Thursday 31 October 2019
Government Business: Pre-election Period
The Prime Minister will write to ministerial colleagues shortly providing guidance on the conduct of Government business during the pre-election period. The Cabinet Secretary will also issue guidance to civil servants on their conduct during this period.
HMRC: Automation of Tax Notices
The Government are committed to doing what is necessary to protect the Exchequer, maintain fairness in the tax system and give certainty to taxpayers. Therefore, the Government are announcing today that legislation will be brought forward in the next Finance Bill to put the meaning of the law in relation to automation of tax notices beyond doubt. Specifically, that legislation will put beyond doubt that HMRC’s use of large-scale automated processes to give certain statutory notices, and to carry out certain functions is, and always has been, fully authorised by tax administration law. This measure will have effect both prospectively and retrospectively.
The Government introduce legislation with retrospective effect only where necessary. In this case retrospective effect is necessary to close off the Exchequer and operational risks presented by judicial challenges to HMRC’s ability to automate certain functions. It will protect very substantial sums of tax and penalties already legitimately paid. It will preserve the status quo for taxpayers and HMRC, merely confirming the validity of HMRC’s longstanding and widely accepted operational practice. Taking this action will help to guarantee the integrity of the tax base, provide certainty to taxpayers, and allow the Government to continue to administer the tax system efficiently. More details will be published on the Finance Bill 2019-20 pages of gov.uk.
Work of the Department
The fundamentals of the UK economy are strong, and the public finances have been repaired. Government action has supported the British people with the cost of living. Poverty and inequality have been reduced, ensuring everyone can benefit from the UK’s economic success. Investment has increased, promoting productivity, creating job opportunities and driving growth in the economy.
Since 2010, the hard work of the British people has: reduced the deficit by four fifths; created 1,000 new jobs a day to reach near-record employment; and overseen nine consecutive years of growth. The Government’s Brexit deal will give people and businesses the certainty they need to invest.
Economy and public finances
The economy has grown 18.9% since 2010. The IMF’s latest world economic outlook forecasts the UK to grow as fast as France, and faster than Germany, Italy and Japan in 2019 and faster than all four in 2020.
The inflation rate is stable and low at 1.7%, below the Bank of England’s target of 2%.
Borrowing has been cut by over four fifths as a share of GDP since 2010, from a post-war high of 10.2% in 2009-10 to 1.9% in 2018-19, the lowest level since 2001-02.
There are 3.6 million more people in work, and the employment rate is at a near record high.
Unemployment has fallen by 1.2 million. The unemployment rate is near its lowest level for over four decades.
The proportion of low paid jobs is at its lowest since records began in 1997.
The number of unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds has fallen by 47% since 2010, and over 80% of 16 to 24-year-olds are in work or full time education.
The gender pay gap, hourly pay, excluding overtime, is at a record low of 17.3%. For full-time employees, the gap is 8.9%, near the record low.
Over 60% of the growth in employment since 2010 has been outside of London and the south east.
The Government have committed more than £2.7 billion towards city and growth deals for all parts of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
This UK Government investment is creating jobs and driving regional economic growth across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Supporting the cost of living
The Government have cut income tax for 32 million people since 2015-16, saving the typical basic rate taxpayer £380 and taking 1.74 million out of income tax altogether.
Supported by the national living wage (NLW), the lowest paid saw their wages grow by 8% above inflation between April 2015 and April 2018. The NLW increased by 4.9% on 1 April to £8.21, increasing a full-time minimum wage worker’s annual pay by over £2,750 since its introduction.
Fuel duty has been frozen for nine consecutive years, so the average driver will have saved a cumulative £1,000 compared to pre-2010 plans.
The introduction of a new temporary energy price cap on default standard variable tariffs this year has protected 11 million customers from poor value energy bills.
The doubling of free childcare for eligible working parents of three and four-year-olds which will save parents who take up full entitlement up to £5,000 a year per child.
Poverty and inequality have been reduced
Real household disposable income per person is above its pre-crisis peak, and it is 11.2% higher than at the start of 2010, meaning people have more money to spend than they did in 2010.
Income inequality is lower now than it was in 2010.
The top 1% of income taxpayers pay over 29% of income tax, higher than at any time since 1999.
Since 2010 there are, before housing costs:
400.000 fewer people in absolute low income.
100.000 fewer pensioners in absolute low income.
300.000 fewer working-age adults in absolute low income.
The percentage of people in absolute poverty, after housing costs, is around its record low.
Since 2010 there are over 1 million fewer workless households, and the number of children living in workless households is down by 730,000, both record lows.
Since 2010 the Government have:
Provided over half a trillion pounds in capital investment, investment in skills, and reduced taxes for businesses.
Established the national productivity investment fund (NPIF) to deliver additional capital spending for areas critical for improving productivity across all parts of the UK. The NPIF is now set to deliver £37 billion of high-value investment to 2023-24 in economic infrastructure, R and D, and housing.
Improved technical education by reforming apprenticeships and developing new T-levels for delivery from September 2020.
The Government have supported business and enterprise with lower taxes:
The UK has the most competitive corporation tax rate in the G20 at 19%.
Since Budget 2016, the Government have announced reductions to business rates worth more than £13 billion over the next five years.
Funding public services
Spending Round 2019 (SR19) saw the fastest planned increase in departmental day to day spending for 15 years. Resource spending is now set to rise by 4.1% in real terms from 2019-20 to 2020-21.
SR19 was the first SR since 2002 where no department will face a cut in its resource Budget.
An extra £750 million investment in policing in 2020-21 to begin delivering the Government’s commitment to recruit 20,000 additional officers by 2023, up to 6,000 officers will be in place by the end of 20-21;
Further health investment, building on the extra funding provided last year of £33.9 billion a year by 2023-24 in cash terms, compared to 2018-19, the largest cash increase in public services since the Second World War.
A cash increase in schools spending of £2.6 billion in 2020-21, rising to £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared to 2019-20.
£400 million extra to train and teach 16 to 19-year-olds to get the skills they need for well-paid jobs in the modern economy.
To fund public services, the Government have taken unprecedented action to make sure people pay their fair share of tax. The Government have introduced over 100 measures to tackle tax avoidance, evasion and other forms of non-compliance since 2010 which, alongside HMRC’s compliance work, have secured and protected an additional £200 billion in tax revenue which would otherwise have gone unpaid.
Work of the Department
The first duty of any Government is to defend our country and to keep our people safe. The Ministry of Defence plays a pivotal role in delivering our national security objectives to protect our people, project our influence and promote our prosperity. This Government have increased the defence budget by 0.5% above inflation every year to over £41 billion by 2020-21, making us the biggest defence spender in Europe and the second biggest in NATO. The UK is the second largest defence exporter in the world, selling equipment worth £14 billion last year and supporting more than 260,000 British jobs. We are investing an extra £2.2 billion into defence over this year and next to ensure the UK’s world-class armed forces can continue to modernise, meet ever-changing threats and continue to protect the country’s national security. This includes prioritising key capabilities such as cyber, shipbuilding and the nuclear deterrent.
The UK armed forces are deployed around the world 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
In 2019 alone we have marked 50 years of continuous at sea deterrence, increased the number of armed forces personnel in Afghanistan from 650 to around 1,100, delivered over 400 bespoke training activities in the middle east and north Africa, and provided military aid to the civil authorities on over 120 occasions.
British forces made the second largest overall contribution to the fight against Daesh after the US. We lead a 1000 strong force (c.800 from UK plus troops from France and Denmark) to undertake NATO enhanced forward presence in Estonia, and UK Typhoon aircraft have recently completed an air policing deployment in the Baltic sea region (2019).
We have delivered on our commitment to double the number of military personnel involved in UN peacekeeping, following deployments to Somalia and South Sudan, and increased our presence in the Gulf (Dubai), Asia-Pacific (Singapore) and west Africa (Abuja) to provide a focal point for defence activity. In 2018 we opened the first overseas navy base in 50 years in Bahrain.
In both 2017 and 2019, the UK provided military support for humanitarian and disaster relief to the Caribbean islands left devastated by natural disasters, Hurricane Irma (Op RUMAN) and Hurricane Dorian (Op BARYTONE). This year, in the Caribbean and Atlantic, the RFA have seized or disrupted 1.4 metric tonnes of cocaine and cannabis, worth over £45 million.
We are working to strengthen the support we give to our serving personnel, veterans and their families.
More than 4,000 organisations have signed the armed forces covenant and the new office for veterans’ affairs will ensure the UK leads the world in care for armed forces veterans.
We have launched the first ever UK-wide strategy on the delivery of support for veterans, including a new ID card for veterans, which will help them access specialist support and services.
The Flexible Working Act was passed enabling service personnel to request restricted separation and or part-time working to enable them to balance their personal commitments with Defence, helping to improve retention. We have also doubled the operational allowance for deployed military personnel and are currently investing a further £123 million, as a minimum, this financial year to improve service family accommodation in the UK.
We have made £280 million in payments to more than 18,000 applicants so far through the forces help to buy scheme and allocated over £230 million from LIBOR fines for the armed forces community.
We achieved the target of enrolling 50,000 apprentices in the MOD, 16 months ahead of the target date.
We are based across the United Kingdom, and through our industrial contracts and bases we support 10,000 jobs in Scotland and more than 6,000 in Wales.
We have met our target of cadet expansion programme of 500 cadet units parading ahead of time.
We will spend £186 billion on equipment and equipment support between 2018 and 2028.
The Army have signed major equipment support contracts including a £439 million contract for Apache helicopter support and funded a demonstration phase to upgrade Warrior vehicles.
We have placed a £4.5 billion contract, including in-service support until 2024, to purchase 589 AJAX vehicles.
This month (October), UK F-35 Lightning jets landed and took off from HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time, as part of the preparations for the carrier strike group deployment in 2021. Her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, is conducting sea trials and will be commissioned later this year.
In 2019 we took delivery of additional F-35B aircraft, bringing the total to 18, and placed order for more to be delivered between 2020-22. British F-35Bs completed their first operational missions this year.
We have taken delivery of our final Typhoon aircraft (taking the current fleet to 157) and have continued to grow the UKs A400M transport aircraft fleet.
This year we have announced our intent to procure five E7 airborne early warning aircraft and in recent years we have secured deals to provide nine P-8A maritime patrol aircraft and 50 Apache AH-64E aircraft through a foreign military sales agreement with the US Government.
The first steel has been cut for the second ship in the Royal Navy’s next generation of Type 26 anti-submarine frigates; the first ship, HMS Glasgow, will enter service in 2027. Australia and Canada have committed to purchase the design.
All four of the TIDE class tankers have been delivered while HMS Medway, the second of five new offshore patrol vessels, has been accepted into the fleet.
Building on the success of the RAF’s first ever satellite, Carbonite-II, we have joined the U.S. combined space operations centre in California. An RAF pilot has been seconded to Virgin Orbit.
The UK continues to play an ambitious and trailblazing role on the global stage, designing, developing and rapidly procuring state-of-the-art equipment that ensures our armed forces are fit for the future.
The defence industry champions British manufacturing, pushes the boundaries of technology and delivers unique export opportunities across the world to protect not just the UK, but our allies too.
As a thriving national sector with a truly global reach, the work of defence underpins the Government’s industrial and economic strategies and continues to drive British innovation on the international stage.
The DSEI exhibition showcases every two years the very best of British ingenuity, innovation and industry on the international stage, demonstrating how Global Britain continues to be a world leader in technology and defence.
Built on more than 400 years of excellence and innovation, we consistently push the possibilities to the limit, developing and exporting battle-winning capabilities that redefine the defence landscape.
We are constantly sharpening our cutting-edge capabilities, exploring and procuring the very best technology to ensure we continue to outpace adversaries for generations to come.
The UK alone injects nearly £20 billion into our national defence industry every year, almost £300 for every person in the country, making defence spending a powerhouse behind the UK economy, driving export orders and future-proofing the industry for generations to come.
We are implementing the national shipbuilding strategy to transform the procurement of naval ships, make the UK’s maritime industry more competitive, grow the Royal Navy fleet by the 2030s, export British ships overseas, and boost innovation, skills, jobs, and productivity across the UK.
Built on the foundations of a thriving UK defence sector that continues to turbocharge regional economies, a consortia led by Babcock, in partnership with the Thales Group, has been selected as the preferred bidder for the Type 31 general purpose frigates procurement process reinforcing international partnerships, building security co-operation and strengthening our influence across the world.
We have invested over £40 million in developing a new cyber security operations capability.
Investing £48 million to deliver a new state of the art chemical weapons defence centre at DstI Porton Down.
We have published the combat air strategy to strengthen the UK’s role as a global leader in the sector and to protect key skills across the UK industrial base. Team Tempest will bring together the UK’s world leading industry and sovereign capabilities across future combat air’s four key technology areas.
We have opened the £83 million state of the art defence fulfilment centre at Donnington, Shropshire, operated through the MOD’S partnership with Team Leidos to transform defence logistics.
The small and medium-sized enterprises action plan was published this year, and the defence and security accelerator has allocated over £36 million to over 200 proposals.
We have secured a £6 billion Qatari deal to purchase 24 Typhoon and nine Hawk aircraft from the UK.
As our exports orders climb, our supply chains continue to reinforce our regional economies, supporting highly skilled jobs and training apprentices to be the future of our pioneering UK defence sector.
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Strategic Priorities for Telecommunications, Radio Spectrum and Postal Services
I wish to inform members that I have designated the Government’s statement of strategic priorities for telecommunications, the management of radio spectrum, and postal services, for the purposes of section 2A of the Communications Act 2003.
The statement sets out the Government’s strategic priorities and desired outcomes in a number of areas, including the deployment of nationwide gigabit-capable broadband as soon as possible, high-quality mobile coverage where people live, work and travel, the paramount importance of the security and resilience of telecoms networks, and furthering the interests of telecoms consumers.
The statement was laid before Parliament on 18 July 2019 and the statutory period required under section 2C of the Act has now ended. Ofcom is required to have regard to the statement when carrying out its relevant functions and must explain in writing what it proposes to do in consequence of the statement within 40 days, in accordance with section 2B of the Act. Ofcom is thereafter required to publish annual reviews of what it has done in consequence of the statement.
Early Education Funding
Today I am confirming the final hourly funding rates for the free early education entitlements in 2020-21. In total we are planning to spend more than £3.6 billion in 2020-21 to support nurseries and child minders in England to deliver high-quality care and education.
As a result of the additional funding announced by the Chancellor at the spending round for early years, we will increase the hourly funding rates for all local authorities for the two-year-old entitlement by 8p an hour. Funding for the three and four-year-old entitlement will also increase by 8p an hour in the vast majority of areas. We are increasing the minimum funding floor for the three and four-year-old offer to £4.38p.
Thirteen councils have had their 2019-20 hourly funding rates for three and four-year-olds protected by the “loss cap” in the early years national funding formula, to ensure that they do not face large drops to their funding rate. Funding for all these councils will be maintained in 2020-21. Loss cap areas are: Bradford, Bristol, Camden, Derbyshire, Ealing, Halton, Islington, Lambeth, Rutland, Southwark, Sunderland, Tower Hamlets, and Westminster.
I can also confirm today that supplementary funding for maintained nursery schools (MNS) will continue, at its current rate, for the whole of the 2020-21 financial year. I can also confirm that the Government remain committed to funding for MNS in the longer term; and that any reform to the way they are funded in future will be accompanied with funding protections.
Further details and guidance will be published on gov.uk.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Work of the Department
DEFRA has wide and hugely important objectives: to protect and enhance our natural environment, to lead the world in food, farming and fisheries, to deliver a safe and ambitious departure from the EU, and to be an outstanding organisation. This means we play a major role in people’s day-to-day lives, from the food we eat to the air we breathe, and the water we drink.
I would like to update the House on some of DEFRA’s key domestic achievements since 2010, which have been delivered whilst maintaining the highest standards of preparedness for EU Exit.
On the natural environment, we have:
Produced a 25-year environment plan setting out how the Government will achieve the aim of being the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it. In 2019 we published the first 25-year environment plan progress report with 90% of the plan’s actions delivered or being progressed.
Introduced the first Environment Bill in 20 years, setting out a domestic framework for environmental governance and legally binding long term targets as the UK leaves the European Union. This is a vital step towards delivering the 25-year environment plan.
Improved or created 16,000 acres of water dependent habitat, creating 2,700 acres of intertidal habitat and improving 380 miles of river habitats
Published Julian Glover’s “Landscapes Review of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty”, setting out how we can fulfil the vision for our finest landscapes to be places of natural beauty.
Announced £60 million to help plant new woodlands and urban trees to help meet the Government target to plant 11 million rural trees and 1 million urban trees by 2022, announced the creation of a Northern Forest and Northumberland Forest, and appointed a tree champion to drive tree planting rates.
Trees are an important carbon sink for the UK as we aim to meet our target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with the UK the first major economy to legislate for this in July 2019. We have made a strong start, planting over 16 million trees since 2010.
We have cleaned up the air: since 2010 toxic emissions of nitrogen oxides are down 29%, sulphur dioxide emissions are down 62%, and fine particulate matter emissions are down 10%.
Announced funding for the restoration of 6,498 hectares of degraded peatland, much of this in the uplands, allocating £10 million to 62 sites across England. Peatlands are the UK’s largest terrestrial carbon store.
Designated the third tranche of 41 new marine conservation zones, marking the most significant expansion of England’s “blue belt” of protected areas to date and protecting UK waters.
Committed to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 and created a global alliance with 10 countries signing up to the UK led initiative to protect at least 30% of the world's ocean and its wildlife.
Launched a review into highly protected marine areas, sea life, and marine habitats as well as publishing an updated marine strategy showing progress towards good environmental status.
Launched the clean air strategy which the World Health Organisation praised as “an example for the rest of the world to follow”. It will tackle all sources of air pollution, making our air healthier to breathe, protecting nature and boosting the economy.
Implemented a ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds from April 2020, to reduce plastic waste, and led a Commonwealth clean oceans alliance with half of the Commonwealth to tackle marine plastics.
In 2018 we introduced a microbeads ban to prevent these harmful pieces of plastic entering the marine environment.
Launched and published responses to consultations on the reform of the waste system, including on extended producer responsibility for packaging, a deposit-return scheme for drinks containers, consistency in recycling, and tax on plastic packaging containing less than 30% recycled content.
Committed to reintroducing formerly native species, including iconic species such as the white tailed eagle and beavers, where there are clear environmental and socio-economic benefits,
On food, farming and fisheries, including improving animal and plant health, we have:
We are replacing the restrictive rules of the EU’s common agricultural policy, freeing farmers to seize the opportunities offered by Brexit. Instead we are introducing an ambitious new environmental land management scheme which will allow us to reward the farmers and land managers who protect our environment.
Protected allergy sufferers through “Natasha’s Law”, requiring food businesses to include full ingredients labelling on pre-packed for direct sale.
Protected service animals through “Finn’s Law”, which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to service animals.
Introduced “Lucy’s Law” ensuring that puppies and kittens are born and reared in a safe environment, with their mother, and sold from their place of birth.
Delivered the Ivory Act 2018, introducing one of the world’s strongest bans on ivory to prevent commercial activities involving ivory in the UK that could directly or indirectly fuel the poaching of elephants. We have also launched a call for evidence on extending a ban to a range of animals including hippopotamus, walruses and narwhals, and are consulting on banning imports from trophy hunting of endangered species.
Commissioned the bovine tuberculosis strategy review, published in 2018, on the Department’ strategy for achieving officially bovine tuberculosis free status in England by 2038.
Created a stronger future for farming with new markets for British farming products opening across the world. Markets for British beef and lamb worth £127 million over five years have been opened in Japan and in 2018, China lifted the ban on British beef worth £250 million in the first five years, which had been in place since 1996. A deal has also been secured to enable UK exports of seed potatoes to China; the seed potato export market as a whole is worth an annual £90 million to the UK.
Published the “Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations” White Paper as part of our goal to promote a more competitive, profitable and sustainable fishing industry across the whole of the UK, and setting a gold standard for sustainable fishing around the world in addition to announcing £37.2 million of extra funding to boost the UK fishing industry.
We have also carried out our duties on domestic emergencies, including leading the response following the Salisbury attack. We are investing £2.6 billion in protecting people against flooding. This will fund over 1,000 flood defence schemes with 300,000 homes better protected, and improve protection to 690,000 acres of agricultural land, 279 miles of railway and over 5,000 miles of highways by 2021. Additionally, between 2015 and 2020 we will be spending over £1 billion on the maintenance of flood defence assets. This is a real terms increase in spending compared to the £812 million spent in the previous five years.
DEFRA will continue to pursue this ambitious agenda over the coming months and years, making further progress both domestically and through seizing the opportunities that leaving the EU will present.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Hong Kong: Six-monthly Report
The latest six-monthly report on the implementation of the Sino-British joint declaration on Hong Kong was published today, and is attached. It covers the period from 1 January to 30 June 2019. The report has been placed in the Library of the House. A copy is also available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website (www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign- commonwealth-office). I commend the report to the House.
The report can be viewed online at: http://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questionsanswers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2019-10-31/HCWS53/.
Health and Social Care
Personal Health Budgets: Legal Rights
Today, and following consultation, I am pleased to announce that I am laying legislation that will extend the legal right to have a personal health budget to a further two groups. These groups are:
People eligible for section 117 aftercare services; and
People who access wheelchair services, whose posture and mobility needs impact their wider health and social care needs.
The evidence base for personalised care demonstrates a positive impact on people, professionals and the system. It is shown to produce better outcomes and experiences, improving individual’s quality of life, whilst reducing health inequalities. It has also demonstrated the ability to reduce pressures on the system—people who are more confident and able to manage their health conditions have 18% fewer GP contacts, and 38% fewer emergency admissions than people with the least confidence.
That is why the provision of personalised care was a central component of the NHS long-term plan, with the intention of making personalised care, business as usual. This means reaching 2.5 million people by 2023-24, doubling that within the decade.
Significant progress has already been made. Over 70,000 people now have a personal health budget; nearly a 300% increase compared to the same time two-years ago. “Universal Personalised Care” has also recently been published, setting out the 21 actions that together we will take in the coming years. It can be found at: www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/universal-personalised-care.pdf
Personal health budgets are integral to delivering personalised care, and this extension marks an important step in delivering our ambition. We will continue to explore the feasibility of further extension and consult in due course.
The consultation on extending the right to have a personal health budget was concluded on 8 June 2018 and the consultation response published on 21 February 2019. The changes to the regulations are being made at the earliest opportunity to bring about these positive impacts as soon as possible and will come into force on 2 December, rather than awaiting a common commencement date.
My noble Friend the Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) has today made the following written statement:
The informal G6 group of Interior Ministers held its most recent meeting in Munich on 28 and 29 October 2019. Representatives from the USA, the European Commission, Interpol and the World Jewish Congress also attended the meeting.
The summit was chaired by the German Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer. I represented the United Kingdom. The other participating states were represented by Sylwester Tulajew (Deputy Minister of the Interior, Poland), Christophe Castaner (Minister of the Interior, France), Luciana Lamorgese (Minister of the Interior, Italy) and Fernando Grande-Marlaska (Minister of the Interior, Spain).
The European Commission was represented by Dimitris Avramopoulos (Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship) and Sir Julian King (Commissioner for the Security Union). The United States was represented by a delegation led by David Pekoske (Acting Deputy Secretary, US Department of Homeland Security). Interpol was represented by Jurgen Stock (Secretary General) and the World Jewish Congress was represented by their president, Ronald Lauder. The European Commission joined all of the plenary sessions.
The first plenary session was on migration and asylum and focused on the reform of the common European asylum system (CEAS). Given the UK did not opt in to the CEAS package, my intervention focused on our commitment to finding sustainable solutions and the “whole of route” approach to migration. This includes increasing the efforts to tackle people trafficking and finding new ways to stop criminal gangs from operating. I highlighted the UK’s major contribution to resettlement of the most vulnerable refugees. I also updated the G6 on the recent tragic incident in Essex where 39 migrants lost their lives.
The second plenary session was on future co-operation with the UK where the discussion covered the mutual benefits of a close security partnership following the UK’s exit from the EU. I made the case for an ambitious UK-EU security partnership in line with the political declaration agreed between the UK and EU, which should exist alongside strengthened bilateral and other multilateral channels of co-operation with our G6 and wider international partners. Interpol joined this discussion. There was broad consensus amongst the G6 to seek a close and comprehensive future security partnership between the UK and EU to protect our citizens.
The day concluded with an informal working dinner, where discussion focused on the current situation in Syria, including the internally displaced persons and security implications. During the discussion I stressed the UK’s dedication to international security and that anything which risks the security of detention facilities threatens the security of us all.
At the third plenary session we were joined by the representatives of Interpol and the World Jewish Congress. Discussion focused on right-wing extremism and antisemitism. I set out the action the UK is taking domestically and internationally to tackle these issues, including in the online world.
The final plenary session covered terrorist content online and the security of 5G networks. I expressed our concern about the European Parliament’s position on the draft EU regulation on tackling terrorist content online, and made the case that only by encouraging a proactive approach by online service providers will we secure a meaningful impact on the terrorist threat. I also set out the UK’s approach to ensuring a secure and resilient 5G network.
At the meeting it was confirmed that the UK will host the next G6 in 2020.
Istanbul Convention: Ratification Progress Report
The Government have today laid before Parliament and published the third annual report on the United Kingdom’s progress toward the ratification of the Council of Europe convention on combating violence against women and domestic violence, the “Istanbul convention”. The UK signed the Istanbul convention in 2012 to signal the UK’s strong commitment to tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG) and this Government remain committed to ratifying it.
The report sets out the steps taken by the UK Government and the devolved Administrations toward ratification of the convention and the work that has been undertaken since the 2018 report on progress.
This year, we have continued to strengthen our efforts to combat VAWG. We have published a refreshed cross-Government VAWG strategy to ensure that we are doing all that we can to tackle crimes which affect disproportionately women and girls. The refresh captures new programmes of work and sets out 54 new actions the Government have committed to take to drive forward this agenda, including the establishment of an end-to-end review into the criminal justice response to rape.
In most respects, the UK already complies with or goes further than the convention requires. Since signing the convention in 2012, we have significantly strengthened our laws and introduced a range of new tools and measures to protect victims. But we know that there is more to do. That is why in July this year we introduced a landmark Domestic Abuse Bill 2019 in Parliament, which followed a public consultation that attracted more than 3,200 responses. The Bill set out a package of measures to transform our response to domestic abuse.
The Domestic Abuse Bill 2019 included the necessary legislative measures to ensure that the criminal law in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland satisfied the requirements of Article 44 of the convention in respect of extra-territorial jurisdiction; the provisions in respect of Scotland and Northern Ireland were included at the request of the Scottish Government and Department of Justice. In addition, and again following a request earlier this year from the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland, the Bill also included a new domestic abuse offence for Northern Ireland which would enable Northern Ireland to be fully compliant with Article 33, psychological violence. After the report went to print yesterday the Early Parliamentary General Election Bill completed its passage through Parliament, which means that the Domestic Abuse Bill will not continue in this Parliament. It remains the case that the drawing up of the legislation represents an important milestone in our progress towards compliance with Articles 44 and in Northern Ireland 33. The Government remain fully committed to ratifying the convention and to taking the measures necessary to enable us to do so.
The issue of support for migrant victims of domestic abuse was raised by the Joint Committee on the Draft Domestic Abuse Bill in its report published in June this year. In response, the Government have committed to reviewing the overall response to migrant victims of domestic abuse, including by specifically considering the Committee’s recommendation to extend the period of time that support is offered for and how this relates to a victim's ability to access refuge accommodation. As part of this review, we will also take into account any obligations we have under the Istanbul convention. We have therefore recorded Articles 4(3)—to the extent that it relates to migrant and refugee status—and 59 as “under review” in the report this year to reflect that we are currently considering the Committee’s concerns in greater detail.
The publication of this report fulfils the requirement of section 2 of the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Act 2017.1 will lay before Parliament the report required by section 1 of that Act when our timescale for ratification is clear.
Copies of the report will be available in the Vote Office and it will be published on the Government’s website at gov.uk.
Housing, Communities and Local Government
Leasehold and Commonhold Reform
During the leasehold and commonhold reform Westminster Hall debate on 2 October, I pledged to sett out in full the actions the Government are taking on leasehold and commonhold reform. [Column 366WH]
The Government are taking forward a comprehensive reform of leasehold and commonhold, so it is fairer for homeowners. We responded on 27 June 2019 to the technical consultation on leasehold reform which set out how our plans will work in practice. We will legislate to ensure that, in future, apart from in exceptional circumstances, all new houses will be sold on a freehold basis. We will also reduce ground rent to zero on new leases and will improve how leasehold properties are bought and sold by setting fixed time frames and maximum fees for the provision of leasehold information. We will implement these changes when parliamentary time allows.
We are also working with the Law Commission to:
standardise the enfranchisement process, so that buying a freehold or extending a lease can be made easier, quicker and more cost-effective.
review how commonhold works, so that it is a viable alternative to leasehold for both existing and new homes.
make it easier for leaseholders to obtain the right to manage, in both straightforward and complex developments.
The Law Commission will report back to Government on options to reform the valuation process this autumn, and on all three projects in February 2020.
In March 2019, we launched an industry pledge which commits freeholders to identifying any lease with ground rent terms that double more frequently than every 20 years and contacting leaseholders to offer to amend the terms. The pledge has been signed by more than 60 leading developers, freeholders and managing agents. We will continue to monitor its effectiveness and take further action as necessary.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced in June 2019 that it will carry out an investigation into the mis-selling of leasehold properties. The CMA will use its consumer protection powers to determine whether leasehold terms—including onerous ground rents and permission fees—can be classified as “unfair”. If the evidence merits it, the CMA will consider whether to bring forward enforcement proceedings. We look forward to receiving the outcome of this work.
We have also:
made it easier for leaseholders to form recognised tenants’ associations (RTAs). We will shortly be reviewing this legislation to see how effectively it is working in practice;
worked with trading standards to improve information on accessing redress through the publishing of new guidance, which will help current leaseholders understand the redress process better;
committed to implement most of the Law Commission recommendations in its 2017 “Event Fees in Retirement Properties” report. We will consider two recommendations (on succession rights and a database of leasehold retirement properties with event fees) further to determine the most effective way of improving the system for consumers;
asked the Law Commission to update its 2006 report, “Termination of Tenancies for Tenant Default”, so that we can consider next steps on the law of forfeiture;
committed to introducing legislation to extend mandatory membership of a redress scheme to all freeholders of leasehold properties;
set out our intention to give freehold homeowners the same rights as leaseholders to challenge the reasonableness of estate maintenance fees, and to apply to the tribunal to appoint a new manager;
committed to ensuring homeowners cannot be subject to a mandatory possession order for minor ground rent or rentcharge arrears;
announced in March 2019 that we will address the issue of legal costs. We believe leaseholders should not be subject to unjustified legal costs and will close the legal loopholes that allow this to happen;
We have also committed to regulating managing agents and to improving the transparency and fairness of service charges. This includes introducing a single mandatory and legally enforceable code of practice to set standards across the sector and requiring agents to be qualified to practice.
Last October, we established an independent working group, chaired by Lord Best, to take this work forward. They looked at how standards can be raised across the property sector and how fees such as service charges should be presented to consumers. The working group published its final report to the Government in July 2019, and we are considering its recommendations and will announce the next steps in due course.
Work of the Ministry
I am pleased to be able to update the House on the Government’s significant achievements in modernising the justice system over the past 10 years.
We have supported the prison system and created decent and safe prisons by undertaking the following actions:
Since 2010 we have removed almost 50,000 foreign national offenders (FNOs) from our prisons, immigration removal centres and the community, and agreed new prisoner transfer agreements with countries around the world to allow FNOs to serve their prison sentences in their own country, including Albania and Pakistan.
In January 2017, we launched a campaign to recruit 2,500 additional prison officers by December 2018 to ensure the safe running of our prisons. We achieved this target six months early.
In 2018-19 £70 million was invested in prison safety, security and decency.
From April 2018, we have been testing and evaluating innovative approaches to helping prisoners recover from drug addiction through our £9 million drug recovery prison pilot at HMP Holme House. This is a joint project between MoJ and the Department of Health and Social Care/NHS England.
In April 2019, we released the national prison drug strategy together with guidance, and introduced innovative programmes such as incentivised substance free living.
The recent 10 Prisons Project saw an overall 16% reduction in the rate of assaults and a 50% reduction in total positive drug tests.
We are making a £100 million investment in prison security to tackle the drugs, weapons and mobile phones that increase the risk to officers and hinder rehabilitation.
We have ensured that the sentences handed down by the courts are fair by introducing the following measures:
In 2012, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act abolished the imprisonment for public protection (IPP) sentence and introduced extended determinate sentences for dangerous offenders. Since 2016, implementation of measures contained in a comprehensive IPP action plan in 2016 has seen a dramatic reduction in the IPP prison population since abolition of the sentence.
That same year (2012) we also consolidated previous release legislation (contained in 1967 and 1991 legislation) into the Criminal Justice Act 2003, thereby making the sentencing and release framework less complex and confusing.
In 2015, the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2014 was brought into force. This strengthened the extended determinate sentence (EDS) by providing that in all cases where such a sentence was imposed the prisoner could be held until the end of the term, with the possibility of Parole Board release from the two-thirds point (previously, some EDS prisoners were released automatically at the two-thirds point).
In July 2019, we implemented new Parole Board rules. This included the introduction of a new reconsideration mechanism to make it easier to challenge parole decisions which appear seriously flawed. This built on the rule changes enacted previously in 2018 which abolished the prohibition on disclosure of information and enabled the Parole Board to issue summaries of its decisions to victims and others who requested one.
In October 2019 we laid legislation to ensure that serious violent and sexual offenders spend a greater proportion of their sentence in custody.
We have also this month laid legislation to implement 2012 legislation to introduce alcohol abstinence and monitoring requirements as a sentencing option.
This month we have also introduced the Prisoners (Disclosure of Information about Victims) Bill, responding to the Helen’s Law campaign, which will ensure that cases where prisoners do not disclose the location of victims’ remains or the identity of children in indecent photographs are fully considered by the Parole Board when considering the release of such a prisoner.
We have improved support for the victims of crime by introducing the following measures:
In 2010, the first Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales was appointed. Their role is to promote the interests of victims and witnesses and encourage good practice in their treatment.
In 2011, we implemented the Prisoners’ Earnings Act which allows a levy to be imposed on prisoners’ earnings when they are undertaking paid work in the community. This helps raise £1 million plus each year to support victims.
In 2012, we launched a consultation on “Getting it right for victims and witnesses”, setting out the Government’s proposed approach to ensuring that victims and witnesses get the support they need.
In 2012, the EU directive for victims of crime 2012/29/EU was passed. This requires all EU countries to establish minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime. The UK fulfils these obligations through the code of practice for victims of crime (victims’ code). In 2015, the victims code was revised to full transpose rights within the EU victims directive.
In 2013-14, Police and Crime Commissioners were allocated local funding to commission emotional and practical support services for victims of crime in their area.
In 2014, the Government established the victims panel, to represent the voice of victims in Government policy making.
In 2018, the victims strategy was published, providing a national, cross-Government framework to make fundamental improvements for victims.
In 2019, we published a consultation on amendments to the victims code.
We have modernised the justice system by introducing the following reforms:
In 2012, we created new offences of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and squatting in a residential building.
In 2015, we criminalised sexual communication with a child and made it a crime to possess a “paedophile manual” (Serious Crime Act 2015).
We also tackled female genital mutilation (FGM) by extending extra-territorial jurisdiction (tackling crimes committed overseas), providing anonymity for victims, introducing a new crime of failure to protect a girl under 16 and introducing new FGM Protection Orders (Serious Crime Act 2015).
That same year we also strengthened the law on grooming and made revenge porn a crime (Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015).
In 2016 we introduced public hearings to the Court of Protection increasing transparency around the Court’s work.
In 2016, the Government commissioned the right hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy) to conduct an independent review into the experience of and outcomes for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in the criminal justice system. In December 2017, MoJ confirmed its commitment to make progress on all the recommendations in some way.
Since October 2017, we have been working with health partners on a community sentence treatment requirement (CSTR) protocol which aims to increase the number of community sentences with mental health, drug and alcohol treatment requirements attached.
The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 created a new offence and raised penalties for assaults on emergency workers, including police and prison officers.
In June 2018, MoJ published a female offender strategy, which set out our vision and plan for reducing women’s offending by taking a gender-informed approach to improve outcomes for female offenders at all points of the justice system.
In April 2019 we introduced new legislation to reform divorce law, removing the need for divorcing couples to blame each other for the breakdown of their marriage.
In February 2019, MoJ brought in a new law to ban “upskirting” following engagement with campaigner Gina Martin.
In June 2019, the Government scrapped the “same roof rule” that made some victims ineligible for compensation through the criminal injuries compensation scheme.
In July 2019 we introduced the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill to increase protections for victims of domestic abuse and prevent victims being cross-examined by their abusers.
We have modernised the prison estate:
Since 2010 we have opened 8,397 places via four new prisons: Isis, Thameside, Oakwood and Berwyn, totalling 5,734 places.
Alongside new prisons we have built 11 new house blocks at existing sites: Elmley, Nottingham, Parc (x2), Buckley Hall, Moorland, Bure, Peterborough, The Mount, Thameside, and Stocken, totalling 2,663 places.
In the same period, we have closed a total of 7,295 places via: 20 prison closures (6,530 places) at Ashwell, Lancaster Castle, Latchmere House, Wellingborough, Bullwood Hall, Canterbury, Gloucester, Shrewsbury, Kingston, Shepton Mallet, Dorchester, Northallerton, Reading, Blundeston, Blantyre House, Haslar, Dover, Holloway, Kennet, and Glen Parva; and two partial closures (765 places).
In 2019 the Prime Minister announced an additional £2.5 billion to provide an additional 10,000 prison places; the first of which will be built at Full Sutton. This is in addition to new prisons already planned at Wellingborough, which is in progress, and Glen Parva, which we expect to start building next year.
We have made improvements to probation services:
Since 2010, we have extended probation supervision to more than 40,000 prisoners serving short sentences, who previously left prison with no statutory supervision.
In May 2019, we announced plans to strengthen probation services by bringing the supervision of all offenders under the National Probation Service while ensuring a significant role for the voluntary and private sectors in the delivery of interventions.
MoJ has made available £280 million for voluntary and private sectors to deliver innovative rehabilitation services. The new probation structure will convene services from other Government Departments to support offenders, and improve the skills of the probation workforce, and the estate.
We have made considerable improvements to rehabilitation in prison, including:
We published our education and employment strategy in May 2018, which set out how we will transform our approach to ensure prisoners develop the skills they need to secure employment on release.
We have introduced reforms to the disclosure of criminal records to prospective employers to help get ex-offenders into employment, which makes reoffending less likely.
In May 2019, we made changes to release on temporary licence policy to improve opportunities for work and resettlement while in prison.
Through the Government’s rough sleeping strategy, we are investing up to £6.4 million in a pilot scheme to support individuals released from three prisons: Bristol, Leeds and Pentonville.
We have made reforms to the way legal aid and legal support are provided:
In 2010, the coalition Government committed to carrying out a “fundamental review of legal aid”, in order to contribute towards reducing the deficit. This led to two major transformation programmes (the legal aid reform programme and the legal aid transformation programme) which included the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO). As a result of this, between 2010-11 and 2018-19 legal aid spending fell by £945 million in real terms, or 36%, whilst ensuring those in need of support could access it.
Since the passage of LASPO, MoJ has also delivered a series of legislative changes to ensure those in need of legal aid can access it, including victims of the Grenfell disaster, offenders in prison, and most recently separated migrant children in immigration cases.
Alongside a post-implementation review of the legal aid changes made by and since LASPO, in February 2019 MoJ published a legal support action plan which announced a range of initiatives that aim to help people resolve their legal problems earlier, including a new legal support innovation fund. We also announced a comprehensive review of the legal aid means tests to ensure that legal aid is available to those who need it and have recently announced a consultation on the housing possession court duty scheme which will ensure anyone at risk of losing their home has access to the legal help they need.
Following reforms to the fee schemes for advocates in the Crown Court in 2017 and 2018, the MoJ has also announced a comprehensive review of criminal legal aid with the aim of creating a modern, resilient and sustainable criminal legal aid market, with a diverse workforce.
We have made reforms to the way in which Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service operates:
In 2016, the Lord Chancellor and senior judges set out their vision for the £1.2 billion HMCTS reform programme, to modernise the courts and tribunals system and reduce complexity in processes.
Four new online services have been delivered to the public covering divorce, probate, civil money claims and social security appeals and have been used by over 250,000 people with user satisfaction rates over 80%.
We have begun using the common platform in the magistrates courts, which in time will deliver a single online system enabling the police, the CPS, HMCTS and legal professionals to access and share all relevant information about a case.
We used to reject 40% of paper divorce applications because they were incorrectly filled in. The new online service has received over 65,000 applications and the rejection rate has dropped to under 1%.
Two courts and tribunal service centres (CTSCs) have been opened in Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent with a third due to open in Loughborough in 2020. CTSCs are transforming the way we deliver justice services and manage cases by providing a centralised, national service for all users.
Wi-fi has been installed in all of our courts and tribunals, and more than 80,000 professionals are accessing wi-fi in our courts each week.
We have closed underused, dilapidated court buildings, raising £125 million to invest more effectively in improving our justice system.
A new system for summary offences has handled over 68,000 Transport for London and TV licensing cases, cutting delays and inefficiency.
We have supported the UK’s world-renowned legal services sector:
We have launched the “Legal Services are GREAT” international marketing campaign in 2017. This promotes the UK’s legal sector overseas, worth around £25 billion to the UK economy, to win business for our law firms, chambers and professional bodies.
Since its launch in Singapore in 2017, the campaign has featured in 30 countries worldwide, with trade missions to Kazakhstan, China, Chile and Nigeria.
Work of the Department
Transport plays a critical part in all our lives and is central to some of the biggest issues the country faces, including decarbonisation, growing our economy and uniting the country. I would like to update the House on key recent achievements by the Department for Transport.
Launched the Williams Rail Review in September 2018 to look at the structure of the whole rail industry, including increasing integration between track and train, regional partnerships, and improving value for money for users and taxpayers.
Invested record levels in the railway between 2014 and 2019, with over £40 billion being spent on enhancing, renewing, and maintaining the network. £15 billion of this was spent on enhancing the railway. This included:
Capacity enhancement projects such as additional platforms, for example at Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester airport stations; and rail line capacity upgrades, such as re-signalling between Plymouth and Penzance, and four-tracking on the Filton Bank in Bristol.
Completing major infrastructure upgrades as part of the Thameslink programme in December 2018, creating 24 train paths per hour between Blackfriars and St Pancras, including readiness for digital signalling and automatic trains.
Opening new routes such as the reinstatement of the Halton curve, which enables passenger services from north Wales and West Cheshire to directly access Liverpool City Centre and airport for the first time in more than 40 years.
Electrification of the Great Western Mainline between London and Cardiff, due to be completed early in 2020.
Over 4,300 additional rail services per week have been introduced since May 2018.
Confirmed £47.9 billion is available for the railway between 2019 and 2024. This spending will be targeted on operations, maintenance and renewals to deliver a modern, reliable service for passengers across the network.
£450 million committed to digital rail as part of the national productivity investment fund at Autumn statement 2016.
Cancelled above-inflation (RPI) rail fare rises every year since 2014.
Introduced the new 26 to 30 Rail Card in January 2019, allowing 4.5 million young people to travel by train for less, and launched the new 16 and 17 Railcard which from September 2019 will give up to 1.2 million young people a guaranteed 50% discount on rail travel
Introduced the “Delay Repay 15” scheme in 2016 which allows passengers to claim compensation when trains are more than 15 minutes late.
Over 8,000 new railway carriages have been ordered since 2010.
More than 80% of passenger rail vehicles by summer 2019 now have on-train wi-fi available
We have committed to Northern Powerhouse Rail and are working with Transport for the North on proposals to improve the rail network across the north.
In August 2019, launched an independent review into HS2 to advise the Government on whether and how to proceed with the project. The review is ongoing.
Regional and devolution
Through the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2017, created new powers to put sub-national transport bodies (STBs) on a statutory footing. Transport for the north’s status was enshrined in law in April 2018.
As part of the Northern Powerhouse:
Established Transport for the North, bringing together northern transport authorities with the task of working with Government to create the first ever comprehensive transport strategy for the region, covering roads, rail, freight, airports and smart ticketing.
Committed record investment of over £13 billion in the strategic roads, local roads and rail infrastructure of the north between 2015 and 2020.
Established a new £2.5 billion transforming cities fund, with funding announced at autumn budgets in 2017 and in 2018. Allocated £1.08 billion of the transforming cities fund to the six mayoral combined authorities. £1.3 billion is being made available competitively to 12 shortlisted cities. Initial funding for “quick win” transport projects in the initial shortlisted cities was allocated in March 2019.
Announced in September 2019 that 14 major road network and large local major schemes will go forward for further development. These included the Tyne Bridge and central motorway renewal and the A140 Long Stratton Bypass in Norfolk. On 18 October the York outer ring road became the first MRN scheme to be granted programme entry.
Around £1.7 billion has been awarded so far for 13 schemes through 2018 and 2019 from MHCLG’s housing infrastructure fund. These include delivery of significant new transport infrastructure, with £102 million towards delivering the Carlisle Southern Link Road, and £218 million towards a bypass and new bridges for the Didcot Garden Village.
In December 2018, published the results of a consultation on the creation of the major road network, which brought over 5,000 miles of local authority A roads into scope for new funding from the national roads fund.
Between 2011 and 2019, approved 74 major local transport schemes with over £2.3 billion of funding such as the extension of Nottingham Tram, Heysham to M6 Link Road and the A43 Corby bypass; and the Preston Western Distributor Road.
Played a key part in the setting up of the local growth fund, and made a contribution of over £7 billion to the £12 billion total, which devolved real spending decisions to local enterprise partnerships and prioritised over 500 transport schemes through growth deals in three funding rounds in 2014, 2015 and 2017.
Allocated a record level of funding of over £6.6 billion to local authorities for local road maintenance in the period 2015-21, including a dedicated pothole action fund.
Launched the “Better deal for bus users” in September 2019, a £220 million package to boost bus services. This includes trialling a new “superbus” network approach to deliver low fares, high frequency services in Cornwall, expanding our fleet of low emission buses with an all-electric bus town, funding to enable local authorities to improve current bus services or to restore lost services, and investment in bus priority measures in the West Midlands.
Committed £48 million to fund 263 zero emission buses in 2019.
Supported local authority spending of around £1billion per year on concessionary bus travel, enabling older and disabled people to make free off-peak bus journeys and helping them stay more connected to their communities and social surroundings.
Government spending on cycling and walking has increased to around £2 billion over the 2016/17-2020/21 spending review period.
Invested over £40 million in the cycle rail programme since 2012 which has tripled the number of cycle parking spaces at over 500 stations, bringing the total to over 80,000.
Invested £22 million in 33 new and upgraded cycle routes on the national cycle network this year.
Launched a £2 million e-cargo bike grant programme in February 2019 to support the uptake of e-cargo bikes.
Announced a further £13 million in the Bike-ability training for school children in October 2018, to extend the scheme into 2020-21. In the year up to April 2019, around 400,000 children completed the scheme.
Secured funding through the cycle city ambition programme to improve cycling infrastructure in eight cities to get more people cycling by improving and expanding cycle routes between the city centres, local communities, and key employment and retail sites.
Published the first ever statutory cycling and walking investment strategy in April 2017.
Strategic roads and safety
Made good progress in delivering the first road investment strategy. At the end of the fourth year of the strategy, in March 2019, Highways England had started work on 28 schemes, in addition to the 16 schemes where works were ongoing at the start of the strategy; opened 29 schemes for traffic; and had 15 schemes in construction.
Ended tolls on the Severn Crossing in December 2018.
Announced that a second roads investment strategy will start in April 2020 with a record funding allocation of £25.3 billion from the national roads fund.
Produced a refreshed road safety statement in 2019 with a two-year action plan for four priority road user groups; young road users, rural road users, motorcyclists, and older vulnerable road users.
Strengthened drink-drive enforcement by removing—Deregulation Act 2015—the automatic right for drivers who fail a breathalyser test to demand a blood and urine test—"statutory option”—removing the opportunity to sober up while waiting for the test to be taken.
Provided £100 million of funding for the “safer roads fund” to improve the safety of 50 of England’s most dangerous local A roads.
Motoring and the environment
Launched the road to zero in 2018, our strategy on the transition to zero emission road transport, including that all new cars and vans will be effectively zero-emission by 2040.
Launched a new £400 million electric vehicle charging infrastructure investment fund, the first £70 million of which was allocated in September 2019 for 3000 rapid charge points, more than doubling the number across the UK to 5000.
Published the Clean Air Strategy 2019, which is the most ambitious air quality strategy in a generation, aiming to halve the harm to human health from air pollution in the UK by 2030.
We are investing in one of the most comprehensive global programmes of support for ultralow emission vehicles, including grants for vehicles and charge point infrastructure;
Since 2011, the plug-in car grant has supported the sale of over 170,000 vehicles ultralow-emission cars in the UK by Q2 2019, up from 111 in 2010, based on cars eligible for plug-in car grant support; including those cars not eligible for grant, there are currently 210,000 licensed ULEVs in total.
The electric vehicles home-charge scheme (EVHS) has supported over 120,000 charge points being installed in homes to date. All chargers installed using this grant must be smart from July 2019.
Invested £20 million to deliver new, dedicated charge points for electric taxis in local areas, with funding awarded to 27 local authorities in 2017 and 2019.
Hosted the world’s first international zero-emission vehicle summit in September 2018.
Tackling poor air quality
Published the 2017 N02 plan and its 2018 supplement, which has led to 61 local authorities being required to assess what action is needed to address the exceedances.
Committed £495 million as part of the Government commitment to improving transport and tackling air quality, which has now increased to £572 million technology and innovation
Committed £250 million to help position the UK as a global leader in the development and deployment of connected and self-driving vehicles, and have launched 90 projects as of summer 2019, involving over 200 organisations.
Created the centre for connected and autonomous vehicles (CCAV) in 2015 to help position the UK as a global leader in the development and deployment of connected and self-driving vehicles.
Passed the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act (2018) through Parliament to enable drivers of automated cars to be insured on UK roads, and are working with the Law Commission on exploring regulations for self-driving vehicles.
Launched the future of mobility urban strategy in 2019 which set out nine principles to guide the UK's approach to emerging mobility technologies and services, as well as actions for regulatory reviews of further areas such as e-scooters.
In August 2019 the eligibility for disabled parking badges—blue badges—was expanded to include those with non-visible disabilities or conditions, where these severely affect an individual’s mobility.
Following improvements to the gov.uk service, the percentage of blue badge applications submitted online has increased substantially, with 61.2% online in October 2019
Launched the inclusive transport strategy in 2018, to create a transport system that provides equal access for disabled people by 2030, with assistance if physical infrastructure remains a barrier.
Progress has been made, for example by mid-2019, 91% of heavy rail vehicles met modern accessibility requirements and 99% of buses either had an accessibility certificate or had low-floor access by March 2018, compared to only 81% at March 2010.
Launched Operation Matterhorn to repatriate over 140,000 people over a two-week period in Autumn 2019, resulting in the UK’s largest peacetime repatriation effort to date. The Civil Aviation Authority led the operation with support from HM Government, covering over 700 flights with support from 50 partners from around the world. About 94% of people were flown back on the original day of their cancelled Thomas Cook flight.
In 2019, along with BEIS, HMT and the devolved Administrations, consulted on options for ensuring that our post-Brexit approach to emissions trading is at least as ambitious as the current arrangement.
Worked with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to secure the first worldwide scheme to address CO2 emissions in any single sector, the carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for international aviation (CORSIA)
Established the independent commission on civil aviation noise in 2019, an important voice for communities concerned about the impact of aviation .
Updated the ATOL scheme and brought it in to line with modern trade practices. In 2012, updated the scheme to address gaps in consumer protection by extending the ATOL scheme to include “flight-plus” arrangements. Then, passed the Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing Act 2017 to allow for UK businesses to trade across Europe more easily, and ensure a wider body of consumers are protected.
Set out that airspace modernisation, reforming the way airspace is used, is vital to help deliver quicker, quieter and cleaner journeys for passengers and businesses, legislation is forthcoming.
Made progress on delivering a revised aviation strategy, which aims to make the country’s aviation sector world-leading in prioritising passengers, fostering sustainable growth, and promoting trade
Protected air routes into London that are in danger of being lost by providing financial support for several routes through public service obligations, currently routes from London to Dundee, Derry and Newquay.
Implemented a package of new legislation to keep our skies safe and secure, including extending the zones around airports in which it is illegal to fly drones above 400 feet or within the airport’s air traffic zone.
Worked with the Home Office, the police, and the Ministry of Justice to introduce primary legislation providing police with new powers to help tackle the misuse of unmanned aircraft, and contributed to the Home Office counter unmanned aircraft strategy.
Responded successfully to planned disruption by Heathrow Pause at Heathrow airport in September 2019.
Created the first aviation security strategy in 2018 that sets out our strategic response to the threats to civil aviation. This is currently being revised.
Regulated that all major airports must introduce new 3D cabin baggage screening equipment by the end of 2022.
Recruiting a new general aviation advocate, and nine general aviation ambassadors.
Launched the women in aviation and aerospace charter in 2018, which seeks to bridge the diversity gap.
Launched the reach for the sky programme with the aim to increase the number of young people entering the sector as well as increase diversity.
Published the maritime safety action plan in 2019, which sets out a number of actions to achieve ambitious safety targets.
London international shipping week took place in 2019, helping to advance London’s status as the world’s capital for maritime services and demonstrate the UK maritime sector’s world-leading capabilities.
Published the maritime 2050 strategy in 2019, which provides a long-term strategic vision for the sector. It establishes clear trajectories against which Government and business can plan for the long-term, maintaining the UK's position as a global maritime leader through to 2050.
Published the clean maritime plan in 2019 which sets out how Government see the UK’s transition to a future of zero-emission shipping. It includes that by 2025, all new vessels being ordered for use in UK waters are designed with zero-emission propulsion capability, and zero-emission commercial vessels are in operation in UK waters.
Other departmental priorities
Provided significant input into the Government’s 2018 year of engineering, leading to 5.1 million direct experiences of engineering for seven to 16-year-olds.
Published the transport infrastructure skills strategy and set up a task force to deliver it. By mid-2019, some 5,000 new apprenticeships had been created.
Published the transport investment strategy in 2017 which sets out the Department for Transport's priorities and approach for future transport investment decisions. Government have since confirmed that it is spending £72 billion in the five years to 2020-21 on transport. This strategy ensures Government’s investment decisions are aligned to wider goals, including building a stronger more balanced economy.
Published the transport infrastructure efficiency strategy in 2017.
Published the rail sector deal in December 2018 to build on the strong partnership working between the rail sector and the Government to exploit the opportunities of new technologies, improve the efficient use of our rail network capacity and enhance the experience of those who use our railways.
Established an organisation to boost the export of UK transport expertise.
Substantial work preparing for Brexit and ensuring that sufficient contingency plans are in place in the event of a no-deal to keep freight moving and ensuring the supply of essential medicines into the country.
Passed the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act 2018 which will ensure that the UK has the powers it needs to support British hauliers to continue operating internationally after exiting the EU.
Put in place measures to ensure that flights between the UK and the EU can continue in any Brexit scenario.
Secured new bilateral agreements or effective mitigations in place for the 17 non-EU countries where market access is currently provided for by virtue of our EU membership. This includes new agreements with the US and Canada.
Put in place new arrangements to cover bilateral aviation safety agreements (BASA’s) with the US, Canada and Brazil, which are currently provided for by virtue of our EU membership.
Ensured that in any Brexit scenario, UK security standards will be recognised, allowing for the continued flow of air cargo between the UK and EU.
£10 million for 16 ports across England to help their preparation for Brexit through the port infrastructure resilience and connectivity fund.
Secured the supply of vital medicines to the UK after Brexit, whatever the circumstances.
Work and Pensions
Work of the Department
The Department for Work and Pensions is the UK’s biggest public service Department, supporting people into work and administering the state pension and a range of working age, disability and ill health benefits to around 20 million claimants and customers. The Department is carrying out a world-leading transformative welfare agenda, and has had great success in recent years, while the Health and Safety Executive continues to make the workplace safer.
Universal credit is the biggest change programme in Europe, and the UK is seen as a world leader in welfare. The roll out of universal credit is now complete and it is available in every Jobcentre across the country, with 94% of all claims paid in full and on time to 2.5 million people. This financial year we will spend over £95 billion on working age benefits and over £120 billion on benefits for pensioners, bringing the total welfare spending across Government this year up to £220 billion.
The Government believe that work is a pillar of a strong economy, and that work should always pay— according to the 2018 universal credit full claimant service survey, 85% of claimants believe getting and keeping a job is their number one priority—with 75% feeling that having almost any job is better than being on benefits. Overall satisfaction among claimants has remained consistently high over the last three years, with four out of five people satisfied with the support they have received when claiming universal credit.
The next phase of universal credit, “Move to UC”, will open up work, allowing people to increase their hours without the penalties they would normally be subject to under tax credits. As of 26 September 2019 we have made over 13,800 severe disability premium transitional payments, worth on average £2,280. This represents over 90% of expected backdated payments, totalling over £37.2 million.
Universal credit introduced a single taper system so payments reduce in a transparent and predictable way as earnings increase, making sure we support claimants in their transition into work. Additionally, when we complete moving legacy benefit claimants over to universal credit, an estimated 700,000 more people will get paid their full entitlement because of universal credit—getting on average an extra £285 per month.
As universal credit was rolled out, we made the taper more generous, reducing it to 63%, which means claimants can work more hours and keep more of their benefits. And again, in April this year, we increased the universal credit work allowance by £1,000 per year. This means that 2.4 million households will keep an extra £630 of income each year.
To support our claimants, we have introduced additional dedicated specialist work coaches, with training covering domestic abuse support, mental health, support for those with disabilities and health conditions, through to specialised local employment support.
Furthermore, we have made changes to support the most vulnerable, such as reducing the length of the maximum single sanction from three years to six months.
From October this year we reduced the normal maximum level of deductions in universal credit from 40% to 30% of the standard allowance; lowering this rate could see a couple keep up to an extra £600 over 12 months.
To support families and households, we announced the policy to support a maximum of two children would no longer be extended to apply to children born before 6 April 2017 in new claims to universal credit. We have also introduced more flexible childcare cost arrangements, as well increasing their worth from up to 70% to up to 85%.
Additionally, we provide alternative payment arrangements such as more frequent payment options and managed payments to landlords—we have created an online system for landlords to facilitate this. We also encourage payments to go to the main carer.
From April 2019, Citizens Advice have been delivering the new “Help to Claim” support service to claimants making a new claim for universal credit.
In 2012, we reformed the child maintenance system with the aim of increasing co-operation between separated parents to meet their financial responsibilities, as this produces the best outcomes for their children. The scheme promotes parental responsibility by encouraging clients to set-up a private family-based arrangement where appropriate—and removing the obligation to join the statutory scheme.
We introduced further enforcement powers at the end of 2018 to enable us to deduct child maintenance directly from a wider range of accounts, target complex earners via a calculation of notional income based on assets and to disqualify non-compliant parents from holding a UK passport.
In June 2019, the child maintenance service was managing 488,300 statutory child maintenance arrangements, covering 706,700 children.
The Government are committed to improving employment outcomes for disabled people and for those with long-term health conditions. We want to support employers to realise the benefits and insight that the huge pool of talented disabled people can bring to the workforce.
That is why we have committed to more than doubling the number of disability employment advisers in our Jobcentres to over 500 to provide specialist expertise to help disabled people enter employment. Alongside this, the Government are spending £55 billion a year on benefits to support disabled people and people with health conditions. That’s a record high and an increase of £10 billion in real terms since 2010.
In November 2017, “Improving Lives: The Future of Work, Health and Disability” set out the Government’s 10-year plan, including an ambition to see 1 million more disabled people in work by 2027.
Over the past six years, we have seen 1.15 million more disabled people in work, reaching a total of 4.1 million in the second quarter of 2019. This includes an increase of 404,000 over the first two years since the Government announced their 2027 goal.
We are working with employers through our disability confident scheme; over 14,000 employers have now signed up and all Government Departments are signed up to this scheme.
The Government have completed a consultation on their proposed reforms to statutory sick pay so that it will be better enforced, more flexible and cover the lowest paid employees for the first time.
The Health and Safety Executive continues to make the workplace safer. It has clarified guidance on health and safety regulations to improve employer understanding of the need to consider mental health alongside physical health when undertaking a first aid needs assessment. The UK continues to rate as one of the safest countries in Europe in terms of fatal injury and to perform well against EU countries on a range of other health and safety indicators
Personal independence payment (PIP) is a more modern, dynamic and fairer benefit than the predecessor, disability living allowance. PIP focuses support on those experiencing the greatest barriers to living independently. The number of working-age people now receiving support from PIP and DLA is up by over 257,000 since PIP was introduced in 2013 and, crucially, a higher proportion of the over 2.2 million people on PIP receive the top rate of benefit than on DLA—31% compared to 15%. Claimants are also receiving their benefits sooner—the average time taken to process claims is down by over 60% since July 2014 for new claimants.
We have reduced the number of assessments for those receiving the highest level of support, where needs will not improve, as well as for people over the state pension age. Up to 325,000 pensioners will benefit from the change to ensure that pensioners will receive ongoing PIP awards with a light touch review at the 10-year point.
The Government’s pensions agenda will provide more security and safety to pensioners in retirement, tackle reckless behaviour from employers on people’s pensions and help more pensioners than ever before to plan for their retirement. In 2019-20 alone, the Government expect to spend over £120 billion on benefits for pensioners—this includes £99 billion of expenditure on the state pension.
Since 2012, 10 million workers have automatically enrolled into a workplace pension thanks to automatic enrolment. This policy alone has helped to reverse a decade of decline in savings and, as of 2019-20, an estimated extra £18.6 billion a year will go into workplace pensions.
We are building on the success of auto-enrolment, looking to make it easier for self-employed people to save. In December 2018 the Government published a report setting out their delivery plan for research and trials to identify the most effective options to increase pension savings among the 4.9 million self-employed workers and we will carry out these trials throughout 2019 to 2021.
The Government introduced the triple lock and, accordingly, the full yearly amount of the basic state pension is around £675 higher than if it had just been up-rated by earnings since April 2010. This is a rise of over £1,600 in cash terms.
Pioneering work has been undertaken to help more people prepare for retirement than ever before. Pensions dashboards—digital interfaces that will allow people to see online what they have in their various pensions, including their state pension—will put individuals in control of their data; they will, for the first time, provide clear and simple information regarding pension savings in one place online and help people reconnect with “lost” pensions pots.
The Government are also tackling reckless behaviour of employers that would strip people of their hard earned retirement funds. In February 2019 we announced measures to reduce irresponsible conduct from employers by extending the pension regulator’s powers, including the power to send business owners to jail.
Recognising that climate change is a defining national and international emergency, we have introduced three key measures to ensure that pension schemes understand their responsibilities in responding to it. Since January 2019, those running single employer occupational pension schemes are required to establish an effective system of governance, including consideration of environmental, social and governance factors related to investment assets in investment decisions; and schemes with 100 or more members must carry out and document a risk assessment of their system of governance including risks relating to climate change.
Furthermore, as of 1 October, trustees of occupational pension schemes must state their policy on how they take account of the financial risks of climate change when developing their investment strategies.
The Government are committed to ensuring that people have access to the information and guidance they need to make effective financial decisions throughout their lives. The Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018 has brought together the services provided by Pension Wise, the Pensions Advisory Service and the Money Advice Service into a single organisation.
We have promoted long-term savings and pensions products, including the lifetime individual savings account, to encourage and incentivise more people to make provision for long-term needs, including a house purchase and retirement. We are encouraging working people to save for a workplace pension by helping to protect their savings and monitoring the products, charges, and processes adopted by pension schemes. We are also giving individuals the confidence to save and access their pension pots by providing more guidance and support on pensions through the establishment of the Money and Pensions Service which is delivering free and impartial money and pension guidance, along with debt advice.
We will continue to engage across Government to ensure that we are aligned with the industrial strategy, supporting the flexible working task force, and the careers strategy and the national retraining scheme—ensuring that skills provision meets the needs of an ageing demographic. We have introduced older claimant champions into all 34 Jobcentre Plus districts. We will also continue to work with employers through our business champion for older workers and the local enterprise partnerships. We will ensure there are provisions for older returners to the workplace by working with Government Equalities Office and HM Treasury, and are engaging with businesses to understand their concerns in line with changes to the ageing demographic of the workforce.
We have also been supporting everyone who can, and wants to work, to continue to work. Initiatives such as the fuller working lives strategy have led to more people aged 50-64 in employment than ever before. In addition to our legislative reforms such as removing the default retirement age and extending the right to request flexible working, we are supporting employers to recruit, re-train and retain older workers.
Our record on employment is strong, and the number of people in work is up by over 3.6 million since 2010—a near-record high. The employment rate, at 75.9%, is also at a near-record high, with 1,000 more people moving into work on average every day since 2010.
Through our new enterprise allowance (NEA) scheme, we have supported 209,000 claimants to create over 130,000 businesses since 2011. On average, we have helped to launch 203 businesses by unemployed benefit claimants, every week since 2017.
UK nationals make up around 90% of all people in work and have accounted for 66% of the rise in employment over the last nine years. Additionally, over 60% of the growth in employment since 2010 has been outside London and the south-east. There are now more than 1 million fewer workless households than in 2010 and 730,000 fewer children living in a household where no one works.
Since 2010, over 75% of the growth in employment has been in full time work and employment, and employment high-skilled occupations has risen by over 2.9 million.
There are over 1.8 million more women in work since 2010, and the female unemployment rate is at 3.7%—a near record low; the black Asian and minority ethnic employment rate has reached 66.2%—a near record high—up 7.4% since 2010; and, the youth unemployment level has almost halved since 2010, to a near record low—falling by more than 130 on average every day. Furthermore, wages have been growing for 19 consecutive months.
We are providing targeted support for young people between the ages of 18 and 24 to get into employment, through the youth obligation support programme (YOSP), as well as other specialised support within Jobcentres for young people.