Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2019-21 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 12 May 2020
Home Office
Asylum: Housing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking with the Department for Education to ensure that the required (a) equipment and (b) technology to participate in school work is provided to asylum-seeking families with children living in National Asylum Support Service supplied accommodation during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 26 May 2020

The children of asylum seekers have access to the same educational services as all other children living in the UK.

The government has committed over £100 million to support remote education. We are providing laptops and tablets to disadvantaged children who would otherwise not have access. This specifically includes: children in Year 10 who are preparing for examination; children receiving support from a social worker, including pre-school children; or care leavers.

In addition, where individuals in these groups do not have internet connections, we will be providing them 4G wireless routers to ensure they can learn at home.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 15 May 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of applying to remove the EU State Aid cap on the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Scheme for sectors that are not affected by state aid rules.
A
Answered by: Paul Scully
Answered on: 26 May 2020

The Government keeps its business support schemes including the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality scheme under constant review. This is why we have updated guidance to Local Authorities administering the scheme, and why, based on feedback from our stakeholders, we launched the Discretionary Grant Scheme to allow Local Authorities to support businesses which did not meet the criteria for the Small Business Grant Fund or Retail Leisure and Hospitality scheme.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 13 May 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Health and Safety Executive: Staff
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Written Statement of 13 May 2020, HCWS234 on Construction update, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of staffing at the Health and Safety Executive to (a) monitor and (b) enforce the guidance provided in that written statement.
A
Answered by: Mims Davies
Answered on: 22 May 2020

Individual employers and those in control of construction sites have a legal responsibility of ensuring appropriate measures are in place to protect workers from Covid-19 on construction sites. Nevertheless, the Government recognises the important role that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) plays as Great Britain’s health and safety regulator and has announced that additional funds are being made available to support them in their regulatory work relating to Covid-19. HSE is currently developing plans for carrying out proactive checks of workplaces including construction sites to ensure that appropriate measures are in place. In addition, HSE continues to address reported workplace concerns with employers, including those relating to Covid-19.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 12 May 2020
Treasury
Self-employment Income Support Scheme: Immigrants
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether self-employed people who have No Recourse To Public Funds as an immigration condition are able to apply for the Self-employed Income Support Scheme.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 21 May 2020

The revised guidance published alongside the legal direction is clear that grants under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) are not counted as ‘access to public funds’ and that taxpayers on all categories of visa can claim the SEISS grant. This treatment of SEISS grant payments aligns with that of payments from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 12 May 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Small Businesses: Government Assistance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when Bristol City Council will receive guidance on the top up to local business grants scheme announced on 2 May 2020.
A
Answered by: Paul Scully
Answered on: 21 May 2020

The Government has announced that up to £617 million is being made available to Local Authorities in England to allow them to provide discretionary grants as part of the suite of Business Support grants supporting businesses and local economies across England. Guidance, intended to support Local Authorities in administering the Discretionary Grants Fund, was published 13th May.

Guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-business-support-grant-funding

This will not replace existing guidance for the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) or the Retail Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF).

Guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-business-support-grant-funding-guidance-for-businesses

The additional Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs but not liable for business rates or rates reliefs. We are asking local authorities to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates.

Local Authorities are responsible for defining precise eligibility for this fund and may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need, subject to those businesses meeting the specific eligibility criteria. Businesses seeking information should refer to their Local Authority for further information on their discretionary scheme. Businesses already in receipt of the SBGF, RHLGF or Self-employed Income Support Scheme are not eligible.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 12 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Rett UK: Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he will make an assessment of the potential merits of allocating funding to Rett UK to enable it to maintain the provision of providing support to people with Rett syndrome.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 21 May 2020

On 8 April 2020 the Chancellor announced £750 million to support the charity sector in response to COVID-19. This fund comprises three elements:

- £360 million will be allocated by central government to charities in England based on evidence of service need. This will include up to £200 million support for hospices, with the rest going to organisations like St John Ambulance and the Citizens Advice Bureau as well as charities supporting vulnerable children, victims of domestic abuse, or disabled people. The Department of Health and Social Care is working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and HM Treasury to work through which voluntary sector organisations are making an essential contribution to the COVID-19 response and may be eligible for funding;

- £370 million will support charities working with vulnerable people. In England, this support will be provided through the National Lottery Community Fund. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is working with the National Lottery Community Fund to develop eligibility, application and assessment criteria for this part of the fund, which will be launched imminently. Applicants will be assessed on the extent to which they meet the objectives of the fund, which are to reduce temporary closures of essential charities and to reduce the burden on the public services, including the National Health Service; and

- The Government will match the public donations to the BBC Big Night In fundraising event, which took place on 23 April, starting with a contribution of at least £20 million to the National Emergencies Trust appeal.

Charities can also access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme; and, they are able to benefit from the three-month VAT deferral scheme. Charity shop premises will benefit from the new enhanced retail rate relief at 100%.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 12 May 2020
Home Office
Asylum: Housing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that access to (a) WiFi, (b) smartphones and (c) other digital devices are provided for asylum seekers living in National Asylum Support Service supplied accommodation during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 21 May 2020

Asylum seekers receiving support under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 are generally provided with accommodation and a cash allowance to cover other essential living needs. The level of the cash allowance provided take into account communication needs, including the cost of buying and using a mobile phone. As a result of the Covid-19 crisis a higher proportion of asylum seekers than usual are being accommodated in full-board hostels and hotels. We are looking at practical ways of providing internet access to this group and other ways to enable them to communicate effectively. Our accommodation providers can and have provided mobile phones to those who do not have one.

Q
(Bristol West)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 20 May 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Retail Trade: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what criteria the Government is using to decide which retail businesses can open on 1 June 2020; and if he will make a statement.
Q
(Bristol West)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 20 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Older People
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many people aged over 70 who had no underlying health conditions have (a) needed hospital treatment, ( b) needed ICU treatment or (c) died as a result of covid-19.
Q
(Bristol West)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 20 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Care Homes: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance his Department has issued to care homes on the (a) clinical and (b) other criteria that should be taken into account on whether a resident with symptoms of covid-19 should be taken to hospital for treatment.
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 24 April 2020
Home Office
Asylum: Disease Control
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure that asylum seekers have adequate space and facilities to self isolate if those people have symptoms of covid-19 while living in shared Home Office-provided accommodation for asylum-seekers.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 18 May 2020

We are carefully following PHE Guidance which recommends that separate rooms should be provided for symptomatic people, or they should be moved to hotels.

Those with underlying health conditions and people over 70 years of age should also be moved to the appropriate hotel accommodation following PHE guidance, unless individuals do not wish to be moved. We are reviewing each case on an individual basis and continue to work with our providers to ensure the guidance is followed. If an asylum seeker enters the country displaying symptoms we have dedicated , sole use accommodation that allows them to self-isolate before moving into the asylum accommodation estate

Q
(Bristol West)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 11 May 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Homelessness: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps the Government is taking to help local authorities cover the costs of accommodating homeless people who have no recourse to public funds during the covid-19 oubtreak.
A
Answered by: Luke Hall
Answered on: 18 May 2020

The Government is aware of concerns about those with no recourse to public funds experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis.

We are ensuring local authorities are supported, with £3.2 million in targeted funding to help support individuals who are sleeping rough off the streets, and an additional £3.2 billion provided to local authorities as part of the wider government response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This funding has been provided to help local authorities to reduce risks to public health and to support individuals on the basis of need.

The legal position on those with no recourse to public funds has not been amended.

The Government recognises that these are unprecedented times, and expects local authorities to support people who are sleeping rough, and also to minimise unnecessary risks to public health, acting within the law.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 11 May 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Sleeping Rough: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 5 May 2020 to Question 40670, what estimate he has made of how many people continue to sleep rough before the end of the provision of emergency accommodation for rough sleepers during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Luke Hall
Answered on: 18 May 2020

This is a public health crisis more than anything and so requires a health response. To enable this our priority was to bring vulnerable people inside so they can self-isolate and stop the virus spreading.

In order to support local authorities to make offers of accommodation and reduce the risk to some of the most vulnerable in society, MHCLG has asked all local authorities to provide information on their rough sleeping cohort.

At the beginning of this crisis, local authorities across England provided an estimate of the total number of people sleeping rough and in accommodation with communal sleeping spaces, such as night shelters as at the beginning of this crisis and of this cohort, the total number of people offered accommodation to date. There are a range of factors that can impact on the numbers of people seen or thought to be sleeping rough on any given night and we recognise that the movement of those new to the streets will impact the numbers of people seen to be sleeping rough.

More than 5,400 rough sleepers – over 90 per cent of those on the streets at the beginning of the crisis and known to local authorities – have been offered safe accommodation ensuring some of the most vulnerable people can stay safe during the pandemic. This includes those rough sleeping or who have been living in accommodation with communal sleeping spaces such as night shelters.

This is a truly remarkable achievement, and one which is the result of the hard work of local government, agencies and charities across the country, who have helped to get people off the street and into safe accommodation, protecting the most vulnerable in society and ultimately saving lives.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 11 May 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Private Rented Housing: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 4 May 2020 to Question 40672 on Private Rented Housing: Coronavirus, what plans he has to extend the current ban on tenant evictions; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Christopher Pincher
Answered on: 18 May 2020

Emergency legislation is now in place so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict their tenants for at least a three-month period. The courts have also suspended housing possession proceedings. As a result of these measures, no tenant in private or social accommodation needs to be concerned about the threat of eviction during this time.

The emergency legislation provides powers that allows the Government to keep this protection under review as efforts to tackle COVID-19 progress. Any decision to alter the duration of these emergency measures will be informed by the wider government approach to lockdown measures and Public Health England guidance, alongside consideration of the needs of tenants as well as landlords.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 11 May 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Private Rented Housing: Evictions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, when he plans to bring forward legislative proposals to repeal Section 21 of the Housing Act 1985, as announced in the Queen's Speech in December 2019; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Christopher Pincher
Answered on: 18 May 2020

Plans to reform tenancy law, including the proposed repeal of Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, were announced in the Queen’s Speech. A Renters’ Reform Bill will enhance renters’ security and improve protections for short-term tenants by abolishing ‘no-fault’ evictions and represents a generational change in the law that governs private renting.

Our recent consultation ‘A New Deal for Renting: Resetting the balance of rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants’ sought views from across the private and social rented sectors. We received almost 20,000 responses to the consultation, which will be carefully considered. We will respond fully to the consultation on Tenancy Reform in due course, when the urgent concerns of this emergency have passed.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 11 May 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Private Rented Housing: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to temporarily amend the right to treat rent as lawfully due for the purposes of (a) Schedule 15, Case 1, Rent Act 1977, (b) Schedule 2, Ground 1 of the Housing Act 1985 or (c) Schedule 2, Grounds 8, 10, or 11 of the Housing Act 1988 in order to prevent people renting their homes from being subject to eviction proceedings due to arrears caused by loss of income as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Christopher Pincher
Answered on: 18 May 2020

Emergency legislation is now in place so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict their tenants for at least a three-month period. The courts have also suspended housing possession proceedings. As a result of these measures, no tenant in private or social accommodation needs to be concerned about the threat of eviction during this time.    

We have also been clear in guidance that there is a need for landlords to offer support and understanding to tenants – and any guarantor – who may see their income fluctuate. This could include reaching a temporary agreement not to seek possession action for a period of time and instead, pause payments or accept a lower level of rent, or agree a plan to pay off arrears at a later date.

The Government has also put in place significant financial support measures to help renters continue to pay their living costs, including rent. This includes support for businesses to pay staff salaries, strengthening the welfare safety-net with a £7 billion boost to Universal Credit, and increasing the Local Housing Allowance rates so that they are set at the 30th percentile of market rents in each area.

Any decision to alter the duration of these emergency measures will be informed by the wider government approach to lockdown measures and Public Health England guidance, alongside consideration of the needs of tenants as well as landlords.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 11 May 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Rented Housing: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will make an estimate of the number of people in rented property who have fallen into arrears since 23 March 2020 as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Christopher Pincher
Answered on: 18 May 2020

The Department does not routinely collect information on rent arrears.

Emergency legislation is now in place so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict their tenants for at least a three-month period. The courts have also suspended housing possession proceedings. As a result of these measures, no tenant in private or social accommodation needs to be concerned about the threat of eviction during this time.

In addition, the Government has introduced an unprecedented financial support package to help renters continue to pay their living costs, including rent. This includes support for businesses to pay staff salaries, strengthening the welfare safety-net with a £7 billion boost to Universal Credit, and increasing the Local Housing Allowance rates so that they are set at the 30th percentile of market rents in each area.

We have also been clear in guidance that there is a need for landlords to offer support and understanding to tenants – and any guarantor – who may see their income fluctuate. This could include reaching a temporary agreement not to seek possession action for a period of time and instead, pause payments or accept a lower level of rent, or agree a plan to pay off arrears at a later date.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 11 May 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Repossession Orders: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the effect of the temporary ban on eviction proceedings on the ability of local authorities to follow Closure Orders with proceedings to repossess a property.
A
Answered by: Christopher Pincher
Answered on: 18 May 2020

The Practice Direction to the courts suspending all possession proceedings applies for 90 days from 27th March 2020, and to all new and existing housing possessions proceedings. The Practice Direction is in line with public health advice and provides a temporary protection from eviction as a result of possession proceedings.

The effect of this is that landlords may start possession proceedings following a closure order, after giving notice – which has been extended to 3 months for most tenancies. However, the proceedings will not then be progressed while the Practice Direction is in force.

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 provides the police, local authorities and other local agencies with a range of flexible tools and powers that they can use to respond quickly and effectively to anti-social behaviour. These provisions remain in place and these powers and tools continue to be applicable during the current period. It is for local agencies to determine whether their use is appropriate in the specific circumstances.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 18 May 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Paediatrics: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the maintenance of an adequate provision of paediatric bladder and bowel services during the covid-19 outbreak for people that are (a) subject to protection plans, (b) looked after and (c) that are subject to high levels of professional concern.
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 12 May 2020
Women and Equalities
Equality Act 2010
Commons
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, pursuant to the Answer of 5 May to Question 39526 on Equality Act 2010, what criteria her Department used to decide on the timeframe for the commencement of the provisions of the Equalities Act 2010.
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