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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
26 June 2018
Volume 643

Written Statements

Tuesday 26 June 2018

Cabinet Office

Members’ Correspondence: 2017

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I am today publishing a report on the performance of Departments and Agencies on handling correspondence from Members and Peers during the calendar year 2017. Details are set out in the table below. Correspondence statistics for 2016 can be found on 11 July 2017, Volume 627 (HCWS35).

Departmental figures are based on substantive replies unless otherwise indicated. The footnotes to the table provide general background information on how the figures have been compiled.

Correspondence from MP/Peers to Ministers and Agency Executives 2017 (1)

Department or Agency

Target set for reply

(working days)

Number of letters received

% of replies within target

Attorney General’s office

20

202

98%

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

15

4032

65%

Insolvency Service

15

33

100%

Land Registry

15

87

93%

Companies House

10

44

98%

Cabinet Office

15

682

93%

Charity Commission

15

181

71%

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

15

8060

46%

Planning Inspectorate

10

127

25%

Crown Prosecution Service

20

270

70%

Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport

20

4112

89%

National Archives

20

21

100%

Ministry of Defence

20

2588

96%

Department for Education

15

7671

57%

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

15

5563

71%

Animal and Plant Health Agency

15

38

98%

Rural Payments Agency

15

157

70%

Department for Exiting the European Union

20

2884

73%

Food Standards Agency (*)

(*) FSA Ministers replies

20

35

91%

(*) FSA Chair/CE replies

20

43

58%

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

20

6420

87%

Government Legal Department

10

10

100%

Department of Health and Social Care

18

12627

91%

Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency

20

35

97%

Public Health England

18

80

98%

Home Office

15

5977

54%

UK Visas and Immigration/Immigration Enforcement/Border Force

20

39369

83%

Her Majesty’s Passport Office

20

2235

91%

Department for International Development

15

1423

93%

Department for International Trade

15

913

77%

Ministry of Justice

15

2539

88%

HM Courts Service and Tribunals Service (*)

(*) Where Ministers replied

15

656

94%

(*) Where CEO replied

15

348

96%

Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (*)

(*) Where Ministers replied

15

888

81%

(*) Where CEO replied

10

297

92%

Office of the Public Guardian (*)

(*) Where Ministers replied

15

45

93%

(*) Where CEO replied

10

44

93%

Northern Ireland Office

15

527

83%

Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills

15

229

80%

Office of Gas and Electricity Markets

15

209

97%

Office of the Leader of the House of Commons

15

192

94%

Office of the Leader of the House of Lords

15

15

100%

Office of Rail and Road

20

45

76%

OFWAT (Water Services Regulation Authority)

15

29

72%

Scotland Office

15

70

73%

Serious Fraud Office

20

45

93%

Department for Transport

20

6294

80%

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

7

1877

99%

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency

10

190

100%

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

10

15

100%

HM Treasury

15

6489

77%

HM Revenue and Customs (*)

(*) Where Ministers replied

15

1068

60%

(*) Where CEO replied

15

5775

84%

Valuation Office Agency (2)

15

686

49%

Wales Office

15

87

86%

Department for Work and Pensions

20

11168

88%

Health and Safety Executive

15

87

100%

Human Resources

15

50

100%

Director General

15

2140

83%

(1) Departments and Agencies which received 10 MPs/Peers letters or fewer are not shown in this table. Holding or interim replies are not included unless otherwise indicated. The report does not include correspondence considered as Freedom of Information requests.

(2) The Valuation Office Agency is an executive agency, sponsored by HM Revenue & Customs.

[HCWS798]

Housing, Communities and Local Government

Affordable Housing

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Our record on the provision of social housing is a strong one with over 378,000 affordable homes delivered since 2010. This included 273,000 homes for rent, and over 10,400 council homes built between 2010-11 and 2016-17, up from 2,920 over the previous 13 years.

The Government are committed to increasing support for more social housing. I am delighted to announce the launch of bidding for two flagship social housing programmes—additional funding for the affordable homes programme and an increase in housing revenue account borrowing. Together these will release over £2.6 billion of additional investment in those parts of the country where the need is greatest to help local authorities and housing associations build the homes that their communities need. Eligibility for this funding will be determined by the difference between private and social rents in local areas.

Today’s announcement confirms that £1.67 billion will be spent on delivering 23,000 additional affordable homes outside of London and could lever in total investment by housing associations and councils of up to £3.5 billion. This investment will help those who are struggling most, by delivering at least 12,500 homes for social rent in areas of the country where the difference between private and social rents are above average.

This announcement completes the allocation of the £9 billion affordable homes programme which will deliver at least 250,000 affordable homes by March 2022. At the spring statement we confirmed an additional £1.67 billion for London.

The Government are also committed to a step change in council house building. I am today launching bidding for the £1 billion housing revenue account borrowing programme, announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at autumn Budget. We need a stronger, more diverse housing market, and this additional borrowing programme recognises the vital role that local authorities can play in building new homes to meet local needs. The additional borrowing will be split equally between London and the rest of the country, and at least £500 million will be available to London boroughs with London boroughs also eligible to bid for further funding from the remaining £500 million.

By opening up bidding, local authorities in areas where private sector rents are higher will be able to borrow more for new housing development between 2019-20 and 2021-22. Local authorities will have flexibility to consider the bidding routes most suited to their needs: additional borrowing only, or additional borrowing to be used alongside either unspent right to buy receipts or affordable homes programme grant.

I want to see eligible local authorities bidding into the programme, demonstrating their ambition and appetite to build new council homes, and showing how the sector can contribute to tackling the country’s housing needs. The additional borrowing programme will help to support the delivery of a new generation of council houses to fix our broken housing market.

I am placing a copy of the affordable homes programme addendum and the “Additional Housing Revenue Account Borrowing Programme: Prospectus for local authorities outside London” in the Library of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords.

[HCWS797]

Transport

Airports: National Policy Statement

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On Monday the House of Commons debated the proposed airports national policy statement which I laid before Parliament on 5 June. Following the approval of the statement by the House, I am pleased to inform the House that I am today designating it as a national policy statement under the provisions of section 5(1) of the Planning Act 2008, and have arranged for publication as required by section 5(9)(a) of that Act.

The designation of the airports national policy statement marks a significant step forward. It provides the primary basis for decision making on development consent applications for a north-west runway at Heathrow airport, clarifying what is required to enable the development of much needed additional airport capacity that is essential for trade and economic growth, while setting clear requirements to mitigate the impacts on local communities and the environment.

The next step is for applicants to develop their plans, and then carry out further public consultation as required under the Act. Any application for development consent will of course be considered carefully and with an open mind based on the evidence provided, including through a public examination by the independent planning inspectorate, before a final decision is made.

[HCWS796]

Work and Pensions

Private Pensions

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Further to the Protecting Defined Benefit Pension Schemes White Paper published in March this year, the Government are today announcing the publication of a consultation to gather views on enhancing TPR’s powers. Proposals include higher fines and criminal offences for wilful and/or reckless behaviour that puts pension schemes at risk, as well as new powers to enable the regulator to intervene. The package aims to balance protection for pensions while not imposing unnecessary regulations on business.

We are seeking views on our proposals before we move to implement them at: https://getinvolved.dwp.gov.uk. The consultation will be online from today and will run until 21 August 2018.

[HCWS795]