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
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
Asked on: 25 July 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Welfare Assistance Schemes: Yorkshire and the Humber
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, which local authorities in (a) Yorkshire and (b) Humberside have local welfare assistance schemes in place.
A
Answered by: Will Quince
Answered on: 05 September 2019

We do not hold information on delivery of local welfare assistance schemes.

The reforms to the Social Fund in 2013 allowed local authorities in England and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales to deliver their own local provision for people who are in need of urgent help. We passed funding over to them (from April 2013) on a non ring-fenced basis with no statutory duties or monitoring requirements attached, giving maximum flexibility to deliver services as they see fit according to local needs.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
Asked on: 02 September 2019
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 effect of reduced allowances for universal credit claimants who are under 25 years old on the financial wellbeing of those claimants.
A
Answered by: Will Quince
Answered on: 05 September 2019

The lower standard allowance rates for Universal Credit claimants who are under the age of 25 years reflects that they are more likely to live in someone else's household, have lower living costs, and have lower earnings expectations. It also reinforces the stronger work incentives that Universal Credit creates for this age group. Qualifying claimants can also receive separate elements to provide support for housing costs, children and childcare costs and support for disabled people and carers.

People claiming Universal Credit move into work faster, stay in work longer and spend more time looking to increase their earnings. It provides more financial help with childcare costs (eligible claimants are able to claim up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, compared to 70% on the legacy system), a dedicated Work Coach, and removes the 16-hour ‘cliff edge’ for those who are working.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 29 April 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Food Poverty: Children
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Food Foundation's Children’s Future Food Inquiry report published on 24 April 2019, what steps the Government is taking to support children who live in food insecure households.
A
Answered by: Will Quince
Answered on: 02 May 2019

This Government is committed to helping families into work, as the best route out of poverty. We are also supporting over 1 million children with free school meals, investing up to £26 million in school breakfast clubs, providing approximately 2.3 million children aged 4-6 with a portion of fresh fruit or vegetables each day at school, and, through the Healthy Start Programme, hundreds of thousands of low income families benefit from vouchers which can be redeemed against fruit, vegetables, milk and infant formula. In 2019/20, the government will be spending more than £95 billion a year on working-age benefits. The new set of food insecurity questions introduced into the existing Family Resources Survey from April will build a better understanding of household food needs, to help ensure we’re targeting support to those most in need.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

Asked on: 25 March 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Children: Maintenance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that arrears are not discarded without the permission of the parent to whom the arrears are owed when cases are migrated from the Child Support Agency to the Child Maintenance Service.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 02 April 2019

Under the Compliance and Arrears strategy we are writing to clients with CSA debt above certain thresholds to ask if they want us to try to collect their arrears. These thresholds provide a reasonable cut off point to ensure that we do not pursue cases at disproportionate cost to the taxpayer. They are: over £500 and the case is less than 10 years old, and over £1,000 and the case 10 years old or over.

If correspondence is returned as the client is not known at the address held, the Service will attempt to trace a current address in order to reissue the letter.

If a client confirms they want the Service to attempt collection, the case is checked to ensure the debt balance is accurate before arrears are transferred from the CSA IT system to the CMS one.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

Asked on: 25 March 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Social Security Benefits: Medical Examinations
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to ensure the use of previous tribunal decisions in the event of (a) new assessments or (b) re-assessments.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 02 April 2019

Where an award which is based on a tribunal’s decision is being reviewed, that decision is considered as evidence alongside any new evidence, for example a HCP report and the claimant’s own evidence. Its relevance and the weight given to it by a decision maker will depend on the date of the decision and whether the claimant’s circumstances have changed in the meantime.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 14 January 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Occupational Pensions Scheme Review
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the Government has plans to respond to the report entitled, Review of Survivor Benefits in Occupational Pension Schemes, published in June 2014.
A
Answered by: Guy Opperman
Answered on: 17 January 2019

The landscape of survivor benefits has changed significantly since the publication of the Review, not least because of the Walker judgement. Government will respond to the Review of Survivor Benefits in Occupational Pension Schemes when the assessment of the full implications of the judgement is complete.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 27 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Personal Independence Payment: Postural Tachycardia Syndrome
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of claimants of personal independence payment with Postural Tachyacardia Syndrome (a) did not receive an award after their first assessment and (b) received an award at tribunal.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 03 December 2018

In relation to part (a), statistics on Personal Independence Payment (PIP) first assessment outcomes at disability level are not readily available and have not previously been published as Official Statistics. We are producing the statistics requested and issuing them in an Official Statistics release on 11th December 2018 in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

In relation to part (b), since PIP was introduced, 40 people with a primary disabling condition of tachycardia who were disallowed PIP after their initial assessment went on to receive an award at tribunal. The figures in (b) have been rounded to the nearest 10.

Overall, since PIP was introduced 3.5m decisions have been made up to June 2018, of these 9% have been appealed and 4% have been overturned.

Appeals, data is based on primary disabling condition as recorded on the PIP computer systems. Claimants may often have multiple disabling conditions upon which the decision is based but only the primary condition is shown in these statistics. The lowest level of detail available in this data allows us to identify claimants with a primary disabling condition of tachycardia, but not Postural Tachycardia Syndrome.

The appeals may include decisions which are changed at mandatory reconsideration, and where the claimant continues to appeal for a higher PIP award, are then changed again at tribunal appeal.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 19 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit: Self-employed
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that the calculation of universal credit for self-employed people (a) accurately reflects (i) the amount that they allocate to expenses to maintain their business and (ii) their take-home earnings and (b) leaves those people in a better financial position as a result of being in work.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 22 November 2018

Claimants with earnings from self-employment are required to report them to DWP on a monthly basis. These earnings are reported on a simplified 'cash accounting' basis, which asks for the total income from receipts into the business and details of payments out of the business under defined categories during the assessment period. We assess net earnings after deducting business expenses. The requirements were designed to be as simple as possible in order for self-employed claimants to easily report their earnings and monthly reporting allows Universal Credit to be adjusted on a monthly basis.

Where claimants are in the 12-month grace period or are gainfully self-employed and earning above the Minimum Income Floor (MIF), the single taper rate acts to ensure that they are better off working and earning more under Universal Credit, removing the cliff edges from the old legacy benefits system.

We announced at Autumn Budget 2018 that all new gainfully self-employed claimants can, from September 2020, access a 12-month exemption period from the MIF. This change will assist all gainfully self-employed claimants to grow their earnings, prepare and adjust for the application of the MIF. In 2022/23 it will allow 130,000 self-employed people the space to grow a successful business when moving on to Universal Credit.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 14 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Zero Hours Contracts: Young People
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to her Department's press release entitled Youth unemployment down 50% since 2010, published on gov.uk on 16 October 2018, what proportion of recorded employment was under a zero-hours contract.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 20 November 2018
Holding answer received on 19 November 2018

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) use the Labour Force Survey (LFS) to provide estimates for the number of people employed on zero hours’ contracts.

The ONS figures for people in employment on zero hours’ contracts broken down by age, do not go back to 2010 and are only currently available up to April-June 2018. Therefore no directly comparable figures to the youth unemployment statistics cited are available.

The majority of young people are not employed on zero hours’ contracts. In 2018 (Apr-Jun) there were 261,000 16-24 year olds on a zero hours’ contracts – representing only 6.9% of employed 16-24 year olds.

This is down from 299,000 young people (7.8% of employed young people) in 2017 (Apr-Jun), but a slight increase from the first comparable data available, which shows in 2014 (Apr-Jun) there were 235,000 young people on a zero hours’ contract (or 6.3% of employed young people).

Many people in full-time education are employed on zero hours’ contracts, in part because of the flexibility they provide. 18.5% of all people in 2018 (Apr-Jun) on zero hours’ contracts were in full-time education – compared to 2.3% of people not on a zero hours’ contract.

The ONS data shows that the majority of people on zero hours’ contracts are happy with the hours provided by their zero hours’ contract.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 02 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reason the taper that is applied to wages is not applied to pensions in relation to universal credit.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 12 November 2018

The taper is the rate at which Universal Credit is reduced to take account of earnings. It is specifically for in work claimants and linked to earnings to incentivise work, and those in work to earn more. Universal Credit has a single taper of 63 per cent so payments reduce in a transparent and predictable way as earnings increase. Universal Credit is a means tested benefit, and income other than earnings, such as pensions, is taken fully into account in the assessment of Universal Credit. This is consistent with how legacy means tested benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support treat pension income. Therefore it would not be consistent to extend the earnings taper to pensions income and doing so would also undermine the incentives to work for people of working age.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 25 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what criteria her Department uses to determine the repayment rates for Advance Payments awarded to people struggling financially who are in receipt of universal credit.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 30 October 2018

Universal Credit advances must be repaid in either a maximum of 12 months (for new claim, benefit transfer and budgeting advances) or 6 months (for a change of circumstances advances). The amount of the advance awarded is divided by either up to 6 or 12 to get the appropriate monthly repayment rate.

This is explained in the advance award discussion with the claimant to make sure they can afford to repay the advance. However, if a claimant wishes, they can pay it back in less than the maximum number of months available, as long as the monthly repayment does not exceed the maximum repayment rate of a claimant’s standard allowance, which as a result of the 2018 Autumn Budget will be reduced from 40% to 30%.

If during the recovery of an advance the claimant experiences an unforeseen expense that would cause them or their family genuine hardship if they were required to continue to repay the advance, then they can be offered a deferral period of the repayment of the advance of up to 3 months for a new claim, benefit transfer or change of circumstance advance and up to 6 months for a budgeting advance.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 25 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Work Capability Assessment: Mental Illness
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department have any plans to amend the qualifying criteria for the home work capability assessment for people suffering from mental health concerns.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 30 October 2018

Work is ongoing with the Work Capability Assessment provider to fully review their process for dealing with requests for a home visit. This review will consider all aspects of the process, including how claimants requiring a home visit can be identified more effectively at the beginning of the process, the ease with which a claimant can request a visit, and how we can make more efficient use of existing evidence to support the decision on whether a home visit is required.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 25 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Work Capability Assessment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many work capability assessments were conducted at home for people suffering from (a) mental illnesses and (b) physical illnesses in (i) Barnsley, (ii) South Yorkshire and (iii) England in each year for which information is available.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 30 October 2018

Information is not held by mental or physical illness, nor is it broken down by specific location. To obtain this information would involve disproportionate costs.

From May 2015 to September 2018 there have been 18,599 Home Visits for Work Capability Assessments conducted throughout England.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 24 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Children: Maintenance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will publish the results of the arrears segmentation trial run by the Child Maintenance Group between April 2013 and April 2014; and what assessment she has made of how the results of that trial have informed her Department's approach to collecting child maintenance arrears.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 29 October 2018

Since 2010, The Child Maintenance Service has not undertaken an arrears segmentation trial.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 24 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit: Mental Illness
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants of universal credit with a diagnosis of anxiety (a) did not receive an award after their initial assessment and (b) received an award after tribunal.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 29 October 2018

This information is not readily available and can only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

There is some information on Universal Credit appeals and overturn rates in the Tribunals and Gender Recognition Statistics published by the Ministry of Justice, however this does not include segmentation by nature of diagnosis.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 24 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Personal Independence Payment: Epilepsy
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 19 July 2018 to Question 162165 on Personal Independence Payment: Epilepsy, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that initial assessments are accurate.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 29 October 2018

We are committed to ensuring claimants receive high quality, accurate assessments and monitor assessment quality through independent audit. DWP Decision Makers can return reports to Assessment Providers for rework/additional advice if they feel that the information within a report does not fully justify the recommendation given. A range of measures, including provider improvement plans, address performance falling below expected standards, and DWP are closely monitoring and auditing assessments to ensure quality and consistency.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 24 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Department for Work and Pensions: Mental Illness
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what training managers of her Department receive to support their employees with work-related anxiety; and what assessment she has made of the adequacy of that training.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 29 October 2018

The Department is committed to developing managers who are confident in supporting mental health and have a good understanding of DWP tools and services available.

The Department’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) provides a 24/7 manager support line. EAP workshops are available to all managers including ‘Managing stress and stress risk assessments’ and ‘Supporting mental wellbeing at work’. Service Level Agreements are in place to ensure workshops are effective.

‘Mental Health at Work’ learning also features in the Department’s recently launched Leadership and Management Fundamental Learning Journey (FLJ) which has been designed for all colleagues. The FLJ has been piloted to ensure its effectiveness.

The Department has committed to training an additional 500 Mental Health First Aiders in 2019-20 (a total of 700) to provide acute, short-term and structured support to individuals as well as reassurance and signposting to sources of support as appropriate.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 23 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Children: Maintenance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will publish the results of the reclassification of arrears trial run by the Child Maintenance Group; and what plans she has to change the processes used to collect Child Maintenance arrears as a result of that exercise.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 26 October 2018

The Child Maintenance Service has not undertaken any recent trials to reclassify arrears.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 22 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Poverty: Lone Parents
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the report by the Social Metrics Commission, A new measure of poverty in the UK, published in September 2018, what steps her Department is taking to support single parent families that live in poverty.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 25 October 2018

Work offers people the best opportunity to get out of poverty. Children of lone parent workless families are around 4 times more likely to be in poverty than those where their parent works full time. We are helping lone parents with the biggest challenges they face. Universal Credit is a modern welfare system where work always pays. Since April 2016, the Universal Credit childcare element covers up to 85% of eligible costs, compared with 70% in the legacy tax credits system. Lone parents are also no longer incentivised to work just 16 hours, unlike the legacy system. National Statistics show there are 100k fewer children of lone parents in absolute poverty than 2010.

We welcome the work that the Social Metrics Commission has done. Measuring poverty is complex, and this report offers further insight into that complexity and the additional measures that can be taken into consideration. From discussions with SMC they acknowledge that further work needs to be done (particularly around data availability and quality). We will carefully consider their recommendations and the detail behind the methodology they have employed when this has been made available.

Q
Asked by Dan Jarvis
(Barnsley Central)
[R]
Close

Registered Interest

Indicates that a relevant interest has been declared.

[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: 22 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit: Depressive Illnesses
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people claimants of universal credit with a diagnosis of depression (a) not receive an award after their initial assessment and (b) received an award after tribunal.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 25 October 2018

This information is not readily available and can only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

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