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Written Statements

Volume 620: debated on Thursday 2 February 2017

Written Statements

Thursday 2 February 2017

Cabinet Office

State of the Estate 2015-16

I have today laid before Parliament, pursuant to Section 86 of the Climate Change Act 2008, the “State of the Estate in 2015-16”. This report describes the efficiency and sustainability of this Government’s Civil Estate. The report is published on an annual basis.

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Communities and Local Government

Local Growth

In the last Parliament, £7.3 billion of the Local Growth Fund was awarded to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) through the first two rounds of Growth Deals. In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced the regional breakdown of a further £1.8 billion of the Local Growth Fund. Today I am pleased to announce the individual awards that LEPs in the East of England and in London and the South East will receive.

Table A: Growth Deal 3 Funding Awards for LEPs in the East of England and in London and the South East

LEP

Funding Award (£m)

Buckinghamshire Thames Valley

20.48

Coast to Capital

66.06

Enterprise M3

71.12

Greater Cambridgeshire, Greater Peterborough

37.62

Hertfordshire

43.95

London

141.28

New Anglia

69.06

Oxfordshire

24.16

Solent LEP

31.02

South East LEP

102.65

Thames Valley Berkshire

35.56

This flexible funding sits alongside £475 million for Local Transport Majors and £2 billion long- term funding for housing transactions through the Home Building Fund. This was the most competitive round yet, and allocations were made based on a bidding round that took place last year. This honours our manifesto pledge to agree an expanded set of deals to empower the towns, cities and counties across the country to fulfil their potential and create an economy that works for all. The expanded deals will provide LEPs in the East of England and in London and the South East with the power and funding to support local businesses, unlock housing where it is most needed and develop vital infrastructure to allow places to thrive. The funding will also be used to create jobs, equip a new generation with the skills they need for the future and attract billions of pounds of private sector investment. This investment is Government stepping up, not stepping back, building on our strengths to boost national productivity and growth.

This adds to the £2.2 billion we have already invested in Growth Deals in the East of England and in London and the South East in previous rounds, providing targeted financial support to locally-determined projects in order to unlock growth.

The Government announces the award of £556 million to LEPs in the northern powerhouse on 23 January. We will announce the awards for LEPs in other regions over the coming weeks.

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Defence

War Pension Scheme Uprating 2017

The new rates of war pensions and allowances proposed from April 2017 are set out in the tables below. The annual uprating of war pensions and allowances for 2017 will take place from the week beginning 10 April 2017. Rates for 2017 are increasing by 1% in line with the September 2016 consumer price index.

War Pensions Rates

Rates

Rates

(Weekly rates unless otherwise shown)

2016

2017

WAR PENSIONS

Disablement Pension (100% rates)

officer (£ per annum)

9,298.00

9,392.00

other ranks (weekly amount)

178.20

180.00

Age allowances payable from age 65

40%-50%

11.95

12.05

Over 50% but not over 70%

18.35

18.55

Over 70% but not over 90%

26.10

26.35

Over 90%

36.70

37.10

Disablement gratuity (one-off payment)

Specific minor injury (min.)

1,136.00

1.147.00

Specified minor injury (max.)

8,474.00

8,559.00

1-5% gratuity

2,834.00

2,862.00

6-14% gratuity

6,300.00

6,363.00

15-19% gratuity

10,018.00

11,128.00

SUPPLEMENTARY ALLOWANCES (WEEKLY)

Unemployability Allowance

Personal

110.10

111.20

adult dependency increase

61.20

61.80

increase for first child

14.20

14.35

increase for subsequent children

16.75

16.90

Invalidity Allowance

higher rate

21.80

22.00

middle rate

14.20

14.30

lower rate

7.10

7.15

Constant Attendance Allowance

exceptional rate

134.40

135.80

intermediate rate

100.80

101.85

full day rate

67.20

67.90

part-day rate

33.60

33.95

Comforts Allowance

higher rate

28.90

29.20

lower rate

14.45

14.60

Mobility supplement

64.15

64.80

Allowance for lowered standard of occupation (maximum)

67.20

67.88

Therapeutic earnings limit (annual rate)

5,590.00

6,240.00

Exceptionally severe disablement allowance

67.20

67.90

Severe disablement occupational allowance

33.60

33.95

Clothing allowance (£ per annum)

230.00

232.00

Education allowance (£ per annum) (max)

120.00

120.00

WIDOW(ER)S BENEFITS

Widow(er)s’—other ranks (basic with children) (weekly amount)

135.15

136.50

Widow(er)—Officer higher rate both wars (basic with children) (£ per annum)

7,187.00

7,259.00

Childless widow(er)s’ u-40 (other ranks) (weekly amount)

32.37

32.69

Widow(er)—Officer lower rate both wars (£ per annum)

2,496.00

2,521.00

Supplementary Pension

90.41

91.31

Age Allowance

(a) age 65 to 69

15.40

15.55

(b) age 70 to 79

29.60

29.90

(c) age 80 and over

43.90

44.35

Children’s Allowance

Increase for first child

21.20

21.40

Increase for subsequent children

23.75

24.00

Orphan’s pension

Increase for first child

24.25

24.50

Increase for subsequent children

26.55

26.80

Unmarried dependant living as spouse (max)

132.80

134.15

Rent Allowance (maximum)

50.90

51.40

Adult orphan’s pension (maximum)

103.85

104.90

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Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Foreign Affairs Council: 6 February

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council on 6 February. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. The meeting will be held in Brussels.

Foreign Affairs Council

The agenda for the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) is expected to include Ukraine, Egypt, Libya and the middle east peace process.

Ukraine

Ministers will focus on the importance of sustained international support for Ukraine’s reform process. The UK strongly supports Ukraine’s reform agenda which is crucial to build a modern, stable state. We expect discussion will also cover developments in relation to the Minsk agreements.

Egypt

Ministers will discuss Egypt’s bilateral relationship with the EU and Egypt’s role in the region. We expect discussions will cover Egypt’s political and human rights situation, including the growing restrictions on civil society. Ministers are also likely to discuss how the EU can help strengthen Egypt’s internal security, co-operate on regional stability and work together on combating illegal migration in the region.

Libya

Discussions will cover the latest developments in the Libyan political process. We will encourage the EU to consider how it can best continue to support the Libyan political process.

Middle east peace process

Ministers will discuss progress on the middle east peace process (MEPP) and may reflect on obstacles to peace including incitement, terrorism, demolitions and recent settlement expansion.

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Home Department

Justice and Home Affairs Post-Council Statement

The first (informal) meeting of EU Interior and Justice Ministers during the Maltese presidency took place on 26 and 27 January in Valletta. The Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, my right hon. Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth (Brandon Lewis), and I represented the UK.

Interior day began on 26 January with a discussion on reform of the common European asylum system. I intervened to reiterate the benefits of separating the proposed relocation mechanism for redistributing asylum seekers between member states from the draft revised Dublin regulation—which the Government have not opted into—and to support activity, including engagement with third countries, aimed at controlling inward migration flows. Ministers agreed to take forward further work to define “solidarity mechanisms”, and on upstream engagement with third countries.

In the afternoon Ministers discussed IT systems for borders and security. There was broad support for the use of biometric data for law enforcement and border security purposes. I reiterated the Government’s call for more proactive sharing of criminal records and to encourage practical solutions, but warned that proposals for a single EU repository/system for fingerprint and DNA data may infringe on member state competence.

In the margins of the meeting, the Policing Minister and I held a number of discussions with other member states on issues including the extension of passenger name records (PNR) exchanges to high-speed rail links, and on the impact of the recent judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJE) in the Watson/TELE 2 case. Member states agreed to work together to make progress in addressing both issues.

On Justice day, Ministers held an exchange of views on the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) and moved towards agreeing in principle a text that can subsequently be taken forward by member states under enhanced co-operation. The UK did not intervene in this discussion as we will not participate in the EPPO. The next General Affairs Council (7 Feb) will be asked to agree to ask the European Council whether this measure can be pursued under enhanced co-operation.

This was followed by discussion on a proposed insolvency directive to harmonise insolvency standards. The Policing Minister intervened to support the broad objectives of the measure, which reflect many existing principles of insolvency law in the United Kingdom, but highlighted that we still needed to analyse the detail of the measure. Most member states who spoke cautioned against over-harmonisation as this is an area where national laws and practices diverge.

Over lunch, the Commission presented its new draft legislation aimed at tackling money laundering and terrorist financing. The Policing Minister expressed support of the aims of the legislation as our criminal law is already in line with the proposal harmonising criminal offences and penalties. However, he reminded member states that the UK’s general position on refusing to be limited by EU common rules in relation to criminal law means we may not choose to opt in.

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Avon Fire and Rescue Authority: Statutory Inspection

There have been long standing allegations made against Avon fire and rescue authority in respect of its governance.

In June 2016, the chairman of Avon fire and rescue authority approached the Department requesting assistance with launching an inquiry into concerns raised by members of the authority. That request was subsequently withdrawn by the chairman. In August 2016, and again in October 2016, I asked the fire and rescue authority to commission a full investigation, independent of the authority, into the allegations but the chair and vice-chairs of the authority have made clear to me that they do not intend to commission such an investigation.

In light of this response, I have today commissioned a statutory inspection under section 10 of the Local Government Act 1999 into Avon fire and rescue authority’s compliance with its duty to make arrangements to secure continuous improvement in the way in which its functions in respect of governance are exercised, having regard to a combination of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. The inspection will focus on the authority’s functions in respect of governance, including, but not limited to, the authority’s duties of accountability and assurance under the fire and rescue national framework.

I consider that the extent, seriousness and persistence of the allegations made against the authority, together with the alleged failures to properly deal with complaints, if well founded, would indicate that the authority is failing to comply with its duty to make arrangements to secure continuous improvement. Such allegations would suggest that the authority is unable to deliver economically, efficiently and effectively now or in the future. As a result, I consider that a statutory inspection is appropriate in this instance and is in the public interest. I should make it clear that I express no view about whether or not the allegations are well founded, as that is a matter which will now be considered by the inspection.

It is in the public interest to ensure that allegations of this seriousness are carefully considered by a suitably qualified person of impeccable standing. Dr Craig Baker will be appointed as the inspector. Dr Baker is an independent consultant who has advised public sector organisations for over 30 years in the UK and overseas.

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Transport

Airport Capacity and Airspace Policy

Today I will be laying before Parliament a draft airports national policy statement and beginning a period of extensive public consultation on the policy proposals it contains. National policy statements were introduced under the Planning Act 2008 and are used to set out Government policy on nationally significant infrastructure projects. This draft airports national policy statement sets out the need for additional airport capacity, as well as the reasons why the Government believe that need is best met by a north-west runway at Heathrow.

The draft airports national policy statement, appraisal of sustainability of the draft airports national policy statement, incorporating a strategic environmental assessment, an assessment of the policy under the habitats and wild birds directive, a health impact analysis, and an equality impact assessment will be made available online.

The airports national policy statement, if designated, will provide the primary basis for making decisions on any development consent application for a new north-west runway at Heathrow Airport.

For a scheme to be compliant with the airports national policy statement, the Secretary of State would expect Heathrow Airport Ltd. to:

demonstrate it has worked constructively with airlines on domestic connectivity—the Government expect Heathrow to add six more domestic routes across the UK by 2030, bringing the total to 14, strengthening existing links to nations and regions, and also developing new connections;

provide compensation to communities who are affected by the expansion including noise insulation for homes and schools, improvements to public facilities and other measures. This includes establishing a community compensation fund and a community engagement board;

honour its commitment of payments for those people whose homes need to be compulsorily purchased to make way for the new runway or for those who take up the voluntary scheme of 25% above the full market value of their home and cover all costs including stamp duty, reasonable moving costs and legal fees;

put in place a number of measures to mitigate the impacts of noise, including legally binding noise targets and periods of predictable respite. The Government also expect a ban of six and a half hours on scheduled night flights;

set specific mode share targets to get more than half of airport users onto public transport, aimed at meeting its pledge of no more airport-related road traffic with expansion compared to today;

implement a package of industry-leading measures to limit carbon and air quality impacts both during construction and operation; and

demonstrate that the scheme can be delivered in compliance with legal requirements on air quality.

I have appointed Sir Jeremy Sullivan, the former Senior President of Tribunals, to provide independent oversight of the draft airports national policy statement consultation process and ensure best practice is upheld.

Consultation on airspace

We need to think about how we manage the rising number of aircraft in an efficient and effective manner. By taking steps now to future-proof this vital infrastructure, we can harness the latest technology to make airspace more efficient as well as making journeys faster and more environmentally friendly.

I am therefore also publishing proposals to modernise the way UK airspace is managed, which will be consulted on in parallel. The policy principles set out in this airspace consultation influence decisions taken later in the planning process for a north-west runway at Heathrow, if the airports national policy statement were to be designated, including how local communities can have their say on airspace matters and how impacts on them are taken into account.

It is an important issue and one that will define the principles for shaping our airspace for years to come. It is therefore sensible to allow members of the public to consider both matters at the same time.

The proposals being published for consultation today include the functions, structure and governance of an Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise, which we will establish. The Commission would build relationships between industry and communities, embed a culture of best practice, and ensure an even fairer process for making changes to airspace.

The proposed new call-in function for a Secretary of State on airspace changes, similar to that used by the Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government for planning applications, create a democratic back-stop in the most significant decisions, much called for by communities.

The consultation on airspace policy, new air navigation guidance and the strategic rationale for upgrading the UK’s airspace will be made available online.

Aviation strategy

The aviation sector is a great British success story, contributing around £20 billion per year and directly supporting approximately 230,000 jobs across the United Kingdom. It also supports an estimated 260,000 jobs across the wider economy.

I want to build on this success. My Department is currently progressing work to develop a new strategy for UK aviation.

This strategy will champion the success story of the UK’s aviation sector. It will put the consumer back at the heart of our thinking. The strategy will also explore how we can maximise the positive role that our world class aviation sector plays in developing global trade links, providing vital connections to both the world’s growing economies and more established trading partners. Connections that will only grow in importance as our trading network expands.

I will come back to the House to update you on our plans for the strategy as they develop over the coming weeks.

Consultation and parliamentary scrutiny

These two consultations will last for 16 weeks and close on 25/05/2017. At the same time, and as required by the Planning Act 2008, a period of parliamentary scrutiny (the “relevant period”) now begins for the airports national policy statement, ending by summer recess 2017.

I will be placing copies of all relevant documents in the Libraries of both Houses. Following consultation and parliamentary scrutiny, and assuming that in the light of these processes the decision is made to proceed, we expect to lay a final airports national policy statement before Parliament for debate and an expected vote in the House of Commons by winter 2017-18.

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Work and Pensions

“Fuller Working Lives: A Partnership Approach”

Today, we are publishing “Fuller Working Lives: A Partnership Approach”, a new employer-led strategy which outlines the demographic change facing the UK and the opportunities and challenges an ageing workforce present for employers, individuals, Government and for wider society.

We are living on average almost a decade longer than our grandparents. While this is good news, it also has implications for employers and the economy, as well as people’s own personal financial security, health and wellbeing.

In 2010, one in four of the working age population was aged 50 and over; and this is projected to increase to one in three by 2022. By 2035, people aged 50 and over will comprise half of the UK adult population (source: ONS (2014) population estimates and 2014-based population projections). Fuller working lives are important for individuals, employers and the economy.

For individuals, analysis shows that by delaying retirement until 65 instead of 55, a male average earner could have £280,000 extra income and might increase his pension pot by 60%. By retiring at 63 instead of 55, a female average earner who took a 10-year career break, could have £180,000 extra income and might increase her pension pot by 50% (source: DWP modelling, “Fuller Working Lives Evidence Base 2017”). Moreover, being in appropriate work is good for an individual’s health, both physical and mental.

For employers, in order to meet future demand it will be increasingly important to recruit, retain and retrain older workers. Over the next five years to 2022, there will be just under 2 million more people aged 50 years and over and 300,000 fewer people aged 16-49 (source: ONS (2014) population estimates and 2014-based population projections). We particularly want to support older workers to remain in and return to the labour market; one in four men and one in three women reaching state pension age have not worked for five years or more.

For the economy, adding just one year to people’s working lives could add 1% to GDP per year; that would be equivalent to £18 billion in 2015, according to ONS data (2015).

Leading employers have worked with us to identify the steps needed to ensure the retention, retraining and recruitment of older workers. The new strategy sets out the case for action business to business, as well as the importance of fuller working lives for individuals and the key actions that Government are taking. It is underpinned by analysis of the attitudes, behaviours and experiences of individuals and employers which are integral to the achievement of the fuller working lives ambition. To support individuals aged 50 years and over to remain in and return to the labour market and tackle the barriers to doing so.

I will place a copy of this strategy document and supporting evidence base 2017 in the Libraries of both Houses.

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