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Departmental Update

Volume 718: debated on Wednesday 20 July 2022

BEIS has been committed to improving the business environment and delivering upon the pillars of the plan for growth. We have a plan to secure more domestic energy, support people with the cost of living now, grow the economy and raise wages by reindustrialising our industrial heartlands and unleashing innovation, and accelerate great British science. At the same time, we recognise the power of the private sector and have taken steps to boost enterprise by making the UK the best place in the world to start, grow and invest in a business.

We have seen a significant increase in the global wholesale price of gas as a result of covid-19 aftershocks coupled with Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine, which has led to pressure on business and family budgets.

Tackling the cost of living to help families keep more of their own money:

Raising the national minimum wage and national living wage, giving a full-time worker a £1,000 a year pay rise. Uprating the national living wage has provided a pay-rise for about 2.5 million UK workers. This included the largest ever uplift of a £1,000 a year pay rise for full time workers aged 23 and over.

Helping now with the cost of living by ensuring families receive at least £400 of their electricity bills this winter. Our energy bills support scheme grant payment will take £400 off family electricity bills.

Increasing support this winter with at least £250 additional support for most vulnerable. The warm home discount (£150), winter fuel payments (between £100 and £300) and cold weather payments (£25/week), which ensure that the most vulnerable can heat their homes over the colder months.

Protecting the energy price cap, insulating families from the significant increase in wholesale gas prices. The energy price cap also currently shields 22 million consumers from being overcharged by suppliers. The cap will remain in place until at least the end of this year, ensuring consumers pay a fair price for their energy.

Shielding the public from rip-offs and boosting competition. Draft legislation will be published this autumn to give the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) enhanced powers to tackle bad business practices, including making it illegal to pay someone to write or host a fake review and making it easier for consumers to opt out of subscriptions.

Pioneering British science to cure cancers and develop technologies so people have better lives:

Establishing the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) to improve people’s lives through state-of-the-art technologies. ARIA will support high-risk, high-reward research and projects which support transformative change, including securing £800 million (by 2025/26) at the spending review, agreeing key principles with devolved authorities and setting out ARIA’s independence.

Securing biggest ever research and development budget. We have secured £39.8 billion of R&D investment supporting our commitment to ensure total R&D investment reaches 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

Strengthening the UK vaccine ecosystem to ensure resilience against covid-19 and other future health emergencies. The Vaccine Taskforce has already invested over £395 million in UK manufacturing infrastructure and skills. We have ambitious plans to invest more alongside industry to secure our domestic vaccine resilience. Areas of focus include mRNA capability and investments which will strengthen the resilience of the UK’s vaccine supply chains.

Developing cures for disease, diagnostics and other life-saving research. With DHSC we are committing up to £200 million to healthcare research, diagnostics and manufacturing, building on our world leading covid-19 vaccination programme.

Setting out our visions for the UK to be a global hub for innovation by 2035. We will do this by working with private business, reforming our existing R&D institutions and supporting seven technology families from quantum computing to artificial intelligence.

Building a world-leading UK space sector. We have published the national space strategy backed by £1.75 billion and aligned civil and defence policy for the first time. Through our part owned OneWeb satellite system, we have seen the launch of multiple waves of UK satellites. We also invested £20 million in specialised technology to support the James Webb telescope launch, marking a significant step in space discovery and our understanding of the universe.

Boosting British manufacturing and reindustrialising our former heartlands to drive long-term growth:

Delivered two gigafactories, bringing back manufacturing to Britain. We have announced funding for two major gigafactories in the UK using the automotive transformation fund. Envision AESC based in Sunderland and Britishvolt in Blyth, Northumberland, will have a total capacity of over 40GWh, create over 3,500 direct jobs, as well as 1,000s more in the supply chain and will see over £2 billion of private sector investment in the region. We have also helped secure Ford’s investment of £230 million in production of electric vehicle components at Halewood.

New support for energy intensive industry to protect it for the future. We have announced a three-year extension to EII compensation scheme in the British energy security strategy and more than doubling the budget. This goes alongside our consultation on “other” energy support measures to reduce electricity prices to improve competitiveness for these industries.

Commenced the National Security and Investment Act protecting British industry from hostile activity. This gives the Government greater powers to protect our national security by screening and, if necessary, intervening in investments and other acquisitions of control over sensitive entities and assets in the UK economy.

Taken significant steps to begin to compensate postmasters who have suffered as a result of the appalling Horizon IT failings. This has included announcing that Government will provide funding for interim compensation payments of up to £100k ahead of full funding for eligible postmasters whose Horizon-related convictions have been quashed. We have also announced £19.5 million interim compensation for the “GLO” group of postmasters who exposed the Horizon scandal—to be followed as soon as possible by final compensation.

Securing Britain’s energy to ensure more cleaner, cheaper energy is generated in this country:

Accelerating domestic energy independence through the British energy security strategy (BESS). The BESS and the Energy Security Bill includes support for household energy affordability and efficiency, new and ambitious commitments on nuclear and renewable energy, and setting out the role of the North sea in our low-carbon transition, including delivering our £1 billion commitment to carbon capture and storage clusters by 2030.

Largest-ever renewable energy auction providing 11 GW of great British electricity, with wind power coming in cheaper than ever. Earlier this month, we secured a record 11 GW of renewable energy through the biggest contracts for difference round yet—enough to power around 12 million homes.

Rebuilding Britain’s proud nuclear sector. We have passed the Nuclear Energy (Financing) Act 2022, which will unblock obstacles and cut costs. We are also investing in the sector through the £120 million Future Nuclear fund, £100 million for Sizewell C (in addition to driving forward negotiations), £120 million to develop small modular reactors. We have also established Great British Nuclear, a landmark moment in Britain’s nuclear history, to ensure we deliver multiple new projects this decade.

Securing strong domestic oil and gas extraction. We have given the UK’s oil and gas sector clarity about the role hydrocarbons will play in our energy need with an upcoming new licencing round, backed by the North sea transition deal we will ensure jobs are protected and technologies developed.

Kickstarted UK hydrogen industry with capital and revenue support as well as world-leading legislative framework. Over the last year, we published our hydrogen strategy and investor roadmap and launched a net zero hydrogen fund worth up to £240 million to nurture the UK’s world leading hydrogen economy. The Energy Security Bill also provides a legislative framework for our hydrogen business models.

Denying Britain’s enemies access to funding by ending Putin’s revenue streams. We also committed to end the use of Russian oil and coal power by the end of 2022 and are working with allies to support then away from use of expensive fossil fuels.

Backing other renewable technologies to build stronger domestic supply chain. We have provided a £60 million boost for floating offshore wind projects, supported entrepreneurs to find innovative ways to reduce expensive fossil fuel dependence through the energy entrepreneurs fund, and ringfenced £20 million per year for tidal stream electricity.

Worked with our colleagues across Government to deliver the UNFCC COP26 summit in Glasgow in November 2021 to move 90% of the global economy to net zero. This followed the publication of our heat and buildings and net zero strategies, which laid out a clear path to decarbonise all sectors of the UK economy and achieve net zero by 2050. The summit was attended by 120 world leaders and over 40,000 registered participants. The resulting Glasgow climate pact increases the likelihood of delivering the Paris commitment 1.5 degree scenario.

Since publishing the “The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution in November 2020, we have landed £22 billion of inward investment into home-grown clean technologies, and estimate to have created around 68,000 green jobs.