Skip to main content

Written Statements

Volume 705: debated on Thursday 16 December 2021

Written Statements

Thursday 16 December 2021

Cabinet Office

Independent Review of Construction Frameworks

My noble Friend the Minister for Efficiency and Transformation, Lord Agnew Kt, has today made the following written statement:

The Government have today published the “Independent Review of Construction Frameworks Report”. The review is a key part of implementing the Construction Playbook which was published in December 2020 to deliver the Government’s ambition of transforming how we assess, procure and deliver public works projects and programmes. This work has been led by Professor David Mosey of King’s College London and supported by the invaluable input of over 120 participants from across the construction industry and public sector. The recommendations in the review will help to ensure the principles of the Construction Playbook apply to the many projects that utilise commercial frameworks and not only those that run standalone procurement exercises. This will help change the face of the construction industry and enable better, faster and greener project outcomes.

The review reflects the Government’s focus on delivering for the taxpayer by getting projects right from the start, driving better outcomes and achieving a more productive and sustainable construction sector. It sets out the components of a gold standard framework that will help the Government to make informed procurement and contracting decisions. The report makes specific recommendations and highlights examples of good practice that provide value for money through reducing waste and supporting innovation.

Applying the gold standard will enable us to easily identify those frameworks which embody the policies and principles of best practice while providing a number of options to ensure competition and flexibility. This will be achieved through:

An outcome-based strategic approach that drives economic, social and environmental value;

Collaborative, multi-party relationships that align objectives, success measures, targets and incentives with commitments to jointly work on improving value and reducing risk;

Improved framework call-off systems, cost models and incentives that provide a fair return for suppliers and that drive value rather than a race to the bottom.

Construction is a key UK industry and we are committed to underpinning the economy through investing in infrastructure. By improving our approach to construction frameworks, we will progress towards a sustainable and more productive construction sector which benefits all of our citizens. A full list of the recommendations is available as part of the report published today on gov.uk.

A copy of the “Independent Review of Construction Frameworks Report” has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS502]

Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement 2022-23

Introduction

Today, I have set out the provisional local government finance settlement for 2022-23. This is a settlement that, at a national level, makes available an additional £3.5 billion to councils, an increase in local authority funding for 2022-23 of over 4% in real terms. This will ensure councils across the country have the resources they need to deliver key services.

The proposals I am announcing today focus on providing stability by:

Making available up to £3.5 billion more funding for councils across England compared to 2021-22. Overall, this means up to £53.9 billion of funding available for core services.

Providing a new, one-off 2022-23 services grant worth £822 million.

Striking a balance on council tax that helps councils invest in the services they provide to residents while protecting hard-working taxpayers from unfair hikes in rates, with a 2% core referendum threshold and 1% of additional flexibility for councils with adult social care responsibilities.

Making available over £1 billion of additional funding for social care.

Alongside this settlement, the Government will be providing further support to local communities through: £2.6 billion of UK shared prosperity funding, which helps people access opportunities in places in need; a £4.8 billion levelling up fund, which seeks to level up the country by investing in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK; and a further £2 billion of investment across the next three years to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.

2022-23 services grant

Local government delivers a range of services that are at the core of every community.

I therefore propose to create a one-off 2022-23 services grant worth £822 million that will be distributed through our existing settlement funding assessment. We will then take the time to fully consider its future distribution in consultation with councils.

This funding would be excluded from any proposed baseline for transitional support as a result of any proposed system changes.

Adults and children’s social care

The Government are committed to ensuring local government has the resources it needs to support the most vulnerable through adult and children’s social care.

I propose, therefore, allocating £700 million of new grant funding going to social care. This means:

£636 million more into the social care grant, including funding for equalisation against the 1% adult social care precept.

providing an inflationary uplift to support integrated working with the NHS.

Local authorities can make use of over £1 billion of additional resource specifically for social care in 2022-23. This includes the increase in social care grant and the improved better care fund, a 1% adult social care precept and deferred flexibilities from last year’s settlement.

For many councils, adults’ and children’s social care are key priorities and the largest areas of spending. Councils are not expected to rely solely on this earmarked funding to meet the inflationary and demographic pressures facing these services; they also have access to funding from un-ringfenced grant, including the 2022-23 services grant, and from council tax.

On top of this funding to address core pressures, £162 million in adult social care reform funding will be allocated in 2022-23 to support local authorities as they prepare their markets for adult social care reform and to help move towards paying a fair cost of care. The funding made available to councils means overall local government core spending power can increase by over 4% in real terms in 2022-23, including the investment in adult social care reform.

Council tax

This Government recognise the importance of high-quality local services and believes in empowering local decision makers to shape thriving communities. This includes ensuring they have the flexibility to generate their own income through council tax, while protecting residents from excessive increases.

I have proposed the following package of referendum principles for 2022-23:

A core council tax referendum principle of up to 2% for shire counties, unitary authorities, London boroughs, the Greater London Authority (GLA) and fire and rescue authorities.

A principle of up to 2% or £5, whichever is higher, for shire district councils

An adult social care (ASC) precept of 1% for all authorities responsible for ASC.

The ability to add up to an additional 3% of unused ASC precept from 2021-22.

A £5 referendum principle for the eight lowest-charging fire and rescue authorities.

A referendum principle of £10 for police and crime commissioners (PCCs), including the GLA charge for the Metropolitan Police and the PCC component of the Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire Mayoral precepts.

No other council tax referendum principles for Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) and no council tax referendum principles for town and parish councils.

The Government’s manifesto commits to continuing to protect local taxpayers from excessive council tax increases, and it is for the House of Commons to set an annual threshold at which a council tax referendum is triggered. This is an additional local democratic check and balance to avoid the repeat seen under the last Labour Government when council tax more than doubled.

This package of referendum principles strikes a fair balance. The council tax referendum provisions are not a cap, nor do they force councils to set taxes at the threshold level.

Councillors, Mayors and police and crime commissioners and local councils will rightly want to consider the financial needs of local residents at this challenging point in time, alongside the public’s support for action on keeping our streets safe and providing key services.

Stability of funding

Through this package we are providing local authorities with a firm foundation for funding throughout 2022-23. This means we are proposing to roll over much of the 2021-22 local government finance settlement, including:

Rolling over the current approach to the new homes bonus worth £554 million.

Keeping the rural services delivery grant at £85 million.

Maintaining the lower tier services grant at £111 million with an updated cash terms funding floor.

Increasing the revenue support grant in line with inflation; an increase of £70 million.

Continuing with the 100% retention authorities in the five devolution deal areas and 67% for Greater London overall.

Updating the system

The Government are committed to ensuring that funding allocations for councils are based on an up-to-date assessment of their needs and resources. The data used to assess this has not been updated in a number of years, dating from 2013-14 to a large degree, and even as far back as 2000. Over the coming months, we will work closely with the sector and other stakeholders to update this and to look at the challenges and opportunities facing the sector before consulting on any potential changes.

As part of this we will look at options to support local authorities through transitional protection. Councils should note the one-off 2022-23 services grant provided in the local government finance settlement in 2022-23 will be excluded from potential transitional protections.

Conclusion

In outlining these proposals, my priority is to provide stability in the immediate term so I can work closely with local government and other partners on options to update our assessment of local authority needs and resources. I welcome representations from all interested parties on the four-week consultation we have launched today.

The consultation can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/provisional-local-government-finance-settlement-2022-to-2023-consultation (www.gov.uk).

[HCWS510]

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Nuclear Third Party Liability Framework

Today I am notifying Parliament of the ratification of the 2004 protocols to amend the convention on third party liability in the field of nuclear energy (the “Paris convention”) and the convention supplementary to the Paris convention (the “Brussels convention”) (together the “2004 protocols”) that will come into force on 1 January 2022. The 2004 protocols were laid before Parliament in September 2015 under cover of miscellaneous series 6 (2015), Command Paper 9135 and miscellaneous series 7 (2015), Command Paper 9136 respectively.

The Paris and Brussels conventions are implemented domestically through the Nuclear Installations Act 1965. This has been amended prospectively by the Nuclear Installations (Liability for Damage) Order 2016 to implement the 2004 protocols. Ratification of the 2004 protocols will trigger the remainder of the 2016 Order coming into force in the UK on 1 January 2022.

Nuclear has a key role to play in our transition to net zero by 2050. Nuclear safety and regulation are of paramount importance and the risk of any accidents in the UK remain very low. Nevertheless, ratification of the 2004 protocols mean that in the highly unlikely event of an incident, an increased level of compensation would be available to victims and the period during which claims can be brought would be extended. The 2004 protocols, once in force, increase operator liability in the event of a nuclear incident from the current €140 million to a maximum of €1.2 billion over a period of five years and extend the period for which claims can be made from 10 to 30 years.

The Government recognise that in the short term, there is a gap in the insurance market. Therefore, the Government have agreed initially to provide an indemnity, for a charge, to cover increased personal injury liabilities for the 10 to 30 year period. For each individual site, the maximum HMG liability is between €70 million and €160 million depending on the site's classification, operator’s uptake of the indemnity, and whether transit of nuclear material takes place. The indemnity will be reviewed annually to ensure that it remains the best value for money option. In relation to this, I have today laid before Parliament a departmental minute giving notice of the Department incurring this contingent liability.

Additionally, the Government are also providing an indemnity to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The NDA are a non-departmental public body who are responsible for the decommissioning of several civil nuclear facilities, and who will be required to have appropriate cover in place. This creates a maximum contingent liability of €700 million in the first year, rising to €1.2billion for the Government per site over a five year period.

We also intend to build on our well established nuclear third party liability regime by seeking accession to the convention on supplementary compensation for nuclear damage (the “CSC”), by working with the International Atomic Energy Agency (“IAEA”) as depository for the CSC, and legislating when parliamentary time allows. Accession to the CSC would expand the number of countries to which the principles of channelling liability to the operator, and capping that liability, apply. This further improves the investment climate for new nuclear in the UK, without placing any additional burden of liability for developers or operators. In the event of a nuclear incident in a country that is party to the CSC, the UK would contribute an amount to the shared international fund, based on its installed capacity and UN contributions at the time. Similarly, in the events of an incident in the UK, we would be able to draw on these pooled CSC funds.

[HCWS504]

Defence

Future Nuclear Deterrent Annual Update 2021

On 18 May 2011, the then Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox), made an oral statement to the House (Official Report, column 351) announcing the approval of the initial gate investment stage for the procurement of the successor to the Vanguard class ballistic missile submarines. He also placed in the Library of the House a report “The United Kingdom’s Future Nuclear Deterrent: The Submarine Initial Gate Parliamentary Report”.

As confirmed in the 2021 integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy, this Government have committed to publishing an annual report on the programme. I am today publishing the ninth report, “The United Kingdom’s Future Nuclear Deterrent: 2021 Update to Parliament”.

A copy has been placed in the Library of the House.

The attachment can be viewed online at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2021-12-16/HCWS506/.

[HCWS506]

Education

School and Early Years Funding

Today I am confirming schools, high needs and early years revenue funding allocations for 2022-23. This announcement covers the dedicated schools grant (DSG), the pupil premium, and supplementary funding to allocate an additional £1.6 billion announced at the spending review.

Overall, taking the DSG allocations and the supplementary funding together, core schools funding is increasing by £4 billion in 2022-23—a 5% increase in real terms per pupil from 2021-22. This includes an increase in mainstream school funding, for the five to 16 age group, of £2.5 billion. This is equivalent to a 5.8%, or £300, cash increase in funding per pupil on average. Every local authority area is forecast to see an above-inflation increase in mainstream school funding, with each local authority seeing at least a 4.7% increase per pupil.

Nationally, high needs funding, including the supplementary funding, is increasing by over £1 billion (13%).

In July 2021, the then Minister of State for Schools informed Parliament of the publication of primary and secondary units of funding for the schools block of the DSG, and the provisional allocations for the high needs block and central school services block. These have now been updated with the latest pupil numbers to show how much each local authority will receive in 2022-23.

For early years, we are announcing initial allocations for local authorities of £3.6 billion for 2022-23 based on the early years hourly funding rates that were published on 25 November 2021. These initial allocations will be updated later using census data from January 2022 and January 2023.

The DSG also includes funding for the Department’s safety valve intervention programme, which targets the local authorities with the highest DSG deficits, accumulated where LAs have struggled to manage their high needs systems within their allocated funding. With £150 million of additional funding secured through the spending review, we are expanding this programme in 2022-23 to target more local authorities with the highest deficits, to rapidly secure the sustainable management of their high-needs systems and reduce their deficits. This expansion will sit as part of a new, wider programme of intervention and support for local authorities, including the Delivering Better Value in SEND programme, which will provide some support with attached funding to help more local authorities with less substantial deficits to establish sustainable and effective practice in managing their high needs systems. I will announce further detail about the Delivering Better Value in SEND programme in due course.

In addition to the DSG, mainstream schools will receive a supplementary grant in 2022-23 worth £1.2 billion. For early years and post-16 provision, the grant is being provided in respect of the health and social care levy. For primary and secondary provision, the grant is being provided in respect of both the health and social care levy and other cost pressures, giving schools the resources they need to raise attainment, increase teacher pay and continue to rise to the challenges of covid response and recovery.

Today I am announcing how that supplementary grant will be allocated. Mainstream schools will get:

A lump sum of £3,680 for schools that have primary and/ or secondary provision. (Schools with only early years or post-16 provision will not receive this lump sum.)

£24 per pupil for their early years provision

£35 per pupil for their post-16 provision

£97 per pupil in primary

£137 per pupil in key stage 3

£155 per pupil in key stage 4

Additional funding of £85 per primary pupil and £124 per secondary pupil who are recorded as having been eligible for free school meals at any point in the last six years (FSM6).

The grant rates will be uplifted with area cost adjustments for schools in areas with higher wage costs.

Special schools and other providers funded from the high needs block of the DSG will benefit from an additional £325 million in 2022-23, through a top up to the DSG allocations referred to above. This is an increase of 4% to the allocations announced in July 2021.

This core schools funding comes alongside the Government’s investment totalling nearly £5 billion, up to 2024-25, to help children and young people recover from the impact of the pandemic, which includes spending £1.5 billion on a national tutoring revolution in schools and colleges.

Funding for disadvantaged pupils: the pupil premium

The pupil premium provides additional funding to schools to improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged pupils. Today, I am announcing that pupil premium rates in 2022-23 will increase by 2.7%, in line with forecast inflation as published by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) at the 2021 spending review. This will ensure that this targeted investment continues to support the most disadvantaged children in our schools.

With the increased funding rates, total pupil premium funding is forecast to be its highest ever, in cash terms, in 2022-23. Total pupil premium funding is forecast to increase to over £2.6 billion in 2022-23 (up from £2.5 billion in 2021-22, and from £600 million when the pupil premium was introduced in 2011-12). Funding rates in 2022-23 will be the highest ever in cash terms, with primary pupils who have been eligible for FSM at a point over the past six years attracting £1,385, and secondary FSM6 pupils attracting £985. This means that, compared to when the pupil premium was introduced in 2011, funding rates are now almost £900 higher in cash terms for primary FSM6 pupils, and almost £500 higher for secondary pupils. The Department for Education continues to ensure that all schools must have regard to high-quality evidence-based interventions when deciding how best to support eligible pupils.

[HCWS508]

Health and Social Care

Adult Social Care Funding and Reform

As set out in our adult social care reform White Paper, “People at the Heart of Care”, on 1 December 2021, the Government are committed to a wide-ranging and ambitious reform of the adult social care system.

To make social care fairer, we are protecting people from unpredictable care costs, are supporting local authorities to move towards paying a fair cost of care to providers and ensuring that more self-funders will be able to ask their local authority to arrange their care for them to give them a choice of better-value care.

To move us towards the 10-year vision for reform set out in “People at the Heart of Care”, the Government are today publishing the “Fair Cost of Care and Market Sustainability Fund: Purpose and Conditions for 2022-23”. This sets out how the Government will provide £1.4 billion over the next three years to support local authorities to prepare markets for reform and move towards paying providers a fair cost of care. This breaks down into £162 million in 2022-23 and £600 million in both 2023-24 and 2024-25.

Some local authorities are promoting efficient and effective operation of care markets, with sustainable rates of care. However, a significant number of local authorities are paying residential and home care providers less than it costs to deliver the care received. In many areas, this has resulted in higher self-funder fees which we are addressing by further bringing into effect section 18(3) of the Care Act 2014. The market effect of this change will be that some providers will over time need to reduce reliance on subsidising state-funded care from self-funders. This £1.4 billion will enable local authorities to ensure local care markets can respond to the changes reform will bring and will also help to address under-investment and poor workforce practices.

It is important this additional funding reaches the places and parts of the social care system that need it most. The Government propose to distribute 2022-23 funding on the basis of the adult social care relative needs formula, as is used for the social care grant. Local authority level allocations for 2022-23 have been published alongside the provisional local government finance settlement.

Today my Department is publishing a policy statement that sets out:

Funding conditions for 2022-23

As a condition of receiving further grant funding in the two following years, we will expect local authorities to conduct cost of care exercises, set out their plans for driving market sustainability, including progress towards a fair cost of care, and to report to DHSC on how funding is being used. The Department will use this information to monitor progress and provide public assurance that local markets are being managed successfully.

Practical guidance and support tools

From January 2022, we will work closely with the sector to develop a practical support offer for those local authorities who may require it to meet the funding conditions. This includes guidance and templates on cost of care exercises; workshops, webinars and market shaping tools.

The funding and conditions set out in this statement today are part of the new health and care levy announced in September this year, of which £5.4 billion is being invested into adult social care over the next three years.

We will work closely with local government to determine appropriate grant conditions, national guidance and distribution mechanisms for funding allocations in 2023-24 and 2024-25.

Beyond this additional £1.4 billion, we are proposing today in the provisional local government finance settlement to make available over £1 billion of additional funding for social care in 2022- 23.

Councils are not expected to rely solely on this earmarked funding to meet the inflationary and demographic pressures facing these services; they also have access to funding from unringfenced grant, including the 2022-23 services grant, and from council tax. The funding available to councils means overall local government core spending power will increase by over 4% in real terms in 2022-23, including the investment in adult social care reform.

Today’s publication is a further milestone on the Government’s journey to reform adult social care, creating a system that is fit for the future and of which we can all be proud.

[HCWS509]

David Fuller Case: Update on Actions

Yesterday, David Fuller was sentenced at Maidstone Crown court for the murders of Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce, as well as over 100 sexual offences in a mortuary, and several other sexual offences.

This is a profoundly distressing case and I would like to reiterate my apologies to the friends and families of all of David Fuller’s victims. While nothing can undo the damage that has been done, he has been brought to justice for his crimes.

I would like to provide an update on the steps we are taking to ensure something like this never happens again.

First, all NHS trusts have undertaken risk assessments on their mortuary and body store facilities and assured their practices against existing Human Tissue Authority guidance. NHS England and Improvement is working with all trusts to ensure that the additional steps already requested are in place early in the new year, if they have not already been delivered.

Secondly, we have made good progress in establishing the independent inquiry chaired by Sir Jonathan Michael to look into the circumstances surrounding the offences committed at the hospital. It will help us understand how these offences took place without detection, identify any areas where swift action is necessary and consider wider national issues, including for the NHS. Sir Jonathan has developed draft terms of reference and will seek views on these from families who have been affected in the new year before they are published.

Next, Ministers have received initial advice from the Human Tissue Authority and they will be reviewing this carefully.

Finally, families have quite understandably approached the trust seeking compensation. I have asked NHS Resolution to work with the trust and engage on plans for providing settlements. More details will be set out on this soon.

[HCWS505]

Health and Social Care

Independent Inquiry Report into Issues Raised by Former Surgeon Ian Paterson

On 4 February 2020, the independent inquiry into the issues raised by the disgraced surgeon Ian Paterson published its report, which was welcomed by the Government. On 28 April 2020, we reluctantly announced a delay in the Government response due to the unprecedented pressures of the covid-19 pandemic. On 23 March 2021, we provided an update on the progress made and committed to publishing a full response during 2021. Today, the Government have published that response.

We want to thank the Right Reverend Bishop Graham James and the inquiry team for their thorough report which provides a detailed analysis of the issues which allowed this malpractice to take place and recommends steps to better protect patients moving forward.

Our thanks also go to the patients who shared their experiences with the inquiry and to their representatives who subsequently continued to engage with the Government through the process of preparing this response. Patient voices have rightly been central to this entire process.

The Government’s response

The inquiry’s findings point to several important themes where action is needed to improve protections for patients being given hospital-based care—whether in the NHS or independent sector. These actions must improve the way our health system works for patients at every stage of their treatment journey.

The health system has to provide patient-centred information to enable patients, their families and carers to make informed decisions about their treatment and care. Medical practitioners should face regular challenge to improve the standard of care they provide as part of their overall learning and development, with concerns about their practice from any source heard and acted upon. There must be accountability across the healthcare system, ensuring quality of service from the frontline to the boardroom. Finally, when things do go wrong, patients must have the confidence that the entire system will work to put things right—meeting the needs of the patient and learning the lessons to prevent the same mistakes being repeated.

Working with patients and stakeholders, we have carefully considered all 15 recommendations the inquiry made for improving the health system. We are accepting 12 of these recommendations either in full or in principle with a further one recommendation still pending. There is one recommendation we are not accepting but keeping under review and one recommendation that we do not accept. Whether we are accepting the recommendation or not, we are taking action to improve healthcare against every recommendation.

The response outlines actions which have been taken since Ian Paterson’s malpractice came to light, in addition to detailing 40 actions for our further implementation plan. The Government will review the progress made in this implementation in a further publication after 12 months to ensure adequate action has been taken and update where additional action is planned.

Recommendation 1

Recommendation 1 calls for a single repository of the whole practice of consultants in England containing critical consultant performance data. This would be made accessible for use by both managers and healthcare professionals, and by members of the public. We accept this recommendation in principle. A significant amount of progress has been made on the collection of consultant performance data in both the NHS and independent sector. We commit to making more progress on the collection of data, use of the information it allows us to develop, and the publication of useful metrics. In 2018, the acute data alignment programme was launched to move towards a common set of standards for data collection and reporting across the NHS and independent sector. This brings together data collection through NHS Digital, with the use and processing of this data in parallel in the NHS and independent sector through the national consultant information programme (NCIP) and the private healthcare information network (PHIN). This is currently in pilot, with the potential to be fully implemented, dependent on the results of that pilot, in 2022-23. This data will be made available for managers and healthcare professionals across the system to support learning and identify outliers. PHIN is already mandated to publish information on consultant practice in the independent sector and will be continuing to roll out the publication of further metrics in the coming years. Over the next 12 months, we commit to reaching a decision with key stakeholders on what further information should be made publicly available and whether further Government action will be needed to achieve this.

Recommendation 2

Recommendation 2 asks that it become standard practice for consultants to write directly to patients about their treatment and care in language they can understand. We are pleased to accept this recommendation. Guidance across the system makes clear that this is best practice and a range of key stakeholders have agreed to write to their members to encourage the uptake of this advice. We will continue to explore with providers how their systems can change to embed this process and to monitor that best practice is being followed.

Recommendation 3

Recommendation 3 requires the publication of information explaining the differences in how care is organised in the NHS and the independent sector, so that patients can make informed decisions. We have accepted this recommendation. We will be commissioning the production of this independent information, to be created in partnership with patients, families and carers. This will be published in 2022 and made widely accessible.

Recommendation 4

Recommendation 4 calls for the introduction of a short waiting period in the decision-making process for surgical procedures, to enable reflection on the diagnosis and treatment options. We are accepting this recommendation in principle. While a specific period for general surgery is not being introduced, as the time required will depend on the patient and the procedure in question, the General Medical Council has updated its guidance to confirm that patients should be given sufficient time to consider their options before making decisions about treatments. During appraisals, doctors must demonstrate they are meeting the principles set out in GMC’s “Good Medical Practice”, and CQC takes all GMC guidance into account during its assessments across the NHS and independent sector.

Recommendation 5

Recommendation 5 relates to multi-disciplinary teams, asking CQC to assure that all hospital providers are complying effectively with national MDT guidance. We have accepted this recommendation. CQC has added more detailed prompts to its inspection framework on multidisciplinary team working. When assessing providers across the NHS and independent sector, CQC will continue to seek assurance that patients are not at risk of harm due to non-compliance in this area.

Recommendation 6

We have considered recommendation 6, which relates to complaints processes, in two parts. The first part calls for more effective communication to patients of the means to escalate a complaint to an independent body. We have accepted this part of the recommendation. The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is piloting the NHS complaints standards which set out in one place the ways in which the NHS should handle complaints. This includes the need for organisations to ensure people know how to escalate a complaint to the ombudsman. These have been developed with the Independent Sector Complaints Adjudication Service, ISCAS, who have included it in their code of practice.

The second part of recommendation 6 proposes that all private patients are given the right to mandatory independent resolution of their complaints. We have accepted this part in principle. CQC will strengthen its guidance to make clearer that it expects to see arrangements in place for patients to access independent complaints resolution. We will review the impact of this guidance in the coming year and will explore whether legislative action is needed, if insufficient action is taken.

Recommendations 7 and 8

Recommendations 7 and 8 both relate to the recall of patients of Ian Paterson by providers—University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and Spire Healthcare. These recommendations have already been accepted in full. UHB has contacted all known living patients of Ian Paterson and ensured that all cases had been reviewed by June 2021. Spire had proactively contacted all known living patients by December 2020 and have now reviewed the care of over two-thirds of the patients concerned. We have asked Spire to provide an update on progress in 12 months on reviewing the remaining patients.

Recommendation 9

Recommendation 9 calls for a national framework to be developed for the recall of patients. We have accepted this recommendation. This framework has been developed and outlines actions to be taken by organisations in the NHS and independent sector in the event that a patient recall is necessary. This framework will be published in 2022 and will be owned by the National Quality Board, who will ensure it is periodically updated.

Recommendation 10

Recommendation 10 relates to indemnity products for healthcare professionals and asks for the shortcomings in clinical negligence cover identified by the inquiry to be resolved. The outcome of this recommendation is pending. We recognise that a system needs to be in place to ensure that patients have confidence that they can access compensation if harmed while receiving care, and we will bring forward proposals in 2022. These proposals will build on the consultation at the end of 2018 on “Appropriate clinical negligence cover” for regulated healthcare professionals. The summary of responses to this consultation will be published in early 2022. We have put forward an extended programme of actions in our response to work towards change in this area, and we will ensure any reforms are robust, meeting the needs of both patients and professionals, before implementing them.

Recommendation 11

Recommendation 11 calls for the Government to ensure that the system of regulation in healthcare serves patient safety, that regulators collaborate effectively and that weaknesses identified by the inquiry are resolved. We are accepting this recommendation. The healthcare regulators referenced in the Paterson inquiry (the GMC, Nursing and Midwifery Council, and CQC) exist to protect patient safety and this is reflected in their new corporate strategies. They have also taken a number of actions to encourage collaboration and information sharing between organisations. The Government’s consultation on “Regulating Healthcare Professionals, Protecting the Public” sets out proposals which address issues raised by the inquiry, including a proposed duty to co-operate for all regulators. We plan to bring forward legislation in relation to the GMC in 2022.

Recommendation 12

We have considered recommendation 12 in two parts. The first part required that any investigation of a healthcare professional’s behaviour should result in a suspension, if there is any perceived risk to patient safety. We have not accepted this recommendation. Exclusion and restriction of practice can be a necessary and appropriate response during an investigation in some instances. However, we do not believe it would be fair or appropriate to impose this step as a blanket rule in all cases. It is vital that investigations are robust and conducted in a timely manner. Guidance has been implemented in recent years to ensure concerns are taken seriously and appropriate action taken, including clear advice on when exclusion is the right step to take.

The second part of recommendation 12 proposes that any concerns about a healthcare professional at one provider should be shared with other providers they work with. We accept this recommendation in principle. Where patient safety is at risk, information should be shared. Providers must use their judgement, though, as they are taking on responsibility to ensure the information is appropriate and accurate when shared. Regulators have taken key steps to make it easier for people and organisations to share information regarding patient safety risks.

Recommendation 13

Recommendation 13 identifies a specific issue relating to the engagement of consultants through practising privileges in the independent sector. This is where the consultant is self-employed and allowed to work in the hospital’s facilities, rather than employed by the hospital. In the case of Ian Paterson, this led to a gap in responsibility and liability for the consultant’s actions. The inquiry reported the impression that private providers were just renting consultants a room, and claims for compensation took significant time and effort from patients to resolve. We accept this recommendation in principle. Independent sector providers must take responsibility for the quality of care provided in their facilities, regardless of how the consultants are engaged. The Independent Healthcare Providers Network published the medical practitioners assurance framework in 2019 to improve consistency around effective clinical governance in the independent sector. We encourage all private providers to take up this framework, and CQC will continue to assess the strength of clinical governance in all providers as part of its inspection activity. We will be using the response to recommendation 10 on indemnity products and the programme of action laid out there as the initial response to the challenges faced by patients of Ian Paterson in accessing compensation. We will additionally keep the potential liability held by providers in the independent sector under review.

Recommendation 14

Recommendation 14 says that apologies should be given at the earliest stage of investigation when something goes wrong, and that potential liability should not hold anyone back from apologising. We accept this recommendation. Healthcare organisations have a statutory duty of candour—which sets out specific requirements providers must follow when things go wrong with care and treatment, including providing truthful information and an apology. This duty is regulated by CQC. NHS Resolution consistently advises members to apologise when things go wrong and that this has no impact on potential legal liability. We continue to ensure this guidance is promoted.

Recommendation 15

Finally, recommendation 15 says that private providers should not be eligible for NHS contracted work unless they have implemented all the other accepted recommendations from this response across the entirety of their workload. We are not accepting this recommendation, but will keep it under review. Across all the issues raised in this inquiry report, independent sector providers are fully committed to implementing changes alongside NHS providers. These providers must meet the same regulatory standards as NHS providers, as required by CQC. Independent providers must meet the conditions of the NHS provider license and the NHS standard contract to be able to deliver NHS-funded treatment. Accepting this recommendation would create a duty on the NHS which would need to be carefully implemented to ensure it could be monitored effectively and would not reduce the capacity available to the NHS for providing care—particularly given the numbers of patients waiting for treatment as a result of the pandemic. We do, however, recognise the importance of ensuring change takes place. We will continue to work with the independent sector to implement the changes related to the inquiry’s recommendations and will review progress in 12-months’ time. We commit to taking robust action should progress not meet our expectations.

This response forms part of the Government’s broader commitment to patient safety, including our response to the independent medicines and medical devices safety review as previously published and the measures included in the Health and Care Bill.

Copies of the Government’s full response will be laid before the House and will be available from the Vote Office and at: https://www.gov.uk.

[HCWS499]

Medicine Supplies to Northern Ireland

Under the Northern Ireland protocol (NIP), medicines moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are required to comply with the EU pharmaceutical acquis. This creates a number of additional and duplicative regulatory barriers which risk the continuity of supply for medicines moving into NI.

Negotiations are under way to seek a bilateral agreement with the EU to tackle these problems. In order to support this, it is essential that we do everything we can to ensure that our regulations are fit for purpose, regardless of the outcome of these negotiations, and that the supply of medicines to patients in Northern Ireland is not put at risk.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and officials from my own Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), have been working closely with officials from the Northern Ireland Department of Health (DHNI) in recent months to design a robust contingency measure which can be operational, if necessary, to support the flow of medicines into Northern Ireland from 1 January 2022.

Today the UK Government will be introducing a statutory instrument titled the Human Medicines (Amendment) (Supply to Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021 to establish the Northern Ireland MHRA Authorised Route (NIMAR).

NIMAR provides a route for the lawful supply of prescription only medicines that are unlicensed in NI, where no licensed alternative is available. This route will be tightly governed, with all medicines supplied via NIMAR already complying with the strong regulatory safeguards required for a product to enter the GB market. All medicines supplied this way into Northern Ireland will meet the MHRA’s robust standards that are in place for the rest of the UK.

Supply using the NIMAR route will be closely monitored by DHSC, in partnership with officials at DHNI. It will only be used where clinical need cannot be met by a licensed alternative, in the interests of public health.

It will allow citizens in NI to continue to access the prescription only medications that they require for their individual treatment.

The required statutory instrument will be laid before the house today, along with the accompanying explanatory memorandum, and I invite members to refer to this for more detail on the functionality and detail of NIMAR.

[HCWS507]

Home Department

Interpol General Assembly

Interpol’s 89th General Assembly took place in Istanbul, Turkey between 23-25 November, during which elections took place for the role of Interpol president and membership of the executive committee.

The General Assembly voted to elect the UAE candidate, Major General Al-Raisi, as Interpol president for a period of four years, on a majority of 104 to 47. Voting was conducted in secret.

The UK candidate for election to the executive committee, Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr of Police Scotland, was also elected, and will take a seat alongside Turkey and Spain to represent the European region in Interpol for a period of three years. In addition, a UK lawyer, Ms Susie Alegre, was elected to the Requests Chamber of the Commission for the Control of Files (CCF).

Interpol remains a vital tool for UK law enforcement in tackling international crime worldwide and we will work with the newly elected executive committee to ensure that it continues to operate in accordance with its constitution and with full respect for human rights obligations.

[HCWS501]

Provisional Police Grant Report (England and Wales) 2022-23

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has today published the provisional police grant report (England and Wales) 2022-23. The report sets out the Home Secretary’s determination for 2022-23 of the aggregate amount of grants that she proposes to pay under section 46(2) of the Police Act 1996. A copy of the report will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Today the Government are setting out the provisional police funding settlement in Parliament for the 2022-23 financial year. Overall funding for policing will rise by up to £1.1 billion compared with the 2021-22 funding settlement, bringing the total up to £16.9 billion. Within this, funding to police and crime commissioners (PCCs) will increase by up to an additional £796 million, assuming full take-up of precept flexibility. This would represent an increase to PCC funding in cash terms of 5.8% on top of the 2021-22 police funding settlement.1

This Government are absolutely committed to keeping the public safe; the police have a critical role to play in this, and in reducing crime. We are determined to strengthen our police service and, by providing a three-year spending review settlement, we are giving the police the financial certainty and stability needed for longer-term, strategic reforms. We have confirmed total grant funding for police forces for the next three years, with increases of £550 million in 2022-23, at least £650 million in 2023-24 and no less than £800 million in 2024-25. In addition, PCCs will have up to £10 of precept flexibility in each of the next three years to use according to their local needs.

With this substantial investment, this settlement supports the police to:

1. Successfully complete the 20,000 officer police uplift programme by March 2023, building on the outstanding progress to date.

2. Accelerate progress on the Government’s key policing priorities: reducing crime, ensuring the criminal justice system works for all, driving forward improvements in the service the public receive, and transforming critical capabilities and infrastructure.

3. Ensure an increase in productivity using enhanced technology and investigative tools. In return for this significant investment, we expect police leaders to become more efficient and effective with officers’ time, and in the fight against national threats.

Recruitment

This Government are delivering on their commitment to recruit 20,000 additional police officers, and the three-year spending review settlement gives the police the investment and financial certainty they need for this. We have already invested significantly in increasing the number of police officers, providing £700 million in 2020-21 and a further £425 million in 2021-22. Forces have leaned in to this commitment, and as at the end of September, over 11,000 officers have been recruited, 55% of our 20,000 target. As a result of this policing is more diverse than ever. Since April 2020, more than four in 10 new recruits were female and 11.4% identified as belonging to a black, Asian, mixed or other minority ethnic groups. Good progress is also being made on deployments into regional organised crime units. Forces are recruiting officers to support deployments across the policing system, and we expect this growth to be seen over the spending review period. Forces must not be complacent in their efforts to ensure policing is open to all in modern Britain and to bring in the best talent from across their local communities.

For 2022-23, PCCs will receive an additional £550 million of Government grants which include funding for the recruitment of the final 8,000 additional officers, and continued growth in police staff to support officers, by the end of March 2023. To ensure recruitment is maintained, £135 million of the grant increase will be ringfenced and allocated in line with funding formula shares. As in previous years, PCCs will be able to access this as they progress towards their recruitment target.

Building on the commitments in the beating crime plan, we are continuing to strengthen capability to confront serious and organised crime. Therefore, 425 officers will be deployed into regional organised crime units and equivalent capability in London. Recruitment allocations for year three of the programme are set out in the tables attached to this statement.

Precept

Spending review 2021 confirmed that PCCs will be empowered to raise additional funding through precept flexibility. We propose to enable PCCs to increase their band D precept by up to £10 in each of the next three years without the need to call for a local referendum, the equivalent of less than £1 per month. If all PCCs decide to maximise their flexibility, this would result in up to £246 million additional funding for local policing next year. It is for locally accountable PCCs to take decisions on local precept.

Counter-terrorism policing

The Government will continue to provide vital support for counter-terrorism (CT) policing, ensuring they have the resources they need to meet and deal with the threats we face. For the first time, CT police funding will total over £1 billion in 2022-23. This significant investment will aid in supporting the ongoing CT policing investigations to keep the country safe, and includes continued funding for both armed policing and the CT operations centre. The funding includes the transfer of £44 million for special branch from core PCC budgets to the CT policing grant, protecting local CT assets while providing forces with greater access to specialist expertise and resources to keep our citizens safe from harm.

PCCs will be notified separately of force-level funding allocations for CT policing, which will not be made public for security reasons.

National priorities

This Government will continue to support PCCs and forces through increased investment in national policing priorities. This settlement provides £1.4 billion for the following national priorities in 2022-23 (as set out at tables 1 and 5):

Maintaining our focus on cutting crime to make communities safer, we are continuing to invest in critical priority areas. This includes drugs and county lines activity, violent crime reduction, child sexual abuse and exploitation, fraud, and modern slavery. Next year we will see:

Further investment in law enforcement intelligence and investigation capacity, taking these capabilities one step closer to intercepting the rise of economic crime.

Regional organised crime units equipped with the capabilities they need to tackle serious and organised crime and protect the most vulnerable citizens from abuse, building on the provision of more officers through the uplift programme.

A national crime laboratory to drive the use of innovative data science techniques to prevent and reduce crime.

This Government recognise that transparency, governance and accountability have a key role to play in building public confidence in the criminal justice system. This settlement will enable us to:

Fulfil key commitments from the rape review, including the expansion of Operation Soteria to additional pilot areas to test innovative ways for the police and CPS to investigate rape cases.

Deliver on our commitment to ensure that no victim of rape and serious sexual assault is left without a mobile phone for more than 24 hours and explore how we can further exploit technological advancements and new ways of working to improve investigation outcomes.

Drive improvements in local police performance, including measuring responsiveness to 101 and 999 calls and providing a peer support function through the College of Policing for poor performing forces.

We must ensure that there is no place left for criminals to hide that carry out serious and organised crime and rely on sophisticated digital communications to evade detection. That is why this Government will be:

Investing in a set of critical investigative tools to help deliver the drugs supply attack plan and support a range of other national priority threats. These tools will provide better-quality intelligence, expand law enforcement’s ability to tackle international crime networks, homicide and neighbourhood crime, and boost prosecution rates against high-harm offenders.

Providing greater investment in tackling fraud and improving the way in which intelligence on firearms is collected and managed.

This settlement also includes continued investment in major law enforcement programmes, and other critical national police and law enforcement IT capabilities. This Government will invest in:

Strengthening the ability to share, analyse and act on all available intelligence data to counter drugs, county lines and other high harm offences.

Collaborating with industry to leverage technology in support of safeguarding the vulnerable.

Simplifying the technological capabilities that are delivered so that they can be easily adopted and exploited by operational users.

The Government expect PCCs to continue to take responsibility for crime outcomes both locally and nationally, and we will support PCCs and forces to deliver well-evidenced crime interventions as part of their core business. The spending review has provided £150 million of Government funding for crime reduction in each of the next three years, which will allow the continuation of existing programmes as well as some new investments to prevent crime and keep our communities safe.

We will confirm funding arrangements for specific crime reduction programmes in due course. These will follow a match-funding principle where funding for local intervention is supported via funding allocated to or raised by local leaders. This approach will maximise PCC investment in crime reduction and increase the total funding spent on crime priorities, making our communities safer.

Outcomes and efficiency

While we continue to invest in policing, it is only right that the Government hold the policing sector, as with other public services, to account on delivering for the public. The police must demonstrate to taxpayers that they are using this funding effectively, meeting the needs of their community and ensuring the public receive the highest possible quality of service.

As part of the spending review settlement, the Government will expect to see over £100 million of cashable efficiency savings delivered from force budgets by 2024-25. For 2022-23, we expect to see £80 million of efficiency savings—which have been reflected in the funding set out as part of the settlement.

Ensuring the value of the Government’s investment in policing goes beyond efficiencies. Following greater investment in modern technology infrastructure and interoperable systems, we expect to see an increase in productivity. This will enable more efficient data sharing and analysis, reduce the risk of service disruptions, and provide a foundation for future enhancements and innovations. We will continue to work with and support the policing sector through the Efficiency in Policing Board with a renewed focus on improving the measurement and delivery of productivity gains.

This Government have once again set out their commitment to giving the police the resources they need to cut crime and keep the public safe—setting out today how up to an additional £1.1 billion will be invested in the policing system in 2022-23. We will continue to work with policing to achieve the outcomes set out here. I would like to pay tribute and express my sincere gratitude to our police officers and police staff for the extraordinary bravery and dedication they display each day, to keep us all safe from harm.

I have set out in a separate document, attached, the tables illustrating how we propose to allocate the police funding settlement between the different funding streams and between police and crime commissioners for 2022-23. These documents are intended to be read together.

1 Funding for special branch has been transferred from existing PCC baselines and now will go to PCCs through the CT policing grant.

The attachment can be viewed online at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2021-12-16/HCWS503/.

[HCWS503]

UK Anti-Corruption Strategy: Year 3 Update

Today I am pleased to be publishing the third annual update to the UK anti-corruption strategy 2017 to 2022 which covers the year 2020. As part of the strategy, the Government are committed to providing an annual written update to parliament on progress.

It is particularly pertinent that we are publishing this update as countries are gathering to assess progress with implementation of the UN convention Against corruption. This serves as a reminder to us all of the need for domestic and international action to address the evolving threat from corruption. This month we also saw the UK join our US partners in their summit for democracy, which similarly focuses on actively tackling the corruption challenges at home and abroad.

This update highlights the progress made against the anti-corruption commitments in 2020 and focuses on a number of key areas:

securing the public commitment with all Crown dependencies and inhabited overseas territories to implement publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership information. This will help strengthen the international effort to counter illicit finance;

extending the remit of the national fraud initiative and helping local authorities to undertake bank account and active company checks;

reforming the police complaints and disciplinary systems to make them more transparent, independent and proportionate;

securing endorsement from G20 Ministers of a G20 call to action for countries to combat corruption in the covid-19 response and recovery;

publishing a review of procurement risks in local government that improves understanding and strengthens our response; and

publishing the Green Paper on procurement reform with specific proposals to further strengthen transparency and integrity across Government.

This update covers activity made against the Government’s commitments in the Strategy during 2020. Activity in 2021 will be reported on in the Year 4 Update due to be presented next year.

The year 2020 has been dominated in so many ways by the covid-19 pandemic.

The challenging global environment has required the whole of Government to respond to the pandemic focused on public health. Whilst recognising 2020 was a challenging year, this update provides more details and highlights achievements which have gone beyond the original strategy commitments as well as an explanation for those off-track commitments.

The Government will continue to implement their strategy commitments to combat corruption and to promote integrity and transparency at home and overseas. There is still much work to do and it is important to recognise that a number of broader issues are considered as we look ahead. The Government will update Parliament on progress made in 2021 in the fourth annual update due next year and I am pleased also to announce that Government have started to develop the successor to the strategy which expires at the end of 2022. In addition, a policy statement in response to the “Upholding Standards in Public Life” report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life and the review into the development and use of supply chain finance in Government by Nigel Boardman will be published in due course, in the new year. Alongside this the Government will be providing an update to its work to reform the business appointment rules.

I have written to the devolved Administrations as the update is of direct interest to them.

Finally, I would also like to thank the ongoing work of the Prime Minister’s anti-corruption champion, my hon. Friend the Member for Weston-super-Mare (John Penrose), throughout this period.

A copy of the update will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and also published on gov.uk.

[HCWS500]

Home Office Delivery 2021

Today I am updating Parliament on Home Office delivery over the last 12 months.

Dealing with the effects of covid-19 has been a challenge for the entire country, but it has also brought out the best of us as communities stepped up to deal with those challenges. Few have played a more important role than our emergency service workers and I put on record my particular thanks to the police officers and firefighters who have continued selflessly to serve the public in sometimes trying circumstances, as well as all Home Office staff and Border Force officers who have played their part in the fight against covid-19.

Despite covid-19, the Home Office has continued to deliver on the people’s priorities and as we recover from the pandemic, we will continue to build back safer in 2022.

Cutting crime and law enforcement

We are delivering our manifesto commitment for new police officer recruitment, having recruited more than 11,000 of the 20,000 new police officers we have pledged for England and Wales to help cut crime and protect our communities. Every region in the country has more police officers keeping our streets and communities safer day and night—both beating crime and preventing crime.

The College of Policing has continued to connect all those working in the police and law enforcement, with the chair of its board, Lord Herbert of South Downs, launching a fundamental review of the College’s work. This is important if we are to ensure that it continues to meet its potential and that its work and role within policing is valued across the service.

We have published several landmark strategies on the safety and security of our nation.

Our beating crime plan establishes how the Government will ensure the public is better protected across all parts of the country, with each neighbourhood having contactable, named police officers who know their area and are best placed to ensure that persistent crime and antisocial behaviour is tackled.

Our tackling violence against women and girls strategy set out plans to increase support for victims and survivors, increase the number of perpetrators brought to justice and reduce the prevalence of violence against women and girls in the long term. The need for the strategy became all the more stark following the tragic murder of Sarah Everard and immediate measures taken included the creation of the new online tool “StreetSafe”. This provides women and girls with a way to anonymously and quickly pinpoint areas where they have felt unsafe and say why—an innovative crime prevention tool. The appointment in September of Deputy Chief Constable Maggie Blyth as the national police lead for violence against women and girls means that police action in this vital area is now being co-ordinated across England and Wales.

In June we published the end-to-end rape review report on findings and actions, in which we committed to deliver lasting improvements to the way we investigate and prosecute rape so that victims are properly supported and they—and the public—can have confidence that perpetrators of this sickening crime will feel the full force of the law.

The Domestic Abuse Act, which gained Royal Assent this year, provides for the first time in history a wide-ranging legal definition of domestic abuse and delivers important new protections and support for victims, such as ensuring that abusers can no longer directly cross-examine their victims in the family and civil courts. It also gives police new powers, including domestic abuse protection notices which provide victims with immediate protection from abusers.

We also published our tackling child sexual abuse strategy—a first-of-its-kind national strategy to protect children from all forms of child sexual abuse in which we set out how the Government will use new legislation and enhanced technology to stop offenders in their tracks and bring the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to justice.

We have also enhanced our work tackling the scourge of drugs with a new cross-Government 10-year strategy which includes pursuing and closing down the ruthless gangs who exploit and threaten the most vulnerable in society for financial gain through the illegal drugs trade. We have already closed down 1,500 county lines and this new crackdown aims to dismantle a further 2,000, as we seek to continue driving down crime and delivering safer streets for all.

During the course of this year, we have also expanded Project ADDER, the programme which seeks to ensure that more drug users get effective treatment, with enhanced treatment and recovery provision. Its overarching aim is to reduce drug-related deaths, reduce drug-related offending and reduce the prevalence of drug use while disrupting high-harm criminals and networks involved in the supply and importation of drugs. Having launched the programme in January 2021 in Blackpool, Hastings, Middlesbrough, Norwich and Swansea Bay, in July 2021 it expanded to take in Bristol, Newcastle, Wakefield, the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Hackney, and three local authorities in Liverpool city region.

Meanwhile, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill—legislation to restore confidence in the criminal justice system—is approaching its concluding stages in the House of Lords. Once enacted, this will give our police officers more of the powers and tools they need to keep themselves and all of us safe, while introducing tougher sentencing for the worst offenders and ending automatic halfway release from prison for serious crimes. Following recent antisocial protests which have caused misery and disruption for countless road users and citizens going about their lawful business, the legislation will give the police the power to stop and search people in order to seize items such as glue and chains intended to cause serious disruption by “locking-on”. It will also introduce mandatory life sentences for those who kill an emergency worker in the course of their duty.

Following the mass shooting in Plymouth in August, a review of police firearms licensing procedures was completed, including a review of licences which had been surrendered, seized, revoked or refused, only then to be returned following further checks or appeals. Following this review, eight of these returned licences were either re-surrendered or revoked, providing further reassurance to the public that their safety remains our priority.

We have also continued to establish what needs to be done to protect people from being exposed to harmful content online, whether that be publishing incitement to terrorism or images of the sexual abuse of children. I will continue to hold technology companies to account for the harmful content they host on their platforms and if they neglect public safety when designing products; and in due course our Online Safety Bill will place on those technology companies a binding duty of care to their users—and end-to-end encryption will not release them from that duty. This is fundamental to ensuring public safety and keeping people safe from evil.

Figures published last month show a 14% decrease in total crime (excluding fraud and computer misuse) across England and Wales for the year ending June 2021, compared with the year ending June 2019. This includes an 11% decrease in the number of homicides, a 6% decrease in the number of police recorded offences involving firearms and an 8% decrease in offences involving knives or sharp instruments.

Controlling our borders

Following the UK’s exit from the European Union we have been able to take back control of our borders by ending free movement and introducing our new points-based immigration system, which has now been in operation for over a year. We have also created new routes to attract the most talented and highly-skilled workers and global leaders in their fields to the UK.

These include the graduate route, which will allow talented international graduates who have been awarded their degree from a UK university to stay in the UK and work, or look for work, at any skill level for at least two years, and the new fast-track international sportsperson route, which will make it easier for professional athletes across sports to work in the country.

Additionally, we have improved the employer sponsorship system to enable UK businesses and educational institutions to become sponsors and attract global talent faster, while adding more illustrious prizes to the global talent visa, making it simpler for more of the world’s most gifted minds to come to the country.

We have also created an immigration route for British nationals overseas status holders in Hong Kong, reflecting our historic and moral commitment to the people of Hong Kong who have had their rights and freedoms restricted. As of 30 September, since the route launched on 31 January 2021 there had been 67,300 applications with 57,300 successful grants.

Recognising the considerable public concerns about illegal migration, the Nationality and Borders Bill is a critical piece of legislation whose aim is to deter illegal entry into the UK and reduce the pull factors. It was given its Third Reading in the House of Commons by a majority of 67 earlier this month.

This legislation will deliver long-overdue reform to our broken asylum and immigration system and will be critical in making unviable the business model of the people smugglers who threaten the lives of every person from whom they take money to then place in unseaworthy vessels to cross the English channel.

Once enacted, this legislation will: make the system fairer and more effective so that we can better protect and support those in genuine need of asylum; deter illegal entry into the UK and save lives by breaking the business model of those criminal trafficking networks; and remove from the UK those with no right to be here.

We have also continued to work closely with our international partners on tackling this shared problem emanating from the global migration crisis and specifically signed a new agreement with the French Government to strengthen UK-France co-operation on tackling illegal immigration across the channel.

The tireless work of the National Crime Agency tackling organised immigration crime has also played an important role in helping bring to justice people smugglers, having been involved in more than 140 arrests in the first 11 months of this year and with around 50 ongoing investigations linked to organised immigration crime. (The NCA has also played a critical role in other areas, such as keeping children safe online throughout the pandemic and disrupting high-risk offenders.)

We have also signed a new agreement with the Albanian Government to remove Albanian nationals who have no right to be in the UK, and established a new migration and mobility partnership with the Indian Government, supporting people coming to the UK through legal routes, while stopping the abuse of the system and speeding up the removal of those who have no right to be in the UK.

Protecting the homeland

Most of the work of our counter-terrorism police and security agencies is done out of public sight for good reasons, but they play an essential role in keeping the public safe.

They constantly review where threats exist and take the necessary action to clamp down on those with malign intent. To that end, this year Parliament has proscribed the entirety of Hamas, the militant Islamist terrorist movement, as a terrorist organisation, as well as Atomwaffen Division and The Base, predominantly US-based white supremacist groups.

During the year, the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act received Royal Assent, further protecting the public by completely ending the prospect of early release for anyone convicted of a serious terror offence and forcing them to spend their whole term in jail. It also enhances the tools available to counter-terrorism police and the security services to manage the risk posed by terrorist offenders and individuals of concern outside of custody.

The Covert Human Intelligence Sources Act was also given Royal Assent, providing a clear and consistent statutory basis so that our intelligence and enforcement agencies and public bodies have the right tools to keep us safe. This longstanding critical capability supports the work of undercover agents in preventing and safeguarding victims from serious crimes, including terrorism, by ensuring they can gain the trust of those under investigation.

This year also saw the unveiling of the first elements of the new counter-terrorism operations centre in London, including a cutting-edge counter-terrorism operations suite which is now fully operational and helping to keep the public safe.

During the summer, the Home Office stepped up to help in the evacuation of people from Kabul airport—the largest evacuation mission undertaken since the second world war, which involved getting more than 16,000 people out of the Afghan capital. The Home Office’s dual priorities during this evacuation were to save as many lives as possible while keeping the British public safe and I am very proud of all who worked on that immense response.

Likewise, I was proud of all the Home Office teams, police and our partner agencies who were involved in safely delivering the COP26 conference in Glasgow in November—the largest international event the UK has hosted since the 2012 Olympics—as well as the G7 summit earlier this year. UKVI staff and Border Force officers efficiently processed and welcomed tens of thousands of visiting delegates from around the world; meanwhile, police officers from across the UK and our security agencies kept attendees and the public safe throughout—as they do without fanfare across the UK every day of the year. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

International engagement

In September I chaired the G7 Interior Ministers in London, showing how the UK is taking a lead on the international stage in the spheres of counter-terrorism and illegal migration, as well as tackling child sexual abuse and exploitation online. We agreed to work together to take action to prevent and combat violent extremism and terrorism; to protect people against harms enabled or exacerbated by the internet; to ensure security is not undermined by the threat of serious and organised crime; to support global action to confront emerging issues for national and border security; and to strengthen international action against corruption and kleptocracies.

Throughout the year I and ministerial colleagues have engaged with numerous counterparts from around the world. In November I visited Washington, where I met with senior members of the US administration, and it was agreed that the UK and US security services will undertake joint work to further strengthen the vital counter-terrorism relationship between our two nations.

EU settlement scheme

Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, a considerable number of our EU friends and neighbours decided to make the UK their home and secure the status to which they are entitled through the hugely successful EU settlement scheme. By the end of November 2021, more than 6.3 million applications had been received, with over 5.9 million (94%) applications concluded. We have continued to work as quickly as possible to conclude applications, as well as supporting people with late applications, and the scheme remains opens indefinitely for late applications.

Windrush

Finally, this year, we have continued to put right the wrongs suffered by the Windrush generation under successive Governments. Following the overhaul of the compensation scheme I announced in December 2020, it is now easier for people to get higher payments more quickly, and as a result of my changes, more than £38 million has been paid or offered in compensation.

We simplified the application process, including changes to the primary claim form, designed in consultation with stakeholders, to make it easier to complete and easier for caseworkers to process; and for those who need support, we have funded an organisation to provide free, independent claimant assistance to individuals for the duration of the scheme.

We have also worked at pace to implement the recommendations of the Windrush lessons learned review, with Wendy Williams having recently returned to the Home Office to undertake a progress review on delivery of her recommendations.

[HCWS511]

Work and Pensions

Disability Workforce Reporting Consultation

Today the Government are publishing their consultation on disability workforce reporting, as announced in the national disability strategy.

Our strategy, published in July 2021, set out over 100 wide-ranging practical actions to improve the everyday lives of disabled people. The strategy focuses on the issues that disabled people have told us matter most to them.

Supportive workplaces, where disabled people feel valued and able to be open about any additional needs, are vital to driving progress. It is also important that employers have the information required to create inclusive workplaces.

Through this consultation we will build an evidence base to better understand:

current reporting practices, and what works well

the case for and against implementing a mandatory approach to reporting

how a mandated approach to reporting, if adopted, might be implemented in practice

if there are alternative approaches that could also be taken to enhance transparency and increase inclusive practices.

I would encourage Members to make constituents and networks aware of the consultation, and to respond before the closing date on 25 March 2022.

I will deposit a copy of the consultation in the Libraries of both Houses and publishing it online at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/disability-workforce-reporting.

[HCWS498]