Tuesday 21 March 2017
Communities and Local Government
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
In February 2015, the Government appointed five commissioners to exercise all executive functions and some non-executive functions at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. It followed critical reports by Baroness Alexis Jay and Dame Louise Casey, which found significant failings at the council contributing to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.
On 9 February 2017, I announced my intention, after careful consideration of the recommendation of the commissioner team, to return six service areas to Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council—adult social care and the council’s partnership with the NHS, external partnerships, economic growth, town centre, grounds maintenance and audit. On the same day, representations were invited from the authority regarding this intention. I have now considered the representations, including from the leader and the chief executive, and I am satisfied that the council is now able to exercise functions relating to these service areas in compliance with the best value duty, and that the people of Rotherham can have confidence that this will be the case.
The leader and the chief executive also made representations for the return of the power to appoint council representatives to external bodies. The return of this power was also recommended by the lead commissioner in his letter of 10 February. I am also satisfied that the council is able to exercise this function in accordance with the best value duty.
Therefore, today I am exercising my powers under section 15 of the Local Government Act 1999 to return seven functions to the council. The Education Secretary and I have issued further directions amending the directions issued on 13 December 2016 to do so. Handing back these powers increases democratic control and is a significant milestone for the council, which has demonstrated steady progress in its improvement journey.
With effect from 21 March, councillors will be responsible for decision making in these seven areas. The commissioners will continue to provide oversight on these areas as well as the set of functions returned last year and ensure that they are exercised in accordance with the statutory best value duty. Commissioners also continue to retain powers in additional service areas including children’s services (including all services relating to child sexual exploitation) as well as the appointment of statutory officers.
Sir Derek Myers, the lead commissioner, will also be stepping down at the end of this month having overseen the return of three quarters of services areas to the council over a two year period. I am grateful for the leadership he has shown in taking a failing authority in hand, and steering it through a rapid and wide-ranging improvement journey. As there is now a reduced role for commissioners, I will not be appointing any additional commissioners. Commissioner Ney will become Rotherham’s lead commissioner with effect from 1 April 2017.
NHS England: Mandate 2017-18
I have laid before Parliament the Government’s mandate to NHS England for 2017-18, in accordance with the Health and Social Care Act 2012. This outlines our objectives for NHS England and sets direction for the NHS as a whole. It also confirms NHS England’s budget for the coming year, including a 1.4% real-terms increase.
NHS England is responsible for arranging the provision of health services in England. Building on the current multi-year mandate, which came into effect on 1 April 2016 and set long-term objectives and goals to 2020, the renewed mandate focuses on the same seven high-level objectives:
to improve local and national health outcomes, and reduce health inequalities, through better commissioning;
to help create the safest, highest quality health and care service;
to balance the NHS budget and improve efficiency and productivity;
to lead a step change in the NHS in preventing ill health and supporting people to live healthier lives;
to improve and maintain performance against core standards;
to improve out-of-hospital care; and
to support research, innovation and growth.
The mandate sets out the key annual deliverables in each area to achieve the 2020 goals.
The Government continue to support the NHS’s own five year forward view blueprint for transforming services to respond to the challenges of the future. The Government have committed to a £10 billion increase, over and above inflation, in NHS funding by 2020-21. In parallel, it is vital that the NHS delivers the productivity and efficiency gains set out in the five year forward view to live within its means and that NHS England ensures financial balance in the NHS, alongside NHS Improvement.
Core to the mandate is delivery of the NHS’s A&E turnaround plan to return the majority of trusts to the 95% standard by the end of the financial year. This will require close working with local authorities to reduce delayed discharges from hospital, following the Government’s injection of additional funding for social care in the spring Budget 2017; rolling out new models for urgent and emergency care to ensure patients receive care in the safest and most appropriate setting; and streamlining governance and oversight of A&E across NHS England and NHS Improvement.
The Government are investing more in mental health than ever before to support delivery of the ambitious goal, set out in the mandate, of 1 million more people with mental health conditions to access services by 2020. This includes embedding the first ever access and waiting times standards for talking therapies, eating disorders and early intervention in psychosis; and developing and implementing a five-year improvement plan for crisis and acute care.
The five year forward view set an ambitious vision for transforming out-of-hospital care for patients, including improving access to general practice; greater integration of primary, community and social care to provide personalised care for patients; rolling out new models of care across the population; and achieving early diagnosis, service and improved outcomes for cancer patients.
In the coming weeks, NHS England will set out its plan for delivering the five year forward view, which will summarise progress to date and set out a plan for future delivery, including the next stage of development for sustainability and transformation plan footprints and progress towards establishing accountable care organisations: 2017-18 should be the year in which we see concrete progress on these local sustainability and transformation plans, with NHS England supporting local leaders to drive improvement in outcomes. As part of this effort, the Government have already made £325 million of capital funding available for the best STPs over the next three years. In the autumn a further round of local proposals will be considered.
We are also laying before Parliament today a revised mandate for 2016-17 to take account of changes to NHS England’s budget, including for primary care transformation funding and the move to market rents by NHS Property Services.
Copies of the 2017-18 mandate and revised 2016-17 mandate can be viewed online as attachments at:
Additional Airline Security
Today the Government announced there will be changes to aviation security measures for selected inbound flights to the United Kingdom. The House will be aware that the United States Government made a similar announcement earlier today regarding flights to the United States and we have been in close contact with them to fully understand their position.
In conjunction with our international partners and the aviation industry, the UK Government keep aviation security under constant review. The UK has some of the most robust aviation security measures in the world, and at all times the safety and security of the public is our primary concern. We will not hesitate to put in place measures we believe are necessary, effective and proportionate.
Under the new arrangements, phones, laptops and tablets larger than length 16.0 cm, width 9.3 cm and depth 1.5 cm will not be allowed in the cabin on selected flights to the UK from the countries affected. Most smartphones fall within these limits and will continue to be allowed on board. However, devices larger than these dimensions may not be carried in the cabin. This is in addition to other existing security arrangements. This will apply to inbound flights to the UK from the following locations: Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia.
Passengers are therefore advised to check online with their airline for further details.
We understand the frustration that these measures may cause and we are working with the aviation industry to minimise any impact. Our top priority will always be to maintain the safety of British nationals. These new measures apply to flights into the UK and we are not currently advising against flying to and from those countries. Those with imminent travel plans should contact their airline for further information. More information can be found on the Department for Transport website and the travelling public should consult the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel advice pages on gov.uk.
I know the House will recognise that we face a constantly evolving threat from terrorism and must respond accordingly to ensure the protection of the public against those who would do us harm. The update we are making to our security measures is an important part of that process.
We remain open for business. People should continue to fly and comply with security procedures.