Monday 7 December 2020
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Hunterston B Nuclear Power Station
The petition of residents of the North Ayrshire & Arran constituency,
Declares that there is an urgent need to support inward investment in North Ayrshire; notes the announcement of the complete cessation of energy production at Hunterston B Nuclear Power Station in January 2022; further notes the £54 million annual contribution the station makes to the North Ayrshire economy; and further declares that, while there is no immediate threat to the jobs of approximately 520 staff and 250 contractors working on the site, action needs to be taken now to ensure the sustainability of the local economy once the defueling of Hunterston B has concluded.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the UK Government to work in partnership with the Scottish Government and North Ayrshire Council to deliver investment in green, clean energy production in North Ayrshire as a matter of urgency.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Patricia Gibson, Official Report, 9 September 2020; Vol. 679, c. 738 .]
Observations from the Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth (Kwasi Kwarteng):
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is working with EDF Energy (EDF) and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to consider how efficient and cost-effective decommissioning of EDF’s stations can be planned for and delivered. This work includes consideration of how the stations will be owned and managed in the future. As the current owner and operator of Hunterston B, EDF is responsible for engaging and consulting its workforce on plans for the closure and then the decommissioning of this site.
On 19 November, the transformational Ayrshire Growth Deal was signed, securing £251 million investment in the region. The deal will galvanise efforts to develop key strategic sites and sectors in Ayrshire. It will help leverage private sector investment of more than £300 million, with the potential of creating up to 7,000 new jobs. The UK Government are investing £103 million into eight projects including regeneration, research and innovation, infrastructure, marine science and aerospace technology. The Scottish Government are also investing £103 million with local partners contributing the rest.
The deal includes up to £18 million for a Centre for Research into Low Carbon Energy and Circular Economy (CECE) at the Hunterston Strategic West Scotland Industrial Hub. Hunterston is a national strategic site and home to Scotland’s largest strategic deep-water port, with direct rail and grid connections. The site has a critical role in Scotland’s Energy, Blue Economy, Offshore Wind and the Circular Economy futures. Partners in the project include: Peel Ports, Scottish Enterprise, Crown Estates, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
Both Governments will each invest £3.5 million in the HALO Kilmarnock regeneration project. Work is already well underway to transform the former Johnnie Walker bottling site into a dynamic commercial, educational and advanced training hub, with a focus on sustainability and low carbon energy. Earlier this month HALO announced it would also be participating in the UK Government’s £1 billion kickstart scheme to create 200 cybersecurity job placement opportunities for young people.
The projects represent a tremendous opportunity to improve the well-being of communities and the economy. Signing this deal will allow partners to progress plans to support recovery and renewal post covid-19, and transform Ayrshire into a 21st century powerhouse for growth.
On 17 November, The Prime Minister also set out his ambitious ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution —an innovative and ambitious programme of job creation that will support the Government’s mission to level up across the country. The plan will mobilise £12 billion of Government investment to support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs in the UK, and spur up to three times as much private sector investment by 2030.
Covering clean energy, transport, nature and innovation technologies, this plan will enable the UK to forge ahead of delivering its target of net zero—ending its contribution to climate change by 2050—and building back better.
Funding for Purbeck Schools
The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,
Declares that schools in Purbeck are currently facing significant funding cuts leaving numerous schools underfunded; notes that over three thousand residents of Dorset signed a petition to save Purbeck schools from funding cuts; and further that every child in Dorset has the right to a good, well-funded education.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to reverse all funding cuts to Dorset Schools, and support the reallocation of funding to ensure schools in Dorset are well-funded and able to perform effectively.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Richard Drax, Official Report, 6 October 2020; Vol. 681, c. 875.]
Observations from the Minister for School Standards (Nick Gibb):
At the 2019 spending round the Government announced that we are increasing core schools funding by £2.6 billion this year, and £4.8 billion and £7.1 billion by 2021-22 and 2022-23 respectively, compared to 2019-20, including significant additional funding for children with special educational needs and disabilities. This is in addition to the £1.5 billion per year we will continue to provide to fund additional pension costs for teachers over three years. The table below shows the funding settlement, as set out at the 2019 spending round. The 2020 spending review last week reiterated the Governments’ commitment to this funding settlement.
2019-20 2020-21 2021-22 2022-23 Schools RDEL excluding depreciation £44.4 billion £47.6 billion £49.8 billion £52.3 billion Of which pensions funding £0.9 billion £1.5 billion £1.5 billion £1.5 billion Of which SR19 cash uplift compared to 2019-20 n/a £2.6 billion £4.8 billion £7.1 billion
Schools RDEL excluding depreciation
Of which pensions funding
Of which SR19 cash uplift compared to 2019-20
This investment means we are giving schools the largest cash increase in a decade, which will give every school more money for every child and has enabled us to increase school funding by 5% in 2020-21 alone. We have continued to distribute this funding through the National Funding Formula (NFF), which ensures that funding is based on schools’ and pupils’ needs and characteristics, not accidents of location or past spending. On average, schools are attracting 4.2% more per pupil in 2020-21 compared to 2019-20. Schools in Dorset are attracting 5.5% more per pupil this year, or a total of £9.4 million more, taking their total cash funding to £203.4 million.
In July 2020, we published provisional school and high needs funding allocations for 2021-22 to give schools certainty of future funding. Next year, mainstream school funding will increase by 4% overall and, on average, schools are attracting 3.1% more per pupil in 2021-22 compared to in 2020-21. Dorset is attracting an extra £7.3 million for schools next year (2021-22) through the NFF—a like-for-like increase of 4.1% per pupil, taking their total funding to £220.2 million, based on current pupil numbers. This includes funding previously distributed through separate teachers’ pay and pension grants which have been brought into the NFF to simplify their allocation. More information on 2021-22 NFF allocations can be found here: DfE external document template (publishing.service.gov.uk).
In 2021-22 we have specifically increased the extra support the NFF provides for small and remote schools, primarily serving rural communities. Primary schools attracting this funding will be allocated up to £45,000 through the NFF’s sparsity factor- a significant increase from £26,000 this year. This will be the first step towards further expanding the support the NFF offers small and remote schools from 2022-23.
As part of this investment, we have announced an additional £730 million into high needs next year, coming on top of the additional £780 million in 2020-21, which means high needs budgets will have grown by over £1.5 billion, nearly a quarter, in just two years. Dorset’s provisional high needs allocation for 2021-22 will be £42.2 million, an 8% per head increase on the amount of high needs funding allocated in 2020-21. This will support children and young people with the most complex needs, helping schools and local authorities ensure that they can provide an excellent education for every child.
As we deliver the biggest funding increase for schools in a decade, our school resource management programme has a crucial role to play in ensuring the additional investment is being used as effectively and efficiently as possible. This includes practical support and guidance for schools and academies to help reduce costs on regular purchases and recruitment, so they can invest their resources into areas that improve pupil outcomes.
Financial support for the self-employed during COVID-19
The petition of residents of the constituency of Glasgow East,
Declares that the economic consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic has had a particularly harsh impact on those individuals who are self-employed or run small businesses; expresses concern that the Chancellor’s recent Winter Economic Plan means the Self Employment Income Support Scheme is to be wound down; and further expresses concern over the many gaps already existing in the previous scheme, which was inadequate for millions of people who considered themselves excluded from Government support.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to bring forward additional measures to support those self-employed and freelance workers.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by David Linden, Official Report, 6 October 2020; Vol. 681, c. 875 .]
Petitions in the same terms were presented by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Alan Brown) [P002608] and by the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Martyn Day) [P002626].
Observations from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Jesse Norman):
Throughout the crisis, the Government’s priority has been to protect lives and livelihoods. This is why, on 5 November, the Government announced an increase in the third self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) grant to 80% of average trading profits covering November 2020 to January 2021.
The third SEISS grant will cover the three-month period from November 2020 until January 2021. This will be a taxable grant calculated at 80% of three months’ average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total. This provides equivalent support to the self-employed as is being provided for employees through the Government contribution in the coronavirus job retention scheme.
The new grant, combined with up to £14,070 worth of support for each individual from the first and second grants, places the SEISS among the most generous schemes for the self-employed in the world. Overall, it will provide an estimated £7.3 billion of support to the self-employed through the period of November 2020 to January 2021. There will also be a fourth grant covering February to April 2021. The Government will set out further details, including the level of the fourth grant, in due course.
In designing and delivering the SEISS, the Government have prioritised delivering support to as many people as possible as quickly as possible, while guarding against the risk of fraud or abuse. This meant making difficult decisions, and the Chancellor has acknowledged that it has not been possible to support everyone as they might want. However, as the National Audit Office report recognises, the Government were right to introduce SEISS—which has helped protect the livelihoods of almost 2.7 million people and is just one part of a comprehensive £280 billion package of unprecedented support. The scheme was targeted to help those most in need. All those who applied had to confirm they had been adversely affected by the pandemic, and the vast majority of those who did not qualify either earned more than half their income from another source or had trading profits of over £50,000.
Those ineligible for the SEISS grant extension may still be eligible for other elements of the wider support package available. The Government have announced support for the self-employed through the enhancement to HMRC’s Time to Pay “self-service” facility. This scheme will enable the self-employed and other self-assessment taxpayers more time to pay taxes due in January 2021, building on the self-assessment deferral provided in July 2020. Businesses may also be able to benefit from other support such as VAT reductions and rental support.
Announcements made at the spending review build on this support, confirming £519 million of funding in 2021-22 to support the continued delivery of covid-19 loans, including paying for the 12-months interest free period on the BBLS and CBILS. In addition, the application deadline for all loan schemes has been extended to end of January 2021. On business rates, the Government have frozen the business rates multiplier in 2021-22, saving businesses in England £575 million in the next five years. It is are also considering options for future business rates relief and, to ensure that any reliefs best meet the evolving challenges presented by covid-19, will outline plans for 2021-22 in the New Year.
The Government have introduced a package of additional welfare measures to provide further support to those who are relying on the welfare system. This is worth £7.4 billion to claimants this year. The temporary £20 per week increase to the universal credit standard allowance and working tax credit basic element remains in place until April 2021. In addition, the suspension of the universal credit minimum income floor has been extended to the end of April 2021, so that where self-employed claimants earnings have fallen significantly, their universal credit awards will continue to reflect their lower earnings.
The Government have also increased the local housing allowance rates for universal credit and housing benefit claimants so that they cover the lowest 30th percentile of local rents. This increase will mean nearly £1 billion of additional support for private renters claiming universal credit or housing benefit in 2020-21, and means over 1.5 million households will gain an average of £600, including those in work. The Government have confirmed that local housing allowance rates will be maintained at the same cash level in 2021-22 to ensure that claimants continue to benefit from this increase.
Individuals may also be eligible for further support in the form of a mortgage payment holiday. The application window for which has been extended until 31 March 2021. The Government have extended statutory sick pay to those self-isolating due to covid-19 and made it payable from day one. They have has also introduced £500 self-isolation support payments to help those on low incomes to self-isolate.
Notably, while much of their coronavirus response is UK-wide, the Government are also providing £2.6 billion in 2021-22 to support the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This is on top of at least £16 billion in upfront funding guaranteed in 2020-21.
During this difficult time the Treasury will continue to work closely with employers, industry groups, key stakeholders and other Government Departments in order to address the long-term effects of covid-19 and the challenges it poses to the wider economy.