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Written Statements

Volume 711: debated on Thursday 31 March 2022

Written Statements

Thursday 31 March 2022

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

North Sea Transition Authority

As the House is aware, the North sea transition deal was agreed with the oil and gas industry a year ago. This is a central part of the energy transition and a global exemplar of how an oil and gas producer can plan for a smooth transition away from our reliance on fossil fuels. The urgency of this transition along with the ongoing need for oil and gas has been highlighted by Putin’s war against Ukraine.

The role of the oil and gas authority has developed over the past few years, and its name reflected only one part of the work that it does. It has now changed its name to the North Sea Transition Authority. The Government were consulted and supports this change.

The new name better represents the breadth of work it now undertakes and its pivotal role in supporting the UK upstream oil and gas industry to achieve net zero emissions.

Oil and gas currently meet around 75% of the UK’s energy demand and they will continue to play a vital part in the energy mix for decades to come as we head to net zero. Oil and gas will have a key role to play in our transition to net zero, and sourcing gas domestically can have significant environmental benefits compared to importing it from abroad. The North Sea Transition Authority is helping the industry reduce its own emissions and is now considerably more active in supporting the broader energy transition.

Recent geopolitical events have also made it clearer than ever that security of supply remains of vital importance as the transition is achieved, and the North Sea Transition Authority will remain resolutely focused on its role in ensuring energy security as the body which stewards the oil and gas industry, both on and offshore.

The new name of the North Sea Transition Authority reflects the changing world and its changing role, but also the importance of our North sea to the UK’s energy future. The sector is also an important part of our economy, supporting around 118,000 jobs across the UK, and paying over £30 billion in tax since 2010.

I plan to return to update the House on progress in implementing the North sea transition deal in due course.

[HCWS766]

Bulb Energy Limited: Letter of Credit for Energy Administrators

Today I will lay before Parliament a departmental minute describing a contingent liability arising from the issuance of a letter of credit for the energy administrators acting in the special administration regime for Bulb Energy Limited (Bulb). This letter of credit replaces a previous one originally provided in December, with an extension announced within a written ministerial statement on 2 March, which has now expired.

It is normal practice when a Government Department proposes to undertake a contingent liability of £300,000 and above, for which there is no specific statutory authority, for the Department concerned to present Parliament with a minute giving particulars of the liability created and explaining the circumstances.

I regret that, due to negotiations with the counterparty only just concluding, I have not been able to follow the usual notification timelines to allow consideration of these issues in advance of issuing the letter of credit.

Bulb entered the energy supply company special administration regime on 24 November 2021. Energy administrators were appointed by court to achieve the statutory objective of continuing energy supplies at the lowest reasonable practicable cost until such time as it becomes unnecessary for the special administration to remain in force for that purpose.

My Department has agreed to provide a facility to the energy administrators, with a letter of credit issued, with my approval, to guarantee such contract, code, licence, or other document obligations of the company consistent with the special administration’s statutory objective. I will update the House if any letters of credit are drawn against.

The legal basis for a letter of credit is section 165 of the Energy Act 2004, as applied and modified by section 96 of the Energy Act 2011.

HM Treasury has approved the arrangements in principle.

[HCWS746]

Performance Targets for the Intellectual Property Office

Our innovation strategy sets out our ambitions for an innovation-led economy. Now, more than ever, we must support innovators as the UK looks to embrace the science and innovation that is at the heart of our post-pandemic economic plan to build back better.

For a company and as a country, having your IP secure makes life more enjoyable, easier, safer, and prosperous, giving researchers, inventors, creators, businesses and organisations the confidence to invest their time, energy and money in doing something new.

This confidence is essential. It incentivises innovation which drives economic growth and improvements in society.

The UK is fortunate to start from an enviable position. We are already renowned for our leadership in research and our excellent scientific institutions that generate life-changing technological advances. We are home to many innovative businesses, from established global players to burgeoning start-ups. Our research and development (R&D) roadmap has committed to unprecedented levels of public investment (a 30% increase) in R&D. And our creative industries are known around the world for their excellence in fields as diverse as music, cinema, literature and computer games.

Innovation drives economic growth and creates jobs. However, too few businesses are aware of and able to access the tools they need to translate new ideas into new products and services and to challenge established businesses. We are committed to making the UK the best ecosystem in the world for starting and growing a business. That means having the best access to capital, skills and ideas, as well as a smart and stable regulatory framework.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) corporate priorities 2022-23 will, through its stewardship of the IP system, play a fundamental role in ensuring the UK becomes the most innovative and creative country in the world. The IPO is an ambitious, growing organisation that aims to be the best IP office in the world. The IPO team has a clear plan to deliver its corporate priorities and provide excellent services internally and externally, shaping our UK IP environment and making the IPO a first-class place to work.

As an Executive agency and trading fund of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the IPO has set targets which are agreed by Ministers and laid before Parliament. I am glad that today I can inform the House that for 2022-23 the IPO’s strategic targets are:

By the end of March 2023, the service design, business processes and technical requirements for all six transformation projects (manage, secure, challenge, registers, search and IP journals) will be fully defined and documented.

Achieve an average overall customer satisfaction of 85% or more.

Produce a strategic threat and harm intelligence assessment of intellectual property rights infringement (by November 2022).

To achieve efficiencies worth at least 3.5% of our core operating costs.

IPO will work with BEIS and other partner organisations to review its priorities regularly, ensuring they support wider Government aims and that its efforts and resources are focused where they will have the most significant impact driving UK innovation and a creative economy.

[HCWS745]

Cabinet Office

Pay Remit Guidance 2022-23

Today we publish this year’s civil service pay remit guidance. This document provides a framework for setting pay for civil servants throughout the civil service, including Departments, non-ministerial Departments and agencies, as well as for public sector workers in non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) and other arm’s length bodies for the 2022-23 pay remit year.

This Government want to ensure that they are attracting the best and brightest to work for the civil service, and rewarding hard working staff fairly. Civil servants benefit from a competitive employment offer including access to one of the best pension schemes available amongst other benefits. In addition to this, our ambition is for the civil service to be the most inclusive employer in the country, offering opportunities and a chance to progress in challenging roles, delivering vital public services across the country.

With economic recovery under way, this year’s pay guidance is framed by the commitment of this Government to deliver on their extensive agenda that will require reform of the capacity and capability of the civil service. We need to ensure that the civil service is equipped with the right skills and values, and that the policymakers are closer to the communities they serve. However, we must also balance pay settlements with our macroeconomic objectives and the need to invest in high quality public services. This remit guidance ensures broad parity with private sector wage settlements while providing fair pay rises for hard working staff.

This year’s guidance sets out that civil service organisations are able to make pay awards of up to 3%. They will have freedom to pay average awards up to 2%, with a further 1% to be targeted at specific priorities in their workforce and pay strategies. In addition, organisations are able to fund legal requirements of increases to the national living wage (NLW) by 6.6% to £9.50 per hour from April 2022. As the Chancellor stated, this will ensure that we are making work pay and keeps us on track to meet our target to end low pay by the end of this Parliament.

[HCWS756]

Treasury

Oil and Gas Decommissioning Relief Deeds

At Budget 2013, the Government announced it would begin signing decommissioning relief deeds. These deeds represented a new contractual approach to provide oil and gas companies with certainty on the level of tax relief they will receive on future decommissioning costs.

Since October 2013, the Government have entered into 101 decommissioning relief deeds.

Offshore Energies UK estimates that these deeds have so far unlocked approximately £8.3 billion of capital, which can now be invested elsewhere.

The Government committed to report to Parliament every year on progress with the decommissioning relief deeds. The report for financial year 2020-21 is provided below.

Number of decommissioning relief agreements entered into: the Government entered into 2 decommissioning relief agreements in 2020-21.

Total number of decommissioning relief agreements in force at the end of that year: 98 decommissioning relief agreements were in force at the end of the year.

Number of payments made under any decommissioning relief agreements during that year, and the amount of each payment: two payments were made under a decommissioning relief agreement in 2020-21, for £49 million in total. These were made in relation to the provision recognised by HM Treasury in 2015, as a result of a company defaulting on its decommissioning obligations.

Total number of payments that have been made under any decommissioning relief agreements as at the end of that year, and the total amount of those payments: eight payments have been made under any decommissioning relief agreement as at the end of the 2020-21 financial year, totalling £197.6 million.

Estimate of the maximum amount liable to be paid under any decommissioning relief agreements: the Government has not made any changes to the tax regime that would generate a liability to be paid under any decommissioning relief agreements. HM Treasury’s 2021-22 accounts will recognise a provision of £167.1 million in respect of decommissioning expenditure incurred as a result of a company defaulting on their decommissioning obligations1. The majority of this is expected to be realised over the next two years.

1This figure takes into account payments made subsequent to the financial year covered by this written ministerial statement.

[HCWS761]

Homes for Ukraine Scheme: Tax Exemptions for Sponsorship Payments

The Government have already announced that sponsorship payments under the Homes for Ukraine scheme will be tax-free and are today setting out more information on how we will legislate to ensure this is the case.

The Government intend to legislate within Finance Bill 2022-23 to ensure that the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship payment, made by Local Authorities to sponsors under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, will be exempt from income tax and corporation tax. The legislation will be retrospective with effect from the date the first payments to sponsors will be made. The payment will not be chargeable to national insurance contributions.

The Government have also introduced legislation to disregard payments made under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme when calculating income for the purposes of tax credits.

HM Revenue and Customs will not collect any tax that may have been due on payments made from the date the first payments to sponsors will be made to the date the legislation takes overriding effect.

As the payments will be treated as non-taxable income, any expenses that could otherwise have been offset against taxable income will not be allowable as a tax deduction (e.g. expenses incurred by landlords in relation to the property).

Application of the annual tax on enveloped dwellings and 15% rate of stamp duty land tax for sponsors under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme

The Government intend to legislate within Finance Bill 2022-23 so that those companies that currently qualify for the existing reliefs available from the annual tax on enveloped dwellings (ATED) and the 15% rate of stamp duty land tax (SDLT) for dwellings used in a property development or property trading business or let on a commercial basis will continue to be able to claim the relief while the dwellings are being used under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

Where a company purchases a property for a purpose that would otherwise be relievable from the 15% rate of SDLT, relief will continue to be available if the property is to be temporarily used under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

Where a dwelling does not currently qualify for relief from ATED, before the property is included in the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, ATED relief will be available from the point of occupation where the entire dwelling is used under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

The legislation will have effect from 1 April 2022 for ATED and from the date of this statement for the 15% rate of SDLT. From those dates and to the date the legislation takes overriding effect, HM Revenue and Customs will not collect any ATED or SDLT that may have been due following a change in the use of the dwelling to be part of the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

[HCWS760]

Education

Education Update

Following the launch of the Schools White Paper, which pledged that any child falling behind in maths or English will get the support they need to catch-up, I am today providing an update to the House on one of the Government’s most significant programmes supporting pupils to recover from the effects of the pandemic. My update today addresses our work to further develop the national tutoring programme to put schools in the best possible position to develop a high-quality tutoring offer for their pupils to benefit from in the next academic year.

On 14 March, I announced that over 1 million courses had been started through the programme since its inception in November 2020. I am now pleased to advise the House that our latest estimates show that 1.2 million courses have now been started, which means that the Government remain on track to deliver the ambitious target of up to 6 million courses by 2024. Today’s estimates also show that more than 887,500 courses have been started this academic year. Of these around 675,000 were provided through school-led tutoring, which we have enabled by providing funding directly to schools that wish to deliver tutoring via their own staff. From today we are starting a schedule of regular, half-termly data reporting to set out the participation of schools and pupils across all three routes from national to local authority level.

To ensure that as many pupils as possible can benefit from high-quality tutoring, we are today announcing that schools will have the flexibility to extend their tuition offer throughout the summer break. This will allow more pupils to benefit from targeted academic support and includes tuition provided via tuition partners, academic mentors and school-led tutoring. This reflects our commitment to invest in proven approaches, responding to the positive feedback from schools about the teaching provision they were able to offer in summer 2021.

In light of the success of school-led tutoring this year, we have decided that from the next academic year all national tutoring programme funding will go directly to schools. This will simplify the system and give schools the freedom to decide how best to provide tutoring for their pupils. This means that schools can still use their own staff to deliver tutoring and also continue to engage tuition partners they have worked with this year. Schools can also still employ academic mentors already on their staff. We will provide new support to schools that wish to find a tuition partner to work with them next year, and we will continue to recruit a pool of academic mentors for deployment to schools that request them.

We will share with schools their individual funding allocations in the summer term. These will be determined by each school’s number of disadvantaged pupils, which will mean that tutoring will continue to be targeted at those pupils who need it most. Schools will be able to use this funding to cover 60% of the cost of tutoring delivered in AY22-23. For the following year, schools can use national tutoring programme funding to cover 25% of the cost of tutoring.

The Department for Education will launch a procurement process in April to appoint one or more delivery partners to quality assure tuition partners, recruit and deploy academic mentors and provide high-quality training to new tutors. Launching a new procurement means that we will not be taking up the option to renew the contract currently held with Randstad beyond its initial contract term, which ends on 31 August 2022. We are grateful to Randstad for their contribution.

[HCWS755]

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Budget of the Office for Environmental Protection

The Secretary of State is setting out the budget for the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) for the financial year 2022-23 and an indicative budget for five years which will be protected by DEFRA within this spending review period. This will ensure the OEP has sufficient funds to carry out its statutory functions in England and gives greater certainty to the OEP over its long-term finances with which to plan its activities. The Northern Ireland contribution to the OEP’s budget, reflecting the additional cost of the OEP’s functions in Northern Ireland, is subject to ongoing discussion and will be confirmed in due course.

Following DEFRA’s internal assurance of the budget allocation, the OEP will receive:

In 2022-23: a ring-fenced baseline budget of £7,108,583, and additional funding of £4,364,366, totalling £11,472,949

In 2023-24: a ring-fenced baseline budget of £7,250,755

In 2024-25: a ring-fenced baseline budget of £7,395,770

The indicative baseline budget for 2025-26 is £7,543,685 and for 2026-27 is £7,694,559.

The total funding of £11.47 million for the upcoming financial year includes an additional £4.36 million to support the OEP’s establishment costs. The 2022-23 baseline budget of £7.11 million to cover ongoing operational costs and the exercise of the OEP’s statutory functions will increase year on year allowing for inflation, forming the five-year indicative budget.

The OEP’s baseline budget is ring fenced for the duration of the spending review period and the OEP will not be subject to savings. As with the use of any public funds, we expect the OEP to manage its budget with a high standard of probity, declare in-year underspends and return any unspent funds to the Department.

Should the OEP be asked to undertake additional duties which increases the cost of undertaking its functions, the Secretary of State will ensure supplementary funding is available so that the OEP’s funding overall remains sufficient. Further, should the OEP identify additional needs in 2022-23 or future years it will be able to bid for supplementary funds through a bespoke budget allocation process.

DEFRA will also conduct a review within 18 months of the OEP being set up in line with Cabinet Office guidance regarding new arm’s length bodies. This will provide an early assessment of the effectiveness and long-term resource requirements of the body.

[HCWS750]

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

British Council Annual Report and Accounts 2020-2021

Copies of the British Council’s annual report and accounts for the 2020-21 financial year have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The British Council is a world leader in promoting Britain, fostering cultural relations and sharing our values. It boosts British arts and culture, education and the English language, working with individuals across the globe by helping transform people’s lives; and it works with Governments and a variety of organisations to spread long-term benefits through societies. The British Council connects the best of the UK with the world, and the best of the world with the UK.

In 2020-21 the British Council received £149 million grant-in-aid from the FCO/FCDO. It reached a total of 745 million people, creating 67 million direct interactions though a presence in over 100 countries. Such connections, based on an understanding of each other’s strengths and shared values, build an enduring trust. The British Council projects UK values around the world, bringing significant returns to the UK’s security, prosperity and influence.

The annual report can also be found at the British Council’s website: www.britishcouncil.org.

[HCWS747]

Contingent Liability Notification: Ukraine Guarantee

Today, I have laid a departmental minute which describes a liability the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is undertaking to support the economic stability of Ukraine after the Russian invasion in March 2022.

It is normal practice, when a Government Department proposes to undertake a contingent liability in excess of £300,000 for which there is no specific statutory authority, for the Minister concerned to present a departmental minute to Parliament giving particulars of the liability created and explaining the circumstances.

The FCDO will guarantee up to $450 million or EUR-equivalent (approximately €410 million or £344 million at the current exchange rate) of financing by the World Bank to the Government of Ukraine. It will enable $450 million of additional World Bank financing to the Government of Ukraine.

It is normal that, any contingent liabilities should not be incurred until 14 sitting days after Parliament has been notified of the Government’s intention to incur a contingent liability but there is an exception in cases of special urgency, such as this.

The next World Bank loan is planned for mid-April. We want our guarantee to be ready to increase the size of this loan and ensure resources reach the people of Ukraine as quickly as possible. We cannot wait for the House to return before creating this contingent liability.

The exact length of the liability is dependent on the agreed loan by the World Bank but is expected to last up to 25 years. FCDO would only pay official development assistance if a default occurs as agreed with the World Bank. The departmental minute sets this out in detail.

HM Treasury has approved the proposal in principle and the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee has been notified.

I am placing today a copy of the departmental minute in the Library of the House.

[HCWS751]

Hong Kong Six-monthly Report

The latest six-monthly report on the implementation of the Sino-British joint declaration on Hong Kong was published today, and is attached. It covers the period from 1 July to 31 December 2021. The report has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. A copy is also available on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office website

( https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-development-office ). I commend the report to the House.

The attachment can be viewed online at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2022-03-31/HCWS765/.

[HCWS765]

UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement Domestic Advisory Group: Membership

The Government ran an expression of interest campaign from 19 October 2021 until 29 November 2021 to determine membership of the domestic advisory group and civil society forum, the two formal civil society engagement channels provided for in the trade and co-operation agreement (TCA).

Today, after careful analysis of applications to try to ensure a balanced, sectoral and geographical representation of civil society organisations, the Government are publishing the membership list for the UK domestic advisory group.

The members are:

ADS Group Ltd (Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space)

Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC)

Airlines UK

Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry

Bar Council of England & Wales

British Beer and Pub Association

British Chambers of Commerce

British International Freight Association (BIFA)

British Meat Processors Association (BMPA)

British Medical Association

British Ports Association

Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

Chartered Accountants Ireland

Chemical Business Association

Citizens Advice

Dairy Council for Northern Ireland

Energy UK

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

Food and Drink Federation (FDF)

Greener UK

GuildHE

Law Society of England and Wales

LIVE (Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment)

Logistics UK

Make UK

National Council for Voluntary Organisations

National Farmers’ Union

NHS Confederation

Road Haulage Association

Scotch Whisky Association

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

Scottish Fishermen’s Federation

techUK

The Business Services Association (BSA)

TheCityUK

Trades Union Congress (TUC) plus four other unions represented through TUC (five seats total)

UK Music

UKFinance

United Kingdom Association of Fish Producer Organisations (UKAFPO)

Universities UK

Wales Council for Voluntary Action

Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA)

The membership list will be kept under review and additional members will be considered in the future. We are preparing for the domestic advisory group to meet in April.

The Government are in discussions with the European Commission to finalise the date for the first civil society forum. The UK delegation to the civil society forum will be announced once the guidelines which underpin the forum are agreed by the TCA Partnership Council.

[HCWS752]

Health and Social Care

PPE Stock Management

The Government rightly prioritised saving lives throughout this pandemic. The scale of the challenge we faced should not be underestimated. We have worked tirelessly to source lifesaving PPE, delivering more than 19.1 billion items to protect frontline health and care staff.

Global demand for PPE reached unparalleled levels at the outset of the pandemic, which resulted in huge disruption across the market for PPE.

Our fight was against a new infection and at the outset, the data to determine what PPE the health and care sectors needed did not exist. Requirement for supplies was initially forecast on reasonable worst-case scenario modelling, and we now know less PPE was needed in practice.

However, in a fast-moving world of tough choices too much was preferable to too little given this was about saving lives. We had to plan for the worst. As the orders were being placed during the height of the crisis, when the market was extremely volatile, we had to factor in the likely non-performance of contracts.

We are now in a position where we have high confidence that we have sufficient stock to cover all future covid-19 related demands, even in the face of new variants of concern such as we have seen with omicron and with cases of the BA.2 lineage rising.

Not only this, but we now have the capability to produce most of what we need here in the UK across all categories except for gloves.

Where we have surplus stock, including stock that has turned out not to be suitable for use in the NHS, we have employed a range of measures to reduce it including selling, re-using and donating both in this country and internationally, recycling, and by pursuing return or recovery of costs through the original supplier.

Where products have failed quality assurance, or if products were ordered that have not arrived, the Department is taking action to determine whether a breach of contract has occurred. The investigations into contracts where we have some degree of dissatisfaction due to our high standards of quality control, or due to clear contractual breach, relate to 176 contracts.

We are working through the dispute resolution process and we are aiming to recoup significant amounts. The Department has already reduced the supply of PPE by varying and curtailing contracts. As at 18 December, the Department had negotiated the cancellation or variation of contracts to reduce the original supply of PPE by 1.21 billion items that would have cost £572 million.

Sales

To date we have achieved the sale of 330 million masks to two private companies, and we have other deals in the pipeline.

We are also about to launch an online auction to sell PPE, so individuals and companies may bid for our excess stock. Details are available on Gov.UK.

Repurposing

There are a number of items that meet all technical requirements and are suitable for use in the NHS, but they are not the preferred option. For example, self-construct visors which take four to six minutes to build were not overly appropriate for clinical settings with high usage.

However, the items were high quality and have been used in settings which allow for less time-pressured set up, such as by dentists.

Similarly, flatpack aprons have been able to be distributed for use in social care settings.

Shelf-life extension

We are exploring shelf-life extension for items that are in demand.

The Department has appointed a third-party medical laboratory to provide testing of certain categories of PPE products to see how viable it is to extend their shelf life without the products being compromised where this fits with our overall plans.

Donations

We have donated a large number of products domestically to support this country’s road to recovery underpinned by the fantastic success of our vaccination rollout. This includes 207 million masks being supplied to our schools so that pupils could get back to learning in classrooms with their peers and 38 million to transport operators to help get Britain moving once again as we begin to live with the virus. Masks have also been distributed to charities and polling stations.

Having this stock has also allowed us to provide items across the world to support the global fight against the virus.

So far, working with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, we have donated 500,000 items to Lebanon, Nepal and Overseas Territories and are in discussions with other countries and multilateral organisations, working to finalise agreements and logistics with over 30 countries. We have also donated to Ukraine, as part of a wider package of UK Government support.

Recycling

After successful trials, we have now recycled 23 million visors into plastic food trays. We are also in the process of recycling 53 thousand pallets of aprons and eye protectors; aprons are being made into bin bags, “Bags for Life" and other high-demand products.

Disposals

Our priorities are to sell, donate, repurpose or recycle wherever we can. Nevertheless, there are some PPE products that we cannot reuse or recycle. The majority of PPE items are designed to be single use and disposed of as medical waste and so are often made up of complex chains of polymers. These items cannot be broken down for recycling. As a result, many of the products we hold are not able to be fully recycled and around half are completely non-recyclable.

We have awarded contracts to two expert waste service providers. These lead waste providers will review the feasibility of recycling each item across our excess and provide detailed options.

To reduce storage costs, we must accelerate the speed of our programme, particularly for stock that is likely to become out-of-date before it is ever used and is unsuitable for recycling. For every pallet of PPE we sell, repurpose, donate and recycle, taxpayers save on average £2.75 a week for years to come.

The amount taxpayers will save from taking this decisive action would, for example, be enough to employ around 1,850 nurses for a year.

We will work with our lead waste providers to examine wider disposal options including through “energy from waste” processes. Environmental concerns will be key, and we will be taking into consideration the Government’s waste hierarchy, prioritising recycling, and then energy from waste for that proportion of stock which we hold that cannot be recycled.

Our priorities are to keep selling, repurposing and donating the stock that we can but at the same time taking a realistic, pragmatic approach to managing stock and putting in place solutions that make sense economically and environmentally.

[HCWS762]

Health and Social Care: 2022-23 Mandate for NHS England

As we are learning to live with covid, we must now return our focus to delivering the Government’s important strategic goals for health and care, including—subject to the agreement of Parliament—by taking forward the further reforms set out in the Health and Care Bill, which is nearing its final stages.

We can define our goals in terms of four key priorities. First, we must prioritise prevention, supporting people to live healthier lives with reduced risk of future health problems. This is crucial if we are to ensure that health and care services can focus resources on those who most need them. It is a central theme of the Government’s command paper “Build Back Better: Our Plan for Health and Social Care” and also supports our action plan on levelling up the United Kingdom.

Secondly, we must create more personalisation—empowering people by putting them in control of their own care. Thirdly we must prioritise performance—driving up the quality of care by working smarter. And in achieving our goals, we must support our people, without whom health and care services could not provide high quality and safe care to all who need it.

I am today laying before Parliament the Government’s 2022-23 mandate for NHS England. This sets out the action that the Government expect the NHS to take in the year ahead in support of these four priorities. There is a firm focus on recovering important NHS-led services that have been impacted by the pandemic. Beyond that, there will be further progress on the NHS long term plan, which will be updated in summer 2022 to ensure it remains aligned to the Government’s post-pandemic priorities. It then paves the way for more resilient and integrated health and care services in future, with excellent leadership, a culture of transparency and openness, and a strong commitment to support and develop the NHS workforce. Key work remains on covid-19. High rates of infection will still need to be managed as we shift from pandemic to endemic.

The revenue and capital resource limits for NHS England in 2022-23 set out in the mandate reflect the updated NHS financial settlement and also take account of the additional support provided through the 2021 spending review to fund the biggest catch-up programme in NHS history.

Also as required by the Act, I am today laying a revised 2021-22 mandate. This revision is to update NHS England’s capital and revenue resource limits for 2021-22 in light of in-year funding decisions.

[HCWS764]

Home Department

Independent Office for Police Conduct Annual Report and Accounts 2020-2021

I am today, along with my the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for South East Cambridgeshire (Lucy Frazer), publishing the 2020-21 annual report and accounts for the Independent Office for Police Conduct [HC 1237]. This will be laid before the House and published on www.gov.uk. The report will also be available in the Vote Office.

[HCWS757]

Grand Chamber ECtHR Judgment in Big Brother Watch and Others v. UK

On 25 May 2021 the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights handed down its judgment in the case of Big Brother Watch and others v. UK (BBW). The case concerned the lawfulness of the historic legal frameworks for bulk interception and targeted acquisition of communications data in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) as well as the receipt of intelligence from international partners.

Crucially, the judgment found that bulk interception is not in itself a violation of the European convention on human rights (ECHR) and indeed noted its critical importance as a tool for identifying threats to our national security. The judgment also endorsed the arrangements for international sharing of intelligence.

There were some deficiencies identified in the function of the regime under RIPA, most of which have already been rectified with the introduction of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (IPA), and I write today to set out how the Government plan to deal with the remaining issues.

First, the Court found that an application for a bulk interception warrant should set out the types or categories of selectors that may be liable for selection following interception to provide extra context to the decision maker approving the warrant. When the IPA came into force, it introduced a list of “operational purposes”, in effect the reasons for which an agency may select data for examination once obtained under a bulk warrant. The list is provided to the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament every three months and is reviewed by the Prime Minister every year.

The Government consider that these operational purposes are sufficient to satisfy the requirement imposed by the Court. Furthermore, my officials, in conjunction with those in the security and intelligence agencies, are undertaking a review of the operational purposes with this requirement in mind.

Secondly, the Court found that the use of certain “strong” selectors such as a personal email address or mobile telephone number clearly linking to an identified person, should be subject to prior internal authorisation, on top of the existing requirements to demonstrate each is used only where strictly necessary and proportionate in relation to bulk interception and is in accordance with all other applicable safeguards.

The security and intelligence agencies use strong selectors to select data acquired under bulk interception warrants under part 6, chapter 1 of the IPA. Where those strong selectors are applied to identifiable individuals, prior internal authorisation will be required. Plans to implement this additional step are already well-developed and are soon due to be incorporated into the systems used by the analysts within the security and intelligence agencies. This will be accompanied by additional guidance and training.

Thirdly, the Court ruled that in order to be compliant with article 10 ECHR, prior judicial authorisation should be sought where targeting with strong selectors using bulk interception will lead to the targeting of journalists or the acquisition and retention of confidential journalistic material. This additional robust safeguard will provide further enhancements to the protections for journalists and sources. My officials have been working with the security and intelligence agencies and with the Investigatory Powers Commissioners Office to establish the process for prior judicial authorisation and we will be making necessary changes to primary legislation and codes of practice in due course.

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Windrush Lessons Learned Review

Today we are publishing the “Windrush Lessons Learned Review - Progress Update” which focuses on the work undertaken by the Home Office over the past two years in response to the initial Windrush lessons learned review. I am grateful to Wendy Williams as independent adviser and her team for returning to assess the Home Office’s progress since the publication of her original report in March 2020.

The initial Windrush review exposed unacceptable failings in the Home Office and an “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race, and the history of the Windrush generation”. I accepted Wendy Williams’ findings when the original report was published and I continue to repeat both my sincere heartfelt apology to those impacted from the Windrush generation and the wider Commonwealth and my commitment to righting the wrongs so that the mistakes of the past are not repeated.

I published a comprehensive improvement plan in September 2020 which set out the actions we intended to take in response to the Windrush lessons learned review. I am pleased that, in reviewing progress, Wendy Williams concludes that we have risen to the challenge she set us. She states that there are several areas where very good progress has been made and structures have been put in place which should provide appropriate levels of oversight of the Department in the future. She has also seen excellent behaviour and initiatives from members of staff and teams.

I am confident that we have started to deliver the meaningful change that the Windrush generation and wider public expect and deserve from the Home Office. I also believe that we have already made significant progress in creating the culture shift that Wendy Williams challenged us to bring about. I am proud of the work that we have already undertaken in response to the Windrush lessons learned review.

We have now offered £45 million through the Windrush compensation scheme, with £37.7 million paid across 993 claims. We have also provided over 14,800 individuals with documentation confirming their status or British citizenship.

Whilst commending our overall progress and commitment, Wendy Williams has identified areas where we still need to go further. She recognises the major programme of work which has taken place, and that the scale of our ambition to achieve genuine cultural change requires ongoing reflection, commitment to constant improvement and time. I welcome this progress update and we will continue to build on the progress which has been made.

It remains our mission to make the Home Office a better place to serve the public. I am grateful to my permanent secretaries and senior officials whose dedication to improving the department and making amends remains resolute. I extend my gratitude to the civil servants in the Home Office and across government who continue to rise to the challenge that the Windrush lessons learned review has set us all, and who work tirelessly every single day in challenging and demanding roles to keep the public and our country safe. Like me, they recognise that there is much work still to deliver the vision set out in our comprehensive improvement plan. I am confident that together we can achieve that.

The Progress Update will be made available on gov.uk at: Windrush Lessons Learned Review: progress update - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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Work of the Home Office

Today I am updating Parliament on Home Office delivery since my statement of 16 December 2021. The Department is committed to delivering better outcomes for the public and will continue to work to deliver a safer, fairer and more prosperous United Kingdom.

The Home Office's humanitarian response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and our delivery of robust economic crime measures

I am working with the Ukrainian Government and international partners to hold Putin to account and support the brave people of Ukraine.

The Government launched two humanitarian schemes to provide a safe route for Ukrainians who want to come to the UK, quickly standing up the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Homes for Ukraine Scheme. We streamlined the process to allow Ukrainians with valid passports to apply purely online and continue to work with partners to ensure that Ukrainians arriving here can access the right support.

The Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act provides greater powers to sanction oligarchs and businesses associated with the Russian Government. The Government have brought forth an additional 428 sanction designations since Royal Assent on 15 March. The legislation also introduces a new register of overseas entities, requiring those behind foreign companies which own UK property to reveal their identities, and strengthens the unexplained wealth orders regime.

The oligarch taskforce is helping build cases against its list of oligarchs. Internationally, we are clamping down on sanctions evasion across jurisdictions through the Russian elites, proxies and oligarchs international taskforce. The National Crime Agency’s Combating Kleptocracy Unit is providing operational capability to target corrupt elites as well as the professional enablers of these corrupt elites and support criminal cross-HMG sanctions delivery and enforcement.

Reducing crime

We are focused on delivering our beating crime plan, making Britain safer with less crime, fewer victims and safer streets.

As of 31 December 2021, we have recruited over 11,000 police officers, against our target of 20,000 by March 2023.

Our work on serious violence has provided services to those communities most affected. We launched round four of the safer streets fund which directs funding to projects tackling acquisitive crime, anti-social behaviour and violence against women and girls. We are making progress on our work to tackle violence against women and girls; we have published our violence against women and girls strategy, published the first ever stand-alone domestic abuse plan and launched the “Enough” communications campaign which highlights the action people can take to safely challenge violence against women and girls.

The Angiolini inquiry, set up to better understand how a serving police officer was able to abduct, rape and murder Sarah Everard and ensure that lessons for policing are identified and learned, started work in January 2022. The independent inquiry to investigate the death of Dawn Sturgess was formally established on 17 March 2022.

Reducing the risk from terrorism to the UK and UK interests overseas, securing a safe and prosperous UK

In February, the threat to the UK from terrorism was reduced to substantial from severe. Whilst positive, the security landscape remains complex, volatile and unpredictable as the attack outside Liverpool women's hospital and the killing of Sir David Amess sadly reminds us. The Home Office continues in its efforts, working with operational partners, to build improvements into the UK’s counter-terrorism response.

Enabling the legitimate movement of people and goods to support economic prosperity

Since launching the points-based immigration system, we have continued to attract worldwide talent and skills whilst encouraging business to invest in British people. Latest statistics show the number of visas issued across work and study routes is now exceeding pre-pandemic levels, 677,000 in 2021.

We will in the coming period implement the plan for growth measures, including the launch of the new global business mobility routes, high potential individual route and scale-up route, which support inward trade and investment and provide UK businesses access to a more flexible pool of highly-skilled workers.

Alongside new routes, we expanded capability for a fully digital application process in December 2021, improving our ability to re-use and re-check biometrics, allowing more people to benefit from a fully digital journey.

We have supported the care sector to boost their workforce by expanding eligibility for the health and social care visa to include health care assistants.

I announced a joint National Crime Agency and leading social media companies action plan to foster greater collaboration against crime groups that use online platforms to advertise illegal migration services; relevant illegal online content is already being removed.

Tackling illegal migration, removing those with no right to be here, and protecting the vulnerable

The Home Office is working to deliver a fair but firm system to ensure that we can better support those in genuine need of asylum, deter illegal migration, break the business model of criminal smuggling networks and remove from the UK those with no right to be here.

Last year, I launched and consulted on my new plan for immigration and introduced the Nationality and Borders Bill, which is advancing through Parliament on its path to Royal Assent.

The Bill will reset the legislative framework to meet objectives including the reduction of small boat crossings and deterring illegal entry into the UK. It incorporates tougher criminal offences for those attempting to enter the UK illegally by introducing a suite of asylum reforms and expedited processes to allow rapid removal of those with no right to be here.

We have worked with France to dismantle 21 small boat organised criminal groups and secured over 500 arrests. Our joint activity with France prevented more than 23,000 crossings in 2021. Over 4,500 crossings have already been prevented in 2022, nearly three times the number to this point in 2021.

I signed landmark agreements with Serbia and Albania to return those nationals who have no legal right to be in the UK.

Our new and bespoke Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) opened on 6 January. This is one of the most ambitious resettlement schemes in British history. The first people to be resettled under the scheme included some of the c. 15,000 people who arrived in the UK under Operation Pitting, the largest humanitarian aid operation since the second world war, which prioritised those at particular risk, including women’s rights activists, prosecutors, and journalists.

Windrush

Our commitment to righting the wrongs done to the Windrush generation has not faltered. The “Windrush Lessons Learned Review—Progress Update” was published today. There is still more to do, but I am proud of our achievements and will ensure we can make the Home Office an even better place, serving the public with compassion, respect, collaboration and courage at the heart of everything it does.

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Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Supporting Families Annual Report

As required by the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, section 3(1), today I have published the 2021-22 annual report of the Supporting Families programme. The report sets out how the programme has been helping our most disadvantaged families who face multiple and complex problems.

Supporting Families (previously the Troubled Families programme) helps level up key services to give families the practical support they need to stop domestic abuse and combat problems such as unemployment, persistent school absence and poor mental and physical health, with funding allocated based on deprivation and population figures. It has been at the heart of our ambition to strengthen families and improve their futures for 10 years. At last year’s Budget, the Chancellor announced £200 million of additional investment to expand the programme. This is around a 40% real-terms uplift in funding by 2024-25, taking total planned investment across the next three years to £695 million.

Through its 10 years of delivery, the programme has directly helped hundreds of thousands of vulnerable families make positive changes to their lives, with many thousands more benefiting from access to early, co-ordinated whole family support. Importantly, the programme has shown what is possible when we step in early to help families and prevent problems from escalating. The programme’s evaluation showed it reduced the proportion of children on the programme going into care by a third, the proportion of adults going to prison by a quarter and the proportion of young people going to prison by 38%.

Reducing the pressure on high-cost statutory services such as children’s social care is a key focus for the expanded programme. Between 2022-23 and 2024-25 my Department will work closely with the Department for Education, local authorities, and their partners to deliver support to up to 300,000 more families.

“Levelling up for families: annual report of the Supporting Families programme 2021-2022” marks the 10th year of Supporting Families delivery and includes an update on the programme’s performance and a summary of the latest research findings and policy developments for the programme.

Between April 2021 and January 2022, the programme has funded local authorities to achieve successful outcomes with 55,421 families. This includes 1,838 adults who were helped into sustained employment, and builds on 414,955 successful family outcomes achieved by the Troubled Families programme between April 2015 and March 2021. These families faced multiple and complex problems including a combination of crime, truancy, neglect, anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse, poor mental health, worklessness and financial exclusion. Every successful family outcome represents a family’s life changed for the better—a considerable achievement for the families and the local services supporting them.

The report sets out how we are improving the programme in this next phase. We have updated the programme’s funding formula to reflect current need by redistributing funding to more deprived areas in line with our ambition to level up across the country. We are setting refreshed expectations on the outcomes to be achieved with families through a new outcomes framework and setting expectations for an effective early help system through an updated early help system guide. Local authorities use the outcomes framework to assess whether families are eligible for the programme’s funding, measure if the family’s situation is improving, and define what a good outcome looks like for each problem. The refresh will make sure that the programme continues to reflect the needs of families. The early help system guide outlines a national vision and descriptors for an effective and mature “early help system” to enable local authorities and their partners to deliver seamless, responsive, and co-ordinated preventive support to families. Updating the guide will ensure that local authorities delivering the programme continue to improve their early help offer and have clarity on what a high-standard system looks like.

The annual report summarises the latest research findings relating to the programme. Alongside the annual report, I have also published a new research report by the independent research organisation Kantar, which looks at effective practice and service delivery in local areas. This sets out what a sample of local areas report as the most effective approaches for delivering positive change in families’ lives. I will deposit copies of both reports in the House of Commons Library.

I look forward to working alongside local authorities, their partners and other stakeholders as the programme celebrates its 10th anniversary, and seeing first-hand the continued impact it has on the lives of our most vulnerable families.

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Intergovernmental Relations Annual Transparency Report

Earlier today, the UK Government published the first annual report of our engagement with the devolved Administrations on gov.uk. This report has been laid as a Command Paper in both Houses.

The report covers a historic year for the UK, and gives an insight into the extensive engagement between the UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive between 1 January and 31 December 2021. During 2021 the UK Government and the devolved Administrations collaborated on a number of areas, not least an effective response to covid-19 including the roll-out of the UK’s vaccination programme, the successful delivery of COP26 in Glasgow, and further implementing city and growth deals to boost prosperity in all parts of the UK.

The report is part of the UK Government’s ongoing commitment to transparency of intergovernmental relations to Parliament and the public. The UK Government will look to continue to develop its public reporting and transparency in intergovernmental relations in 2022.

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Work and Pensions

Annual Households Below Average Income and Separated Families Statistics 2020-21

The Department for Work and Pensions has today published its annual statistics on incomes and living conditions covering 2020-21, the first year of the pandemic. This includes households below average income (HBAI), which includes statistics on household incomes and a range of low-income indicators for 2020-21, derived from the family resources survey. This consisted of around 10,000 households—half our usual sample size due to moving from face-to-face to telephone interviews in response to the pandemic.

Rigorous quality assurance and weighting of the statistics means we can have confidence in the headline statistics published. However, the impact of the changes to data collection during the pandemic become more evident when the statistics are disaggregated into smaller groups. To ensure these statistics maintain high levels of quality, DWP’s chief statistician has taken the decision that HBAI statistics on smaller sub-groups should not be released this year. The full data, however, will be made available on the UK data archive. As a result of impacts on data quality, the Scottish Government publication “Poverty and Income Inequality in Scotland 2015-18” will not be available this year, and statistics published by the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive will be released with significant caveats.

The HBAI statistics show that between 2019-20 and 2020-21, the proportion of people below the absolute low income line fell. Before housing costs, there was a decrease of one percentage point to 13% or 8.8 million people. After housing costs, there was a decrease of one percentage point to 17% or 11.1 million people.

Compared to 2009-10, there were 1.2 million fewer people in absolute low income, before housing costs: 200,000 fewer children, 500,000 fewer working age adults and 400,000 fewer pensioners.

Between 2019-20 and 2020-21, median incomes fell. The proportion of people below the relative low income line also fell. Before housing costs, there was a decrease of two percentage points to 16% or 10.5 million people. After housing costs, there was a decrease of two percentage points to 20% or 13.4 million people. This shows how relative poverty is affected by median income and reinforces why the Government’s focus has been on absolute poverty as a better measure of real changes in living standards for the poorest in society, as well as on material deprivation.

This year, the Department has published new statistics for children and working age people that combine material deprivation with HBAI’s statutory absolute low income measure. The statistics show that combined absolute low income and material deprivation among working age people fell three percentage points—reducing from 3.1 million in 2010-11 to 2.2 million in 2019-20. A decade of rising employment will clearly be a contributing factor in this trend. In 2020-21, 5%, or 700,000 children and 5%, or 1.9 million working age people were in combined absolute low income and material deprivation, lower than the numbers of children and working age people in low income alone.

Recognising the new statistics released today, the Department has also announced it will not proceed with developing new statistics using the work of the Social Metrics Commission as a starting point.

The Separated Families publication released alongside HBAI also shows the significant impact that child maintenance payments can have on reducing the number of children living in low income households. Overall, as a result of child maintenance payments from 2018-19 to 2020-21, 80,000 children were moved out of absolute low income before housing costs each year; 140,000 after housing costs.

This is the second year that the Department has collected data on food security. In 2020-21, 93% of households were classed as food secure, up from 92% in 2019-20.

The statistics published today show how the Government’s covid support package of over £400 billion helped support jobs and incomes. We are now easing the current pressures people are facing with the cost of living, taking action to support families worth over £22 billion in 2022-23. This includes a £9.1 billion energy bill rebate package, worth up to £350 each for around 28 million households.

Also, from April, the Government are providing an additional £500 million to help households with the cost of essentials, on top of what we have already provided since October 2021, bringing the total funding for this support to £1 billion. In England, £421 million will be provided to extend the existing household support fund, while the devolved Administrations will receive £79 million through the Barnett formula.

With unemployment back to the low levels we saw before the pandemic and vacancies at record highs, our focus is on helping people to move into and boost incomes through work: for example, through the change to the universal credit taper rate and an increase to the work allowances which means millions of families are on average £1,000 a year better off, the rise to the national living wage from April and increasing the level at which people pay national insurance on their income, saving a typical employee over £330 in the year from July.

As we help people to keep more pounds in their pockets, these statistics highlight the unprecedented support we provided to protect livelihoods during the pandemic.

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Household Support Fund Extension

The economy is in recovery, with a record number of people on the payroll, but we recognise inflationary challenges and that people are concerned about pressures on household budgets. That is why we are extending the household support fund to provide cost of living support for households most in need. From April, the Government are providing an additional £500 million to help households with the cost of essentials. This brings the total funding for this support to £1 billion. In England, £421 million will be provided to extend the existing household support fund from 1 April to 30 September inclusive. The allocation for councils is the same as for the previous six months. The devolved Administrations will receive £79 million through the Barnett formula.

The fund will be distributed via upper-tier local authorities. This support will continue to help those who are struggling to afford energy and water bills, food, and other essentials, to prevent the escalation of problems. We know energy bills may be of particular concern to low-income households and so local authorities are being encouraged to focus on supporting households with the cost of energy.

At least a third of the extension funding (£140 million) will be spent on pensioners on low incomes and at least another third (£140 million) will be spent on families with children. This will ensure that the most vulnerable, including those unable to work to boost their income, will continue to receive vital support to help with the costs of household essentials throughout the next six months.

This extension is just one way that we are helping families with the rising cost of living and other global inflationary pressures. The Government have recently announced a three-part plan of support to help households with rising energy bills, worth £9.1 billion in 2022-23. This includes a £200 discount on energy bills this autumn for all domestic electricity customers in Great Britain, to be paid back automatically over the next five years. This also includes a £150 non-repayable rebate in council tax bills for all households in bands A-D in England, as well as a £144 million discretionary fund for local authorities to support households who are in need, regardless of their council tax band.

Likewise, the national living wage will increase to £9.50 an hour this April, providing an extra £1,000 pay for a full-time worker. This has risen every year since it was introduced in 2016. The cuts to the universal credit taper rate and the uplift to the work allowances will also put, on average, an extra £1,000 a year into the pockets of 1.7 million low-income families.

These initiatives, alongside the household support fund extension, will work to help those most in need over the coming months.

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