Q: (Andrew Rosindell) To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department plans to provide additional financial support to (a) beauty and (b) hair salons during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown.
A: (Kemi Badenoch, Exchequer Secretary) The Government recognises the extreme disruption the necessary actions to combat Covid-19 are having on businesses and workers in the beauty industry across the UK.
We are providing additional funding worth £4.6 billion across the UK to support businesses during the new national lockdown. All businesses in England which are legally required to close as a result of this lockdown will receive one-off grants of up to £9,000. We are also providing all English local authorities with an additional £500m of discretionary business grant funding. This extra support comes on top of existing monthly grant support for closed businesses.
We have taken additional steps to support businesses requiring access to finance by extending four of the temporary government-backed loan schemes to 31st January and introducing flexibility on some of their repayments. To protect jobs and businesses, including those in the beauty sector, we have also extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for all parts of the UK until the end of April 2021.
As measures to control the virus change, it is right that government support should also evolve. Because of this, we continue to take a flexible approach and keep all impacts and policies under review.
A: (Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury) The supply of fire safety equipment, under qualifying circumstances, is already eligible for VAT relief when provided alongside the construction and renovation of residential or charitable buildings.
Although all taxes are kept under review, the Government has no plans to expand these reliefs further.
Q: (Andrew Rosindell) To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with universities on providing extra support for (a) mature students and (b) students with children who may be facing additional pressure and responsibilities during the covid-19 outbreak.
A: (Michelle Donelan, Minister of State for Education) We realise that this is an incredibly difficult time for students and are aware of the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 outbreak will have on some students. In these exceptional circumstances, some students may face financial hardship. Students experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak should contact their higher education provider.
The Department has worked closely with the Office for Students (OfS) to help clarify that providers can draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Providers are able to use OfS Student Premium funding worth around £256 million for this academic year towards student hardship funds.
As announced last month, we are also making available up to £20 million of additional hardship funding to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students.
Students will normally qualify for Child Benefit if they are responsible for a child under 16 (or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training). Full-time students with children can also apply for Childcare Grant and Parents' Learning Allowance. Full-time students who are single parents or student couples, one or both of whom are responsible for a child, and part-time students responsible for a child can apply for Universal Credit.
Q: (Andrew Rosindell) To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to support students taking vocational qualifications who are unable to complete coursework assessments as a result of colleges being closed during the covid-19 outbreak.
A: (Gillian Keegan, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education) No student will be disadvantaged if they cannot take their exam or assessment.
In conjunction with Ofqual, we are currently consulting on alternative arrangements for the award of vocational and technical qualifications where exams and assessments do not take place or where students have been unable to attend: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-alternative-arrangements-for-the-award-of-vtqs-and-other-general-qualifications-in-2021.
We are exploring how students who need to attend on site during the national lockdown in order to prepare for practical assessments due to be taken in February and March 2021 can do so, where it is impossible for this training to take place remotely.
Q: (Andrew Rosindell) To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what additional support his Department is providing to children with Special Educational Needs to ensure that their education is not affected by the covid-19 outbreak.
A: (Vicky Ford, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education) Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families can be disproportionately impacted by being out of education. Due to the national restrictions, we have published new guidance on 7 January for all schools, including special schools and specialist post 16 provision, available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.
This guidance sets out that schools are expected to allow vulnerable children and young people to attend, including those with an Education, Health and Care plan. We want these children and young people to continue to receive high-quality teaching and specialist professional support. Specialists, therapists, clinicians and other support staff for pupils and SEND should provide interventions as usual.
We also published ‘Guidance for full opening: special schools and other specialist settings’ in July 2020, and this has been regularly updated. This guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings.
Q: (Andrew Rosindell) To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the extension to PAS 2030:17 certifications will be further extended to March 2022 in line with the Green Home Grants scheme extension.
A: (Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Minister of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) The transitional arrangements which include allowing installations under either the 2017 or 2019 versions of PAS 2030 in the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme have been extended to the 30th June 2021. There are no plans to extend any further, therefore all installers will need to be certified to the updated standard by 30 June 2021. Further information can be found on UKAS's website: https://www.ukas.com/news/ukas-pas-2030-green-homes-communication-to-certification-bodies-extension-of-beis-transition-policy-for-the-ghgvs-to-30-june-2021/.
Q: (Andrew Rosindell) To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent discussions she has had with the Canadian Government on a reciprocal social security agreement with the UK covering the uprating of pensions.
A: (Guy Opperman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) The Department for Work and Pensions has not had any recent discussions on this issue with the Government of Canada. The Department plans to respond shortly to the request from Canada for a reciprocal social security agreement.
Q: (Andrew Rosindell) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with Ethiopian counterpart on the importance of reports of human rights abuses being fully investigated by independent third party actors.
A: (James Duddridge, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) We are deeply concerned at the mounting evidence of human rights abuses and violations. We have raised our concerns with Ethiopian Ministers, making clear the overriding need to protect civilians and adhere to international law and international human rights law. We continue to call for independent, international, investigations into allegations of human right abuses and violations, and that the perpetrators of those incidents that are proven are held to account, whoever they may be.
A: (Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury) The temporary zero-rate of VAT on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was an extraordinary measure to help affected sectors (such as hospitals and care homes) during the initial shock of the COVID-19 crisis and when the global supply of PPE did not meet demand.
This measure came to an end on 31 October (as legislated), as from 1 November new measures were introduced by the Government to ensure supply of COVID-19 related PPE to affected sectors. Given these steps taken by the Government, there are no plans to review the VAT treatment of PPE.
Q: (Andrew Rosindell) To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to remove VAT on household energy bills in response to the effects of the covid-19 outbreak on household finances.
A: (Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury) Households already benefit from a reduced rate of 5 per cent of VAT on domestic fuels such as gas and electricity.
Although the Government keeps all taxes under review, there are no plans to change the current VAT treatment of domestic energy.
Q: (Andrew Rosindell) To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what plans his Department has to (a) allocate additional funding and (b) take other additional steps to facilitate local elections going ahead in May 2020.
A: (Chloe Smith, Minister of State, Cabinet Office) Primary legislation states that the elections will go ahead in May 2021.
We continue to work closely with the electoral community and public health bodies to resolve challenges and ensure everyone will be able to cast their vote safely and securely - and in a way of their choosing.
The Government is also bringing forward additional measures to extend the ability to appoint a proxy, so that those that are affected by Covid-19 in the days before the poll are still able to make their voice heard.
Guidance will be published in good time ahead of the polls and this matter will be kept under review.
Q: (Andrew Rosindell) To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance his Department has issued to GP surgeries on ensuring that housebound (a) elderly and (b) vulnerable people are able to receive a covid-19 vaccine in the same time frame as other people in the same priority groups for the covid-19 vaccine who are not housebound.
A: (Nadhim Zahawi, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care) Guidance has been issued to support local vaccination services to deliver the vaccine to housebound patients in the priority groups, as outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisations (JCVI). Appendix E of the document: ‘COVID-19 local vaccination services deployment in community settings’, issued on 4 January 2021, provides guidance to Primary Care Network (PCN)-run local vaccination services sites on vaccinating housebound patients. The guidance is available at the following link:
PCNs should use the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to vaccinate housebound patients. General practice teams, alongside community teams, are to determine the approach to reaching housebound patients based on their knowledge of the patient and circumstances. This includes patients who are completely housebound and unable to travel to a PCN site.
Q: (Andrew Rosindell) To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of delaying the deadlines for (a) self-assessment and (b) business tax returns for (i) self-employed and (ii) businesses during the covid-19 pandemic.
A: (Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury) The Government encourages as many self-employed individuals and business partnerships as possible to file self assessment returns on time, even if they cannot pay their tax straight away. Any departure from this simple message increases the risk that taxpayers will miss both filing and payment deadlines unnecessarily or miss out on the simple arrangements HMRC have put in place for securing time to pay.
HMRC know some taxpayers and agents will struggle to meet the deadline, especially given the current public health situation and related restrictions. HMRC are carefully considering how to provide further easements, including options that would significantly simplify the handling of reasonable excuse appeals for HMRC, taxpayers and agents.
HMRC will keep the situation closely under review between now and the filing deadline.
Incorporated businesses should wherever possible file their corporation tax return by the relevant deadline. However, HMRC understand that some businesses may be unable to meet the CT filing deadline this year due to the impact of COVID-19. Where the filing date has not passed, and taxpayers are having filing difficulties, they can contact HMRC to see if it is possible to defer a late filing penalty. HMRC continue to allow this on a case-by-case basis and have recently refreshed internal guidance to ensure that advisers take account of the current circumstances and that a consistent response is provided to all taxpayers.
Q: (Andrew Rosindell) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the evidence and recommendations in the Conservative Human Rights Commission’s report on China, published in January 2021.
A: (Nigel Adams, Minister of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) We are studying carefully the evidence and recommendations from the recently published Conservative Human Rights Commission's report on China. On 12 January, the Foreign Secretary announced a series of robust measures to build on our response to the human rights situation in Xinjiang. We will keep our policies under close review.
Q: (Andrew Rosindell) To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending Test and Trace payments to provide support for parents of children in primary school or the first two years of secondary school who are required to isolate, in line with the payments offered in Wales.
A: (Helen Whately, Minister of State for Department of Health and Social Care) Eligibility for a Test and Trace Support Payment is restricted to people who have been told to stay at home and self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the COVID-19 app, either because they have tested positive themselves or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.
If a child is self-isolating because they have tested positive, other household members will also need to self-isolate and will be able to claim under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme, provided they meet the other eligibility criteria. Parents or guardians of children or dependents who have to self-isolate because of contact with someone outside their household who has tested positive do not themselves need to self-isolate, and so are not eligible.
We continue to work closely with the 314 unitary authorities and district councils in England to review the scheme.