Thursday 28 January 2021
Contingencies Fund Advance
The Cabinet Office has sought a repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund of £429,000,000.
The requirement has arisen due to increased costs relating to urgent expenditure, including that relating to the covid-19 response.
Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £429,000,000 will be sought in the supplementary estimate for the Cabinet Office. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £429,000,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.
Conflict, Stability and Security Fund Allocations 2020-21
I wish to update the House on the progress of the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) for the Financial Year 2019/20, as well as to announce the initial regional and thematic allocations for this Financial Year, 2020/21.
The CSSF is a cross-Government fund which uses both official development assistance (ODA) and non-ODA resources to deliver against both national security and UK Aid objectives, through security, defence, peacekeeping, peace-building and stability activity. In 2019-20, the CSSF spent £1,234.3 million against a cross-Government allocation of £1,266.2 million (97.5%). A further breakdown of spend against regional and thematic allocation, by department and by discretionary and non-discretionary spend is included in the CSSF’s Annual Report for 2019-20, published today.
The report outlines the impact that the Fund has had, and demonstrates how the Fund is contributing to the delivery of national security and UK Aid objectives. The report also highlights ways in which the Fund has made further improvements to programme management processes including how it monitors and measures results. A copy of this document will be placed in the libraries of both Houses and has been published on gov.uk.
Allocation Non-ODA ODA Total Middle East North Africa £20.00 £163.13 £183.13 South Asia £9.43 £93.64 £103.07 Africa (sub-Saharan) £33.60 £65.17 £98.77 Overseas Territories £54.35 £4.65 £59.00 Eastern Europe, Central Asia £25.69 £55.59 £81.28 Western Balkans £7.50 £72.50 £80.00 Americas £0.38 £18.25 £18.63 Asia Pacific £0.75 £15.00 £15.75 Turkey - £2.00 £2.00 REGIONAL TOTAL £151.70 £489.93 £641.63 Migration - £7.50 £7.50 Counter Extremism £14.93 £26.08 £41.00 Multilateral Strategy £4.50 £28.50 £33.00 National Security Communications Team £2.50 - £2.50 Serious and Organised Crime £10.50 £11.70 £22.20 Cyber £0.50 £12.00 £12.50 Gender and Human Rights - £4.90 £4.90 THEMATIC TOTAL £32.93 £90.68 £123.60 Peacekeeping £306.10 £81.99 £388.09 MOD DMAP £50.00 - £50.00 MOD Afghan Security £100.00 - £100.00 MOD UNFICYP £18.10 - £18.10 MOD UN Ops Africa £21.40 - £21.40 Non-Discretionary TOTAL £495.60 £81.99 £577.59 Corporate Delivery Support & Other (this includes Stabilisation Unit, Joint Funds Unit and pilot activities) - £23.23 £23.23 TOTAL CSSF £680.22 £685.83 £1,366
Middle East North Africa
Eastern Europe, Central Asia
National Security Communications Team
Serious and Organised Crime
Gender and Human Rights
MOD Afghan Security
MOD UN Ops Africa
Corporate Delivery Support & Other (this includes Stabilisation Unit, Joint Funds Unit and pilot activities)
The annual report can be found at:
CSSF: Annual Report 2019/20 (FCDO0044 CSSF Report 2019-20 v4.pdf)
Double Taxation Convention: United Kingdom and Germany
A protocol to the Double Taxation Convention with Germany and a joint declaration were signed on 12 January. The protocol will give effect to certain OECD/G20 base erosion and profit shifting recommendations that protect tax treaties against avoidance activities, ensuring that the UK’s double taxation agreement with Germany meets the minimum OECD/G20 recommended standards. The text of the protocol and joint declaration are available on HM Revenue and Customs’ pages of the gov.uk website and will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses. The text of the protocol will be scheduled to a draft Order in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Contingencies Fund Advance
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has sought in its supplementary supply estimate 2020-21 the resources, capital and cash it requires to operate for this financial year.
The funds associated with this estimate will not be released until the Supply and Appropriation Bill achieves Royal Assent in early March. The Department has therefore sought a Contingencies Fund advance which will be repaid once Royal Assent has been obtained.
Parliamentary approval for resources of £1,668,432,000, capital of £520,836,000 and cash of £57,000,000 has been sought in a supplementary estimate for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £2,246,268,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.
Health and Social Care
Covid-19: House Party Fines and Domestic Enforcement Measures
On 28 September, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force. These regulations mean that self-isolation is a legal requirement for individuals who have been notified by one of the bodies specified in the regulations (in practice, mainly NHS Test and Trace) that they have tested positive for covid-19 or are a close contact of someone who has tested positive. Non-adherence to these regulations can result in a fixed penalty notice (FPN) ranging from £1,000 to £10,000. Failure to pay the FPN can result in criminal proceedings and conviction.
Ensuring that infected individuals and their close contacts self-isolate is one of the most powerful tools for controlling transmission of covid-19. Increased compliance with self-isolation will reduce transmission of the virus, preventing family and friends from contracting coronavirus, and protecting the NHS.
The Government expect individuals to comply when they are required to self-isolate. Where there are reports of suspected breaches, the police approach to engage, explain and encourage compliance is the right one. But, on occasion, this approach needs to be backed-up with enforcement against those who flout the rules and put others at risk.
We have been working closely with colleagues on the National Police Chiefs’ Council to ensure that the information we share with them supports effective enforcement where that is necessary.
In order to issue a fixed-penalty notice, the police need to be satisfied that they are engaging with the right person, that the person is aware of their duty to self-isolate and that the person has indeed breached that legal requirement.
NHS Test and Trace currently shares the following information with the police:
First and last name of individual
Home address and telephone number
Period of self-isolation
Date notification to self-isolate was received
Following consultation with the police it has become clear that further information is necessary to strengthen the effectiveness of the enforcement regime around self-isolation.
Following a report of suspected non-compliance, and following checks by NHS Test and Trace to confirm the individual is under the legal duty to self-isolate, NHS Test and Trace will henceforth share the following additional information with police on a case by case basis, as necessary:
Details of how the individual was notified by Test and Trace, including address, telephone number and email address where relevant
Date of birth
Whether the individual is a positive case or a close contact
A copy of the notification issued by Test and Trace, where possible
Whether the individual is taking part in coronavirus related research (and is therefore exempt from the legal duty to self-isolate)
These changes will support the police in taking enforcement action when that is appropriate. In particular, it will enable them to share a copy of the notification to self-isolate if an individual says they did not receive it.
It will also enable the police to gather relevant evidence should criminal proceedings ensue in the event that an FPN is issued and not paid. In such cases, it is important for the police to know, and where appropriate evidence, the precise circumstances around each individual breach and how the duty to self-isolate arose. Information on whether individuals are under a duty to self-isolate due to having tested positive or as a result of being a close contact of someone who has tested positive (including in the copy of the notification) will only be shared and will only be used where necessary for “the purpose of carrying out a function under regulation 10, 12 or 13 [functions regarding enforcement, issuing FPNs and bringing proceedings] or otherwise or the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of offences under these regulations”. These changes will help improve the effectiveness of police action against reported breaches of self-isolation.
As announced last week by the Home Secretary, regulations will also increase fixed penalty notices for those caught attending illegal gatherings in private dwellings and student accommodation (such as house parties)—of more than 15 people from £200 to £800 in England. Fixed penalty notices for such offences will double for each successive offence up to a maximum of £6,400. This will provide the police with the enhanced powers they need to tackle egregious breaches of the law. We have been committed from the beginning of this pandemic to following the science, and the science is clear that larger gatherings of people in indoor spaces present a significant risk of transmission and spread of the virus.
The necessary amendments to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 and the introduction of an enhanced FPN for indoor gatherings over 15 people will be laid before parliament, and will come into force, on 29 January 2021.
NHS England and NHS Improvement: Annual Assessment 2019-20
Today, I am laying before Parliament my annual assessment of the NHS commissioning board (known as NHS England) for 2019-20.
Covid-19 has presented an unprecedented challenge, the scale of which the NHS has not seen in its 72-year history. I would like to begin by giving my utmost thanks and appreciation to all colleagues throughout the NHS for their dedication and hard work responding to the virus.
My assessment of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s (NHSE/I) performance for 2019-20 reflects the impact these challenges have had on the health service and differentiates between performance before the pandemic took hold and the subsequent impact managing the virus has had on delivery. To this end, I have defined performance pre-covid-19 as the period April 2019 to end January 2020. Evidence from this period has been used to make a reasonable assessment of where performance would have been had covid-19 not happened.
2019-20 was a transitional year for the NHS, that saw NHSE/I embed the first phase of delivery against the NHS long term plan. NHSE/I has worked closely with local health systems to develop robust, system and local-level implementation plans. In 2020-21 these plans will need to be revised to reflect possible new and longer-term demands caused by covid-19 and to account for the Government’s 2019 manifesto commitments. To ensure these plans are workable NHSE/I must ensure disciplined financial management across all organisations. I am therefore pleased to see most NHS providers reporting a year-end position that is equal to or better than their agreed control totals.
To ensure performance targets are appropriate and help improve clinical quality and outcomes, NHSE/I has field tested proposals in urgent and emergency care, routine elective care, cancer and adult and children’s mental health as part of the clinically led review of NHS access standards. The impact of covid-19 has delayed the final evaluation report and I expect NHSE/I to continue to work with wider Government and local NHS organisations to produce evidence-based approaches. An increase in demand for services in 2019-20 pre-pandemic has meant that performance targets on NHS constitutional standards were not on track to be met by the end of the year. Between April 2019 and January 2020, demand for urgent investigation of possible cancer and emergency admissions via A&E increased by 8% and 3.5% respectively, compared to the same period last year, making it harder for the NHS to treat patients within the agreed targets. Key to managing demand in the system is ensuring a steady flow of patients through to the point at which they can be safely discharged. Despite great efforts in both health and social care, the average delayed transfer of care (DTOC) figure of 4,000 or fewer delays remains challenging and the trajectory up until January 2020 was 5128 leaving a cumulative target of 1,182 beds to be delivered.
Another key element of the NHS long term plan was publication in June 2019 of NHSE/I’s interim people plan that was reinforced in August 2020 with the “We are the NHS: People Plan for 2020-21—action for us all”. The publication of the overarching NHS people plan will need to account for new workforce demands and costs due to the pandemic as shortages remain a critical risk to service recovery. It is also critically important that we have rigorous plans in place to deliver the additional 50,000 nurse places that the Government promised to deliver in this Parliament. I am also grateful that NHSE/I has taken the lead in supporting members of our workforce who are most vulnerable and provided an enhanced staff health and wellbeing offer, including targeted support for our BAME colleagues and, where possible, offering opportunities for flexible and remote working.
I am pleased to see NHSE/I support the Government’s health and social care pledges set out in the 2019 manifesto. Great progress has been made on capital in 2019-20, which was underpinned by the health infrastructure plan (HIP), published in September 2019. The Government are committed to building 40 new hospitals, and the NHS has already made significant progress in developing these plans to deliver world-class care in world-class facilities. Similarly, the NHS has pressed ahead with delivering the 20 hospital upgrades announced by the Prime Minister in August 2019. I am assured NHSE/I has committed to work with the Government to improve public confidence in hospital food and commend them for supporting the commitment to abolish hospital parking fees for those patients and families in greatest need.
Looking forward, I am pleased to see NHSE/I use evidence from responding to covid-19 to reduce barriers and improve the way services are delivered. The pandemic has also brought to light the burden placed on the NHS by the interoperability of systems and the need for more effective information sharing between care settings and organisations, as well as between professionals and the public, to enhance health outcomes and quality of care. I am therefore eager to see the implementation of the technology standards set out in the “Future of Healthcare” to better integrate information flows.
The NHS remains this country’s most valued public service, an institution that is there for every family, everywhere, at the best of times and at the worst. In light of covid-19, the Government want to continue to ensure that the NHS has the space, certainty and funds to deliver a transformative plan that will ensure patients benefit from a ground-breaking health service into the next decade.
We will continue to work closely with NHSE/I to help them deliver this ambition, address the challenges that lie ahead and provide a sustainable and efficient health service with quality, transparency and safety at its heart.
Copies of my annual assessment and NHSE/I’s annual report will be available from the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.
Accredited Financial Investigation Powers: Consultation
I intend to lay a statutory instrument this year which will grant accredited financial investigator powers to an additional five agencies. This will bring the total number of agencies with access to these powers to 36 in addition to all police forces and local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Accredited financial investigator powers grant civilians working for that agency access to certain Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 powers, which assist in the effective recovery of proceeds of a crime that falls under that agency’s jurisdiction. Accredited financial investigators have the ability to use financial intelligence for more complex financial investigations and are able to contribute to the recovery of the proceeds of crime.
The following organisations have sought access to accredited financial investigator powers: the Service Police, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland and the London Fire Brigade. I have assessed the value of extending the powers to each of these agencies—in particular whether effective criminal justice outcomes could be reached in their jurisdictions without access to these powers—and I have concluded that we should seek to grant the powers to all five. However, I intend to seek the views of the wider public as to whether these organisations should be granted these powers.
Currently, the previously mentioned agencies either rely on other agencies designated with financial investigation powers—such as the National Crime Agency or police forces—or have no access to recover proceeds of crime within their jurisdiction. Granting these organisations access to the powers will improve the law enforcement outcomes that they can deliver. The Home Office committed to grant these powers to additional organisations in the asset recovery action plan, published in 2019.
As such, I intend to publish a consultation for seven weeks from 28 January. This consultation will seek to establish the views from the public on whether or not these organisations should be granted the financial investigator powers.
I will arrange for a copy of the consultation document to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.