January Written Questions

January 31, 2019

Whilst I try to speak in the Chamber as often as possible, I thought I would show you one of the other ways that I manage to ask questions about issues that affect Mansfield. Here is a list of all of the written questions I asked in January... 


1. Question 04/01/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase the resilience of healthcare providers in the East Midlands during the winter period.         

Answer - The Department is supporting the National Health Service to prepare as robustly as possible for the coming winter and has been working closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement to ensure all trusts have plans in place. Providers and commissioners across the East Midlands have been working closely together to prepare for the winter period, supported by regional teams in NHS Improvement and NHS England. The Department has invested an additional £420 million this winter aimed at increasing the resilience and capacity of healthcare providers, including in the East Midlands. Moreover, the region is also benefiting from extended general practitioner hours to give patients more choice and take pressure off emergency departments, as well as the extensive national campaigns undertaken to make people aware of NHS 111 services and pharmacy services and encouraging the public to use the most appropriate NHS service for their needs.


2. Question 08/01/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to help prevent pub closures.

Answer - Several measures have been introduced across Government to support pubs, including a freeze on beer duty announced at Budget 2018. This means that the price of a typical pint of beer in 2019 will be 2p lower than it would have been had duty increased with inflation and 14p lower than it otherwise would have been since ending the beer duty escalator in 2013.

Many small pubs will benefit from the business rates retail discount announced at Budget 2018, which cuts bills by one third from April 2019 for two years. It is available to pubs with a rateable value below £51,000 and is worth almost £900 million to businesses over two years. The Government estimates up to 75% of pubs in England could be eligible for the discount, subject to state aid limits and eligibility for other reliefs.


3. Question 08/01/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how much funding had been allocated to Nottinghamshire from the Housing Infrastructure Fund.

Answer - The South of Clifton Housing Infrastructure Scheme in Rushcliffe, for which the local authority requested £10 million of Marginal Viability Funding, has completed funding clarification. My Department will be notifying the local authority of the outcome very shortly. Nottinghamshire is also one of the 45 areas across England with whom we are working to co-develop Forward Funding projects with up to £4.6 billion of funding available to unlock a potential 450,000 homes in areas where housing need is greatest. For Forward Funding schemes in co-development, there is no guarantee of funding. It is still a competitive process, and following co-development, these areas will be required to submit business cases prior to final funding decisions being made


4. Question 16/01/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to support young people from deprived backgrounds to progress in the creative industries.

Answer - We recognise that more needs to be done to ensure that the workforce of the Creative Industries better reflects the diversity of UK society. The need to broaden access was highlighted in the 2018 Creative Industries sector deal.

Amongst other measures, we are providing £2 million seed funding for an industry-led Careers Programme over the next 4 years to improve the supply of talent and open up opportunities to a broader audience.

Additionally, the British Film Institute (BFI) leads on a number of initiatives to encourage people from all backgrounds to pursue careers in the screen sector, from the BFI diversity standards to the BFI Film Academy. We will also continue to work with industry through the joint government-industry Creative Industry Council to open up employment opportunities in the sector. The CIC have identified this issue as a priority, setting out a set of actions to improve diversity across the industry in its “Create Together” growth strategy.


5. Question 16/01/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent assessment his Department has made of trends in the level of prosecutions for psychoactive substances dealing.

Answer - The number of prosecutions for offences relating to supply of psychoactive substances for the last 5 years are published and can be found in the ‘Experimental statistics: Principal offence proceedings and outcomes by Home Office offence code data tool’ at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/criminal-justice-system-statistics-quarterly-december-2017.

The relevant offences can be found by searching the ‘Detailed offence’ filter for psychoactive substances.

Home Office are responsible for policy relating to the Psychoactive Substances Act.


6. Question 17/01/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what schemes that tackle homelessness in the Midlands receive government funding

Answer - This Government is committed to reducing homelessness and rough sleeping. No one should ever have to sleep rough. That is why last summer we published the cross-government Rough Sleeping Strategy which sets out an ambitious £100 million package to help people who sleep rough now, but also puts in place the structures that will end rough sleeping once and for all. The Government has now committed over £1.2 billion to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping over the spending review period.

Local authorities in the Midlands are receiving funding from the following government programmes:

  • Homelessness Prevention Trailblazers

  • Rough Sleeping Initiative

  • Housing First Pilots

  • Rapid Rehousing Programme

7. Question 17/01/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate he has made of the number of prisoners given custodial sentences who were homeless before sentencing in Nottinghamshire in each year since 2015.

Answer - We are unable to provide data based on the total number of prisoners who were given custodial sentences in Nottinghamshire and were homeless before sentencing as this data isn’t held. Instead the following table sets out the number of people of no fixed abode serving sentences who had an origin address link to Nottinghamshire and who were held in prisons at intervals since 2015. It does not include those held on remand, who are held on a non-criminal basis or those held in immigration removal centres.


            March      June     September    December

2015   125         130     151            147


2016   159         146      135           131


2017   141         142      161           149


2018   132         150       139          147



Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) works to ensure that prisoners due to be released from prison have accommodation arranged for them upon release. It is recognised that securing suitable accommodation is a vital part of an offender's resettlement, and we are working collaboratively with other government departments and interested parties to ensure that we meet the accommodation needs for prisoners on their release. There are currently 100 Approved Premises (AP), providing over 2,200 bed spaces nationally. The recent introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 will also help facilitate resettlement for the prisoners back into areas without APs.

The Government published its Rough Sleeping Strategy in August 2018, launching a £100 million initiative to reduce and ultimately eliminate rough sleeping across England. As part of this strategy, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), will be investing approximately £6m in a pilot scheme to support ex-offenders secure suitable accommodation upon release; the pilots will operate in HMPs Pentonville, Bristol and Leeds.


8. Question 22/01/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what mental health support is available for children and young people diagnosed with life-limiting conditions.

Answer – We are committed to ensuring that mental health support is available to all children and young people, including those diagnosed with life-limiting conditions.The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence provides national guidance on end of life care for infants, children and young people, including ensuring that infants, children and young people with a life-limiting condition and their parents or carers are given information about emotional and psychological support, including how to access it. This guidance can be found at the following link:https://pathways.nice.org.uk/pathways/end-of-life-care-for-people-with-life-limiting-conditions

The NHS Long Term Plan, published on 7 January 2019, announced that that by 2023/24 an extra 345,000 children and young people aged 0-25 will receive mental health support via National Health Service-funded mental health services. Under the Long Term Plan, mental health services will continue to receive a growing share of the NHS budget, with funding to grow by at least £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24. For the first time, funding for children and young people’s mental health services will grow faster than both overall NHS funding and total mental health spending.In addition to the commitments set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, on 20 December we announced the first wave of 25 trailblazer sites that will test the plans set out in ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision: a green paper’, published in December 2017. These new plans will significantly increase the availability of mental health support to children and young people, including those with life limiting conditions.


9. Question 22/01/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of his Department's progress in tackling the skills and productivity gap in the Midlands.

Answer –  We are working closing with the West Midlands Combined Authority on the implementation of the Skills Deal, which is designed to help tackle the skills and productivity gap in the region. This includes supporting them to maximise the opportunities of the Apprenticeship Levy; and to drive adult learning and retraining in digital skills via a pilot that will inform the National Retraining Scheme.From the 2019/20 academic year, the adult education budget will be devolved to the West Midlands Combined Authority. Once devolved, the combined authority will decide how best to use this funding, to meet the needs of their residents and the local economy. The department has worked very closely with officials in the combined authority to support their preparations, and a strong relationship has been established. A Memorandum of Understanding between the department and the combined authority establishes a collaborative way of working at all levels to maximise the potential of adult education devolution.We are also establishing Skills Advisory Panels, which bring together local employers and skills providers to pool knowledge on skills and labour market needs, and to work together to understand and address key local challenges. Both the West Midlands Mayoral Combined Authority and Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership were in the first phase of local areas, working with the department to develop the policy. The West Midlands Combined Authority has already held its inaugural meeting of its Skills Advisory Panel in November 2018. The department is working with all panels across England, including in the Midlands, to establish their Skills Advisory Panels by October 2019, in line with the guidance[1] the department published in December 2018.

We are also supporting, alongside other government departments, the Midlands Engine’s Vision for Growth, which includes tackling the mismatch between business skills needs and the skill levels of residents in the region.[1] Department for Education (DfE) (December 2018) Skills Advisory Panels: Guidance on the Role and Governance, available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/762629/Skills_Advisory_Panels-Guidance_on_the_Role_and_Governance.pdf and DfE (December 2018) Skills Advisory Panels Analytical Toolkit, avaialbe at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/skills-advisory-panels-analytical-toolkit.


10. Question 24/01/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answer of 23 January 2019 to Question 20986, how many prisoners were given custodial sentences in Nottinghamshire in each year since 2015.

Answer - Data on the number of offenders sentenced to custody in Nottinghamshire in each year since 2015 has been published up to December 2017 and is available in the “Court Outcomes by Police Force Area data tool” at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/criminal-justice-system-statistics-quarterly-december-2017

To obtain the requested data:

- Ensure that the ‘Court Type’ filter is set to “All”

-Select “15: Immediate Custody” in the ‘Outcome’ filter

-Figures for Nottinghamshire can be found in row 71.

Data for 2018 is due to be published in May 2019.


11. Question 28/01/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to help elderly people learn digital skills in (a) the East Midlands and (b) England.

Answer - We are committed to helping elderly people acquire basic digital skills as part of our broader strategy to reduce digital exclusion. The Government’s Digital Strategy, published in March last 2017, sets out the Government’s approach to tackling digital exclusion. It recognises that for the UK to be a world-leading digital economy that works for everyone, it is crucial that everyone has the digital skills they need to fully participate in society.

In September 2018 DCMS launched a £400,000 Innovation Fund to tackle the digital exclusion of older and disabled people. Three pilot projects will address the digital exclusion of these groups with a view to replicating and scaling successful interventions in future.

DCMS are also supporting the development of Local Digital Skills Partnerships to encourage collaboration between key regional stakeholders to design and deliver innovative digital skills provision locally. Working closely with regional LEPs and Combined Authorities, three regions - Lancashire, Heart of the South West and the West Midlands have already launched with a further three regions - South East, Cheshire and Warrington and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly coming on stream over the coming months.

On 18th September 2018, we published plans to improve adult basic digital skills.

We will introduce an entitlement to full funding for basic digital courses from 2020, similar to the entitlements already in place for maths and English. This will provide adults of any age the opportunity to undertake improved qualifications based on new national standards free of charge.

We understand that it is sometimes difficult for elderly people to access services digitally. Through around 3000 libraries across England we provide a trusted network of accessible locations with trained staff and volunteers, free Wi-Fi, computers, and other technology as well as Assisted Digital access to a wide range of digital public services where individuals are unable to access these services independently. There are numerous library device loan schemes across the country, many of which have a high take-up by older people.

Government is also tackling digital exclusion via the ‘Future Digital Inclusion’ programme funded by DfE, managed by the Good Things Foundation and delivered through the 5,000 strong national Online Centres network based out of libraries and other community spaces. There is provision across the East Midlands. To date, this programme has supported 1 million adult learners to develop their basic digital skills, many adults aged over 65 have benefited from “Future Digital Inclusion” programme (approx. 170,000). Further, the NHS Digital ‘Widening Digital Participation’ programme develops projects that enable people in England to improve their digital health skills and to increase their access to digital services and tools that support their health and care. A large percentage of those who have benefited from this service are elderly people.


12. Question 28/01/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to improve the quality of health and social care services for disabled children.

Answer - The NHS Long Term Plan set out a range of actions to improve health outcomes for disabled children and young people.

Over the next three years, autism diagnosis will be included alongside work with children’s mental health services to test and implement the most effective ways to reduce waiting times for specialist services.

By 2023/24 children and young people with a learning disability or autism, with the most complex needs will have a designated keyworker.

NHS England will work with partners to allow hearing, sight and dental checks for children and young people with a learning disability, autism or both in special residential schools.

Over the next five years, we will see the national learning disability improvement standards implemented across all services funded by the National Health Service, and by 2023/24, a digital flag in electronic patient records will ensure staff know the reasonable adjustments needed by a person with a learning disability or autism.

In 2019/20, we will continue to fund sports and activity prostheses for children who have suffered limb loss or who have a limb deficiency.

The Department continue to work with the Department for Education to ensure health services and social care services work together locally to deliver the best outcomes for children with a disability


13. Question 29/01/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the report entitled Room to Manoeuvre, published by Arthritis Research, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the recommendations made in that report.

Answer - We know that aids and adaptations can greatly enhance the quality of life of people with arthritis, in addition to supporting them to be as independent as possible in their own homes. The ‘Room to Manoeuvre’ report highlights their importance and identifies areas for improvement.

The Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) supports older and disabled people, including those with arthritis, on low-incomes to adapt their homes to make them safe and suitable for their needs. Funding for the DFG had already more than doubled from £220 million in 2015-16 to £468 million in 2018-19. Autumn Budget 2018 announced an additional £55 million for 2018-19.

An independent review of the DFG - which assesses how the Grant is currently working and makes evidence-based recommendations on how it could change in the future – was published in December 2018. Together with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government we are carefully considering the review’s findings.

The Government will also be publishing a Green Paper at the earliest opportunity to bring forward proposals to improve the social care system, and the role of housing will be a crucial part of considerations.

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