Thursday 5 November 2020
Prosperity Fund Annual Report 2019-20
I wish to inform the House of the publication of the Prosperity Fund’s fourth annual report for the financial year 2019-20.
Over the last four years, the Prosperity Fund has aimed to promote economic growth and reduce poverty in developing countries. As well as contributing towards achieving the UN sustainable development goals, the fund has responded to the increasing demand from developing countries to build deeper trade, investment partnerships, and economic relations with other countries.
I am placing a copy of “The Prosperity Fund: Annual Report 2019/20” in the Library of both Houses. The publication of the report reflects the Government’s continuing commitment to transparency in the delivery of official development assistance.
Attachments can be viewed online at:
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Independent Review of Insurance
On 27 December 2019 the then Secretary of State, my right hon. the Member for Chipping Barnet (Theresa Villiers), commissioned an independent review following the severe flooding in South Yorkshire in November 2019. The River Don recorded its highest ever peak flows at Rotherham and Doncaster, with South Yorkshire experiencing its wettest November on record—seeing over two and a half times its average rainfall and over 760 properties reported as having flooded.
This independent review has been led by Amanda Blanc, former chair of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) who was appointed on 14 April 2020 and was supported by BMG Research. Amanda Blanc has provided me with a comprehensive report that sets out her findings into why some residents of Doncaster did not have sufficient insurance cover, and in some cases no insurance at all. Where necessary, it considers and makes recommendations for action to mitigate the impact of future flood events. Full terms of reference for the review can be found on gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/flood-insurance-review-2020-blanc-review
I would like to thank Amanda for her investigation and recommendations, which the Government will now consider.
This report sets out the findings of the review in relation to the level of insurance cover held by those affected in Doncaster, the barriers they may have faced in obtaining cover and whether there are any systemic issues in the provision of flood insurance.
The report identifies that 95% of homeowners were able to confirm that they had both buildings and contents insurance. This compares with 94% of households at risk of flooding in DEFRA’s national 2018 survey looking at the availability and affordability of flood insurance. I am pleased that this shows the sustained availability of home insurance for homeowners especially in this area of high flood risk. However, among homeowners who had insurance, 6% of buildings insurance policies did not cover flooding, and 7% of contents insurance policies did not cover flooding.
The report also found that there were significant differences between the insurance cover held by homeowners and tenants, and that
“owner-occupiers were generally far better protected than renters”.
While tenants are responsible for arranging their contents insurance, they do not organise their buildings insurance as this is the responsibility of landlords. The evidence shows that only 25% of tenants had contents insurance that covered flood damage. The report identifies reasons why tenants did not have suitable contents insurance that covered against the risk of flooding, such as the cost of the insurance, the time it takes to renew the insurance policy, and not being able to find a quote that included flood cover.
The report makes 12 recommendations for actions that can be taken by the insurance industry, Flood Re, landlords, local authorities, the Government and others to help enable homes and businesses to access sufficient insurance cover for flooding, while also informing any future policy decisions in this area:
Four recommendations focus on the role of insurers, insurance brokers and their representative bodies in helping customers find the most suitable flood insurance to cover individual needs.
Two recommendations focus on the need for landlords to make sure tenants are adequately supported in the case of a flood event.
Two recommendations relate to the need for further evidence gathering at a national scale, through a repeat of a national 2018 survey on the affordability and availability of insurance.
One recommendation calls for Flood Re to reduce the cost of its contents insurance premium for council tax band A and B properties.
Other recommendations focus on the need for increased awareness of flood risk for communities, highlighting the role of local authorities, the Environment Agency and representative bodies.
The report will be published today on gov.uk.
This review is essential in identifying some of the barriers that are in place for residents in high flood risk areas and understanding how we can take positive action to improve the protection available to residents moving forward.
The Government will be working with the insurance industry, Flood Re and the Environment Agency to explore the recommendations within the report and will respond formally to the recommendations in due course.
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
My hon. Friend the Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) has made the following written statement:
FCDO Services operates as a trading fund of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Notwithstanding covid-19, I have set the following ambitious performance targets for 2020-21:
Achievement of the return on capital employed (ROCE) of at least 3.5% (weighted average before accounting for costs directly associated with covid-19);
A productivity ratio of at least 80%, measuring actual billable hours versus available billable hours (Q3 and Q4 only—normalised for the impact of covid-19);
An in-year customer satisfaction rating average at least of 80% (Q3 and Q4 only normalised for the impact of covid-19); and
An average Your Say score for “My Manager” measuring 63%.
In addition to the performance targets, FCDO Services will continue to maintain high levels of staff engagement for 2020-21 throughout the period.
FCDO Services will report to Parliament on its success against these targets through its annual report and accounts for 2020-21.
FCDO Services is a trading fund of the FCDO. It provides a range of integrated, secure services worldwide to the FCDO and other UK Government Departments, supporting the delivery of Government agendas. Services include protective security, estates and construction, cloud computing, communications and monitoring, logistics, translation and interpreting. This is combined with a portfolio of global maintenance work. FCDO Services also manages the UK National Authority for Counter Eavesdropping (UK NACE), helping protect UK assets from physical, electronic and cyber-attack.
NATO Parliamentary Assembly
The hon. Member for Lanark and Hamilton East (Angela Crawley) has replaced the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife (Douglas Chapman) as a Member of the United Kingdom delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
Housing, Communities and Local Government
Today, in the light of the national restrictions, I have announced targeted, additional support for areas with higher numbers of rough sleepers, to enable local authorities to protect the most vulnerable in our society from the effects of covid-19.
This continues our ongoing work to support rough sleepers, to keep them safe during the pandemic and to provide a long-term sustainable end to rough sleeping.
This Government are committed to ending rough sleeping and we have already taken huge steps to working with local authorities and their partners to protect rough sleepers during the pandemic. The Government are spending over £700 million to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping this year alone.
I am today launching the Protect programme which builds on the ongoing success of Everyone In and ensures we are protecting the most vulnerable in our communities during the four-week period of restrictions and across the winter period.
This programme will see the Government working intensively with a selection of local areas with the highest levels of rough sleeping, backed by £15 million of funding.
Throughout the pandemic, we have worked closely with local authorities and the sector to offer vulnerable people safe accommodation and support. That work is ongoing and by September we had successfully supported over 29,000 people, with over 10,000 still in emergency accommodation and nearly 19,000 provided with settled accommodation or move on support.
These efforts have been backed by significant Government support:
Over £6.4 billion provided to councils to help them to manage the impacts of covid-19, which we have been clear includes their work to support rough sleepers. This is alongside wider additional funding for councils to support local test, trace and contain activities, and their local businesses.
Work with councils to develop tailored local plans to support rough sleepers over the coming months.
A £266 million next steps accommodation programme aims to ensure that as few people as possible return to the streets. This includes the £91.5 million allocated to 274 councils in September to fund their individual local plans for rough sleepers over the coming months; £150 million which is being used to bring forward 3,300 new homes for rough sleepers this year; and
£112 million provided to local areas through the rough sleeping initiative.
A £10 million cold weather fund for all local authorities to bring forward covid-secure accommodation this winter; a new £2 million transformation fund for the voluntary sector; and comprehensive guidance on reopening night shelters more safely, where not doing so would endanger lives.
In the light of the recently brought-in national restrictions, we will work with local authorities and their partners, to build on this work and make sure that they have updated plans in place to protect some of the most vulnerable in our society.
All councils in England will be asked to update their rough sleeping plans and consider interventions for anyone sleeping rough.
We recognise that areas with high numbers of rough sleepers will require an increased health focus alongside accommodation for those sleeping rough, prioritising those who are clinically vulnerable. This support will continue throughout winter. The Protect programme will provide £15 million, alongside targeted Government support, to ensure additional support for rough sleepers is available over this winter period in the areas that need it most.
We will set out further detail about how local areas can access this additional support under the Protect programme imminently and I encourage all relevant partners and local authorities to consider how they can best use the available support to protect the most vulnerable.
Chief Coroner: Annual Reports
I am pleased to lay and publish the Chief Coroner’s combined sixth and seventh annual reports to the Lord Chancellor on the operation of coroner services under section 36 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (“the 2009 Act”). The joint report covers both 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020.
Publication of the sixth report was delayed last year, and in the light of the emerging covid-19 pandemic at the start of 2020, it was considered preferable to postpone its publication until later in the year and release it as a joint edition with the seventh report.
In particular, the Chief Coroner’s report sets out:
The work that he as well as coroners, their officers and their staff have achieved to manage the effects of the covid-19 pandemic;
The continuing work to promote consistency in the resourcing of and practices in coroner offices across England and Wales;
The training and guidance that coroners and their officers have received and the engagement with a wide range of stakeholders; and
Recommendations to improve coroner services further.
Annexed to the report are the Chief Coroner’s revised “A Model Coroner Area” blueprint, the list of cases over 12 months old reported to the Chief Coroner and tables of senior and area coroners’ salaries.
I am very grateful to His Honour Judge Mark Lucraft QC for building so effectively on his previous achievements as well as those of his predecessor, His Honour Sir Peter Thornton QC. I also thank him for his excellent and much appreciated service since October 2016 as he now moves on to become the full-time recorder of London. I am particularly grateful that he continued to serve as Chief Coroner over the last months to guide and support coroners in facing the incredibly difficult challenge of the covid-19 pandemic.
I am grateful too to all coroners and their officers and other staff, for having supported the Chief Coroner to improve services for bereaved people and for their valued and continuing frontline work. Their work in managing the impact of the pandemic on their own services but also more widely, in support of their local resilience fora, has been inestimable.
The report will be available online at: https://www.gov.uk/ government/publications/chief-coroners-combined-annual-report-2018-to-2019-and-2019-to-2020