Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Disqualification
9 Jul 2020, 5:47 p.m.

Questioner: Seema Malhotra

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what her Department’s policy is from 1 July 2020 on applying benefit sanctions for claimants who have been assessed as failing to comply with their claimant commitment.

Answer (Mims Davies)

From the 1st of July, we will be contacting claimants to introduce a personalised claimant commitment.

Claimant commitments must be reasonable for this unprecedented time, reflecting the reality of a person’s local jobs market and personal circumstances to help prepare them for getting back into work. The claimant commitment will take into account local and national public health guidelines.

Sanctions are only used when people fail to meet their agreed commitments without good reason – and UC sanction rates have fallen to the lowest rate on record.


Written Question
Universal Credit
9 Jul 2020, 5:44 p.m.

Questioner: Seema Malhotra

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support her Department is providing for universal credit claimants to undertake courses to reskill.

Answer (Mims Davies)

Evidence suggests that the numbers of people requiring DWP support will increase further over the coming months, particularly as the CJRS winds down. Many of these people will effectively be ‘job ready’ and will not require extensive support from Government to return to work. Our ‘Good Place to Start’ campaign has already gone live, with digital advertising that signposts jobseekers to our job websites.

The Department will now go further and will spend £895 million to double the number of work coaches in Jobcentre Plus before the end of the financial year across Great Britain. Work coaches are at the core of our employment offer and this increase will provide more people with the tailored support they need to move into work. We know some people might require additional support to get back into work, and DWP is launching a “Getting Britain Back into Work” package, which builds on and bolsters the existing support offered by our Jobcentre Plus network. The package includes:

- Kickstart Scheme a £2b fund to create hundreds of thousands of high quality 6-month work placements aimed at those aged 16-24 who are on Universal Credit and at risk of long term unemployment.

- Expanded Youth Offer – increasing the intensive support offered to those 18-24 in the Intensive Work Search group in Universal Credit. Further support will be available through Youth Hubs with specialist Youth Employment Coaches.

- Expansion of the Work and Health Programme – to introduce additional voluntary support for those on benefits in England and Wales that have been unemployed for more than 3 months.

- Flexible Support Fund (FSF) – increase the funding for the FSF by £150m to increase the capacity of the Rapid Response Service (RRS), supporting those facing redundancy.

- Expanding sector based work academies – increase participation in our sector-based work academy programmes, offering training, work experience and a guaranteed interview. We will establish bespoke opportunities, working with employers and training providers to support claimants to fill job vacancies and pivot into new careers, including in priority sectors such as construction and social care.

- Job finding support service – £40 million to fund additional capacity to introduce an online, one-to-one service to help those who have been recently unemployed.

Taken together, the package will ensure that we can get Britain back into work quickly.


Written Question
Universal Credit: Terminal Illnesses
9 Jul 2020, 5:43 p.m.

Questioner: Jessica Morden

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people claiming the universal credit disability component under standard rules have died within six months of making their claim in each year since 2015.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

A breakdown by year could only be provided at disproportionate cost for the same reasons as given in PQs 69500 and 69501.


Written Question
Child Maintenance Service: Scotland
9 Jul 2020, 5:33 p.m.

Questioner: Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many (a) parents with care and (b) children are registered with the child maintenance service in (i) Motherwell and Wishaw constituency, (ii) North Lanarkshire, and (iii) Scotland.

Answer (Mims Davies)

The number of Receiving Parents using the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) and the number of associated children subject to a CMS arrangement, in Motherwell and Wishaw constituency, North Lanarkshire and Scotland in March 2020 are given in the following table:

Number of Receiving Parents using the Child Maintenance Service and the number of associated children, March 2020

Receiving Parents

Children

Scotland

36,500

52,500

North Lanarkshire

2,700

3,900

Motherwell and Wishaw

700

1,100



Source: Child Maintenance Group administrative data

Notes:

  1. These figures do not include cases in which historical child maintenance arrears, originally arranged by the Child Support Agency, have been transferred to the CMS for collection.
  2. Counts of children include all children under the age of 20 who are associated with an open child maintenance arrangement. Some of these children, of age 16 or above, may no longer be considered qualifying children for the purposes of calculating the Paying Parent's liability.
  3. All figures have been rounded to the nearest 100.

Written Question
Children: Maintenance
9 Jul 2020, 5:33 p.m.

Questioner: Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much child maintenance was (a) paid and (b) owed in the second quarter of 2020 in (i) Motherwell and Wishaw constituency, (ii) North Lanarkshire, and (iii) Scotland.

Answer (Mims Davies)

Child Maintenance statistics are published quarterly and the latest statistics to March 2020 are available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-on-the-2012-statutory-child-maintenance-scheme

Statistics covering the second quarter of 2020 will not be published until September 2020.


Written Question
Children: Maintenance
9 Jul 2020, 5:33 p.m.

Questioner: Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of parents registered with the child maintenance service (a) paid and (b) did not pay maintenance in the second quarter of 2020 in (i) Motherwell and Wishaw constituency, (ii) North Lanarkshire, and (iii) Scotland.

Answer (Mims Davies)

Child Maintenance statistics are published quarterly and the latest statistics to March 2020 are available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-on-the-2012-statutory-child-maintenance-scheme

Statistics covering the second quarter of 2020 will not be published until September 2020.


Written Question
Children: Maintenance
9 Jul 2020, 5:29 p.m.

Questioner: Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in how many cases child maintenance was not collectable as a result of a Child Maintenance Service administrative error when a deduction from earnings request was made to the armed forces in each quarter of the last three years.

Answer (Mims Davies)

The Child Maintenance Service does not record this data as there is no facility on the Child Maintenance System to record instances when a Deduction from Earning Request has been rejected by MoD or where an administrative error occurred.

As the information requested is not collated centrally it would require examination of individual cases and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.


Written Question
Children: Maintenance
9 Jul 2020, 5:25 p.m.

Questioner: Marion Fellows

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of a minimum maintenance payment for parents with care under the Child Maintenance Service to guarantee a minimum maintenance income.

Answer (Mims Davies)

There is no plan for any such assessment. The purpose of the Child Maintenance Service is to facilitate the payment of child maintenance between separated parents.

No one should use the pandemic as an excuse to avoid their child maintenance payments. Where paying parents experience a change in income, we can review their case and check if the amount paid should change. If it does not, they should continue to make payments.

We know the majority of parents take their responsibilities extremely seriously and will do what is needed to ensure their children are supported.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Staff
9 Jul 2020, 5:24 p.m.

Questioner: Seema Malhotra

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to her Department's planned expenditure on staff costs for 2020-21 as listed on page 170 of her Department's Annual Report and Accounts 2019-20, HC 401, published on 30 June 2020, how many (a) full-time equivalent work coaches and (b) other staff her Department plans to employ for the year 2020-21 at (i) August and (ii) December 2020.

Answer (Mims Davies)

At the time of publication of the Department’s 2019-20 Annual Report and Accounts, projected spending on staff costs (as per the core tables on page 170) was around £3 billion for 2020-21; as per Spending Round 2019. This equates to approximately 68,900 FTE of which around 13,500 are work coaches (as of May 2020). These numbers would have remained relatively static over the year.

Since publication of the Annual report and Accounts the Government set out in its Summer Economic Statement, on 8 July, a labour market package that included significant investment to enhance work search support in response to the current pandemic by doubling the number of work coaches before the end of 2020/21 - this equates to an additional 13,500 work coaches to be recruited over the remainder of this financial year.

We know that the short term unemployed are more likely to be able to move into work either on their own or with just Jobcentre core support. Given the economic situation, we plan, for a period, to bolster the support provided through Jobcentres by using contracted providers to offer additional help. We will expand the Work and Health Programme and provide a bespoke offer to the more recently unemployed, activating their jobsearch and engagement with the labour market.

For other staffing the Department is continually assessing the service being offered to customers. In addition, as part of our monitoring of the impact of Covid-19 on the labour market we will continue to actively keep staff numbers and broader provision under review in order to ensure that we can provide the most effective support to those who have lost work.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Disqualification
9 Jul 2020, 5:21 p.m.

Questioner: Neil Gray

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department consulted expert groups, stakeholders and social security recipients on the reintroduction of conditionality and sanctions in the social security system from 1 July 2020.

Answer (Mims Davies)

From the 1st July 2020, DWP has started reintroducing the requirement for claimants of UC, NS and Legacy JSA, and NS ESA to accept a claimant commitment as part of any new claim.

The reintroduction of the claimant commitment represents a return to business as usual, not a policy change and therefore has not required direct consultation.

The operation of these policies are reviewed through consultation with stakeholders on an ongoing basis. Stakeholders were updated and informed by DWP.


Written Question
Universal Credit: Terminal Illnesses
9 Jul 2020, 4:36 p.m.

Questioner: Jessica Morden

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what proportion of people making special rules for terminal illness claims for universal credit are (a) unsuccessful and (b) told to apply for universal credit under standard rules.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

The information requested could only be provided at disproportionate cost. Data exists in the system that would require matching across a number of data sets, which is a substantial piece of work. The required information is therefore not all readily available to analysts in a format that would enable them to undertake the analysis and quality assure the figures, to answer this PQ in the timescales.


Written Question
Universal Credit: Terminal Illnesses
9 Jul 2020, 4:35 p.m.

Questioner: Jessica Morden

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what proportion of claims for the disability component of universal credit are special rules for terminal illness claims.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Information about the proportion of UC claimants who declare a Terminal Illness at the start of a claim can only be provided at disproportionate cost because the required information is not all readily available to analysts in a format that would enable them to undertake the analysis and quality assure the figures, to answer this PQ in the timescales.


Written Question
Universal Credit
9 Jul 2020, 4:23 p.m.

Questioner: Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to provide financial support to claimants of universal credit who are unable to make home rental payments as a result of the benefit cap.

Answer (Mims Davies)

Universal Credit claimants can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payments from their local authority if they need additional support to meet housing costs and over £1 billion has been provided to Local Authorities since 2011 to help the most vulnerable claimants.

We have provided £180m in Discretionary Housing Payment funding to Local Authorities to support vulnerable claimants with housing costs in the private and social rented sector in England and Wales for 2020/21. This includes an extra £40m as announced last year at the spending round.


Written Question
Universal Credit
9 Jul 2020, 4:15 p.m.

Questioner: Kate Osborne

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an estimate of the average (a) phone and (b) broadband costs incurred by universal credit claimants fulfilling their responsibility to spend 35 hours per week seeking employment.

Answer (Mims Davies)

The Department has no plans to estimate the average phone or broadband costs incurred by claimants fulfilling their responsibilities under the Universal Credit regime.

We are committed to supporting the individual needs of claimants, including agreeing realistic and structured steps to encourage them into or towards the labour market taking into the account their personal circumstances and resources.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Medical Examinations
9 Jul 2020, 4:14 p.m.

Questioner: Sir Edward Davey

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department plans to restart face-to-face assessments for claimants for (a) employment and support allowance and (b) personal independence payment when jobcentres reopen as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

I refer the hon. Member to my Department’s press release of 6th July, on gov.uk, which confirms that face-to-face assessments remain suspended, but under regular review. We will announce any changes to this in due course.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Terminal Illnesses
9 Jul 2020, 4:12 p.m.

Questioner: Drew Hendry

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress she has made on changing the six months to live rule that her Department uses to determine accessibility to additional support for people who are terminally ill.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

In July 2019, the Secretary of State announced an in-depth evaluation of how the benefits system supports people nearing the end of their life. The evaluation included 3 strands of research:

- hearing directly from claimants and charities about their first-hand experiences;

- considering international evidence to find out what works in other nations and the support they provide; and

- reviewing current DWP performance to better understand how our Special Rules for Terminal Illness process operates and performs.

The evaluation remains a priority for the Department. The Department has made good progress and we expect to be able to provide an update on the outcome of the evaluation shortly.


Written Question
Universal Credit: Hemsworth
9 Jul 2020, 4:02 p.m.

Questioner: Jon Trickett

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants of universal credit there were in Hemsworth consistency in each month since January 2020.

Answer (Will Quince)

The available information on the number of people on Universal Credit, by Parliamentary Constituency, is published and can be found at:

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

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

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


Written Question
Shared Housing: Housing Benefit
9 Jul 2020, 3:39 p.m.

Questioner: Dawn Butler

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to Section 2.20 of Budget 2020, Extending Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) exemptions, what his Department's definition is of (a) a rough sleeper and (b) victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking with regard to their exemption from the Shared Accommodation Rate.

Answer (Will Quince)

Currently those aged 25-34 who have spent 3 months in a homeless hostel for the purposes of rehabilitation/re-settlement are exempt from the shared accommodation rate. Following the announcement at the Spring Budget, Government will amend legislation to extend that exemption to those under 25.

The definitions for survivors of domestic abuse and human trafficking, with regard to their exemption from the Shared Accommodation Rate, will be set out in future legislation. In developing these exemptions, we will be working with key stakeholders, charities and other Government Departments to ensure they are fit for purpose.


Written Question
Northern Ireland Office: Departmental Responsibilities
9 Jul 2020, 3:29 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) how many meetings have taken place between Ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions and the Minister for Communities in Northern Ireland between 11 January and 26 June; and (2) what subjects were discussed.

Answer (Baroness Stedman-Scott)

There were no meetings with the Minister for Communities in Northern Ireland during that period. There are regular meetings between officials in my Department and those in the Department for Communities to discuss matters of joint interest across the Work and Pensions portfolio.


Written Question
Unemployment
9 Jul 2020, 3:07 p.m.

Questioner: Seema Malhotra

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what her latest estimate is of the (a) job vacancy rate and (b) unemployment rate in each region and nation of the UK.

Answer (Mims Davies)

The latest official statistics on vacancies, from the Office for National Statistics, cover the period Mar-May 2020. These statistics estimate the number of UK vacancies at 476,000, or 1.6 vacancies per 100 employee jobs. These statistics can be found here.

Estimates of vacancies are not available for each region and nation of the UK.

The latest official employment statistics, from the Office for National Statistics, cover the period Feb-Apr 2020. These statistics can be found here.


Written Question
Carers' Benefits: Coronavirus
9 Jul 2020, 2:38 p.m.

Questioner: Drew Hendry

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of introducing a backdated carers allowance payment for individuals in full time education who undertook caring responsibilities whilst staying in their family home during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Carer’s Allowance is a devolved benefit in Scotland, but is being administered temporarily by DWP under an Agency Agreement with the Scottish Government until the replacement Scottish benefit is available. Provision of new benefits under devolved powers, such as the Young Carer Grant, is a matter for the Scottish Government. The UK Government believes that people in full-time education should be supported by the educational maintenance system rather than the benefit system. That is why, as a general principle, full-time students are precluded from entitlement to income-related and income-maintenance benefits administered by DWP.


Written Question
State Retirement Pensions: Females
9 Jul 2020, 2:21 p.m.

Questioner: Jack Dromey

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 2 July 2020 to Question 65109 on State Retirement Pensions: Females, what time limits apply to claiming previously underpaid state pension in cases where a female pensioner is now deceased.

Answer (Guy Opperman)

The time limits are set out in The Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1987, regulation 30(6)(a), made pursuant to section 5(1)(q) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992. Successive governments have continued this policy.


Written Question
Pensions: Advisory Services
9 Jul 2020, 2:13 p.m.

Questioner: Ms Angela Eagle

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of Defined Contribution pension savers that have not received regulated financial advice had a telephone appointment with the Pension Wise guidance service before accessing their pension benefits in the last 12 months.

Answer (Guy Opperman)

Data on the number of Defined Contribution (DC) contract-based pots accessed without financial advice, but after taking Pension Wise guidance can be found in Tables 10-13 in FCA’s retirement income market data 2018/19 release: https://www.fca.org.uk/data/retirement-income-market-data. This data is not broken down by appointment type and as it does not include the trust-based DC market, does not cover the entire DC decumulation market.

We do not hold data on the proportion of Defined Contribution savers that this represents, as people may have multiple pots and may not seek advice or guidance on each pot.

The Money and Pensions Service publish information on the number of Pension Wise appointments delivered by appointment type in their Pension Wise service evaluation report 2018/19: https://moneyandpensionsservice.org.uk/2020/01/24/pension-wise-service-evaluation-2018-19-experiences-and-outcomes-of-customers/


Written Question
Access to Work Programme
9 Jul 2020, 1:53 p.m.

Questioner: Dawn Butler

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to promote the Access to Work scheme to clinically extremely vulnerable people who are shielding with (a) arthritis and (b) other conditions.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Disabled people in the clinically extremely vulnerable group who are currently in work can apply to Access to Work for support to overcome barriers they face in the workplace and while working from home, including those resulting from Covid-19.

As part of the Access to Work home working support offer, we have introduced various easements to further support those who are shielding and in the clinically extremely vulnerable group, allowing flexibilities while working from home. We are transporting assistive technology from the workplace to the home environment to support home working and, where this is not possible, Access to Work will work with the disabled person and their employer to consider new adjustments to support adaptations to standard equipment. We have also extended timeframes for receiving claims for payments, and started accepting email claim forms and employer/support signatures via email so customers can shield. Access to Work assessments are being carried out through virtual means to further protect customers.

To promote the scheme and support offered, we have updated GOV.UK to make clear the latest guidance on the Access to Work programme, including advising of the help available to people during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This has been promoted through Touchbase, DWP’s stakeholder newsletter which goes to around 8000 stakeholders. The department has also produced several animated explainer videos and social media posts on Access to Work which have been posted across a range of social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.

We continue to promote the latest Access to Work guidance through communications to employers, with stakeholders, jobcentres and providers, as well as through content promoted via our existing benefits and labour market campaigns which make use of both paid and no-cost social media channels.


Written Question
Statutory Sick Pay: Coronavirus
9 Jul 2020, 1:44 p.m.

Questioner: Dawn Butler

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether people that are self-isolating (a) before and (b) after elective surgery in line with NHS England guidance will be eligible to claim Statutory Sick Pay if they are unable to work.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is available to employees who are too ill to work. Where an employee is unable to work after elective surgery because of sickness or because they are recovering they may be eligible to receive SSP. Where an employee cannot work for 7 or more days’ employers can request medical evidence of their employee’s sickness. This can be in the form of a fit note from their GP or hospital doctor.

If an employee cannot work because they have been advised to self-isolate before and/or after elective surgery they should speak to their employer about suitable policies they may have in place such as, the ability to work from home, or the provision of special leave. Where employees have previously been furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30 June they should speak to their employer about being furloughed for the period they are unable to work if they do not have other suitable policies in place.

We are currently discussing with health colleagues whether it is appropriate to extend SSP to those who are required to self-isolate before elective surgery.