Written statements

Government Ministers and a small number of other Members of the two Houses can make a written statement to one or both Houses.

Written statements are published below shortly after receipt in Parliament. They also reproduced in the next edition of the Daily Report and of Hansard in the relevant House.

Written statements made before 17 November 2014 were published only in Hansard:

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Written Statement Indentifying Number – Every written statement in the House of Commons and House of Lords has a WSID per parliamentary session.
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WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 21 February 2019
Made by: Sarah Newton (Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work)
Commons

Employment and Support Allowance

This Written Statement is a fifth update to the House on progress in reviewing and, where necessary, correcting past Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) underpayments and paying arrears following conversion from previous incapacity benefits.

Since my last update to the House in October 2018 we have made significant progress. Due to the complex nature of these cases they take considerably longer than the average ESA case to complete. To ensure we make rapid and accurate progress we have therefore increased the number of staff working on putting these cases right from around 400 to approximately 1,200. This additional resource has led to a substantial increase in the number of cases that we have reviewed, corrected and paid arrears where due.

We have made good progress and by 11 February had:

  • started 310,000 claimants on the reassessment journey;
  • paid arrears of over £328 million to 58,000 people; and,
  • completed action on 207,000 cases 1.

Based on the progress made since October we believe we are on track to complete work on the majority of the original 320,000 cases by April 2019 (Phase 1). Unfortunately, some cases where the claimant sadly died prior to the exercise starting, are taking a significant period of time to resolve due to difficulties in identifying the next of kin or executors. There are around 20,000 deceased cases included in Phase 1 that require review. While we continue to progress this work, we expect that the Department will need until the end of 2019 to complete these cases.

Following our announcement in July 2018 that we will review and pay cases back to the date they were converted from incapacity benefits to ESA, we are reviewing a further 250,000 cases (Phase 2), as set out in October. Activity in respect of this group is due to start shortly, and we aim to complete Phase 2 by the end of this year.

The cases included in this exercise were largely converted between 2011 and 2014. Revised operational guidance was put in place in October 2014 after individual cases that had been incorrectly converted came to light. As part of our commitment to correct all cases affected by this error, we decided to undertake additional testing of cases converted in 2015. This testing has shown that the error rate did not improve as quickly as expected and we therefore believe that it is prudent to review around a further 30,000 cases, that were converted from 2015 onwards. This reflects our commitment to ensure all those who may have been affected are identified and paid the arrears they are due.

The Department is publishing an updated ad hoc statistical publication today setting out further detail on the progress it has made in processing cases, including an updated estimate on forecast expenditure and the numbers affected. This will be published on Gov.uk.

These updated forecasts will feed into the Spring Statement 2019. The Department now estimates that around 600,000 cases require review and that by the end of the exercise around 210,000 arrears payments will have been made. The increase, compared to our previous estimate of 180,000, is based on assumptions made using evidence we have gathered from the checking exercise to date. The data shows an increase in the proportion of cases in error among some groups of claimants. In addition, based on sample testing we have also included an assumption of the proportion of errors likely to be identified in the further 30,000 cases that have been added to the exercise.

An updated Frequently Asked Question guide will also be deposited in the House library for further information.

1Some of these cases which were originally completed prior to our announcement in July 2018 that we will review and pay cases back to the date they were converted from incapacity benefits to ESA, will require further action.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1317
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 23 January 2019
Made by: Sarah Newton (Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work)
Commons

Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme Levy 2018-19

The Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (Levy) Regulations 2014 require active employers’ liability insurers to pay an annual levy, based on their relative market share, for the purpose of meeting the costs of the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS). This is in line with the insurance industry’s commitment to fund a scheme of last resort for sufferers of diffuse mesothelioma who have been unable to trace their employer or their employer’s insurer.

Today I can announce that the total amount of the levy to be charged for 2018-19, the fifth year of the DMPS, is £39.8 million. The amount will be payable by active insurers by the end of March 2019.

Individual active insurers will be notified in writing of their share of the levy, together with how the amount was calculated and the payment arrangements. Insurers should be aware that it is a legal requirement to pay the levy within the set timescales.

I am pleased that the DMPS has seen four successful years of operation, assisting many hundreds of sufferers of Diffuse Mesothelioma. The fourth Annual Report for the scheme was published on 29 November 2018 and is available on the gov.uk website. I hope that members of both Houses will welcome this announcement and give the DMPS their continued support.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1230
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 20 December 2018
Made by: Sarah Newton (Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work)
Commons

Personal Independence Payment

I would like to update the House on the improvements my Department is making in Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The guidance available to PIP Case Managers was updated in August 2018 to ensure those who are awarded the highest level of support whose needs are unlikely to improve or will deteriorate receive an ongoing award with a light touch review at the 10 year point. Following on from the introduction of that guidance in August, we have now commenced activity to review the claims of existing claimants on the top level of support to identify those individuals who, in light of the new guidance, should be receiving an ongoing award. This is still in the early stages and being dealt with in date order, prioritising claimants whose awards are coming up for an award review, but commencing this activity is a really important step to reducing the number of individuals having to undergo an unnecessary award review where their needs are only likely to deteriorate.

A copy of the guidance for Case Managers has been placed in the House of Commons Library and is available at: http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2018-1113/UIN_174062_-_Award_period_guidance_10.10.18.pdf

The light touch review process and guidance itself has not yet been developed, but we aim to do so well in advance of the first such reviews taking place. We intend to consult with stakeholders as part of that process.

My Written Statement of 25 June 2018 (HCWS793) informed the House that my Department had begun an exercise to identify anyone who may be entitled to more support under PIP as a result of the MH and RJ decisions of the Upper Tribunal. The MH decision broadened the interpretation about how symptoms of overwhelming psychological distress should be assessed for the purpose of mobility activity 1 in PIP. The RJ decision concerned how the Department considers a claimant to be carrying out an activity safely and whether they need supervision to do so. I committed to regularly updating the House of developments regarding this administrative exercise.

The Department has today published an ad hoc release of Management Information on the administrative exercise: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/dwp-ad-hoc-analyses#2018

As at 23 November 2018, 140,000 cases had been cleared, of which 1,000 had been paid arrears. The average payment made is approximately £4,500. We are monitoring the numbers of, and reasons for, revised awards closely and making regular quality checks in order to ensure that our decision making is accurate and fair.

Given the complexity of the exercise we have started at a relatively small scale to test our processes and ensure they are effective before ramping up. At the same time we have recruited over 250 additional staff to increase resources available for this exercise, with more to follow over the coming months.

In addition, we are redirecting resource from other areas of PIP. This means the administrative exercise will conclude in 2020. Some DLA to PIP reassessments that would have taken place in 2019/2020 will move to the following year. I believe that prioritising cases where claimants are entitled to arrears is the correct approach.

Further information on how the administrative exercise is being undertaken is set out in an updated Frequently Asked Questions. I will deposit a copy of this document in the Library.

Furthermore, I would like to inform the House that the Department implemented another Upper Tribunal decision on 17th December and will commence a review exercise in the New Year.

This exercise regards the decision in OM which was handed down on the 23rd November 2017. This decision refers to DLA claimants transferring to PIP, who failed to attend or participate in their PIP consultations, and who had their DLA terminated as a result, but where, subsequently, DWP Decision Makers or Tribunals have decided the claimant had a ‘good reason’ for not attending or participating. The decision states that in these instances claimants’ DLA awards should be reinstated, until a final decision on their PIP claim, and back paid, as necessary. We accept that the same approach applies where claimants who failed to provide information or evidence were later found to have ‘good reason’ for the failure to comply.

The Department has been working at pace and taking the necessary steps required to implement the ruling. We expect around 4,600 people to gain as a result of this review exercise, all claimants who benefit from the Upper Tribunal decision will be notified by the Department.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1192
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 17 October 2018
Made by: Sarah Newton (Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work)
Commons

Employment and Support Allowance

This Written Statement is a further update to the House on progress in correcting historic ESA underpayments and paying arrears.

The Department began work to assess cases in December 2017. For that stage of the exercise we expect to review around 320,000 cases, of which around 105,000 are likely to be due arrears. We now have a team of over 400 staff working through these cases and have paid around £120m in arrears. We expect to complete the vast majority of this part of the exercise by April 2019, and have to date completed all cases where an individual is terminally ill and responded to the review, thereby ensuring they receive due priority.

The announcement in July, to pay cases back to the point of conversion requires us to review an additional 250,000 cases, of which we estimate around 75,000 could be due arrears. We will undertake this work through the course of 2019. We now have a team of over 400 staff working through these cases, with a further 400 due to join the team through October and November, and will be assigning more staff to review the additional 250,000 cases. This will enable us to complete this important activity at pace.

The Department is publishing an ad hoc statistical publication today setting out further detail on the progress it has made in processing cases and revised estimates of the impacts of this exercise, including details of the number of claimants due arrears and the amounts likely to be paid. This will be published on Gov.uk.

There are currently around 2.3million working-age people on Employment and Support Allowance. In 2018/19 £54 billion will be been spent on benefits to support disabled people and people with health conditions this year which is over 6% of all Government spending and a record high.

A Frequently Asked Question guide will also be will be deposited in the House library for further information.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS985
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 06 September 2018
Made by: Sarah Newton (Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work.)
Commons

Disability Update

This Government’s vision for disabled people is to create a society that works for everyone, where all can participate fully, and be included. This vision aligns with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention), which protects and promotes the rights of disabled people.

In the UK everyone’s rights are protected, including the rights of disabled people. The Government is always making improvements that reflect the intent of the Convention. The UK has achieved a great deal and has been at the forefront of developments in equality and disability rights. But we are clear that more needs to be done. We are delivering improvements to ensure disabled people have the same opportunities for inclusion as people who are not disabled.

Our newly created Inter-Ministerial Group on Disability and Society will drive forward co-ordinated action across Government to jointly tackle barriers to disabled people’s full participation and inclusion in society, ensuring we drive through progress against the implementation of the Convention. And we are strengthening our engagement with disabled people through constructive dialogue and collaboration.

Today I will place a copy of the report and letter that we have submitted to the UN outlining the UK’s progress on protecting the rights of disabled people in a number of areas as set out under the Convention in the House Library. Last year the UN reviewed the UK’s implementation of the Convention, and made a number of recommendations, asking us to respond to some of those within 12 months. This is a standard process for signatories. The recommendations covered independent living and being included in the community, work and employment and adequate standard of living and social protection, as well the UN’s Optional Protocol inquiry that we responded to in 2016.

The response describes positive actions that we are taking in each of these areas, including:

  • We have made available a further £9.4bn funding for social care in England between 2017/18 and 2018/19 to ensure that councils can increase the capacity of the social care system – an 8% real terms increase over the current spending review period (2016/17 to 2019/20);
  • We are supporting more people whose health affects the way they do their job through Access to Work – over 25,000 people in 2016/17, an 8% increase on 2015/16, spending £104m, up from £96m. We also introduced a new Tech Fund under Access to Work to help disabled people to benefit from the latest advances in assistive technology; and
  • We will be spending an estimated £54bn in 2018/19 on benefits to support disabled people and those with long term health conditions, up from £44.7bn in 2010/11 – the highest ever.

We have made great progress, but there is always more we can do. Disabled people still face barriers to full inclusion, and we will continue to break these down, working with disabled people, the public, private and third sectors until everyone can participate in their community and achieve their aspirations.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS910
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 25 June 2018
Made by: Sarah Newton (Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work)
Commons

Personal Independence Payments

I am pleased to inform the House that two review exercises will begin today. One with regard to the MH and RJ judgments and one for claimants whose main disabling condition is haemarthropathy. The first payments will be made in late summer.

The Secretary of State made a commitment to keep the House updated on MH, this statement is fulfilling that commitment and is the 3rd update so far.

On 21st December 2017 the High Court handed down its judgment in the judicial review challenge against regulation 2(4) of the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 S.I. 2017/194. This regulation reversed the effect of the Upper Tribunal decision in MH. This decision broadened the interpretation about how symptoms of overwhelming psychological distress should be assessed for the purpose of mobility activity 1 in PIP.

The Secretary of State informed the House on the 19th January 2018 that after careful consideration she would not be appealing the High Court judgment, in order to provide certainty to claimants. Since then the Department has been working at pace and taking the necessary steps required to implement the decision in MH.

I am pleased to tell the House that this work is now complete and I have today published the new guidance required in order to implement the change. The guidance can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/personal-independence-payment-assessment-guide-for-assessment-providers

On 2nd November 2017 the Department published updated guidance following an Upper Tribunal judgment on RJ that was handed down on 9th March 2017 on how the Department considers a claimant to be carrying out an activity safely and whether they need supervision to do so. The review exercise will now also look back at PIP claims to consider whether an increase in entitlement should be awarded as a result of RJ.

In addition, the Department is also beginning a review of approximately 420 PIP cases where the main disabling condition is haemophilia to identify and review claimants with haemarthropathy, following feedback from external stakeholders that the functional needs of claimants with haemarthropathy were not being adequately assessed. We expect this exercise to be completed in 6 weeks.

I will continue to update the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS767
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 21 June 2018
Made by: Sarah Newton (Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work)
Commons

Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) Annual Report and Accounts 2017-18

Later today the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2017-2018 will be published. Having consulted the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy who is accountable for nuclear security and the Office for Nuclear Regulation, I can confirm, in accordance with Schedule 7, Section 25(3) of the Energy Act 2013, that there have been no exclusions to the published document on the grounds of national security.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS758
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 05 June 2018
Made by: Sarah Newton (Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work)
Commons

Personal Independence Payments

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a modern, personalised benefit that assesses people on needs not conditions. PIP is a fairer benefit than the old DLA system as it takes a much wider look at the way an individual’s health condition or disability impacts them on a daily basis.

We are constantly looking at ways to continually to improve the PIP service. In response to Paul Gray’s Second Independent Review and the recent Work and Pensions Select Committee Report we outlined numerous further improvements to the PIP service. This included numerous measures to improve the clarity of our communications products and increasing the level of clinical coaching, feedback and support available to each assessor.

A key part of our efforts to improve the assessment process will be making video recording of the PIP assessment a standard part of the process. We will be piloting videoing the assessment with a view to then rolling this out across Great Britain.

We have seen improvements in the overall quality of assessments since 2015 but we recognise there is still more to do to deliver the high quality of service those claiming PIP rightly expect. We will continue to work closely with stakeholder groups and our Assessment Providers to improve the quality of claimant communications, assessments, decision making and the overall claimant experience.

It is vital for claimants that we continue to have a stable service. My Department therefore, intends to explore options to extend the current contracts for approximately two years as this will better allow for a stable transition to any new provision. At the same time we will look to enable more providers to deliver PIP by developing a DWP owned IT system. Throughout this period we will continue to focus on improving the service and the experience of claimants and offering the best value for money for the taxpayer.

We remain committed to understanding how the benefit is working and to continuous improvement in this space. Furthermore we remain committed to working closely with claimants and the organisations who represent them, and will continue to do so.

The measures I have outlined today will improve the claimant experience and we will continue to work with stakeholders to identify and implement further improvements to ensure we are delivering the high quality service claimants rightly expect and deserve.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS709
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 01 May 2018
Made by: Sarah Newton (Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work)
Commons

Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) Corporate Plan 18/19

Later today I will lay before this House the Office for Nuclear Regulation Corporate Plan 2018/19. This document will also be published on the ONR website.

I can confirm, in accordance with Schedule 7, Section 25(3) of the Energy Act 2013, that there have been no exclusions to the published documents on the grounds of national security.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS638
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 18 January 2018
Made by: Sarah Newton (Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work)
Commons

Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme Levy 2017/18

The Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (Levy) Regulations 2014 require active employers’ liability insurers to pay an annual levy based on their relative market share for the purpose of meeting the costs of the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS). This is in line with the commitment by the insurance industry to fund a scheme of last resort for sufferers of diffuse mesothelioma who have been unable to trace their employer or their employer’s insurer.

I can announce today that the total amount of the levy to be charged for 2017/18, the fourth year of the DMPS, is £33.5m. The amount will be payable by active insurers by the end of March 2018.

Individual active insurers will be notified in writing of their payment amount (i.e. their share of the levy), together with how the amount was calculated and payment arrangements. Insurers should be aware that it is a legal requirement to pay the levy within the set timescales.

I am pleased that the DMPS has seen three successful years of operation, assisting many sufferers of Diffuse Mesothelioma. The third Annual Report for the scheme was published on 30 November 2017 and is available on the gov.uk website. I hope that members of both Houses will welcome this announcement and give the DMPS their continued support.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS400
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 18 December 2017
Made by: Sarah Newton (Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work)
Commons

Personal Independence Payment

Later today, I will publish Command Paper 9540 “Government’s response to the Second Independent Review of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Assessment”. The review was carried out by Paul Gray and published on 30 March 2017.

Alongside this, the Department is publishing interim findings from Wave 2 of the PIP claimant survey which focuses on the assessment and decision stages of the PIP claim, and seeks claimants’ feedback and experiences of these.

The response outlines my Department’s intentions in relation to the recommendations suggested by Paul Gray in his second independent review. It also provides an update of the actions my Department has taken against the recommendations identified in the first independent review.

My Department has accepted or partially accepted all of the recommendations in the latest review.

PIP is a modern benefit, which can be flexible and responsive to change, where we identify improvements to be made. Whilst this completes the legal obligation to review the implementation of PIP, we remain committed to understanding how the benefit is working and to continuous improvement in this space. Furthermore we remain committed to working closely with claimants and the organisations who represent them, and will continue to do so.

This response will be laid before Parliament and made available on the GOV.UK website.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS352
WS
Home Office
Made on: 30 October 2017
Made by: Sarah Newton (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability)
Commons

Publication of the 9th Annual Report of the National DNA Database Ethics Group

My Noble Friend Baroness Williams of Trafford has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

I am pleased to announce the publication today of the 9th annual report of the National DNA Database Ethics Group. The Group was established on 25 July 2007 to provide Ministers with independent ethical advice on the operation and practice of the National DNA Database.

I am grateful to the Ethics Group for their strategic advice concerning the use of biometric identifiers and for their continued oversight of the work of the Forensic Information Database Strategy Board, which contributes to ensuring that robust procedures are in place to minimise DNA contamination and remove systematic errors in the forensic use of DNA.

The Ethics Group’s annual report can be viewed on the website of the National DNA Database Ethics Group and I am arranging for a copy to be placed in the Library of both Houses.

I am grateful to the Ethics Group for their strategic advice concerning the use of biometric identifiers and for their continued oversight of the work of the Forensic Information Database Strategy Board, which contributes to ensuring that robust procedures are in place to minimise DNA contamination and remove systematic errors in the forensic use of DNA.

The Ethics Group’s annual report can be viewed on the website of the National DNA Database Ethics Group and I am arranging for a copy to be placed in the House Library.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS202
WS
Home Office
Made on: 18 July 2017
Made by: Sarah Newton (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability)
Commons

Independent Monitor Annual Report 2015

The 2015 Annual report from the Independent Monitor is being published today on www.gov.uk. A copy of the report will also be placed in the House Library.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS60
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