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Written Statements

Volume 666: debated on Wednesday 23 October 2019

Written Statements

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Nuclear Energy Infrastructure

This statement concerns an application made by Horizon Nuclear Power Limited under the Planning Act 2008 for development consent for the construction and operation of a new nuclear power station and associated infrastructure at Wylfa Head on the Isle of Anglesey.

Under section 107(1) of the Planning Act 2008, the Secretary of State must make a decision on an application within three months of receipt of the examining authority’s report unless exercising the power under section 107(3) to set a new deadline. Where a new deadline is set, the Secretary of State must make a statement to Parliament to announce it. The deadline for the decision on the proposed Wylfa Newydd (Nuclear Generating Station) Order application was 23 October 2019.

There are outstanding issues which mean that we are unable to reach a decision based on the information provided to us. The Secretary of State has therefore extended the deadline for deciding the application to allow further information in respect of environmental effects and other outstanding issues to be provided and considered. The applicant and other interested parties will be given until 31 Dec 2019 to respond to our request for further information. This will then be assessed, potentially including public consultation, and a final decision taken on or before 31 March 2020.

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Education

Teachers’ Pay and Pension Grants

Today I am confirming the updated allocations for the teachers’ pay grant and the first allocations for the teachers’ pension employer contributions grant for 2019-20.

The teachers’ pay grant was first announced in July 2018 by the Secretary of State for Education. It was introduced to provide additional funding to schools to support them with the costs of the 2018-19 teacher pay award, over and above the 1% rise schools would have expected and been planned for.

In July 2019, the Secretary of State accepted the school teachers’ review body’s recommendation of a 2.75% uplift to the minima and maxima of all teacher pay ranges in 2019. In recognition that this award was more than the 2% we assessed was affordable nationally in our evidence to the STRB, the Secretary of State confirmed an additional investment of £105 million into the teachers’ pay grant this year. This is on top of the £321 million of funding already committed in 2019-20.

As with 2018-19, the grant will be paid to all state-funded schools and academies, including maintained nursery schools. This will be on the basis of pupil numbers in mainstream schools, and place numbers in special schools and other specialist provision. All schools will be funded for at least 100 pupils or 40 places.

We are also fully funding the increase in pensions contributions that state-funded schools and colleges will have to make from September 2019. In April we announced the teachers’ pension employer contribution grant (TPECG), worth £848 million this year, which will provide this funding for all state-funded schools and academies, including maintained nursery schools. In September, the Secretary of State announced that, as part of the Government’s investment in schools, this funding—worth £1.5 billion each year—will continue for the next three years.

As with the teachers’ pay grant, this will also be paid on the basis of pupil and place numbers, with all schools funded for at least 100 pupils or 40 places.

The grant will be accompanied by a supplementary fund, which schools can apply for if their grant allocation falls short of their actual pension costs increase by more than 0.05% of their overall budget. This will make sure all schools are properly protected from rising pension costs. Mainstream schools will be able to apply to the fund from 2 December 2019, with payments due in March 2020. Specific guidance on completing the application form will be published later in the autumn. A similar scheme will apply to local authorities, in respect of the specialist provision in their areas.

Further details and guidance will be published on gov.uk.

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Housing, Communities and Local Government

Heritage: National Listings Process

The listing process has ensured some of England’s most special and distinctive historic buildings have been protected. However, the process which begun in the post-war era, both nationally and locally, was never completed and many buildings that are important locally have gone unrecognised and are not protected from development.

The national listing process provides statutory protection to around 500,000 buildings across England. Where buildings are included on local heritage lists (as non-designated heritage assets), they are also better protected from development under the planning system. Until now, local lists have been the domain of local planning authorities, yet only around 50% of authorities have such lists and where they do, they are often out of date and incomplete.

We intend to change this. Protecting the historic environment must be a key function of the planning system. Today, the Government are taking action to address this issue and encourage greater listings.

As a first step, I have announced the most ambitious new heritage conservation campaign since the 1980s, with the ambition of significantly increasing the number of historic buildings protected from development. This will start with 10 English counties, supporting them to complete their local lists. It will involve local people nominating the buildings and community assets they cherish, which will be protected for future generations. The Government will back the campaign with £700,000 of investment, which will give counties the tools, funding and expertise they need to list and protect, what could be, thousands more buildings across England.

To support this vital work, the Government will appoint an independent local heritage adviser. They will boost conservation efforts through driving greater engagement with the local communities and heritage groups. This independent heritage adviser will also work with Historic England to identify the 10 counties who are home to many historic buildings that are not yet protected and would most benefit from the additional listings.

To involve the public in the national effort, I will contact all parishes to emphasise the importance and benefits of listing historic buildings to protect them from development and ask them to nominate buildings. To further this work, Historic England will run a national campaign in spring 2020 on “Local Identity”. This will involve a season of events to inspire connection with local places, raise awareness of locally listing historic buildings and get the nation talking about what defines our built heritage.

Finally, building on the £95 million fund announced in September by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to help unlock the economic potential of 69 high street Heritage Action Zones across England, my Department will also be working with Historic England to support local communities to identify important buildings in these action zones and will consider which of these should be recommended to the Culture Secretary for inclusion in the national list.

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