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Workplace Adjustments (2021)

Request

  1. How many workplace needs assessments has the house of commons funded for MPs in the last 5 years? If none would the House look to fund a workplace needs assessment for a MP if requested?
  2. Do MPs have access to any of the following assistive technology a screen-reader, scanning pen, text to speech or mind-mapping software?
  3. Are personal digital recorders permitted in committee meetings or in the chamber?
  4. If an MP needs assistance filling in a form or reading a document is there a designated person they could go for to get help?

 

Response

In the first instance, please note that the Freedom of Information Act provides the requester with an access right only to recorded information held by the House of Commons. It does not extend, for example, to requests to views, explanations or comments about a particular matter. Your request can be in the form of a question, but the House of Commons does not have to answer your question if this would mean creating new information, providing analysis or giving an opinion or judgment that is not already recorded. Further information can be found on our FOI pages. However, in any case, we have endeavoured in this response to provide as much background information as possible and we hope this is helpful.

Secondly, it may help you to know that Members of Parliament are not employees of the House of Commons and instead operate in a similar way to 650 self-employed people. They run their own offices, employ their own staff and manage their constituency work without reporting any of those details to the House of Commons. Therefore, while we offer a range of services to support their work, it is their choice as to whether they use them, or find other sources of these services. Information about the services we offer is included in the Members’ Handbook, which is published on our website. Pages 30 and 31 of the 2017 Members’ Handbook covers services available to Members with disabilities, including workplace adjustments.

1) How many workplace needs assessments has the house of commons funded for MPs in the last 5 years? If none would the House look to fund a workplace needs assessment for a MP if requested?

Some information is held by the House of Commons in relation to this part of your request.

No information on workplace adjustments for Members is held before 2019. In the time since then, no workplace needs assessments have been funded by the House.

However, it may help you to know that the House would fund a specialist workplace needs assessment if needed and also support with Access to Work Applications and implementation of the recommendations. Furthermore, separate from the support the House of Commons provides in this respect, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) may pay expenses for costs that can be attributed to the disability of an MP, including an assessment. Therefore, you may wish to refer to the IPSA website where information about MPs’ business costs and expenses is published, or you may wish to contact them using the contact details provided there.

2) Do MPs have access to any of the following assistive technology a screen-reader, scanning pen, text to speech or mind-mapping software?

This information is held by the House of Commons.

There is a House of Commons budget for purchasing assistive technology for use by Members on the parliamentary estate and in the past this has covered specialist keyboards and computer mice, headsets and the relevant training. In addition, the Parliamentary Digital Service, which provides ICT services to both Houses of Parliament, has provided speech recognition software to Members when requested.

Again, IPSA may also pay expenses for costs relating to assistive technology. While our budget only covers equipment for use on the estate, expenses can be considered by IPSA in respect of costs incurred both on the parliamentary estate and in constituency offices.

3) Are personal digital recorders permitted in committee meetings or in the chamber?

A record of whether personal digital recorders are permitted in committee meetings or in the Chamber is not held by the House of Commons. The House does not currently have a policy on the use of personal digital recorders by Members in order to support their participation in the chamber or in committees.

However, it may help you to know that we would seek to support appropriate adjustments for Members that have been identified through the workplace adjustments processes that the House has in place, wherever possible. In any case, all public proceedings are broadcast and recorded online, and there is a written transcript published in Hansard.

4) If an MP needs assistance filling in a form or reading a document is there a designated person they could go for to get help?

This information is not held by the House of Commons. There is no designated person to assist MPs in this respect.

However, it may interest you to know that there is a Workplace Adjustments Case Manager in the House of Commons People and Culture team who is able to signpost and advise with regard to these needs.