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Written Statements

Volume 678: debated on Monday 13 July 2020

Written Statements

Monday 13 July 2020


Finance Bill: Legislation Day

The Government will introduce the Finance Bill following the next Budget.

In line with the approach to tax policy making set out in the Government’s documents “Tax Policy Making: a new approach”, published in 2010, and “The new Budget timetable and the tax policy making process”, published in 2017, the Government are committed, where possible, to publishing most tax legislation in draft for technical consultation before the legislation is laid before Parliament.

The Government will publish draft clauses for the next Finance Bill, which will largely cover preannounced policy changes, on Tuesday 21 July 2020 along with accompanying explanatory notes, tax information and impact notes, responses to consultations and other supporting documents. All publications will be available on the website.


Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Covid-19: Restarting Businesses and Activities

I would like to update the House on the next steps in delivering the UK Government’s covid-19 recovery strategy.

These important steps forward have been made possible by the continued efforts of businesses and the public to comply with covid-19 secure guidelines and clinical advice on testing to protect against resurgences. While there remains a long way to go in tackling this virus, we continue to head in the right direction.

The Business Secretary and I have worked with industry and public health experts to help the remaining sectors and activities to become covid-secure, and reopen as soon as possible.

Following this work, I can confirm that as of 11 July organised outdoor grassroots team sports and participation events are now able to restart, starting with cricket. Team sports will only be able to resume once the relevant sports’ bodies guidance has been reviewed by Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive.

Outdoor performances with an audience are now able to take place, as of 11 July, subject to social distancing. We will also pilot a number of indoor performances to look at how we can confidently usher socially distanced audiences indoors as soon as possible. Rehearsals and performances for broadcast are already permitted, and dance studios can already reopen for professional dancers and choreographers.

New regulations allow some additional businesses and venues to reopen. This includes outdoor swimming pools and water parks from 11 July; and salons, nail bars, spas, massage parlours, tattoo parlours, and body and skin piercing services from 13 July. Although these businesses and venues are permitted to open, treatments carried out in the highest risk zone, the area directly in front of the face, are advised against at this stage.

The changes outlined above will not apply in Leicester and businesses there will not reopen. This is in line with current easing of restrictions in the rest of the country.

From 25 July, we will allow the safe and covid-secure reopening of indoor swimming pools, gyms, fitness and dance studios, leisure centres, and other indoor sports venues and facilities (as long as the evidence continues to support our doing so). This will be enabled through a separate set of amendments to the regulations.

We must continue to proceed carefully to make sure that there is not a second peak. The changes set out above will be conditional on our ability to control the virus and respond effectively to outbreaks. The Government will measure the effect of changes but will reapply restrictions if that is what the situation requires, as we have had to do in Leicester, and we will work with local councils which have a high prevalence of covid-19 to create guidance reflecting where further business openings could be delayed.

Everybody must play their part in observing and complying with covid-19 secure and social contact guidelines to keep the virus under control and maintain our recovery. Publicly available Government guidance is being published and updated on and by sector bodies.


Home Department

Points-based Immigration System

In 2016, and again in 2019, the British people voted to take back control of our borders and introduce a new points-based system that will work for the whole of the UK. The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill delivers on these votes by ending the automatic right to live and work in the UK for EU migrants from 1 January 2021.

In February I set out the vision for a fairer, firmer, skills-led immigration system. The system will play a key part in our long-term approach to the labour market and in our response to the coronavirus pandemic.

At a time where an increased number of people across the UK are looking for work, the new points-based system will encourage employers to invest in the domestic UK workforce, rather than simply relying on labour from abroad.

But we are also making necessary changes, so it is simpler for employers to attract the best and brightest from around the world to come to the UK to complement the skills we already have.

We know this new immigration system and approach to the labour market will mean changes in the way businesses operate and recruit. Today I am laying before the House a command paper (CP 258) providing further detail on the points-based system, covering the main economic migration routes for those wishing to work or study or set up a business in the UK, to help both employers and applicants prepare and adapt for the changes ahead. Copies will be available from the Vote Office.

It will be simpler for businesses to access the talent they need as we have removed the resident labour market test, lowered the skills and salary threshold, and removed the cap on skilled workers.

The skilled worker route gives employers flexibility by allowing applicants to trade points if they have relevant qualifications or work in a shortage occupation. We have commissioned our independent migration experts to produce a shortage occupation list, so that the Government can work with sectors to fill roles quickly where shortages may occur.

We will be introducing a new-fast track Health and Care visa. This will make it easier and quicker for talented global health professionals to work in our brilliant NHS and in eligible occupations in the social care sector. The visa fee will be reduced and health professionals applying can expect a decision on whether they can work in the UK within just three weeks, following biometric enrolment. We will exempt frontline workers in the health and social care sector and wider health workers from the requirement to pay the immigration health surcharge.

Our Global Talent route launched earlier in the year encourages highly skilled individuals to come to the UK and provides a fast track route for top scientists and researchers.

To ensure our world-leading education sector remains competitive in a changing global market, we are refining the student route and launching a graduate route in summer 2021. The student route will be streamlined for sponsoring institutions and applicants, and the graduate route will help retain the brightest and the best students to contribute to the UK post-study.

Our new system sends a message to the whole world that Britain is open for business, but on our terms.