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)
[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.
A
Answered by: Paul Scully
Answered on: 02 June 2020

Since 1 June, outdoor markets and car showrooms have been able to open. The transmission of the virus is lower outdoors and in open spaces and the COVID-secure guidelines can be more easily followed.

All other non-essential retail will be able to reopen from 15 June if the scientific and medical advice allows and they are able to follow the COVID-secure guidelines. This provides shops and other retail branches enough time to put in place the necessary social distancing measures and hygiene standards.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 01 June 2020
Department for Transport
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what changes he is making to the requirement for heavy goods vehicle drivers to be periodically tested for a Certificate of Professional Competence while test centres are closed as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 01 June 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking to support independent local (a) print, (b) online and (c) broadcast news providers during the covid-19 outbreak.
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 01 June 2020
Treasury
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the Answer of 29 November 2017 to Question 115096 on Revenue and Customs: Disability, what recent assessment he has made of whether HMRC's Regional Centre in 3 Glass Wharf, Bristol meets the 2018 edition of British Standard 8300.
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 01 June 2020
Treasury
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the Answer of 29 November 2017 to Question 115096 on Revenue and Customs: Disability, how many HMRC staff have been granted Health Related Special Leave because they are awaiting reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010 to be made at the HMRC Regional Centre in 3 Glass Wharf, Bristol.
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 01 June 2020
Treasury
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the Answer of 29 November 2017 to Question 115096 on Revenue and Customs: Disability, how many HMRC staff have been granted Health Related Special Leave (formerly Disability Adjustment Leave) because they are awaiting reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010 to be made at the HMRC Regional Centre in 3 Glass Wharf, Bristol, since September 2019.
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 01 June 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many Health and Safety Executive inspectors are operating in Bristol.
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: 01 June 2020
Ministry of Justice
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that people facing possession proceedings for their home are able to access the advice of a duty solicitor if court proceedings take place online or by phone.
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: 22 May 2020
Department for Education
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Command Paper 239 entitled Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government's Covid-19 recovery Strategy, if he will consider allowing community spaces such as church halls and community centres to offer space for groups for pre-school age children due to move to primary school in September.
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)
Asked on: 21 May 2020
Department for Education
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans the Government has to provide (a) financial and (b) other support to students who have lost income and are struggling to pay their rent during the covid-19 outbreak.
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.
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 11 May 2020
Women and Equalities
Gender Recognition
Commons
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, when she plans to publish the Government's response to its consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004.
A
Answered by: Kemi Badenoch
Answered on: 18 May 2020

We have listened closely to all those who engaged with our consultation and we plan to publish our response this summer, subject to the Government's COVID-19 response.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 29 April 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Sudan: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether his Department plans to provide repatriation flights for British citizens stranded in Sudan during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: James Duddridge
Answered on: 07 May 2020

The Government has committed up to £75 million to help thousands of British people return home from priority countries where there is the greatest need. We have so far helped 27 British nationals return from Sudan to the UK on three separate commercial charter flights. Through our embassy in Khartoum, officials are in regular contact with those British nationals who have expressed a desire to return to the UK. Our travel advice and social media pages are also regularly updated to ensure that those wishing to return are aware of further developments. We will continue to work to bring British nationals back to the UK where commercial options do not exist, focusing on the most vulnerable. We are still working through future plans, identifying where needs are greatest, and where charter flights will have the greatest impact on vulnerable British nationals overseas.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 24 April 2020
Women and Equalities
Equality Act 2010
Commons
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, when the Government plans to commence section 36 of the Equalities Act 2010.
A
Answered by: Elizabeth Truss
Answered on: 05 May 2020

Section 36 of the Equality Act 2010 was commenced in part following Royal Assent to that Act. An announcement will be made in due course on commencement of the remaining parts of this Section.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 27 April 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Package Holidays: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 6 April 2020 to Questions HL2882, what steps the package travel sector has agreed to take as a result of Government engagement with that sector on its legal obligations to customers whose holiday or travel has been cancelled as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.
A
Answered by: Paul Scully
Answered on: 05 May 2020

Sector representatives are aware that the law has not changed in relation to refunds. Businesses in the sector are offering consumers refund credit notes but this must be the choice of the consumer who retains the right to a cash refund.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 27 April 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Sleeping Rough: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what support his Department plans to provide to local authorities to ensure that rough sleepers currently in emergency accommodation during the covid-19 outbreak do not return to rough sleeping when that provision ends.
A
Answered by: Luke Hall
Answered on: 05 May 2020

Over 90 per cent of those on the streets and in communal night shelters known to local authorities at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis have now been made offers of safe accommodation – ensuring some of the most vulnerable in society are protected from the pandemic.

We announced that councils across England will receive another £1.6 billion in additional funding to enable them to respond to other COVID-19 pressures across all the services they deliver, stepping up support for services helping the most vulnerable, including homeless people. This takes the total funding to support councils to respond to the pandemic to over £3.2 billion. This is in addition to £3.2 million in targeted funding for councils to support vulnerable rough sleepers.

On 2 May 2020 the Secretary of State announced that Dame Louise Casey will lead the Government Taskforce on the response to rough sleeping during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Taskforce will focus on next on next steps of emergency response to support vulnerable rough sleepers during the pandemic.

The taskforce will work hand-in-hand with councils across the country on plans to ensure rough sleepers can move into long-term, safe accommodation once the immediate crisis is over – ensuring as few people as possible return to life on the streets.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic the Government announced a further £112 million fund for the RSI across England in 2020/21 to help 276 areas tackle rough sleeping. The funding is a 30 per cent increase on the previous year and will be used to introduce and expand a range of measures, including street-based services, first stage accommodation, housing support and housing-led solutions, as well as specialist support workers.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 27 April 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Sleeping Rough: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what the evidential basis is for his Department’s 18 April 2020 statement that 90 per cent of rough sleepers known to local authorities at the beginning of the covid-19 outbreak have been made offers of accommodation.
A
Answered by: Luke Hall
Answered on: 05 May 2020

My Department asked all local authorities to provide information on their rough sleeping cohort in order to support local authorities to make offers of accommodation to as many people who required it to reduce the risk faced by some of the most vulnerable in society.

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, and have then updated us on the total number of people who have had offers of accommodation made available to them.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 27 April 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Sleeping Rough: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that rough sleepers (a) not known to local authorities at and (b) who have become homeless since the beginning of the crisis can access (i) emergency accommodation and (ii) adequate support.
A
Answered by: Luke Hall
Answered on: 05 May 2020

We recognise the challenges that local authorities will face in providing assistance to vulnerable people as they fulfil their homelessness duties during this pandemic. This is why we have announced that councils across England will receive another £1.6 billion in additional funding to enable them to respond to COVID-19 pressures across the services they deliver, stepping up support for services helping the most vulnerable, including homeless people. This takes the total funding to support councils to respond to the pandemic to £3.2 billion. This is in addition to £3.2 million targeted funding to ensure that we minimise the risk to those rough sleepers currently unable to self-isolate.

The Government has introduced a package of measures to protect renters affected by coronavirus aimed in part at preventing any increase in homelessness. With these in force, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home. Landlords must give all renters 3 months’ notice if they intend to seek possession.

Additionally, we have increased the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants so that they are set at the 30th percentile of market rents. This means that from April 2020 many people renting in the Private Rented Sector will have seen an increase in their housing support.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 27 April 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Temporary Accommodation: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment his Department has made of the suitability of hostels and other temporary accommodation with shared facilities in the event that a resident of that accommodation needs to (a) self-isolate because of covid-19 symptoms or (b) be shielded.
A
Answered by: Luke Hall
Answered on: 05 May 2020

Temporary accommodation is an important way of ensuring no family is without a roof over their head while dealing with the impacts of Covid-19. Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide temporary accommodation for the household in the first instance until suitable long-term accommodation can be offered to them. They must ensure this temporary accommodation is suitable and there is a right of appeal.

People who are living in accommodation which they share with other people, or in which they share facilities with other people should follow current PHE guidance on self-isolation and social distancing within the home.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 27 April 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
India: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how many British citizens are waiting to be allocated a repatriation flight from India; and what steps his Department is taking to secure sufficient repatriation flights for British citizens.
A
Answered by: Nigel Adams
Answered on: 05 May 2020

Repatriations from India is one of our largest Covid-19 repatriation operations, based on the number of Britons there and the absence of commercial options. The scale of the challenge is immense. As all of India is under lockdown, we continue to engage with state authorities to enable British Nationals (BN) to reach airports.

As of 5 May, we have chartered 52 flights from 11 Indian cities including Delhi, Goa, Mumbai and others in Punjab, Gujarat and Bengal. Over 12,000 people have returned home on UK charter flights and we continue to work day and night to return more on daily flights from across India. The UK Government has arranged a fifth round of special charter flights departing from Amritsar from 5 May to 11 May.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 27 April 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Panama: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether his Department plans to provide repatriation flights for British citizens stranded in Panama during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Wendy Morton
Answered on: 05 May 2020

The Government has committed up to £75 million to help thousands of British people return home from priority countries where there is greatest need. As of 30 April, we have brought back more than 21,000 people on 102 flights organised by the Foreign Office from 21 different countries and territories. We have helped 85 British nationals in Panama access commercial repatriation flights, including a group of 46 people who were attending the Tribal Gathering festival. Our Embassy in Panama City has provided domestic transportation, safe passage documentation, and secure access to multiple exceptional departure options.

We will continue working to bring British nationals back to the UK where commercial options do not exist, focusing on the most vulnerable. We are still working through future plans, identifying where needs are greatest, and where charter flights will have the greatest impact on vulnerable British nationals overseas. British Embassy Panama City's Travel Advice and social media channels are updated frequently with information on lockdown measures and departure options, where available. Those affected can contact the Embassy directly by emailing BEPanama.CV@fco.gov.uk.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 27 April 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the proportion of new claimants of universal credit whose housing costs are not covered by the local housing allowance set at the 30th percentile.
A
Answered by: Will Quince
Answered on: 05 May 2020

No such assessment has been made.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 27 April 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Homelessness: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what estimate he has made of the number of people who have become homeless since the announcement of support for local authorities to accommodate rough sleepers temporarily.
A
Answered by: Luke Hall
Answered on: 05 May 2020

Local authorities collect data on the actions they take under the provisions of the Housing Act 1996 on a quarterly basis and report them to the Government. These data collections are released quarterly as homelessness statistics. The most recent homelessness statistical release was on 19 March 2020. Local authorities are still required to provide this data throughout the Covid-19 outbreak.

We recognise the challenges that local authorities will face in providing accommodation as they fulfil their homelessness duties during this pandemic. This is why we have announced that councils across England will receive another £1.6 billion in additional funding to enable them to respond to Covid-19 pressures across the services they deliver, stepping up support for services helping the most vulnerable, including homeless people. This takes the total funding to support councils to respond to the pandemic to £3.2 billion.

This is in addition to £3.2 million targeted funding to ensure that we minimise the risk to those rough sleepers currently unable to self-isolate. This funding will assist local authorities with providing accommodation and support to vulnerable people who are at risk of, or who have been diagnosed with, Covid-19.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 27 April 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Domestic Abuse: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he has taken to ensure that victims of domestic violence are not housed in the same temporary provision of additional emergency accommodation as perpetrators of domestic violence during the covid-19 crisis.
A
Answered by: Luke Hall
Answered on: 05 May 2020

A key priority for my Department during the current Covid-19 pandemic is to keep refuges open to ensure that victims of domestic abuse are able to access the support they need.

My officials have been liaising closely with the refuge sector from the start of the lockdown to monitor how demand is changing.

We are looking carefully at all safe and appropriate additional accommodation options for supporting victims of domestic abuse and their children.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 24 April 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Energy: Meters
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what (a) financial and (b) practical help he is providing to ensure that (a) people (i) self-isolating and in a (ii) vulnerable or shielded group and (b) other people who use coin-operated energy meters are able to maintain power supply during the lockdown.
A
Answered by: Kwasi Kwarteng
Answered on: 04 May 2020

The Department reached a voluntary agreement with all domestic energy suppliers to a set of principles to support energy customers impacted by COVID-19. These principles include support for prepayment meter customers, who primarily use electronic tokens, keys or cards to top up their meters. Based on individual circumstances, the support available to prepayment meter customers could include:

  • extending discretionary/ friendly credit or sending out a pre-loaded top up card;
  • enabling customers to nominate a trusted third party to be able to pick up discretionary credit sent to a shop on their behalf;
  • switching smart prepayment meters into credit mode, or extending non-disconnection periods, and;
  • taking reasonable steps to contact prepayment customers with advice on what to do in the event of self-isolation.

Many energy suppliers have provided additional support for their customers.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 27 April 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, what assessment his Department has made of the number of people who are voluntarily leaving their privately rented home as a result of loss of income due to the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Christopher Pincher
Answered on: 04 May 2020

The Government routinely collects information on the movement between housing sectors through the annual English Housing Survey, the last of which was published in January 2020.

The Government has introduced a package of measures to protect renters and landlords affected by coronavirus.. 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.

The Government also has introduced significant financial measures to help support tenants to continue to pay their living costs, including rental payments. 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.

These measures support Public Health England recommendation that people should stay in their current home unless absolutely necessary.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 27 April 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Leasehold: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will take steps to ensure that leaseholders are consistently able to access invoices and receipts as set out in Section 21 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
A
Answered by: Christopher Pincher
Answered on: 04 May 2020

The Government believes very strongly that service charges should be transparent and communicated effectively to leaseholders, and that there should be a clear route to challenge or redress if things go wrong.

Under Section 21 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 a leaseholder has the right to request a summary of the service charge account. Obligations to comply with this legislation have not changed. In these unprecedented times we encourage leaseholders, landlords and managing agents to take a pragmatic, common-sense approach to non-urgent issues which are affected by Covid-19 related restrictions.

Leaseholders having difficulties in obtaining information from their landlord or managing agent may benefit from seeking free initial advice via the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE), the specialist advisory body funded by the Department to provide assistance to leaseholders. Further information on leasehold matters can be provided through the website (https://www.lease-advice.org/), via a telephone appointment with one of LEASE’s advisers (020 7832 2500) or by email (info@lease-advice.org).

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 24 April 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Hospitals: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care how many student nurses are being used to work on wards caring for patients with covid-19; to what extent hours worked on those wards by student nurses will count towards their required placement hours; and if those student nurses are being recompensed for hours worked beyond their placement requirements.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 01 May 2020

As of 23 April 2020, 21,287 second and third year student nurses opted to work in the National Health Service during the COVID-19 emergency. These students are starting to be deployed and Health Education England will start to report on the number from the beginning of May 2020.

The hours that students who opt to work on the wards during the emergency period will count towards the required number of placements hours, these students will receive a salary and have automatic NHS pension entitlement at the appropriate band.

Alongside receiving a salary these students will continue to receive their student maintenance loan and NHS Learning Support Fund payments.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 24 April 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Local Broadcasting: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will increase the Community Radio Fund for 2020-21 to provide additional support to community radio stations experiencing financial hardship as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Mr John Whittingdale
Answered on: 01 May 2020

The government is strongly supportive of the community radio sector and recognises the great value that it offers to communities across the United Kingdom, in terms of providing quality local news, information and entertainment.

The government has today announced that the £400,000 Community Radio Fund administered by Ofcom will be used to provide a lifeline for radio stations hit hardest by the coronavirus. Relevant stations will be invited to bid for emergency grants through Ofcom to help meet their core costs.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 29 April 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Temporary Accommodation: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether he has had discussions with the Home Secretary on ensuring that there is funding for emergency accommodation during the covid-19 outbreak for people with no recourse to public funds; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Luke Hall
Answered on: 11 May 2020

On 2 May, the Government announced an unprecedented £76 million package of support to ensure the most vulnerable in society get the support they need during the pandemic.

A change to the rules will also mean that those fleeing domestic abuse and facing homelessness as a result will be automatically considered as priority by their council for housing – ensuring more survivors of domestic abuse have access to a safe home.

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.

The Secretary of State regularly engages with colleagues across Whitehall, including his counterpart at the Home Office.

Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 27 April 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Health Services: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the Government has made an assessment of the potential merits of testing all healthcare workers and GPs for covid-19 even if they are not displaying symptoms.
Q
(Bristol West)
Asked on: 27 April 2020
Cabinet Office
Local Broadcasting: Public Health England
Commons
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of ring-fencing advertising slots bought by Public Health England for use on community radio and for non-profit local TV broadcasters.
A
Answered by: Chloe Smith
Answered on: 11 May 2020

Further to the answers given to PQs 37724 and 37725 on 27 April 2020, in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Government has developed a national campaign to provide information, guidance and reassurance to the public.

The campaign spans owned, earned and paid-for channels, including local radio and TV, to maximise reach and engagement. We are constantly reviewing our use of each of these channels and amending campaign activity accordingly to ensure our messaging reaches as many people as possible.

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