Monday 17 December 2018
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Good Work Plan and Labour Market Enforcement
Last year Matthew Taylor (Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts) published the review of modern working practices, following a commission from the Prime Minister. In February the Government responded to the review, accepting the vast majority of the recommendations. The Government also launched four consultations alongside the response, seeking views on the approach to implementing the review. We received over 400 detailed consultation responses which have been invaluable in informing our policy development.
The industrial strategy set out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK. Developing better jobs for everyone in the British economy is at the centre of the industrial strategy. Today the Government are publishing the Good Work Plan, setting out a vision for the future of the UK labour market and how the Government will implement the Taylor review recommendations.
As the industrial strategy set out, the world of work is changing rapidly, becoming more flexible and more connected. Never has it been more important for us to ensure the UK labour market is successful, competitive and ready to embrace the changes that come with technological advancements and the emergence of new business models. An essential part of achieving this is striking the right balance between flexibility and ensuring workers have the rights and protections they need. We also need to ensure that good employers in the UK are rewarded for their efforts, rather than being under-cut by a minority of irresponsible employers seeking ways to circumvent the law.
Today, we have also taken the important first step in implementing the Good Work Plan, bringing forward new legislation to provide further rights to workers and ban unfair practices.
I am proud to be the first Secretary of State to take responsibility for quality work and I have written to the Chair of the independent Industrial Strategy Council to ask for their views on the measures Government could use to measure quality of work in the UK. The Good Work Plan commits to a range of policy and legislative changes to ensure that workers can access fair and decent work, that both employers and workers have the clarity they need to understand their employment relationships, and that the enforcement system is fair and fit for purpose. This includes a commitment to legislate to tackle uncertainty around employment status.
Alongside the Good Work Plan today the Government are also publishing their response to the first full strategy from the Director of Labour Market Enforcement. Sir David Metcalf’s strategy was published on 9 May 2018 and made 37 recommendations on labour market enforcement and raising awareness of employment rights. The Government response accept the majority of the recommendations and sets out the steps the Government will take forward on raising awareness of employment rights, improving intelligence gathering of abuses and strengthening enforcement efforts.
The Home Secretary and I look forward to working with Sir David as the Government seek to implement the recommendations we have accepted and as he prepares to set clear strategic priorities in the 2019-20 Labour Market Enforcement strategy.
Copies of the Good Work Plan and the Government’s response to the Director of Labour Market Enforcement’s strategy will be placed in the Libraries of the House and available electronically on the www.gov.uk website.
Advance from the Contingencies Fund
The Cabinet Office has sought a repayable cash advance from the contingencies fund of £137,110,000.
The requirement has arisen because the Cabinet Office receives a relatively high proportion of its voted funding at supplementary estimate, and as a consequence may only draw the related cash from the consolidated fund after the Supply and Appropriation Act has received Royal Assent in March 2019.
The cash advance will pay for programmes which will generate Government-wide benefits or savings and are urgent in the public interest, including advancing EU exit objectives, public inquiries, security, efficient management of Government property and development of IT systems that will benefit the public.
Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £116,507,000 and capital of £20,603,000 will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the Cabinet Office. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £137,110,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the contingencies fund.
UK Statistics Authority
My right hon. Friend Lord Young of Cookham made the following written statement on Friday 14 November:
The twenty-second national census will be conducted in March 2021, across the United Kingdom. The 2021 Census is about collecting information to help build a country that works for everyone, and the results will reflect everyone in our society. To build a stronger, fairer and more caring society and to tackle injustices, we need reliable information on the number and characteristics of people and households to enable a wide range of services and future planning to be supported.
Correspondingly, Government are pleased to present to Parliament a White Paper “Help Shape our Future: The 2021 Census of Population and Housing in England and Wales” [Cm 9745], which sets out the UK Statistics Authority’s detailed proposals for the 2021 census in England and Wales. The Government propose that, subject to Parliamentary approval, the next census of population should be taken on 21 March 2021.
The Government rely on high quality data to make decisions which affect everyone in this country. The census is one of the key data collections where everyone will be able to have their say in 2021 about how they live so that decisions can be made to reflect the society of 2021 and beyond. The Government will use the information to inform policy, to plan public services to meet the needs of today’s society. Census data are also widely used by businesses, local authorities, health authorities, and others to help them plan their services.
The White Paper sets out the strategic aims for the census, explains the need for it, sets out the content and how it will be conducted and deals with matters of public interest such as data security and confidentiality. The White Paper also sets out the UK Statistics Authority’s proposals for the future of population statistics after 2021.
Following previous consultation, the White Paper proposes a new question on Armed Forces veterans which will give support to those who serve their country so well. There will also be new questions on sexual orientation and gender identity to reflect a 21st century society, although nobody will need to tell us their sexual orientation or gender identity if they do not want to. Ministers have decided the right not to respond to these latter two new questions should be made clear in legislation in due course, prior to the census taking place. This mirrors the legal approach taken in 2000 by Parliament when the question on religion was introduced in the 2001 census.
This White Paper sets out the proposals for a census in England and Wales in 2021. The proposed date for the census has been considered collectively across the three census offices in the UK (in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). The statistical offices of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are working together to ensure the production of harmonised statistics.
The UK Statistics Authority plans to hold a census rehearsal in October 2019. After consultation with the Welsh Ministers, the Government will lay before Parliament an Order in Council for approval in accordance with the Census Act 1920.
Copies of the White Paper are available from the Vote Office, on www.gov.uk, and have also been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The White Paper is also being presented to the National Assembly for Wales.
ECOFIN 4 December 2018
A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) was held in Brussels on 4 December 2018. The UK was represented by Mark Bowman (Director General, International Finance, HM Treasury). The Council discussed the following:
Early morning session
The Eurogroup President briefed the Council on the outcomes of the 3 December meeting of the Eurogroup, and the European Commission provided an update on the current economic situation in the EU. Following this, the Commission presented its forthcoming communication on the international role of the euro, and the Council held an exchange of views on the European Investment Bank.
Digital services tax
The Council held a policy debate on the proposal to establish an EU-wide digital services tax.
Strengthening of the banking union
The Council endorsed the results of the trilogue with regards to the banking package. The Austrian presidency then presented a progress report on the European deposit insurance scheme.
Current financial services legislative proposals
The Austrian presidency provided an update on current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.
Stability and growth pact
The Council noted the ongoing significant deviation procedures of Hungary and Romania under the stability and growth pact.
European semester 2019
The Commission presented the annual growth survey 2019, the alert mechanism report 2019 and its recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area.
The Commission presented the third progress report on implementation of the non-performing loans action plan.
Funding and Support for Schools and High Needs
Today, I am pleased to announce additional revenue funding in 2018-19 and 2019-20, and extra capital funding in 2019-20, to provide support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), as well as the 2019-20 dedicated schools grant (DSG) allocations to local authorities.
Our ambition for children with SEND is exactly the same as for every other child—to achieve well in school and college, find employment and go on to live happy and fulfilled lives. High needs funding has already risen by £1 billion, from £5 billion in 2013 to £6 billion this year. As part of our wide-ranging reforms to the SEND system in 2014, we introduced education, health and care (EHC) plans, to ensure that support is tailored to the needs of individuals, and families are put at the heart of the process. Already, more than 320,000 children and young people are benefiting from these.
Members from all sides of the House have raised concerns from schools, colleges and local authorities about the pressures on high needs budgets. I understand that these costs are rising, in particular the costs of special educational provision for those with more complex needs, funded from local authorities’ high needs budgets.
Today I am announcing a number of changes to start to address these pressures.
First, we will provide additional high needs funding allocations across all local authorities, of £125 million in each of 2018-19 and 2019-20. This brings the total allocated for high needs this year to £6.1 billion. This additional investment will help local councils to manage pressures and I have published the individual local authority allocations today.
Ensuring that there is sufficient capacity locally for pupils in mainstream and special schools, and for young people aged 16 and above, is a priority for this Government. As part of this, I am announcing a further £100 million top-up to the special provision capital fund in 2019-20 to take our total investment to £365 million across 2018-21. This additional funding will give more children access to a good school or college place that meets their individual needs. This could also pay for more state-of-the-art facilities, such as sensory rooms and specialist equipment.
We have also received 65 bids from local authorities identifying a need for new special and alternative provision free schools. We now anticipate that all those that fully meet the published criteria will be approved, even if the number of schools exceeds the 30 or so we had originally planned for.
Of course, extra funding cannot be our only response. I want to continue engaging with local authorities, health providers, families, schools and colleges to better understand what is driving the cost pressures on high needs budgets, and to work with the sector to help manage them. Therefore, today I am writing to all local authorities to outline our plans for supporting them in their role of providing strategic leadership and oversight of the provision for children and young people with SEND. While local authorities have this responsibility, I am clear that they cannot act alone in doing so.
To equip all areas to improve planning and commissioning we are establishing a SEND system leadership board focused on improving joint education, health and care commissioning, as recommended by Dame Christine Lenehan’s review into the experiences and outcomes of children in residential special schools and colleges. We are also establishing joint ministerial roundtables with the Department for Health and Social Care to give providers, users and voluntary sector organisations further opportunities to input their views and insight across the SEND system.
To support local authorities in carrying out their statutory EHC plan assessment process and to support schools and colleges in their work with families, I am announcing funding for training more educational psychologists (EPs). We will be funding three more cohorts of EP trainees, starting in September 2020; and will increase the number of trainees from 160 to at least 206, to reflect increased demand. Classroom teachers and those in training will also have a greater focus on supporting children with SEND, as the upcoming teacher recruitment and retention strategy will make sure all teachers are equipped with the knowledge and skills to meet the needs of all pupils.
My Department is also commissioning SEN Futures: a flagship package of long-term research and analysis to provide evidence on the impact of current SEN provision on children and young people’s outcomes, and to assess the value for money of SEN provision in England. Procurement for the first pieces of work in this programme has begun today.
In addition, in order better to understand the financial incentives that influence how schools, colleges and councils support children and young people with special educational needs, the Department for Education will be gathering more evidence early in 2019. This will include looking at the first £6,000 schools pay for special educational provision before accessing additional funding from local high needs budgets.
I recognise the rising demand for EHC plans for those over 19, and the need for education, health and social care services to agree a shared vision of what good life outcomes look like for an individual, and when it is right to cease an EHC plan. We have commissioned one of our delivery partners, the National Development Team for Inclusion to work with 20 local authorities to develop and model effective practice on this, and to share their findings across regions.
I also want to continue to ensure that services for young people with SEND effectively prepare them for adulthood, including employment: raising expectations and aspirations for young people, their parents, education providers and employers. My officials are working closely with the Department for Work and Pensions on this, and we are committed to finding ways to support more young people with SEND into sustainable employment. I want our wider reforms to post-16 education, including T-Levels, to be accessible to those with SEND and will continue to support close working between colleges, schools and local authorities to improve pathways to adulthood.
Today I am also confirming the school and early years funding allocations for 2019-20. This announcement covers the DSG and the Pupil Premium.
The distribution of the DSG to local authorities is set out in four blocks for each authority: a schools block, a high needs block, an early years block, and the central school services block.
In July 2018, we published the primary and secondary units of funding for the schools block, the provisional allocations for the high needs block and central school services block. These have been updated with the latest pupil numbers to show how much each local authority will receive in 2019-20.
The early years national funding formula rates for 3 and 4-year-olds for 2019-20 were published on 22 November, and today we have announced initial allocations for this block.
The pupil premium per pupil amounts will be protected at the current rates.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the resolution of the House following the Opposition day debate on school funding on 13 November.
Children only get one chance at a great education, which is why, as today’s announcement further demonstrates, this Government have prioritised and protected school spending—even while having to take difficult public spending decisions in other areas.
Across the board, standards are rising; in 2010, 66% of children were in good or outstanding schools—that is up to 84% now. While there is more money going into our schools than ever before, and we know from international studies that our school spending is in line with or above most comparable countries, we recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and that we are asking them to do more. That is why we have announced a school resource management strategy, setting out a wide range of practical support to help schools reduce their costs and make every pound count, while at the same time improving outcomes for pupils.
With the funding and support for schools and high needs announced today, I am confident that they will be able to continue to improve outcomes for all children and young people.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council
My noble Friend, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon), has made the following written statement:
On Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 December, I chaired the UK-Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council in London, the 20th such gathering of OT leaders. The Council was attended by elected leaders and representatives from Anguilla, Ascension Island, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St Helena, the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Tristan da Cunha and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The key themes of discussion at this year’s Council were preparations for the UK’s exit from the European Union; financial services, including beneficial ownership registers; future economic growth, focussing on trade and investment; the constitutional relationship with the UK; the Global Britain agenda; passport issues; safeguarding of vulnerable persons and natural disaster resilience management.
Ministerial colleagues from the Departments for International Development (The right hon. Lord Bates), Exiting the European Union (Robin Walker MP), International Trade (George Holingbery MP), Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Therese Coffey MP) and Her Majesty’s Treasury (The right hon. Mel Stride MP) attended the discussions, as did the Minister for the Constitution (Chloe Smith MP). I held bilateral meetings with territory leaders. The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (The right hon. Sir Alan Duncan, KCMG MP) met Members of the Falklands Islands Legislative Assembly.
The Council agreed priorities and set out a number of important commitments and areas for joint work in the year ahead.
We continued our dialogue on the implications for the overseas territories of the UK’s departure from the EU and reiterated our objective to achieve an outcome that works for all parts of the British family. We will seek to ensure the security and economic sustainability of the overseas territories is preserved and strengthened post- Brexit. We discussed how we can better promote the overseas territories as part of the global British family by using the GREAT campaign, bringing the richness and diversity of the territories to our shared international British brand. We reiterated the UK’s commitment to the OTs as a vital part of the British family, and discussed how to ensure the constitutional arrangements work effectively to promote the best interests of each individual territory and of the UK.
We welcomed the progress made by the overseas territories who are committed to implement recommendations made by the Code of Conduct Group, with the outcome that the territories would not be placed on the “tax blacklist”. We acknowledged that there have been huge challenges and have recognised the ongoing issues. We highlighted the importance of continued engagement with the EU Commission and underlined that the delivery of legislation is of paramount importance.
The press statement reflects the commitment of the Governments of the Overseas Territories and the UK to continue to work in partnership to achieve the vision set out in the June 2012 White Paper: The Overseas Territories: Security, Success and Sustainability.
In line with our commitment in the White Paper, we will continue to report to Parliament on progress by Government Departments.
A copy of the press statement has been published on the www.gov.uk website.
Justice and Home Affairs Council
The final meeting of EU Interior and Justice Ministers during the Austrian presidency took place on 6 and 7 December in Brussels. I represented the UK for Interior day. The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Hertfordshire (Mr Gauke), represented the UK on Justice day. Scottish Government Minister for Communities, Ash Denham MSP, also attended.
Interior day began with the Council agreeing a partial general approach on the amendments to European border and coast guard regulation. The presidency concluded that further discussion was needed on the numbers of border guards in the European border and coast guard standing corps, as well as in relation to issues of national sovereignty related to deployments. Member states also expressed concerns over aligning capacity with finances. The Immigration Minister did not intervene as the UK does not participate in this Schengen-building measure.
The Council also discussed the returns directive. Member states expressed significant differences of opinion on detention while a claim was processed and on clarity as to the risk of absconding. The Commission encouraged member states to finalise this file by the end of the legislature. The UK does not participate in this measure.
The Council then discussed the regulation on preventing terrorist use of the internet. Several member states were not able to support the text due to the regulation’s conflict with their own national constitutions and concerns on the balance between the removal of content and fundamental rights. Some member states sought further consideration of the measure. However, the presidency concluded support for a general approach, judging the proposal to be a good and responsible compromise text. The Immigration Minister intervened to support the general approach, emphasising the importance of this legislation in tackling terrorist content online. The presidency stated that it would seek to address various points of concern in future trilogue negotiations.
The Commission urged member states to finalise those proposals of the common European asylum reform package where agreement was in reach. However, in discussion over lunch, member states remained split on the issue of solidarity and burden sharing. The Immigration Minister intervened to emphasise the importance of the comprehensive approach to migration, and specifically on the issue of developing more sustainable general solutions to tackle migratory flows, including tackling the drivers of migration.
After lunch, the Council approved an action plan to tackle migrant smuggling.
The Council then discussed JHA priorities for the 2021-27 MFF. The EU JHA agencies set out their priorities. The UK did not intervene as these programmes will commence after the UK’s exit from the EU and the end of the envisaged implementation period. The UK will, therefore, not be participating in any future programmes as a member state.
On Justice day, the Council reached a general approach on the sale of goods directive. There was a wide divergence of views on the value of maximum harmonisation of law to set common contractual requirements for consumer purchases by consumers. The UK and other member states argued for the maintenance of member states’ flexibility to guarantee higher levels of consumer rights. Member states expressed desire to continue the discussion on this issue during the trilogues with the European Parliament.
The Council also reached a general approach on the recast of Brussels IIa regulation on family matters and parental responsibility. The Justice Secretary welcomed the text, as well as the presidency’s work to accommodate UK concerns on the hearing of the child. He also noted UK ambition for civil law co-operation after our EU exit, which elicited positive statements from member states not just on family co-operation, but across civil law, and on future security co-operation.
The Commission and the presidency noted progress on the assignment of claims directive at working level, which deals inter alia with the third-party effects on assignments of claims. Member states cautioned that the directive should be careful not to disrupt existing and functioning market systems.
The presidency, supported by the Commission, sought to reach a general approach on e-evidence, about law enforcement access to data held by communications service providers. A number of member states voiced strong opposition to the text on the basis that it did not adequately protect member states’ fundamental interests nor the fundamental rights of citizens.
The presidency concluded there was enough support for a general approach and the measure would proceed to trilogues where further discussions would aim to resolved other member states’ concerns.
The Commission indicated that they will finalise the draft negotiating mandates for the second additional protocol to the Budapest convention and for discussions with the US.
On data retention, the presidency updated on continuing working level discussions on the preservation of law enforcement capabilities and other public authority tools that would also meet the requirements of recent, stricter CJEU case law. The Commission noted that it would be difficult to restrict data retention to certain persons or geographic areas but nonetheless proposed to undertake additional targeted consultation. Member states called on the Commission to ensure continued attention to data retention in the future, noting likely developments in CJEU case law expected in 2019.
The Council adopted conclusions on mutual recognition, mutual trust and the principles underlying mutual recognition instruments such as the European arrest warrant. The Justice Secretary underlined UK commitment to future co-operation with the EU on this basis to enable continued joint working to tackle the challenges of transnational crime.
The Commission updated Ministers on significant progress made in answering points raised by the CJEU on EU accession to ECHR. It was agreed that amendments to the draft accession agreement would be strictly limited to what was required by the Court. The importance of accession was highlighted as a priority for the EU and its citizens and swift resolution encouraged.
Security Situation in Northern Ireland
This is the twelfth written statement to Parliament on the security situation in Northern Ireland since the Independent Monitoring Commission concluded its work in July 2011. It covers the security situation and threat from Northern Ireland related terrorism, rather than from international terrorism, which Members will be aware is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who updates the House separately.
In the 13 months since the last statement on Northern Ireland’s security situation, a small number of violent dissident republican terrorist groups have continued to pursue a campaign of violence. Violent dissident republican terrorists are relatively small, disparate groupings. They remain intent on killing and undermining the will of the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland who have repeatedly and consistently expressed their desire for peace. These groupings choose to pay no heed to this and continue to plan attacks with the purpose of murdering and maiming those who work on a daily basis to uphold the rule of law and protect the whole community. In attempting to impose their unwanted control on people across Northern Ireland, these groupings also choose to ignore democracy, principles that have been, and will continue to be, central to the political process in Northern Ireland.
In 2016, dissident republican terrorists murdered prison officer Adrian Ismay while in 2017 they again demonstrated their lethal intent, including one attack where a petrol station forecourt was sprayed with gunfire and two police officers were wounded. There have been two attempts to murder police officers since the last written statement, with numerous other plots identified and prevented by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and MI5. These included shots fired at police officers during rioting in Londonderry in July of this year. This incident, like many dissident republican terrorist attacks, posed a risk to members of the public in the immediate area as well as the police officers who were targeted while they were working to keep communities safe.
I wish to pay tribute to all the agencies, including the PSNI, MI5 and the bomb disposal teams, who work on a daily basis to keep people safe. In many cases their work can make them the target of dissident republican terrorists. I applaud the work they do across Northern Ireland, their professionalism and the personal sacrifices that so many of them make in support of this vital work. I also commend the work undertaken by An Garda Siochana, and the excellent relationship they have with their counterparts in Northern Ireland. This has had a significant impact on dealing with the threat. The commitment of such a wide variety of agencies to public service and to the communities they serve, stands in stark contrast to the acts of dissident republicans.
While terrorist attack planning continues, law enforcement pressure has reduced the number of national security attacks. Since the start of 2018 there has been one national security attack, compared to five in 2017, four in 2016 and a total of 16 attacks in 2015 and 40 in 2010. Although there has been a reduction in the overall number of national security attacks in recent years, vigilance in the face of this continuing threat remains essential and the threat level remains
Since October 2017, MI5 has identified a number of violent dissident republican attack plots; two attacks were attempted, but were ultimately unsuccessful, and others were disrupted. This success is in no small measure due to the continued close working between PSNI and MI5, as well as with the authorities in Ireland. Each of the main violent dissident republican groups has suffered significant disruption including the loss of personnel and weapons in the past 12 months. During the past 12 month period (1 October 2017-30 September 2018) in Northern Ireland, there have been 143 arrests under the Terrorism Act, with 16 people subsequently charged. During the same period, 45 firearms, 0.74kg of explosives and 3157 rounds of ammunition have been seized. This pressure, and other interventions, is a barrier to, and a brake on dissident republican activity of all kinds, although I assess that, in the coming months, dissident republican terrorist groups will continue to seek to attack officers from the PSNI, prison officers and members of the armed forces.
As a consequence of violent dissident republicans’ actions and intent, the threat from Northern Ireland Related Terrorism in Northern Ireland remains SEVERE, which means an attack is highly likely. In Great Britain, the threat from Northern Ireland Related Terrorism was reduced in March this year from SUBSTANTIAL to MODERATE, which means an attack is possible, but not likely.
The Government have consistently made it clear that terrorism, including Northern Ireland Related Terrorism, will not succeed and tackling it continues to be of the highest priority. We are determined to keep people safe and secure across the United Kingdom. To support this effort over this Parliament we have provided £160 million of additional security funding to the PSNI to tackle the enduring threat from Northern Ireland Related Terrorism. This is significant funding. They recognise the severity of the terrorist threat; it demonstrates our unwavering commitment to the brave men and women in the police and intelligence agencies, and it is helping to keep people safe.
Paramilitary groups, both republican and loyalist, continue to carry out violent criminal attacks against members of their own communities. So far this year there have been 64 such attacks. This includes one paramilitary related death, 16 casualties of paramilitary style shootings and 47 casualties of paramilitary style assaults. The hypocrisy of paramilitary-linked criminals claiming to act to defend their communities from anti-social behaviour and drug dealing, while at the same time profiting from this activity is not lost on affected communities. They are targeting the most vulnerable members in their communities as they try to exert control and fear.
This Government continue strongly to support ongoing efforts to tackle paramilitarism and organised crime in Northern Ireland through the delivery of the commitments made in the executive’s action plan on tackling paramilitary activity, criminality and organised crime. This work is, by design, a collaborative endeavour being taken forward by a partnership of more than 24 organisations, including executive departments, statutory bodies and voluntary and community sector partners. Delivery is being achieved through four connected and mutually reinforcing approaches, aimed at developing long term prevention measures; building confidence in the justice system; building capacity to support communities in transition; and putting in place the strategies and powers to tackle criminal activity. Supporting the move away from paramilitary activity and promoting a culture of lawfulness are key underpinning are providing £25 million over five years to support a Northern Ireland executive programme of activity. This resource is being matched by the executive, giving a total of £50 million. The Independent Reporting Commission (IRC) is charged with reporting on progress towards ending paramilitary activity, and its first report was published on 23 October 2018.
In the last year significant progress has been made. For example, key initiatives already making a difference include outreach programmes aimed at supporting young people in areas particularly vulnerable to paramilitary activity; a programme delivering mentoring support for young men; and one for women aimed at building their capacity to be involved in community transformation. Work also continues on the speeding up justice programme, and the PSNI is working with communities to implement training and interventions in collaborative problem solving, as well as local initiatives to address issues of visibility and engagement. Young people have also been taking part in a programme on lawfulness being run by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, and a number of other pilot projects on the theme of promoting a culture of lawfulness are being delivered by a range of partners.
In addition, since the Paramilitary Crime Task Force, which comprises the PSNI, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), became fully operational in 2017, it has carried out a number of high profile operations against organised crime groups linked to paramilitaries. During 2017-18 the Task Force carried out over 110 searches and made over 47 arrests, including 44 people charged or reported to the Public Prosecution Service. In addition, 21 paramilitary-related organised crime groups were frustrated, disrupted or dismantled.
In conclusion, the SEVERE threat from dissident republican terrorists remains and paramilitary activity continues to have an impact in certain communities in Northern Ireland. Considerable progress has been made but the need for vigilance remains. There are a relatively small number of people who wish to continue to commit acts of terror and who want to control communities through violence for their own criminal ends. Through the excellent work of PSNI, MI5 and other law enforcement agencies including An Garda Siochana, we will continue to bring to justice those who seek to cause harm in our society. There never has been, and there never will be any place for terrorism or paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland. We all must play our part so that we can continue to allow Northern Ireland to flourish and ensure a stronger Northern Ireland for everyone free from this harmful and malign activity.
Work and Pensions
Single Financial Guidance Body Launch
The Department for Work and Pensions is launching the Single Financial Guidance Body, established under s1 of the Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018 in January 2019. The new body will deliver money guidance, pensions guidance and debt advice to the public. However, the launch date is in advance of the Department for Work and Pensions Supplementary Estimate 2018-19. This will give the confirming authority of the Supply and Appropriation Act to this expenditure. This will not be published until February, and not authorised until mid-March. In order to continue to provide these services to the public, DWP has therefore requested a Contingencies Fund advance.
Parliamentary approval for resources of £35,000,000 for this new service has been sought in the Supplementary Estimate for the Department for Work and Pensions. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £35,000,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund. This sum is equivalent and no different from existing resources.
Once Royal Assent to the Supply and Appropriation Bill is achieved, the advance will be repaid.