Written question – Post Office [15/09/2021]

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what (a) steps his Department is taking to ensure effective provision of post office services across the UK and (b) funding his Department has provided to support that provision in each of the last five years. (44381)

Tabled on: 07 September 2021

Answer:
Paul Scully:

The Government protects the branch network by setting minimum access criteria and protects services by setting minimum services to be provided at post offices across the UK. These criteria ensure that 90% of the population are within one mile of the nearest post office branch and that 99% of the population are within three miles of the nearest post office branch.

The Government invested £640 million in the Post Office between 2015 and 2018, £370 million from 2018 to 2021 and £227 million in 2021/22. This funding allows Post Office Ltd to safeguard services in the uncommercial parts of the network and invest for the future.

The answer was submitted on 15 Sep 2021 at 16:56.

Written question – Universal Credit [16/09/2021]

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the planned removal of the £20 per week uplift to the standard allowance of universal credit on claimants in Inverclyde constituency. (44382)

Tabled on: 07 September 2021

This question was grouped with the following question(s) for answer:

  1. To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what impact assessment her Department has undertaken of the potential effect of the end of the £20 uplift to universal credit on young women. (46952)
    Tabled on: 10 September 2021
  2. To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential effect of ending the £20 uplift to universal credit on levels of poverty. (44433)
    Tabled on: 07 September 2021

Answer:
Will Quince:

No impact assessment has been made.

The Chancellor announced a temporary six-month extension to the £20 per week uplift at the Budget on 3 March to support households affected by the economic shock of Covid-19. Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and the temporary uplift was part of a COVID support package worth a total of £407 billion in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

The latest poverty figures (2019/20) demonstrate that absolute poverty rates (both before and after housing costs) for working-age adults in working families have fallen since 2009/10. In 2019/20, 8% of working age adults in working families were in absolute poverty (before housing costs), compared to 9% in 2009/10.

There have been significant positive developments in the public health situation since the uplift was first introduced. With the success of the vaccine rollout and record job vacancies, it is right that our focus is on helping people back into work.

Through our Plan for Jobs, we are targeting tailored support schemes of people of all ages to help them prepare for, get into and progress in work. These include: Kickstart, delivering tens of thousands of six-month work placements for UC claimants aged 16-24 at risk of unemployment; Restart, which provides 12 months’ intensive employment support to UC claimants who are unemployed for a year; and JETS, which provides light touch employment support for people who are claiming either Universal Credit or New Style Jobseekers Allowance, for up to 6 months, helping participants effectively re-engage with the labour market and focus their job search. We have also recruited an additional 13,500 work coaches to provide more intensive support to find a job. In total, our Plan for Jobs interventions will support more than two million people.

The answer was submitted on 15 Sep 2021 at 18:00.

Written question – Gambling [21/07/2021]

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what data and research he has on the player base of people playing (a) loot boxes, (b) social casinos, (c) twitch gaming and (d) e-sports betting. (34520)

Tabled on: 16 July 2021

This question was grouped with the following question(s) for answer:

  1. To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with (a) the Gambling Commission, and (b) gaming operators on the development of Esports Betting. (34544)
    Tabled on: 16 July 2021
  2. To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made on the potential effect of Esports Betting on gambling-related harm. (34545)
    Tabled on: 16 July 2021

Answer:
Mr John Whittingdale:

We continue to work with the video games industry, other government departments, and relevant regulatory bodies to ensure games are enjoyed safely. We launched a call for evidence in September to understand players’ experiences with loot boxes and to examine evidence of potential harms. This received over 30,000 responses and we have been working to evaluate fully the evidence gathered. The response will be published in the coming months and will set out preferred actions and potential solutions to any issues identified from the evidence.

The government regularly engages with the Gambling Commission and other bodies to discuss emerging trends, including esports betting. Esports betting is regulated with the same protections as any other sports, and operators must abide by the same regulation and license conditions.

Data from the Gambling Commission’s quarterly surveys shows that in the year to December 2020 9% of adults reported they had ever bet on esports with money or items. Further details can be found at: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/statistics-and-research/publication/taking-a-more-in-depth-look-at-online-gambling#ref-4 The government does not collect statistics on the player base of people opening loot boxes, playing social casino games or accessing twitch gaming streams.

The answer was submitted on 21 Jul 2021 at 14:23.

Written question – Covid-19 [11/06/2021]

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of providing covid-19 vaccinations to (a) UK cruise ship employees and (b) other UK seafarers working in UK waters. (2346)

Tabled on: 17 May 2021

Answer:
Nadhim Zahawi:

The Department of Health and Social Care alongside the Department for Transport continues to assess how the Government can best support the vaccination of UK cruise ship employees and other UK seafarers working in UK waters. The UK Government encourages all eligible cruise ship employees and seafarers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in line with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice.

We are working closely with DfT, the Devolved Administrations and NHS England and Improvement to ensure that operational challenges in vaccinating these groups are mitigated so all those who are eligible can access the vaccine in an efficient and convenient way.

The answer was submitted on 11 Jun 2021 at 15:45.

Written question – gambling [07/06/2021]

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 24 May 2021 to Question 2347 on Gambling: Advertising, whether the Government has an evidential basis for the absence of a causal link between (a) exposure to gambling advertising and (b) the development of problem gambling. (7862)

Tabled on: 26 May 2021

This question was grouped with the following question(s) for answer:

  1. To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect of increases in (a) gambling advertising on levels of gambling and (b) gambling on levels of gambling-related harm. (7863)
    Tabled on: 26 May 2021

Answer:
Mr John Whittingdale:

The government launched the Review of the Gambling Act 2005 on 8 December with the publication of a Call for Evidence. As part of that we called for evidence on the benefits or harms of allowing gambling operators to advertise and will consider carefully any evidence of links between advertising and gambling related harm. The call for evidence closed on 31 March and received approximately 16,000 submissions from a broad range of interested organisations and individuals. We are currently considering the evidence submitted and aim to publish conclusions by the end of the year.

Professor Per Binde’s 2014 literature review, conducted for the Responsible Gambling Trust (now GambleAware), explored five possible mechanisms by which gambling advertising could impact problem gambling behaviour:

  1. Stimulating a current gambler’s gambling behaviour to an extent that it becomes problematic;
  2. Inducing a non-gambler to start gambling in a way that quickly becomes problematic;
  3. Inducing a non-gambler to start gambling in a way that eventually becomes problematic;
  4. Maintaining or exacerbating existing problem gambling behaviour; or
  5. Creating a positive societal attitude (particularly amongst young people) towards gambling.

Of these potential impacts, Binde’s review found empirical evidence only for the fourth. While this research found evidence that advertising may adversely impact problem gamblers’ efforts to cut down, it did not establish a causal link between exposure to advertising and the development of problem gambling.

The answer was submitted on 07 Jun 2021 at 10:46.

Written question – Gambling & football [24/05/2021]

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of gambling advertising during the upcoming European Championships on people at risk of gambling-related harm. (2347)

Tabled on: 17 May 2021

This question was grouped with the following question(s) for answer:

  1. To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what estimate he has made of the number of advertising breaks which will contain a gambling advert during the upcoming European Championships; and if he will take steps to prohibit gambling adverts from being broadcast before the 9.00pm watershed. (2348)
    Tabled on: 17 May 2021

Answer:
Mr John Whittingdale:

The Government does not hold data on the volume of broadcast gambling advertising and so cannot provide an estimate of the number of advertising breaks that will contain a gambling advert during the UEFA European Championship. Broadcasters have discretion over how advertising breaks are set and what adverts are broadcast, in line with Ofcom and ASA standards. The Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising also prohibits adverts being shown around or during live sports broadcast before the 9pm watershed.

The government has not seen any evidence which demonstrates a causal link between exposure to gambling advertising and the development of problem gambling. However, all gambling advertising, wherever it appears, is subject to strict controls on content and placement.

Gambling adverts must never be targeted at children or vulnerable people. The Advertising Standards Authority independently administers these standards through the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) which covers online and non-broadcast spaces and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) for TV. If an advert for gambling holds particular appeal to children and is freely accessible then it will break the rules.

The government launched the Review of the Gambling Act 2005 on 8 December with the publication of a Call for Evidence. This closed on 31 March and received approximately 16,000 submissions from a broad range of interested organisations and individuals. As part of the wide scope of that Review, we called for evidence on the benefits or harms of allowing gambling operators to advertise and we are considering the evidence carefully.

The answer was submitted on 24 May 2021 at 15:06.