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 on: 09 October 2018
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Public Houses: Non-domestic Rates
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the business rates pub relief scheme on the viability of community pubs in England; and what has been the cost of the scheme to date.
Answered on: 22 October 2018

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has not made an assessment of the impact of the business rates pub relief scheme on the viability of community pubs in England. The Ministry will publish data on the amount of relief granted under the pubs relief scheme for 2017/18 as part of its scheduled Nation Non-Domestic Rates (NNDR) statistical release due in November.

Q
Asked on: 09 October 2018
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Shops: Non-domestic Rates
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of recent increases in business rates on the sustainability of local high street bookshops in England.
Answered on: 22 October 2018

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has not made an assessment of the impact of the revaluation on bookshops. The Government has introduced a range of business rates reforms and measures to support businesses, including bookshops, worth over £10 billion by 2023.

This includes, from April 2017, permanently doubling Small Business Rate Relief and raising the threshold for relief meaning that over 600,000 small businesses now pay no business rates at all, and helping all business by switching the measure of inflation, used for the indexation of rates, from Retail Price Index to Consumer Price Index.

Q
Asked on: 01 November 2017
Department for Education
Digital Technology: Adult Education
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they support UNESCO’s work in discovering what kind of literacy skills people need to navigate a digitally-mediated society; and what actions they plan to take in the UK to explore and fund effective adult literacy policies and programmes which leverage the opportunities that the digital world provides.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 15 November 2017

We welcome the work that UNESCO is doing on digital literacy to highlight some of the challenges and opportunities that the digital world presents.

The Government supports adults in England to develop the basic English and digital expertise they need for employment and everyday life. We provide funding for adults to access a range of literacy training up to English GCSE and equivalent qualifications, and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses.

Provisional Further Education and Skills data shows that in 2016/17 the Government funded the participation of 536,700 adults in English courses and 114,400 adults in ESOL courses. We are also introducing a similar right to funding for specified Information and Communication Technology courses.

Q
Asked on: 01 November 2017
Department for Education
Digital Technology: Adult Education
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of how many adults in the UK lack basic digital skills, and of that number, how many are functionally illiterate; and what plans they have to ensure that such people do not end up marginalised.
A
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 15 November 2017

The Skills for Life Survey in 2011, assessed the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills of adults aged 16-64 in England using four competencies: word processing; emailing; spreadsheets; and a multiple-choice assessment of other ICT skills such as internet use (see table attached). The survey results demonstrated a broad correlation between the respondents’ performance in the ICT and in the literacy tests.

The Government is supporting adults in England to develop their basic digital skills for the workplace and in everyday life. We are introducing a new entitlement to fully-funded training in digital skills, which will mirror the current approach for improving literacy and numeracy.

The Department also funds the Future Digital Inclusion programme that aims to help one million adults gain basic digital skills by 2019. A majority of these adults are educated below Level 2, unemployed, in a low-income household, in receipt of means-tested benefits, or living in social or sheltered housing.

HL2819 attachment (PDF Document, 28.51 KB)
Q
Asked on: 17 October 2017
Department for Communities and Local Government
Non-domestic Rates
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much of the four-year £435 million package of support for business ratepayers following the 2017 business rate revaluation has been spent; and how much has been used to support bookshops.
Answered on: 30 October 2017

Billing authorities are responsible for rebilling eligible businesses due to receive support as part of the £435 million package of funding announced by the Chancellor at the Budget. The Department for Communities and Local Government will be collecting data on the amount spent by billing authorities during the financial year 2017/18 at the end of that period as part of the normal process of reconciling local authority relief payments. On 13 October, the Government published a list of authorities that indicated that they had begun to rebill businesses on each of the three schemes. This list will be updated (attached)regularly, at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-relief-schemes-2017-rebilling-progress

Rebilling progress (PDF Document, 227.07 KB)
Q
Asked on: 17 October 2017
Department for Communities and Local Government
Non-domestic Rates
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many bookshops have lost small business rate relief or rural rate relief as a result of the 2017 business rate revaluation; and, beyond the scheme to cap the annual bill increase for any ratepayer losing these reliefs, what plans they have to protect small bookshops from closure.
Answered on: 30 October 2017

DCLG does not hold data specifically on the impact of the revaluation on bookshops. However, the Government has taken action to support small business; it put in place a £3.6 billion package of transitional relief and permanently doubled small business rate relief meaning 600,000 small businesses will pay no business rates at all. The Government also doubled the level of rural rate relief from 50 per cent to 100 per cent for eligible businesses

In addition, at the Spring Budget the Government announced a £110 million of support to help ratepayers losing small business rates relief and rural rate relief – this will ensure increases in their bills this year capped at £600. It also included a £300 million discretionary relief fund for local authorities to design their own schemes. Subject to meeting the criteria for local discretionary schemes, bookshops may be eligible for support from this fund.

Q
Asked on: 17 October 2017
Department for Communities and Local Government
Non-domestic Rates
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to provide guidance on the use of the £300 million fund for local authorities to distribute to help businesses facing higher business rate bills; and, if so, whether this guidance will cover support for bookshops.
Answered on: 30 October 2017

The Government will not be providing guidance on the use of the £300 million fund. Under the terms of the £300 million discretionary fund, billing authorities are responsible for designing the criteria of their local schemes and these criteria may include bookshops.

Q
Asked on: 17 October 2017
Department for Communities and Local Government
Non-domestic Rates
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to extend the scheme providing a £1,000 discount to pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000; and, if so, whether this plan will cover bookshops.
Answered on: 26 October 2017

The Government currently has no plans to extend the pubs' relief scheme. However, the Government has taken action to support small business. It put in place a £3.6 billion package of transitional relief and permanently doubled small business rate relief meaning 600,000 small businesses will pay no business rates at all.

In addition, at the Spring Budget the Government announced £110 million support to help ratepayers losing small business rates relief and rural rate relief – this will ensure increases in their bills this year are capped at £600.

It also included a £300 million discretionary relief fund for local authorities to design their own schemes. Subject to meeting the criteria for local discretionary schemes, bookshops may also be eligible for support from this fund.

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