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Written Statements

Volume 670: debated on Wednesday 22 January 2020

Written Statements

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Cabinet Office

Veterans Strategy

In November 2018, the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments jointly published the “Strategy for our Veterans” (CM 9726) setting out a shared commitment to support veterans across the whole of the UK. As the Secretary of State set out at the time, this was the first time the Governments had agreed shared aims and outcomes, and the collaboration has since been praised by our external partners. In order to complement this, each Government separately consulted on how to implement the strategy within their areas of responsibility.

The UK Government consultation (CM 9727) sought public views on how to achieve the outcomes in the strategy. Over 2,000 responses were received from individuals and organisations from across the public, private and charity sectors, as well as from veterans themselves, including through a number of face-to-face meetings.

I am today publishing the UK Government’s response to that consultation. This sets out further steps we will be taking to improve support to veterans, address the challenges that some veterans face and promote the outstanding contribution they make to the UK. The Office for Veterans’ Affairs will be responsible for co-ordinating the delivery of this action plan, working closely with Government Departments. This includes ensuring that veterans and their families know what existing support is already available and how they can access it, a step for which many consultation responses called.

In the Queen’s Speech, we set out the Government’s commitment to legislate on the armed forces covenant and to bring forward proposals to tackle vexatious claims and provide certainty for veterans. Our manifesto also committed to introducing a veterans’ railcard, reducing national insurance contributions for employers of ex-service personnel and guaranteeing job interviews for veterans applying for public sector roles. The Department for Transport is already able to report progress in delivering the veterans’ railcard today. I have also asked the civil service to be an early adopter of guaranteed interviews for veterans.

All of these actions and commitments reflect the step change the UK Government intend to deliver in how we support veterans across the United Kingdom. We will forge a path to making this country the best place to be a veteran anywhere in the world. We will continue to work closely with the devolved Governments, who are publishing their own separate consultation responses today. We will work together to achieve this shared objective and ensure veterans receive the support they deserve in all parts of the Union.

The consultation response is available on A copy of the consultation response will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.


Home Department

Police Funding 2020-21

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has today laid before the House the Police Grant Report (England and Wales) 2020-21 (HC 51) for the approval of the House. The report sets out my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary’s determination for 2020-21 of the aggregate amount of grants that she proposes to pay under section 46(2) of the Police Act 1996. Copies of the report will be available in the Vote Office.

Today this Government have laid in Parliament the police funding settlement, which sets out the biggest increase in funding to forces since 2010. This includes £700 million for the recruitment of 6,000 additional officers by the end of March 2021, which represents an almost 10% increase on the core grant provided to forces last year. Assuming full take up of council tax precept flexibility, overall funding to Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) will increase by £915 million to £13.1 billion next year. This would represent a total funding increase of up to 7.5%.

This people’s Government are determined to strengthen our police service and tackle the unacceptable levels of crime, particularly violent crime, across our country. This Government will deliver on their commitment to recruit 20,000 additional officers over the next three years to protect the public and keep our families, communities and our country safe. We have already invested in this uplift programme, providing £45 million of additional funding in 2019-20 to ensure the programme gets off the ground. The 2020-21 funding settlement gives the police the investment they need to deliver on that promise. Taking all funding from the Government and PCCs’ precept raising power into account, up to an extra £1.1 billion will be available for investment in the policing system in 2020-21. This would represent an increase of 8% funding on top of 2019-20 levels and is the single biggest increase in Government investment in policing for some time.

The Chancellor confirmed in his September 2019 statement to the House on the 2020-21 spending round that Government funding to policing will increase by £750 million next year. £700 million of this money will go directly to PCCs in England and Wales in order to support the recruitment of the first wave of up to 6,000 additional officers by the end of March 2021. These extra officers will be in addition to those leaving the service annually, and represents the biggest recruitment drive in decades. Over 75% (£532 million) of this funding will be paid to PCCs directly through core grant funding. To manage the uplift, and to ensure best possible use of this unprecedented investment, the Government are creating a ringfenced grant for the remainder of the funding (£168 million). Forces will be allocated a portion of this £168 million in line with their funding formula allocation, and will be able to access this as they progress against their recruitment targets.

This settlement also contains details of other areas of Government funding, including Legacy Council Tax Grants, National and International Capital City Grants, Welsh Top-Up Grant and Precept Grant.

We also propose enabling PCCs to raise further funding through precept flexibility, subject to confirmation at the final Local Government Finance Settlement. We propose to empower PCCs to increase their Band D precept by up to £10 in 2020-21 without the need to call for a local referendum, the equivalent of less than 20 pence per week. If all PCCs decide to maximise their flexibility, this would result in up to an additional £248 million of funding for local policing next year. It is for locally accountable PCCs to take decisions on local precept and explain to their electorate how this additional investment will help deliver a better police service.

In this settlement the Government will also allocate £153 million to cover additional pension costs. This amount is held flat compared to 2019-20 figures and will be reconsidered at the next spending review. This will ensure that the additional funding forces are receiving will be spent on recruiting additional officers, rather than covering existing costs.

As announced earlier this week, funding for counter-terrorism policing will total £906 million in 2020-21. This is a significant additional investment in the vital work of counter-terrorism police officers across the country. PCCs will be notified separately of force-level allocations, which will not be made public for security reasons.

National priorities

This Government will also continue to support PCCs and forces through investment in national policing priorities. This settlement will increase spending on national (resource) policing priorities by £91.7 million (staying flat as a percentage of overall police funding), which will benefit all forces across England and Wales. This increase is in line with the total increase in the overall settlement and includes £50 million to ensure delivery of the police uplift programme.

From this increased funding for national policing priorities the Government have prioritised £150 million of funding for serious and organised crime in 2020-21, for new capabilities to tackle illicit finance, keeping the public safe and protecting vulnerable people. Organised criminals have been quick to adapt and make use of emerging technology, exploiting the vulnerable and threatening the fabric of our society by fuelling crime and violence.

We will tackle this threat by ensuring law enforcement have the resources they need. We will strengthen the National Crime Agency (NCA) through funding investigative tools needed to keep pace with the rate of technological change and globalisation of criminal networks. We will invest in tackling county lines drug dealing, fraud and cyber-crime and continue our investment in bearing down on online child sexual exploitation and abuse. To achieve this, funding will be allocated to local police forces, as well as the NCA and regional organised crime units to drive transformational change in our law enforcement response.

In 2020-21, £119 million will be spent on reducing serious violent crime. This includes dedicated funds to target county lines and funding for violence reduction Units which form a key component of our action to tackle the root causes of violence. This targeted money, combined with the overall increase to police force funding, represents a significant investment in the police’s capabilities to drive down violent crime.

The Government are also committed to tackling neighbourhood crime. We will allocate £10 million, alongside a £15 million contribution from the Chancellor, to bring the Safer Streets fund to the £25 million total pledged last year. The fund will support areas in England and Wales that are persistently and disproportionately affected by acquisitive crimes such as burglary and theft to invest in well evidenced prevention initiatives such as home security and street lighting.

This Government will continue to support the completion of national transformation programmes delivering enhanced capabilities across policing. We will bring the Police Transformation fund to a close and invest £60 million of funding next year for a programme of work to support the Government’s priorities of increased digitisation in policing. This will include: further development of a national data analytics capability to support preventative policing interventions; delivery to forces of the Single Online Home policing website to provide more effective engagement with the public; providing productivity tools supporting collaboration and cyber-security to protect forces; support improvements to how fingerprint and digital forensics are used, helping forces to deliver a fully accredited, more integrated and sustainable service; and an uplift to forensics, including digital forensics, to build capability across policing and for new officers.

We will support the police to make use of the latest technologies, such as biometrics and analytics. This needs to be on the basis of good evidence and the best understanding of science. For that reason I am pleased to announce that there will be funding made available for a Police Chief Scientific Adviser and dedicated funding for investment in science, technology and research. We will work closely with the National Police Chiefs Council to develop this role.

I will also establish and chair an ambitious Strategic Change and Investment Board (SCIB), which will form part of the sub-governance of the National Policing Board. The board will replace the Police Reform and Transformation Board and will co-ordinate, prioritise and drive investment across the policing system and have greater sight on a range of allocations to meet Government priorities around crime prevention and reduction. The SCIB will also oversee the investment in major technology programmes upgrading critical infra- structure, such as replacing the Airwave communications system with the 4G Emergency Services Network. Funding will also be allocated for the development of the Law Enforcement Data Service, which will deliver an integrated service to provide intelligence to law enforcement and its partners and replace the existing Police National Computer and Police National Database.

Capital funding

Furthermore, this settlement will see funding for capital grant expenditure rebalanced, with £63.7 million to be spent on national priorities and infrastructure. This will allow the Government to provide further support, for example, to police technology programmes, the College of Policing and Serious Organised Crime programmes. PCCs will continue to receive a capital grant worth £12.3 million in 2020-21. With the increase in other grants to PCCs, which can be utilised to cover both capital and non-capital spend, PCCs will see more funding overall with greater flexibility over how they use it.

Outcomes, efficiency and reform

I have set out how an additional £1.1 billion will be invested in our policing system next year. It is only right that in return the Government hold the police to account on delivering for the public. We will expect the police to achieve measurable improvements across a range of outcomes with the National Policing Board, chaired by the Home Secretary, holding the sector to account for delivering these improvements

This Government are also clear that the police, and all other public services, must continue to focus on improving efficiency and productivity to demonstrate to the taxpaying public they serve that they are getting the most out of this increased funding, and delivering the planned uplift in officer numbers. There are a number of expectations set out as part of this settlement.

The Government have committed £750 million to enable the recruitment of 6,000 additional officers. To manage the delivery of this uplift, we are ringfencing £168 million which will be paid to forces in line with their progress in recruiting the 6,000 additional officers by March 2021, and making the relevant infrastructure improvements needed to recruit the 20,000 additional officers by March 2023. Funding will be released quarterly and in arrears subject to evidence on their progress.

On behalf of the taxpayer, the Government will expect to see continued efficiency savings in 2020-21. Policing are on track to deliver £30 million of cashable savings from procurement in 2019-20, on top of the £40 million delivered in 2018-19. Through continued collaborative procurement policing will deliver another £30 million of cashable savings in 2020-21. Having delivered last year’s condition to continue developing a new model for police procurement, policing have agreed the business case for BlueLight Commercial, a new national model for police procurement and commercial functions. BlueLight Commercial will embed and enhance future collaborative procurement, making best use of policing’s buying power, increasing standardisation and improving value for money. BlueLight Commercial will apply strategic procurement approaches to areas such as vehicles, estates and equipment including uniform, to deliver annual savings of £20 million in commercial efficiencies once it has been fully established, which can be reinvested in the frontline. It will also develop an approach to reduce cost variation in back-office services such as payroll. The Home Office will work with HM Treasury to develop a plan for further efficiency savings in future years.

Forces must continue to drive productivity through digital, data and technology solutions, including mobile working. Forces should make best use of the products developed by the national police-led Frontline National mobility programme in 2019-20. This will ensure the benefits of mobile working are maximised including through a new benefits tracking tool, increased use of guidelines, sharing of best practice and innovation and collaborative procurement. This means that all forces will be able to fully exploit mobile technology and that benefits can be rigorously tracked and driven, to improve the tools police officers have to be able to tackle crime wherever they are. Forces like Avon and Somerset are driving a digitally enabled culture, driving up usage of mobile digital working by withdrawing paper-based forms. South Yorkshire are using mobile devices to capture and access data in real time, allowing them to check the identity of potential suspects more quickly and capturing evidence to help secure convictions.

We also expect forces to work with us to develop an approach to drive best value from the millions of pounds spent on police technology, by building on existing engagement with regard to both sector-led and Home Office programmes such as the APCC and NPCC’s Digital, Data and Technology Strategy (launched earlier this week), of which the Home Office will continue to support delivery and drive forward. The strategy’s emphasis on convergence, stripping out duplication, consolidating applications, decommissioning non-essential infrastructure and moving to more interoperable solutions is crucial to achieve the best value for the taxpayer from technology investment. The Home Office will work with the police service to develop a detailed implementation plan and support early activities during 2020-21. Existing police-led programmes are already increasing effectiveness and improving service delivery through, for example, supporting forces to adopt cloud based productivity tools, the use of data analytics to support crime fighting and driving efficiency savings in the replacement of legacy IT systems, and building the Single Online Platform that already provides a digital policing front counter to 56% of the population in England and Wales. Investment in these systems will be driven and managed by a Ministerial chaired Strategic Change and Investment Board, which will monitor the development of new capabilities by law enforcement and ensure they are built in the most efficient and effective way possible.

We will be engaging police leaders to discuss how these improvements will be delivered and continue working together on our ambitious longer-term plans for the next spending review period.

This people’s Government have clearly set out their commitment to backing our police service, putting 20,000 extra police officers on the streets, and putting violent criminals behind bars for longer. We continue to pay tribute to our police forces and police staff around the country for their exceptional bravery, dedication and hard work. We are determined to give the service the resources it needs to crack down on crime, deal robustly with the criminals exploiting the vulnerable and to improve outcomes for the victims of crime.

I have set out in a separate document, the tables illustrating how we propose to allocate the police funding settlement between the different funding streams and between Police and Crime Commissioners for 2020-21. These documents are intended to be read together.

It can also be viewed online at:



Rail Update

Under the Railways Act 1993, the Secretary of State for Transport has a legal requirement to ensure services that passengers depend on continue in any circumstance.

South Western Railway’s (SWR’s) recent financial statements have indicated that the franchise is not sustainable in the long term. Poor operational performance, combined with slower revenue growth, has led to the financial performance of SWR to be significantly below expectation since the franchise commenced in August 2017.

SWR have not yet failed to meet their financial commitments and my Department will ensure that SWR are held to their financial obligations under the current franchise. However, as a precautionary measure, my Department must prepare suitable contingency measures, under the Railways Act 1993. Such options include a new short-term contract with SWR, with tightly defined performance requirements; or transferring the operation to the Operator of Last Resort (OLR), a public sector operator wholly owned by the Department. My Department has issued a request for proposal to the SWR franchise owners (FirstGroup plc and MTR) and to the OLR, and will evaluate the responses to determine how best to secure the continuation of passenger services on this part of the network.

This will not impact on the railway’s day-to-day operations. The business will continue to operate as usual with no material impact on SWR services or staff.

Parliament will be kept informed of developments.

Across the country a number of franchises are failing to provide the reliable services that passengers require and there are legitimate questions on whether the current franchising model is viable. Keith Williams—who is leading an independent review into the railways—has already stated that franchising cannot continue in its current form. His review will propose sector-wide reforms which aim to put passengers at the heart of the railway.

Modernisation of the railways must come with reciprocal modernisation of the way the railway is operated. Passengers on SWR have already suffered significant disruption from industrial action by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), and this week the RMT are balloting for further strikes.

These strikes are not about safety, accessibility or helping passengers. Driver controlled trains are perfectly safe, and have been operated elsewhere on the network for many years. These trains allow the guards to devote much more time to looking after passengers, which is of great benefit to those who need help with travel, like the disabled and the aged. This modernisation is essential if the future needs of this railway are to be met.

Whoever operates SWR services, I will remain committed to modernising services and improving support for passengers.

The railway is a public service. People rely upon it to support their way of life, livelihoods, education and healthcare, and it is why this Government have committed to introducing minimum service levels during times of strike action.


Veterans' Railcard

Our military personnel are rightly valued throughout their service in HM armed forces. They make sacrifices and put themselves in danger to protect and serve our country. It is only right that we continue to show how much we value their efforts once they leave the armed forces too.

In our manifesto we promised to introduce a railcard for veterans. I am delighted to announce that we will make it available from 11 November this year. This railcard will extend discounted train travel to the more than 830,000 veterans not covered by existing discounts.

We expect our service personnel to live and work all over the country, moving wherever they are needed to serve our great country. This often leads to service families, and former service families, living far away from friends and family and the communities they grew up in.

Therefore, I believe it is important that our veterans have access to this railcard, supporting their access to vital work prospects and retraining opportunities, and making it easier for former members of the armed forces to stay in touch with friends and relatives.

This railcard will also allow their family to travel with them, potentially saving military families hundreds of pounds a year.

I am sure that you will agree with me that this is a welcome measure, alongside a much wider set of commitments which are being announced by the Minister for the Cabinet Office today in the Government’s consultation response to last year’s consultation on the strategy for our veterans.

This new railcard is one of the first parts of this Government's commitment to make the UK the best place to be a veteran anywhere in the world. My Department is pleased to be supporting this ambition through this new railcard.