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Written Statements

Volume 635: debated on Wednesday 7 February 2018

Written Statements

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Modern Working Practices

On 11 July 2017 the Government published the review of modern working practices, which was led by Matthew Taylor (Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts) at the request of my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister.

The Government set out in the industrial strategy, published in November, a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK by focusing on the five foundations of productivity: ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment and places.

Good work and developing better jobs for everyone in the British economy is at the centre of our industrial strategy vision.

Building on the industrial strategy, today the Government are publishing a full response to the Taylor review, setting out how we intend to develop further the strength of the UK labour market and ensure it meets the challenges and opportunities presented by new ways of working and innovative business models. Alongside the full response, we are publishing four public consultations, which seek views on how to implement a series of proposals to enhance workers’ rights and ensure that the labour market is working for everybody.

The four consultations cover proposed changes on agency workers, employment status, enforcement and increasing transparency.

We are taking forward work on the vast majority of the review recommendations, and the plans we are outlining build on our pledge to not only protect, but enhance, workers’ rights. Copies of the Government response and consultations will be placed in the Libraries of the House.



ECOFIN: 23 January 2018

A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) was held in Brussels on 23 January 2018. EU Finance Ministers discussed the following:

Early morning session

The Eurogroup President provided briefing to Ministers on the outcomes of the 22 January meeting of the Eurogroup, and the Commission provided an update on the current economic situation in the EU.

Deepening of the economic and monetary union (EMU)

The Council held a policy debate on the deepening of the EMU.

Current financial services legislative proposals

The presidency presented information on the current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.

VAT: simplification of rates and simplification for SMEs

The Commission presented proposals to reform the rules on VAT rates and structures, and to simplify VAT obligations for SMEs.

Presidency work programme

The Bulgarian presidency presented its work programme for January to June 2018.

European semester 2018

The Council adopted the Council conclusions on the annual growth survey 2018 and the Council conclusions on the alert mechanism report 2018. The Council also approved a Council recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area.

Action plan to tackle non-performing loans in Europe

The Council exchanged views on a factual report by the Commission regarding the implementation of the action plan to tackle non-performing loans in Europe.

AOB: EU list of non-co-operative jurisdictions for tax purposes

The Council approved a report by the EU Code of Conduct Group (Business Taxation) to de-list eight jurisdictions from the EU list of non-co-operative jurisdictions for tax purposes that was agreed at December 2017 ECOFIN.



Votes A Annual Estimate 2018-19

The Ministry of Defence Votes A estimate 2018-19, has been laid before the House today as HC730. This outlines the maximum numbers of personnel to be maintained for each service in the armed forces during financial year 2018-19.



Schools and Early Years Update

Following the two public consultations my Department ran recently, I am pleased to announce my intention to lay regulations in the House later today that will introduce net earned income thresholds under universal credit for free school meals, the early years pupil premium, and the early education entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds.

This approach is consistent with how other Government Departments have set criteria for other “passported” benefits.

The changes will come into force on 1 April 2018 for the start of the school summer term. Under our proposals, we estimate that by 2022 around 50,000 more children will benefit from a free school meal compared to the previous benefits system. In addition, we will apply transitional protection to anyone currently receiving free school meals.

These changes do not affect the criteria for universal infant free school meals, which will continue to be available to all pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2 regardless of parental income.

For free school meals and the early years pupil premium we are introducing a net earnings threshold of £7,400 per annum. A typical family earning around £7,400 per annum would, depending on their exact circumstances, have a total household income of between £18,000 and £24,000 once benefits are taken into account.

For the early education entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds, we are introducing a net earnings threshold of £15,400 per annum. Under this new threshold, we estimate that by 2023 around 7,000 more children will benefit from the two-year-old entitlement compared to the previous benefits system.

The Government’s responses to these consultations have been published on the Department for Education’s website, and copies of the regulations will be laid shortly.


Work and Pensions

Finance Guidance and Claims Bill (Contingencies Fund Advance)

The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill currently before Parliament provides for an arm’s-length non-departmental public body, known as the single finance guidance body, to take on their functions currently delivered by the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.

Our intention, subject to parliamentary approval, is to launch the new body in autumn 2018. In order to avoid delay in the launch, expenditure is required in advance of the Bill receiving Royal Assent to cover the costs associated with the commencement of the recruitment of the Chair and Chief Executive of the body, including the staffing costs of the DWP public appointments, any media advertising, and miscellaneous administration costs. Advertising for the posts will be clear that the roles are dependent on the successful passage of the Bill through Parliament.

Parliamentary approval for resources of £30,000 for this new service will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the Department of Work and Pensions. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £30,000 will be met by repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund.