Written questions and answers

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

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2017-19 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 21 March 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what information her Department holds on the proportion of (a) employment and support allowance, (b) jobseeker's allowance and (c) universal credit claimants who have (i) accepted and (ii) not accepted that her Department has taken into account their personal circumstances when deciding upon the claimant commitments which apply to their claim.
Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 05 March 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment and Support Allowance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 30 May 2018 to Question 146988 on the revised wording of the ESA65B letters sent to employment support allowance claimants’ GPs, on what date the meeting took place at which the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners agreed to that revised wording.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 13 March 2019

The British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners agreed to the revised wording of the ESA65B on 4 August 2016.

The Department is committed to ensuring all of its communications are clear, accurate and understandable and we continuously improve our letters. We engage regularly with the welfare benefits advice sector and disability charities and take into account all of the feedback we receive.

We have received comments from a number of sources including MPs, stakeholder organisations and GPs on the current version of the ESA65B letter and will take all of their feedback into account when revising it.

Grouped Questions: 228790
Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 05 March 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment and Support Allowance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if her Department will consult the welfare benefits advice sector and disability charities on the wording of the ESA65B letter to claimants’ GPs after a Work Capability Assessment that finds them fit for work.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 13 March 2019

The British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners agreed to the revised wording of the ESA65B on 4 August 2016.

The Department is committed to ensuring all of its communications are clear, accurate and understandable and we continuously improve our letters. We engage regularly with the welfare benefits advice sector and disability charities and take into account all of the feedback we receive.

We have received comments from a number of sources including MPs, stakeholder organisations and GPs on the current version of the ESA65B letter and will take all of their feedback into account when revising it.

Grouped Questions: 228789
Q
(Kensington)
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, how many recipients of universal credit are self-employed.
A
Answered by: Alok Sharma
Answered on: 27 November 2018

We plan to publish statistics on Universal Credit and self-employment, including claimant numbers, in the future. This data is currently going through quality assurance clearance procedures in line with the National Statistics and Official Statistics publication standard.

Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 19 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Local Housing Allowance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether local housing allowance rates for tenants in the private rented sector will be set at the 30th percentile of local market rents at the end of the freeze of those rates in March 2020.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 26 November 2018

We are currently considering plans for Local Housing Allowance rates beyond March 2020.

Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 19 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Local Housing Allowance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has made an estimate of the cost to the public purse of reducing the age limit for the Shared Accommodation rate of Local Housing Allowance from 35 to 30 years old; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 26 November 2018

No such estimate has been made. The shared accommodation rate applies to those individuals aged under 35, who are single, living on their own and renting privately, with exemptions for certain vulnerable groups.

Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 19 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment and Support Allowance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 17 October 2018, to Question 176689 on Employment Support Allowance, what written evidence her Department holds on the British Medical Association and Royal College of General Practitioners agreement to the revised wording of the ESA65B letters sent to claimants’ GPs when they fail the work capability assessment.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 26 November 2018

There is no written evidence relating to the agreement obtained from the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners on the revised wording of the ESA65B letter.

In accordance with the Answer of 30 May 2018 to Question 146987, agreement on the final wording of the ESA65B was obtained via the regular meetings DWP holds with both organisations.

Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 19 November 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit: Housing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what representations she has received on the effect of the universal credit minimum income floor on the amount of housing element support self-employed claimants are entitled to compared with their housing benefit entitlement under the legacy benefit system.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 23 November 2018

The Minimum Income Floor (MIF) is applied to the total maximum Universal Credit entitlement. Consequently, the issue of how it affects the housing element does not arise.

Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 08 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment and Support Allowance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 3 July 2018 to Question 155402, if she will publish the written communication from the British Medical Association and Royal College of General Practitioners confirming that those organisations agreed to the revised wording of the ESA65B letters sent to claimants’ GPs when they fail the work capability assessment.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 17 October 2018

In accordance with the Answer of 3 July 2018 to Question 155402, the information is not available as there is no written minute of the meeting between officials from this Department and representatives from the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners on the revised wording of the ESA65B letter.

Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 08 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Social Security Benefits: Greater London
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of claimants affected by the Benefit Cap in each London borough are in receipt of (a) Job Seekers Allowance, (b) Employment Support Allowance, (c) Income Support, and (d) Universal Credit and (e) another benefit.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 16 October 2018

The number of households in each London borough that had their Housing Benefit capped in May 2018 in receipt of (a) Job Seekers Allowance, (b) Employment Support Allowance, (c) Income Support

London Borough

Total number of households that had their Housing Benefit capped

Number of households in receipt of:

a) Jobseeker's Allowance

b) Employment and Support Allowance (Work-Related Activity Group and awaiting assessment)

c) Income Support

Barking and Dagenham

323

62

32

167

Barnet

764

200

140

234

Bexley

221

26

24

129

Brent

1,200

420

205

309

Bromley

206

25

15

133

Camden

449

146

101

121

City of London

7

0

0

0

Croydon

300

36

26

180

Ealing

1,100

330

122

408

Enfield

968

133

139

500

Greenwich

287

43

22

180

Hackney

966

300

166

305

Hammersmith and Fulham

235

56

34

108

Haringey

631

111

108

276

Harrow

286

54

22

125

Havering

217

31

17

117

Hillingdon

365

66

34

195

Hounslow

183

22

8

97

Islington

355

109

50

148

Kensington and Chelsea

328

66

78

106

Kingston upon Thames

165

46

31

64

Lambeth

457

67

58

250

Lewisham

476

74

72

282

Merton

140

34

11

63

Newham

711

165

87

290

Redbridge

259

47

34

117

Richmond upon Thames

141

21

25

69

Southwark

301

22

36

189

Sutton

62

8

6

34

Tower Hamlets

608

145

68

283

Waltham Forest

415

90

38

203

Wandsworth

507

138

79

191

Westminster

477

129

109

125

The total number of households that have their Housing Benefit capped have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. This is consistent with published statistics. More information on this can be found in Stat-Xplore, DWP’s online interactive tabulation tool. Stat-Xplore can be accessed here: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

In the breakdowns by benefit figures less than 5 have been removed to avoid the release of confidential data.

The proportion of households in each London borough that had their Housing Benefit capped in May 2018 in receipt of (a) Job Seekers Allowance, (b) Employment Support Allowance, (c) Income Support

London Borough

Proportion of households in receipt of Housing Benefit that were in receipt of:

a) Jobseeker's Allowance

b) Employment and Support Allowance (Work-Related Activity Group and awaiting assessment)

c) Income Support

Barking and Dagenham

19%

10%

52%

Barnet

26%

18%

31%

Bexley

12%

11%

58%

Brent

35%

17%

26%

Bromley

12%

7%

65%

Camden

33%

22%

27%

City of London

0%

0%

0%

Croydon

12%

9%

60%

Ealing

30%

11%

37%

Enfield

14%

14%

52%

Greenwich

15%

8%

63%

Hackney

31%

17%

32%

Hammersmith and Fulham

24%

14%

46%

Haringey

18%

17%

44%

Harrow

19%

8%

44%

Havering

14%

8%

54%

Hillingdon

18%

9%

53%

Hounslow

12%

4%

53%

Islington

31%

14%

42%

Kensington and Chelsea

20%

24%

32%

Kingston upon Thames

28%

19%

39%

Lambeth

15%

13%

55%

Lewisham

16%

15%

59%

Merton

24%

8%

45%

Newham

23%

12%

41%

Redbridge

18%

13%

45%

Richmond upon Thames

15%

18%

49%

Southwark

7%

12%

63%

Sutton

13%

10%

55%

Tower Hamlets

24%

11%

47%

Waltham Forest

22%

9%

49%

Wandsworth

27%

16%

38%

Westminster

27%

23%

26%

The number of households in each London borough that had their Universal Credit capped in May 2018 in receipt of (d) Universal Credit

London Borough

d) Universal Credit

Barking and Dagenham

10

Barnet

20

Bexley

0

Brent

30

Bromley

0

Camden

10

City of London

0

Croydon

530

Ealing

110

Enfield

130

Greenwich

0

Hackney

10

Hammersmith and Fulham

310

Haringey

0

Harrow

0

Havering

0

Hillingdon

20

Hounslow

410

Islington

0

Kensington and Chelsea

160

Kingston upon Thames

10

Lambeth

70

Lewisham

50

Merton

70

Newham

0

Redbridge

0

Richmond upon Thames

30

Southwark

250

Sutton

130

Tower Hamlets

320

Waltham Forest

0

Wandsworth

70

Westminster

20

Figures for the number of households that had their Universal Credit capped have been rounded to the nearest 10 and figures less than 5 have been removed to avoid the release of confidential data. This is consistent with published statistics.

All households that had their Universal Credit capped in May 2018 were in receipt of Universal Credit.

(e) All households that had their Housing Benefit capped in May 2018 were in receipt of Housing Benefit.

Figures for households that had Housing Benefit capped are presented separately to those that had their Universal Credit capped in line with the Benefit Cap official statistics.

Figures for the total number of households that had their Housing Benefit capped are consistent with published figures on Stat Xplore.

Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 19 June 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment and Support Allowance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, on what date the Government’s Legal Service cleared the revised wording of the ESA65B letters to claimants’ doctors prior to the Cabinet Secretary’s decision to issue a Ministerial Requirement.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 03 July 2018

DWP’s Legal Service cleared the revised wording on 29 July 2016 and the then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions subsequently authorised the changes.

Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 19 June 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment and Support Allowance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 30 May 2018 to Question 146987 on Employment and Support Allowance, who attened the meetings between officials in his Department and the (a) British Medical Association and (b) Royal College of General Practitioners on the revised wording of the ESA65B; and if she will place in the Library a copy of the minutes of those meetings.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 03 July 2018

The names of the participants representing the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners who attended the meetings referred to constitute their personal data and in accordance with data protection principles, they will not be disclosed without informed consent. DWP officials did not take minutes of these meetings.

Q
(Kensington)
[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 May 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment and Support Allowance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant the Answer of 16 May 2018 to Question 142517, whether the change in wording to the ESA65B letter to claimants’ doctors was authorised by the Cabinet Secretary at the request of the then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 06 June 2018
Holding answer received on 04 June 2018

Officials from this Department engaged with the Cabinet Office on the development of new wording of the ESA65B letter, but changes were authorised by the then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, who has responsibility.

Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 22 May 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment and Support Allowance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 21 March 2018 to Question 132729, how the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners were engaged with on the wording of the ESA65B letters by officials of her Department; and if she will place copies of related written responses in the Library of the House.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 30 May 2018

Officials from this Department engaged with the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners on the development of the revised ESA65B letter via regular meetings that DWP holds with both organisations, during which their agreement on the final wording was obtained.

No other external stakeholders were consulted on the development of the revised ESA65B letter.

Grouped Questions: 146988
Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 22 May 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment and Support Allowance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether any external bodies apart from the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners were engaged by her Department to determine whether the adequacy of the revised wording of the ESA65B letter to welfare claimants’ GPs.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 30 May 2018

Officials from this Department engaged with the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners on the development of the revised ESA65B letter via regular meetings that DWP holds with both organisations, during which their agreement on the final wording was obtained.

No other external stakeholders were consulted on the development of the revised ESA65B letter.

Grouped Questions: 146987
Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 09 May 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment and Support Allowance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 21 March 2018 to Question 132726 on employment and support allowance, on what date the Cabinet Secretary issued the ministerial requirement that the wording of the ESA65B letters be revised.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 16 May 2018

The Cabinet Secretary first issued the requirement to revise the ESA65B letter in November 2014.

The wording of the ESA65B was changed to emphasise the benefits of work and to ask GPs to encourage their patients in their efforts to return to some form of work.

The wording of the revised version includes the following link to guidance for GPs on issuing fit notes: www.gov.uk/government/publications/fit-note-guidance-for-gps.

This includes a link to detailed guidance on the benefits system for GPs available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-short-guide-to-the-benefit-system-for-general-practitioners which includes guidance on when a claimant is appealing and where their condition worsens or they develop a new condition.

Claimants can be paid Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) whilst appealing a decision, the rate of which is equivalent to that of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). In order for someone to be paid ESA pending an appeal they need to provide the Department with fit notes in order to be treated as having Limited Capability for Work until the appeal is determined. However, this doesn’t apply where the claimant fails a second Work Capability Assessment. Where this is the case then ESA will not be paid pending the appeal and the claimant would need to claim JSA or Universal Credit (UC) (depending on where they lived).

If a claimant’s GP does not provide them with a fit note during the appeal period they cannot be paid ESA but are able to claim JSA or UC where eligible.

Grouped Questions: 142518 | 142519
Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 09 May 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment and Support Allowance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 21 March 2018 to Question 132726 on employment and support allowance, for what reasons the revised ESA65B letter no longer notifies doctors that they should continue to provide fit notes for claimants if they are appealing a decision or their condition worsens.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 16 May 2018

The Cabinet Secretary first issued the requirement to revise the ESA65B letter in November 2014.

The wording of the ESA65B was changed to emphasise the benefits of work and to ask GPs to encourage their patients in their efforts to return to some form of work.

The wording of the revised version includes the following link to guidance for GPs on issuing fit notes: www.gov.uk/government/publications/fit-note-guidance-for-gps.

This includes a link to detailed guidance on the benefits system for GPs available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-short-guide-to-the-benefit-system-for-general-practitioners which includes guidance on when a claimant is appealing and where their condition worsens or they develop a new condition.

Claimants can be paid Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) whilst appealing a decision, the rate of which is equivalent to that of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). In order for someone to be paid ESA pending an appeal they need to provide the Department with fit notes in order to be treated as having Limited Capability for Work until the appeal is determined. However, this doesn’t apply where the claimant fails a second Work Capability Assessment. Where this is the case then ESA will not be paid pending the appeal and the claimant would need to claim JSA or Universal Credit (UC) (depending on where they lived).

If a claimant’s GP does not provide them with a fit note during the appeal period they cannot be paid ESA but are able to claim JSA or UC where eligible.

Grouped Questions: 142517 | 142519
Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 09 May 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment and Support Allowance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 21 March 2018 to Question 132726 on employment and support allowance, if she will clarify whether an appellant will lose their entitlement to that allowance pending appeal if the appellant's GP stops signing fit notes.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 16 May 2018

The Cabinet Secretary first issued the requirement to revise the ESA65B letter in November 2014.

The wording of the ESA65B was changed to emphasise the benefits of work and to ask GPs to encourage their patients in their efforts to return to some form of work.

The wording of the revised version includes the following link to guidance for GPs on issuing fit notes: www.gov.uk/government/publications/fit-note-guidance-for-gps.

This includes a link to detailed guidance on the benefits system for GPs available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-short-guide-to-the-benefit-system-for-general-practitioners which includes guidance on when a claimant is appealing and where their condition worsens or they develop a new condition.

Claimants can be paid Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) whilst appealing a decision, the rate of which is equivalent to that of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). In order for someone to be paid ESA pending an appeal they need to provide the Department with fit notes in order to be treated as having Limited Capability for Work until the appeal is determined. However, this doesn’t apply where the claimant fails a second Work Capability Assessment. Where this is the case then ESA will not be paid pending the appeal and the claimant would need to claim JSA or Universal Credit (UC) (depending on where they lived).

If a claimant’s GP does not provide them with a fit note during the appeal period they cannot be paid ESA but are able to claim JSA or UC where eligible.

Grouped Questions: 142517 | 142518
Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 14 March 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment and Support Allowance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 14 February 2018 to Question 127010, on employment and support allowance, how many ESA65B letters her Department has sent to doctors.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 21 March 2018

The ESA65B letter is issued to GPs in every case where an Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimant has been found ‘fit for work’. This process was built into the IT system as part of the introduction of ESA in October 2008.

Following a Ministerial requirement by the Cabinet Secretary, which was endorsed by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the content of the ESA65B letter has been improved in order to explain to GPs the type of support customers can expect to receive from their local Jobcentre, and to ask GPs to encourage customers in their efforts to return to work. As part of this work officials engaged with the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners to ensure that the revised wording was fit for purpose.

The Department does not hold information on the number of ESA65B letters sent to GPs.

I will place a copy of the ESA65B in the House Library.

Grouped Questions: 132727 | 132729
Q
(Kensington)
Asked on: 14 March 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Employment and Support Allowance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 14 February 2018 to Question 127010, on employment and support allowance, when her Department started sending ESA65B letters to GPs; and whether that policy was authorised by Ministers.
A
Answered by: Sarah Newton
Answered on: 21 March 2018

The ESA65B letter is issued to GPs in every case where an Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimant has been found ‘fit for work’. This process was built into the IT system as part of the introduction of ESA in October 2008.

Following a Ministerial requirement by the Cabinet Secretary, which was endorsed by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the content of the ESA65B letter has been improved in order to explain to GPs the type of support customers can expect to receive from their local Jobcentre, and to ask GPs to encourage customers in their efforts to return to work. As part of this work officials engaged with the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners to ensure that the revised wording was fit for purpose.

The Department does not hold information on the number of ESA65B letters sent to GPs.

I will place a copy of the ESA65B in the House Library.

Grouped Questions: 132726 | 132729
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