Thursday 1 July 2021
EU Relations: Withdrawal Agreement
My noble Friend the Minister of State in the Cabinet Office, the right hon. Lord Frost CMG yesterday made the following written statement:
The Government have been consistently clear that there should be no barriers on the movement of meat products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. In order to avoid any disruption to those movements, the Government proposed to the EU that it would be sensible to extend the grace period agreed at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee in December, which would otherwise have expired on 1 July, on certain conditions.
Following detailed discussions, the UK and EU have agreed to extend the grace period until 30 September. In line with that agreement, the United Kingdom has today set out a unilateral declaration, of which the EU has taken note, relating to the movement of meat products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. This sets out the conditions under which meat products otherwise classed as prohibited and restricted goods will move from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. This agreement does not require the rest of the United Kingdom to align with any changes in EU agrifood rules during the grace period—there is no dynamic alignment.
The extension ensures that Northern Ireland consumers will continue to be able to buy chilled meat products from Great Britain. This is a positive first step but agreement is still required on a permanent solution, and this further period provides time for those discussions to proceed. This is also only one of a very large number of problems with the way the protocol is currently operating, for which solutions need to be found with the EU to ensure the protocol delivers on its original aims: to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) agreement, safeguard Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom, and protect the EU’s single market for goods.
Attachments can be viewed online at:
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Nissan: Sunderland Plant
I am delighted to announce that Nissan has confirmed a significant investment into their Sunderland plant and a partnership with their battery supplier, Envision AESC, and Sunderland City Council to create a north-east electric vehicle manufacturing hub.
As Nissan’s second global electric vehicle manufacturing hub, Sunderland will produce battery electric vehicles at scale from 2024 with projected volumes of 100,000 each year. The site will also be home to the UK’s first large scale gigafactory, with Envision AESC supplying batteries for Nissan’s electric vehicles. This is a transformational investment not just for the north-east of England but for the UK, as we move towards a fully electrified future and deliver our net zero ambitions.
Nissan has a long and successful history in the UK and Sunderland is one of the most productive plants in Europe. The north-east of England is renowned for automotive manufacturing and this investment will deliver economic growth in the area and support the levelling up agenda as we build back greener from the pandemic. Nissan’s commitment to Sunderland is testament to the strength of the British automotive sector and the quality and skill of our expert UK workforce. This investment will secure Nissan’s presence in Sunderland and thousands of highly skilled jobs at the plant. Indeed, as Nissan themselves have recognised, our trade and co-operation agreement with the European Union has brought the automotive industry, and our wider economy, the confidence and certainty needed to invest, employ, and plan ahead.
This north-east EV hub is an important first step in delivering our 10 point plan and manifesto commitment of securing our first large scale gigafactory. In increasing their battery production, initially to supply Nissan, the Envision AESC gigafactory will start to anchor the development of EV supply chains within the UK. This is vital as we start the mass UK manufacture of batteries needed for the next generation of electric vehicles.
The Government are also supporting Sunderland City Council to carry out infrastructure works on the adjacent international advanced manufacturing park, to make space for the gigafactory expansion and to start development of a local energy network supplying renewable energy.
The Government have played a crucial role in securing this major investment decision. Between us the Prime Minister, Lord Grimstone and I have engaged strongly with Nissan and their partners, Envision AESC and Sunderland City Council, to demonstrate our commitment to this opportunity. This investment will deliver the first EV to be manufactured at this scale in the UK and is a monumental step in the transition of the automotive industry to electrification.
The Government are committed to ensuring the UK continues to be one of the best locations in the world for automotive manufacturing, investing hundreds of millions to protect and create jobs, while securing a competitive future for the sector. The strong reputation of British automotive manufacturing is evident with over 80% of the cars produced in the UK being exported overseas.
As part of the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan, we have already announced £500 million to support the electrification of vehicles and their supply chains, and other strategically important technologies through the automotive transformation fund, over the next four years. This is our approach to industrial policy in action: a strong and active Government within a dynamic enterprise economy, working with industry to secure private investment and new jobs. We will continue to work with investors to secure the UK’s position at the forefront of the global green industrial revolution.
The Faraday battery challenge, with a further £317 million of Government support, is creating the research, innovation and commercialisation pathways and ecosystem that are establishing the UK as a battery science superpower, growing innovative companies and attracting large scale battery manufacturing to the UK. This includes our investment in the UK battery industrialisation centre, a unique open access facility.
Today’s announcement shows that Nissan and Envision share our commitment to an automotive sector fit for the future as we transition to electric vehicles. The Government are determined to ensure that the UK continues to be a great place to do business and one of the most competitive locations in the world for automotive and other advanced manufacturing. Nissan’s choice of the UK as their first location outside of Japan for such a major investment in electric vehicles underlines the strength of the UK to build such strategic partnerships and deliver our vision.
Financial Services Consultation
The Government are today publishing the “Access to Cash: Consultation” on legislative proposals to protect access to cash. Our society and economy are embracing the transition to a more digital world and as part of this the transition towards digital payments brings many opportunities, including the opportunity for faster and cheaper payments. None the less, cash remains an essential payment mechanism for many people and businesses across the United Kingdom.
The Government therefore committed at March Budget 2020 to bring forward legislation to protect access to cash and ensure that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable long term. The Government support and welcome innovation in payments; this is an area where the UK is at the cutting edge globally, and we wish to see that continue. The Government’s aim in protecting access to cash is consistent with this approach and seeks to ensure continued choice in payments solutions for all parts of the UK, and for people that rely on more traditional options.
In October 2020, the Treasury published a call for evidence, which sought views on the key considerations associated with cash access. The responses demonstrated strong and broad support for Government intervention to protect access to cash, and the Treasury is publishing a summary of responses to the call for evidence today.
Furthermore, the Government took action to make legislative changes to support the widespread offering of cashback without a purchase by shops and other businesses as part of the Financial Services Act 2021. Cashback has the potential to be a valuable facility to cash users, and play an important role in the evolution of the UK’s cash infrastructure.
The access to cash consultation is the next step to progress our commitment to legislate to protect access to cash.
The consultation sets out proposals for legislation to ensure that people and businesses can continue to make cash withdrawals and deposits within a reasonable distance. This will help to ensure that the cash system continues to meet the needs of businesses and consumers and that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable in the long term.
To achieve this, the consultation seeks views in three key areas:
Geographic access requirements for providing access to cash withdrawals and deposits
Designation of firms to meet requirements to provide access
Regulatory oversight, including proposals to ensure the FCA has appropriate powers and responsibilities to hold firms to account to meet requirements
The Government’s proposals for consultation seek to ensure a stable and resilient solution for cash access in the long term, where large current account providers are obliged to ensure their customers can access key cash services alongside new and convenient digital payments solutions. The decline in cash usage is a trend that is occurring in many countries across the world. The Government’s proposed approach is in line with international precedent. For example, Sweden, is one of the most advanced countries in terms of declining cash usage and it has placed legislative geographic access requirements for deposit and withdrawal facilities on its largest banks.
The consultation will be published on gov.uk https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/access-to-cash-consultation and will run for 12 weeks, closing on 23 September 2021.
Today’s publication helps to ensure that the financial system supports the real economy and delivers for businesses and consumers. As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor set out at Mansion House today, the Government are taking action to deliver on our vision for a world-leading financial services sector, which includes this consultation. It is important that our financial services sector is open, green, technologically advanced and globally competitive and acts in the interests of our communities and citizens, creating jobs, supporting businesses, and powering growth across all of the UK.
Publication of UK Government Green Financing Framework
In November 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Rishi Sunak), announced plans for the UK to issue its inaugural sovereign green bond (or “Green Gilt”). Green financing products like these are a form of Government borrowing to finance projects with clearly defined environmental benefits.
Since then, the Government have set out their intention to issue a series of green gilts to meet growing investor demand. Budget 2021 confirmed the following ambitious commitments, including that:
the UK will conduct at least two green gilt issuances in 2021;
Green gilt issuances in the 2021-22 financial year will total a minimum of £15 billion;
the UK will also issue retail green savings bonds via NS&I, the first standalone retail product tied to a sovereign green bond; and
in another first for comparable sovereign issuers, the UK will report on social co-benefits of expenditures financed by the green gilt and retail green savings bonds, such as job creation, access to affordable infrastructure and socioeconomic advancement.
Green financing will be a multi-year programme, and HM Treasury will announce future years’ green financing targets as part of its usual approach to debt management.
In May 2021, the UK Debt Management Office (DMO) announced that the first green gilt will be issued in September 2021, subject to demand and market conditions.
NS&I today announced that green savings bonds will go on sale later in the year, with full details available on the NS&I website.
Ahead of this, HM Treasury and the DMO yesterday published the UK Government green financing framework. This document sets out the Government’s ambitious climate and environmental agenda and their vision for enhancing the UK’s leadership as the world’s preeminent green financial centre. The framework also details how the proceeds from the green gilt and retail green savings bonds will finance expenditures to help tackle climate change, biodiversity loss, and other environmental challenges, while creating green jobs across the UK.
As part of this, the framework lists the six types of green expenditures that will be financed across the UK by the green gilt and retail green savings bonds:
Pollution prevention and control
Living and natural resources
Climate change adaptation.
The framework also stipulates that funds raised from each offering must be allocated to Government expenditures occurring no earlier than 12 months before and no later than two budget years after that offering. At least 50% of funds will be allocated to current and future expenditure rather than refinancing past expenditures, matching the strongest commitments of other major sovereigns.
Finally, this document commits the Government to annual allocation reporting and at least biennial reporting of metrics on environmental impacts and social co-benefits, ensuring transparency for retail and institutional investors and other interested parties.
Two independent reports assessing the framework and the eligible Government expenditure were published alongside the framework on 30 June 2021:
In line with market best practice, V.E, part of Moody’s ESG Solutions, has provided a second party opinion on the sustainability credentials of the Government of the United Kingdom’s green financing framework, which asses the alignment of the framework with the green bond principles 2021 published by the International Capital Market Association. V.E expressed a “robust” level of assurance on the contribution of the UK’s framework to sustainable development, which is the same positive assessment achieved by major sovereign issuers. V.E also assessed the UK’s environmental, social and governance performance as “advanced”, the highest level on V.E’s four-point scale;
the Carbon Trust has produced a pre-issuance impact report on the UK Government green financing programme, which reviews the Government’s intended allocation of proceeds under the framework and the proposed impact metrics. They found that the allocations “align sensibly” with the Climate Change Committee’s recommended climate targets for the UK (known as its “Sixth Carbon Budget”) and they are “confident that the programme will contribute to achieving net zero by 2050”. This is the first report of its kind among sovereign issuers and provides additional evidence of the coherence of the Government’s green financing programme with its wider environmental agenda.
Copies of the framework, second party opinion, and pre-issuance impact assessment have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and are published on www.gov. uk/government/publications/uk-government-green-financing. Further information can also be found on the DMO and NS&I websites.
Atomic Weapons Establishment
On 2 November 2020 I announced to the House [HCWS544] that on 1 July 2021 AWE plc, the company operating the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), would become a non-departmental public body, wholly owned by the Ministry of Defence (MOD).
I can confirm that from today, following a constructive and effective transition period, we welcome AWE plc as the newest arms-length body of the MOD.
The change in operating model will further strengthen the relationship between the MOD and AWE plc, enhancing the management of the UK’s nuclear warhead programme while also delivering on core MOD objectives and value for money to the taxpayer. AWE plc is part of the Defence Nuclear Enterprise, which is responsible for sustaining and renewing the UK’s nuclear deterrent.
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
EU-UK Personal Data Transfers
Following just over a year of constructive discussions, the European Union has rightly recognised the UK’s high data protection standards by formally adopting adequacy decisions for the UK. The completion of this process allows for the continued free flow of personal data between the EU and the UK. These decisions will minimise burdens for businesses and support continued co-operation between the EU and the UK, including helping our law enforcement authorities to keep our citizens safe.
We will approach our data relationship with the EU, as in other areas of our new relationship, as sovereign equals. This will include a full UK assessment of the EU under our own independent international transfer regime to ensure that it remains a safe destination for UK personal data. We will continue to engage with the EU as appropriate with a view to ensuring our reciprocal arrangements for free flow of personal data can remain in place on an ongoing basis.
We will do so while operating a fully independent UK framework. Rapid technological change in data-intensive sectors and three years’ experience of implementing GDPR have prompted lively debates about the future of data protection, including within the EU. We want our data protection law to remain fit for purpose, and to support the future objectives of the UK.
Maintaining personal data flows is important: people and organisations are now sharing more personal data more regularly and in greater quantities than ever. Data has allowed businesses to grow and transform, hospitals to help patients, scientists to accelerate groundbreaking research, and law enforcement authorities to keep the public safe. The covid-19 pandemic has shown that the use of data has never been more crucial in making vital decisions in public life.
The Government are committed to ensuring the UK can use data to drive innovation, the economy, trade, better government and more effective law enforcement and protection of public safety, without compromising security or privacy. We will design and operate a data regime that maintains high data protection standards while enabling transformative, creative, innovative and responsible data use to ensure that the benefits of the data revolution are felt by all people, in all places.
Maximising the opportunities from innovative use of data will also depend on better flow of data between international partners. Independent of the EU, the UK will promote the free flow of personal data across borders, including through ambitious new trade deals; new data adequacy agreements with some of the fastest growing economies; and more innovative transfer mechanisms, while ensuring that this data will be properly protected, including through effective regulatory co-operation. We will also explore wider global opportunities on data, seeking to increase the availability of data and minimise burdens on organisations seeking to tackle some of the most pressing international questions of our time, including climate change and prevention of disease.
With our progressive legal system, robust protection of individual rights, and an influential regulator, the UK is in a strong starting position. Our approach towards data in future will be forward thinking and innovative but, above all, it will be founded upon the democratic values of the rule of law and transparency to maintain our public trust and confidence.
I look forward to engaging with interested colleagues across the House on maximising the potential benefits of data use for the whole of the UK.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Reducing Demand for Water
In 2019 the Government carried out a consultation on measures to reduce personal water consumption. Today I wish to announce measures that the Government will take following our consultation.
The Government’s 25-year environment plan sets out our ambition for achieving clean and plentiful water. The Environment Agency’s national framework set out that an additional 25% of the current daily volume put into our public water supply will be needed in England by 2050 to meet future pressures on public supply1.
Water demand reduction is essential to support the delivery of our commitment. Water companies need to reduce the leakage from their network infrastructure and we need to support households and businesses (including charities and the public sector) to use less water.
Ofwat has set companies a performance commitment to reduce leakage by 16% by 2025 and water companies have gone further and committed to delivering a 50% reduction in leakage from 2017-18 levels by 2050, which is predicted to save up to 1,400 megalitres of water per day2. The Government expect this to be met and have required water companies to plan on this basis.
Business water use
Businesses use 20% of the total water put into our public supply. Water companies and retailers have worked with the Government, regulators, the market operator and Waterwise to produce an action plan to sustainably reduce businesses’ water use. This includes understanding how businesses use their water; greater collaboration in water resource planning; identifying and addressing regulatory and other relevant barriers to the delivery of business water efficiency; and supporting businesses to save water though information awareness.
The Government will make no changes to existing rules around when people can be charged for their water use through water meters.
Water companies in seriously water stressed areas may implement wider water metering programmes where it is shown within their water resources management plans that there is customer support and it is cost-effective to do so. Using the latest evidence, the Environment Agency has published its recommendation that additional areas in the south, east and the midlands should be designated as in serious water stress.
Metering programmes must nevertheless be justified by water companies and achieve customer support. This strikes the right balance between the need to protect water supplies and importance of water companies reducing leakage before expanding the use of water meters. This protects unmetered family homes from unexpected large increases in bills.
Water efficient homes
Today I am announcing measures that the Government will take forward to support water efficiency in homes. We will:
Ask water companies to develop a consistent approach to address leakage on customers’ own pipes, as, over the last 10 years around 25% of total leakage has been from customer supply pipes;
Make regulations to introduce a mandatory water efficiency label to inform consumers and encourage the purchase of more water efficient products for both domestic and business use. We will consider the potential to achieve energy savings, as well as further water savings, and explore how these can be achieved in a way that minimises the impact on consumers;
Write to local authorities to encourage them to adopt the optional minimum building standard of 110 litres per person per day in all new builds where there is a clear local need, such as in water stressed areas; and
In 2022 develop a road map towards greater water efficiency in new developments and retrofits, including the exploration of revised building regulations and how the development of new technologies can contribute to meeting these standards. We will ensure that the underlying legislation can, where appropriate, accommodate any potential future expansion of rainwater harvesting, water reuse and storage options.
These measures, along with the actions of water companies, will support the delivery of the ambitions set out in the national framework to reduce personal water consumption to 110 litres per person per day by 2050, without affecting the quality of life and the enjoyment of water used by households.
Waterwise has agreed to chair a group of industry experts, reporting to me regularly, that will track delivery of these stretching commitments.
This work will support the measures set out in the Environment Bill to further help us secure long-term, resilient water and wastewater services, making sure that we have a cleaner, greener and more resilient country for the next generation.
Health and Social Care
Children and Family Weight Management Services: Final Funding Allocations
On 23 March this year I confirmed the Government were dedicating £34.9 million of new funding to support the expansion of local authority weight management services for adults, children and families in 2021-22. These funds will be allocated via two ring-fenced grants under section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003.
The first grant distributed £30.5 million among all local authorities in England to commission adult behavioural weight management services and draft allocations were published in late March. Since publication 149 local authorities have accepted funding awards.
At the same time, I launched the application process for local authorities to apply for funding through a second grant distributing £4.4 million to test the expansion of behavioural weight management services for children and families and pilot an intervention to improve access to local services for children identified as living with overweight or obesity through the national child measurement programme.
I am pleased to announce that eight applicants representing 11 local authorities will be awarded funding through the child and family weight management grant (No. 31/5627). A full list of awardees will be published on gov.uk and all applicants will be notified of the outcome of the application process in writing.
Housing, Communities and Local Government
Revitalising High Streets and Town Centres
As part of our ongoing measures to improve the planning system, increase housing supply on brownfield land, stimulate investment in urban areas and sustain jobs, we have in recent years introduced new permitted development rights which allow the change of use to residential without the need for a full planning application. I am pleased that, through these measures, we have made a significant additional contribution to our housing supply by utilising already developed brownfield land. We have also legislated to ensure new homes delivered via permitted development rights provide adequate daylight and meet national space standards. Our most recent reforms introduced a new right to allow change of use from commercial, business and service use to residential. This will breathe new life into commercial areas and high streets by bringing vacant buildings back into use as new high street homes, all the more important as a result of the economic disruption caused by the covid-19 pandemic.
In very specific circumstances, local authorities can make article 4 directions to suspend individual permitted development rights, when justified by robust evidence.
This written ministerial statement sets out measures I am taking to ensure that our policy on article 4 directions is used in a highly targeted way to protect the thriving core of historic high street areas, but does not unnecessarily restrict the ability to deliver much needed housing through national permitted development rights. Our new policy will apply to all article 4 directions.
We recently consulted on revised policy on article 4 directions in our consultation on the “National Planning Policy Framework and National Model Design Code: consultation proposals”, which ran from 30 January to 27 March 2021. I have reviewed our national policy in the light of the helpful responses to that consultation.
As a result, I intend to make changes to the national planning policy framework later this year, but ahead of that I wanted to announce our new policy, so that local authorities and communities can take it into account from today when they consider bringing in any new article 4 directions.
The new paragraph 53 of the national planning policy framework will read:
“The use of article 4 directions to remove national permitted development rights should:
where they relate to change from non-residential use to residential use, be limited to situations where an article 4 direction is necessary to avoid wholly unacceptable adverse impacts (this could include the loss of the essential core of a primary shopping area which would seriously undermine its vitality and viability, but would be very unlikely to extend to the whole of a town centre);
in other cases, be limited to situations where an article 4 direction is necessary to protect local amenity or the well-being of the area (this could include the use of article 4 directions to require planning permission for the demolition of local facilities);
in all cases, be based on robust evidence, and apply to the smallest geographical area possible.”
Our aim is to support high streets and by ensuring a higher threshold for making article 4 directions relating to change of use to residential we will maximise the potential for underused buildings to be converted to an alternative use. Councils should recognise the value to housing supply and increasing resident town centre footfall from supporting “flats above shops”; for example, councils can consider applying different policies to residential conversions above ground floor level. This is important to support mixed and flexible high streets, to deliver additional homes more easily, and to support jobs in the construction industry, while increasing demand for local high street services through new high street homes. This change only applies to changes from non-residential to residential use. This change does not apply to changes between different residential uses, which will enable local authorities to continue to restrict change of use from a family home to a house of multiple occupancy where that is necessary to protect local amenity or the wellbeing of an area.
Article 4 directions should be very carefully targeted, applying only to those locations where they are necessary to avoid wholly unacceptable adverse impacts. For that reason, I want to make clear that the geographical coverage of all article 4 directions should be the smallest area possible to achieve the aim of the article 4 direction. In respect of historic high streets and town centres, this is likely to be the irreducible core of a primary shopping area. It is very unlikely to be applicable to a broad area, and is not expected to be applied to an entire local authority area. Local authorities will need to have robust evidence to justify the article 4 direction and the area it covers.
In advance of the publication of the revised national planning policy framework, I want local authorities to follow this new policy when they consider making new article 4 directions so that they can assure themselves and their communities that the article 4 direction is necessary and meets the higher threshold. Local authorities are required to notify me about new article 4 directions. I will instruct my officials to look closely at all new article 4 directions to check that they comply with the new policy, and I will consider exercising my power to intervene if they do not.
Work and Pensions
BPDTS Tailored Review
My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (the Baroness Stedman-Scott) has made the following written statement.
On 29 September 2020 the outcome of the BPDTS tailored review was published. The review recommended the creation of a single departmental digital function for DWP—concluding that the strategic context and challenges which BPDTS was designed to address had fundamentally altered since its creation in 2016.
Action has now been taken to implement the recommendations and all BPDTS staff and functions will transfer to DWP on 1 July 2021.
From 1 July activities in BPDTS will focus on the closure of the company and the publication of final annual reports and accounts, with formal closure anticipated in early 2022.
In-Work Progression Commission: Report Launch
In March 2020, I established the In-Work Progression Commission and appointed Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith to lead an independent review into the barriers that prevent people from progressing in work and increasing pay.
Her report, “Supporting progression out of low pay: a call to action”, which sets out the Commission’s findings is being published today. This timely and important report will help increase the evidence base about the nature of the barriers holding people back and how Government and employers could improve progression opportunities. I would like to thank the Baroness for leading the review, as well as her advisory panel for their considered contributions. I will place a copy of the report in the Library of the House.
The Commission’s review shows we all have a role to play. The report highlights examples of great employers around the country who are leading the way and who other employers should look to learn from. It also makes recommendations for the Government, which we will carefully consider and respond to in due course.
Since the Commission started its review, covid-19 has had a significant impact on the labour market and created challenges for workers and businesses throughout the country. The Government have provided an unprecedented package of support for workers and businesses throughout the pandemic and our multi-billion-pound plan for jobs will ensure jobseekers of all ages get the support they need to build additional skills and find work.
Building back fairer from the pandemic means better opportunities for people across the country to move into decent jobs, climb the career ladder and raise their earnings. With Government and employers working together, we will achieve our ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to work.