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Written Statements

Volume 706: debated on Wednesday 5 January 2022

Written Statements

Wednesday 5 January 2022

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Energy Infrastructure Planning Projects: Suffolk

This statement concerns applications for development consent made under the Planning Act 2008 by East Anglia ONE North Ltd and East Anglia TWO Ltd for the construction and operation of the East Anglia ONE North and East Anglia TWO offshore wind farms with a maximum capacity of up to 800MW (East Anglia ONE North) and 900MW (East Anglia TWO), with associated infrastructure required to export the electricity to a proposed national grid substation at Friston in Suffolk.

Under section 107(1) of the Planning Act 2008, the Secretary of State must make a decision on an application within three months of the receipt of the examining authority’s report unless exercising the power under section 107(3) of the Act 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 East Anglia ONE North and East Anglia TWO applications was 6 January 2022.

I have decided to set a new deadline of no later than 31 March 2022 for deciding this application to allow an opportunity for further information including in respect of protected species and construction flood risk mitigation to be provided and considered.

The decision to set the new deadline for this application is without prejudice to the decision on whether to grant or refuse development consent.



Economy and Fiscal Forecast: 23 March 2022

Today I can inform the House that I have asked the Office for Budget Responsibility to produce an economic and fiscal forecast for 23 March 2022, as per the charter for budget responsibility. The Budget Responsibility and National Audit Act 2011 states that the OBR must produce a forecast on at least two occasions each financial year.

Today I have also laid before Parliament an updated charter for budget responsibility. The updated charter sets out the new fiscal framework announced at autumn Budget and spending review 2021.

The new fiscal rules will allow the Government to continue funding first class public services and drive economic growth through record investment, while ensuring that debt falls over the medium term.

In accordance with the Budget Responsibility and National Audit Act 2011, the charter was first published in draft on 27 October as it includes modified guidance to the Office for Budget Responsibility. No further changes have been made to the updated charter since it was published in draft.

A debate and votes in the House of Commons on the updated charter and the level of the welfare cap will be scheduled in due course.



Institutes of Technology

I am pleased to say that on 17 December we announced the creation of nine new Institutes of Technology (IoTs) following the conclusion of the Wave 2 competition, subject to their proposals being turned into binding agreements. This brings the number of IoTs across the country to 21. All nine proposals met our quality standards and having an additional IoT to that which we committed to in our manifesto will provide even greater geographical coverage.

The Wave 2 competition delivered a range of high-quality proposals demonstrating a keen understanding of learner and employer needs and clear partnership working. They will benefit from up to £120 million of Government investment to fund industry-standard facilities and equipment. I am pleased to announce the lead organisations for the successful proposals and the areas they will cover below:

Blackpool and The Fylde College (Lancashire LEP area)

Cheshire College South and West (Cheshire and Warrington LEP area)

Chichester College Group (Coast to Capital LEP area)

DN Colleges Group (Sheffield LEP area)

Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group (Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire LEP area)

Solent University (Solent LEP area)

South Essex College (South East LEP area)

University of Derby (D2N2 and Leicestershire LEP areas)

University of Salford (Greater Manchester LEP area)

Institutes of Technology (IoTs) are collaborations between further education providers, universities and employers, with employers at the heart of decision making, curriculum development and delivery. They specialise in delivering higher technical education, supporting our aim to reform technical training to help employers get the skilled workforce they need and offer local people rewarding jobs and higher paid long-term careers.

The first wave of 12 Institutes of Technology in areas such as Yorkshire and Humber, the West Midlands, North East, South West and London were backed by £170 million investment to fund industry-standard facilities and equipment. Most are already open to learners.


Government’s Skills Revolution

On 17 December 2021, I announced a package that forms part of the Government’s skills revolution which will level up more opportunities for everyone and plug skills gaps to boost the economy. Adults and young people across the country will benefit from more high-quality and flexible education and training—levelling up opportunities and supporting more people into higher skilled, higher wage jobs.

A further nine institutes of technology were also announced and will join the 12 already up and running. The Government’s network of institutes of technology are unique collaborations between employers, further and higher education providers—backed by £290 million of Government funding—that specialise in delivering high-quality higher technical education and training across a range of STEM occupations and industries, in subjects such as advanced manufacturing, digital and cyber security, aerospace, automotive engineering and healthcare to train people for technical careers that will plug skills gaps. The new institutes of technology, in locations including Blackpool, Derby, Salford and Essex, will help deliver the skilled workforce businesses need and support people of all ages to get better jobs and fulfil their potential. This takes the total to 21 institutes of technology, delivering on the Government’s manifesto commitment.

People looking to upskill or retrain will have access to more than 100 short courses starting from September 2022, lasting between six weeks to a year, helping to fit training around their lives. More than 20 universities and colleges will offer the courses in subjects where there are skills shortages such as digital, net zero, education, STEM and healthcare, and offering an alternative to studying a traditional three-year degree. Student finance will be available to students taking the courses, marking the next step in the development of the Government’s lifelong learning entitlement which, from 2025, will provide individuals with a loan entitlement to be the equivalent of four years of post-18 education they can use flexibly over their lifetime.

The Office for Students has made awards totalling £128 million to 100 successful further and higher education providers who will lead projects to modernise facilities following the outcomes of the Office for Students’ strategic priorities grant 2021-22 capital bidding exercise, with a particular focus on STEM and supporting the disadvantaged. Two examples of successful projects include funding for Nottingham College to create a new laboratory science and innovation centre to expand their training offer, and funding to Roehampton University to deliver a new healthcare hub to support more higher technical, apprenticeships and flexible modular training. Details of all the successful projects can be found on the Office for Students’ website.

On 17 December 2021, we also opened the bidding for a share of over £150 million from the fourth wave of the T-level capital fund, for colleges, schools and sixth forms delivering T-levels. The funding will be used to refurbish buildings and build brand new facilities, including creating training kitchens for catering students, studios for media students, and facilities for agricultural courses such as trainee milking parlours or labs to learn about land science in readiness for students starting courses in September 2023. The fund will also enable providers to buy up-to-date, industry standard equipment.

A further 12 projects totalling £16 million supported by wave 3 of the T-level capital fund were also announced, bringing the total to 77 projects that will provide new buildings and facilities for students studying T-levels from September 2022. Successful projects include Gateway Sixth Form College in Leicester, awarded funding to create a dedicated health suite and a central learning resource space for students, and UTC South Durham, awarded funding to extend their engineering hall, to include two engineering workshops and an IT suite.

The Chancellor announced in the Budget that an extra £1.6 billion would be invested in 16-19 education and training by 2024-25 compared with 2021-22. The Department for Education has published details of how £615 million of that funding will be invested next year, resulting in the per student funding being boosted by over 8% from £4,188 in 2021-22 to £4,542 in 2022-23. This includes funding for an extra 40 hours of education per student to help them catch up on lost learning due to the pandemic. On top of this, funding for high value courses—those that deliver the skills that the country needs and which can lead to higher wages for students—and high cost courses including building and construction will also be increased.

The measures announced on 17 December will help level up opportunities for people and communities across England, and ensuring we have the skilled workforce needed to boost our economy.


Health and Social Care

Covid-19 Vaccination Programme

The UK’s covid-19 vaccination programme continues to protect the nation against the virus. In light of the omicron variant, we have accelerated the deployment of the vaccination programme to make vaccine accessible to all those eligible. Thanks to the remarkable work of the NHS, volunteers, the armed forces and everyone involved in the vaccination programme, more than 34 million boosters and third doses have now been administered in the UK. On Thursday 30 December, we reached the target we set to offer all eligible adults in England boosters by the end of December. However, our fight against the virus does not stop there and we urge everyone to play their part in protecting the country by taking up the vaccine and booster offer without delay.

Following emerging data on the spread of the omicron variant and careful consideration of available data, the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has published further advice on the covid-19 vaccination programme. Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) has accepted this advice and all four parts of the UK intend to follow the JCVI’s advice.

At this time, the JCVI has advised the following[1]:

A two-dose primary course of Pfizer vaccine should be offered to children aged five to 11 who are either in an at-risk group as per the UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA’s) Green Book or who are a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed.

Booster vaccination eligibility should be expanded to include all those aged 16 and 17 not already included in an at-risk group, no earlier than three months after completion of their primary course.

Booster vaccination should be offered to 12 to 15-year-olds who are either in an at-risk group—as per Table 4 of UKHSA’s Green Book—or who are a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed. Booster vaccine should be offered no earlier than three months after completion of their primary course.

Booster vaccination should be offered to those aged 12-15 who are severely immunosuppressed and who have had a third primary dose, no earlier than three months after completion of the third dose.

The NHS is working through updated guidance and will set out how this is going to be operationalised, in the new year.

The JCVI will continue to review the programme and options for maximising health benefits alongside closely monitoring the rapidly evolving data on the omicron variant of concern.

With the vaccine offer opened to those aged five to 11 in an at-risk group and deployment of the extended booster vaccine offer, I am now updating the House on the liabilities HMG has taken on in relation to further vaccine supply via this statement and the Departmental Minutes containing a description of the liability undertaken. The agreement to provide indemnity with deployment of further booster doses to the population increases the statutory contingent liability of the covid-19 vaccination programme.

Given the urgency with which we required JCVI advice and now deployment, we regret that it has not been possible to provide 14 sitting days’ notice to consider these issues in advance of announcing the planned extension to the booster programme in the UK.

Deployment of effective vaccines to eligible groups has been and remains a key part of the Government’s strategy to manage covid-19. Willingness to accept the need for appropriate indemnities to be given to vaccine suppliers has helped to secure access to vaccines, with the expected benefits to public health and the economy alike, much sooner than may have been the case otherwise.

Given the exceptional circumstances we are in, and the terms on which developers have been willing to supply a covid-19 vaccine, we along with other nations have taken a broad approach to indemnification proportionate to the situation we are in.

Even though the covid-19 vaccines have been developed at pace, at no point and at no stage of development has safety been bypassed. The MHRA approval for use of the currently deployed vaccines clearly demonstrates that these vaccines have satisfied, in full, all the necessary requirements for safety, effectiveness, and quality. We are providing indemnities in the very unexpected event of any adverse reactions that could not have been foreseen through the robust checks and procedures that have been put in place.

I will update the House in a similar manner as and when other covid-19 vaccines or additional doses of vaccines already in use in the UK are deployed.

HM Treasury has approved the proposal.

[1] JCVI statement on covid-19 vaccination of children and young people: 22 December 2021—


Implementation of Statutory Integrated Care Systems

Since 2018, Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) have been developing more integrated ways of working, bringing together NHS organisations and partners from local government and beyond to plan and provide services around residents’ needs as locally as possible. This integrated approach to person-centred care brings together actors in health and social care, alongside local and voluntary partners, to support people to retain their independence, health and wellbeing for longer.

The Health and Care Bill supports the move towards integration by providing measures to put integrated care systems on a statutory footing through the establishment of Integrated Care Boards and Integrated Care Partnerships. The Bill is currently being considered by Parliament and will soon be subject to line-by-line scrutiny at Committee Stage in the House of Lords. It is essential that Parliament is given sufficient time to properly consider the Bill.

Therefore, subject to the passage of the Bill, NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care have continued to plan for the establishment of the proposed Integrated Care Boards. This includes a joint decision to set a target date for the introduction of statutory Integrated Care Systems in July 2022.

Joint working arrangements have been in place at system level for some time and significant steps have already been taken in preparing for the introduction of statutory Integrated Care Boards, if and when the Bill is enacted. This progress towards the proposed statutory Integrated Care Systems will continue in the new year. The target date for establishment of Integrated Care Boards in July 2022—which, as indicated earlier, is subject to the successful passage of the Bill—will provide greater certainty to systems and staff that are preparing for statutory Integrated Care Systems. NHS England and Improvement will of course continue to support systems with preparing for the proposed statutory Integrated Care Systems.


Our Vision for the Women's Health Strategy for England

“Our Vision for the Women’s Health Strategy for England” was published on 23 December 2021. This sets out our ambitions and next steps for women’s health, mapped against what we have been told through the women’s health strategy call for evidence. It reflects the commitment this Government are making to women’s health and will set the direction of future work.

The vision is informed by the evidence we received in our call for evidence. This was announced in March this year on International Women’s Day, to support the development of the women’s health strategy. It ran for 14 weeks to 13 June 2021 and comprised three components:

A public survey

We received nearly 100,000 responses from individuals in England who wanted to share their own experiences, the experiences of a female family member, friend or partner, or their reflections as a healthcare professional.

Written submissions

We received over 400 written responses from organisations with expertise in women’s health which were used to inform the vision document.

Focus groups

We also commissioned focus groups with women to acquire depth of insight. The resulting independent academic report has recently been published on the University of York website and can be found here:

I would like to extend my thanks to every person and organisation who took the time to share their experiences through the call for evidence and spread the word about the consultation. It is thanks to these participants that we were able to acquire such rich insights into views on women’s health.

Recent progress on womens health

While we have been working to analyse the huge number of responses for the call for evidence, we have not waited to take action. In July we published the Government response to the Cumberlege report which focused on how the system listens to women when they raise concerns about their health and safety.

In October, I announced several measures designed to improve menopause care. This included amendments to the charging regulations to reduce the cost burden of HRT for menopausal women and a new UK-wide menopause taskforce which will hold its inaugural meeting shortly.

Earlier this year, we committed to ban the abhorrent practice of virginity testing in our strategy for tackling violence against women and girls as part of our commitment to safeguard women and girls. In November 2021, the Government delivered on this commitment by bringing forward a Government amendment to the Health and Care Bill to ban virginity testing, which was passed unopposed in the House.

This activity marks a significant improvement in many areas which touch upon women’s health. However, there is clearly much more to be done.

Our Vision for the Women’s Health Strategy and Analytical Report of the Call for Evidence

On 23 December 2021, the government published the analytical report of the call for evidence and “Our Vision for the Women’s Health Strategy for England”.

The analytical report of the call for evidence sets out the findings from the public survey. This has provided rich insight into women’s experiences and priorities for their health and care, and at times makes for sobering reading.

For example:

84% of respondents said there have been instances when they were not listened to by healthcare professionals.

Nearly two in three respondents with a health condition or disability said they do not feel supported by the services available for individuals with their condition or disability

58% of respondents said they felt uncomfortable talking about health issues with their workplace and 7% were not sure how they felt. These issues do not affect all women equally. White respondents felt the most comfortable discussing health issues at work (37%), while the Asian and Other ethnic group felt the least comfortable (30% and 29% respectively)

There are no quick and easy solutions to some of the entrenched problems within the system. However, I am determined to make sure that we act on the concerns that women have shared with us. This Government and our stakeholders across the system are committed to doing better for women.

Priority topics

Respondents were also given the opportunity to share the conditions which were most important to them. Their responses give us the mandate to look carefully at women’s health across the life course and make meaningful change.

The priority topics for women varied by age, broadly aligning with the stage of their life. However, the overall top five topics respondents want to see prioritised for inclusion in the women’s health strategy are:

gynaecological conditions

fertility, pregnancy, pregnancy loss and post-natal support

the menopause

menstrual health; and

mental health

Insight from the written submissions has also informed the development of the vision. We will publish a separate report, based on the written evidence submitted by organisations and individuals with expertise in this field, in early 2022.

The Vision

Alongside the analysis of the call for evidence, we also published “Our Vision for the Women’s Health Strategy for England” which sets out our ambitions for women and girls’ health in England.

The phenomenal volume of responses to the call for evidence has meant that analysis has taken longer than anticipated. It was essential that we gave the analysis the level of rigour it deserved, in order to understand fully what we have been told by the public.

It was also important to me to share the analysis with Parliament and the public as soon as possible and show the clear direction it has given us. As such, we are publishing our vision now and will follow up with the full women’s health strategy in spring 2022.

The vision document first sets out our life course approach to women’s health, and our thematic priorities which cut across all stages of the life course:

On women’s voices, our ambition is for all women to feel comfortable talking about their health and to no longer face taboos when they do talk about their health. We will also work to better understand the causes of women not feeling listened to make sure any interventions address the root cause.

On healthcare policies and services, our ambition is that women can access services that meet their needs across throughout their lives. We want to support local systems to deliver models of care that work for women. We will also work to explore improvements in care for specific conditions where disparities are greatest.

On information and education, our ambition is to make sure that all women will have access to high quality information and education from childhood through to adulthood, in school and beyond. Further, clinicians must feel confident to deliver information and high-quality care more broadly to women. To do this, clinicians need to have high quality, relevant training on women’s health.

On health in the workplace, our ambition is that ail women feel supported in the workplace and can reach their full potential at work. We are conducting work relating to the menopause in the workplace which we hope will act as best practice for other conditions.

On research, evidence and data, our ambition is to embed routine collection of demographic data of participants in research trials to make sure that our research reflects the society we serve. We are also committed to looking into the gender data gaps further and identifying where there are differences in conditions between genders.

Priority areas

In addition to these themes, the vision sets out our ambitions on priority conditions where the call for evidence highlighted particular issues or opportunities. These include but are not limited to:

menstrual health and gynaecological conditions

fertility, pregnancy, pregnancy loss and postnatal support

the menopause

healthy ageing and long-term conditions

mental health; and

the health impacts of violence against women and girls

On this last point on violence against women and girls, I was pleased to be able to announce on the 23 December 2021 the immediate action that this Government are taking to protect women and girls from harm.

When the Government published the tackling violence against women and girls strategy earlier this year, we committed to establishing an expert panel to review whether we should ban hymenoplasty. This is a procedure to reconstruct the hymen, with the intended purpose of causing bleeding during sexual intercourse.

We established the independent panel due to concerns that the uptake for the procedure, which although it is regulated, is intrinsically linked to virginity testing, and stems from the same repressive attitudes towards a women’s sexuality and the concept of virginity.

In December, the panel recommended to Government that hymenoplasty should be banned.

As announced before Christmas, the Government agreed with this recommendation and will introduce legislation to ban hymenoplasty as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Next steps for developing the Women’s Health Strategy

In spring 2022 we will publish the full women’s health strategy, building on our vision and ambition, and set out in detail our plans for meeting the specific health needs of women throughout the different stages of their lives.

To support this, we will appoint the first ever women’s health ambassador for England.

This person will focus on raising the profile for women’s heath, increasing awareness of taboo topics, and bringing in a range of collaborative voices to develop the women’s health strategy.

The ambassador will develop networks across and outside of Government to champion women’s health and break down stigmas which surround particular areas of women’s health.

I am pleased to announce that we will shortly be launching an expression of interest for this role. I would encourage applications from candidates who have experience in the sector and a passion for women’s health. I look forward to working with the post-holder to drive forward this agenda even further as we develop the strategy.

This vision speaks to the commitment of this Government to women’s health. It sets the direction for the strategy we are developing over the coming months. In spring 2022, we will publish the full women’s health strategy building on our vision and ambition and set out in detail our plans for specific health needs that women experience throughout their lives.

I am excited about the coming months and what we will be able to achieve in the long-term. The publication of “Our Vision for Women’s Health for England” and the analytical publication of the call for evidence marks a key milestone in women’s health.

I am confident that based on the evidence and a clear vision, we will be able to make progress on the issues that matter most to women, in developing the strategy for spring 2022.


Home Department

Transport for London Funding: Extension

Following my statement to the House on 13 December, I am updating the House on a seven-week extension of the current Transport for London funding settlement that was due to expire on 17 December 2021. The Mayor of London and I have agreed to extend the current settlement to 4 February 2022.

We have thus far supported London with over £4 billion funding and these extraordinary funding settlements for Transport for London recognise the reliance of London’s transport network on fare revenue, and Government’s commitment now and in the future to mitigating loss of fare revenue because of the pandemic. This extension has provided certainty to Transport for London and to Londoners over the Christmas and New Year period while also allowing Government and Transport for London to monitor and adapt to the impact of the omicron variant of the virus.

The extended settlement will continue to support the capital and its transport network—on the same terms as previously agreed—until 4 February, when Government expect there to be a new funding settlement in place. The extension letter also includes amendments to the current settlement relating to fares and the Hammersmith bridge ferry.

On 15 December, the Department for Transport received further information and specificity from the Mayor of London relating to his proposals, set out in his letter of 8 December, to raise new income of between £0.5 billion and £1 billion in line with the commitment agreed under the June 2021 emergency settlement. The original deadline for this information was 12 November. Following receipt of the Mayor of London’s 15 December letter, the Government are satisfied that at this stage he has provided sufficient information on his proposals. We have therefore agreed to extend the current Transport for London Settlement from 17 December 2021 to 4 February 2022 so that Government are able to fully consider these proposals.

The Government are committed to supporting London and the transport network on which it depends, while balancing that with supporting the national transport network as a whole.