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Written Statements

Volume 622: debated on Thursday 9 March 2017

Written Statements

Thursday 9 March 2017

Cabinet Office

Contingency Fund

The Cabinet Office has sought a routine advance of £150 million from the Contingency Fund to cover pension benefit payments by the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme. The amount includes £90 million to fund pension benefits and £60 million to fund payments to HMRC in respect of the tax related to these benefits.

This technical measure is simply since the costs have fallen earlier in the financial year than initially forecast by pension administrators.

Authority has already been sought in the supplementary estimate 2016-17 for these payments, but this is not due to be approved by Parliament until the end of this month. The funds will be repaid to the Contingency Fund once the Supply Bill has been authorised. There is no interest on such advances from the Contingency Fund.

[HCWS524]

Treasury

National Infrastructure Commission Report: 5G Strategy

My noble Friend the Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) has today made the following written statement.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury deposited a copy of the National Infrastructure Commission’s report on 5G and telecommunication technology in the Libraries of both Houses on 24 January 2017. [DEP2017-0060]

Today I confirm the publication of the Government’s response to the National Infrastructure Commission’s report. This response is set out in the Government’s 5G strategy.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/next-generation-mobile-technologies-a-5g-strategy-for-the-uk

Copies of the document will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

“Connected Future”, published on 14 December 2017, calls for Government to play an active role in ensuring that basic mobile services are available wherever we live, work and travel. The Government welcome the report as an opportunity to position the UK at the forefront of the deployment of 5G, and ensure we can take early advantage of the applications 5G networks may enable.

That is why, alongside this publication, the Government are providing £1.1 billion of funding to explore and incentivise the next generation of digital infrastructure for the UK—5G and full fibre. This will be a core part of our modern industrial strategy—helping to shape and establish an economy which is adaptive, resilient to change and fit for the demands of the 21st century.

The National Infrastructure Commission was announced in October 2015, to provide expert impartial analysis of the long-term infrastructure needs of the country. In January 2017 the commission was established on a permanent basis as an Executive agency of HM Treasury.

[HCWS522]

Communities and Local Government

Local Growth

The Chancellor announced at the 2016 autumn statement that the Government would publish a strategy for the midlands engine.

As the ministerial champion for the midlands engine I am delighted that we have today published that strategy. I will be placing a copy in the House of Commons Library.

The midlands has a central role to play in the Government’s emerging industrial strategy—a successful midlands economy is a vital part of a successful UK economy that works for everyone. It is at the heart of the United Kingdom and has huge economic potential. Its economy is worth £217.7 billion—13% of the UK’s annual output.

Through the strategy we will focus on five key objectives:

Improving connectivity to raise productivity

Strengthening skills to make the Midlands a more attractive location for businesses

Supporting enterprise and innovation to foster a more dynamic regional economy

Promoting the Midlands nationally and internationally in order to maximise trade and investment in the region

Enhancing quality of life to attract and retain skilled workers, as well as to foster the local tourism economy.

As part of the delivery of the connectivity theme, Midlands Connect is today launching its transport strategy, “Powering the Midlands Engine”, which outlines transport investment priorities across the region.

The Government cannot deliver the midlands engine strategy alone. We will continue to work with the Midlands Engine Partnership, which brings together businesses, local authorities, academic institutions and local enterprise partnerships (LEPs). It is a unique example of local government and businesses voluntarily joining forces to deliver a shared vision for a whole region. Together with the West Midlands Combined Authority, and LEPs and local authorities across the region, it provides an excellent vehicle to support delivery of this strategy, continuing on our journey towards making the midlands an engine for growth and building an economy that works for everyone.

As part of the midlands engine strategy, I am today announcing the 10 individual awards to LEPs in the midlands.

Between them they will benefit from £392 million of Government support from the local growth fund, on top of the £1.5 billion committed in previous growth deals.

Table A: growth deal 3 funding awards for LEPs in the midlands

LEP

Funding Award (£m)

Black Country

55.05

Coventry and Warwickshire

42.44

Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire

62.99

Greater Birmingham and Solihull

54.20

Greater Lincolnshire

29.45

Leicester and Leicestershire

25.87

South East Midlands

59.04

Stoke and Staffordshire

23.30

The Marches

21.91

Worcestershire

17.51

We have now awarded over £9 billion to LEPs from the local growth fund. With the home building fund and local transport majors launched in 2016 we have fulfilled our manifesto commitment to a £12 billion local growth fund. It is a crucial part of the Government’s agenda to drive growth and devolve power to local areas, with decisions being made by those who know their local area best, and supporting the Government’s commitment to build an economy that works for everyone.

This was the most competitive round yet, and awards were made based on a bidding round that took place last year.

The expanded deals will provide LEPs in the midlands 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.

The Government have strong ambitions to put the midlands at the heart of growth in the UK. We have already invested £1.5 billion in growth deals in the midlands and this additional investment will help to ensure that we achieve greater economic growth and productivity. We are supporting improvements in infrastructure, skills, business environment, innovation and increasing trade and investment by promoting the midlands nationally and internationally.

Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www.parliament. uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2017-03-09/HCWS523/

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