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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
24 January 2019
Volume 653

Written Statements

Thursday 24 January 2019

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Supporting New Parents in Work

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Through the industrial strategy the Government are working to transform our economy to ensure that everyone, no matter what their background, can enter into the labour market and progress at work.

In the “Good Work Plan” we set out an ambition that all work should be fair and decent. Pregnancy and maternity discrimination has absolutely no place in that ambition. It is unlawful.

In our response to the Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into pregnancy and maternity discrimination, we made a commitment to review the position in relation to redundancy following the suggestion that we could further strengthen existing protections. We have completed that review.

Tomorrow, we are publishing a consultation document proposing legislative changes to strengthen the existing protection against redundancy by extending it into a period of return to work after maternity leave or other types of parental leave. It currently applies to women on maternity leave. By doing so we will further help to tackle discrimination and support new parents in work.

The consultation also covers other steps we are taking to change the culture which can exist around pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace.

Copies of the consultation will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS1277]

Defence

War Pensions Scheme: Uprating

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The new rates of war pensions and allowances proposed from April 2019 are set out in the following tables. The annual uprating of war pensions and allowances for 2019 will take place from the week beginning 8 April 2019. Rates for 2019 are increasing by 2.4% in line with the September 2018 consumer price index.

War Pensions Rates

Rates

Rates

(Weekly rates unless otherwise shown)

2018

2019

£

£

War Pensions

Disablement Pension (100% rates)

officer (£ per annum)

9,674.00

9,904.00

other ranks (weekly amount)

185.40

189.80

Age Allowances Payable from Age 65

40% - 50%

12.40

12.70

over 50% but not over 70%

19.10

19.55

over 70% but not over 90%

27.15

27.80

Over 90%

38.20

39.10

Disablement Gratuity (one-off payment)

specified minor injury (min.)

1,181.00

1,209.00

specified minor injury (max.)

8,816.00

9,028.00

1% - 5% gratuity

2,948.00

3,019.00

6% - 14% gratuity

6,554.00

6,711.00

15% - 19% gratuity

11,462.00

11,737.00

Supplementary Allowances

Unemployability Allowance

personal

114.55

117.30

adult dependency increase

63.65

65.20

increase for first child

14.80

15.15

increase for subsequent children

17.40

17.80

Invalidity Allowance

higher rate

22.65

23.20

middle rate

14.70

15.10

lower rate

7.35

7.55

Constant Attendance Allowance

exceptional rate

139.80

143.20

intermediate rate

104.85

107.40

full day rate

69.90

71.60

part-day rate

34.95

35.80

Comforts Allowance

higher rate

30.10

30.80

lower rate

15.05

15.40

mobility supplement

66.75

68.35

allowance for lowered standard of occupation (maximum)

69.92

71.60

therapeutic earnings limit (annual rate)

6,526.00

6,838.00

exceptional severe disablement allowance

69.90

71.60

severe disablement occupational allowance

34.95

35.80

clothing allowance (per annum)

239.00

245.00

education allowance (per annum) (maximum)

120.00

120.00

Widow(er)s Benefits

widow(er)s-other ranks (basic with children) (weekly amount)

140.60

143.95

widow(er)-officer higher rate both wars (basic with children) (per annum)

7,477.00

7,656.00

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

33.67

34.48

widow(er)-officer lower rate both wars (per annum)

2,597.00

2,659.00

supplementary pension

94.05

96.31

Age Allowance

(a) age 65 to 69

16.00

16.40

(b) age 70 to 79

30.80

31.55

(c) age 80 and over

45.70

46.80

Children’s Allowance

increase for first child

22.05

22.60

increase for subsequent children

24.70

25.30

Orphan’s Pension

increase for first child

25.25

25.85

increase for subsequent children

27.60

28.25

unmarried dependant living as spouse (max)

138.25

141.60

rent allowance (maximum)

52.95

54.20

adult orphan’s pension (maximum)

108.05

110.65

[HCWS1275]

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture and Fisheries Council: January 2019

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The Agriculture and Fisheries Council takes place in Brussels on 28 January.

As the provisional agenda stands, the primary focus for agriculture will be on the post-2020 common agriculture policy (CAP) reform package. There will be an exchange of views on the new delivery model for the regulation on CAP strategic plans, followed by a presentation from the Commission on green architecture. The Council will then discuss the proposed regulation on common market organisation (CMO) of agricultural products.

The presidency will also give a presentation on its work programme, and there will be a presentation by the Commission on a protein plan, which the Council will then debate.

There is currently one item scheduled for discussion under “any other business”:

information from the Danish delegation on the establishment of an international centre for antimicrobial resistance solutions (ICARS) to strengthen the fight against AMR internationally and especially in low and middle-income countries.

An additional item is also expected to be added to the agenda under “any other business”:

information from the Commission on the outcome of the ministerial conference on “Eradication of African swine fever in the EU and the long-term management of wild boar populations”.

[HCWS1273]

Home Department

National Crime Agency

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The National Crime Agency (NCA) leads the fight against serious and organised crime. It has the power to task other law enforcement partners and a capability, with local to international reach, to disrupt the impact of serious and organised crime on the UK.

This is the fifth HMIC inspection of the NCA. The inspection stemmed from a recommendation in the 2015 NCA internal review of warrants and was conducted jointly with HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI).

This report is being published today and I will arrange for a copy to be placed in the Library of both Houses. I have asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services to publish this report on my behalf and it will be available online at www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk.

The inspection found that the NCA has been working to tackle the areas of concern highlighted in the 2015 review. The inspection of search authorities, search warrants and production orders identified some deficiencies, but overall HMICFRS found the applications are completed to a good standard. HMICFRS made six recommendations which will improve procedures and update guidance and they believe these recommendations will help enhance what is already a mature process.

It is for the director general to respond to these recommendations, in line with the requirements of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.

[HCWS1276]

Police Grant Report: England and Wales 2019-20

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The Secretary of State for the Home Department, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Sajid Javid), has today laid before the House, the Police Grant Report (England and Wales) 2019-20 (HC 1896) for the approval of the House. The report sets out my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary’s determination for 2019-20 of the aggregate amount of grant that he proposes to pay under section 46(2) of the Police Act 1996.

The first role of Government is to protect the public. We will always ensure that the police have the powers and resources needed to keep our citizens and communities safe. We know that the police need the right capabilities and resources to respond to the changing nature of crime. This financial year, we provided forces with a £460 million increase in overall funding, including increased funding to tackle counter-terrorism and £280 million for local policing through the police precept. Most Police and Crime Commissioners set out plans to use this funding to either protect or enhance frontline policing.

Last year, we indicated we would provide a similar funding settlement in 2019-20, if the police made progress in delivering further commercial savings, used mobile digital working and increased financial reserves transparency. The police have delivered on these conditions and are on track to deliver £120 million in commercial and back office savings by 2020-21 and move towards a new commercial operating model. All forces have published reserves strategies using the guidance we published in January 2018.

Before announcing the Government’s proposals, we reviewed the demand on the police again. It is clear that demand pressures on the police have risen this year as a result of changing crime. There has been a major increase in the reporting of high harm, previously hidden crimes such as child sexual exploitation and modern slavery and a growing threat from serious and organised crime (SOC). SOC affects more UK citizens, more often, than any other national security threat and costs the economy at least £37 billion each year. It is increasing in both volume and complexity.

Through the serious violence strategy, we are bearing down on the worst spike in serious violence and knife crime that we have seen in a decade by combining support for more robust and targeted policing with effective long-term investment in prevention and earlier intervention. And we need to recognise the work done by the police to combat the evolving threat from terrorism. The Government are determined to support the police to meet the demand across counter-terrorism, serious and organised crime and local policing.

I have carefully considered the responses to the consultation on the provisional police grant report. I am pleased with the positive response we have received with most Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) consulting their communities on using the new £24 precept flexibility in full and many saying that they will use the additional funding to increase or protect the frontline.

I can confirm that the allocations that have been laid before the House today are the same as those proposed in my statement of 13 December 2018. These proposals will help forces to both meet additional demand and manage financial pressures. In total, we will enable an increase in funding for the police system of up to £970 million compared to 2018-19, the biggest increase since 2010. This includes increases in Government grant funding, full use of precept flexibility, funding to support pensions costs, and increased national funding to meet the threats from counter-terrorism and serious and organised crime.

As the Chancellor announced at the Budget, funding for counter-terrorism policing will increase by £160 million compared to the 2015 spending review settlement. This is a year on year increase in counter-terrorism police funding of £59 million (8%) compared to 2018-19. This increases the counter-terrorism budget to £816 million, including £24 million for an uplift in armed policing from the police transformation fund. This is a significant additional investment in the vital work of counter-terrorism police officers across the country. PCCs will be notified of force allocations separately. These will not be made public for security reasons.

The Government have prioritised serious and organised crime (SOC) within our funding for national priorities in 2019-20. Criminal networks are increasingly resilient and adaptable, exploiting technology and ruthlessly targeting the most vulnerable, ruining lives and blighting communities. The new SOC strategy, published on 1 November, sets out the Government’s new approach to prevent serious and organised crime, build our defences against it, track down the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Police forces, alongside the NCA and regional organised crime units, are an essential part of this approach, tackling complex SOC threats, including fraud, cyber- crime and child sexual exploitation and abuse. We will invest £90 million in much-needed SOC capabilities at national, regional and local levels, with a significant proportion allocated directly to police forces.

We are increasing the general Government grants to PCCs by £161 million (including £90 million additional funding from the Exchequer) to a total of £7.8 billion, including a £146 million increase in core grant funding. Each PCC will see their Government grant funding protected in real terms. Specific grants to the Metropolitan Police Service and City of London Police will increase by £14 million; an affordable increase that will better reflect the additional costs of policing London, at a time when the Metropolitan Police Service faces specific financial pressures, and the City of London Police does not benefit from additional council tax precept flexibility.

Following the announcement at the Budget that the Government would allocate funding from the reserve to pay part of the costs of increases in public sector pensions contributions in 2019-20, we are allocating a further £153 million of specific grant funding to support the policing system with increases in pensions contributions (including additional funding for the counter-terrorism police network and the National Crime Agency). This funding will be distributed according to a methodology developed with police leaders.

We are also proposing to double the precept flexibility for locally accountable PCCs. Last year, we provided an additional £12 precept flexibility. This year, we propose giving PCCs the freedom to ask for an additional £2 a month in 2019-20, to increase their band D precept by £24 in 2019-20 without the need to call a local referendum.

It is for locally accountable PCCs to take decisions on local precept and explain to their electorate how this additional investment will help deliver a better police service. If all PCCs use their flexibility in full in 2019-20, based on the latest Office for Budget Responsibility tax base forecasts, it will mean around an additional £509 million public investment in our police system.

Taken together, this substantial increase in police funding will enable forces to continue recruiting, fill crucial capability gaps such as in detectives, meet their genuine financial pressures, drive through efficiency programmes, and improve their effectiveness by preventing crime and delivering better outcomes for victims of crime.

In addition to these increases in direct funding, we will also support PCCs and forces through continued investment of £175 million in the police transformation fund (PTF) and £495 million to improve police technology, as we did last year. Our priorities in the PTF are to support sector led initiatives that will build important national capabilities delivered to forces through the major national police led programmes, which include a Single Online Home (Policing website) to engage more effectively with the public, and new ways of working through productivity and cyber-security tools supporting collaboration. The Home Office technology programmes will, for example, replace and upgrade end of life critical infrastructure such as the Airwave communication system with the 4G emergency services network. The law enforcement data service will replace the existing police national computer and police national database with an integrated service to provide intelligence to law enforcement and its partners. I set out in an annex to this letter further information regarding police funding in 2019-20, namely tables illustrating how we propose to allocate the police funding settlement between the different funding streams and between Police and Crime Commissioners for 2019-20.

As I set out in my statement of 13 December, this investment will support four key pillars of police effectiveness.

1. Increasing capacity, including investing in Police Now to attract excellent new talent, while introducing technology that saves time—so officers spend longer on the frontline;

2. Crime prevention, including funding for innovative new techniques;

3. Enhancing the support we offer to hard-working frontline police officers and staff, with the new national welfare service;

4. Through ensuring system leaders provide national direction on performance, including through working more smartly, with the digitally enabled modern tools to police effectively.

As set out in December, this settlement sets out four priority areas to drive efficiency, productivity and effectiveness next year to drive improvements in services to the public.

1. On behalf of the taxpayer, the Government will expect to see continued efficiency savings in 2019-20 through collective procurement and shared services. We need to see national approaches to procuring forensics, vehicles and basic equipment such as helmets, developed over the coming year. And we will be setting an expectation that every force contributes substantially to procurement savings; we will work with the police to agree the right force level objectives for 2019-20 and 2020-21 in the coming months. All forces should also contribute to the development of a new commercial operating model over 2019-20;

2. We will expect major progress to resolve the challenges in investigative resource identified by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, including recruiting more detectives to tackle the shortfall. We will work with the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council to support forces to make this change by accelerating their action plan on investigations, making full use of the innovation offered by Police Now;

3. Forces will have to continue improving productivity, including through smarter use of data, and digital capabilities including mobile working, with an ambition to deliver £50 million of productivity gains in 2019-20;

4. Furthermore, we expect forces to maintain a SOC response that spans the identification and management of local threats as well as support for national and regional priorities. This response should be built around the disruption of local SOC threats alongside SOC prevention, safeguarding, partnerships and community engagement.

We will be engaging with police leaders in due course to discuss how these improvements will be delivered.

This settlement is the last before the next spending review, which will set long term police budgets and look at how resources are allocated fairly across police forces. The Home Office is grateful to the police for the good work they are doing to build the evidence base to support that work, and we will also want to see evidence that this year’s investment is being well spent. In addition to working together to understand demand, we will be working with the police to present an ambitious plan to drive improved efficiency, productivity and effectiveness through the next spending review period.

I have made clear that the Government’s priorities are an increasing emphasis on crime prevention, while maintaining a focus on catching the perpetrators of crime; improved outcomes for victims of crime; better support for front line officers; and a step change in the effectiveness of how data and digital technology are used to build a smarter police system and support a more effective service to the public.

The Government pay tribute to our police forces and police staff around the country for their exceptional attitude, hard work and bravery.

I have set out in a separate document the tables illustrating how we propose to allocate the police funding settlement between the different funding streams and between Police and Crime Commissioners for 2019-20. These documents are intended to be read together.

Attachments can be viewed online at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2019-01-24/HCWS1274/.

[HCWS1274]

Housing, Communities and Local Government

Housing Redress

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Our White Paper “Fixing our broken housing market”, published February 2017, highlighted the need to make the housing market work for everyone, and set out a comprehensive plan to achieve this.

We have been clear that we want to make the housing market fairer and more transparent for tenants, leaseholders and homeowners. This includes making sure consumers have straightforward routes for getting problems swiftly put right when things go wrong with their homes.

That is why my Department consulted earlier this year on options for strengthening consumer redress in housing, including options for streamlining housing redress services to simplify access for consumers.

The consultation sought views on the existing provision of redress for housing consumers and considered how we could improve services, strengthening access where there may be gaps in existing provision, and how future services could be configured to serve consumers better.

Today I am pleased to publish my response to this consultation. The response sets out proposals for a programme of reform to strengthen redress for housing consumers.

First, I am clear that people should be able to access help in resolving housing complaints without needing to apply to the court system. We will bring forward legislation to require all private rented sector landlords, regardless of whether they employ an agent for full management services, to be a member of a redress scheme, including all residential park home site owners and private providers of purpose-built student accommodation. We will also introduce legislation when parliamentary time allows to require all freeholders of leasehold properties, regardless of whether they employ a managing agent, to be a member of a redress scheme. Finally, we propose to bring forward legislation to create a similar requirement on all developers of new build homes to belong to a new homes ombudsman and will consult on the detail of that legislation in due course.

Secondly, there is a need to simplify access to existing redress schemes. Responses to the consultation were clear that we need to reduce confusion for customers in the face of a multiplicity of schemes, while maintaining the specialisms needed to handle complaints within specific tenures.

I therefore propose the establishment of a new housing complaints resolution service, a single access portal through which consumers will be able to seek help to resolve complaints and access redress when they have not been able to resolve disputes with their landlord, property agent or developer.

I intend to work closely with ombudsmen and redress schemes to deliver this in partnership. My ambition is for this service to be available for social housing residents, private renters, leaseholders and buyers of new build homes. People must be confident in their options when things go wrong with their homes, and we will commit to raising consumer awareness of how to resolve complaints once the new service is operational.

We will establish a redress reform working group with ombudsmen and redress schemes to help drive the programme of reform, including the establishment of the resolution service. We want to work with this group to undertake a comprehensive audit of existing standards for handling complaints and explore how they could be improved through existing and new voluntary guidance on a sector by sector basis which, where appropriate, will be underpinned through legislation or regulation.

It is my ambition that this will develop into a comprehensive code of practice on complaint handling for the whole housing sector. Through this we can ensure that there are clear expectations for accessibility, transparency, timeliness and sanctions in terms of handling complaints. Work to improve complaints handling in the social housing sector will initially be carried forward separately, given our commitments in the social housing Green Paper to address the specific issues facing social housing residents.

The redress reform working group will also help us work to understand both how to deal with complex and difficult cases, which may not fit easily within the remit of redress schemes, and how to better enforce decisions. We will keep open the option of tabling further legislation if necessary, to make this as effective as possible.

Finally, in October, we announced proposals to ensure that a new homes ombudsman is established to protect the interests of homebuyers and hold developers to account when things go wrong. We intend to bring forward legislation to require developers of new build homes to belong to a new homes ombudsman and we will consult on the detail of the proposed legislation.

Cumulatively these reforms will help ensure that nobody will be left without somewhere to go when something goes wrong with their housing, and that they will have free, accessible and independent routes to have their case resolved in a timely way.

The policy proposals primarily relate to England. The UK Government will be discussing these issues with devolved Administrations on those matters where proposals have scope outside England.

Copies of the consultation response will be placed in the Library of the House and are available on the Government’s website at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/strengthening-consumer-redress-in-housing.

[HCWS1272]

Prime Minister

European Union Withdrawal Act: Section 13(11)(a) Statement

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Further to section 13(11)(a) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (the 2018 Act), the Government propose to proceed with the steps outlined in my statement of Monday 21 January 2019 [HCWS1258] made under section 13(4) of the 2018 Act. As set out in that statement the Government will schedule a debate on a joint motion in neutral terms to the effect that Parliament has considered the relevant statements pursuant to the provisions of section 13 of the 2018 Act, which includes both that earlier statement and this statement. The debates will be scheduled to take place on Monday 28 January 2019 in the House of Lords and Tuesday 29 January 2019 in the House of Commons.

To enable these debates to take place the Government will today table in each House joint motions under sections 13(6) and (11) of the 2018 Act, and as provided for by section 13(13) of the 2018 Act. As was explained in the statement of 21 January, these joint motions will replace the motions tabled in both Houses on Monday 21 January under section 13(6) of the 2018 Act. As referenced in that statement, Members will need to re-table the amendments tabled to the original motion under section 13(6)(a) of the 2018 Act. Members should seek advice from the House authorities on tabling amendments.

This approach is being taken to avoid any legal uncertainty as to whether the Government have complied fully with the terms of the 2018 Act.

[HCWS1271]

Transport

Maritime Strategy

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I am today announcing the publication of “Maritime 2050: Navigating the Future”, the Government’s landmark strategy setting out our vision and ambitions for the future of the British maritime sector.

Our nation depends on the wide range of benefits the maritime sector delivers. It contributes over £14 billion a year to the UK economy and directly supports an estimated 186,000 jobs. Around 95% of British imports and exports are moved by sea. The leisure and marine sectors are vital to our enjoyment of the seas. Our maritime clusters around the UK showcase the diversity of our regional economies, from professional services in London to ship management and educational excellence in Scotland.

We rightly take pride in our maritime past. Maritime 2050 is about looking forward, anticipating the challenges and opportunities ahead and recognising the UK’s strengths so we are well placed to capitalise on them. Maritime 2050 looks at these across seven themes and under each makes short, medium and long-term recommendations: UK competitive advantage; people; environment; technology; infrastructure; trade and security and resilience. It highlights multi-billion pound commercial investment in maritime infrastructure at ports and beyond; our unwavering commitment to safety and security; and our reputation for innovation. We pave the way on regulatory frameworks and technology to facilitate smart shipping and autonomy, and lead the way in clean maritime growth. But no matter how far advances in ships and technology take us, it sets out how the people graduating from our maritime training and academic institutions will reflect the world around us and continue to be sought after across the globe for their skills.

As the global maritime sector adapts to challenges such as climate change, rapid technological advances and security concerns, Maritime 2050 sets a series of strategic ambitions around which Government and the sector will focus their efforts, and core values which we will be guided by.

The partnership between Government and the maritime sector has been vital to the development of this strategy. It began in March 2018 with a call for evidence, seeking to reach all branches of the sector, complemented by workshops around the UK to capture the views from across our maritime clusters, and interviews with leaders in industry and academia. Maritime 2050 has also benefited from the advice and scrutiny of an independent panel of 13 internationally respected academics, industry leaders, maritime business services providers and promotional bodies. As a result, Maritime 2050 reflects the depth and breadth of the UK’s rich maritime sector.

A copy of Maritime 2050 has been placed in the Library of both Houses and is available on gov.uk, together with the trade and technology route maps setting out in greater detail the steps needed to achieve the UK’s strategic maritime ambitions.

[HCWS1270]