Friday 8 February 2019
Aggregates Levy Review
Longstanding litigation on the aggregates levy has now been concluded, with the litigation against the Government and the European Commission being withdrawn. The Government remain committed to devolving the aggregates levy to the Scottish Parliament following the conclusion of this litigation and are working with the Scottish Government to work out the next steps.
The aggregates levy has been largely unchanged since its introduction in 2002. The Government will now conduct a comprehensive review of the levy over the next year, working closely with the Scottish Government, and consulting the Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive throughout. The review will be comprehensive, looking at the latest evidence about the objectives of the levy, its effectiveness in meeting those objectives, and the design of the levy, including the impact of devolution.
The terms of reference for the review will be published in spring 2019 and a working group will be established to inform it. The review will aim to conclude by the end of 2019.
Exiting the European Union
Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein: EEA-EFTA Citizens’ Rights
The UK has concluded discussions with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein (the EEA-EFTA states), on an EEA-EFTA citizens’ rights agreement that would protect the rights of UK nationals already living in the EEA-EFTA states and EEA-EFTA nationals already living in the UK in the event of a no-deal scenario.
Delivering the deal negotiated with the EU remains the Government’s top priority. This has not changed. However, the Government must ensure the UK is prepared for every eventuality. It is the responsible thing to do.
The EEA-EFTA citizens’ rights agreement would ensure that citizens would be able to continue living broadly as they do today, regardless of the outcome of negotiations with the EU. The arrangements in the agreement closely mirror the arrangements for citizens in the EEA-EFTA separation agreement, published on 20 December 2018. Citizens falling within scope would have broadly the same entitlement to work, study and access public services and benefits as now. The EEA-EFTA separation agreement relies on some of the provisions of the withdrawal agreement which would not apply in a no-deal scenario. In such a scenario, therefore, we would instead bring this no-deal citizens’ rights agreement into force.
Together, these agreements will protect around 17,000 UK nationals living in these countries and approximately 15,000 nationals from these countries in the UK in any scenario.
I am depositing a copy of the agreement and an explainer in the Libraries of both Houses.
Review of Drugs: Appointment
In October, I announced that there would be a major independent review of drug misuse. This will look at a wide range of issues, including the system of support and enforcement around drug misuse, in order to inform our thinking about what more can be done to tackle drug harms. The review will make sure that we know as much as possible about who drug users are, what they are taking and how often, so that law enforcement agencies can target and prevent the drug-related causes of violent crime effectively. The review will also look at the health and social harms associated with drug use, identifying evidence-based approaches to preventing and reducing drug use, as well as where there are any gaps in the evidence about what works.
I am pleased to announce today that I have appointed Professor Dame Carol Black to lead the review. Dame Carol has a wealth of experience and I am confident that she will bring independence, integrity and a strong focus on analysis and evidence to the review.
The review will be held in two parts, with part one focusing on:
the demographics of drug use. This will look at demand, including who uses which types of drugs, together with patterns of, and motivations for, use; and
the drugs market. This will look at supply into and within the UK and how criminals meet the demand of users.
The scope of the second part will be determined once the first part has reported.
The review will focus only on England for those matters which are devolved and the UK for those matters which are reserved.
The Government launched a public consultation on 19 July 2018 seeking views on proposals for a Windrush compensation scheme. I am today updating the House on the progress of the Government’s response to that consultation. Righting the wrongs experienced by the Windrush generation remains one of my top priorities.
The consultation period was originally intended to last 12 weeks. I made a written statement on 11 October extending the consultation period, on the advice of Martin Forde QC, the independent adviser I appointed to oversee the development of the scheme. I agreed to this extension in order to give all those who would like to respond, the opportunity to do so.
Over 1,000 leaflets advertising the consultation were delivered via volunteers and community groups, and over 2,500 paper copies of the consultation document were distributed. The document was published on gov.uk, and information about the consultation was disseminated via email and social media. Assistance in completing responses was available through a freephone helpline and email address.
During the consultation period twelve focus groups were also held, involving over 300 participants. These took place in Croydon, Birmingham, Cardiff, Newport, Walsall, Woolwich, Leicester, Brixton, Wolverhampton, Reading, Coventry and Telford.
Since the consultation closed on 16 November, we have given very careful consideration to the 1,435 responses that were received from people and organisations, as well as the feedback from the focus groups. These views have been considered in addition to the 650 responses to the call for evidence which preceded the consultation. I also have met with Martin Forde QC to discuss his views on the design of the scheme.
I intend to publish the formal Government response to the consultation shortly, which will set out the detailed design of the scheme. I will also publish more detailed rules and guidance about the scheme, and information about how eligible claimants can apply. The compensation scheme will then be opened for claims as soon as possible.
I would like to thank all those who responded to the consultation and who took part in the wider engagement throughout this period. The views and experiences that have been shared have proved invaluable in shaping the Government’s policy, ensuring it addresses the matters raised by those affected.
Housing, Communities and Local Government
On 31 January, figures for the 2018 rough sleeping count were published and showed a welcome 2% reduction in the number of rough sleepers. While this decrease is encouraging, I know we must maintain our focus on making sure nobody has to spend even a single night sleeping on the streets. This Government are determined to get to the root of the problem, unique to every local authority, and tackle the complex range of reasons why people sleep rough, helping to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Early Adopters of the Rapid Rehousing Pathway
In December, we announced the locations of our first 11 Somewhere Safe to Stay hubs, one of four elements that make up the rapid rehousing pathway as announced in the rough sleeping strategy in August.
Today, I am pleased to announce the allocation of funding to a further 42 areas across the country for the three remaining elements of the rapid rehousing pathway—navigators, supported lettings and local lettings agencies.
Navigators are specialists assigned to rough sleepers, acting as a single point of contact to support people into settled accommodation, helping them access appropriate local services and sustain a safe life away from the streets;
Local lettings agencies work to source, identify, or provide homes and advice for rough sleepers or those at risk, supporting them into affordable, settled accommodation;
Supported lettings support individuals with a history of rough sleeping to help them to sustain their tenancies.
This funding will enable more than 80 navigators to work with up to 1,600 people sleeping rough, provide up to £2.8 million for supported lettings across 17 areas and up to a further £1.25 million for local letting agencies across nine areas. We estimate supported lettings to support around 600 rough sleepers, with local lettings agencies expected to make around 1,200 properties available.
Local areas will be able to connect people with the right support and sustainable housing to move them swiftly away from the street and facilitate their journey to recovery, bringing us a step closer to ending rough sleeping for good.
The full list of the 42 areas can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/rapid-rehousing-pathway-additional-42-early-adopters