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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
01 March 2017
Volume 622

Written Statements

Wednesday 1 March 2017

Treasury

Public Service Pension Indexation and Revaluation 2017

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Legislation governing public service pensions requires them to be increased annually by the same percentage as additional pensions (state earnings-related pension and state second pension). Public service pensions will therefore be increased from 10 April 2017 by 1%, in line with the annual increase in the consumer prices index up to September 2016, except for those public service pensions which have been in payment for less than a year, which will receive a pro rata increase.

Separately, in the new career average public service pension schemes, pensions in accrual are revalued annually in relation to either prices or earnings depending on the terms specified in their scheme regulations. The Public Service Pensions Act 2013 requires Her Majesty’s Treasury to specify a measure of prices and of earnings to be used for revaluation by these schemes.

The prices measure is the consumer prices index up to September 2016. Public service schemes which rely on a measure of prices, therefore, will use the figure of 1% for the prices element of revaluation.

The earnings measure is the whole economy average weekly earnings (non-seasonally adjusted and including bonuses and arrears) up to September 2016. Public service schemes which rely on a measure of earnings, therefore, will use the figure of 2.6% for the earnings element of revaluation.

Revaluation is one part of the amount of pension that members earn in a year and needs to be considered in conjunction with the amount of in-year accrual. Typically, schemes with lower revaluation will have faster accrual and therefore members will earn more pension per year. The following list shows how the main public service schemes will be affected by revaluation:

Scheme

Police

Fire

Civil service

NHS

Teachers

LGPS

Armed forces

Judicial

Revaluation for active member

2.25%

2.6%

1%

2.5%

2.6%

1%

2.6%

1%

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Culture, Media and Sport

UK Digital Strategy

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I am delighted to announce the publication of the UK digital strategy. The strategy is being deposited in the Library and is available online at: www.gov.uk/ukdigitalstrategy.

The UK has a proud history of digital innovation: from the earliest days of computing to the development of artificial intelligence, the UK has been a cradle for inventions which have changed the world. Today, this history translates into a world-leading digital economy. The digital sector contributed £118 billion to the economy and employed over 1.4 million people across the UK in 2015. The digital economy is growing fast and digital technology is transforming every sector and all aspects of our lives.

Our digital strategy applies the principles outlined in the industrial strategy green paper to the digital economy and develops them further. It sets out our vision of a world-leading digital economy for everyone, with the benefits and opportunities spread across every region and every community.

The digital strategy is formed of seven strands, each underpinned by bold ambitions: no part of the country or group in society should be without adequate connectivity; everyone should develop the skills they need to participate in the digital economy and help all businesses harness the productivity benefits of digital innovation; making the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business; for the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online; maintaining the UK Government as the world’s leader in serving its citizens online; and to unlock the power of data and improving public confidence in their use.

Overall, industry has come forward with over 4 million training places to ensure more people can get the digital skills they need. This is the start of an ongoing conversation and relationship between the digital sectors and Government: as we develop our industrial and digital strategies, we will build on that conversation. To facilitate this, we will work with the tech community and others to support the growth of the UK digital economy. By working together and putting each of the elements of this strategy in place, I believe we will cement our position as a world-leading digital economy and ensure it works for everyone.

[HCWS508]

Education

Sex and Relationships Education

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I am today announcing my intention to put relationships and sex education on a statutory footing, so every child has access to age-appropriate provision, in a consistent way. I am also announcing my intention to take a power that will enable me to make PSHE statutory in future, following further departmental work and consultation on subject content.

The amendments that the Government will table to the Children and Social Work Bill place a duty on the Secretary of State for Education to make regulations requiring:

All primary schools in England to teach age-appropriate “relationships education”; and

All secondary schools in England to teach age-appropriate “relationships and sex education”

The amendments also create a power enabling the Government to make regulations requiring PSHE to be taught in academies and maintained schools—it is already compulsory in independent schools. By creating a power on PSHE, we are allowing time to consider what the right fit of this subject is with relationships education and relationships and sex education.

The statutory guidance for sex and relationships education was introduced in 2000 and is becoming increasingly outdated. It fails to address risks to children that have grown in prevalence over the last 17 years, including cyber bullying, “sexting” and staying safe online.

Parents will continue to have a right to withdraw their children from sex education. Schools will have flexibility over how they deliver these subjects, so they can develop an integrated approach that is sensitive to the needs of the local community; and, as now, faith schools will continue to be able to teach in accordance with the tenets of their faith.

The Department for Education will lead a comprehensive programme of engagement to set out age-appropriate subject content and identify the support schools need to deliver high-quality teaching. Regulations and statutory guidance will then be subject to full public consultation before being laid subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. In line with this timetable, schools will be required to teach this content from September 2019. My Department will today publish a policy statement, which sets out more detail.

Copies of the Government amendment to the CSW Bill and the policy statement will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS509]

Transport

Rail Franchising

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Today the Department for Transport has announced that the following companies have successfully pre-qualified to bid in the competition for the East Midlands franchise, to run rail passenger services from November 2018:

Arriva Rail East Midlands Limited a wholly owned subsidiary of Arriva UK Trains Limited;

First Trenitalia East Midlands Rail Limited, a joint venture company wholly owned by First Rail Holdings Limited and Trenitalia UK Limited; and

Stagecoach East Midlands Trains Limited a wholly owned subsidiary of Stagecoach Transport Holdings Limited.

In order to pass the pre-qualification evaluation each of the prospective bidders had to demonstrate that they have the financial strength, safety and operational experience to run this important franchise. This announcement marks another key milestone in the rail franchising programme and is the next step in delivering real benefits for the passengers along the East Midlands routes.

In due course, once the invitation to tender has been issued, the bidders will be required to submit plans to demonstrate how they will deliver the enhancements for passengers using the East Midland services.

The Department will evaluate the submitted bids to determine passenger benefits, deliverability, and value for money.

As for all rail franchise competitions, and as is consistent with the Secretary of State’s duty, the Department will ensure that alternative plans are in place for the continued running of passenger services in the event that the Department determines that the bids would not provide services in the most efficient or economic manner.

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