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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UIN

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
(Wirral 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: 04 December 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Department for Work and Pensions: Training
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has contracts with external companies to train Departmental staff delivering the Universal Credit programme.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 10 December 2018

The department does not have contracts with external companies to train staff who are delivering Universal Credit.

Work Coaches and other staff delivering Universal Credit undergo comprehensive training designed to equip them with the tools, skills and behaviours required to provide a high quality service to all claimants. Specific training and guidance is provided for working with different vulnerable groups and those with complex needs.

Q
(Wirral 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: 04 December 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Department for Work and Pensions: Telephone Services
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has contracts with external companies to provide call centre staff to advise social security claimants who contact DWP helplines.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 10 December 2018

The department has several contracts with external companies to answer calls from social security claimants across a range of DWP helplines.

Details as follows:

Supplier

Contract

Brief Description

Serco

PIP

For customers wishing to make a claim for PIP

UC

For customers requiring an appointment for their UC claim

Warm Home Discount

For Pension Credit customers requiring help with fuel bills

Package B

  • Carers Allowance – for customers wanting a claim pack
  • DLA/AA – for customers wanting a claim pack
  • National Benefit Fraud Helpline – taking details from citizens wanting to report suspected fraud activity
  • NINO appointments - making an appointment for NINO applicants
  • Jobcentre Enquiry Line – for customers wishing to contact a Jobcentre

Support for Mortgage Interest

For customers requiring an Informed Discussion about help with mortgage interest

G4S

CMG Options

For separating parents requiring advice about maintenance options

Package A

  • Pension Credit claims – for customers wishing to claim Pension Credit
  • Pension Credit Enquiries – for customers enquiring about their Pension Credit claim
  • State Pension Enquiries – for customers enquiring about their State Pension claim
  • Winter Fuel Enquiry Line – for customers enquiring about Winter Fuel payments
  • Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) New Claims – for customers wishing to claim JSA
  • Jobseekers Allowance Online (JSAOL) – appointment booking for customers applying for JSA online

Teleperformance

Pension Wise

First point of contact for customers requiring a Pension Wise appointment

Q
(Wirral 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: 21 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit: Telephone Services
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average waiting time is for a person calling the universal credit helpline to be connected to an agent.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 28 November 2018
Holding answer received on 26 November 2018

Universal Credit is a 24 hour, seven day a week digital service that allows claimants to check their Universal Credit benefit payments, notify us of changes and record notes via an online journal facility. We also see claimants regularly face-to-face in jobcentres and they can contact us via the telephone outside of these appointments. In addition, this summer we introduced a new approach where established claimants who call the Universal Credit helpline are connected directly to the person or team who are dealing with the case.

The average waiting time for a person calling the Universal Credit Full Service helpline in the month of October 2018 was 3 minutes and 58 seconds.

Our Average Speed of Answer (ASA) measure is the average customer wait time from the point of entering a queue to connection to an agent. This excludes any time spent in pre-queue messaging and any wait time for calls ultimately abandoned by callers prior to answer.

Notes:

Data Source: BT - OPMIS and Historical Management Information (GI2 – HMI)

Outsourced partner data is included.

The data supplied is derived from unpublished management information, which was collected for internal Departmental use only and has not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard. The data should therefore be treated with caution.

Q
(Wirral 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: 21 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the maximum proportion of universal credit which can be deducted for claimant rent arrears will change as a result of Budget 2018.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 26 November 2018

Although Autumn Budget 2018 announced a reduction (applying from October 2019) in the overall maximum rate of deductions from Universal Credit from 40% to 30%, the maximum proportion of Universal Credit which can be deducted for claimant rent arrears has not changed and remains between 10 and 20 per cent.

Q
(Wirral 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: 21 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in what circumstances the repayment of an advance can be deducted from a claimant's universal credit in addition to the maximum proportion that can be deducted for other debts.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 26 November 2018

There are no circumstances in which the repayment of an advance can be taken in excess of 40% of a claimant’s Universal Credit standard allowance.*

From October 2019, we will reduce the maximum rate at which deductions can be made from a Universal Credit award from 40% to 30% of the standard allowance. This will ensure that those on Universal Credit are supported to repay debts in a more sustainable and manageable way. From October 2021, we will also increase the period over which advances will be recovered, from 12 to 16 months.

* The addition of a subsequent deduction such as for rent, gas or electricity arrears may take the overall level of deductions to over 40% in a small number of cases. In these circumstances the advance repayments do not themselves take the claimant over the threshold, rather the additional deductions are made to protect claimant welfare by preventing disconnection or eviction.

Q
(Wirral 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: 21 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what proportion of new claimants for universal credit received (a) their initial payment in full and on time and (b) part of their initial payment on time in each month from 31 December 2017 to the most recent month for which figures are available.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 26 November 2018

This information was published on 13 November 2018 as a Universal Credit official statistics release. It is available via the link below.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/universal-credit-29-april-2013-to-11-october-2018

In many cases where full payment is not made on time, it is due to unresolved issues such as: claimants not accepting their Claimant Commitment or passing identity checks, or having outstanding verification issues, such as housing costs and self-employed earnings.

Q
(Wirral 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: 21 November 2018
Ministry of Justice
HM Courts and Tribunals Service: Telephone Services
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the average waiting time is for someone who telephones HM Courts and Tribunal Service to contact the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) service.
A
Answered by: Lucy Frazer
Answered on: 26 November 2018

We have increased the number of staff at the contact centre to meet the increasing workload, with new employees fully trained by November.

The current average wait time for someone who telephones HM Courts and Tribunals Service to contact the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) service is nine minutes and sixteen seconds (an average for the month of November 2018 to date)

Q
(Wirral 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: 13 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when the Government plans to publish its internal review of universal support.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 20 November 2018
Holding answer received on 19 November 2018

The Work and Pensions Select Committee recently published its report on Universal Support. As part of this it recommends that the Department sets out the conclusions of its internal review and we will respond to the Committee’s recommendations in due course.

Q
(Wirral 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: 13 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the proportion of new claims for universal credit that were paid in full and on time which contain the (a) standard allowance only, (b) carer element, (c) child element, (d) childcare element, (e) disabled child element, (f) housing element and (g) limited capability for work element.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 19 November 2018

We are currently assessing this data and will release information once the necessary quality assurance work has taken place. These statistics will be published in accordance with the relevant protocols in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Grouped Questions: 190905
Q
(Wirral 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: 13 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the proportion of claims for universal credit that received a portion of the initial payment on time which contain the (a) the standard allowance, (b) carer element, (c) child element, (d) childcare element, (e) disabled child element, (f) housing element and (g) limited capability for work element.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 19 November 2018

We are currently assessing this data and will release information once the necessary quality assurance work has taken place. These statistics will be published in accordance with the relevant protocols in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Grouped Questions: 190903
Q
(Wirral 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: 13 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of new claimants of universal credit (a) requested and (b) received a new claim advance in each month from 31 December 2017 to the most recent month for which figures are available.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 19 November 2018

Around 60% of eligible new claims received an advance in October 2018. Subject to some fluctuation, this has been broadly consistent for every month for which the data has been requested.

Q
(Wirral 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: 13 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average monthly deduction to universal credit to repay debt was in the most recent year for which data is available.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 19 November 2018

The information is not readily available. This is because we cannot readily separate out debt from the total for deductions in Universal Credit. As a result, to provide this data would incur disproportionate cost.

Q
(Wirral 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: 31 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit: Self-employed
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference paragraph 5.38 on page 78 of the Budget 2018 Red Book, what estimate she has made of the effect on the public purse of the delay until April 2020 of the reduction of the level of earnings to be disregarded under the surplus earnings rule from £2,500 to £300.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 07 November 2018
Holding answer received on 05 November 2018

The estimated government spend on the planned reduction of the surplus earnings de minimis from £2500 to £300 in April 2019 to April 2020 is provided in the table below:

Welfare (£m)

2018- 19

2019-20

2020-21

2021-22

2022-23

2023-24

Total

Delay to surplus earnings

0

-100

0

0

0

0

-100

Note: Figures are rounded to the nearest £5 million. A negative value indicates spend.

Q
(Wirral 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: 31 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to page 78 of the Red Book and page 11 of the policy costings for Budget 2018, what the schedule is for the start and end of (a) the pilot for the managed migration of people claiming legacy claimants to universal credit and (b) the managed migration as a whole.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 05 November 2018

We have carefully considered the plan for migrating claimants to Universal Credit from their existing legacy benefits; reflecting on feedback from stakeholders, we have extended the testing period and moved back the start date to ensure we have the time necessary to get this right.

Managed migration will commence in July 2019 during which up to 10,000 claimants will be migrated as part of the testing phase. This gradual and steady approach will allow us to ensure that the process works for everyone. We expect the test phase to run for a year.

We will begin to migrate claimants at scale later in 2020, completing the process in December 2023.

Q
(Wirral 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: 31 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, at what level work allowances are planned to be set at from April 2019 as a result of the change to work allowances announced in Budget 2018 for (a) lone parents (i) with and (ii) without housing costs, (b) couples with children (A) with and (B) without housing costs, (c) single people without children (1) with and (2) without housing costs, (d) couples without children people (i) with and (ii) without housing costs and (e) people with limited capability for work (A) with and (B) without housing costs.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 05 November 2018

Currently, if a single claimant (or either claimant in a couple) has responsibility for a child or qualifying young person, or has limited capability for work, they will receive a work allowance of £198 per month for those with housing costs and £409 per month for those without housing costs.

As announced at the Autumn Budget 2018 we will put an extra £1.7bn a year into work allowances, increasing them by £1,000 a year, resulting in 2.4m families keeping substantially more of their earnings before the earnings taper applies.

The proposed benefit and pension rates for 2019/20 including the new Universal Credit work allowance rates will be announced to Parliament via a written ministerial statement later this month and will be subject to Parliamentary approval.

Q
(Wirral 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: 31 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the number of claimants of legacy benefits who will migrate to universal credit without transitional protection.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 05 November 2018

Around 2 million households will be moved onto Universal Credit as part of the managed migration process.

900,000 families will receive transitional protection to ensure their benefit allowance remains the same at the point of transition. The other claimants who are migrated onto Universal Credit as part of managed migration will receive the same or an increased entitlement allowance as they receive on legacy benefits.

Transitional protection is dependent on the managed migration regulations receiving parliamentary approval when they come before Parliament this autumn.

Q
(Wirral 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: 31 October 2018
Treasury
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to line 15 of table 2.1 on page 36 of the Budget 2018 Red Book, for what reasons he estimates that the revised implementation schedule for universal credit will result in increased revenue for the Exchequer between 2020-21 and 2023-24.
A
Answered by: Elizabeth Truss
Answered on: 05 November 2018

The explanation for the costing associated with the revised Universal Credit implementation schedule is set out on page 11 of the Budget 2018 Policy Costings document.

Q
(Wirral 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: 06 June 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Support for Mortgage Interest
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what guidance her Department has issued to Serco on the number of times it should contact by phone a claimant of Support for Mortgage Interest on the offer of a loan after an unsuccessful initial attempt to contact that claimant.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 11 June 2018

The Department’s contract with Serco requires that Serco make a total of five calls over a two week period to a claimant who has been referred to them to be provided with information on support for mortgage interest loans. Where none of these contacts results in an informed discussion with the claimant Serco write to the claimant advising they contact DWP and refer the case back to DWP. DWP then write to the claimant to confirm their phone number and availability for an informed discussion. The case is then referred back to Serco for five further Informed Discussion attempts.

Q
(Wirral 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: 06 June 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Support for Mortgage Interest
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the timeframe is for her Department to terminate a claim for Support for Mortgage Interest in cases where Serco has been unsuccessful in contacting a claimant by phone about the offer of a loan.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 11 June 2018

Where Serco has been unsuccessful in contacting a Support for Mortgage interest benefit recipient they will write to the claimant advising they contact DWP and return the case to DWP. DWP will then write to the claimant to confirm their phone number and availability for informed discussion, they will issue a reminder if required. The claimant can continue to receive SMI as a benefit for up to 10 weeks following the date the loan offer is made or from when DWP write to them requesting information, to give them time to decide whether to accept the offer and for the loan payments to be put in place.

Where an existing claimant lacks mental capacity to make decisions about entering into the loan agreement, the regulations enable SMI benefit to continue until an appropriate person is appointed to act on the claimant’s behalf.

Q
(Wirral 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: 06 June 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit: Disqualification
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether there is a time limit within which a sanction must be applied under universal credit after a claimant has failed to comply with a condition of their claim.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 11 June 2018

Legislation does not specify a time limit within which a sanction should be considered; however, administrative law principles require decisions to be made and applied within a reasonable period of time. The time taken to make the decision will depend on the volume and complexity of cases. The Department aims to make sanctions decisions as soon as possible in cases where claimants may not have complied with a condition of their claim.

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