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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
17 March 2015
Volume 594

Written Statements

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Business, Innovation and Skills

National Minimum Wage

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The main recommendations put forward by the Low Pay Commission concern the rates of the national minimum wage.

The commission has recommended that the adult hourly rate of the national minimum wage should increase from £6.50 to £6.70. The commission has recommended increasing the development rate, which covers workers aged 18 to 20 years old, from £5.13 to £5.30 and increasing the rate for 16 to 17-year-olds from £3.79 to £3.87. It recommends that the apprentice rate should increase from £2.73 to £2.80. It is recommended that these changes take place in October 2015.

The commission has also recommended that the accommodation offset increases from the current £5.08 to £5.35 in October 2015.

The Government accept the rate recommendations on the adult and youth rates, and on the accommodation offset, but have concluded that the apprentice rate should be £3.30.

Government’s response to individual recommendations in the Low Pay Commission’s 2015 report.

National minimum wage rate recommendations

We recommend that the adult rate of the national minimum wage be increased by 3%, or 20p, to £6.70 an hour, from 1 October 2015.

We recommend an increase of 3.3% in the youth development rate to £5.30 an hour; an increase of 2.2% in the 16 to 17 year-old rate to £3.87 an hour.

Government response

The Government accept the national minimum wage rate recommendations.

We recommend an increase of 2.6% in the apprenticeship rate to £2.80 from 1 October 2015.

Government response

The Government reject the national minimum wage rate recommendations.

The Government propose to increase the national minimum wage for apprentices by 57p an hour to £3.30. This is the largest ever increase in the national minimum wage for apprentices and will halve the gap with the age rate for 16 to 17-year-olds, currently £3.79 an hour.

Increasing the apprentice rate to £3.30 will equate to a 21% increase in the statutory minimum hourly rate for those apprentices aged under 19 and for those aged 19 and over and in the first year of their apprenticeship. We know that many of these apprentices will already be paid considerably more than the current apprentice rate and that the average hourly pay for level 2 and level 3 apprentices is £6.79. Approximately 67,000 apprentices will be affected by the increase, with an estimated cost to business of £93 million.

Accommodation offset

We recommend that the accommodation offset be increased by 3.5%, to £5.08 a day, from 1 October 2015.

Government response

The Government accept the accommodation offset recommendations.

Apprentice rates—rate for higher apprentices

We recommend that the apprentice rate should not apply to higher apprentices.

Government response

The Government accept the recommendations that the apprentice rate should not apply to higher apprentices. From October 2015, these apprentices will be entitled to the age-appropriate rate of the NMW.

Apprentice rate—structure and proposal for simplification

We recommend that the Government commit to further consultation on the proposed approach before any legislative change is made.

Government response

The Government accept the recommendations to further consult on proposed approach to the apprentice rate structure. The Government will consult on reforming the structure of the apprentice rate for 2016.

A copy of the Government’s response will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www.parliament.uk/ writtenstatements

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Cabinet Office

Security and Intelligence Agencies (Contingencies Fund Advance)

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As part of the supplementary estimates 2014-15, parliamentary approval for additional resource of £34,201,000, additional capital of £28,255,000 and additional cash of £4,344,000 is sought for the security and intelligence agencies to reflect a number of in-year budgetary changes.

Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £66,800,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund. This is required to meet contractual commitments.

A total net cash requirement of £111,456,000 has been requested as part of the supplementary estimates 2014-15 and the advance will be repaid upon Royal Assent of the Supply and Appropriation (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill.

As the security and intelligence agencies are non-ministerial departments, I am making this statement on behalf of their Accounting Officer, to ensure that Parliament is informed of this advance from the Contingencies Fund.

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Health

Children and Young People (Mental Health and Wellbeing)

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The Government have published their report of the work of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Taskforce—“Future in mind: promoting, protecting and improving our children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing”. The work of the taskforce took account of the evidence gathered by the Health Committee as part of its recent inquiry into child and adolescent mental health. “Future in mind” addresses many of the recommendations of the Health Committee’s third report of Session 2014-15, “Children’s and adolescents’ mental health and CAMHS” (HC 342), published on 5 November 2014.

I established the taskforce in September 2014; it is co-chaired by the Department of Health and NHS England with involvement from the Department for Education. Membership included people with experience and expertise in children and young people’s mental health, including health organisations, schools, the voluntary and community sector, young people and parents. Its remit was to consider ways to make it easier for children, young people, parents and carers to access help and support when needed and to improve how children and young people’s mental health services are organised, commissioned and provided.

“Future in mind” sets out a compelling moral, social and economic case for change. 75% of mental health problems in adult life—excluding dementia—start by the age of 18. Early intervention avoids young people falling into crisis and avoids expensive and longer term interventions in adulthood. Evidence presented to the taskforce also underlined the complexity and severity of the current challenges facing child and adolescent mental health services, including gaps in data, increasing difficulties in accessing treatment, a lack of clear leadership and accountability arrangements, and specific issues facing highly vulnerable groups of children and young people. The evidence highlighted disinvestment at a local level in many areas. The Deputy Prime Minister’s announcement on 14 March of £250 million per year additional funding for children and young people’s mental health care and perinatal mental health care over the course of the next Parliament will make an important contribution to addressing these challenges.

The report sets out a clear national ambition in the form of key aspirations that the Government would wish to see by 2020, including:

Tackling stigma and improving attitudes to mental illness by building on the success of the Time to Change programme and developing a targeted campaign to create a culture where young people and their families are not afraid to seek help.

More access and waiting time standards for services so that children and young people can expect prompt treatment when they need it, just as they can for physical health problems.

Information and self-help via online tools and apps with approved information and support that will help young people “self-care” and know how to seek professional help if they need it.

Changing the way services are commissioned so that care is based around the needs of children and their families and they can get the right support from the right service at the right time.

“One-stop shop” support services in the community so that anyone needing support knows where to find it.

Improved access to support through named points of contact in specialist mental health services and schools, including mental health specialists working directly in schools and GP

practices.

Improved care for children and young people in crisis so they are treated in the right place at the right time, as close to home as possible. This would build on the work of the Crisis Care Concordat to make sure no one under 18 experiencing a mental health crisis is detained in a police cell.

Mental health training for health professionals—including GPs—and others who work with children and young people including staff in schools to help them identify problems and make sure children and young people get the help they need.

Improved access for children and young people who are particularly vulnerable, such as looked after children and care leavers, and those in contact with the youth justice system.

“Future in mind” sets out that many of the proposals can be achieved through better working between the NHS, local authorities, voluntary and community services, schools and other local services, rather than needing significant investment. The report also sets out a number of proposals that require critical decisions on further investment and on local service redesign. The additional funding announced by the Deputy Prime Minister on 14 March will provide a significant boost to implementing the proposals outlined.

We are clear that this cannot all be done from Whitehall. There has to be a change in culture in local areas. “Future in mind” proposes the development of local transformation plans for children and young people’s mental health and well-being in 2015-16 which will clearly articulate the local offer, from health promotion and prevention work to support and interventions for children and young people who have existing or emerging mental health problems. To support this, NHS England will make a specific contribution by prioritising further investment in children and young people’s mental health announced in the autumn statement 2014 in those areas that can demonstrate robust action planning through the publication of transformation plans. The additional funding announced by the Deputy Prime Minister on 14 March will help local areas to make the best possible start in developing transformation plans. It will also fund completion of roll-out of, and the extension of, the successful children and young people’s improving access to psychological therapies programme (CYP IAPT). This will ensure more children and young people with mental health problems have access to high-quality evidence-based treatments.

A copy of “Future in mind” has been placed in the Library.

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House of Commons Commission

House of Commons (Governance)

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(Representing the House of Commons Commission): At its meeting on 16 March, the Commission again considered implementation of the recommendations of the Committee on House of Commons governance.

The Commission noted that the House of Commons Commission Bill passed all its Commons stages on 24 February and received an unopposed Second Reading in the Lords on 12 March. It also noted that motions to implement changes in Standing Orders relating to the Finance and Services and Administration Committees were approved by the House on 10 March.

The recruitment for the post of the Director General of the House of Commons was launched on 18 February. The closing date for applications was 16 March. The Commission expects the long-listing stage to be completed before Dissolution, with a final appointment being made after the election by a panel appointed by the new Commission.

The House Committee in the House of Lords has agreed to the proposal that a first joint meeting of the Commission and the House Committee should take place in October. It is expected that the agenda will include discussion of opportunities for greater joint working and strategic security matters.

The Commission also considered interim arrangements pending appointment of its external Members in the new Parliament.

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Work and Pensions

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

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The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met on 9 March 2015 in Brussels. Shan Morgan, Deputy UK Permanent Representative to the EU, represented the UK.

The Council held a policy debate on the European semester 2015. The UK, supported by Poland, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Czech Republic, welcomed the early publication of the country reports and the additional time for engagement ahead of the publication of the country specific recommendations (CSRs) in May. The UK with the support from Hungary and Austria stated that the Commission should not be prescriptive on policy implementation and should recognise the role of member states in deciding the best course of policy action. Within this, the Council adopted both the JER and Council conclusions on the 2015 AGS.

Ministers agreed two revised Council decisions aimed at strengthening the roles of both the Employment Committee (EMCO) and Social Protection Committee (SPC) in the European semester process.

The Council adopted draft Council conclusions on moving towards more inclusive labour markets; and the EU strategic framework on Health and Safety at Work 29014-2020: adapting to new challenges.

Ministers endorsed the key messages on financing, effectiveness and efficiency of social protection systems in the joint SPC and Commission report.

Under any other business, the Latvian presidency outlined details of the Tripartite Social summit and the Commission outlined the success of the re-launching of the social dialogue. The respective Chairs of the EMCO and SPC presented their annual work programmes for 2015. Finally, the Commission presented details of its proposal on the Youth Employment Initiative, which would see the Commission pre-finance up to €1 billion to help ease budget constraints, which had stopped the initiative fully getting off the ground.

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