Skip to main content

Written Statements

Volume 700: debated on Thursday 9 September 2021

Written Statements

Thursday 9 September 2021

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

National Lottery Products: Sales

Following a consultation, the Government announced last year that they were raising the age at which national lottery products can be bought and sold from 16 to 18, protecting young people from the possible risk of gambling harm. The new minimum age comes into force on 1 October and the operator and retailers have already stopped selling tickets to anyone aged below 18.

Following a further consultation which was held in July and August, the Government intend to make some technical amendments to the requirements placed on retailers in connection with the uplift in the minimum age for buying and selling national lottery products from 16 to 18, and today a statutory instrument is being laid which will introduce this change.

The approved sales system is a minor technical easement and will be based on the two existing provisions already in place for alcohol sales in England, Wales and Scotland, and for sales of tobacco and nicotine vaping products in Scotland, through which a designated person aged 18 or over can approve a transaction being handled by a 16 or 17-year-old. This approach therefore builds on an existing framework and maintains the intent of the original policy.

The majority of national lottery retailers will already be familiar with at least one of the systems. By offering both approaches we hope that the easement will meet the diverse needs of the national lottery’s 44,000 retailers who range from large supermarket chains to small independent family run shops.

The consultation response is being published today on gov.uk, and thank you to everyone who took the time to respond.

[HCWS272]

Education

Prevailing Market Rates

I am announcing today a temporary reduction in the maximum student loan interest rate following the recent decline in the prevailing market rate for comparable unsecured personal loans.

In accordance with the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998, where the Government consider that the student loan interest rate is higher than the prevailing market rate for comparable unsecured loans, we will take steps to reduce the maximum student loan interest rate.

The Government regularly monitor the interest rates set on student loans against the interest rates prevailing on the market for comparable loans.

Following a decline in the prevailing market rate, I have today, 9 September laid legislation to cap the maximum post-2012 income contingent repayment undergraduate and the postgraduate income contingent repayment student loan interest rate in line with the prevailing market rate. The cap will come into effect from 1 October 2021 and last for a period of three months.

The reduction will be 0.4 percentage point on the maximum student loan interest rate to reflect the average market rates during the preceding monitoring period.

The maximum post-2012 undergraduate income contingent repayment student loan interest rate and the postgraduate income contingent repayment student loan interest rate will be 4.1% between 1 October and 31 December.

From 1 January 2022, the post-2012 undergraduate and postgraduate income contingent repayment student loan interest rates will revert to the standard rate +3%.

Further caps may be put in place should the prevailing market rate continue to be below student loan interest rates.

[HCWS275]

Health and Social Care

Covid-19 and Flu Vaccinations: Health and Social Care Sector

I wish to inform the House of the action the Government are taking to consider how to further improve uptake of covid-19 and flu vaccinations by those who work in our health and social care services.

Following a public consultation on making covid-19 vaccination a condition of deployment for those working in adult care homes, the Government informed the House on 17 June 2021 that covid-19 vaccination would be required of people entering a CQC registered adult care home, unless exempt, to protect vulnerable residents.

While residents in care homes are some of the most at risk from covid-19, the responses to this initial consultation made a clear case for extending this policy beyond care homes to other settings where vulnerable people receive care and treatment.

It is right that the Government strain every sinew to maximise the benefits of the vaccine and protect the most vulnerable as we return our freedoms and get back to a normal way of life.

The Government are therefore now undertaking a further public consultation on whether or not to make covid-19 vaccination and flu vaccination a condition of deployment for frontline health and care workers, to help safeguard the vulnerable.

While many of those working in health and social care sectors have taken up the offer of vaccination, it is crucial that this is consistent across services to safeguard vulnerable people, and that this high level is maintained as new people join the workforce.

Recent research has shown people infected with both flu and covid-19 are more than twice as likely to die as someone with covid-19 alone and nearly six times more likely than those with neither flu nor covid-19, so it is right that both are considered within the consultation.

These are complex and important issues and the consultation seeks to gather a wide range of perspectives from the public and across the health and care sectors about whether vaccination requirements should be introduced and how they could be implemented.

I will provide an update to the House, following the completion of the consultation.

[HCWS273]