Mike Wood: Reductions in business rates will help thousands of small and medium-sized shops, restaurants and pubs in our town centres. Will the Prime Minister commit to continuing to work for fundamental reform of local business taxation so that local shops and businesses of all sorts can compete fairly with the online giants?
Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party
Mike Wood: It is a particular pleasure to serve under your chairmanship this evening, Dame Cheryl; we are debating an issue on which you have done much, not only to raise awareness, but to transform the legislative framework in which we operate. I thank the Petitions Committee for ensuring that time was made available for the debate, and congratulate
Mike Wood: I understand the hon. Gentleman’s quite legitimate concerns, but perhaps I can offer a little reassurance following the roll-out that has already happened in Dudley. Many claimants and the jobcentre—particularly in Stourbridge—are seeing that universal credit gives extra flexibility to help cases that simply would not have received the help and appropriate support they needed under the old system. More people—precisely the kind of difficult cases that he refers to—are getting into work and staying in work.
Mike Wood: What assessment has my right hon. Friend made of the announcement’s impact on the recruitment and retention of prison officers?
Elizabeth Truss The Chief Secretary to the Treasury
My hon. Friend makes a very important point. Prison officers will receive a 2% rise and a 0.75% bonus. Prison officers who were newly recruited on fair and sustainable terms will receive additional progression pay to make sure that we retain those really important workers.
Mike Wood: Mandatory reporting requirements are an important step in eliminating the gender pay gap, but does my hon. Friend agree that it will be key for shareholders and customers, as well as employees, to hold businesses to account on those reports?
Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women
Mike Wood: What sanctions are available if companies fail to meet their legal obligations to help to close the gender pay gap?
Amber Rudd (The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women and Equalities)
What is the law is that gender pay gap reporting takes place. The EHRC has the ability to take measures that can end up with fines and further sanctions. In terms of proposals for companies to actually close the gap themselves, we encourage them to put forward their own plans.