Monday 28 March 2022
Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
Green Freeports in Scotland: Bidding Prospectus
On 25 March, the UK Government and the Scottish Government jointly launched the bidding prospectus for green freeports, expanding the freeport programme to Scotland. The bidding period will close on 20 June 2022. The green freeports in Scotland bidding prospectus can be found at the below page:
Green Freeports will be at the forefront of delivering the Government’s net zero and levelling up agendas in Scotland. Green freeports will promote regeneration in our local areas by attracting high quality employment opportunities, promoting decarbonisation, increasing trade, and attracting investment to form innovative business clusters. This collaboration between the UK Government and the Scottish Government is evidence of the opportunities available to the whole of the UK through joint delivery of ambitious programmes.
The green freeport programme is based on the same model as the English programme and offers the same raft of incentives. Devolved elements of the offer were created in conjunction with the Scottish Government, with the UK Government sharing the lessons learnt and expertise gained from the English freeport programme.
The customs and tax models are designed to incentivise businesses to invest in green freeports. This is supplemented with seed funding to develop key infrastructure to help level up communities. New measures that speed up planning processes will accelerate this development and new initiatives will encourage innovators to drive additional economic growth and create new jobs. Potential green freeports will have to outline a decarbonisation plan which will not only help protect our environment, but help to reduce our dependence on, and vulnerability to, the fluctuating international fossil fuel market.
Green freeports will be selected according to a transparent and fair competitive bidding process. Officials from the UK and Scottish Governments will jointly assess bids, with Ministers from both Governments having an equal say on the final selection. Both Governments will look for a commitment from prospective green freeports to collaborate closely with key partners across the public and private sectors.
The UK Government will build upon this success and continue to work with the other devolved administrations to extend the freeport programme across the rest of the UK.
Digital, Data and Technology Sourcing Playbook
HM Government have today published the “Digital, Data and Technology Sourcing Playbook”. The Cabinet Office, in collaboration with industry, other Government Departments, the Central Digital and Data Office and the Digital, Data and Technology Function, has developed a ‘Digital, Data and Technology Playbook’. It both mandates how central Government Departments and arms-length bodies (ALBs) should approach sourcing digital, data and technology products and services, while laying out best practice for the wider public sector.
The Playbook reflects HM Government’s focus on maximising value for money for the taxpayer by setting projects and programmes up for success from the start. Alongside achieving value for money, our approach to commercial delivery will enable the Government to procure innovative and transformative ways of delivering public services while ensuring a focus on cyber security, tackling legacy IT and delivering on the Government’s SME agenda.
The Playbook will support the Government in opening the door to SMEs and voluntary, community and social enterprises in the digital sector, who often lead the way in innovation and will support economic growth, employment and investment opportunities across the UK.
Applying the policies and principles from the Digital, Data and Technology Playbook will enable the Government to deliver on six cross-cutting priorities which set out the ethos for the Government’s digital work and underpin what we need to consider as we undertake commercial activity:
Taking an outcome-based approach to delivering products and services focusing on user needs:
Avoiding and remediating Legacy IT and tackling our technical debt;
Ensuring cyber security to maintain operational resilience;
Enabling innovation from continuous improvement to transform new products and services;
Driving sustainability in our environment, commercial practices and economy;
Levelling the playing field for SMEs to enable economic growth, employment and investment opportunities.
Digital, data and technology underpins everything we do and enables HM Government to provide vital services for millions of citizens every day. By improving our commercial approach to digital goods and services, we will progress to a more innovative and accessible digital sector which will benefit all of our citizens. The Digital, Data and Technology Playbook can be viewed in full on www.gov.uk.
A copy of the “Digital, Data and Technology Sourcing Playbook” will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses in Parliament.
Devolved Administration Funding
Recognising the pressures people are currently facing, on 3 February the Chancellor announced that households in England will receive a £150 council tax rebate. As a result of this measure, the supplementary estimates 2021-22 confirmed £576 million through the Barnett formula for the devolved Administrations. Exceptionally, the Chancellor set out that the devolved Administrations would have the flexibility to spend that funding this year or next.
The devolved Administrations have now all confirmed that they wish to carry forward this funding in full to spend in 2022-23. They will formally receive this funding at main estimates 2022-23.
£million Scottish Government Welsh Government Northern Ireland Executive Resource DEL excluding depreciation 295.954 180.196 100.066
Northern Ireland Executive
Resource DEL excluding depreciation
The devolved Administrations’ 2021-22 funding as at supplementary estimates 2021-22 is therefore being reduced by the same amount.
In line with the statement of funding policy the Welsh Government is also switching £595 million from Resource DEL to Capital DEL (general).
This means that revised 2021-22 funding is as follows:
£million Scottish Government Welsh Government Northern Ireland Executive Resource DEL excluding depreciation 37,543.254 16,504,940 14,239.497 Capital DEL (general) 5,326.302 2,985.238 1,817.601 Capital DEL (Financial Transactions) 235.694 179.726 124.656 Total DEL 43,105.250 19,669.905 16,181.754
Northern Ireland Executive
Resource DEL excluding depreciation
Capital DEL (general)
Capital DEL (Financial Transactions)
Baseline Profit Rate 2022-23: Single Source Defence Contracts
I am today announcing that I have set the baseline profit rate (BPR) for single source defence contracts at 8.31%. This differs from the SSRO’s recommendation of 8.07%.
The SSRO calculate the BPR by taking an average of the methodology of profits earned by comparable companies, usually over the preceding three years. This year’s calculation therefore includes profits reported by firms in the comparator group for the year ending March 2021, which was the year when covid-19 had its largest economic impact. The SSRO recommended reducing the immediate effect on the BPR by using a four year average rather than the usual three. While I believe this was a sensible approach, and I support the principles of the SSRO approach, I have decided that it would be fairer to remove the effects of covid-19 completely from the calculation by using the average of the three years prior to 2021.
My reason for this is that while this BPR will be used to calculate the profit payable on single source work contracted in 2022-23, much of the work will be undertaken several years in the future, given the long-term nature of many Defence contracts. I believe it would be unfair to include in this rate the effects of an event that is as extraordinary as covid-19. In reaching this conclusion I have drawn on the analysis produced by the SSRO on the extent to which last year’s rate was unusual, and by my officials on its potential long-term effects.
I have asked the SSRO to engage with industry and my officials in returning—next year—to a market-based benchmark based on their established methodology that reflects my intention to remove the impact of covid-19. For the same reasons, I am also using the figures calculated by the SSRO for the last year before covid for the three capital servicing rates.
Last year I introduced a net zero Baseline Profit Rate for Government-to-Government Contracts. The SSRO has incorporated this into their recommendation this year. I have accepted this recommendation. I am also announcing that I am accepting the SSRO recommendation for their funding adjustment. Neither of these figures are significantly affected by wider economic factors.
These rates will also be published in the London Gazette, as required by the Defence Reform Act 2014.
All of these new rates will come into effect from 1 April 2022.
Element 2021 Rates 2022 Rates Baseline Profit Rate (BPR) (% on contract cost) 8.31% 8.31% Baseline Profit Rate to apply to contracts between the Secretary of State and a company wholly owned by the UK Government and where both parties agree (% on contract cost) 0.057% 0.046% Fixed Capital Servicing Rate (% on Fixed Capital employed) 3.27% 3.27% Working Capital Servicing Rate (% on positive Working Capital employment) 1.33% 1.33% Working Capital Servicing Rate (% on negative Working Capital employed) 0.65% 0.65% SSRO 0.057% 0.046%
Baseline Profit Rate (BPR) (% on contract cost)
Baseline Profit Rate to apply to contracts between the Secretary of State and a company wholly owned by the UK Government and where both parties agree (% on contract cost)
Fixed Capital Servicing Rate (% on Fixed Capital employed)
Working Capital Servicing Rate (% on positive Working Capital employment)
Working Capital Servicing Rate (% on negative Working Capital employed)
National Funding Formula and School Improvement Consultation
Alongside the Schools White Paper, which will enable every child to fulfil their potential by ensuring that they receive the right support, in the right place, at the right time, I am providing an update on two related elements of the Government’s work: the national funding formula and school improvement.
National funding formula
The Department for Education will today publish the Government’s response to the public consultation on moving to a “direct” schools national funding formula (NFF), where the Department would determine funding allocations for schools directly, without adjustment through local authorities’ funding formulae.
The Government response summarises views raised by respondents to the consultation, and confirms that the Government will bring forward the relevant legislation, to move to allocating funding for all mainstream schools according to a single, national formula, when parliamentary time allows. In addition, the process of transition to the direct NFF will commence in 2023-24, through bringing local authorities’ funding formulae closer to the NFF; this provision will be included in the annual School and Early Years Finance (England) Regulations. The Department will publish a second stage consultation with more detailed proposals on implementation in spring 2022.
The introduction in 2018-19 of the national funding formula for mainstream schools was a crucial step towards a fairer funding system and replacing the postcode lottery of the past. The changes set out in the Government’s response to the consultation will make the system fairer still, by ensuring that each mainstream school is allocated funding on the same basis, wherever it is in the country, and every child is given the same opportunities, based on a consistent assessment of their needs.
School improvement consultation
The Government’s 2019 manifesto set out a commitment to intervene in schools where there is entrenched underperformance. Building on this commitment, the Department for Education will today launch a public consultation seeking views on the introduction of a new measure to support schools that are not making necessary improvements. This will make schools that are currently rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ by Ofsted and were also rated less than ‘Good’ at their previous inspection eligible for intervention.
This new measure will enable the Department to support these schools, particularly those in new education investment areas, by moving them into strong academy trusts who can facilitate better collaboration, direct resources where most needed and enable our best leaders to support a greater number of schools.
The consultation will run for a period of eight weeks and will close on Monday 23 May 2022.
I will place copies of both the Government response on NFF and the consultation on school improvement measures in the Libraries of both Houses.
Schools: Capital Funding
My noble Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the School System, (Baroness Barran), has made the following statement:
Today, I am announcing capital funding to support the creation of new school places and improve the condition of the school estate. This investment will support the Government’s priority to ensure that every child has the opportunity of a place at a good school, whatever their background.
I am announcing £746 million to support local authorities to create school places needed for September 2024 and an additional £195 million to create places for September 2025.
I am also announcing £1.8 billion of capital funding in financial year 2022-23 for improving the condition of the school estate. This includes:
£1.1 billion in school condition allocations (SCA) for local authorities, large multi-academy trusts and large voluntary-aided school bodies—such as dioceses—to invest in maintaining and improving the condition of their schools.
Almost £500 million for the condition improvement fund (CIF). This is an annual bidding round for essential maintenance projects at schools in small and stand-alone academy trusts, small voluntary-aided bodies and sixth form colleges. Outcomes of the 2022-23 bidding round will be announced in due course.
Over £200 million of devolved formula capital (DFC) funding allocated directly for schools to spend on their capital priorities.
The funding announced today is part of the total £19.4 billion of capital funding announced at the 2021 spending review to support the education sector between 2022-23 and 2024-25. These funding allocations will allow local authorities and other responsible bodies to plan ahead with confidence, to invest strategically to ensure they deliver good school places for every child who needs one, and to maintain and improve the condition of the school estate to support effective education.
Full details have been published on the Department for Education section on the www.gov.uk website.
Health and Social Care
Covid-19 Vaccination: Booster Doses
The covid-19 vaccination programme has fuelled this country’s journey along the road to recovery and the best way to protect ourselves and those around us is to get vaccinated.
Research from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) estimates that around 192,000 hospitalisations have been prevented by booster doses since mid-December.
We know that immunity to covid-19 begins to wane over time and that older people and the most vulnerable are at the highest risk from this waning. We know that infections and hospitalisations from covid-19 are on the rise across the whole of the UK, as they are across Europe.
Last month, we accepted advice from the experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to offer a spring booster to those at the greatest risk. The JCVI has advised that doses should be offered to anyone who is eligible around six months after their last vaccine dose.
From Monday 21 March the NHS has started offering a spring booster jab to people aged 75 and over, residents in care homes for older adults and people aged 12 years or older who are immunosuppressed. Hundreds of visits to deliver vaccinations in care homes for older adults are planned in the coming weeks.
By the end of this week almost 1.3 million people will have been invited for their spring booster.
We have already seen a tremendous response with more than 308,000 people having received their fourth dose since the appointment system opened.
Over 5.5 million people will be eligible to get protected through this spring campaign over the coming weeks and months.
The NHS will contact people directly to let them know when it is their turn and we are asking people to wait until they are invited before they book their appointment. It will prioritise those whose clinical need is greatest, starting with those who have had the longest gap since their last dose and then working through the eligible cohorts to invite people who have waited for less time.
Everyone who is eligible will be offered a top-up over the spring and early summer and we will be keeping under close review whether these spring booster doses should be offered more widely.
People who are eligible are urged to take advantage of the protection that is on offer. Everyone across the country, no matter if this is their first jab or spring booster, is encouraged to come forward to ensure that we can all continue to work together to stay healthy and protect the NHS.
Antivirals and Therapeutics Taskforce
The UK has been a global leader in identifying and deploying successful treatments for covid-19. This work has been led by the UK Government’s therapeutics taskforce, which was established in response to the pandemic in April 2020.
In April 2020 there were no proven effective treatments for covid-19 but within two years the therapeutics taskforce successfully identified and made available a range of life-saving treatments for hospitalised and community patients. This was made possible through collaboration with key delivery partners like the National Institute for Health Research, RAPID C-19, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, and the devolved Governments. The therapeutics taskforce and partners ensured the UK were the first to discover dexamethasone reduced the risk of mortality in hospitalised covid-19 patients requiring oxygen or ventilation by up to 35%. It was made available to patients the same day the trial results were announced. The therapeutics taskforce has also made available other treatments including tocilizumab, sarilumab and sotrovimab which are widely used across the United Kingdom.
In April 2021 the Prime Minister launched the antivirals taskforce. Modelled on the success of the therapeutics taskforce and the vaccines taskforce, its purpose was to drive forward the UK’s antivirals programme with the clear objective of identifying safe and effective oral antiviral treatments that could be taken at home and deployed to UK patients this winter.
Under the leadership of the chair, Eddie Gray, the antivirals taskforce worked at pace to deliver this objective and has led the way in identifying and deploying oral antiviral treatments for covid-19. The antivirals taskforce negotiated deals on behalf of the UK Government to secure almost 5 million patient courses of oral antivirals, which is more both in volume and per head than any other country in Europe. We were also the first country in the world to administer oral antivirals to patients in the community in December 2021. The Government also funded the University of Oxford to launch the innovative, community-based PANORAMIC study, which is making oral antivirals available to individuals at high risk from covid-19 to better understand the effectiveness of these drugs in a largely vaccinated population.
The antivirals taskforce has ensured the UK is well-positioned to protect those at highest risk from severe disease progression, including those who cannot take a vaccine for medical reasons, and those for whom vaccines may be less effective, such as those who are immuno-suppressed.
As Eddie Gray’s tenure comes to an end, I would like to thank him for his leadership of the antivirals programme. His work has been instrumental to the success of the anti-virals taskforce and I wish him all the best for the future. I also want to take the opportunity to thank the NHS for their incredible work, the willingness of patients to enrol in trials and the fantastic work of all our delivery partners across both the therapeutics and antivirals programmes.
The therapeutics taskforce and the antivirals taskforce have made significant contributions to the UK’s pandemic response. The suite of effective treatments they have made available has played a vital role in lessening the severity and impact of covid-19 on individuals, the healthcare system and society. Now as the UK moves to living with covid-19, these treatments will form a vital part of the UK’s pharmaceutical responses.
As part of the UK’s strategy to live with covid-19, the therapeutics and antivirals programmes will be consolidated under a single taskforce, the antivirals and therapeutics taskforce. This taskforce will continue to work alongside the vaccines taskforce to make pharmaceutical interventions available to those who most need them. Additionally, the taskforce will continue overseeing the delivery of the PANORAMIC study and the eight national priority clinical trial platforms run by the NIHR; and ensuring lessons and innovations from our antivirals and therapeutics response to covid-19 are captured and, where appropriate, embedded.
Longer term, the work of the taskforce will transition to business as usual functions; as part of this process NICE will be undertaking a multiple technology appraisal of covid-19 therapeutics. This will involve evaluation of the clinical and cost-effectiveness of existing covid-19 therapeutics within their current or proposed marketing authorisations for treating people with covid-19. NICE has initiated preparatory work that will underpin the evaluation to enable it to issue recommendations rapidly when appropriate, and will continue to engage with stakeholders on this.
Dame Cressida Dick will conclude her tenure as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service in April. She deserves our profound gratitude for her decades of public service and leadership in policing, as well as our best wishes for the future. Dame Cressida has shown exceptional dedication to fighting crime in London and beyond throughout her time as Commissioner, as the first woman to hold the role of Commissioner.
The circumstances in which the outgoing MPS Commissioner is leaving her role warrant a closer look at the legislation which governs the suspension and removal of the Commissioner. I am pleased to announce that Sir Tom Winsor will be undertaking a formal review into the circumstances and implications of Dame Cressida’s departure. Sir Tom brings a wealth of experience, most recently as HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services. I will return to this House with his key findings at the earliest opportunity,
The Metropolitan Police Service faces major challenges and needs to demonstrate sustained improvements in order to regain public trust in London and nationally. It is vital that we get the right person for the biggest leadership role in policing in this country.
I will shortly launch the process to recruit a new Commissioner and anticipate that it will conclude in the summer. I will then make my formal recommendation to Her Majesty the Queen. My recommendation will pay regard to the views of the Mayor of London, as occupant of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.
In the immediate term following Dame Cressida’s departure, legislation enables the Deputy Commissioner, Sir Steve House, to exercise temporarily the powers and duties of the Commissioner. Sir Steve and the Mayor of London must drive improvement even before the next Commissioner is in place to ensure that the Metropolitan Police Service restores trust and takes every necessary action to keep the public safe.
New Non-zero Emission Buses: Consultation on End Date for Sale
My noble Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Baroness Vere of Norbiton) has made the following ministerial statement:
In November 2020, the Prime Minister announced his 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution. Its aim is to build back better from the pandemic, to use our recovery to level up the country, to scale up new industries and to support new green jobs across our industrial heartlands and throughout the United Kingdom as we work towards net zero by 2050.
Now, following the UK’s demonstration of global leadership on climate change, as President and host of COP 26, I am pleased to tell the House that we continue to deliver on that plan. In Bus Back Better we committed to set a legal end date for the sale of new diesel buses—today we are launching a consultation to set an end date for the sale of new, non-zero emission buses across the UK, working together across the United Kingdom to provide certainty to the market, stimulating innovation and investment in alternative approaches and encourage local authorities and bus operators to plan together to deliver a decarbonised bus fleet.
Buses are at the centre of the public transport network, connecting people right across the country, playing a vital role in fostering and strengthening communities, reducing congestion and helping build a high-growth, high-productivity economy across the UK. Buses are already one of the most environmentally friendly ways of travelling, and this policy will go further, ensuring that their future operation produces no carbon impact—with no negative impact on passengers.
Last year, the Government published the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, which set out our plans to decarbonise all transport. The plan reaffirmed the crucial role that public transport has in tackling climate change, with buses having an integral position at the centre of the public transport network—but also recognising the huge contribution from the coach and minibus industry.
To this end we are today launching a consultation on setting an end date for the sale of new non-zero emission buses, at the very latest by 2032. Importantly this consultation also sets out calls for evidence on setting an end of sales date for coaches and minibuses.
Late last year, we announced almost £71 million in new funding to support 335 zero-emission buses across five local areas in England, and on Saturday we announced almost £200 million in further funding, for almost 1,000 more zero emission buses—delivering on our promise to build 4,000 new zero-emission buses right across the country. We will continue to go further and provide greater support for zero-emission buses through the Bus Service Operators’ Grant, from April 2022, ahead of a wider reform to refocus the scheme on reducing emissions, levelling up and keeping fares low.
This Government’s National Bus Strategy, Bus Back Better, lays out actions to drive this transition to zero-emission buses. This consultation begins to deliver one of the key commitments in the strategy. We want zero-emission buses not only to be the right choice environmentally but to be the default choice for operators economically, with maintenance and fuel saving costs making it the only logical purchasing decision.
As we recover from covid-19, we are putting transport at the heart of our decisions. Building back better and greener will make our economy more sustainable and resilient, help us deliver cleaner air and lower carbon emissions, and benefit passengers across the country. Accelerating the transition to a zero-emission bus fleet is absolutely key to this.