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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
27 March 2018
Volume 638

Written Statements

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Companies House Public Targets: 2018-19

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My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Henley) has made the following statement:

I have set Companies House the following targets for the year 2018-19:

Public targets

Ensure our digital services are available 99.9% of the time.

Ensure no vacancy within the digital area remains unfilled for more than three months.

Provide a digital service for the filing of small full accounts.

Achieve a digital take-up rate of 40% for filings for voluntary dissolution.

Ensure that 97% of companies have an up-to-date confirmation statement.

Respond to 95% of complaints about information on people with Significant Control (PSC) within 10 days.

Achieve a customer satisfaction rate of 88%.

Reduce the cost of our business activities by 3.5%.

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Treasury

Decommissioning Relief Deeds

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At Budget 2013, the Government announced it would begin signing decommissioning relief deeds. These deeds represent a new contractual approach to provide oil and gas companies with certainty on the level of tax relief they will receive on future decommissioning costs.

Since October 2013, the Government have entered into 86 decommissioning relief deeds.

Oil and Gas UK estimates that these deeds have so far unlocked more than £5.7 billion of capital, which can now be invested elsewhere. In compiling this estimate, Oil and Gas UK discovered a clerical error in their previous estimate. As a correction, the figure reported for 2015-16 should have read £5.5 billion. Independent checks have been made to ensure the error has not been repeated.

The Government committed to report to Parliament every year on progress with the deeds. The report for financial year 2016-17 is provided below.

Number of decommissioning relief agreements entered into: the Government entered into 11 decommissioning relief agreements in 2016-17.

Total number of decommissioning relief agreements in force at the end of that year: 83 decommissioning relief agreements were in force at the end of the year.

Number of payments made under any decommissioning relief agreements during that year, and the amount of each payment: two payments were made under a decommissioning relief agreement in 2016-17, totalling £5.4 million. These were made in relation to the provision recognised by HM Treasury in 2015, as a result of a company defaulting on their decommissioning obligations.

Total number of payments that have been made under any decommissioning relief agreements as at the end of that year, and the total amount of those payments: two payments have been made under any decommissioning relief agreement as at the end of the 2016-17 financial year, totalling £5.4 million.

Estimate of the maximum amount liable to be paid under any decommissioning relief agreements: the Government have not made any changes to the tax regime that would generate a liability to be paid under any decommissioning relief agreements. HM Treasury’s 2015-16 accounts recognise a provision of an aggregate £327 million in respect of decommissioning expenditure incurred as a result of a company defaulting on their decommissioning obligations. The majority of this is expected to be realised over the next five years.

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Exiting the European Union

General Affairs Council

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Lord Callanan, Minister of State for Exiting the European Union, has made the following statement:

I represented the UK at the General Affairs Council (GAC) meeting in Brussels on Tuesday 20 March. The main items on the agenda were preparations for March European Council on 22 March and the European semester. Under any other business, the Commission provided an update on its dialogue with the Polish authorities over the rule of law in Poland.

A provisional report of the meeting and the conclusions adopted can be found on the Council of the European Union’s website at:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/gac/2018/03/20.

Preparation of the European Council on 22 March 2018

Ministers discussed draft council conclusions ahead of March European Council, which included: jobs, growth and competitiveness: trade; taxation; and external relations.

On jobs, growth and competitiveness, I supported calls for further ambition on the Single Market and Digital Single Market. Ministers also discussed climate action, social and economic issues and preparation for the EU-Western Balkans summit in May.

Discussions on trade focused primarily on recent US announcements on tariffs on steel and aluminium.

Deliberations on external relations included Turkey and the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury on 4 March. I thanked member states for the solidarity and support shown and welcomed the inclusion of this item on the agenda at the March European Council. I informed Ministers that, at our invitation, experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had arrived in the UK on 19 March. I also called for a strong leader level statement which was clear on attribution and on building collective resilience.

European semester

The Commission updated Ministers on its ongoing dialogue with Poland regarding the rule of law and the triggering of Article 7 (1) of the Treaty of the European Union. Poland confirmed that it would submit its response to the Commission on 20 March. I intervened to stress the importance of continued dialogue between Poland and the Commission, with the best solution being one that is mutually agreed between them. I emphasised that the UK would not want to prejudge the outcome of that process. I reiterated that the UK places great importance on respect for the rule of law while recognising constitutional arrangements are primarily a matter for national governments, within the framework of international norms.

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Health and Social Care

Maternity Safety

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I am today announcing steps towards ensuring that the majority of women will receive care from the same small team of midwives throughout their pregnancy, labour and birth by 2021, starting with 20% of women benefiting from a ‘continuity of carer’ model by March 2019.

Women who have continuity of carer are 19% less likely to miscarry, 16% less likely to lose their baby and 24% less likely to have a premature baby.

To support this, the Department of Health and Social Care is planning the largest ever increase in NHS midwives and maternity support staff, 650 new training places for midwives in 2019—a 25% increase. We will continue to work with universities and the NHS to create even more training places in subsequent years to fill the gap of 3,000 midwives.

Other key parts of the announcement include:

Professionalising the maternity support worker role by developing a nationally defined role and national competency frameworks for maternity support workers together with a voluntary accreditation register.

Working with our key partners including the Royal College of Midwives, to identify better and clearer pathways for staff to progress and to develop new training routes to become a registered midwife.

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Paterson Inquiry

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On 7 December 2017 the hon. Member for Ludlow (Philip Dunne), then the Minister of State for Health, announced an independent, non-statutory Inquiry, under the Chairmanship of the Right Reverend Graham James, Lord Bishop of Norwich into the circumstances and practices surrounding the former breast surgeon Ian Paterson, who was convicted in April 2017 of wounding with intent and unlawful wounding.

Since then the Bishop has worked with affected families to ensure their views are taken into account in shaping the terms of reference.

Today, I can announce the terms of reference for the inquiry, which will report in summer 2019.

The remit of the independent, non-statutory Paterson Inquiry will be to:

Examine and seek to learn from what happened to former patients of Ian Paterson, both in the independent sector and in the NHS informed by their experiences and concerns; and

Review the circumstances and practices surrounding Ian Paterson as a case study, and consider other past and current practices, so as to draw conclusions in relation to the safety and quality of care provided nationally to all patients.

The inquiry will consider issues raised in previous relevant reports about Ian Paterson, but does not intend to revisit the evidence that led to his conviction.

A central objective of the inquiry is to afford former patients of Ian Paterson and their families an opportunity to tell of their experiences and to be heard.

The inquiry will aim to report its conclusions and recommendations by summer 2019. It will publish its report and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care will make arrangements for its presentation to Parliament.

This announcement marks the beginning of the important work of the inquiry in listening to the experiences of former patients and gathering other evidence to ensure that the independent healthcare sector and the NHS are able to learn the lessons from Ian Paterson’s appalling malpractice that has taken or damaged the lives of so many people who invested their trust in him.

It can also be viewed with the Terms of Reference at: http://www.parliament.uk/writtenstatements.

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Housing, Communities and Local Government

Troubled Families: Update

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As required by the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, section 3(1), my Ministry has published the second annual report, setting out how the Troubled Families Programme (2015-2020) has been supporting disadvantaged families. We are laying this report today, and are placing a copy in the House Library.

This notice details what the report covers, for the period up to the end of March 2018, as well as for the next financial year, including setting out which families are eligible for the programme and how the progress of families will be measured.

“Supporting disadvantaged families, annual report of the Troubled Families Programme 2017-18” details how the programme is working with families as a whole to provide the stability and practical support they need to overcome complicated problems including ‘worklessness’, uncontrolled debt and truancy.

This programme of whole family working has achieved significant progress over the past 12 months with:

more than 90,000 families having met the improvement goals agreed with local services against each of their agreed ‘headline’ problems. This is up more than 48,000 on the previous year;

almost 14,000 of these families where progress has been achieved, one or more adult has succeeded in moving into continuous employment, an increase of over 4,800 since last year; and

reduced demand on children’s social care services. The programme’s focus on preventative services is starting to show positive results with families getting the type of help they most need, so lowering the number of cases for example that need to be escalated to costly children’s social care.

Rather than responding to each problem or single family member separately, and merely reacting to crises assigned Troubled Families keyworkers champion working with the whole family so that they receive support from co-ordinated services working together to identify and solve their problems as early as possible.

Since the current programme began in 2015, local authorities and their partners have worked with 289,809 eligible families. This compares with only 2,000 families who had received whole family support in England between January 2006 and March 2010.

Following a review of the programme’s funding model, the report notes which local authorities will pilot a new payment model, named “Earned Autonomy”, whereby upfront payments will be given to areas to accelerate ambitious plans for service reform.

Families classed as ‘relevant households’ on the programme, as defined by section 3 of the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, have at least two of the following problems:

parents or children involved in crime or anti-social behaviour;

children who are not attending school regularly;

children who need help; that is children of all ages who need help, are identified as in need or are subject to a child protection plan;

adults out of work or at risk of financial exclusion or young people at risk of worklessness;

families affected by domestic violence and abuse;

parents or children with a range of physical and mental health problems.

The rationale for these eligibility criteria and an explanation of the way in which local authorities should identify families using a range of indicators, suggested referral routes and information sources were set out in the refreshed version of the Financial Framework, published on 8 December 2017. The Financial Framework also sets out how the progress of families supported will be measured.

As the Troubled Families Programme enters its final two years, we will continue to drive forward changes to services which secure positive and lasting outcomes for families. We will continue developing a robust cost benefit analysis to show the savings to the public purse.

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