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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
08 September 2020
Volume 679

Written Statements

Tuesday 8 September 2020

Home Department

Police Covenant for England and Wales

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Our outstanding police deserve the upmost respect, support and recognition. Brave officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe, demonstrating remarkable courage, sacrifice and public duty.

They face extraordinary pressure as they protect the people they tirelessly serve from terrorists, serious violence and exploitation. Their families too often fear for their safety or are left to pick up the pieces when something goes wrong.

From day one, this Government have put our world-class police first and prioritised their wellbeing. That is why we have committed to introducing a police covenant in England and Wales to recognise the exceptional job our frontline officers do in unique and challenging circumstances.

We are determined to give our police the enhanced support they need, so I have accelerated work on this pledge to protect both them and their loved ones. Our commitment to ensuring our police have the recognition they deserve is absolute, so this covenant will be enshrined in law. This will leave no room for doubt, creating a statutory duty to do more to support our police.

Police officers and staff are uniquely placed to tell me what they need, so I am today publishing the report on the consultation on what the police covenant should look like. This sets out our recommendations for the implementation of the covenant.

The Government response is available on www.gov.uk. A copy of the consultation will also be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. I would urge anyone connected with policing to read the response and consider how they might support the covenant.

Our outstanding police embody public service and do not hesitate to run towards danger to keep us safe. Nothing is more important than ensuring they have the support, protection and recognition that they need to do their extraordinary job. The implementation of the covenant is the first step in delivering on our promise to recognise that.

I thank Members for their continued engagement on this important issue.

[HCWS438]

Health and Social Care

Covid-19 Update

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On 26 March 2020, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force, imposing restrictions on people’s movements and gatherings, and requiring the closure of certain retail and public premises, in the interest of public health in light of the coronavirus pandemic. These regulations were revoked and replaced by the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020 on 4 July. Further regulations were introduced in localised areas to tackle the spread of coronavirus in hot spots. The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Leicester) Regulations 2020 came into force on 4 July 2020, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Blackburn with Darwen and Bradford) Regulations 2020 came into force on 1 August 2020, and Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions on Gatherings) (North of England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 5 August and was amended to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (North of England) Regulations 2020 15 August.

Following a review of the Leicester regulations, Bradford and Blackburn regulations and north of England regulations, I have now made further amendments to each regulation to ease the restrictions contained within them, which came into force on 8 September 2020 through the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Blackburn with Darwen and Bradford, Leicester, and North of England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020.

As part of the changes to these regulations, the easements made elsewhere in England on 25 July will also now apply to the areas covered by the Blackburn and Bradford regulations and Leicester regulations. In addition, the easements made elsewhere in England on 15 August will now also apply in the areas covered by the Blackburn and Bradford regulations and North of England regulations, with the exception of the area of Bolton metropolitan borough council.

As of today, settings and businesses including indoor swimming pools, indoor fitness and dance studios, indoor gyms, sports courts and facilities will be able to reopen in Leicester and the areas covered by the Blackburn and Bradford regulations. In addition; casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas including soft-play areas, and exhibition halls and conference centres—which guidance will clarify to be for trial events only—will be able to reopen in the areas covered by the Blackburn and Bradford regulations and the North of England regulations apart from the area of Bolton metropolitan borough council.

Finally, guidance has been changed in areas covered by the Blackburn with Darwen and Bradford regulations to facilitate piloting Government endorsed sports in sports stadia and business event pilots in conference centres and exhibition halls; the resumption of socially- distanced indoor performances; the resumption of wedding and civil partnership receptions of up to 30 people; and relaxing the remaining restrictions on certain close contact services

In Leicester and the areas covered by the Blackburn and Bradford regulations and north of England regulations, some restrictions remain in place on household mixing and gatherings.

Publicly available Government guidance on gov.uk is being updated to ensure it fully corresponds with the amended regulations.

[HCWS439]

Housing, Communities and Local Government

Affordable Housing

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Coronavirus has highlighted to us all the importance of having a safe home to call our own. I believe that everyone should have a decent place to live. I am committed to increasing the supply of affordable homes to rent and buy, providing more people with access to safe, secure and good quality housing.

Today I am announcing the details of the £12.2 billion investment in affordable homes and that Homes England will be publishing the prospectus for the new affordable homes programme this week. This new programme is the biggest single funding commitment to affordable housing in 10 years. The programme will unlock a further £38 billion in public and private investment in affordable housing.

A new £11.5 billion affordable homes programme will be delivered over five years from next year (2021-2026), providing up to 180,000 new homes across England, should economic conditions allow. This new programme includes £9.5 billion of new funding agreed at Budget and £2 billion previously announced for long-term strategic partnerships with housing associations. The money announced at Budget also included £700 million we will be spending on new affordable homes through the existing affordable homes programme 2016-22, which will continue to deliver new homes up to 2023.

I have also published the Government response to the “Making home ownership affordable” discussion paper that confirms the new model for shared ownership, which will be more consumer-friendly, fairer and easier to access.

The new affordable homes programme

Investing in future affordable housing is particularly important at this unprecedented time in order to support people across England, as well as the economy. Through this new programme I am giving housing associations and local authorities the means to continue to deliver affordable housing in the coming years, with the first homes to be delivered from next year.

The £11.5 billion programme will deliver up to 180,000 homes, should economic conditions allow. It will include a wide range of affordable homes of different tenures to support people in different circumstances and stages of their lives. It is my ambition that approximately 50% of the new homes will be available as affordable home ownership under the new model of shared ownership, helping even more people to realise their ambition of owning their own home. In addition, more housing association tenants will be able to become homeowners through the new right to shared ownership.

The remainder of the programme will deliver homes for discounted rent, including affordable and social rent. Social rent level are typically 50 to 60% of market prices and funding for these homes will be available to housing providers across England, to help those in the greatest need, and 10% of delivery through this programme will be used to increase the supply of much needed specialist or supported housing.

This Government are passionate about levelling up, and that includes increasing the supply of housing where it is desperately needed. This programme will deliver homes right across England. I have given £7.4 billion to Homes England to deliver affordable homes outside London. This is over £2 billion more than the amount given under the previous affordable homes programme, underlining the Government commitment to level up. I have also offered the Mayor of London £4 billion to help with acute housing challenge in London. Negotiations with the GLA about what they will deliver in return for the funding are still ongoing.

The new shared ownership model

Shared ownership has so far helped thousands of people buy their own home. Today I am announcing reforms that will be introduced as part of the new programme that will make it easier for more hard-working people and families to access and then progress to full ownership.

I listened to the views of the respondents to the “Making home ownership affordable” discussion paper published last year, and have built on the proposals outlined to set out a refined and expanded set of changes to the shared ownership model.

The new shared ownership model will reduce the minimum initial ownership stake from 25% to 10%, making it easier to save a deposit to get your foot on the ladder of home ownership. The new model will also make it easier and more manageable to increase your stake in the home, as shared owners will be able to staircase in smaller instalments of as little as 1%, down from 10%.

To further support new shared owners, I have also introduced a 10-year “repair-free” period during which the shared owner will not have to pay repairs or maintenance costs. This will help to bridge the gap between renting and home ownership. This change will prevent new shared owners being hit with repairs and maintenance bills and better support them to put money aside towards buying more of their home.

Finally, I will also improve the experience of shared owners wishing to sell their home. Through the new model shared owners will be able to take control of the resales process from the landlord at an earlier point, giving them greater influence over the sale.

These measures will apply to all new shared ownership homes delivered through the new affordable homes programme and we will also set an expectation that the standard model is used for shared ownership delivered through the planning system.

The right to shared ownership

In addition to the above reforms, today I have also confirmed that the vast majority of new rented homes delivered through the new affordable homes programme will provide tenants with the right to shared ownership. This will give tenants the opportunity to purchase a stake in their home if they wish to do so, and access all the benefits of the new shared ownership model.

My announcements today will support the Government commitment to increasing housing supply and support people from all backgrounds to realise their ambition to own a home.

[HCWS440]