Here are some more written questions that I have asked in February. These are a really useful way to communicate with Government and get some answers directly from departments.
1. Question asked on 04/02/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to help tackle loneliness in the East Midlands.
Answer - Government’s strategy on tackling loneliness in England was launched last October and included a range of new policies that will benefit people across England, including the East Midlands. This includes improving and expanding social prescribing and a new campaign on social wellbeing.
Successful applicants to the £11.5m Building Connections Fund were announced in December with seven in the East Midlands area, providing up to £1.5m funding to connect individuals and communities better. These included The (Re:)Generation Factory, delivering befriending services to older residents in Bilborough, Greater Nottingham; and Campus Community Hub, which brings young and older people from the local community together at a YMCA café and allotment site in Derbyshire.
In addition £1m new funding has been devoted across England to help communities make better use of their spaces to tackle youth loneliness.; East Midlands projects include City Arts in Nottingham, Right Resolution in Northampton, and Reach Learning Disability.
2. Question asked on 04/02/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent steps his Department has taken to promote rehabilitation of young offenders.
Answer - Our key objective through the youth justice system (YJS) is to reduce offending and reoffending by increasing the life chances of children in touch with the YJS. Over the last ten years we have successfully reduced first time entrants into the YJS by 86% and the number of children in custody has fallen by 70%. However, while these successes are welcome the consequent change in the size and composition of the cohort brings its’ own particular challenges, with the children left in the system generally displaying a more concentrated mix of high-end need.
Although the reoffending rate for children in the YJS dropped 1.3 percentage points over the last 12 months, it remains far too high and I am committed to ensuring we continue to work as hard as we can to reduce it further. That is why resettlement is a key priority for the Youth Justice Board and why my Department is undertaking a programme of reform in the youth custodial estate.
Over the next two years we will invest over £2m to increase the range of educational, vocational and enrichment activities, including sports and physical activity, available across the estate. We are expanding frontline staffing in public-sector Young Offenders Institutions, and have increased the number of staff in key frontline posts by 27% in the last year. And we are introducing a new Youth Justice Specialist role and providing funding for every Prison Officer in the Youth Custody Service to undertake a foundation degree in youth justice. Over 300 staff are already enrolled on this qualification. We are also investing in the development of Enhanced Support Units to provide specialist psychological support to children with the most complex needs.
In addition, we are investing £5m to repurpose the Medway Secure Training Centre (STC) site into the first Secure School. Due to open in late 2020, this new provision will combine the ethos and practice of schools with the structure and support of secure children’s homes. This is a first step towards our future vision for youth custody.
3. Question asked on 05/02/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much funding his Department has allocated for special needs provision in schools in Nottinghamshire in each year since 2013.
Answer - Local authorities are required to provide schools with sufficient funds to enable mainstream schools to meet the additional cost of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities, up to the value of £6,000. This funding comes from the schools’ block of the Dedicated Schools Grant. While authorities will identify a notional special educational needs (SEN) budget for each school within the school’s overall budget, that notional budget is not ring-fenced, and schools are expected to manage their overall budget to best meet the needs of all their pupils, including pupils with SEN.
When the costs of additional support required for a pupil with SEN exceed £6,000, the local authority should also allocate additional top-up funding to cover the excess costs. This top-up funding, and all funding for special schools comes from the local authority’s high needs budget. In December 2018, we announced an additional £250 million in high needs funding across the current financial year and the next, bringing Nottinghamshire’s total high needs funding to £64.0 million in 2018-19.
The schools and high needs allocations for Nottinghamshire since 2013-14 are as follows:
Year Schools High Needs
2013 - 14 £435.3 Million £53.4 Million
2014 - 15 £436.2 Million £56.2 Million
2015 - 16 £441.6 Million £56.7 Million
2016 - 17 £447.8 Million £57.3 Million
2017 - 18 £459.4 Million £59.8 Million
2018 - 19 £469.1 Million £64.0 Million
4. Question asked on 05/02/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation, published in December 2015, what progress his Department has made on establishing a network of employers that will bring together organisations keen to support and encourage their staff to be more physically active.
Answer - We are working with Department of Health and Social Care, Department for Work and Pensions, Public Health England, the Health and Safety Executive and Sport England to explore the best way of engaging with employers of all sizes on improving health at work, including the promotion of physical activity. We are planning to meet with employers shortly to discuss this in more detail.
5. Question asked on 11/02/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of access to English waterways for canoeists.
Answer - The Government’s sport strategy, Sporting Future, encourages and promotes outdoor recreation. Use of our waterways by all can be a creative and fun way to engage with the natural world and to stay healthy.Sport England is actively engaged with British Canoeing and the Canal and River Trust to get more people from all backgrounds active. In addition Sport England is providing £6.85m to British Canoeing for the period between 2017 to 2021.The ‘public rights of navigation’ issue around access to waterways is dealt with by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and they are currently working with British Canoeing to consider solutions to access disputes.
6. Question asked on 12/02/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans his Department has to contribute to events celebrating World Book Day in 2019.
Answer - DCMS has no Departmental plans to celebrate World Book Day in 2019 directly. However, around 90% of local authority public library services in England are participating in World Book Day activities. World Book Day has also put a message in the backs of most of the twelve £1 books taking part in the World Book day campaign to encourage children to join their local library.
7. Question asked on 15/02/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent steps he has taken to help businesses to create more highly skilled jobs in the East Midlands.
Answer - The Industrial Strategy is our long-term plan to boost productivity by backing businesses to create high-quality, well paid jobs throughout the United Kingdom, with investment in skills, industries and infrastructure. The Government is supporting businesses in the East Midlands through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which brings together world-class UK research with business investment to develop the technologies that will transform existing industries and create entirely new ones. We have to date allocated £6m of ISCF grant funding to projects in the East Midlands and already support a wider range of projects in the East Midlands. For example, we support a robotics project based with the University of Nottingham, in partnership with businesses based at the National Space Centre in Leicester, which is dedicated to investigating the potential of manufacturing in space; which could enable the in-orbit manufacture of replacement parts and tools.
Also, since its launch in 2012, the Start-Up Loans programme, part of the British Business Bank, has delivered more than 59,000 loans, totalling over £450m. 65 Start-Up Loans have been provided to the Mansfield constituency with a total value of £488,200.
Another example of our help to local businesses to create more highly skilled jobs in East Midlands, is through the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). They are developing Local Industrial Strategies setting out how they will support the growth in their local economies.Through the Midlands Engine Strategy, we are investing in skills, industries, and infrastructure to boost productivity and create highly skilled jobs. One such instrument is the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, which provides over £250 million to support small businesses to grow. Examples of investments made by LEPs across the East Midlands that are designed to support businesses to create more highly skilled jobs include:
- D2N2 LEP’s £5 million Local Growth Fund investment in the recently opened University of Nottingham’s Advanced Manufacturing Building shows the Industrial Strategy in action. The state-of-the-art facility will benefit the East Midlands and the whole UK economy by driving innovation, supporting manufacturing businesses of all sizes to thrive and crucially equipping people to secure highly skilled jobs.
- A collaboration between the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), Derby City Council and the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership has seen the recent opening of a research and innovation centre for cutting-edge nuclear technology on the Infinity Park Enterprise Zone; helping to boost local jobs, growth and expertise.
- The Boole Technology Centre on the Lincoln Science and Technology Park has been supported by £3.4m Local Growth Fund; providing laboratory, workshop and office space targeting high-growth SMEs in advanced engineering and manufacturing.
- The Mira Technical Institute based in Hinckley, Leicestershire, has been supported by £9.5m of Local Growth Fund. Based on MIRA Technology park, MTI will enable delivery of specialist skills and qualifications to industry leaders, engineers, technicians and other professionals across the automotive sector, that are key to fuelling their career ambitions and their employer’s business success
8. Question asked on 15/02/19 -To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the Community Sentence Treatment Requirements pilot scheme.
Answer -The Ministry of Justice, Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS England and Public Health England have jointly developed a Community Sentence Treatment Requirements protocol. This aims to increase the use of community sentences with treatment requirements for mental health and substance misuse issues. The protocol is currently being tested in five test bed sites within England (as health is devolved in Wales). These sites are Milton Keynes, Northampton, Birmingham, Sefton and Plymouth. The NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019 includes a commitment by NHS England to build on these pilots. Decisions on how the use of the protocol could be extended will be made in due course, based on the evaluation of the test bed sites.
9. Question asked on 26/02/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Education what steps he is taking to help teachers share lesson plans and professional development resources throughout their profession
Answer - Through the Curriculum Fund, the Government is investing £7.7 million over five years to support the development and sharing of high quality complete curriculum programmes. In January, the Department awarded grants to 11 lead schools to share and pilot high quality complete curriculum programmes in over 60 other primary and secondary schools in science, history and geography. The purpose of the pilot is to better understand how curriculum programmes can be effectively implemented in other schools to reduce teacher workload and support better quality teaching. More information on the pilot can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/curriculum-fund-programme-pilot.
10. Question asked on 27/02/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans the Government has to ensure that people with eating disorders are able to access treatment and support.
Answer - The Government is committed to ensuring everyone with an eating disorder has access to timely treatment based on clinical need. Early intervention is crucial when helping people with an eating disorder, this is why we set up the first waiting times to improve access to eating disorders services for children and young people - so that by 2020/21 95% of children with an eating disorder will receive treatment within one week for urgent cases and within four weeks for routine cases and latest figures indicate that the National Health Service is on track to meet that standard.
For children and young people aged between eight and 18 years, the Government is investing £150 million to expand eating disorder services and staff for 70 extended or newly established community eating disorder services. This has led to swift access to effective eating disorder treatment in the community, with the number of children and young people accessing treatment increasing from 5,243 in 2016/17 to 6,867 in 2017/18.
The NHS Long Term Plan commits to “test four-week waiting times for adult and older adult community mental health teams, with selected local areas”. The exact scope and timelines of these pilots are yet to be finalised but we envisage that this will include testing waiting times for adult eating disorder services in those areas in receipt of new funding to expand these services.
11. Question asked on 27/02/19 - To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many apprenticeships have been created in (a) Mansfield and (b) Nottinghamshire since 2015.
Answer - The Department is committed to making sure people with long term conditions receive the personalised care and support they need.
As set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, published on 7 January 2019, NHS England is taking action in range of areas to improve the care treatment and support provided to people with neurological conditions including rolling out the NHS Comprehensive Model of Personalised Care across the country, reaching 2.5 million people by 2023/24.
12. Question asked on 27/02/19 -To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support people with fibromyalgia.
Answer - There have been 4,590 apprenticeship starts in the Mansfield parliamentary constituency between May 2015 and October 2018. There have been 27,740 apprenticeship starts in the Nottinghamshire local authority between May 2015 and October 2018.
The number of apprenticeship starts by parliamentary constituency and local authority for the 2014/15 to 2017/18 academic years (final year figures) and quarter 1 of 2018/19 (provisional figures) are available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/772388/Apprenticeship-starts-ach-geography-tool_201415-Q1201819_Jan2019_v1.xlsx.