Baroness Stedman-Scott: That is a very good question. I do not know as I have not seen the advert but I will go away and find out. I am sorry that I did not know that that position had been advertised and cannot answer the question accurately. I think I am going to be speaking to the Clerk of the Parliaments to get an answer, but it is a very good point.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: That is another very good point. In 2019, the Government consulted on high-level options for reforming the parental leave and pay system, including making changes to paternity leave. We are currently considering responses to the consultation and will respond in due course.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: The noble Baroness again raises the issue of people in the care industry on low pay. Obviously, we need to increase pay so that people can live a decent life, but as far as my job is concerned, I am full strength on equalities issues relating to women. I have just come back from the G7, where I represented women. I spoke really vociferously because, as I said in my speech, women are...
Baroness Stedman-Scott: It certainly would be a good thing and I am sure people in this Chamber are listening to the recommendation of the noble Lord.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: I had no knowledge of this organisation, but I am very happy to ask the question in the equalities department and come back to the noble Baroness in writing. I will place a copy in the Library.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: As far as I am concerned, evidence is the only thing on which to base a decision. My understanding is that that is the position of the Government.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: I could not have put it better myself. I hope we all take up the cudgel on that.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: On the gender pay gap, we have set up a reporting system: we are requiring employers to report their gap, and our gap is now down to 14%. It is not good, but it will get better; we are focusing our efforts on that. In relation to the technical point made by the noble Baroness about having somebody responsible for that, I am being asked a lot of questions today that I have to take back. I hope...
Baroness Stedman-Scott: My Lords, no specific assessment has been made. DWP monitors a range of labour market statistics to understand the labour market situation, including the overall employment rate and economic inactivity rate as well as unemployment. The unemployment rate is accurate and independently produced by the Office for National Statistics. We welcome the fact that unemployment is at its lowest level in...
Baroness Stedman-Scott: I completely agree with the noble Lord on the points he raises and the fact that there are 9 million economically inactive people. We have a breakdown of the groups that they fall in. We know that 1.7 million are looking after family at home, and 2.5 million are people with sickness issues. That is why we are increasing our efforts to increase the support we give. The noble Lord points out...
Baroness Stedman-Scott: I believe that there are a number of activities that the Department for Education is working on to ensure that employers take full use of apprenticeships, and that the National Careers Service and Jobcentre Plus are also encouraging young people to take up apprenticeships. They have a big impact on their lives and are in fact some of the best ways to enter the world of work.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: I sometimes worry about using the term “older workers”, but rising economic inactivity in the over-50s is contributing to shortages in the labour market. We are working with employers: one example in terms of technology and skills is the STEM returners work task force that we have introduced. In that way, we are trying to upskill people who have left the workforce and get their skills...
Baroness Stedman-Scott: We are cognisant of the vacancies in the care industry. We are promoting work, in partnership with the Department of Health, but we want employers to pay the right rate for the job. The Government cannot subsidise employers, so that is what we will encourage them to do.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: I am not wishing to duck the issue, but the answer to that question should really come from the Home Office. I will take it back and ask the Home Office to respond to the noble Lord.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: I take the point that the noble Lord makes. Those people who are long-term sick may have mental health issues that are complex, and the mental health support service is an essential element to it. As regards influencing the Chancellor, I am not aware that my Secretary of State has spoken to him, but I will ask her and respond to the noble Lord.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: I say to my noble friend that we are increasing the AET hours from nine to 12, and then from 12 hours to 15. We are trying to get to a minimum of people working part-time, but it must take into account the barriers that they face. There is no point in trying to push people into work if it creates more havoc in their life without the proper support to get into work and stay there.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: I believe that the Secretary of State for Health, Thérèse Coffey, is focusing on this. I am sorry; I am really not trying to duck the issue, but the fact of the matter is that it is one for the Department of Health to look at. Clearly, we need more people to clear the backlog.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: We will have to wait and see what is in the Secretary of State’s review of uprating. We have honoured the pledge we made on the triple lock and I am afraid that until we get to 25 November I will not be able to answer that question in all truth.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: My Lords, I fear I will disappoint the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, because I must confirm that the Government have no plans to appoint an older people’s commissioner in England. The Government’s business champion for older workers, Andy Briggs, engages with business to promote the benefits of employing and retaining older workers in England. The Government are delivering a new enhanced...
Baroness Stedman-Scott: As I hope I have proved to the noble Lord on many occasions, I am very happy to meet him and others to discuss this.