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 2017-19 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 22 November 2018
Ministry of Justice
Legal Aid Scheme: Asylum
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will make an assessment of the effect of the Legal Aid Scheme on the right to a family life for people seeking asylum.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 30 November 2018

Legal aid has always been and will continue to be available for asylum cases. For matters not within the scope of scheme, Exceptional Case Funding (ECF) may be available where there is a breach or risk of breach of ECHR rights, subject to means and merits tests.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 November 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Fracking: Carbon Emissions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the level of UK carbon emissions of fugitive emissions from fracking.
A
Answered by: Claire Perry
Answered on: 29 November 2018

Management of fugitive emissions is covered by the Environment Agency permit. As part of the permit application, the operator will need to describe the management of fugitive emissions in an ‘emissions management plan’.

During operations the operator will be required to undertake environmental monitoring, including emissions monitoring, to demonstrate compliance with their permits. In some cases, depending on the risks presented by a site or community concerns, the Environment Agency may carry out extra monitoring themselves.

As a further safeguard, the Infrastructure Act 2015 makes it clear that hydraulic fracturing activities cannot take place unless appropriate arrangements have been made for monitoring emissions of methane into the air.

In addition, the Government is grant funding an environmental monitoring programme led by the British Geological Survey (BGS) in the Fylde (Lancashire) and Kirby Misperton (North Yorkshire), where applications for shale gas wells have been made.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 22 November 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Energy: Housing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 9 July 2018 to Question 159646 on Energy: Housing, how many applications for feed-in tariffs were (a) made and (b) approved in respect of properties with an energy performance certificate of D and above between June 2015 and June 2016.
A
Answered by: Claire Perry
Answered on: 29 November 2018

The central Feed-In Tariffs (FIT) register does not record the number of applications made. Between 1 June 2015 and 31 May 2016 there were 140,014 installations with an energy performance certificate of D and above accredited under the scheme.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 November 2018
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Energy Performance Certificates
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how many houses in the UK have an energy performance certificate of (a) E or lower and (b) D or higher.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 28 November 2018

At the end of September 2018, the number of houses in England and Wales which had a valid energy performance certificate (EPC) rated at E or lower was 3,177,158 and D or higher was 8,169,369. Additionally, other types of domestic dwellings, including flats, bungalows and maisonettes, which had a valid EPC rated at E or lower was 1,229,051 and D or higher was 5,584,059.

This information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/energy-performance-of-buildings-certificates

EPCs for domestic dwellings in Scotland and Northern Ireland are a devolved matter.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 November 2018
Department for Transport
Severn Beach Railway Line: Electrification
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of the electrification of the Severn Beach line.
A
Answered by: Andrew Jones
Answered on: 28 November 2018

Network Rail have not currently considered electrification of the line. However, the upgrade work from Dr Days Junction to Filton Abbey Wood, recently completed successfully, will directly benefit the service on the Severn Beach line. In particular, the separation of local stopping services from the faster Intercity trains will relieve a bottleneck outside Bristol Temple Meads.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 November 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Climate Change: EU Action
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government plans to maintain alignment with EU climate change policy after the UK leaves the EU.
A
Answered by: Claire Perry
Answered on: 28 November 2018

UK government’s action to tackle climate change is framed by the Climate Change Act. This is domestic legislation and is therefore unaffected by exiting the EU.

The UK is committed to international cooperation, including with the EU, on issues of shared interest including climate change.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 November 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Public Health: Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the percentage change has been in (a) total funding for NHS England and (b) the local authority public health grant in each year since 2014.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 28 November 2018

The local authority public health grant provides funding for health services delivered through local authorities. However it is not the entirety of the funding nor spend for public health services. For example, in addition to the grant there is circa £1.2 billion ringfenced for NHS national public health services within the NHS mandate figures, as well as other Departmental expenditure on vaccines and on grant in aid to Public Health England.

The following table shows the percentage change in total funding for NHS England and the local authority public health grant in each year since 2014:

NHS England funding increase %

Public health grant increase %

2014-15

3.6%

5.0%

2015-16

3.3%

24%*

2016-17

5.4%

-2.2%

2017-18

3.6%

-2.5%**

2018-19

4.6%

-2.6%


Notes:

* End year allocation for 2015-16 including the transfer in October 2015 of funding from NHS England to local authorities for commissioning services for children aged 0 - 5.

** Figures from 2017-18 includes funding retained by 10 Greater Manchester local authorities as part of a business rate pilot, not allocated via a grant.

The total Department of Health and Social Care Departmental Expenditure Limit for 2018-19 was £128.4 billion. 2.5 % was allocated to the local authority public health grant in 2018-19.

Grouped Questions: 193487
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 November 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Public Health: Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of the health and social care budget was allocated to the local authority public health grant in 2018-19.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 28 November 2018

The local authority public health grant provides funding for health services delivered through local authorities. However it is not the entirety of the funding nor spend for public health services. For example, in addition to the grant there is circa £1.2 billion ringfenced for NHS national public health services within the NHS mandate figures, as well as other Departmental expenditure on vaccines and on grant in aid to Public Health England.

The following table shows the percentage change in total funding for NHS England and the local authority public health grant in each year since 2014:

NHS England funding increase %

Public health grant increase %

2014-15

3.6%

5.0%

2015-16

3.3%

24%*

2016-17

5.4%

-2.2%

2017-18

3.6%

-2.5%**

2018-19

4.6%

-2.6%


Notes:

* End year allocation for 2015-16 including the transfer in October 2015 of funding from NHS England to local authorities for commissioning services for children aged 0 - 5.

** Figures from 2017-18 includes funding retained by 10 Greater Manchester local authorities as part of a business rate pilot, not allocated via a grant.

The total Department of Health and Social Care Departmental Expenditure Limit for 2018-19 was £128.4 billion. 2.5 % was allocated to the local authority public health grant in 2018-19.

Grouped Questions: 193486
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment: Autism
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the Disability Confident scheme on the gap between the number of people in employment (a) with autism and (b) in the general population.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 28 November 2018

We have not made any assessment of Disability Confident on the autism employment gap.

Disability Confident promotes to employers the many benefits of employing disabled people, including individuals with Autism and Neuro-diverse conditions. The scheme provides free information, advice and guidance to help them to do this. Over 10,000 businesses have signed up to the disability Confident scheme since it was launched in November 2016.

The Disability Confident Autism and Neurodiversity Toolkit was developed with support from disabled people with neuro-diverse conditions, medical professionals and disability organisations such as Autism Alliance UK and Autism Plus. It is designed to help to raise awareness and understanding, within DWP and across the wider Civil Service, about Autism Spectrum Disorders and neuro-diverse conditions.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment: Autism
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to increase the rate of retention in employment of people with autism.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 28 November 2018

The Government is strongly committed to increasing employment opportunities for disabled people, including those with autism, and improving employment retention rates. We are working across Government and with local authorities, voluntary organisations and employers in the public and private sectors to achieve this. Help and support for people with autism includes:

  • Disability Confident scheme, through which DWP is engaging with employers and helping to promote the skills, talents and abilities of people with autism and associated hidden impairment conditions. Disability Confident offers advice and support, to help employers feel more confident about employing disabled people. Over 10,000 businesses have signed up to the disability Confident scheme since it was launched in November 2016

  • Access to Work, which has a Hidden Impairment Specialist Team that gives advice and guidance to help employers support employees with conditions such as Autism, Learning Disability and/or Mental Health conditions. It also offers eligible people an assessment to find out their needs at work and help to develop a support plan.
  • The Disability Passport ‘About Me’ which aims to encourage disabled claimants, including individuals with autism, to disclose their disability/ health conditions at the earliest stage to their Adviser, to improve communication and ensure reasonable adjustments are put in place. The passport is hosted on Autism Alliance’s website.

The Civil Service has committed to support the Autism Exchange Programme, and my Department is working with Ambitious about Autism to provide work placement opportunities for young people.

The number of working age disabled people in employment in the UK reached around 3.9 million in Q3 2018. This was an increase of 123,000 since Q3 2017, and an overall increase of 973,000 since Q3 2013, the earliest comparable figure.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment: Autism
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the steps that her Department has taken to provide employers with the opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to employ people with autism.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 28 November 2018

The Government is strongly committed to working with employers to improve their approach to employing disabled people, including those with autism. For example:

  • The Disability Confident scheme is engaging with employers, offering advice and support to help employers feel more confident about employing disabled people. Over 10,000 businesses have signed up to the Disability Confident scheme since it was launched in November 2016

  • Access to Work has a Hidden Impairment Specialist Team that gives advice and guidance to help employers support employees with conditions such as Autism, Learning Disability and/or Mental Health conditions. It also offers eligible people an assessment to find out their needs at work and help to develop a support plan.

  • The Disability Passport ‘About Me’ aims to encourage disabled claimants, including individuals with autism, to disclose their disability/ health conditions at the earliest stage to their Adviser, to improve communication and ensure reasonable adjustments are put in place. The passport is hosted on Autism Alliance’s website.

  • The Disability Confident Autism and Neurodiversity Toolkit was developed with support from disabled people with neuro-diverse conditions, medical professionals and disability organisations such as Autism Alliance UK and Autism Plus. It is designed to help to raise awareness and understanding, within DWP and across the wider Civil Service, about Autism Spectrum Disorders and neuro-diverse conditions.

We have not made any assessment of the effect of these policies and initiatives on employers’ skills and knowledge in respect of employing people with autism in particular.

Overall, the number of working age disabled people in employment in the UK reached around 3.9 million in Q3 2018. This was an increase of 123,000 since Q3 2017, and an overall increase of 973,000 since Q3 2013, the earliest comparable figure.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment Schemes: Autism
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Work Choice support programme in helping autistic people to (a) find, (b) keep and (c) make progress in a job.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 28 November 2018

Work Choice was designed to help individuals whose needs cannot be met through other DWP employment programmes and who need more specialised support to find employment or to keep a job once they have started work. Work Choice referrals have now ended in all parts of England and Wales, and service delivery will end by 31 March 2019. The Work & Health Programme, which rolled out in England and Wales between November 2017 and March 2018, builds on lessons learnt from both Work Choice and the Work Programme.

Work Choice performance data allows us to monitor both short job outcomes (employment lasting at least 13 weeks) and sustained job outcomes (employment lasting at least 26 weeks) where the tailored support assists participants in achieving these. Work Choice official statistics are published here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/work-choice-referrals-starts-and-job-outcomes-to-june-2018.

Since 25th October 2015, Work Choice participants could voluntarily declare to their Work Coach that they had an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), to allow providers to recognise their support requirements. A declaration of autism was recorded separately from individuals’ primary health condition. As these declarations are voluntary, we cannot be sure that they account for all Work Choice participants with ASD.

For participants who have declared this information, the below data table shows the number of starts per year and the proportion of these starts that have since achieved a short job outcome (employment lasting at least 13 weeks) and a sustained job outcome (employment lasting at least 26 weeks). These data are a subset of the official Work Choice statistics.

Individuals who declared autism

Number of starts

Of which have achieved a short job outcome

Of which have achieved a sustained job outcome

Latest year available:

Jul-17 to Jun-18 (for starts)

670

Jul-16 to Jun-17 (for short job outcomes)

1,120

430

38%

Jul-15 to Jun-16 (for sustained)

530

140

26%

Financial years:

2015/16 (Nov to Mar)

290

120

44%

80

27%

2016/17

1,090

420

38%

2017/18

940

Source: Provider Referrals and Payments system (PRaP)

Notes:

- Work Choice performance data for a particular cohort of starts are only comparable once we have given sufficient time from the end of that period for all of the starts to have received the tailored support from the programme and to have achieved the job outcomes. This means that the latest available data for numbers of starts is July 2017 to June 2018, for short job outcome rates is July 2016 to June 2017, and for sustained job outcome rates is July 2015 to June 2016.

- The definition of short job outcomes changed slightly in November 2015. Therefore, short job outcome rates are not available for the July 2015 to June 2016 cohort and for the 2015/16 financial year they are only available from November 2015 to March 2016.

- Figures are rounded to the nearest ten.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment Schemes: Autism
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the Specialist Employability Support programme on the employment outcomes of autistic people.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 28 November 2018

Specialist Employability Support (SES) is a pan-disability employment programme providing specialist personalised employment support for around 1,700 participants with complex barriers to employment, including Autism Spectrum Disorders, each year. Individuals with autism may request that specific referral opportunities are used for their referral to SES, to allow providers to recognise their support requirements.

The Government confirmed in ‘Improving Lives, The Future of Work, Health and Disability’, published in December 2017, that it is currently exploring the best policy options for continuing to support those with greatest needs and most complex situations, once the SES contracts come to an end.

We have not made any formal assessment of SES programme including on the employment outcomes of autistic people but we continue to gather information and evidence including lessons learnt for developing our future support.

DWP has recently completed negotiations with SES providers to extend referrals to the programme to end 2019 to ensure continuous provision for this customer group whilst future support is put in place.

The number of working age disabled people in employment in the UK reached around 3.9 million in Q3 2018. This was an increase of 123,000 since Q3 2017, and an overall increase of 973,000 since Q3 2013, the earliest comparable figure.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment Schemes: Autism
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to help young people diagnosed with autism into work in (a) Bristol and (b) the UK.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 28 November 2018

Jobcentre Plus partnership managers work with a range of organisations across Bristol to ensure we can hear the voice of the customer and to work collaboratively to address and remove barriers to employment.

Throughout the country, Jobcentre Plus Work Coaches offer people with disabilities and health conditions, including autism, tailored support to reduce barriers to work and help them into work. Work Coaches are trained in dealing with customers with a range of conditions, including autism, and have access to a range of resources, including an autism learning toolkit, free online courses, training for managers, guidance on reasonable adjustments, and employer guides. Work Coaches are supported by Disability Employment Advisers and DWP Work Psychologists, who can also directly support customers, and advised by Community Partners, who have a lived experience or expert knowledge of disability.

Nationally, there is a range of support available for young people with autism, including:

  • The Work and Health Programme, which offers a personalised local approach to supporting people, overcome barriers to employment, by targeting specialist support to those who are likely to be able to find work within 12 months.

  • Access to Work, which has a Hidden Impairment Specialist Team offers advice and guidance to help employers support employees with conditions such as Autism, Learning Disability and/or Mental Health conditions.

  • Young people who start a work placement with an employer as part of the Department for Education supported internship programme or a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy traineeship are eligible to apply for Access to Work support for the period of the work placement. Supported internships are for young people aged 16—24 with learning difficulties or learning disabilities, who want to get a job and need extra support to do this.

  • The Disability Confident scheme, though which DWP is engaging with employers and helping to promote the skills, talents and abilities of people with autism and associated conditions. Over 10,000 businesses have signed up to Disability Confident since it was launched in November 2016.

  • The Disability Passport ‘About Me’, developed to encourage disabled claimants, including individuals with autism, to disclose their disability/ health conditions at the earliest stage to their Adviser, to improve communication and ensure reasonable adjustments are put in place. The passport was launched in March 2017 and is hosted on Autism Alliance’s website

  • The Local Supported Employment Proof of Concept, which is being delivered with nine local authorities and will support those with a learning disability or autism who are known to adult social care, or those in contact with secondary mental health services.

We are also improving access to apprenticeships for people with learning disabilities and difficulties. For example, the government has introduced legislation which adjusts the minimum English and Maths requirements for apprenticeships for people with a learning difficulty or disability to entry Level 3. This change allows more people to benefit from the opportunities available through apprenticeships and work.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 November 2018
Home Office
Asylum: Children
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans he has to review the restriction on the ability of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to sponsor the visas of adult relatives for the purposes of family reunion.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 28 November 2018

There is currently no provision in the Immigration Rules for children with refugee status in the UK to sponsor family members to join them. Allowing children to sponsor parents risks creating further incentives for more children to be encouraged, or even forced, to leave their family and risk hazardous journeys to the UK to sponsor relatives. This plays into the hands of criminal gangs who exploit vulnerable people and goes against our safeguarding responsibilities.

The Government believes the best interests of children is reflected in staying with their families, claiming asylum in the first safe country they reach – that is the fastest route to safety – and relying on safe and legal routes under the Immigration Rules or through resettlement schemes.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 November 2018
Home Office
Asylum: Employment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment he has made of the effect of the restriction on asylum seekers' right to work on dependent children during the 12-month waiting period.
A
Answered by: Caroline Nokes
Answered on: 27 November 2018

The UK has a proud history of providing protection to those who need it and this Government is committed to delivering a fair and humane asylum system.

Whilst the Government has not made such an assessment, our current policy is consistent with EU law and permits asylum seekers to work, in jobs on the Shortage Occupation List, if they have been waiting for a decision on their claim for 12 months or more and the delay is through no fault of their own. We are tackling delays in decision-making and have plans in place to improve the speed at which outstanding claims are decided.

The Government is considering recent calls to change the policy. However, our current approach aims to protect the resident labour market so that any employment meets our needs for skilled labour and distinguishes between those who need protection and those who want to work in the UK, who can apply for a work visa under the Immigration Rules. We need to avoid creating further incentives for migrants, particularly children or those with children, to come here illegally, risking their lives in the process, instead of claiming asylum in the first safe country they reach.

It is also important to focus on providing support for those who are recognised as refugees, to help them to integrate and find employment, so that they can rebuild their lives here.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment: Autism
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect on the autism employment gap of the Access to Work scheme.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 27 November 2018

We have made no assessment of the effect of Access to Work on the employment rate of people with autism.

Data on people with Autism Spectrum Disorders is not routinely disaggregated within Access to Work statistics. The primary medical condition categories used in Access to Work are consistent with the categories used in the Labour Force Survey. This is so we can compare our data to the disability employment rate.

When a person with autism applies to Access to Work for support, it will be for particular conditions, such as difficulty in speaking, learning difficulties, etc., rather than ‘autism’.

This will be recorded as the individual’s primary medical condition in the Access to Work database, even if it’s linked to their autism

Access to Work has a specialist Hidden Impairments team who receive upskilling and awareness from organisations who have expertise of autism to ensure that advisors have a broad understanding of the barriers individuals with autism face.

The official statistics published on 30th October 2018 provide the latest information on the Access to Work scheme, including breakdowns by customer characteristics such as primary medical condition. They may be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/access-to-work-statistics-april-2007-to-march-2018

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 20 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment: Autism
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment has she made of the effect on the autism employment gap of the Disability Confident Autism and Neurodiversity Toolkit.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 27 November 2018

We have not made any assessment of the effect the Disability Confident Autism and Neurodiversity Toolkit has had on the autism employment gap.

The toolkit was developed with support from disabled people with neuro-diverse conditions, medical professionals and disability organisations such as Autism Alliance UK and Autism Plus. It is designed to help to raise awareness and understanding, within DWP and across the wider Civil Service, about Autism Spectrum Disorders and neuro-diverse conditions.

Disability Confident promotes the many benefits of employing disabled people including individuals with autism and neuro-diverse conditions. The scheme provides free information, advice and guidance for employers.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 09 November 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Antibiotics: Drug Resistance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to paragraph 6.10 of the UK Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2013 to 2018, published in September 2013, when he plans to publish the evaluation report.
A
Answered by: Steve Brine
Answered on: 20 November 2018

The United Kingdom Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy (2013-18) contained a commitment to assess the effectiveness of its implementation plan at the end of the five-year period. The Department commissioned the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to undertake a full evaluation of the strategy’s implementation.

The evaluation is nearing completion. A final draft report will be submitted to the Department shortly and will be sent out for independent peer-review. The completed report will be put in the public domain next year.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 05 November 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Democratic Republic of Congo: Torture
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo on the the use of torture in that country.
A
Answered by: Harriett Baldwin
Answered on: 14 November 2018

The Foreign Secretary met Foreign Minister Okitundu in October. I met with him during the United Nations General Assembly in September and with a range of government contacts when I visited the DRC in April. We made clear that we have zero tolerance for any human rights abuses or violations of international humanitarian law. The UK played a key role at the June 2018 Human Rights Council, which mandated the UN Joint Human Rights Office to document and profile human rights violations in DRC.

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