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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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
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 03 December 2018
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Local Government Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, further to the Written Statement of 29 November 2018, Official Report HCWS1126 on Grenfell update, how much money has been allocated to local authorities for remediation; what discussions he has had with the Local Government Association on the issue; and what legal powers local authorities have to recover costs.
A
Answered by: Kit Malthouse
Answered on: 11 December 2018

My Department has so far allocated £248 million to remediate 135 high-rise (over 18 metres) social sector residential buildings with unsafe Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding systems owned by housing associations and local authorities. We have committed to meeting these costs fully and we will still accept applications from social sector building owners who require funding.

The Local Government Association is a member of the ministerially-chaired taskforce which oversees the remediation of private sector buildings with unsafe ACM cladding systems, which includes establishing a joint inspection team to support local authorities in ensuring and, where necessary, enforcing remediation of private sector high-rise residential buildings with unsafe ACM cladding systems.

The Housing Act 2004 allows local authorities to take enforcement action on buildings which have not yet completed remediation and to recover reasonably incurred expenses, with interest. If local authorities need to take emergency remedial action but are unable to fund this work up front, we will consider requests for funding which would be repaid once the local authorities recover the costs from the building owner.

Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 29 November 2018
Department for Education
Voluntary Schools
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, under what circumstances the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) will be the statutory decision maker for proposals to establish a new voluntary-aided schools, and whether the OSA has the ability to override a decision made by a local authority.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 06 December 2018

In line with the existing legislation, there are two situations in which the Schools Adjudicator would decide whether to approve a voluntary-aided school proposal.

The first situation is if the local authority has rejected a proposal. In this situation, the proposer can appeal to the Schools Adjudicator. The Schools Adjudicator will then make a fresh decision which will override the decision made by the local authority.

The second situation is if a local authority has failed to make a decision within two months of the end of the representation period, which is a stage in the statutory process. In this situation, the local authority must refer the proposal to the Schools Adjudicator to be decided.

Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 29 November 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Air Pollution: Children
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to (a) commence and (b) allocate funding to schemes to reduce children's exposure to air pollution; and how much funding will be allocated to each project.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 05 December 2018

The Government has put in place a £3.5 billion plan to improve air quality and reduce harmful emissions, which includes £495 million for councils to improve air quality. We have consulted on our new world leading Clean Air Strategy, which includes new and ambitious goals, legislation, investment and policies which will help us to clean up our air faster and more effectively.These measures will improve air quality for people of all ages, including children.

Defra’s Air Quality Grant Programme provides funding to local authorities for projects in local communities to tackle air pollution and reduce emissions affecting schools, businesses and residents. Local authorities have a duty to monitor and assess air quality and to take action to reduce pollution where these breach statutory limits, and are best placed to determine local priorities.

The 2018/2019 scheme is underway and Defra will award at least £3 million to English local authorities that have one or more Air Quality Management Areas.

Whilst all measures which reduce air pollution will reduce children’s exposure to these harmful pollutants, some projects have elements that are specifically targeted at children. For example:

    • In 2016-17, the London Borough of Islington were awarded £50,000 to run a local school focused awareness and engagement campaign through the air quality grant.

    • In 2017/18, Spelthorne Borough Council were given £145,188 to run an awareness campaign in schools across Surrey.

Details of further funding from the Air Quality Grant Programme, including funding specifically directed at children can be found on the Air Quality Grant Programme webpage here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/air-quality-grant-programme.

Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 31 October 2018
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Fireworks: Packaging
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals after the UK has left the EU on graphic warnings on firework packaging on the health dangers from the misuse of pyrotechnics.
A
Answered by: Kelly Tolhurst
Answered on: 19 November 2018

The Government promotes the safe and responsible use of fireworks by consumers and there is strict legislation in place which regulates their supply and use. The Government is currently working with a range of stakeholders to raise consumer awareness on firework safety.

Under current UK legislation, there are clear requirements on manufacturers to categorise and label fireworks according to their explosive content, safety distances, noise level, or similar. The label must include instructions on safety distances and means of ignition and safety messages.

Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 09 November 2018
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Air Pollution: Children
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what funding his Department has allocated to projects to reduce children’s exposure to air pollution.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 14 November 2018

Defra provides funds to Local Authorities via the air quality grant fund for projects in local communities to tackle air pollution and reduce emissions affecting schools, businesses and residents. For example, in 2016/17, the London Borough of Islington were awarded £50,000 to run a local school focussed awareness and engagement campaign through the air quality grant, and in 2017/18, Spelthorne Borough Council were given £145,188 to run an awareness campaign in schools across Surrey.

Local Authorities have a duty to monitor and assess air quality and to take action to reduce pollution where these breach statutory limits, and are best placed to determine local priorities. Their local knowledge and interaction with the communities that they serve mean that they know the issues on the ground in detail and the solutions that are best suited to local circumstances.

Defra awarded a total of £2.4 million to local authorities from the 2017/18 air quality grant fund; £3.7 million was awarded to local authorities in 2016/17, and £0.5 million in 2015/6. £3 million has been allocated for 2018/19.

The Government has also put in place a £3.5 billion plan to improve air quality and reduce harmful emissions, which includes £255 million for councils to improve air quality and a dedicated Clean Air Fund of £220 million for those local areas with the biggest air quality challenges. We have consulted on our new world leading Clean Air Strategy, which includes new and ambitious goals, legislation, investment and policies which will help us to clean up our air faster and more effectively.

Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 08 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Social Security Benefits
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people affected by the lower benefit cap in May 2018 were also affected by the cap in February 2017.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 16 October 2018

The Lower Benefit Cap was introduced on 7th November, 2016. There were 27,000 households who had their Housing Benefit capped in both February 2017 and May 2018. 1,000 households had their Universal Credit capped in both February 2017 and May 2018.

Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 08 October 2018
Department for Work and Pensions
Social Security Benefits
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people no longer affected by the lower benefit cap became exempt because they became in receipt of (a) employment and support allowance (support group), (b) personal independent payments and (c) another exempting benefit.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 16 October 2018

The breakdown of information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

The total number of households that no longer had their Housing Benefit capped at May 2018 because they became exempt as they were in receipt of an exempt benefit is published here: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk.

Guidance for users is available at: https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html.

Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 08 October 2018
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Electrical Safety: Older People
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing free electrical safety checks for vulnerable older people.
A
Answered by: Mrs Heather Wheeler
Answered on: 16 October 2018

The Government has recently announced that it will introduce new requirements for landlords to conduct electrical safety checks in the private rented sector to help ensure the safety of all their tenants, including older people. In the Social Housing Green Paper we are consulting on whether new safety measures in the private rented sector should also apply to social housing, as well as whether there are any changes needed to the definition of what constitutes a Decent Home.

Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 08 October 2018
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Owner Occupation: Electrical Safety
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what help is available to people living in the owner-occupied housing sector who have electrically unsafe properties but are unable to afford essential remedial work.
A
Answered by: Mrs Heather Wheeler
Answered on: 16 October 2018

The Department does not run any schemes to provide financial support for electrical safety remedial work in the owner occupied sector.

Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 08 October 2018
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Private Rented Housing: Electrical Safety
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent progress his Department has made on introducing mandatory electrical safety checks in the private rented sector; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Mrs Heather Wheeler
Answered on: 15 October 2018

The Government is committed to offering greater protection to tenants and ensuring that people are living in safe and good quality properties.

The majority of landlords already take the safety of their tenants seriously. Landlords have their electrical installations checked regularly to identify and eliminate possible hazards unseen by the tenant. Existing legislation already requires landlords to keep electrical installations in their property in repair and proper working order and it is currently best practice for landlords to organise periodic inspection and testing and to provide a report to the tenant.

On 19 July 2018, we announced that we will introduce a mandatory requirement on landlords in the private rented sector to ensure electrical installations in their property are inspected every five years. We are working to bring these regulations into force as soon as possible, subject to parliamentary approval and timetable.

Grouped Questions: 175884
Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 08 October 2018
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Private Rented Housing: Electrical Safety
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of preventing landlords from letting properties that are electrically unsafe.
A
Answered by: Mrs Heather Wheeler
Answered on: 15 October 2018

The Government is committed to offering greater protection to tenants and ensuring that people are living in safe and good quality properties.

The majority of landlords already take the safety of their tenants seriously. Landlords have their electrical installations checked regularly to identify and eliminate possible hazards unseen by the tenant. Existing legislation already requires landlords to keep electrical installations in their property in repair and proper working order and it is currently best practice for landlords to organise periodic inspection and testing and to provide a report to the tenant.

On 19 July 2018, we announced that we will introduce a mandatory requirement on landlords in the private rented sector to ensure electrical installations in their property are inspected every five years. We are working to bring these regulations into force as soon as possible, subject to parliamentary approval and timetable.

Grouped Questions: 175881
Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 11 September 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Hearing Aids
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many people have been supplied with NHS-funded hearing aids in each clinical commissioning group area in each of the last five years for which figures are available.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 17 September 2018

The information requested on the number of people supplied with National Health Services-funded hearing aids is not collated centrally.

The requested information for spend on audiology services by each clinical commissioning group (CCG) is not collected centrally.

Data on national spend is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is shown in the following table.

Total spend on audiology services in £ million

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

Admitted Patient Care

25.8

124.5

161.8

163.5

152.5

Outpatient Attendances

21.2

30.8

24.2

32.0

36.5

Community Health Services

208.5

172.9

193.5

201.0

196.2

Total

255.5

328.2

379.5

396.5

385.2

Source: https://improvement.nhs.uk/resources/reference-costs/

The information requested on projected spend on audiology services is not collected centrally.

CCGs are responsible for commissioning audiology services. The Commissioning Services for People with Hearing Loss framework will help CCGs to deliver on their responsibility to commission high quality, responsive hearing services by establishing what good commissioning looks like.

Grouped Questions: 173502 | 173503
Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 11 September 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Audiology
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much was spent on audiology services (a) nationally and (b) by each clinical commissioning group in each of the last five years for which figures are available.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 17 September 2018

The information requested on the number of people supplied with National Health Services-funded hearing aids is not collated centrally.

The requested information for spend on audiology services by each clinical commissioning group (CCG) is not collected centrally.

Data on national spend is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is shown in the following table.

Total spend on audiology services in £ million

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

Admitted Patient Care

25.8

124.5

161.8

163.5

152.5

Outpatient Attendances

21.2

30.8

24.2

32.0

36.5

Community Health Services

208.5

172.9

193.5

201.0

196.2

Total

255.5

328.2

379.5

396.5

385.2

Source: https://improvement.nhs.uk/resources/reference-costs/

The information requested on projected spend on audiology services is not collected centrally.

CCGs are responsible for commissioning audiology services. The Commissioning Services for People with Hearing Loss framework will help CCGs to deliver on their responsibility to commission high quality, responsive hearing services by establishing what good commissioning looks like.

Grouped Questions: 173501 | 173503
Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 11 September 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Audiology
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the projected spend on audiology services is (a) this year and (b) next year, broken down (i) nationally and (ii) by clinical commissioning group.
A
Answered by: Caroline Dinenage
Answered on: 17 September 2018

The information requested on the number of people supplied with National Health Services-funded hearing aids is not collated centrally.

The requested information for spend on audiology services by each clinical commissioning group (CCG) is not collected centrally.

Data on national spend is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is shown in the following table.

Total spend on audiology services in £ million

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

Admitted Patient Care

25.8

124.5

161.8

163.5

152.5

Outpatient Attendances

21.2

30.8

24.2

32.0

36.5

Community Health Services

208.5

172.9

193.5

201.0

196.2

Total

255.5

328.2

379.5

396.5

385.2

Source: https://improvement.nhs.uk/resources/reference-costs/

The information requested on projected spend on audiology services is not collected centrally.

CCGs are responsible for commissioning audiology services. The Commissioning Services for People with Hearing Loss framework will help CCGs to deliver on their responsibility to commission high quality, responsive hearing services by establishing what good commissioning looks like.

Grouped Questions: 173501 | 173502
Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 06 September 2018
Department for Transport
Cycling: Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the merits of increasing his Department's funding to Bikeability.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 14 September 2018

The Bikeability programme is an important part of the Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, because it provides the next generation of cyclists with the skills and confidence to make cycling a natural choice for shorter journeys.

The Strategy included a commitment that the Department would invest £50 million to support Bikeability over the period to 2020, and the programme is currently delivering more than 300,000 training places per year to children in England outside London. The Government also announced in August that it would provide an additional £1m of funding for Bikeability as part of a suite of new measures aimed at halving childhood obesity by 2030.

A further £1 million has been raised through a commercial partnership between Halfords and The Bikeability Trust. Additional funding has also been allocated to a new pilot scheme to develop a cycle training package for driving instructors aimed at improving empathy and understanding between road users. Funding and delivery of Bikeability in London is devolved to Transport for London and the London boroughs.

Future funding for Bikeability will be considered during the next Spending Review. The Department for Transport is currently evaluating the benefits of the programme with more than 200 schools nationwide, and expects to be in a position to publish the findings in summer 2019.

Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
[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: 03 September 2018
Department for Transport
Driving: Licensing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of introducing penalty points on drivers' licences for not wearing seat belts.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 06 September 2018

The Government has made no assessment of the potential merits of introducing penalty points on drivers' licences for not wearing seat belts. The “Seat belt and mobile phone use surveys: England and Scotland, 2014” observed that 98.2% of car drivers were using seat belts, suggesting that take-up is nearly universal.

Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 06 July 2018
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Housing: Ombudsman
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, pursuant to his answer of 9 January 2018 to Question 119694 on Housing: Ombudsman, if he will ask the Housing Ombudsman Service to make a statement on the (a) reasons why it did not meet its target that the average time taken to reach a final determination on complaints submitted in 2017-18 should be six months and (b) steps being taken to achieve this target in 2018/19.
A
Answered by: Mrs Heather Wheeler
Answered on: 16 July 2018

The average case time for determining complaints by the Housing Ombudsman service was reduced from a nine month average in 2016-17, to eight months at the end of 2017-18. The Housing Ombudsman reports on determination times in its published Annual Report, which noted difficulty in recruitment and retention of temporary case workers impacting on this delivery. The Housing Ombudsman aims to reduce determination times further and is committed to achieving the six-month target in 2018-19. The steps it is taking to achieve this are set out in the Business Plan 2018-19 published and available on their website: https://www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Business-plan-2018-19.pdf

Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 06 July 2018
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Housing Ombudsman Service: Staff
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how many FTE staff were employed by the Housing Ombudsman Service in each of the last four years; and how many such FTE staff were employed as (a) caseworkers, (b) adjudicators and (c) review managers in each of those years.
A
Answered by: Mrs Heather Wheeler
Answered on: 16 July 2018

As reported in the Housing Ombudsman’s Annual report and Accounts, the average annual FTE employed by Housing Ombudsman Service in the last four years is as follows:

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

2017-18

51

54

61

68.2

As at 31 March, the number of staff employed as a) Dispute Resolution Advisors, b) Adjudicators and c) Dispute Resolution Managers is as follows:

FTE Caseworkers in post

31/3/15

31/3/16

31/3/17

31/3/18

Adjudicators

12.2

17.2

20

24.5

Dispute Resolution Advisor

17.6

18

16.8

12.2

Dispute Resolution Manager

4

2

3.9

6

Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 06 July 2018
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Housing Ombudsman Service: Staff
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, on what date controls on the headcount at the Housing Ombudsman Service were imposed; and who authorised that decision.
A
Answered by: Mrs Heather Wheeler
Answered on: 16 July 2018

There are currently no controls on the headcount at the Housing Ombudsman. In 2010 controls were put in place on the headcount in line with MHCLG’s spending controls. These controls were approved by the Secretary of State at the time. In April 2017 the headcount controls were removed in line with the Department’s commitment to a collaborative partnership with its arm’s-length bodies, although the Housing Ombudsman is still expected to manage within its delegated pay budgets.

Q
(Poplar and Limehouse)
Asked on: 06 July 2018
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Housing: Ombudsman
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, for what reasons a permanent Housing Ombudsman is not currently being recruited.
A
Answered by: Mrs Heather Wheeler
Answered on: 16 July 2018

The recruitment is being reconsidered in view of the increasing importance of the Housing Ombudsman and we will be advertising the role in due course. Interim arrangements are in place to ensure the continued delivery of the Housing Ombudsman Service.

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