Monday 20 May 2019
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Cabinet Office
Facility Time Guidance
I wish to update the House on the progress being made to monitor trade union facility time usage within the public sector.
The Trade Union (Facility Time Publication Requirements) Regulations 2017 came into force on 1 April 2017, requiring public sector organisations who employ over 49 full-time equivalent employees to publish information relating to trade union usage/spend.
The Government are today publishing updated guidance to support organisations to meet this important legislative requirement. On 3 June we will launch a new online recording system as part of the facility time publication service, enabling all public sector organisations to centrally submit facility time data by the deadline of 31 July. All organisations should report facility time data before this date, and guidance to this effect is included in the tool.
The Government recognise that there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high- quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.
For 2017-18, compliance varied considerably across the wider public sector, with returns in some areas of just over 60%. The civil service saw the highest levels of compliance, with just over 99% of expected returns received.
Returns to the civil service show a 0.06% spend on facility time as a percentage of the pay bill, demonstrating greater accountability and an effective use of taxpayers’ money. Measures taken to encourage these sensible savings include reforms that require trade union representatives to spend at least 50% of their time delivering their civil service job. Average spend across the public sector was higher, especially in local government.
The Government encourage all public sector organisations to reduce facility time spend to the levels seen in the civil service, in order to ensure it achieves value for money. The Government estimate these potential savings amount to £14 million across the public sector.
I am pleased to inform the House that from today visitors and entry clearance holders from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States will be able to use e-passport gates at all 15 UK airports and juxtaposed controls where they are in operation. I am further pleased to inform the House that from today the requirement to complete a landing card will be removed for passengers of any nationality arriving in the UK.
Allowing these seven nationalities to use e-passport gates and removing the requirement for arriving passengers of any nationality to complete a landing card will allow us to control our borders in a way that works to the UK’s best interests, while also demonstrating to the rest of the world that Britain is absolutely open for business. The vast majority of these nationals arriving in the UK will be eligible to use e-passport gates, with only some groups coming for specific migration purposes still needing to see a Border Force officer on arrival, for instance short-term students who do not hold a visa.
The expansion of e-passport gate eligibility to eligible travellers from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States was first announced in the Budget last year. I further announced on 3 December 2018 that this expansion would also include eligible travellers from Singapore and South Korea.
Introducing these changes has required a large body of work to be completed, including the introduction of a statutory instrument allowing the seven nationalities to use e-passport gates, which was laid before the House on 3 December 2018 and came into force on 11 March 2019. The decision to withdraw landing cards for all passengers has been taken following a public consultation, the response to which I am placing in the Library of the House today.
I am pleased that we have been able to introduce these changes ahead of schedule.