2020 to fund local mental health experts in the 2020-21 financial year. Across the whole of England, over 85% of local authority areas reported that they are delivering additional training and support into local schools and FE providers because of the Wellbeing for Education Return funding.

Nationally, our information indicates that more than 15,000 education settings are being offered this additional training and support. The information and support made available through Wellbeing for Education Return is relevant to remote provision as well as to those attending school.

Schools should make sure that parents and pupils know who to contact if they have new concerns about mental health and wellbeing, and that they understand what pastoral support is available. This is backed up by guidance that the department has issued for schools, which includes information and sources of further advice on supporting mental health and wellbeing: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.

We have also put in place a £1 billion COVID-19 catch-up package, with £650 million shared across early years, schools and 16-19 providers over the 2020-21 academic year to support education settings to put the right catch-up and pastoral support in place. The Education Endowment Foundation have published a COVID-19 support guide to support schools to direct this funding, which includes further information about interventions to support pupils’ mental health and wellbeing.

Whole-school approaches will include the new requirement for schools to teach about mental wellbeing as part of relationship, sex and health education (RSHE). The department is committed to supporting all schools in their preparations to teach RSHE, and has developed an online service featuring innovative training materials and an implementation guide. This support will cover all of the teaching requirements in the statutory guidance and will be inclusive of all pupils. We prioritised the production of the training module covering mental wellbeing, so that it was available before the end of the summer term last year: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teaching-about-mental-wellbeing.

To expand access to mental health support for children and young people with emerging mental health issues, we have committed to establishing new Mental Health Support Teams (MHST) in 20% to 25% of the country by 2023, as part of the additional support for children and young people’s mental health in the NHS Long Term Plan. MHSTs have been created to strengthen existing mental health support in education settings and to provide early intervention on mild to moderate challenges to mental health as well as helping staff within a school or college setting to provide a whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing. Where already established, MHSTs are adapting their services to continue supporting children and young people remotely during the COVID-19 outbreak.

For those that need specialist support, the government continues to invest in and prioritise mental health. The NHS will receive around an additional £500 million this year to address waiting times for mental health services, give more people the mental health support they need and invest in the NHS workforce. The department will also be convening a task force to look at the effects on children, young people and staff in the education system and we will confirm the next steps as soon as possible.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps he has taken to ensure examinations for pupils who are currently in Years 10 and 12 will be able to go ahead in 2022.

The Government remains clear that exams are the fairest method to assess students. We know that students and teachers will be working hard in preparation for exams or assessments in 2022, and we will make sure that the interests of students are at the centre of our considerations. It is important that students in this cohort are able to get a grade safely and fairly. We will continue to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 on all students to ensure that those due to take exams in 2022 are supported to move to the next stage of their lives fairly.

To support students to catch up with their education, the Government has announced a catch-up package worth £1 billion to support children and young people. This includes a catch-up premium worth £650 million and a £350 million National Tutoring Programme for disadvantaged pupils. We have also announced that we will provide a further programme of catch-up over the next financial year. This will involve a further £300 million for early years, schools and providers of 16-19 further education for tutoring. We will work in collaboration with the education sector to develop, as appropriate, specific initiatives for summer schools and a COVID-19 Premium to support catch up.

20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support is available for parents who, as a result of the covid-19 outbreak, are homeschooling a child with a hearing impairment.

Where pupils with hearing impairment are not in school, we expect schools to provide suitable remote learning materials, consistent with the Children and Families Act 2014. Schools and other institutions must use their best endeavours to secure the provision called for by the pupil’s or student’s needs.

Our published guidance is clear that schools should work collaboratively with families, putting in place reasonable adjustments as necessary, so that pupils with SEND, which will include those with hearing impairment, can successfully access remote education alongside their peers. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak. To help support this, a one-off universal £650 million catch up premium for the 2020/2021 academic year to ensure that schools have the support they need to help all pupils make up for lost teaching time. Schools can use their funding in a way that suits their cohort and circumstances. The department is also, for the 2020/2021 academic year, providing laptops and tablets to schools to help children and families in need to access remote education during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the covid-19 guidance and regulations for mainstream schools, what sources of funding and support are available for (a) shielding children, (b) vulnerable children and (c) children with hearing impairments and their parents who are homeschooling.

We are continuing to provide local authorities with their high needs funding allocations, which provide for children with complex special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), including those with hearing impairments. These allocations include an additional £730 million in the 2021-22 financial year, on top of the additional £780 million we provided in the 2020-21 financial year. In the 2021-22 financial year, Slough will receive £28.3 million of high needs funding, an 8% increase per head of the 2-18 population compared to the 2020-21 financial year.

Last year, we announced an additional package worth £1 billion to ensure that schools have the resources they need to help all pupils make up for lost teaching time, with extra support for those who need it most. £650 million will be spent on ensuring all pupils have the chance to catch up and supporting schools to rise to the challenge. Each mainstream school will receive £80 per place, and each special, alternative provision and hospital school will receive £240 for each place, across the 2020/21 academic year. We have applied this additional weighting to specialist settings in recognition of the significantly higher per-pupil costs they face.

Where pupils are not in school, we expect schools to provide suitable remote learning materials, consistent with the Children and Families Act 2014. Schools and other institutions must use their best endeavours to secure the provision called for by the pupil’s or student’s needs.

Our published guidance is clear that schools should work collaboratively with families, putting in place reasonable adjustments as necessary, so that pupils with SEND, which will include those with hearing impairment, can successfully access remote education alongside their peers.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of free school meal packages provided to children in Slough.

We know there is, understandably, concern about free school meal support during the period that schools will be restricted from opening. Schools in Slough can decide how best to support eligible free school meal pupils who are at home. We have not had any direct queries regarding lunch parcels from parents of children in Slough.

We will provide extra funding to support schools to provide lunch parcels, or locally arranged vouchers. We have also re-opened the national voucher scheme from the week commencing 18 January 2021.

The photos of poor-quality lunch parcels shared on social media are completely unacceptable and do not reflect the high standard of free school meals we expect to be sent to children.

We expect a high standard of free school meals to be provided to eligible pupils. We are working with caterers to ensure that they meet the standards set and are delivering high quality lunches to pupils who are eligible for benefits related free school meals and who are at home during term time.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Prime Minister on keeping early years settings open under the new January 2021 national covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced on 4 January 2021 that early years settings remain open for all children during the national lockdown. Details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home.

Schools have been restricted because additional measures are needed to contain the spread of the virus. The wider significant restrictions in place as part of the national lockdown to contain the spread of the virus in the community enable us to continue prioritising keeping nurseries and childminders open, supporting parents and delivering the crucial care and education needed for our youngest children.

Early years settings remain low risk environments for children and staff. Current evidence suggests that pre-school children (0 to 5 years) are less susceptible to infection and are unlikely to be playing a driving role in transmission. There is no evidence the new strain of the virus causes more serious illness in either children or adults and there is no evidence that the new variant of coronavirus disproportionately affects young children.

PHE advice remains that the risk of transmission and infection is low if early years settings follow the system of controls, which reduce risks and create inherently safer environments.

Early years settings have been open to all children since 1 June 2020 and there is no evidence that the early years sector has contributed to a rise in virus cases within the community. Early modelling evidence from SAGE showed that early years provision had a smaller relative impact on transmission rate when modelled with both primary schools and secondary schools.

Early years childcare providers were one of the first sectors to have restrictions lifted last summer, in recognition of the key role they play in society. Childminders and nursery staff across the country have worked hard to keep settings open through the COVID-19 outbreak so that young children can be educated, and parents can work. The earliest years are the most crucial point of child development and attending early education lays the foundation for lifelong learning and supports children’s social and emotional development. We continue to prioritise keeping early years settings open in full because of the clear benefits to children’s education and wellbeing and to support working parents. Caring for the youngest age group is not something that can be done remotely.

These plans are being kept under review in the light of emerging scientific evidence. We are working with the scientific community to understand the properties and dynamics of the new variant VUI-202012/01 in relation to children and young people.

The department has been working closely with local authorities to assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, setting up dedicated regional teams that are in frequent contact. Bringing together expertise from across the department, these teams monitor the challenges local authorities are facing. Our London regional team is in close contact with Havering and will be assessing the situation for early years settings in the authority.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps his Department has taken to help protect early years practitioners from contracting covid-19.

The Department for Education has worked collaboratively with Public Health England to develop a system of controls, which when implemented in line with a revised risk assessment, create an inherently safer environment where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced for children and staff.

Settings must comply with health and safety law, which requires them to assess risks and put in place proportionate control measures.

Settings should thoroughly review their health and safety risk assessment and draw up plans on re-opening, in the event that they have to close. Settings should have active arrangements in place to monitor that the controls are effective, working as planned, and updated appropriately, for example when any issues are identified, or when there are changes in public health advice.

When conducting risk assessments, settings should ensure consideration is given to staff and children with protected characteristics from groups where a disparity has been shown by the review of disparities in risks and outcomes (for example, age and sex, where someone lives, deprivation, ethnicity and/or people’s occupation).

The department has published the ‘Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’ guidance, which provides details on the system of controls and how they work in practice. The guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures.

The department is working closely with the Department for Health and Social Care and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure rapid asymptomatic testing for all early years staff, to support my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s announcement for early years settings to remain fully open.

Furthermore, regarding vaccinations, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises that the first priorities for the COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of mortality and the maintenance of the health and social care systems. As the risk of mortality from COVID-19 increases with age, prioritisation is primarily based on age.

Under the priority groups for the first phase of vaccine rollout, those over 50 years of age, and all those 16 years of age and over in a risk group, would be eligible for vaccination within the first phase of the programme. This prioritisation captures almost all preventable deaths from COVID-19.

Regarding the next phase of vaccine rollout, the JCVI have asked that the Department of Health and Social Care consider occupational vaccination in collaboration with other government departments. The Department for Education will input into this cross governmental exercise.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that students can return safely to university after the Christmas period safely.

On 2 December, the Department published guidance related to the return of students to higher education (HE) for the spring term: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/students-returning-to-higher-education-from-spring-term.

The guidance sets out that all HE providers should offer asymptomatic mass testing to all students on their return. Improved access to asymptomatic testing for the initial return of students in the spring term provides further support to universities to manage the risk of transmission and take swift action to respond to any cases.

Universities have put a wide range of measures in place to make teaching and learning environments as safe as possible. We have not seen evidence of an increased transmission risk in these carefully managed teaching environments.

To help reduce the risk of transmission from mass movement we have advised that students return to university during a period staggered over five weeks. This will reduce the number of people travelling at once while balancing the importance of reducing disruption to education. The staggered return approach will also support testing capacity.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of covid-19 restrictions on the ability of university students to access their course content.

As I set out in a letter to MPs on 9 October and in a letter to Vice-Chancellors on 2 November, the government’s clear and stated expectation is that, whether providers are delivering face-to-face, online or blended provision, the quality and quantity of tuition, and accessibility for all students, is maintained. The OfS has made it clear that all higher education providers must continue to comply with registration conditions relating to quality and standards, which set out requirements to ensure that courses are high-quality, that students are supported and achieve good outcomes and that standards are protected. They have also set out that providers must continue to provide sufficient and appropriate facilities, learning resources and student support services to deliver a high-quality academic experience.

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

The OfS is taking very seriously the potential impacts of COVID-19 on teaching and learning and is regularly engaging with all registered providers. It is actively monitoring those providers which have moved provision predominantly online due to COVID-19 restrictions to ensure: that they maintain the quality of their provision, that it is accessible for all and that they have been clear in their communications with students about how arrangements for teaching and learning may change throughout the year. The OfS is also following up directly with providers where they receive notifications from students, parents or others raising concerns about the quality of teaching on offer and requiring providers to report to them when they are not able to deliver a course or award a qualification. If the OfS has concerns, it will investigate further.

The government is aware of the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 is having on some students. That is why the government has already worked closely with the OfS to help clarify that providers can draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. Providers can use the funding, worth around £256 million for the academic year 2020/21, starting from August, towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment or connectivity services where students would not otherwise be able to secure these. On 2 December, we announced that the government will also be making available up to £20 million of hardship funding on a one-off basis to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students.

Students have rights under consumer law that they may be able to rely on if they are dissatisfied with their provider’s response to COVID-19. In the first instance, students should speak to their provider to see if they can resolve their issue. We expect student complaints and appeals processes to be operated flexibly, accessibly, and sympathetically by providers to resolve any concerns. If a student at a provider in England or Wales is not satisfied with their provider’s final response, they can make a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, which has published guidance on this issue, available at: https://www.oiahe.org.uk/students/.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to prevent the spread of covid-19 in university accommodation when students return after the Christmas break.

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

The government is committed to prioritising education and wants to enable all students, including those who have travelled home for the winter break, to return to university as safely as possible. On 2 December 2020 we published guidance on students returning to higher education for spring term, which sets out our plans for staggering the return of students over a 5-week period. This guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/students-returning-to-higher-education-from-spring-term.

Universities have responded well to COVID-19 outbreaks and continue to learn lessons on how to minimise the risks and support students. Improved access to asymptomatic testing for the initial return of students in the spring term provides further support to universities to manage the risk of transmission and take swift action to respond to any cases.

I have also written to universities asking them to ensure that self-isolating students have a range of choices available for access to food and other essential supplies. This includes providing food to those that need it and facilitating deliveries that will not require students to leave the accommodation where they are self-isolating, thereby preventing the spread of COVID-19.

We strongly encourage students to take a test when they return to university, to help mitigate the transmission of COVID-19, and keep themselves and others safe.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of the vehicles used by his Department on Government business are electric vehicles.

The Department does not operate any fleet vehicles for official use. All Ministers have access to the Government Car Service provided by the Department for Transport.

19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to support schools and colleges with covid-19 related financial costs.

The Department appreciates the continued and significant efforts made by schools and their staff to keep schools open this term. Returning to school full time has been vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing and has rightly been a national priority. Latest figures show that over 99% of state-funded schools are open.

The Department published guidance to support schools to welcome back all children full time. The guidance can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

Schools have also continued to receive their core funding allocations throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Following last year’s Spending Round, school budgets are rising by £2.6 billion in 2020-21, £4.8 billion in 2021-22 and £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared to 2019-20. This includes an additional £780 million this year and £730 million next year for high needs, taking total high needs funding to over £8 billion. As stated in our guidance, schools should use their existing resources, including these funding increases, when making arrangements to support children this term.

Ministers and officials continue to engage regularly with school leaders and their representatives on a wide range of issues around COVID-19, including discussions in relation to costs faced by schools at this time.

The Department also recognises the great efforts made by further education (FE) colleges and their staff to keep colleges open this term, and the financial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the sector. We have protected grant funding to the FE sector, worth over £3 billion, for a full year through paying scheduled monthly profiled payments for the remainder of the 2019/20 funding year and paying allocations for 2020/21 in line with the national profile. This year, the Department has increased investment in education and training of 16-19 year olds by £400 million, including an increased base rate, and more funding for high cost and high value subjects. We have also brought forward £200 million of the £1.5 billion for capital funding in colleges. For other providers with Education, Skills and Funding Agency contracts, we set up a Provider Relief Scheme.

For colleges in significant financial difficulties, the existing support arrangements remain in place, including short-term emergency funding. The Department adapted and opened the College Collaboration Fund to support colleges to respond to current challenges, and we have announced the 20 colleges whose bids were successful on GOV.UK.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has announced an extensive and unprecedented package of support measures for businesses and employees. FE colleges can apply to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for non-grant-funded employees, which has been extended until March 2021.

The Department is working closely with colleges to monitor the financial impacts of COVID-19 and ensure that any colleges facing financial difficulties are able to access relevant support. Financial forecasts for the current year were submitted by colleges in July, and updated cashflow projections are due to be provided this month.

18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the financial implications of covid-19 related expenditure for (a) schools and (b) colleges.

The Department appreciates the continued and significant efforts by schools and their staff to keep schools open this term. Returning to school full time has been vital for children’s education and wellbeing, and has rightly been a national priority. The latest published figures show that over 99% of state-funded schools are open. The Department published guidance to support schools to welcome back all children full-time. The guidance can be viewed at:

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

On 27 November, the Department announced a new COVID-19 workforce fund for schools and colleges to help them remain open. It will fund the costs of teacher absences over a threshold in schools and colleges, for those with high staff absences that are also facing significant financial pressures. The fund will help schools and colleges to meet the cost of absences experienced during the period from the beginning of November until the end of this term. More information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-funding-to-support-schools-and-colleges-during-covid-pandemic.

Schools have also continued to receive their core funding allocations throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Following last year’s Spending Round, school budgets are rising by £2.6 billion in the 2020-21 financial year, £4.8 billion in 2021-22, and £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared to 2019-20. This includes an additional £780 million this year and £730 million next year for high needs, taking total high needs funding to over £8 billion.

As stated in our guidance, schools should use their existing resources, including these funding increases, when making arrangements to support children this term. Ministers and officials continue to engage regularly with school leaders and their representatives on a wide range of issues around COVID-19, including discussions in relation to costs faced by schools at this time. The Department will continue to review the pressures schools are facing into next term.

The Department appreciates the continued and significant efforts by further education (FE) colleges and all staff to keep colleges open this term. We recognise the financial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on FE colleges and have protected grant funding to the FE sector, worth over £3 billion for a full year, through paying scheduled monthly profiled payments for the remainder of the 2019-20 financial year and paying allocations for 2020-21 in line with the national profile. This year, the Department has increased investment in education and training of 16 to 19 year olds by £400 million, including an increased base rate, and more funding for high cost and high value subjects. We have also brought forward £200 million of the £1.5 billion for capital funding in colleges. For other providers with contracts with the Education and Skills Funding Agency, we set up a Provider Relief Scheme.

For colleges in significant financial difficulties, the existing support arrangements remain in place, including short-term emergency funding. The Department has also adapted and opened the College Collaboration Fund to support colleges to respond to current challenges, and we have announced the 20 colleges whose bids were successful.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has announced an extensive and unprecedented package of support measures for businesses and employees. FE colleges can apply to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for non-grant-funded employees, which has been extended until March 2021.

The Department is working closely with colleges to monitor the financial impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak and ensure that any colleges facing financial difficulties are able to access relevant support. Financial forecasts for the current year were submitted by colleges in July, and updated cashflow projections are due to be provided this month.

11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he has taken to protect clinically vulnerable people who teach in schools from covid-19.

The Department has worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) to publish guidance to support schools to welcome back all children from the start of the autumn term.

The guidance provides a framework for school leaders to put in place proportionate protective measures for pupils and staff. These measures include regular handwashing, promoting good respiratory hygiene, and schools minimising contact between individuals.

Where schools implement the system of controls outlined in our guidance, in line with their own workplace risk assessment, PHE and DHSC confirm that these measures create an inherently safer environment for children and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced. It is therefore appropriate for teachers and other school staff to attend their workplace setting. This includes staff who are clinically vulnerable. School leaders should explain to staff the measures the school has put in place to reduce risks.

While the national restrictions introduced from 5 November are in force, school staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable (as opposed to clinically vulnerable) are advised to work from home and not to go into work. Individuals in this group will have been identified through a letter from the NHS or their GP and may have been advised to shield in the past. Staff in this group should talk to their employers about how they will be supported, including to work from home where possible, during the period of national restrictions. All other staff should continue to attend work, including those living in a household with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.

The guidance for schools on full opening can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

The guidance on the new national restrictions can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/education-and-childcare-settings-new-national-restrictions-from-5-november-2020#schools.

23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on equality of access to opportunity for 16 to 24 year olds.

We know that young people’s employment prospects in particular are expected to be disproportionately affected in the coming months. When a young person is not in education, employment or training (NEET) it is rarely temporary. When 18-24 year-olds are NEET for 3 months, three-quarters of them will stay NEET for at least a year.

That is why in July, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced £1.6 billion of investment to scale up employment support schemes and training for people affected by Covid-19. This includes over £500 million in a package of support to ensure young people have the skills and training to go on to high quality, secure and fulfilling employment. This includes:

  • A new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021. Employers can start claiming for payments from 1 September.
  • £111 million to triple the scale of traineeships: with three times more 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).
  • £101 million for a brand new offer to give 18 and 19-year-old school and college leavers the opportunity to study high value Level 2 and 3 courses when there are not employment opportunities available to them.
  • £32 million over two years to help 269,000 more people receive advice from the National Careers Service.
  • £17 million to triple the number of sector-based work academy programme placements in 2020/21, enough funding to support an extra 40,000 job seekers with additional training opportunities and the chance of a job.

It is also more crucial than ever before that we tap into the brilliant talent that our country has to offer, and make sure that university places are available to all who are qualified by ability and attainment to pursue them and who wish to do so.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps he has taken to help improve the affordability of childcare.

We want parents to have access to a range of affordable childcare, giving them increased flexibility in their working hours and helping children thrive in the crucial early years. That is why the department is investing a planned £3.6 billion in our early education entitlements this year.

We offer parents a range of free early education entitlements for children aged 2 to 4 years old, giving them increased flexibility in their working hours and helping children thrive in the crucial early years. This includes 15 hours a week free childcare for 38 weeks of the year for all 3- and 4-year olds, with an additional 15 hours (30 hours free childcare) for working families. Working parents may also be eligible for help with up to 85% of their childcare costs through Universal Credit Childcare. This is subject to a monthly limit of £646 for one child or £1108 for two or more children, payable in arrears.

Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) is available for children from 0-11 years old, or up to 16 if disabled. The TFC scheme means that for every £8 parents pay their provider via an online account, the government will pay £2. This is up to a maximum contribution of £2,000 per child each year (up to £500 every 3 months), or £4,000 if disabled.

The early years sector has received significant financial support throughout the coronavirus pandemic to provide stability and reassurance. We continue to provide extra security to nurseries and childminders that are open by ‘block-buying’ childcare places for the autumn term at the level we would have funded before the COVID-19 outbreak, regardless of how many children are attending.

In addition, temporary measures have been put in place to protect parents who would normally be eligible for Tax Free Childcare or 30 hours free childcare, or both, but who, due to the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak, temporarily do not meet the income thresholds.

These were introduced in May. On 26 October, the government announced that working parents who are eligible for TFC or 30 hours but have temporarily fallen below the minimum income requirement, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, will continue to be entitled to TFC or 30 hours of free childcare, or both if they are receiving income from the Job Support Scheme or Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grants. This will continue until at least April 2021.

Critical workers who may exceed the income threshold for TFC or 30 hours for the 2020-21 tax year as a result of working more to play a vital role in tackling the COVID-19 outbreak will also continue to be eligible this tax year as a result of these temporary measures.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions his Department had with early years providers on the potential merits of a phased return in September 2020 for young children and their parents.

Departmental officials and I are in regular contact with early years stakeholders across a wide range of matters.

As of 1 June, early years providers have been able to open to all children and since 20 July settings have been able to return to their normal group sizes.

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

We have published guidance on actions for early years and childcare providers during the COVID-19 outbreak, which is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures.

Early education plays a crucial role in early learning and development, but we recognise that some parents may be worried about sending their children back to nursery. Parents and childcare settings should always work together to make sure that children settle in well. For some children, it may be appropriate to build up their attendance over several weeks.

The School Admissions Code requires admissions authorities to provide for the full-time admission of all children in the September following their 4th birthday. Parents are able to defer the date that their child is admitted to school until later in the school year, but not beyond the point which their child reaches compulsory school age.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of covid-19 on wraparound care providers.

The department does not hold a central register of all wraparound provision and so does not routinely collect data on providers.

However, our Regional Education and Children’s Teams, comprising education and social care staff from both the department and Ofsted, are working closely with local authorities, and will act as a valuable source of intelligence on the sufficiency of wraparound childcare places in local areas. In addition, we have been in close communication with various stakeholders, including several wraparound providers since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak and we will continue this communication over the coming months.

We have ensured that, as of 4 July, wraparound care providers and other providers of out-of-school activities to children have been able to open, both on or away from school premises, with protective measures in place. We have published further updated guidance for providers who run before and after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school settings for children on the protective measures that should be put in place to ensure they are operating as safely as possible. This is to also ensure that with the introduction of our new local COVID-19 alert levels, that wraparound childcare is able to remain open to support parents, and in particular critical workers, to continue to work. 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.

We also know that many schools operate their own breakfast and after school clubs, and they should be working to resume this provision, if they have not already. As part of our guidance to schools on full opening, we have provided schools with guidance to support them in reopening this valuable provision. The guidance is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools#wraparound-provision-and-extra-curricular-activity.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to ensure that key workers are able to access childcare throughout the covid-19 outbreak.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 25 September 2020 to Question 95158.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the availability of wraparound childcare for the children of key workers.

The department does not hold a central register of all wraparound provision and so does not routinely collect data on the number of providers in operation.

However, as of 4 July, wraparound care providers and other providers of out-of-school activities to children have been able to open, both on or away from school premises, with protective measures in place. We have published further updated guidance for providers who run before and after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school settings for children on the protective measures that should be put in place to ensure they are operating as safely as possible. This is to also ensure that with the introduction of our new local COVID-19 alert levels, that wraparound childcare is able to remain open to support parents, and in particular key workers, to continue to work. 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.

Limitations on childcare will be a last resort, and we will ensure that priority is given to vulnerable children and young people and children of critical workers for this provision in all cases.

We also know that many schools operate their own breakfast and after school clubs, and they should be working to resume this provision, if they have not already. As part of our guidance to schools on full opening, we have provided schools with guidance to support them in reopening this valuable provision. The guidance is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools#wraparound-provision-and-extra-curricular-activity.

In addition, our Regional Education and Children’s Teams, comprising education and social care staff from both the department and Ofsted, are working closely with local authorities, and will act as a valuable source of intelligence on the sufficiency of wraparound childcare places in local areas.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the proportion of primary school children who have been taught water safety during academic year 2019-20.

Swimming and water safety are compulsory elements of the PE curriculum at Key Stages 1 and 2. The curriculum sets out the expectation that pupils should be taught to: swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres; use a range of strokes effectively; and perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations.

The Department does not collect data centrally on the proportion of pupils at Key Stages 1 to 3 that have been taught swimming and water safety lessons, but all primary schools are required to publish information on the percentage of their pupils in year 6 who met each of the three swimming and water safety national curriculum requirements. Further details are available in the online reporting section of guidance on the Primary PE and Sport Premium, available here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pe-and-sport-premium-for-primary-schools#online-reporting.

24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the proportion of KS3 school children who have been taught water safety during academic year 2019-20.

Swimming and water safety are compulsory elements of the PE curriculum at Key Stages 1 and 2. The curriculum sets out the expectation that pupils should be taught to: swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres; use a range of strokes effectively; and perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations.

The Department does not collect data centrally on the proportion of pupils at Key Stages 1 to 3 that have been taught swimming and water safety lessons, but all primary schools are required to publish information on the percentage of their pupils in year 6 who met each of the three swimming and water safety national curriculum requirements. Further details are available in the online reporting section of guidance on the Primary PE and Sport Premium, available here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pe-and-sport-premium-for-primary-schools#online-reporting.

3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to support the families of pupils on free school meals in Slough constituency during the school summer holidays in 2020.

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

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to ensure that young people maintain access to free period products whilst schools are shut as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The department introduced the Period Products Scheme to ensure that everyone has access to period products when they need them at school or college.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, schools and colleges will be able to order products through the established route and distribute them to learners who need them.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment the Government has made of the potential merits of having a Minister responsible for the effect of all Government policies on children; and which Department is responsible for Government policies that relate to children not connected to health, education or social care.

This Government is committed to levelling up opportunity for all children. Responsibility for this rightly falls across a number of government departments – to ensure that all policies affecting children receive the focus and dedication they deserve. The provision of high quality education and care services is one part of the work this government is doing to unlock the potential of all children and there is a dedicated Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families. The Cabinet Office plays a critical role in supporting this collective and coordinated effort and ensuring that government policy delivers for society as a whole, including children. In addition, the government supports a number of arms length bodies – such as the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and the Social Mobility Commission – to consider the effect of policies on children and young people.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the reasons why the UK ranked 40th for children’s well-being out of the 44 countries that took part in the OECD’s PISA 2018 rankings; and what steps the Government is taking to improve its position in those rankings.

Good mental wellbeing is a priority for this Government. The Department is looking carefully at the evidence about children and young people’s mental wellbeing and how to support it. In October 2019, we published the first ‘State of the Nation’ report on children and young people’s wellbeing to bring together the evidence for England, which has shown a slight fall in recent years. The full report is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/state-of-the-nation-2019-children-and-young-peoples-wellbeing.

The Department is taking forward a wide range of work to ensure that wellbeing is at the forefront of our approach to supporting children and young people in schools. This includes teaching pupils about looking after their mental health and wellbeing through the introduction of the new subjects of relationships, sex and health education. This will include the importance of sleep, understanding the benefits of rationing time online and the risks of excessive time spent on electronic devices, including how the content can affect their own and others’ mental and physical wellbeing.

The Department is also improving collaboration with external agencies, to ensure those pupils that need specialist support and treatment get it quickly. In particular, we have a major joint programme of work with NHS England to introduce new mental health support teams linked to schools and colleges, and to support schools and colleges to put in place senior mental health leads.

The Department has several further initiatives in place to support schools to develop and implement whole school approaches to mental health and wellbeing. These include trialling approaches to promoting positive mental wellbeing to ensure pupils have access to evidence based early support and interventions – the largest trial in the world of its kind, piloting different approaches to peer-to-peer support, and rolling out Mental Health Awareness Training to all state-funded secondary schools, to improve capability to identify potential issues.

The Public Health England Rise Above programme in schools and online provides advice for children and young people on coping strategies for modern life. These strategies include dealing with difficult emotions and situations that can lead to problems such as stress, bullying and self-harm. Details can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/phe-launches-rise-above-for-schools-programme.

9th Mar 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, if she will take steps to tackle organisations that discriminate against disabled employees.

We expect employers to comply with the law in their treatment of disabled employees. Employers who discriminate against such employees rightly run the risk of claims for disability discrimination against them being taken to employment tribunals, which have power to award unlimited damages (including compensation for injured feelings) in addition to any award made in relation to employment law claims (such as loss of earnings).

Employment tribunal judgments, including those involving disability discrimination, are publicly available at https://www.gov.uk/employment-tribunal-decisions. Guidance for employers to help them avoid claims for disability discrimination against them are available from Acas and from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

In 2019 the EHRC published two pieces of guidance; a guide to help employees including disabled staff challenge discrimination at work, and a guide to help employers understand their responsibilities to provide disabled staff with additional support and workplace adjustments.

Elizabeth Truss
Minister for Women and Equalities
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect on the level of poverty of the affordability of school uniform costs.

No school uniform should be so expensive as to leave pupils or their families feeling unable to apply to a school. The Government is pleased to support the Private Members' Bill to ‘make provision for guidance to schools about the cost aspects of school uniform policies’, which was recently introduced to Parliament on 5 February 2020. This demonstrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring that school uniform costs are reasonable.

It is for the governing body of a school (or in the case of academies, the academy trust) to decide whether there should be a school? uniform, what it will be and how it should be sourced. To support them to do this the Department currently issues non-statutory guidance which can be found here:?https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-uniform.

Our current guidance states that? school uniform? items should be easily available for parents to purchase and schools should keep compulsory branded items to a minimum. It also states that schools should avoid single-supplier contracts, but where schools do choose to enter into such contracts, they should be subject to a regular competitive tendering process. This makes clear that we expect schools to ensure ?uniform? costs are reasonable.

23rd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to encourage more employers to offer apprenticeships to people with disabilities.

We are working to ensure that a Learning Difficulty or Disability (LDD) is not a barrier to people who want to realise the benefits that an apprenticeship offers or to employers who want to make a long-term investment in the skills they need to grow. We have seen increases in the proportion of apprenticeship starts by people declaring an LDD in recent years, rising to 12% of starts in 2018/19 from 11.2% in 2017/18 and 10.3% in 2016/17.

To ensure that employers are supported to create new apprenticeship opportunities, we provide targeted financial support directly to training providers to help remove barriers for people with a LDD. This includes paying £150 a month to providers for additional support. In specific circumstances, this amount can rise to a maximum of £19,000 per year where necessary. Providers and employers recruiting an apprentice aged 19 to 24 with an education, health and care plan (EHCP) receive an additional payment of £1000. We also pay 100% of the cost of training for small employers with fewer than 50 employees who take on apprentices who have an EHCP. Disabled apprentices may also receive help from Access to Work to pay for workplace adaptations, job coaches, transport, special equipment and other forms of support.

We are also prioritising sharing good practice. Our Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network has grown to 75 members and brings together employers committed to improving diversity in their apprenticeship programmes, including for those with disabilities:

https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/apprenticeship-diversity-champions-network.

We have integrated the Department for Work and Pensions Disability Confident campaign into the apprenticeship recruitment service. Therefore, the Disability Confident logo is displayed on apprenticeship vacancies for registered employers.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the level of funding for maintained nursery schools.

The Department recognises that Maintained Nursery Schools (MNS) are an important part of the early years sector and provide valuable services to disadvantaged children.

Last October we announced increases in hourly funding rates paid to local authorities for the early education entitlements for 2020-21.

In 2020-21, all local authorities will see an increase of 8p an hour to the hourly funding rates for the 2-year-old entitlement and an increase of 8p an hour for the vast majority of areas for the 3- and 4-year-old entitlement.

In addition to the hourly funding rates above, the Department invests approximately £60 million in ‘maintained nursery school supplementary funding’ each financial year, to allow local authorities to preserve MNS funding levels and last October we announced that this additional funding will continue at its current level for the whole of the 2020-21 financial year.

Details of funding paid to local authorities can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/early-years-funding-2020-2021.

The Department remains committed to funding for MNS in the longer term. Any reform to the way they are funded in the future will be accompanied by appropriate funding protections. The Department plans to spend more than £3.6 billion on early education in 2020-21.

20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to introduce free school meals for all primary schoolchildren.

This government is committed to ensuring that children are well nourished and develop healthy eating habits that stay with them for the rest of their lives. Healthy eating not only supports children’s health but also has an important contribution to make in ensuring children are able to concentrate and learn in schools, and therefore achieve their potential in life.

Under the benefits-based criteria, around 1.3 million of the most disadvantaged children are eligible for and claiming free school meals. Benefits-related free meals were extended to disadvantaged further education students in September 2014. A further 1.4 million infants receive a free nutritious meal under the Universal Infant Free School Meals scheme.

We do not currently have plans to extend free school meals to all primary pupils. We believe in prioritising the policy so it is focused on children that are most in need. We will review the eligibility criteria for free school meals at the end of the roll-out of Universal Credit. We have increased access to free meals through the introduction of Universal Infant Free School Meals and Further Education Free Meals. Our amended free school meal criteria, introduced in April 2018 mean we expect more pupils to benefit from benefits-related free school meals in 2022, compared to the legacy system.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions of the effect of the roll-out of universal credit on the number of children on child protection plans.

​The department has not made any assessment on the effect of the roll-out of universal credit on the number of children on child protection plans. However, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education and the department regularly meet with other government ministers and their departments to discuss their policies, including the impact of changes to the welfare system and children’s social care. The department recognises the importance of a cross-government approach to tackling social issues.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policy on SEND funding of the recommendations of paragraph 15 of the Local Government Association's report entitled, Have we reached a ‘tipping point’? Trends in spending for children and young people with SEND in England.

No child or young person should be held back from reaching their potential, including those with complex special needs. This is why we have announced £780 million of additional high needs funding next year (2020-21), an increase of 12% compared to this year, bringing the total amount for supporting those with the most complex needs to £7.2 billion. This will be the largest year-on-year increase since the high needs funding block was created in 2013. Allocations for future years will be announced in due course.

Every local authority will see an increase in high needs funding, of at least 8% per head of population aged 2 to 18, with some seeing gains of up to 17% per head. This will provide valuable extra resources so that support is in place to make sure that no pupil or student is left behind.

However, the response to cost pressures cannot simply be about the amount of funding available. We have launched a review of the special educational needs and disabilities system to see what further improvements are necessary to make sure every child gets the education that is right for them.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
23rd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take legislative steps to provide the equivalent levels of protection for cats following the publication of the provisions in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill relating to dogs.

The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was introduced in Parliament on 8 June 2021. The Bill includes new restrictions on pet movements into Great Britain, which covers the non-commercial movements of cats as well as dogs and ferrets. The Bill also contains powers to restrict the import of cats, dogs and ferrets on welfare grounds, via secondary legislation.

In August 2021, the Government launched an 8-week consultation on our proposed restrictions to the commercial and non-commercial movement of pets into Great Britain. The consultation proposed to maintain the existing requirements for cats. This is because there is currently limited evidence that there is a significant illegal trade in cats or significant numbers of low welfare movements. Overall, the number of movements of cats into Great Britain is much lower than for dogs.

The consultation sought views on whether maintaining the existing requirements in relation to cats was the right approach. We are currently analysing the responses to the consultation and will publish a summary in due course. This will allow us to take on board the views of the public and interested groups in order to shape our future policy.

The Bill also includes a new offence of taking and detaining a dog as part of our response to a recommendation made by the Pet Theft Taskforce. The new offence, which was added to the Bill at its Commons Committee stage, is initially limited to the abduction of dogs in recognition of the Taskforce’s finding that seven out of 10 pet abductions in England and Wales involved dogs. However, the Bill also includes a power to extend the offence to other pets, including cats, if necessary.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has made an assessment of the impact of the use of snares on the populations of non-targeted animals.

When used improperly, snares can cause immense suffering to both target and non-targeted animals. The use of snares is therefore an issue we are looking at closely as part of our continued drive to maintain the highest animal welfare standards in the world.

Through the Government's Animal Action for Welfare Plan, published in May 2021, we are looking at whether changes need to be made to reflect concerns raised.

There is already a Code of Practice for the use of snares to control foxes in England which sets out clear principles for the legal and humane use of snares. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 also prohibits the setting of any type of snare in places where they are likely to catch certain non-target animals such as badgers.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he plans to provide support to paint recycling initiatives to reduce wastage of reusable paints; and what steps he is taking to make it easier for consumers to recycle paints.

We recognise that solvent-based paint, paint thinner and white spirit are hazardous and as such, disposal can be challenging.

We welcome voluntary action being taken by industry, such as the British Coatings Federation’s Paintcare proposals, and community initiatives, supported by local authorities, to allow donations to local community repaint schemes. The law at present encourages reuse and recycling through waste hierarchy obligations on all waste handlers.

To strengthen action on reuse, we will shortly publish our new Waste Prevention Programme for England on which we consulted in 2021, including on steps to improve local systems and services that facilitate reuse and recycling of this nature.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he has taken to regulate the online sale of pets.

This Government takes the issue of low-welfare and illegal supply of pets very seriously. My department supports the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) which was created to combat growing concerns about the irresponsible online advertising of pets for sale, rehoming and exchange. We have backed the set of Minimum Standards that PAAG developed which many of the UK's largest classified websites have agreed to meet. Illegitimate sellers remaining anonymous by using online platforms is an issue for pet theft as well, as stolen dogs can be sold to unsuspecting buyers through untraceable adverts. The Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce recommended that we encourage sales platforms to implement more identity checks to improve the traceability of sellers, and to encourage the use of cashless transactions. Defra will continue to work with PAAG to ensure that pet theft is a core consideration for improvements to sales platforms.

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. More information can be found here: https://getyourpetsafely.campaign.gov.uk/

Under The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 anyone in the business of breeding and selling dogs and/or who breeds three or more litters in a 12-month period needs to have a valid licence from their local authority. Licencees must meet strict statutory minimum welfare standards, including provisions to protect dogs from being bred from too often or at an early age, which are enforced by local authorities who have powers to issue, refuse or revoke licences. Any licensee advertising dogs for sale will need to include their licence number in the advert and specify the local authority who issued the licence. Additional requirements placed on advertisements include that the age of the dog for sale must be displayed along with a recognisable photograph.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the (a) adequacy of the level of competition within the residential water management industry and (b) effect of that level of competition on the amount customers pay in water bills.

In November 2015, the UK Government asked Ofwat to assess the costs and benefits of extending retail competition to residential water customers in England. Ofwat's report did not indicate significant benefits for household customers and highlighted initial bill increases to fund the extension of the retail market.

The industry is regulated to protect customers. As part of the recent Price Review process for 2020-2025, Ofwat challenged companies on efficiency and set out a package that will enable water companies to deliver more for people today, invest for future generations and reduce the average household bill by 2025.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 11 June 2021 to Question 7904 on Plastics: Supermarkets, what steps he is taking to incentivise supermarkets and other companies to reduce their use of (a) single-use and (b) general plastics in each of the financial years (i) 2021-22, (ii) 2022-23, (iii) 2023-24 and (iv) 2024-25.

The Government's 25 Year Environment Plan sets out our ambition to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042, which encompasses single-use plastic waste. I would also refer to the Answer of 11 June 2021 to Question 7904, as many of the actions set out there will incentivise businesses. We are making great strides to tackle plastic pollution across the country. In December 2018, we published the Resources and Waste Strategy, which set out how we want to achieve this and move towards a circular economy which keeps resources in the system for as long as possible. The Resources and Waste Strategy also sets out a timeline for action, although in some instances the impact of Covid-19 has led to delays. In clearly laying out the Government's position and direction, we intend to provide industry with the confidence to take action to reduce their use of plastics.

Indeed, industry is acting. The UK Plastics Pact was jointly founded by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and the Ellen McArthur Foundation and is supported by the Government. The Pact brings together organisations from across the plastics supply chain, with four key targets for 2025 that aim to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated. Members of the Pact account for two-thirds of consumer plastic packaging in the UK.

Alongside our support for voluntary action by industry, the Government is taking regulatory action. 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 been increased to 10p and extended to all retailers to encourage customers to bring their own bags to carry shopping and reduce the volumes of single-use plastic being used.

We have included a number of measures in the Environment Bill to enable us, through regulations, to tackle plastics and plastic waste. These include measures to impose charges on single-use plastic items; introduce a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers; and make producers cover the costs of collecting and managing plastic packaging waste. As well as this, the Bill gives us powers to provide consistent recycling services for household and businesses; ensure all packaging is labelled either 'recyclable' or 'not recyclable'; set requirements regarding design and material usage for products; and allows for us to control the export of plastic waste better.

The Government is also reforming the packaging producer responsibility regulations and developing extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging. Our proposal is for the first phase of EPR to be established in 2023. EPR for packaging will see packaging producers paying for the waste management costs associated with the packaging that they place on the market. This will ensure producers are thinking about the necessity of any packaging they use. In developing EPR for packaging, we will also take consideration of how EPR for packaging could be used to encourage packaging reuse and refill systems. The Government consultation on EPR for packaging closed on 4 June 2021:

https://consult.defra.gov.uk/extended-producer-responsibility/extended-producer-responsibility-for-packaging/.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment they have made of the potential (a) threats and (b) opportunities of artificial intelligence in respect of their Department’s responsibilities.

Defra maintains a high-level, persistent watch on emerging technologies via our Digital, Data and Technology Services innovations team’s emerging technologies radar and the Chief Scientific Adviser’s Office Futures team. As such, Defra both recognises the potential for artificial intelligence to play an important part in ensuring that data and science are at the heart of decision making, and is also aware of the general threats and opportunities afforded by AI.

The opportunities and considerations associated with the use of AI continue to be explored, as outlined in the guidance on building and using artificial intelligence in the public sector, published on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/a-guide-to-using-artificial-intelligence-in-the-public-sector

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to what extent their Department makes use of artificial intelligence in the implementation of its policies; and how much was spent from their Department’s budget on artificial intelligence in each of the last three years.

Defra recognises the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) to play an important part in ensuring that data and science are at the heart of decision making.

Defra recognises the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) to play an important part in ensuring that data and science are at the heart of decision making.

All of Defra’s ongoing and previous research projects, including a number involving AI and machine learning (ML), are published on Defra’s research and development website: randd.defra.gov.uk. Planned projects are advertised on Bravo: defra.bravosolution.co.uk. The specific information requested is not held centrally and to obtain it would incur disproportionate costs.

Areas particularly benefitting from these tools include the interpretation of Earth Observation and automated sensor data, the development of advanced modelling techniques, and improved customer service. We are further developing our data science capabilities (data linkage, advanced tooling and platforms) to ensure our scientists and analysts are able to effectively exploit data using advanced analytic techniques which include AI components, such as ML and other novel innovative approaches that will inform decision making.

We will continue to work in partnership across Government, with academia and industry to develop the use of AI and ML for Defra.

The opportunities and considerations associated with the use of AI continue to be explored, as outlined in the guidance on building and using artificial intelligence in the public sector, published on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/a-guide-to-using-artificial-intelligence-in-the-public-sector

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the annual (a) budget and (b) expenditure of his Department's CBRN Emergencies team, formerly the Government Decontamination Service, was in each of the last 10 years.

The UK Government Decontamination Service (GDS) was provided by the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) between 1 April 2009 and 31 July 2014, during which time budget and expenditure records were collated and held centrally by Fera. GDS became the CBRN Emergencies Team when it moved to core Defra on 1 August 2014. Defra does not hold information on budgets or expenditure prior to 2012.

Financial Year

Budget

Expenditure

Description

2012/13

2,265,505

2,584,312

Includes, pay, non-pay and programme. Excludes Evidence R&D

2013/14

2,906,387

2,447,233

Includes, pay, non-pay and programme. Excludes Evidence R&D

2014/15

2,218,500

1,854,214

Includes, pay, non-pay and programme. Excludes Evidence R&D

2015/16

1,582,368

1,475,962

Includes, pay, non-pay and programme. Excludes Evidence R&D

2016/17

2,078,936

1,610,024

Includes, pay, non-pay and programme. Excludes Evidence R&D

2017/18

2,078,936

1,460,811

Includes, pay, non-pay and programme. Excludes Evidence R&D

2018/19

15,778,936

13,380,220

Includes, pay, non-pay and programme. Excludes Evidence R&D

2019/20

1,366,000

1,016,852

Includes, pay, non-pay and programme. Excludes Evidence R&D

Total

30,275,568

25,829,628

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of encouraging or requiring restaurant chains to introduce information on the carbon cost of menu items.

The environmental impacts of food are complex, with the whole food chain having a role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting both domestic and international climate targets. There are currently no legal requirements for UK restaurant chains to display information related to carbon emissions from food production on their menus. However, the Government is supportive of work being done in this area. Examples include Defra's funding of the Waste and Resources Action Programme (known as WRAP) to work across the supply chain to cut carbon and food waste in the sector by one fifth between 2015 and 2025.

The Government will continue to work with the hospitality industry to help it reduce its environmental impacts and provide this information clearly to consumers in an efficient manner, without creating unnecessary burdens that can result in increased prices for consumers.

Defra will investigate the opportunity to review aspects of food labelling following the outcomes of Henry Dimbleby's independent review of the food system, due this summer. The Government will respond to this with a Food Strategy White Paper within six months.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will is take steps to encourage the expansion of refill stations in supermarkets to reduce the generation of non-recyclable waste.

The Government's 25 Year Environment Plan sets out our ambition to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.

Industry is already taking action. The UK Plastics Pact jointly founded by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and the Ellen McArthur Foundation is supported by the Government. The Pact brings together organisations from across the plastics supply chain, including all the major supermarkets, with four key targets for 2025 that aim to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated. Current Pact business members are responsible for 80% of plastic packaging sold through UK supermarkets.

Through the Pact, work has been done to increase the sale of unpackaged products. The WRAP Fresh Produce Guidance was published in November 2019 which includes advice for retailers to help determine if fresh produce can be provided loose. In June 2019, Waitrose & Partners unveiled a new trial, 'Waitrose Unpacked', to explore alternative ways of shopping. It included a dedicated refillable zone, the UK's first supermarket frozen 'pick and mix' station, and the first borrow-a-box scheme are among a series of ideas being looked at in a unique test in order in order to potentially save thousands of tonnes of unnecessary plastic and packaging. Since its initial introduction in their Botley Road branch in Oxford this initiative has been extended to three other stores in Wallingford, Abingdon, and Cheltenham and they continue to extend the range of products available unpacked.

Alongside supporting voluntary action by industry, the Government is taking regulatory action to reduce the use of non-recyclable waste. For instance, 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, was increased to 10p and extended to all retailers on 21 May 2021. This will further encourage customers to bring their own bags to carry shopping and reduce the volumes of single-use plastic being used.

The Government is also reforming the packaging producer responsibility regulations and developing extended producer responsibility for packaging. Extended producer responsibility for packaging will see packaging producers pay the waste management costs associated with the packaging they place on the market. This will encourage producers to consider the necessity of any packaging they use. In developing extended producer responsibility for packaging, we will also consider how the use of packaging reuse and refill systems can be encouraged. The Government has stated its intention to bring forward proposals for reuse/refill targets by the end of 2023 and introduce targets or obligations on producers from 2025. The Government consultation on extended producer responsibility for packaging closed on 4 June 2021, more details can be found at:

https://consult.defra.gov.uk/extended-producer-responsibility/extended-producer-responsibility-for-packaging/.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has (a) made an assessment of the potential merits of and (b) had discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on introducing a tax or levy on peat based composts in order to incentivise the use of peat free alternatives.

In the recently published England Peat Action Plan we have committed to undertake a full consultation in 2021 on banning the sale of peat and peat containing products in the amateur sector by the end of this Parliament. The consultation will also examine other measures, including the feasibility of introducing a point-of-sale charge for the purchase of growing media containing peat (this could use the plastic bag charge as a model).

As outlined in the Action Plan, we are committed to working with the industry to understand the implications of our proposals, identify blockages and to working with the private sector to develop and enact solutions, thus making the transition to peat alternatives as seamless as possible.

The England Peat Action Plan can be found at:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/987859/england-peat-action-plan.pdf

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to reduce the volume of waste exported out of the UK.

The UK Government has not made any assessment of CO2 produced by the export of UK waste. The UK monitors and reports emissions from the shipping industry through the National Emissions Inventory but this information is not disaggregated to the level of individual cargo movements.

The export of UK waste for disposal is generally prohibited, save for the strictly limited exceptions which are laid out in the UK Plan for Shipments of Waste. Under the UK legislation on waste shipments, businesses involved in the export of wastes are required to take all necessary steps to ensure that the waste they ship is managed in an environmentally sound manner throughout its shipment and during its recycling. All waste exports need to be made in accordance with the relevant legislation and we have a system of inspections in place to verify compliance. The regulators mount targeted inspections at UK ports working with the shipping sector to help detect and prevent illegal waste shipments. Individuals and businesses found to be exporting waste in contravention of the requirements in the legislation waste can face a two-year jail term and an unlimited fine.

We have pledged to introduce tougher controls on waste exports, and the Environment Bill includes a power to introduce mandatory electronic tracking of waste which will make it harder for criminals to obtain and export waste illegally.

We are also taking action to reduce the volume of waste generated in the first place. Our approach is focused on encouraging greater uptake of reusable alternatives and increasing supply and demand for secondary materials to be recycled in the UK. The Resources and Waste Strategy for England, published in December 2018, sets out the Government’s plans to reduce, reuse, and recycle more than we do now. Our target is to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste throughout the life of the 25 Year Environment Plan, but for the most problematic plastics we are going faster - which is why we have committed to work towards all plastic packaging placed on the market being recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that waste exported for recycling is recycled and not disposed of in another manner.

The UK Government has not made any assessment of CO2 produced by the export of UK waste. The UK monitors and reports emissions from the shipping industry through the National Emissions Inventory but this information is not disaggregated to the level of individual cargo movements.

The export of UK waste for disposal is generally prohibited, save for the strictly limited exceptions which are laid out in the UK Plan for Shipments of Waste. Under the UK legislation on waste shipments, businesses involved in the export of wastes are required to take all necessary steps to ensure that the waste they ship is managed in an environmentally sound manner throughout its shipment and during its recycling. All waste exports need to be made in accordance with the relevant legislation and we have a system of inspections in place to verify compliance. The regulators mount targeted inspections at UK ports working with the shipping sector to help detect and prevent illegal waste shipments. Individuals and businesses found to be exporting waste in contravention of the requirements in the legislation waste can face a two-year jail term and an unlimited fine.

We have pledged to introduce tougher controls on waste exports, and the Environment Bill includes a power to introduce mandatory electronic tracking of waste which will make it harder for criminals to obtain and export waste illegally.

We are also taking action to reduce the volume of waste generated in the first place. Our approach is focused on encouraging greater uptake of reusable alternatives and increasing supply and demand for secondary materials to be recycled in the UK. The Resources and Waste Strategy for England, published in December 2018, sets out the Government’s plans to reduce, reuse, and recycle more than we do now. Our target is to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste throughout the life of the 25 Year Environment Plan, but for the most problematic plastics we are going faster - which is why we have committed to work towards all plastic packaging placed on the market being recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the amount of CO2 produced by transporting waste produced in the UK outside of the UK.

The UK Government has not made any assessment of CO2 produced by the export of UK waste. The UK monitors and reports emissions from the shipping industry through the National Emissions Inventory but this information is not disaggregated to the level of individual cargo movements.

The export of UK waste for disposal is generally prohibited, save for the strictly limited exceptions which are laid out in the UK Plan for Shipments of Waste. Under the UK legislation on waste shipments, businesses involved in the export of wastes are required to take all necessary steps to ensure that the waste they ship is managed in an environmentally sound manner throughout its shipment and during its recycling. All waste exports need to be made in accordance with the relevant legislation and we have a system of inspections in place to verify compliance. The regulators mount targeted inspections at UK ports working with the shipping sector to help detect and prevent illegal waste shipments. Individuals and businesses found to be exporting waste in contravention of the requirements in the legislation waste can face a two-year jail term and an unlimited fine.

We have pledged to introduce tougher controls on waste exports, and the Environment Bill includes a power to introduce mandatory electronic tracking of waste which will make it harder for criminals to obtain and export waste illegally.

We are also taking action to reduce the volume of waste generated in the first place. Our approach is focused on encouraging greater uptake of reusable alternatives and increasing supply and demand for secondary materials to be recycled in the UK. The Resources and Waste Strategy for England, published in December 2018, sets out the Government’s plans to reduce, reuse, and recycle more than we do now. Our target is to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste throughout the life of the 25 Year Environment Plan, but for the most problematic plastics we are going faster - which is why we have committed to work towards all plastic packaging placed on the market being recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to encourage supermarkets to reduce their use of plastics.

The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan sets out our ambition to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.

Industry is already taking action on this. The UK Plastics Pact was jointly founded by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and the Ellen McArthur Foundation and is supported by the Government. The Pact brings together organisations from across the plastics supply chain, including all the major supermarkets, with four key targets for 2025 that aim to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated. Current Pact business members are responsible for 80% of plastic packaging sold through UK supermarkets.

Through the pact, work has been done to increase the sale of unpackaged products. The WRAP Fresh Produce Guidance was published in November 2019 which includes advice for retailers to help determine if fresh produce can be provided loose.

Alongside supporting voluntary action by industry, the Government is taking regulatory action. For instance, 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, was increased to 10p and extended to all retailers on 21 May 2021. This will give greater encouragement to customers to bring their own bags to carry shopping and reduce the volumes of single-use plastic being used.

The Government is also reforming the packaging producer responsibility regulations and developing extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging. EPR for packaging will see packaging producers paying for the waste management costs associated with the packaging that they place on the market. This will ensure producers are thinking about the necessity of any packaging they use. In developing EPR for packaging, we will also take consideration of how EPR for packaging could be used to encourage packaging reuse and refill systems. The Government consultation on EPR for packaging closed on 4 June 2021:

https://consult.defra.gov.uk/extended-producer-responsibility/extended-producer-responsibility-for-packaging/.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department takes steps to ensure that waste sent abroad to be recycled is recycled.

The UK Government is committed to banning the export of plastic waste for recycling to countries that are not members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Government will consult on this measure and work is underway to make this happen.

Under the UK legislation on waste shipments, businesses involved in the export of wastes are required to take all necessary steps to ensure that the waste they ship is managed in an environmentally sound manner throughout its shipment and during its recycling.

All waste exports need to be made in accordance with the relevant legislation and we have a system of inspections in place to verify compliance. The Environment Agency mounts targeted inspections at UK ports working with the shipping sector to help detect and prevent illegal waste shipments. Recycling facilities in other countries are permitted and regulated by that country’s authorities.

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 he plans to take to increase domestic recycling capacity.

The 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy sets out the Government's ambitions for increased resource efficiency and a more circular economy in England. These ambitions require changes in how we produce and consume products and materials, as well as how we treat and dispose of them at end-of-life.

In the Resources and Waste Strategy, we have committed to taking actions which will help to stimulate private investment in reprocessing and recycling infrastructure. The Collection and Packaging Reforms (Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging (EPR), consistency and a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)) are expected to increase and incentivise appetite for commercial infrastructure investment, giving investors greater confidence in the growing UK reprocessing market. Our ambition to recycle 65% of municipal waste and reduce waste to landfill to no more than 10% will help to drive investment. Also, the HMT plastic packaging tax is expected to increase demand for secondary material plastic and increasing reprocessing infrastructure will help meet this demand.

Further capacity is likely to be required if the UK was to reprocess domestically the increased levels of packaging material expected to be captured for recycling as a result of the reforms.

We are already seeing a response from the sector to increase reprocessing capacity.
Defra is also working with other departments (e.g. BEIS and DIT) and the waste sector to highlight the investment opportunities that result from the reforms.

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, how much recyclable waste (a) in tonnes and (b) as a proportion of total recyclable waste has been sent overseas in each of the last five years.

Data on exports of waste materials is collated and published by HMRC and is available at the following link https://www.uktradeinfo.com/trade-data/ots-custom-table/

Defra does not hold data on the amount of waste suitable for recycling generated in the UK.

Year

Waste exported for recycling (tonnes)

2020

12,879,137

2019

11,373,916

2018

15,843,470

2017

16,431,888

2016

16,265,212

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the Government's proposals to ban imports and exports of hunting trophies will include an exemption allowing hunters to import their trophies of animals in the event that they pay a fee.

The Government takes the conservation of endangered species in the UK and internationally very seriously, which is why we will be banning the import of hunting trophies from endangered species. Our approach will be comprehensive, robust and effective and will deliver the change we promised to help protect thousands of species worldwide. We will be setting out plans soon.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the reasons for the increase in the number of hunting trophies entering the UK in 2019.

In 2019, the UK recorded 63 imports of hunting trophies from species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The UK recorded 33 imports in 2018, 69 in 2017, and 143 in 2016. Defra has not made an assessment of the reasons for this increase in 2019 but imports fluctuate year-on-year for many reasons including fluctuations in the number of animals hunted, and how hunting trophies are recorded and counted on permits.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of establishing a National Flood Resilience Centre.

The National Flood Response Centre (NFRC) was developed in response to the National Flood Resilience Review, after the flooding in the winter of 2015/16. The review recommended that the Government should establish a single national flood emergency operations room to improve shared situational awareness between Government departments during severe flooding events.

The strategic objectives for the NFRC are to develop and maintain shared situational awareness between departments, Devolved Administrations and agencies, optimise central government’s response to flooding and to support COBR, providing Ministers with accurate information and recommendations to address any challenges or decision points.

Typically, relevant Government departments and agencies move all or part of their crisis team and emergency operations to the NFRC when severe flooding has occurred or is expected. Where co-location is not possible then partners will be represented virtually. Recent use of the NFRC includes November 2019 (flooding in North England), February and March 2020 (Wales, West Mercia and Yorkshire) and in January 2021 it was scaled up virtually in response to Storm Christoph.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that untreated sewage is not discharged into rivers and other inland waters.

Tackling the harm caused by sewer overflows is a top priority for this Department.

Since the privatisation of water companies, around £25 billion has been invested to reduce pollution from sewage, covering improvements in sewage treatment and in sewer overflows.

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 five-year business planning period (2020-25) to a significant programme of improvements to the monitoring and management of storm overflows at a cost of around £1.1 billion. This investment includes undertaking 800 investigations and 798 improvement schemes to provide environmental improvements by reducing spills from frequently spilling overflows.

I recognise that there is more to do to manage sewage pollution. I met water company CEOs in September last year 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 - which has agreed to set a long term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows. The Taskforce is now working on plans to start making progress towards that goal, and they have commissioned research to gather evidence on the costs, benefits and feasibility of different options.

Water companies are currently producing for the first time comprehensive Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans to assess the capacity of their wastewater networks. We are also taking key steps through the Environment Bill to require water companies to produce such Plans on a statutory basis. These plans will be another tool to help address the risks that storm overflows pose to the environment.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he plans to bring forward legislative proposals to ban supertrawlers from Marine Protected Areas.

We are reviewing our policy on access for supertrawlers. This review will be driven by evidence. We will need to consider how any measures fit with our obligations under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU and avoid taking any action against individual vessels which could be construed as discriminatory.

Under the Fisheries Act 2020, vessels permitted to fish in UK waters have to be licensed and comply with UK rules and regulations including those on sustainability. Licence conditions set by UK Sea Fisheries Authorities apply to both UK and foreign vessels alike.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with supermarkets on reducing their usage of non-recyclable packaging for foodstuffs.

We are currently developing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging. EPR for packaging will see producers paying for the waste management costs associated with the packaging that they place on the market. In addition to this, EPR for packaging will see those costs modulated (varied) to account for various criteria, including recyclability. This will provide an incentive to producers who use recyclable packaging, as they could be paying less than those who don't. We will be consulting in early 2021 on our proposals for introducing EPR for packaging.

In developing these proposals and in preparation for the upcoming consultation, engagement with stakeholders, including supermarkets, has been a priority. As part of this focus on engagement, a joint project was recently launched to develop a key element of the new EPR for packaging system. This project is developing an approach to the modulation of producer fees and will run until July 2021. It is being led jointly between the Government and the Devolved Administrations, the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN), the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), and the British Retail Consortium (BRC). At all stages of the project, stakeholder engagement will be central to our approach.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what proportion of the vehicles used by his Department on Government business are electric vehicles.

Victoria Prentis

As of 12 November 2020, the proportion of electric cars operated by Defra is 6.0%. The table below shows the proportion split by organisation.

Organisation

Diesel / Petrol

Hybrid

Plug-in hybrid

Fully Electric

Total

Fully Electric Proportion

Animal and Plant Health Agency

162

90

7

4

263

1.5%

Defra

87

27

22

14

150

9.3%

Environment Agency

2,172

1,078

432

251

3,933

6.4%

Marine Management Organisation

17

5

1

1

24

4.2%

Natural England

4

0

0

0

4

0.0%

Rural Payments Agency

84

33

6

1

124

0.8%

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

5

0

0

0

5

0.0%

Total

2,531

1,233

468

271

4,503

6.0%

All of the cars above are managed by Defra Group Fleet Services (Environment Agency). There are other cars within Defra (the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and Sea Fish). However, they manage their own fleets and we do not hold the information requested.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps is he taking to ensure the resilience of the supply of food to (a) schools, (b) hospitals and (c) care homes.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Harrow East on 7 October 2020, PQ UIN 98702.

[questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2020-10-02/98702]

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that food prices are affordable for consumers during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have a highly resilient food supply chain and representatives of our leading supermarkets and throughout the supply chain are working to ensure that people have the food and products they need. The industry continues to monitor the situation closely and is taking necessary steps to address issues where they arise. Retailers are working hard to mitigate any disruption to their supply chains that could impact on their costs, to keep customer prices down as far as possible.

The Government is in regular engagement with industry leaders. We have already introduced a wide range of new measures to make sure businesses can continue to keep food supply flowing, such as relaxation of competition laws to allow retailers to work together to ensure stores are open and stocked. We have also extended delivery hours to supermarkets and are flexing rules on drivers’ hours for all sectors.

The Government does not set consumer food prices or comment on day-to-day commercial decisions by industry.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which supermarkets his Department has met to discuss planning in response to covid-19; and on which dates those meetings took place.

The Government has well-established ways of working with the food industry on potential disruptions to the supply chain. The Secretary of State hosted calls with supermarket Chief Executives on Friday 6 March and Monday 9 March. In addition, officials have held meetings with public affairs and communications leads this week.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to improve the resilience of (a) national infrastructure and (b) local communities in the face of extreme weather events.

The Government recognises the importance of identifying and preparing for a wide range of emergencies that could occur in the UK including extreme weather events.

The Cabinet Office Civil Contingencies Secretariat undertakes an assessment of the likelihood and potential impact of a range of different civil emergency risks (including naturally and accidentally occurring hazards and malicious threats) that may directly affect the UK in the short term. A public version of this assessment known as the National Risk Register is available online at:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-risk-register-of-civil-emergencies-2017-edition.

Lead Government departments and Local Resilience Forums use these risk assessments to plan for, and improve the resilience of national infrastructure and local communities to, extreme weather events, alongside a wide range of other risks.

The National Risk Register also signposts advice and guidance on what members of the public can do to prepare for these events.

The National Infrastructure Commission has been commissioned to produce a resilience study, to be published this year, which should support the integration of resilience approaches into infrastructure policies and plans.

Our second National Adaptation Programme (NAP), published in 2018, sets out how we will address climate change risks, including risks relating to extreme weather events, in the following five years. The NAP includes actions in a wide range of areas, including dedicated chapters on Infrastructure, and People and the Built Environment. Our second NAP is available online here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/climate-change-second-national-adaptation-programme-2018-to-2023.

The Government is currently providing support to over 90 organisations which have committed to report under the third round of the Adaptation Reporting Power, on actions they are taking to strengthen preparedness for climate change risks. This includes infrastructure providers, utilities and regulators across energy, water, transport and telecommunications sectors.

Over the current six-year programme of work, the Government is investing £2.6 billion to better protect the country from flooding. This is funding over 1,000 flood defence schemes, which will better protect 300,000 homes by 2021.

The Government pledged £4 billion over five years for flood defences in its manifesto. Defra will continue to work with the Environment Agency to consider future investment needs ahead of the Budget announcement on future floods funding on 11 March.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on accessibility on the rail network.

Officials in my Department have recently been in discussions with the Department for Transport on its Transport Regulatory Review, in which the Government Equalities Office and the wider Equalities Hub has an interest, particularly in relation to disability.

This builds on publication in 2018 of our Inclusive Transport Strategy which sets out what we are doing to improve access across all transport modes and we will continue to seek further improvements.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
9th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the effect on NHS staffing levels of the UK leaving the EU.

DExEU Ministers continue to hold regular discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care Ministers. The Government hugely values the contribution of EU staff to the NHS. We have taken steps to ensure that existing staff are able to remain working and living in the UK through the EU Settlement Scheme; and we will seek to ensure qualifications from the EU will continue to be recognised after we have exited the European Union.

Since the referendum, there are almost 7,300 more EU nationals working in NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups.1 Furthermore, the Government has pledged to increase nurse numbers by 50,000 in the next five years, and give all nursing students on courses from September 2020 a payment of at least £5,000 which they will not need to pay back.

Recruitment for the NHS does not stop at the EU, we recruit talented individuals from all over the globe. The Government will launch a new visa to ensure qualified doctors, nurses and health professionals have fast-track entry to work in the United Kingdom. This will help ensure that there will be sufficient numbers of staff following the UK’s exit from the EU to enable the delivery of the high-quality services on which the public relies.

The Department for Health and Social Care continues to monitor and analyse staffing levels across the NHS and social care.

1 NHS Hospital and Community Health Service (HCHS) Workforce Statistics in England, NHS Digital, (Dec 2019). Figure based on comparison between June 2016 and September 2019.

25th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what proportion of the total value of UK-Russian trade will be affected by the implementation of sanctions on Russia for the invasion of Ukraine.

The United Kingdom is in the top 20 of Russia’s trading partners and our action is coordinated with international partners, magnifying impact.

Data from the Office for National Statistics show that in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2021, Russia accounted for 1.3% of total United Kingdom trade, and 0.7% of the United Kingdom’s exports. In 2021, the commodity codes covered in Schedule 2A of the new legislation accounted for 11.8% of United Kingdom goods exports to Russia (HMRC). Although the situation is evolving, impact assessments have been published alongside the recent legislation which provide further detail.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
24th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the Government plans to continue providing (a) trade and investment services and (b) practical support for UK businesses that seek to trade with Russia; and whether she has made an assessment of the compatibility of such support with UK national interests.

I refer the Hon. Member for Slough to the answer I gave to the Hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull East on 9 March 2022, UIN: 134355.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
11th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment they have made of the potential (a) threats and (b) opportunities of artificial intelligence in respect of their Department’s responsibilities.

The opportunities and considerations associated with the use of Artificial Intelligence continue to be explored, as outlined in the guidance on building and using artificial intelligence in the public sector, published on GOV.UK at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/a-guide-to-using-artificial-intelligence-in-the-public-sector

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, to what extent their Department makes use of artificial intelligence in the implementation of its policies; and how much was spent from their Department’s budget on artificial intelligence in each of the last three years.

The Department for International Trade does not make use of artificial intelligence in the implementation of its policies.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the Government is taking steps to ensure that no UK made weapons or arms are exported to India where such weapons may be used in repressing the ongoing farmers protests in that country.

Arms exports require an export licence, and all export licence applications are assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (the “Consolidated Criteria”).

The Consolidated Criteria take into account our obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty and other relevant rules of international law. They provide a thorough risk assessment framework and require us to think hard about the possible impact of providing equipment and its capabilities.

These are not decisions we take lightly and HM Government will not grant an export licence if to do so would be inconsistent with the Consolidated Criteria.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether UK steel producers face any tariffs or quotas to export steel into the EU market.

The Department for International Trade and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy worked closely with the UK steel sector to ensure the European Commission provides UK steel exports into the EU with tariff-free quota allocations from 1 Jan 2021.

As a result, HM Government has successfully secured from the EU country-specific allocations for some steel products within the Tariff Rate Quotas (by which the EU imposes its steel safeguard measures) to enable UK companies to trade tariff-free into the EU. These tariff-free allocations came into operation on 1 January 2021.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what proportion of the vehicles used by her Department on Government business are electric vehicles.

The Department for International Trade uses the Government Car Service for vehicle provision. Cars provided to Departments by the Government Car Service will be included in the return for the Department for Transport.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, on what date he set the mandate for train operating companies to negotiate with the rail unions on pay and employment conditions.

The RMT has demanded talks take place first at a national level rather than with individual train operating companies. Discussions are therefore taking place at national level under the auspices of the Rail Industry Recovery Group.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what savings from overall staffing costs have been sought from Network Rail for each financial year until 2025.

The Government has earmarked significant support, £16 billion, to keep train services running since the start of the pandemic and keep people in jobs during the height of lockdowns, the equivalent to £600 for every family in the UK and £160,000 for every rail worker. If recent shortfalls in passenger demand and revenue are maintained, this represents a £2 billion per annum loss in revenue. We do not think it is fair to continue providing the industry with an increased subsidy from taxpayers at a time when there is pressure on everyone’s finances.

We have asked Network Rail, train operators and the industry to consider all options to make the railway sustainable for the long term. Staffing costs is just one area of a wide range of reforms and changes. We need an agile workforce that can deliver for passengers. These reforms will make the railway more efficient, delivering more effectively for passengers and taxpayers.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what savings from overall staffing costs have been sought from the train Operating Companies for each financial year until 2025.

The Government has earmarked significant support, £16 billion, to keep train services running since the start of the pandemic and keep people in jobs during the height of lockdowns, the equivalent to £600 for every family in the UK and £160,000 for every rail worker. If recent shortfalls in passenger demand and revenue are maintained, this represents a £2 billion per annum loss in revenue. We do not think it is fair to continue providing the industry with an increased subsidy from taxpayers at a time when there is pressure on everyone’s finances.

We have asked Network Rail, train operators and the industry to consider all options to make the railway sustainable for the long term. Staffing costs is just one area of a wide range of reforms and changes. We need an agile workforce that can deliver for passengers. These reforms will make the railway more efficient, delivering more effectively for passengers and taxpayers.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will publish the rail industry (a) dispute handling policy, (b) reward and people principles document and (c) employment policy framework as referenced in National Rail Contracts.

There is no ‘rail industry’ wide Reward and People Principles document. Likewise, there is no ‘rail industry’ Employment Policy Framework. The definition of both Reward and People Principles and Employment Policy Framework in the operator contracts is broad, and there are likely to be a number of documents that fall within the definition.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent steps he has taken to help ensure the safety of female passengers on the rail network.

The Department works closely with rail industry partners to improve women's safety. The rail industry has established work programmes to tackle violence against women and girls, including targeted training of frontline staff and improved access to reporting.

In March this year, the Government’s independent Violence against Women and Girls Transport Champions, Laura Shoaf (Chief Executive, West Midlands Combined Authority) and Anne Shaw (Executive Director, Transport for West Midlands), published 13 recommendations – informed by stakeholder engagement – to further improve the safety of women and girls on the transport network, including rail.

The Department welcomed the ambition of the recommendations and is now working with partners from across Government and the transport industry – including rail – to deliver against them. This includes supporting the National Sexual Harassment on Rail campaign and the Rail to Refuge scheme.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
20th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what effect the Government's cancellation of the Golborne Link component of HS2 has had on the overall cost-benefit analysis of HS2.

On 20 June 2022 the Government announced in a Written Ministerial Statement laid in Parliament the publication of a Supplement to the January 2022 update to the High Speed 2 (HS2) Crewe to Manchester Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC): www.gov.uk/government/publications/hs2-crewe-to-manchester-impacts-of-removing-the-golborne-link. This provides analysis of the economic implications, including on the Benefit-Cost Ratio, of removing the Golborne Link from the High Speed Rail (Crewe to Manchester) Bill scheme.”

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
20th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, by what date the national accessibility audit of all railway stations in Great Britain will conclude.

The audit is progressing well with 1,629 stations across England, Scotland and Wales having been assessed to date.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
17th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to merge the HS2 Woodland Fund with the England Woodland Creation Offer.

There are significant overlaps between the HS2 Woodland Fund and the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO), both in terms of their aims and the way that the schemes work. As a result, HS2 Ltd has been working with Defra and the Forestry Commission on a plan to bring the two into alignment with each other, to ensure that both woodland creation schemes can continue to meet their objectives, whilst avoiding confusion for applicants. This is unlikely to result in a full merger of the schemes as there are some differences to be preserved - for example, the HS2 Woodland Fund differs from EWCO in that it also provides grants to support the restoration of degraded woodland. Discussions with stakeholders to resolve some outstanding details are ongoing.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Government decision to remove the Golborne Link from the HS2 Bill on 6 June 2022, whether the Government intends that any alternative proposal will link HS2 with the West Coast Main Line; and when it intends to bring forward alternative proposals.

The government has confirmed it will look at alternatives which deliver similar benefits to Scotland as the Golborne link, so long as these deliver for the taxpayer within the £96 billion envelope allocated for the Integrated Rail Plan. Options to be explored could range from upgrading existing infrastructure to high speed lines. Any decision to pursue an alternative will be announced at the appropriate time.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Rail Industry Associations criteria for the new railway body, Great British Railways, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that Great British Railways leave a positive legacy, including in safety, decarbonisation, exports and the economy.

The Department and the Great British Railways Transition Team are working with the rail sector to design and establish the new guiding mind for the railways, Great British Railways, to ensure our railway meets the future needs of passengers, freight customers and the wider economy.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Rail Industry Associations criteria for the new railway body, Great British Railways, what steps his Department taking to ensure they are clear and transparent with rail suppliers.

The Department and the Great British Railways Transition Team are continuing to work with the rail sector to ensure a common understanding of the vision, establish the phases of delivery, and work collectively with the sector to design our new guiding mind for the railways, Great British Railways. We are ensuring this engagement is as open and transparent as possible.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Rail Industry Associations criteria for the new railway body, Great British Railways, what steps he has taken to ensure the implementation of Great British Railways will result in no hiatus to current work.

The Department and the Great British Railways Transition Team are continuing to work with the rail sector, including private companies, to ensure a common understanding of the vision, establish the phases of delivery, and work collectively with the sector to design our new guiding mind for the railways, Great British Railways. The Department will continue to work with Network Rail (NR) to deliver current workstreams, including the Control Period 6 programme of work, the schemes outlined in the Integrated Rail Plan including the next phase of the Midland Mainline electrification.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent steps his Department has taken to prevent suicide on the rail network.

The Department actively works with the rail industry and wider stakeholders to prevent suicide, safeguard the vulnerable and deliver a safer transport network. More widely, the industry works in partnership with British Transport Police to drive a well-established programme to target trespass and disruption.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of his Department's public information campaign on smart motorways.

In March 2020, as part of the Smart motorway safety evidence stocktake and action plan, the Transport Secretary committed an additional £5 million to communications campaigns to further increase awareness and understanding of smart motorways.

In March 2021 National Highways launched a new national public information campaign, ‘Go left’, to give drivers clear information about what to do in a breakdown.

Other public information campaigns being delivered by National Highways include urging drivers to adhere to Red X signals, to carry out tyre checks, to discourage tailgating and advise drivers on the use of the emergency (eCall) system in newer cars and vans.

In January 2022, National Highways launched a ‘Driving on Motorways’ hub on its website, providing a central point for all its information on motorway driving, including smart motorways. The hub was launched alongside a multimedia campaign, with content featured reaching over 6 million listeners.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
26th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has any plans to reinstate hard shoulders on smart motorways already in use, following the Government's announcement in January 2022 that the rollout of smart motorways would be paused.

In November 2021, the Transport Select Committee published its Third Report of Session 2021-22 following its inquiry into the rollout and safety of smart motorways. The Committee agreed that the Government was right to focus on upgrading the safety of All Lane Running (ALR) smart motorways rather than reinstating the hard shoulder, which the Committee recognised could put more drivers and passengers at risk of death or serious injury on our roads.

Having carefully considered the Committee’s report, the Department is taking forward all its recommendations. This includes pausing the roll-out of ALR smart motorway schemes yet to commence construction until five years of safety data is available for ALR smart motorways introduced before 2020. We are continuing to act to make sure all existing ALR smart motorways are as safe as possible with over £900m being invested, including for the construction of additional emergency areas and the roll-out of Stopped Vehicle Detection technology across existing ALR motorways.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
16th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate has he made of the number of journeys taken using the Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card in the 12 months.

The Department does not hold this information as rail ticket sales data is managed by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) on behalf of train operators. The RDG can be contacted at info@raildeliverygroup.com

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
16th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions has he had with the Department for Work and Pensions on ensuring those eligible are made aware of the Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount card.

The Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount card arises from a bi-lateral arrangement between the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Discussions about awareness are therefore a matter for DWP and RDG. However, Job seekers who are eligible can apply at a Jobcentre and will be notified by their Work Coach if they are eligible.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of the Great British Rail Sale.

The Great British Rail Sale was run on a commercial basis by the rail industry and participating train operating companies, and backed by the Government. Discounted fares were offered where spare capacity on existing routes had been identified, to avoid overcrowding on busier routes.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the percentage of rail journeys eligible for discounts through the Great British Rail Sale.

The number of discounted tickets sold currently stands at over 1.3 million. By saving passengers over £7million, this has helped many people reconnect with friends and family and is a step towards getting people back on the railways.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent steps he has taken to help ensure that rail workers have access to mental health support.

The Department aims to ensure that the welfare and wellbeing of all of our hard-working front-line staff remains at the forefront of industry planning and thinking.

Working with representatives from across the rail industry, the Department has commissioned an industry-wide study, to bring together existing best practice and provide recommendations on supporting positive mental health. The study, led by Great Western Railway, working with a cross-industry group, Samaritans and Mental Health at Work, is currently underway and will be shared with the rail industry.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
30th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 28 February 2022 to Question 131291 on Railways: Finance, and with reference to the RIA Progress Review: Trains fit for the future, published 28 March 2022, which recommends as a point of urgency an updated Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP), when his Department plans to publish an updated RNEP.

We remain committed to publishing the RNEP update and providing as much clarity and certainty as possible on rail enhancements and will set out our plans shortly.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
29th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will take steps to prevent the unfair dismissal of drivers by app-based private hire companies through the suspension or deactivation of those drivers' accounts by those companies.

An individual’s entitlement to rights at work is determined by their employment status, employee, worker or self-employed. Though most private hire vehicle drivers are considered to be self-employed, they can be classed under any of these depending on their employment relationship.

Employees are entitled to all rights including being protected against unfair dismissal (subject to qualifying periods) and have responsibilities towards their employer. So called limb (b) workers are entitled to core employment rights but have increased flexibility and self-employed individuals generally have no employment rights but have complete flexibility in their work and are in business for themselves and provide a service to a client. If an individual believes they have been classified in the wrong way they can contact Acas, which deals with questions from employers, individuals, and others about a wide range of employment relations matters.

An employer needs to have a valid reason and take appropriate steps if they are to dismiss an employee. Employees who consider that their dismissal was unfair can complain to an employment tribunal, generally subject to a qualifying period of continuous service.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of the potential effect of a rolling programme of rail electrification on (a) job creation and (b) investment levels.

Electrification will play an important role in improving our railways, and we understand the importance of a visible pipeline of work, and the potential benefits of a smooth delivery profile, both for electrification and alternative traction technologies.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of a rolling programme of rail electrification for the purposes of (a) reaching the UK’s transport decarbonisation targets and (b) providing value for money from spending of public funds.

Electrification will play an important role in improving our railways, and we understand the importance of a visible pipeline of work, and the potential benefits of a smooth delivery profile, both for electrification and alternative traction technologies.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent estimate he has made of the proportion of the rail network that will be electrified during Control Period 6, 2019-24, and Control Period 7, 2024-29.

In Control Period 6, we have already completed nearly 270 track miles of electrification in England and Wales that are now open to the public.

For Control Period 7, rail enhancement budgets have not yet been set.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what his policy is on funding and delivery for remaining phases of East West Rail.

The East West Rail project is planned to create a direct rail link between Oxford and Cambridge. Connection Stage 2 (Bletchley to Bedford) and Connection Stage 3 (Bedford to Cambridge) of East West Rail are at development stage, and options for the sections were consulted on as part of a wide-ranging non-statutory consultation from March-June 2021.

East West Rail Company is currently reviewing submissions to this and intends to publish the response to the consultation later this year.

Following the 2021 Spending Review, funding has been remitted to East West Rail Company over the next three years to continue the development and design of the proposed railway between Bletchley and Cambridge.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of ticket office closures on rail passengers who require face-to-face services to purchase tickets.

The process for train operators to propose any changes to the opening hours of ticket offices or for closing ticket offices is set out in the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement. This regulates what train operators do in terms of fares ticketing and retailing across the network. Applications for changes can be proposed under a Major Change process if:

(a) the change would represent an improvement on current arrangements in terms of quality of service and/or cost effectiveness; and

(b) members of the public would continue to enjoy widespread and easy access to the purchase of rail products, notwithstanding the change.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made a projection of expected rail passenger numbers, as a proportion of pre-pandemic levels, for the next 12 months.

The Department continues to actively work to understand the impact of coronavirus and other factors on rail demand. As part of this we are ensuring that we use a range of rail demand scenarios based on a series of factors that could drive rail demand over the short and long term to influence decisions. These include economic forecasts and behavioural factors. The Department continues to monitor evidence on behaviour changes as a result of the pandemic.

Given the considerable uncertainty that the pandemic has caused, these scenarios cannot be used as forecasts. However, they do reflect some of the possible impacts of the pandemic on future rail demand.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of the potential impact of ticket office closures on rail passengers.

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail outlines the changes and modernisation needed for fares, ticketing and retailing to simplify and improve the passenger experience.

We want to see customer-facing staff on railways and like those whose jobs are about customer service, staff at stations may need to change what they do or how they do it to ensure that passengers get the services they most want and need. Staff will be able to provide a more personal touch in future, which can be crucial for those who need additional support at stations and those who cannot or do not want to use contactless or mobile tickets. The rail industry is in the lead to make sure this can happen.

There is a process for train operators to propose any changes to the opening hours of ticket offices or for closing ticket offices which is set out in the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement. This regulates what train operators do in terms of fares ticketing and retailing across the network. Part of this process requires train operators to put notices at the station advising passengers of any proposals and what any changes could mean for them. If they have any objections these can be raised via the passenger bodies (Transport Focus and London Travel Watch) for consideration.

We are not the employer of ticket office staff and therefore would not go into detail of other organisations’ employees.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent estimate has he made of the number of staff members that work at ticket offices in train stations.

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail outlines the changes and modernisation needed for fares, ticketing and retailing to simplify and improve the passenger experience.

We want to see customer-facing staff on railways and like those whose jobs are about customer service, staff at stations may need to change what they do or how they do it to ensure that passengers get the services they most want and need. Staff will be able to provide a more personal touch in future, which can be crucial for those who need additional support at stations and those who cannot or do not want to use contactless or mobile tickets. The rail industry is in the lead to make sure this can happen.

There is a process for train operators to propose any changes to the opening hours of ticket offices or for closing ticket offices which is set out in the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement. This regulates what train operators do in terms of fares ticketing and retailing across the network. Part of this process requires train operators to put notices at the station advising passengers of any proposals and what any changes could mean for them. If they have any objections these can be raised via the passenger bodies (Transport Focus and London Travel Watch) for consideration.

We are not the employer of ticket office staff and therefore would not go into detail of other organisations’ employees.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether it is Government policy to permanently close train station ticket offices.

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail outlines the changes and modernisation needed for fares, ticketing and retailing to simplify and improve the passenger experience.

We want to see customer-facing staff on railways and like those whose jobs are about customer service, staff at stations may need to change what they do or how they do it to ensure that passengers get the services they most want and need. Staff will be able to provide a more personal touch in future, which can be crucial for those who need additional support at stations and those who cannot or do not want to use contactless or mobile tickets. The rail industry is in the lead to make sure this can happen.

There is a process for train operators to propose any changes to the opening hours of ticket offices or for closing ticket offices which is set out in the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement. This regulates what train operators do in terms of fares ticketing and retailing across the network. Part of this process requires train operators to put notices at the station advising passengers of any proposals and what any changes could mean for them. If they have any objections these can be raised via the passenger bodies (Transport Focus and London Travel Watch) for consideration.

We are not the employer of ticket office staff and therefore would not go into detail of other organisations’ employees.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent estimate he has made of the value of ticket sales processed through train station ticket offices in each of the last five years.

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail outlines the changes and modernisation needed for fares, ticketing and retailing to simplify and improve the passenger experience.

We want to see customer-facing staff on railways and like those whose jobs are about customer service, staff at stations may need to change what they do or how they do it to ensure that passengers get the services they most want and need. Staff will be able to provide a more personal touch in future, which can be crucial for those who need additional support at stations and those who cannot or do not want to use contactless or mobile tickets. The rail industry is in the lead to make sure this can happen.

There is a process for train operators to propose any changes to the opening hours of ticket offices or for closing ticket offices which is set out in the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement. This regulates what train operators do in terms of fares ticketing and retailing across the network. Part of this process requires train operators to put notices at the station advising passengers of any proposals and what any changes could mean for them. If they have any objections these can be raised via the passenger bodies (Transport Focus and London Travel Watch) for consideration.

We are not the employer of ticket office staff and therefore would not go into detail of other organisations’ employees.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect on (a) passenger numbers and (b) revenue as a result of the 3.8 per cent rise in rail fare prices, implemented on 1 March 2022.

The Department uses recommendations from the Passenger Demand Forecasting Handbook on the relationship between changes to fares and demand and revenues. There are a number of factors which impact revenues, including most notably at the moment the pandemic’s impact on passenger travel.

Whilst the change will affect each passenger slightly differently, we have a number of railcards in place 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 ‘millennial’ railcard and went even further in November 2020 by extending these savings to former servicemen and women through a new Veterans Railcard.

We have protected passengers by delaying these fare rises by two months and, even then, opting for a figure well below current inflation rates.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the letter sent to him by the TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes, dated 14 January 2022, if it is the policy of his Department to seek £2 billion reduction in the operating costs of the railways.

As a result of reducing passenger numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020-21, Train Operating Companies across the UK received an overall subsidy of £10.1bn from Government, an 832% increase on 2019-20. This ensured the rail industry continued to deliver services to the public during this difficult period, with no job losses or furloughing of the workforce. Overall, from the start of the pandemic to the end of this financial year, Government has committed to more than £14bn of funding for passenger services for the train operating companies for which it is responsible. The continued use of significant taxpayer money to support the rail industry is not sustainable in the long term and the industry has a responsibility to consider how it manages its operating costs.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent progress he had on towards providing level boarding on the rail network.

Whilst all new rolling stock must comply with modern accessibility standards, it is up to the train operators to work with the manufacturers and Rolling Stock Companies to procure trains which meet the needs of all passengers and the infrastructure it utilises. Operators must make the decision whether to use built-in ramps or other accessibility systems.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
2nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the bridge in Eccles Heath, Norfolk, for what reason that bridge was closed for two years prior to repair works commencing; and what steps his Department is taking to help ensure repair works on transport infrastructure is carried out in a timely manner.

Any closure to any part of the transport network should seek to minimise impacts on all users, but safety should always be the paramount consideration.

In relation to the specific bridge at Eccles Heath in Norfolk, I understand Network Rail took the operational decision to restrict access for safety reasons, and that upon detailed investigation, required significantly more work than initially anticipated.

My officials have today written to the Anglia Route Director at Network Rail, asking them to provide details of the closure and the lessons learnt – I will ensure this is shared with the Hon Member, as well as the Member for South West Norfolk.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 23 November 2021 to Question 76803, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential impact of awaiting a RNEP update on (a) industry confidence in a strategic, long-term plan for rail investment, (b) industry investment in acquiring the necessary skills and staff to be able to deliver rail infrastructure projects, (c) the cost to the taxpayer as a result of uncertainty in the supply sector and (d) the completion date.

The Department remains committed to publishing the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP) update, which will reflect the significant investment that is taking place across England and Wales. We remain heavily engaged with the rail industry at all levels, and they are well informed of the projects we are taking forward. We regularly discuss strategic planning for the railway (for example, the recently published Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands), and are confident in the capability of the industry to deliver on those plans. The publication of the RNEP will confirm these plans shortly.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
25th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many Russian ships dock at UK ports each year to (a) refuel or (b) restock.

In 2020, there were 400 voyages (an arrival to a port where cargo is unloaded, or a departure from a UK port where cargo has been loaded) where cargo was either loaded or unloaded at a UK port by 81 unique Russian vessels (flagged, owned or managed by Russia/Russian companies as at latest fleet information available).

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
23rd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, *if he will take steps ensure that passengers can access refunds for their package holidays, in the event that the travel company they booked with no longer holds an ATOL licence.

ATOL provides insolvency protection for flight inclusive package holidays sold in the UK. Any travel providers that sell these holidays are required by law to hold an ATOL licence, unless they are exempt. Consumers that purchase an ATOL protected holiday are entitled to apply for a refund should their travel provider become insolvent. If they are on holiday at the time of failure, the CAA will assist the consumer with their repatriation to the UK if needed.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
21st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to protect (a) railway workers and (b) passengers during extreme weather events.

Safety for both passengers and staff is a top priority for the Department. We want industry to get the basics right, like introducing treatment trains early and making preparations wherever possible, and also to explore new technology that could help improve resilience.

Network Rail has well-established operational measures it implements to manage services safely during extreme weather events such as line speed restrictions or diversions. It is also drafting long-term plans and has in place a weather resilience and climate change strategy to ensure the infrastructure can cope with climate change and short-term periods of extreme weather.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 15 February 2022 to Question 119777 on Great British Railways: Consultants, what the monthly consultancy cost has been for consultants supporting or contracted by the Great British Railways Transition Team in each month form October 2021 to February 2022.

Further to PQ 119777 which provided forecast expenditure, the total actual spend on consultancy support over the period from 18 October 2021 to 4 February 2022 was £6.4million. Data on the monthly consultancy cost for consultants supporting the Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT) is not available in the format requested as GBRTT hold data in accounting periods rather than calendar months.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
10th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Answer of 16 September 2020 to Question 88859 on Railways: Repairs and Maintenance, for what reason the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline showing the status of rail enhancement schemes has not been published since October 2019; whether it remains his policy to publish such updates on an annual basis; if he will correct the Answer provided to Question 88859; and if he will make a statement.

We remain committed to publishing the RNEP update, which has been delayed by the need to take account of the impacts of the pandemic and the Spending Review. We want to provide as much clarity and certainty as possible on rail enhancements and will set out our plans shortly.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he expects to publish the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline.

We remain committed to publishing the RNEP update, which has been delayed by the need to take account the impacts of the pandemic and the Spending Review. We want to provide as much clarity and certainty as possible on rail enhancements and will set out our plans shortly.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many consultants are contracted by the Great British Railways Transition Team as of 7 February 2022.

The Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT) is resourced primarily through secondments from the rail industry, ensuring a high level of industry knowledge and expertise. Where necessary, consultants are used to provide additional capability and expertise. On 7 February 2022 there were 68.8 (full time equivalent) consultants supporting GBRTT, including assisting with the implementation of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the monthly cost to the public purse is of consultants supporting or contracted by the Great British Railways Transition Team.

Great British Railways Transition Team’s (GBRTT) resourcing and consultancy requirements vary month by month, depending on the level and requirements of the work at different points across the Rail Transformation Programme. The average consultancy cost per month, since GBRTT was created in October 2021, is £1.3m.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much his Department has spent on advertising the recent changes to the Highway Code as of 1 February 2022.

The changes to The Highway Code were approved by Parliament 29th January. Following approval, communications to support the changes coming into effect have included media engagement with supporting stakeholder comment, social media content and an extranet to readily share assets with stakeholders and amplify our messages.

A THINK! campaign, with an investment of over £500,000 will go live in February to raise awareness of the changes. The campaign will include radio and social media advertising and will run across England, Wales and Scotland. Additional media investment has also been provided by Transport for London and Transport Scotland to amplify the campaign in those areas.

Further communications are planned later in the year, to align with seasonal increases in active travel, to help embed the changes and encourage understanding and uptake of the new guidance. Funding for this activity is subject to the Cabinet Office Professional Assurance Approval process for next financial year.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
31st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Whole Industry Strategic Plan call for evidence, what assessment his Department has made of the wider economic benefits of rail expansion and investment.

We have issued a public call for evidence on the Whole Industry Strategic Plan for rail to give anyone the opportunity to inform our development of a thirty-year strategy for the railway, including on how the rail sector can contribute to wider economic growth. My Department collects, assesses and publishes statistics and research on the wider benefits of the rail system to the country and to the economy, many of which are set out in the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail and in the evidence papers for the Williams Rail Review. In developing the Strategic Plan, we will draw on the widest possible evidence base.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
31st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what processes he used to develop and prioritise the five strategic objectives for the Whole Industry Strategic Plan.

In developing the five long-term strategic objectives for rail that are part of our Whole Industry Strategic Plan, a wide range of methods and processes were used, including but not limited to drawing on existing Government policy, examining the recommendations of previous independent rail reports, evidence-based analysis of long-term trends affecting the future of the railway, and targeted engagement with experts on the future of the rail industry. The strategic objectives are presented in no particular order of prioritisation, and through our public call for evidence we hope to receive useful additional views from interested parties about how the railway can contribute to the long-term priorities of the country.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
31st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Whole Industry Strategic Plan call for evidence, if his Department has a target for the balance of fare/fee and Government funding for rail in the next (a) five, (b) 10 and (c) 30 years.

As set out in the plan for rail, GBR will set most fares, whilst funding for passenger rail services will be set at fiscal events. This will balance passenger and taxpayer funding for the railway.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
31st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Whole Industry Strategic Plan call for evidence, what assessment his Department has made of the potential impact on (a) passenger growth and (b) the UK’s decarbonisation targets of priorities in the plan on opportunities for efficiencies, cost reduction and prioritisation.

We have issued a public call for evidence on the Whole Industry Strategic Plan for rail to give anyone the opportunity to inform our development of a thirty-year strategy for the railway, including the potential trade-offs involved in meeting the long-term strategic objectives we have set. As the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail makes clear, customer experience and environmental sustainability are central to our vision for the future of the railway, and this is reflected in the strategic objectives.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
26th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, for what reason the Whole Industry Strategic Plan call for evidence states that any responses that focus solely on request for new investments or enhancements will not be considered.

We are keen to ensure that responses focus on the long term strategic opportunities for rail to support wider priorities such as Levelling Up and the environment, therefore we are advising respondents to respond to this call for evidence on the basis of outcomes and identify areas where intervention may help meet those goals, rather than suggest specific schemes or interventions. We will continue to consider specific potential enhancement schemes in line with the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline, alongside this call for evidence and, in due course, informed by the Whole Industry Strategic Plan.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
26th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what engagement he plans to undertake with trade unions as part of the creation of the Whole Industry Strategic Plan.

Trade Unions will be able to engage with the wide and ongoing engagement we are undertaking.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
26th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Whole Industry Strategic Plan call for evidence, through which processes his Department plans broader engagement with partners and with which organisations his Department will be engaging.

My Department has sought views on the question of the whole industry strategic plan for rail in a number of ways, including but not limited to a public call for evidence and meetings in various formats with relevant partners and organisations. As the strategic plan is developed we are committed to continuing transparency and engagement.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential economic impact of a Mass Transit System for West Yorkshire on (a) Leeds, (b) Bradford, (c) Wakefield, (d) Huddersfield and (e) West Yorkshire.

My officials across the department are working with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to develop its mass transit plans.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority are expected to submit a Strategic Outline Business Case for mass transit to Government shortly. At the 2021 Spending Review, we also announced £830m for the combined authority to fund local transport investments such as mass transit through the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, who his Department consulted on the (a) viability and (b) cost of the proposed mass transit system for Yorkshire.

My officials across the department are working with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to develop its mass transit plans.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority are expected to submit a Strategic Outline Business Case for mass transit to Government shortly. At the 2021 Spending Review, we also announced £830m for the combined authority to fund local transport investments such as mass transit through the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the economic impact of proposals made in the Integrated Rail Plan on (a) Leeds, (b) Bradford, (c) Hull, (d) Sheffield, (e) Doncaster, (f) Liverpool, (g) Manchester, (h) Huddersfield, (i) Wakefield, and (j) Newcastle.

The Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) was designed to deliver significant economic benefits to the Northern region by enhancing connectivity, improving productivity through the agglomeration of key northern hubs and making the North a more attractive place for busines domestically and internationally. A comprehensive economic appraisal was undertaken by the Department when developing the IRP which included conducting its own analysis as well as using analysis from Transport for the North (TfN) and delivery partners Network Rail and HS2 Ltd, the detail of which is presented in the IRP Technical Annex which was published by the Government on 24 January 2022. More detailed analysis of the wider economic impacts of Northern Powerhouse Rail will be outlined in the programme’s Strategic Outline Business Case.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
21st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the (a) cost of and (b) staff hours needed to complete his Department's review into tannoy announcements.

Officials are working closely with Rail Delivery Group and train operating companies to develop the plan for implementing reductions to onboard announcements. Implementation will take place in line with existing maintenance schedules to minimise cost.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
19th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the total amount of public money spent on (a) consulting on and (b) planning the Western Rail Link to Heathrow.

The estimated total amount of money spent on the Western Rail Link to Heathrow is £46.9m.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
19th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the Government has signed off on the Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy.

Network Rail’s Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy (TDNS) is a set of recommendations that suggests which traction decarbonisation solutions (electrification, battery, or hydrogen) could be best suited to which parts of the currently unelectrified network. The recommendations in TDNS are based on assumptions founded on the best analysis of the technology available at the time; such analysis will need to be updated as technology evolves.

In the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, the Government has committed to the delivery of a net zero railway by 2050, and to use TDNS to guide our work to deliver an affordable, deliverable decarbonisation programme.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 17 January to Question 102756 on Railways: Merseyside, if he will publish a list of the benefits referenced in his answer.

Merseyside is set to benefit from the Integrated Rail Plan in terms of both Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and HS2. Compared to today, capacity between Manchester and Liverpool will more than triple, with journey times to Manchester Piccadilly station cut from 50 to 35 minutes. HS2 services from London to Liverpool will benefit from a segregated route through Warrington, and capacity on the existing route into Liverpool could potentially benefit freight services. Connectivity to Manchester Airport will be transformed, with journey times falling from 71 to 26 minutes and the number of services increased from 1 to 4 trains per hour. Journey times from Warrington to Liverpool will be cut by more than 10 minutes compared to the current fastest service with frequency increasing from a typical 3 trains per hour at present to up to 11.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
17th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent progress he has made on his Department's policy to create a second headquarters in Birmingham and a northern hub in Leeds.

The department has opened its new hubs in Birmingham at 2 Snow Hill and in Leeds at 7/8 Wellington Place. All core Department jobs, across all grades and professions, are being advertised in our new hubs with very limited exceptions. As of the end of 2021, 134 roles have been filled in Birmingham and 128 in Leeds, including Senior Civil Service roles.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department is investigating why DVLA applicants are experiencing delays on the return of identification documents.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) routinely returns original identity documents to the applicant as soon as a driving licence application is processed. However, to reduce the impact of any processing delays, the DVLA has introduced a process of returning original documents as soon as the application is opened on selected transactions and is working to expand this.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the long-term impact of the reduced rail timetable currently in place in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department has been working closely with rail operators as they mitigate the impact of COVID-19 related staff absences on train services.

The current revised train timetable has been implemented temporarily, and is providing passengers, especially our key workers, with certainty so they can plan their journeys confidently.

In the longer term, the Department will continue working with rail operators to ensure that services meet demand and deliver good value for taxpayers.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what proportion of the key workers identified by the Prime Minister as needing to test for covid-19 every day from 10 January 2022 work in the rail industry.

The precautionary testing scheme is intended to help isolate asymptomatic cases and limit the risk of outbreaks in workplaces, and is therefore focused on those who are at greater risk of infecting each other - for example, due to working together in an enclosed space as well as the criticality of their roles. Approximately 1,200 of all those taking part in the scheme work in highly specialised roles in the rail industry.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the impact of delays in issuing new driving licences on (a) individuals and (b) businesses.

The quickest and easiest way to apply for a driving licence is by using the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s online service. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their licence within a few days.

However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application and the DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day. The DVLA understands the impact of delays on those who make paper applications and is working hard to process them as quickly as possible. To help reduce waiting times for paper applications, the DVLA has introduced additional online services, recruited more staff, increased overtime working and has secured extra office space in Swansea and Birmingham. There may be additional delays in processing more complex transactions, for example if medical investigations are needed. The latest information on turnaround times for paper driving licence applications can be found here.

The large majority of applicants renewing an existing licence will be able to continue driving while their application is being processed, providing the driver can meet specific criteria. More information can be found online here.

Employers wishing to check an employee or potential employee’s driving licence status can do so using the DVLA’s online enquiry services. These services allow third parties to obtain relevant information relating to an individual’s driver record, with the consent of the driving licence holder.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the waiting time is for people receiving (a) new and (b) renewed driving licences; and what steps he is taking to tackle ongoing delays in the issuance of those documents.

The quickest and easiest way to apply for a driving licence is by using the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s online service. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their licence within a few days.

However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application and the DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day. The DVLA understands the impact of delays on those who make paper applications and is working hard to process them as quickly as possible. To help reduce waiting times for paper applications, the DVLA has introduced additional online services, recruited more staff, increased overtime working and has secured extra office space in Swansea and Birmingham. There may be additional delays in processing more complex transactions, for example if medical investigations are needed. The latest information on turnaround times for paper driving licence applications can be found here.

The large majority of applicants renewing an existing licence will be able to continue driving while their application is being processed, providing the driver can meet specific criteria. More information can be found online here.

Employers wishing to check an employee or potential employee’s driving licence status can do so using the DVLA’s online enquiry services. These services allow third parties to obtain relevant information relating to an individual’s driver record, with the consent of the driving licence holder.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent steps he has taken to consult the (a) the residents and (b) local leaders in Merseyside on the impact the Integrated Rail Plan will have on Merseyside following its publication.

Following publication of the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands (IRP), Ministers from the Department met the Liverpool Metro Mayor to discuss the decisions taken in the IRP, and to explain the benefits it provides for Merseyside.

The Department will continue to engage with local leaders and councils as work on the proposals in the IRP is taken forward.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
10th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions he has had with airline carriers on failures to refund passengers who have had their flights cancelled due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Consumer protection for those travelling by air remains a key priority for this Government. If an operator cancels the flight, passengers are entitled to a full refund.

During the pandemic, Government has been clear, including through the publication of the Passenger COVID-19 Charter, that everyone should be as flexible as possible, and that businesses are expected to be reasonable and refund customers who cannot travel due to COVID-19 restrictions. Passengers may not be entitled to refunds in certain circumstances and should check the terms and con