Monday 13 December 2021
Duchy of Lancaster Estate 2020-21
My noble Friend the Minister for Efficiency and Transformation, Lord Agnew Kt, has today made the following written statement:
I have today laid before Parliament, pursuant to section 86 of the Climate Change Act 2008, the “State of the Estate in 2020-21”. This report describes the progress made on the efficiency and sustainability of the central Government estate and, where relevant, records the progress that the Government have made since the previous year. The report is published on an annual basis.
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
Human Rights Sanctions Designations: Myanmar
On International Human Rights Day, 10 December, the UK announced a further tranche of sanctions in response to the military coup in Myanmar under the Myanmar (Sanctions) Regulations 2021. Asset freezes have been imposed on four Myanmar entities responsible for manufacturing or procuring arms and equipment and providing support and finance to the Myanmar military, which has continued to undermine democracy and violate the fundamental rights of the civilian population. The UK is committed to preventing the flow of arms to Myanmar and will continue to use sanctions and diplomatic pressure to this end.
In parallel, the UK imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on one individual under the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020 for serious human rights abuses in Pakistan. The designation of a former Lashkar-e-Jhangvi commander who facilitated the 2017 bombing of the Lai Shahbaz Qalandar shrine, which killed at least 70 people, sends a strong message that the UK will use all tools at our disposal to defend freedom of religion and belief.
The UK announced the designations during the US-hosted summit for democracy, as part of our commitment to continue to use our targeted sanctions to defend human rights as well as counter serious corruption globally.
The full list of designations is below:
Under the Myanmar Sanctions Regulations 2021
The Quarter Master General’s Office.
The Directorate for Defence Industries, a state-owned enterprise.
The Department for Defence Procurement.
The Myanmar War Veterans Organisation, a quasi-reserve force for the Myanmar military Under the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020.
Furqan Bangalzai; a former commander in the terror organisation Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
Director of Labour Market Enforcement's Strategies 2020-21 and 2021-22
Alongside the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Scully), I am today publishing the Labour Market Enforcement Strategies for 2020-21 and 2021-22, submitted by the previous Director of Labour Market Enforcement, Matthew Taylor. The strategies will be available on www.gov.uk.
The Director of Labour Market Enforcement’s role was created by the Immigration Act 2016 to bring better focus and strategic co-ordination to the enforcement of labour market legislation by the three enforcement bodies which are responsible for state enforcement of specific employment rights:
The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS);
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs National Minimum and Living Wage enforcement team (HMRC NMW/NLW team); and
The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA).
Under section 2 of the Act, the Director of Labour Market Enforcement is required by the Immigration Act 2016 to prepare an annual labour market enforcement strategy, which assesses the scale and nature of non-compliance in the labour market and sets priorities for future enforcement by the three enforcement bodies and the allocation of resources needed to deliver those priorities.
Before his term ended, Matthew Taylor submitted these strategies ahead of the statutory deadlines. It was important to take the time to work with the Director and the enforcement bodies to ensure the strategies were making the right recommendations in the face of the challenges to the labour market presented by the pandemic. We are now working closely with the enforcement bodies as they implement the recommendations alongside their day-to-day enforcement activities.
In previous years, we have published a Government response to the strategies setting out the approach we will take to the recommendations. For the latest strategies, we have instead worked closely with the Director and their office and the enforcement bodies to agree the recommendations ahead of publication of the strategies.
I thank Matthew Taylor for his contribution over the 18 months he spent in the role. I am looking forward to working with the new Director, Margaret Beels, who took up the role in November 2021. Margaret brings with her extensive industry experience, having been chair of the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) since 2011, where she led on work to tackle and prevent modern slavery and labour exploitation—and which she was honoured with an OBE for in 2020.
As we continue to support workers and root out exploitation by rogue employers, Margaret’s experience will be invaluable, and I look forward to working with her in helping to build an economy that works for all.
Transport for London Funding Settlement: Interim Extension
I am updating the House on an interim extension of the current Transport for London funding settlement that was due to expire on 11 December 2021 by one week. This has been agreed by the Mayor of London.
On 8 December, the Department for Transport received a letter from the Mayor of London that provided further information on how Transport for London and the Mayor will raise new income of between £0.5 billion and £1 billion in line with the commitment agreed under the June 2021 emergency settlement. This response was already three weeks past the original deadline of 12 November. Government require further clarification on these proposals and the Mayor of London has been asked to provide more detailed information by 15 December. Should sufficient information be received, work on an extended further settlement will continue, to support the capital and its transport network. We have thus far supported London with over £4 billion of funding and will make sure services are protected while work on the next settlement is underway.
Support to Transport for London has always been on the condition that Transport for London reaches financial sustainability as soon as possible and with a target date of April 2023. The condition on identifying new or increased income sources is integral to Transport for London achieving that objective. An extension of the existing funding settlement will provide Transport for London with support until 17 December 2021 by rolling over the provisions of the existing settlement, providing continued support to Transport for London and certainty to Londoners while we work with Transport for London on their funding needs.
The Government are committed to supporting London and the transport network on which it depends, while balancing that with supporting the national transport network. I will update the House on the details of the next financial settlement after the close of this extension period.
Work and Pensions
Fraud is stealing from honest taxpayers. It is right we bring the collective weight of Government to bear on this growing challenge and I am determined to take further decisive action.
Across Government, 16,000 people, including counter-fraud experts, are currently working to tackle fraud. The world’s first Government Counter-fraud Function works to identify new and emerging fraud risks and to support Departments to improve capability to access and use data and analytics to tackle these risks.
My Department has worked hard to drive out fraud. Officials prevented more than £1.9 billion of fraud during the first year of the pandemic through strengthening our checks and disrupting the operations of serious and organised crime groups.
However, it is clear that we need to go further, both in terms of eradicating fraud from our current cases and designing fraud out of the system.
At spending review (SR) 2021, DWP secured £103 million for fraud and error activity to continue funding key fraud and error detection and prevention work originally agreed in spring Budget 2021. This first phase of funding enables DWP to secure the completion of our current transformation programme which will enhance our ability to prevent and detect fraud and error.
Today, I can announce additional funding of £510 million over the next three years. This second phase of funding, which will deliver significant savings over the SR period, will enable us to drive down the level of fraud in universal credit (UC) and collect more debt, through:
A targeted review of UC claims to allow us to systematically review stock UC cases to uncover fraud and error and remove it from the system;
a debt enforcement function to allow us to target hard to collect debt.
This funding also includes provision for a fraud prevention fund, which will allow us to explore and test innovative approaches to designing out fraud and error. This investment represents a further important step towards our long-term vision, dramatically reducing the level of fraud and error in the UC stock and more effective collection of debt while continuing to provide effective counter fraud operations on a larger scale.