Written questions and answers

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

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2019-21 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 09 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Dental Services: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what scientific evidence informed the decision to re-open primary care dental services on 8 June 2020.
A
Answered by: Jo Churchill
Answered on: 03 August 2020

Decisions on the timing of restarting routine services across the National Health Service were made by the NHS on an individual service basis based on overall NHS capacity as well as wider public health considerations. NHS England and NHS Improvement as the commissioner of primary care dental services made the decisions on when to restart practice based dental care outside urgent dental care centres.

NHS England and NHS Improvement announced on 28 May that dentists could start to provide NHS care from their practices from 8 June. The information sent to dentists was clear that the pace of the restart should be only as fast as possible compatible with maximizing safety for patients and dental staff. It drew together the current guidance from Public Health England on appropriate infection control procedures and personal protective equipment as it applies to dentistry.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 23 June 2020
Women and Equalities
Social Mobility
Commons
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, how her Department measures social mobility.
A
Answered by: Kemi Badenoch
Answered on: 30 July 2020

The Government looks at a wide basket of indicators to measure social mobility. Our principle measure for understanding the outcomes of children based on their socio-economic backgrounds is the disadvantage attainment gap, which captures the difference in test and exam performance between children who are eligible for Free School Meals and those who are not.

On top of this, the Government collects and publishes a range of data that allows us to understand how social mobility and disadvantage relate to educational and other outcomes. These include attainment in the Early Years and at age 19, participation and progression of disadvantaged pupils entering further and higher education, labour market outcomes for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and different indicators of disadvantage such as Care status and Special Educational Needs status. Our ground-breaking Longitudinal Education Outcomes dataset has linked education records with tax data to identify the long term labour market outcomes of individual education programmes.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 02 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Screening
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, who is eligible for antibody testing for covid-19; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Ms Nadine Dorries
Answered on: 29 July 2020

On 21 May the Government announced plans for a national roll-out of antibody testing in the National Health Service and care sector. Since the end of May, lab-based ELISA antibody tests have been available to all NHS staff that want one. For care staff, antibody testing will be rolled out in a phased way across regions in England. All NHS and care staff in England are being offered an antibody test, with patients and care residents eligible at their clinician’s request. Any expansion of this programme will be announced at the appropriate time.

The Government is also using antibody tests as part of several surveillance studies. We are conducting some of the biggest surveys in the world, using home-based swab testing kits and lab-based tests to find out what proportion of the population have already had the virus. These surveillance studies are designed to understand the current and future prevalence of infection in England.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 20 July 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Members: Correspondence
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, when he plans to respond the letter of 29 May 2020 from the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton on the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire.
A
Answered by: Christopher Pincher
Answered on: 24 July 2020

My response to the Hon Member's letter was issued by email on 15 July.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 06 July 2020
Women and Equalities
Ethnic Groups: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps she is taking to ensure BAME women are not disproportionately affected by the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Kemi Badenoch
Answered on: 22 July 2020

This Government is working to support all people through COVID-19, including BAME women. Guided by medical and scientific expertise, we have implemented specific measures to reduce the spread of the virus in all communities for everyone including women from BAME backgrounds.

This Government has taken unprecedented steps to support lives and livelihoods, including increasing the generosity of Universal Credit, introducing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, and made changes to ensure women do not miss out on parental leave and childcare support. We continue to engage with women’s charities both local and national, and have made available an additional £76 million announced in May, to support survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence, modern slavery, and vulnerable children and their families.

The Public Health England (PHE) report, “COVID-19: review of disparities in risks and outcomes”, published on 2 June 2020, looks at the COVID-19 mortality rates of different ethnic groups. I am now leading further work to build on this by analysing the key drivers of disparities in COVID-19 outcomes, the relationships between different risk factors, and what can be done to close the gap, for BAME men and women. This work is supported by the Race Disparity Unit in the Cabinet Office. The recommendations in the second PHE report “Beyond the data: Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups” published on 16 June are also being taken forward as part of the terms of reference announced by myself on 4 June.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 15 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Contact Tracing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department undertook a delivery model assessment to determine whether the private sector was best placed to operate test, track and trace services for covid-19.
A
Answered by: Ms Nadine Dorries
Answered on: 20 July 2020

A proportionate delivery model assessment was undertaken in the decision to outsource the services to the private sector. This assessment was influenced by the speed to recruit, volume of staff required and timescales in moving back to delivery business as usual public services. Discussions were held with various officials before the decision to outsource was made. It quickly became evident that the public sector could not stand 18,000 contact tracers within the required timescales. There was also a risk that as the country exited lockdown, public servants would need to return to business as usual which would not have been possible with 18,000 people released as contact tracers.

The contract to Serco was a direct award under Lot 2 of Crown Commercial Service’s Contact Centre Services framework. All suppliers on Lot 2 were engaged with, in order to ascertain capabilities to meet the contract output specifications.

Grouped Questions: 59603 | 59604 | 59605
Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 15 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Serco: Contact Tracing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions officials in his Department have had with (a) NHS officials and (b) local authorities leaders prior to deciding to outsource the operation of covid-19 contact tracing to Serco.
A
Answered by: Ms Nadine Dorries
Answered on: 20 July 2020

A proportionate delivery model assessment was undertaken in the decision to outsource the services to the private sector. This assessment was influenced by the speed to recruit, volume of staff required and timescales in moving back to delivery business as usual public services. Discussions were held with various officials before the decision to outsource was made. It quickly became evident that the public sector could not stand 18,000 contact tracers within the required timescales. There was also a risk that as the country exited lockdown, public servants would need to return to business as usual which would not have been possible with 18,000 people released as contact tracers.

The contract to Serco was a direct award under Lot 2 of Crown Commercial Service’s Contact Centre Services framework. All suppliers on Lot 2 were engaged with, in order to ascertain capabilities to meet the contract output specifications.

Grouped Questions: 59602 | 59604 | 59605
Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 15 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Serco: Contact Tracing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what procurement process his Department undertook prior to awarding the contract for operating covid-19 contact tracing services to Serco.
A
Answered by: Ms Nadine Dorries
Answered on: 20 July 2020

A proportionate delivery model assessment was undertaken in the decision to outsource the services to the private sector. This assessment was influenced by the speed to recruit, volume of staff required and timescales in moving back to delivery business as usual public services. Discussions were held with various officials before the decision to outsource was made. It quickly became evident that the public sector could not stand 18,000 contact tracers within the required timescales. There was also a risk that as the country exited lockdown, public servants would need to return to business as usual which would not have been possible with 18,000 people released as contact tracers.

The contract to Serco was a direct award under Lot 2 of Crown Commercial Service’s Contact Centre Services framework. All suppliers on Lot 2 were engaged with, in order to ascertain capabilities to meet the contract output specifications.

Grouped Questions: 59602 | 59603 | 59605
Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 15 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Serco: Contact Tracing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reasons the contract for operating covid-19 contact tracing services was awarded to Serco.
A
Answered by: Ms Nadine Dorries
Answered on: 20 July 2020

A proportionate delivery model assessment was undertaken in the decision to outsource the services to the private sector. This assessment was influenced by the speed to recruit, volume of staff required and timescales in moving back to delivery business as usual public services. Discussions were held with various officials before the decision to outsource was made. It quickly became evident that the public sector could not stand 18,000 contact tracers within the required timescales. There was also a risk that as the country exited lockdown, public servants would need to return to business as usual which would not have been possible with 18,000 people released as contact tracers.

The contract to Serco was a direct award under Lot 2 of Crown Commercial Service’s Contact Centre Services framework. All suppliers on Lot 2 were engaged with, in order to ascertain capabilities to meet the contract output specifications.

Grouped Questions: 59602 | 59603 | 59604
Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
[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 July 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
India: Human Rights
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 29 October 2019 to Question 7221 on Kashmir: telecommunications, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of his Department sponsoring the India Global 2020 Week conference as a result of recent human rights violations.
A
Answered by: Nigel Adams
Answered on: 20 July 2020
Holding answer received on 20 July 2020

The UK and India have a deep, mature and wide-ranging relationship. Our trade and investment partnership is thriving; we collaborate on defence and security and we have a shared commitment to tackling climate change. The Foreign Secretary was pleased to participate in India Global Week with many Ministerial colleagues to discuss a wide range of issues. We regard human rights as an important part of our broad relationship with India, and raise our concerns with the Government of India where we have them.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
[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 July 2020
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Kashmir: Politics and Government
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, with reference to his oral contribution of 30 June 2020, Official Report, column 149, what recent discussions he has had with his (a) Indian and (b) Pakistani counterparts on Kashmir in light of recent tensions in that region.
A
Answered by: Nigel Adams
Answered on: 20 July 2020
Holding answer received on 20 July 2020

We regularly discuss Kashmir with the Governments of India and Pakistan. Most recently, the Foreign Secretary discussed Kashmir with his Indian counterpart on 20 April, and the Minister for South Asia, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, discussed Kashmir with Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights on 15 July.

The longstanding position of the UK is that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution on Kashmir, taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people. We encourage both sides to engage in dialogue and find lasting, diplomatic solutions to maintain regional stability.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 20 July 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Commons
Whether his Department plans to provide financial support to (a) places of worship and (b) faith organisations to help them to reopen safely as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.
A
Answered by: Robert Jenrick
Answered on: 20 July 2020

I am very grateful to faith leaders across the country for the leadership they have shown on behalf of their communities during this crisis.

I am also grateful to the Places of Worship Taskforce, which met again last week, and which has been extremely productive. There are still issues we are working through together, including music for services and singing.

As of the 4th of July, places of worship were allowed to re-open with social distancing in place. Today they are able to hold services, or lead communal worship, and important events in the lives of their communities, such as weddings and funerals. Faith organisations have been able to apply for a range of Government-backed financial packages which support charities and businesses.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 15 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Shops
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish the SAGE advice that informed the decision to reopen shops in all regions on the 15 June 2020 during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 16 July 2020

As of 29 June the Government has released minutes and papers, discussed at the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and its sub-committees, up to SAGE 40 on 4 June. The release of documents will continue as soon as is reasonably practicable after each SAGE meeting throughout the COVID-19 emergency. The only scientific papers with any redactions will be ones where a national security or personal information issue exists, and these necessary redactions take time. These publications can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/scientific-advisory-group-for-emergencies-sage-coronavirus-covid-19-response

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 23 June 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Poverty: Children
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to tackle the number of BAME children living in poverty; and what success criteria her Department sets to measure outcomes on that matter.
A
Answered by: Will Quince
Answered on: 14 July 2020

This Government provides a strong welfare safety net, spending over £95 billion in the last financial year on working age welfare benefits. Total welfare spending in 2019/20 was £225bn.

Our current focus is on supporting people financially during these unprecedented times. Our long-term ambition remains to build an economy that supports employment, ensuring opportunities for all to enter and progress in work where possible.

We are committed to levelling up skills and opportunity across the country. Using data from the Race Disparity Audit, updated annually since October 2017, and DWP’s own analysis we are continuing to help those underrepresented in the labour market, for example we are investing £90m towards activities that address disparities in youth unemployment.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 06 July 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the effect on the finances of claimants of making advance payments of universal Credit grants instead of loans.
A
Answered by: Will Quince
Answered on: 14 July 2020

A new system of grants could not be implemented without significant reprioritisation of current measures: our focus remains firmly on ensuring that millions of new and existing claimants continue to receive their payments on time, and that we do everything possible to support people back into work where it is right to do so.

We introduced measures that could be quickly and effectively operationalised following the outbreak of COVID-19, supported by over £6.5bn of additional funding to the welfare system and which benefitted as many disadvantaged claimants as possible. This includes temporarily increasing the Universal Credit standard allowance by the equivalent of £20 per week – worth up to £1,040 this year. This is in addition to the 1.7% inflation increase as part of the Government’s decision to end the benefits freeze and means more financial support for millions of claimants across the country.

Universal Credit advances allow new claimants to request additional support during the first assessment period. Advances can be repaid over a year, allowing new claimants to receive 13 payments during that period instead of 12.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 06 July 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Statutory Sick Pay
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of increasing the rate of statutory sick pay.
A
Answered by: Justin Tomlinson
Answered on: 14 July 2020

This Government has a strong safety net that helps people who are facing hardship and are unable to support themselves financially. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) provides a minimum level of income for employees when they are off work sick. It is paid in full by employers who may also decide to pay more than the statutory minimum through Occupational Sick Pay. SSP is just part of our welfare safety net and our wider government offer to support people in times of need.

Where an individual’s income is reduced while off work sick and they require further financial support, they may be able to claim Universal Credit and new style Employment and Support Allowance, depending on their personal circumstances. Many of those on low incomes are already in receipt of benefits. For those on Universal Credit, their award will rise if their income falls.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 06 July 2020
Department for Work and Pensions
Local Housing Allowance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of increasing the local housing allowance to the 50th percentile.
A
Answered by: Will Quince
Answered on: 14 July 2020

There has been no such assessment.

We increased Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of local rents, providing additional financial support for private renters in response to calls from homelessness charities. This significant investment of almost £1 billion ensures over 1 million households will see an increase, on average, of £600 per year.

For renters whose circumstances mean they may require more support, Discretionary Housing Payments are also available. We have already provided £180m in Discretionary Housing Payment funding to local authorities to support vulnerable claimants with housing costs in the private and social rented sector in England and Wales for 2020/21. This includes an extra £40m announced at the spending round.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 06 July 2020
Home Office
Immigrants: Finance
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will make an assessment of the effect of the No Recourse to Public Funds condition on BAME women.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 14 July 2020

The Home Office has published its policy equality statement on the impact of the No Recourse to Public Fund (NRPF) policy on migrants on the 10-year human rights route. It can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-for-change-of-conditions-of-leave-to-allow-access-to-public-funds-if-your-circumstances-change.

The NRPF policy is based on the principle that migrants coming to the UK are expected to maintain and support themselves and their families without posing a burden on the UK’s welfare system. Access to benefits and other publicly funded services reflects the strength of a migrant’s connections to the UK and is normally linked to indefinite leave to remain.

People on the 10-year human rights route can apply to have the condition lifted. Other groups, such as refugees, are exempt from the condition.

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 19 June 2020
Department for Education
Teachers: Recruitment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many (a) BAME, (b) women, and (c) disabled teachers were recruited in each of the last 10 years.
A
Answered by: Nick Gibb
Answered on: 13 July 2020

The Department collects information on newly qualified teachers (NQTs) [1] entering the workforce annually through the School Workforce Census. For entrants to be counted they must be in the workforce as of the census day which falls in November each year. Teachers that are recruited but leave before the census day are not counted.

Table 1 shows the full-time equivalent (FTE) number of NQTs recruited since 2011 that identify as black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) or female.

School workforce data has only been collected since 2010, so only eight years of data has been provided.

BAME teachers include all ethnic groups apart from the White ethnic groups (White British, White Irish and White Other).

Reporting of disability status is relatively low in the School Workforce Census. Only 42 percent of entrant records in the November 2018 School Workforce Census provide their disability status. As such, figures have not been provided.

Note that the data provided is from an internal analytical database which has marginal differences to the total number of NQTs and Deferred NQTs in the official publication due to using an updated methodology.

Table 1: FTE NQT entrants over Census Years

Census Year

FTE Female NQT entrants

FTE BAME NQT entrants

FTE NQT Entrants

2011

18,267

2,054

24,889

2012

21,204

2,445

28,665

2013

21,007

2,485

28,140

2014

21,902

2,681

29,255

2015

22,020

2,841

29,499

2016

20,970

3,095

28,257

2017

19,483

2,915

26,272

2018

19,320

3,069

26,192

[1] Newly qualified teachers in this response include NQTs and Deferred NQTs (delayed NQT year by a year after qualified teacher status obtained).

Q
Asked by Afzal Khan
(Manchester, Gorton)
Asked on: 06 July 2020
Treasury
Child Benefit
Commons
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of increasing the value of child benefit.
A
Answered by: Steve Barclay
Answered on: 13 July 2020

Child Benefit rates were raised in line with inflation in April 2020.

This was alongside the government’s significant package of welfare support in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, which is estimated by the to be worth £8bn this year. This includes: an up-to £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element; a relaxation of earnings rules for self-employed Universal Credit claimants; and an increase in the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants to the 30th percentile of market rents.

Grouped Questions: 69673
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