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Written Statements

Volume 687: debated on Tuesday 19 January 2021

Written Statements

Tuesday 19 January 2021


Counter-Terrorist Asset Freezing Regime: 1 July to 30 September 2020

Under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010 (TAFA 2010), the Treasury is required to prepare a quarterly report regarding its exercise of the powers conferred on it by part 1 of TAFA 2010. This written statement satisfies that requirement for the period 1 July 2020 to 30 September 2020.

This report also covers the UK’s implementation of the UN’s ISIL (Daesh) and al-Qaeda asset-freezing regime (ISIL-AQ), and the operation of the EU’s asset-freezing regime under EU Regulation (EC) 2580/2001 concerning external terrorist threats to the EU—also referred to as the CP 931 regime—for the same period (1 July 2020 to 30 September 2020).

Under the ISIL-AQ asset-freezing regime, the UN has responsibility for designations, and the Treasury, through the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), has responsibility for licensing and compliance with the regime in the UK under the ISIL (Daesh) and al-Qaeda (Asset-Freezing) Regulations 2011.

Under EU Regulation 2580/2001, the EU has responsibility for designations, and, throughout the transition period while the UK was a member of the EU, OFSI had responsibility for licensing and compliance with the regime in the UK under part 1 of TAFA 2010.

EU Regulation (2016/1686) was implemented on 22 September 2016. This permits the EU to make autonomous al-Qaeda and ISIL (Daesh) listings.

UK sanctions following the end of the transition period

Since the transition period ended at 11:00pm on 31 December 2020, the UK no longer applies EU sanctions regulations and all sanctions regimes will be implemented through UK regulations. The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (the Sanctions Act) provides the legal framework for the UK to impose, update and lift sanctions autonomously. Information on the three new counter-terrorism sanctions regimes can be found via this link:

These new sanction regimes ensure that the UK implements its international obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1373 and give effect to the UK’s obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 2368.

There will be a final quarterly report to Parliament on the UK’s Terrorist Asset- Freezing Regime, covering the period 1 October 2020 to 31 December 2020, which will be released in due course.

Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www.



Secondary Schools and Colleges: Covid Testing

On 15 December 2020 we announced that we would be deploying the latest rapid-result coronavirus tests using lateral flow devices to secondary schools and colleges from 4 January to enable weekly screening of staff and daily contact testing of both staff and students who are a close contact of a positive case. This will help us to find those who have the virus but are not displaying symptoms and isolate them quickly.

The asymptomatic testing programme does not replace current testing policy for those with symptoms. Anyone with symptoms, whether they are involved in the rapid asymptomatic testing programme or not, will still be expected to obtain a PCR test and follow NHS Test and Trace guidance, self-isolating until they have received their results.

This testing programme, alongside other protective measures such as social distancing and handwashing, can support school leaders to maintain the continuity of education through the pandemic.

We can confirm that, as planned, the rapid asymptomatic testing programme in schools and colleges is being expanded to twice-weekly testing of primary school staff. Primary schools, including attached early years settings, should expect to receive initial deliveries of home testing kits to offer regular testing to all staff from the week commencing 18 January. Deliveries to maintained nurseries will be slightly later—dates to be confirmed.

Primary school staff will be asked to take tests at home rather than take them on-site following the recent approval of home test kits from the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency).

Primary school staff will be supplied with lateral flow device (LFD) test kits, which enable self-swabbing. They will be advised to test in the morning before coming into school twice a week (3-4 days apart). The LFDs supplied do not require laboratory processing and can provide a quick result in up to 30 minutes. Staff will then upload the outcome of their test (positive, negative or void) on the website.

Taking part in the testing is not mandatory for staff and they will not be expected to provide proof of having taken a test, to enter the school. However, testing is strongly encouraged, and we expect all primary schools to offer tests to staff.

Those who test positive will need to self-isolate in line with the stay-at-home guidance.

As with all policy, this will be kept under review in light of scientific evidence, and the Government will provide further advice if necessary.


Health and Social Care

Covid-19 Update

On 5 January 2020, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 (All Tier Regulations) were amended. These amendments instructed people across England to stay at home and only to leave where they have a legally permitted reasonable excuse, as well as requiring the closure of many businesses and venues.

Although we are getting the virus under control, the numbers of covid-19 cases, hospital and ICU admissions, and deaths remain extremely high nationally. As a result, our hospitals are now under more pressure from covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic.

The weekly case rate in England is 520 per 100,000 for all ages and 414 per 100,000 in people aged 60 and over. There are 127 local authorities with case rates greater than 500 per 100,000. Overall positivity for England is 14.4%, with rates remaining high across all regions and continuing to increase in the north-east, west midlands and south-west. The highest positivity is in London (21.7%) and lowest in the south-west (9.5%).

These figures are significantly higher in comparison to early December and there still remains considerable pressure on NHS systems nationwide as hospitalisations continue to increase. General and acute bed occupancy for covid-19 across England has risen by 1,786 to 31,459 from 29,673 last week. Mechanical ventilation bed occupancy for covid-19 across England has similarly risen to 3,570 from 2,310 in the previous week. Deaths within 28 days of a positive test remain high at 887 on 13 January, the last day of complete reporting.

In line with our commitments, I have kept the measures in place for the national lockdown under ongoing review. On 19 January I completed a review of both the geographical allocations and the restrictions as required by the regulations and have determined that the measures remain necessary and proportionate for all areas in England. While there are early indications that new infections may have started to decline in those areas which have been under stricter measures for the longest, scientific advice and the latest epidemiological data is clear that lifting restrictions now would be too early. The restrictions are kept under continual review and will be lifted as soon as it is safe to do so.

On 18 January the Government made some minor technical amendments to the all tier regulations to clarify policy and ensure consistency. The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) (Amendment) 2021 were laid before Parliament on 19 January and will come into force on 20 January.


Housing, Communities and Local Government

Building Regulations: Future Homes Standard and Future Buildings Standard

I am today announcing a package of changes in relation to part L and F of the building regulations. This includes the Government’s response to the 2019 future homes standard consultation and the launch of the future buildings standard consultation.

Some 40% of the UK’s energy consumption and carbon emissions arise from the way buildings are lit, heated and used, and homes—both new and existing—account for 22% of emissions. Therefore, if we are to meet our ambitious target to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, we must improve the minimum energy efficiency standards of new buildings and homes. By improving energy efficiency and moving to cleaner sources of heat, we can reduce carbon emissions, lower energy consumption and bills for households and ensure that we will be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.

I am publishing the Government’s response to the future homes standard consultation of 2019. This was the first stage of a two-part consultation which proposed an ambitious uplift in the energy efficiency of new homes through changes to part L (conservation of fuel and power) of the building regulations.

The future homes standard will deliver a considerable improvement in energy efficiency standards for new homes. We expect that homes built to the future homes standard will have carbon dioxide emissions 75% to 80% lower than those built to current building regulations standards, which means they will be fit for the future, with low carbon heating and very high fabric standards. The interim uplift to energy efficiency requirements will act as a stepping stone towards the full future homes standard, and should result in a meaningful and achievable 31% in carbon emissions savings compared to the current standard. We anticipate that a two-stage approach to implementing the future homes standard will help to prepare the necessary supply chains and appropriately skilled workforce by encouraging the use of low-carbon heating in new homes, while accounting for market factors.

The Prime Minister’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution noted that we must implement the future homes standard within the shortest possible timeline. Therefore, our priority will be to implement an interim uplift to the energy efficiency requirements for new homes and nondomestic buildings as swiftly as possible. This key stepping stone will enable us to successfully implement the future homes standard and future buildings standard. We have also listened to those stakeholders that called for a swifter and more certain pathway to implementation. Our work on a full technical specification for the future homes standard has been accelerated and we will consult on this in 2023. We also intend to introduce the necessary legislation in 2024, with regulations coming into force from 2025. In the meantime, to provide greater certainty for all stakeholders, we have published a draft notional building specification for the future homes standard alongside this consultation response which provides a basis on which we can begin to engage with all parts of industry on the indicative technical detail of the future homes standard.

To ensure as many homes as possible are being built in line with new energy efficiency standards, transitional arrangements will now apply to individual homes rather than an entire development and the transitional period will be one year. This approach will support implementation of the 2021 interim uplift and as such the successful implementation of the future homes standard from 2025.

I am also publishing today the future buildings standard, which is the second stage of the two-part consultation. This consultation builds on the future homes standard consultation by setting out energy and ventilation standards for non-domestic buildings, existing homes and to mitigate against overheating in residential buildings.

The future buildings standard consultation proposes changes to the building regulations and primarily covers new and existing non-domestic buildings. This includes an interim uplift of part L and part F requirements for new and existing non-domestic buildings. The interim uplift will also encompass existing homes, meaning that when works take place in an existing home, such as an extension to a property, the work carried out will need to meet the standards set by building regulations—these requirements will not apply to the wider building. It also proposes some changes to requirements for new homes, including to the fabric energy efficiency standard; some standards for building services; and to guidance on the calibration of devices that carry out airtightness testing. Finally, it details a new standard for mitigating overheating in new residential buildings.

Together, the future homes standard and future buildings standard set out a pathway towards creating homes and buildings that are fit for the future; a built environment with lower carbon emissions; and homes that are adapted to the overheating risks caused by a warming climate. By making our homes and other buildings more energy efficient and embracing smart and low carbon technologies, we can improve the energy efficiency of peoples’ homes and boost economic growth while meeting our targets for carbon reduction.

I am depositing a copy of the Government response to the 2019 future homes standard consultation and the future buildings standard consultation in the Libraries of both Houses.


Building and Construction Products Safety

I wish to update the House on the Government’s work to tighten regulatory oversight of construction product safety, so that people can feel confident that the products used to construct our homes will perform as they should.


Shocking recent testimony to the Grenfell inquiry has shown that some manufacturers of safety-critical construction products appear to have put lives at risk by gaming product-testing regimes, putting products on the market that do not perform as advertised, and to be refusing to take responsibility when caught in the act.

This is unacceptable. This Government will act decisively to protect residents by ensuring that companies who manufacture or sell construction products act responsibly or face the consequences.

In her independent review of the building regulations and fire safety system, Dame Judith Hackitt recommended that industry should ensure that construction products are properly tested, certified, labelled and marketed and Government should put in place a robust regulatory framework to incentivise and oversee this. We agree.

In July 2020, this Government published in draft the Building Safety Bill. The Bill set out the biggest reforms to building safety regulation for a generation, including provisions to strengthen and extend the scope of the powers available to Government to regulate construction products. I welcome the constructive report published by the pre-legislative Committee on the draft Bill—the Government will respond to it shortly and we intend to introduce the Bill in the spring. In my statement to the House of 20 July 2020, I also committed that the Government would develop options for a new, national regulatory function that would ensure that those regulations are better enforced. Today, I want to update the House on the progress we have made on both fronts—the regulations and the regulator—as well as our plans to go further on product testing.

Broader, tougher construction products regulations

First, we are making good progress in extending and strengthening construction product regulations. At present, some products are not covered by the regulations. Our Bill will ensure that all construction products will be covered by the regulatory regime, and that all manufacturers will be required to ensure that their products are safe before putting them on the market. The Bill will also ensure that products designated as “safety critical” will be subject to additional requirements, including having to meet clear performance standards and to have undergone mandatory testing and control processes before they can be sold. The Bill will also make it possible for regulators to remove from the market any product that poses a significant safety risk, and to prosecute or use civil penalties against any company that flouts the rules.

A strong national regulator for construction products

Secondly, I am pleased to announce today that this Government will establish a national regulator to ensure that the regulations are better enforced, and to provide vital market surveillance that will enable us to spot and respond to safety concern earlier and more effectively. We will do this by extending the remit of the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), which will take on oversight of construction products alongside its existing responsibilities. OPSS has valuable skills and experience in regulating consumer products and of working closely with local authority Trading Standards and other regulators, and will be granted up to £10 million in 2021-22 to establish the new function.

The national regulator will have strong inspection and enforcement powers—including to commission and conduct its own product testing when investigating concerns—and will work with both national regulators (such as the Building Safety Regulator) and local regulators (such as Trading Standards) to encourage and enforce compliance. The regulator will also advise the public, Government and the sector on technical and policy issues, pursuant to its function. Over coming months, I expect the regulator to begin to operate in shadow form, including engaging with the sector to clarify how the new regime will operate in practice.

Going further on product testing

Thirdly, recent testimony to the Grenfell inquiry has shone a light on appalling practices by some manufacturers of construction products, including what appears to be wilful attempts to game the system and to rig the results of safety tests that are intended to give the market vital information about how products will perform in a fire.

I have written to the Advertising Standards Authority and National Trading Standards to ask them what steps they can take to ensure that marketing of construction products is not misleading. We will provide further information to the House on this in due course.

Furthermore, I am today announcing that I will shortly commission an independent review to examine in detail the deficiencies in testing and conformity assessment regime for construction products, and to recommend how we can prevent abuse of the system by irresponsible companies who are prepared to put profits before lives. The review will report later this year, and may lead to further regulatory changes.

Ongoing work to improve building safety

These measures come on top of other major steps we are taking as we deliver our commitment to bring about a generational shift in building safety, including:

£1.6 billion of funding to remove dangerous cladding from high rise buildings

Introducing the Building Safety Bill and Fire Safety Bill to bring about the biggest change in building safety for a generation

Establishing a new building safety regulator

Recruiting the first ever chief inspector of buildings


I trust that these important measures will receive broad support across the House. I also call on companies who manufacture, sell or distribute construction products to do the right thing and address the rotten culture and poor practice that have come to light. We have a shared responsibility to confront poor practice and establish new norms that will restore public confidence in the industry. Residents deserve and expect nothing less.


Local Plans: House Building

The country needs more, better and greener homes in the right places.

This Government’s ambition is to deliver 300,000 homes per year by the mid-2020s and one million homes over this Parliament. Increasing the number of up-to-date local plans across England is central to achieving that goal. Local plans not only unlock land for development and ensure that the right number of new homes are being built in the right places, they also provide local communities with an opportunity to have their say on how their local areas will change over the coming years, and how the local environment can be protected and enhanced.

Some 91% of local planning authorities have now adopted a local plan, but we know that many of them are not being kept up to date. In March 2020, the Government set a clear deadline of December 2023 for all authorities to have up-to-date local plans in place.

It is critical that work should continue to advance local plans through to adoption by the end of 2023 to help ensure that the economy can rebound strongly from the covid-19 pandemic. Completing local plans will help to ensure that we can build back better and continue to deliver the homes that are needed across England.

To support this, we recently rolled forward temporary changes that we made over the summer to ensure the planning system continues to operate effectively during the pandemic. In addition, we announced changes to the methodology for assessing local housing need and published the 2020 housing delivery test measurement. This should help to provide greater certainty for authorities who are currently preparing local plans. The Government recently issued a formal direction in relation to South Oxfordshire District Council’s local plan to ensure it continued to adoption. Where necessary, we remain committed to using all powers available to Government in order to ensure that progress on plan making is maintained.

We also want to see neighbourhood plans continue to make progress with the support of local planning authorities, to give more communities a greater role in shaping the development and growth of their local areas.

The “Planning for the future” White Paper consultation closed in October. The White Paper sets out proposals to deliver a significantly simpler, faster and more predictable system. These proposals will need further development. Authorities should not use this period as a reason to delay plan-making activities. Authorities who have an up-to-date plan in place will be in the best possible position to adapt to the new plan-making system.

I will consider contacting those authorities where delays to plan-making have occurred to discuss the reasons why this has happened and actions to be undertaken.

This written ministerial statement only covers England.