Skip to main content

Written Statements

Volume 551: debated on Friday 19 October 2012

Written Ministerial Statements

Friday 19 October 2012

Business, Innovation and Skills

Regional Growth Fund (Update)

Today my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister will announce the provisional allocation of a further £1.055 billion to 130 beneficiaries from the regional growth fund (RGF). The selected beneficiaries will proceed to a due diligence and contracting phase that will be complete within six months. This significant investment by the Government provides additional help for companies to create jobs within their firms and their supply chains. Every £1 of RGF money being allocated will be matched by £6 from the private sector. The RGF is generating private sector investment nationally and in local economies, creating and safeguarding jobs. The RGF supports the Government’s ambitions to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business in addition to encouraging investment and exports.

Round 3

There was a high quality of bidding to round 3. In June this year we received 414 bids asking for £2.78 billion of funding. Following a full review, 278 bids went forward for in-depth assessment and, earlier this month Ministers selected the final 130 beneficiaries after advice from the independent advisory panel chaired by my noble Friend Lord Heseltine.

Of the £1.055 billion—£697 million will go to the private sector consisting of 101 companies, bank schemes for small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) support, supply chain programmes and grant schemes with local media. These awards actively support the industrial strategy the Government are following.

Three hundred and fifty-eight million will go to 29 intermediaries such as local authorities and local enterprise partnerships directed at local growth priorities in their areas. This is a significant award putting funding directly into the hands of local leaders.

The round 3 contracting process will be quicker because lessons learned from the previous rounds are being implemented. I have set a deadline of three months from today until final offer, and a deadline of three months for due diligence before award.

Rounds 1 and 2

Progress remains good on rounds 1 and 2 where we have a firm position with nine in 10 bids and six out of 10 bids have already started. Over half the bidders (140) are contracted and able to draw down funding and a further 45 are completing their due diligence reports.

The priority now is to agree a way forward with the remaining few, will be done between now and Christmas.

Currently 149 projects and programmes have started, generating almost £4.8 billion of private investment into our economy. Several companies were happy to start work before receiving any funds; agreeing terms has given them the confidence to get going and start work. The number of withdrawn projects and programmes is 29 (12%). For a fund of this size this is low: withdrawals also point to the robustness of the process—something the National Audit Office (NAO) has been positive about.

Long-term impact

All RGF projects and programmes are being monitored; this will continue for years to come, in order to understand the impact of the RGF and continue to protect taxpayers’ interests. Monitoring will include an annual review of progress that will be reported to Parliament at the end of each financial year, beginning in the spring of 2013.

Energy and Climate Change

Fuel Poverty and Green Deal (Update)

I am pleased to inform Parliament that I am today launching a competition for local authorities to bid for resources to deliver projects that will help to reduce fuel poverty, help kick start Green Deal delivery and help consumers to save money on energy bills through collective switching.

As part of the Government’s continuing efforts to tackle fuel poverty, we are seeking to ensure that as many people as possible benefit from the assistance available this winter. We are therefore offering English local authorities the opportunity to bid for up to £25 million of funding to reduce the extent of fuel poverty in their area, primarily through the provision of support for improvements to the thermal efficiency of dwellings.

Meanwhile we will continue to deliver policies that we know are making a difference to low income and vulnerable households. In England, Warm Front is still taking new applications and is easier to access following changes to the rules in September this year. We expect the Warm Home discount scheme to assist around 2 million households across Britain this year—including more than 1 million of the poorest pensioners who will receive an automatic £130 discount on their electricity bill. And the new year will see the entry into force of the energy company obligation, running in parallel with the Green Deal. This is intended to focus particularly on households that cannot achieve financial savings without additional support, including the poorest and most vulnerable, and those in hard to treat homes.

In addition we are also offering local authorities in England (outside of the authorities in the core cities that are already receiving DECC funding) the opportunity to bid for £10 million of funding to support early delivery of, and promote future demand for, the Green Deal. With rising fuel bills the Green Deal offers households the opportunity to take action to reduce their bills by improving the energy efficiency of their homes at no up-front cost.

We are aware that many local authorities around the country are well advanced in their plans for the Green Deal and we want to support them to take early action. We recently announced £12 million of funding to seven core cities to trial and demonstrate aspects of the Green Deal. This additional funding now opens up opportunities for other councils.

The Green Deal and fuel poverty competitions will be run in conjunction with a £5 million collective switching competition, aimed at supporting local authorities and third sector organisations across the country in developing innovative schemes, which will allow groups of consumers to group together, through a trusted third party, and use market power to negotiate lower energy bills.

Alongside these announcements we are today releasing details of a Green Deal cashback scheme worth £125 million to reward households acting early to improve the energy efficiency of their property through Green Deal, when it becomes available in January 2013.


Medical Revalidation

Today, I am announcing that from 3 December 2012, revalidation of doctors in the UK will commence.

This announcement follows the October 2010 commitment by the General Medical Council (GMC) and Department of Health to deliver a streamlined system of revalidation that provides assurance to the public and adds value for both patients and doctors. The tests of readiness for revalidation, as set out in that commitment, have now been met and I have received sufficient evidence from the UK revalidation programme board that all four UK countries are suitably prepared to proceed with implementation.

Revalidation is a way of regulating licensed doctors. It is a five-yearly process which gives doctors a clear framework to reflect on and improve their quality of care as well as ensuring that a doctor’s practice is systematically evaluated on an ongoing basis.

Through revalidation, doctors are required to demonstrate, via their annual appraisal, that they are working in a way that meets the values and principles set out in Good Medical Practice (GMC), the GMC guidance which sets out the principles and values on which good practice is founded, in order to renew their licence to practice. The evidence that doctors will bring to support revalidation will include participation in a process of annual appraisal, feedback from patients and colleagues, evidence of continuing professional development, reviews of complaints and information about clinical outcomes, where appropriate.

The new system will apply to all doctors in all settings in the UK.

For the small proportion of doctors about whom there are concerns, the strengthening of local clinical governance, together with a system of annual appraisal, provides the means for identifying problems earlier and putting in place appropriate arrangements to respond to any such concerns.

Medical revalidation will help doctors keep up to the standard expected of them by ensuring they stay up to date with the latest techniques, technologies and research. This will be key in making improvements in early diagnosis, such as with dementia and cancer—which is particularly important in bringing down mortality rates—and in helping people with long-term conditions manage them better.

Revalidation will also require a doctor to tackle any concerns with important skills such as bedside manner and maintaining trust with patients—particularly important when caring for the increasing number of older patients that the NHS treats.

As well as improving patient safety and quality of care, revalidation will improve public confidence that the doctors who are providing care and treatment to patients in the UK are up to date and fit to practise.

I would like to thank the GMC, the NHS revalidation support team, the independent healthcare advisory services, the British Medical Association, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, NHS employers, colleagues in the devolved Administrations, the NHS Confederation and UK patient organisations for the considerable amount of work they have undertaken in preparation for the commencement of revalidation. In summary, revalidation represents a world leading initiative that will increase the quality and safety of healthcare across all sectors.

Home Department

Crime Outcomes Recording Framework (Consultation)

As part of the Government’s commitment to increasing democratic accountability and reducing bureaucratic accountability, we are consulting on proposals to broaden the current “sanction detections” framework to better reflect all of the work that the police do to solve and resolve crime.

A revised framework for recorded crime outcomes will support police officers to use their professional judgment to ensure a just and timely outcome which reflects the harm to the victim, the seriousness of the behaviour, the impact on the community, and which deters future offending. Furthermore, it will also give the public more detailed information about the work their police forces are doing and so further empower local communities to hold their chief officer and police and crime commissioner to account for tackling crime locally.

The aim of the consultation is to ensure that the final disposal framework is based on a full consideration of the impact of these changes, and that it is clear, accessible and meaningful to the widest possible audience.

The consultation is launching today on 19 October 2012, and will remain open until 7 December 2012. Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the House Library and on the Home Office website at:

Eurodac Regulation (UK Opt-in Decision)

The UK has opted in to the Eurodac regulation which meets the criteria set out in the coalition agreement with regard to EU justice and home affairs measures.

The regulation will govern the operation of the Eurodac fingerprint database, which collects the fingerprints of asylum seekers, and certain illegal entrants to the EU, in order to help member states determine who is responsible under the Dublin regulation for dealing with an asylum claim. The Government are committed to the Dublin system, of which Eurodac is an essential part, as it helps tackle the problem of people abusing asylum systems across Europe by making multiple claims in different EU member states.

The Government will continue to consider the application of the UK’s right to opt in to forthcoming EU legislation in the area of justice and home affairs on a case-by-case basis, with a view to maximising our country’s security, protecting Britain’s civil liberties and enhancing our ability to control immigration.

National DNA Database Ethics Group

My hon. and noble Friend the Minister of State for Criminal Information (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) has today made the following written ministerial statement:

I am pleased to announce the reappointment of Mr Christopher Hughes, OBE, as chair of the National DNA Database Ethics Group. Mr Hughes was originally appointed in July 2009 for a three-year term. The ethics group provides Ministers with independent ethical advice on the operation and practice of the national DNA database (NDNAD).


Criminal Cases Review Commission (Triennial Review)

In March 2011 the Government responded to the Public Accounts Committee report “Smaller Government: Shrinking the Quango State” setting out the coalition’s plans for reforming the public bodies sector. It includes the requirement to undertake triennial reviews of Executive and advisory non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs).

The Criminal Cases Review Commission is an independent body set up to review possible miscarriages of justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and to refer appropriate cases to the courts. It was established as an Executive non-departmental body on 1 January 1997 by the Criminal Appeal Act 1995.

To deliver the coalition Government’s commitment to transparency and accountability the Criminal Cases Review Commission will be subject to a triennial review. The Ministry of Justice, as the sponsoring Department, has today launched a call for evidence which will last until 14 December 2012 inviting views. In line with Cabinet Office guidance the review will consider the following:

the continuing need for the Criminal Cases Review Commission—both its functions and its form; and

where it is agreed that it should remain, to review the control and governance arrangements in place to ensure that the public body is complying with recognised principles of good corporate governance.

In conducting the triennial review, officials will be engaging with a broad range of stakeholders and users of the Criminal Cases Review Commission. The review will be aligned with guidance published by the Cabinet Office: “Guidance on Reviews of Non- Departmental Public Bodies”. The final report and findings will be laid before this House.