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Written Statements

Volume 724: debated on Wednesday 14 December 2022

Written Statements

Wednesday 14 December 2022


UK Green Taxonomy

My noble Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, Baroness Penn, has today made the following written ministerial statement.

The development of a UK green taxonomy is a complex, technical exercise which is linked to multiple sectors of the economy and various legislative and regulatory frameworks. This complexity is also becoming apparent in the European Union (EU), where challenges have arisen during the implementation of the EU’s taxonomy.

The Government are clear that the value of a taxonomy rests on its credibility as a practical and useful tool for investors, companies, consumers and regulators in supporting access to sustainable finance. These are long-term matters and it is important to proceed carefully. Having received advice from the Green Technical Advisory Group, and following stakeholder engagement, the Government believe that there is benefit in reviewing its approach to taxonomy development to maximise the effectiveness of our sustainable finance agenda.

Therefore, the Government will not make secondary legislation under the taxonomy regulations this year. The Financial Services and Markets Bill is currently before Parliament. Subject to parliamentary approval, the Bill will repeal retained EU law relating to financial services—including the taxonomy regulations. Using the powers in the Bill, HM Treasury intends to first commence the repeal of the statutory requirement to make technical screening criteria regulations by 1 January 2023, so that the obligation no longer applies. Then it will consider how to use the powers in the Bill to restate and modify retained EU law, and decide whether to change the UK’s approach. This is consistent with the Government’s general approach to retained EU law for financial services.

The Government will provide a further update as part of its publication of the green finance strategy in early 2023.


Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

Chinese Consulate General Staff: Manchester

In October, I summoned China’s acting ambassador to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to demand an explanation for an incident that had occurred outside the Chinese consulate general in Manchester. Soon afterwards, His Majesty’s ambassador in Beijing also sought an explanation from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Images carried on social media showed what appeared to be completely unacceptable behaviour by a number of individuals near the entrance to the consular premises. The right of free expression—including the right to protest and to speak one’s mind—is absolutely essential to our democratic life.

Given the seriousness of this matter, it was correct and appropriate for Greater Manchester police to take the decision to begin an investigation. Earlier this month, the police informed the FCDO that they wished to interview the Chinese consul general and five of his staff. They asked the FCDO to request the Chinese Government to waive the immunity of those individuals to enable the interviews to take place.

The FCDO made this request and gave the Chinese Government one week to comply. In response, the Chinese embassy, acting on instructions from Beijing, notified His Majesty’s Government that the functions of the consul general in Manchester have come to an end and he has returned to China. The embassy has further notified us that the other staff involved in the incident who the police wish to interview have either left the United Kingdom or will shortly do so.

Throughout this episode, I have sought to emphasise that we in the UK abide by the rule of law, follow due process and respect the operational independence of our police. It was right to allow their investigation to proceed so that we could respond on the basis of evidence and facts, rather than images on social media. I am grateful for the professionalism shown by the Greater Manchester police, particularly given the complexities involved due to the immunities held by the staff.

We have been clear with China from the outset that we were prepared to take firm action should the police determine that there was a case to charge officials for their involvement in the incident. We expect a certain standard of behaviour from all foreign diplomats and consular staff in the UK regardless of their privileges and immunities.

The Vienna convention on consular relations allows states to withdraw members of a consular post at any point, as has happened here. However, I am disappointed that these individuals will not be interviewed or face justice. Nonetheless, it is right that those responsible for the disgraceful scenes in Manchester are no longer—or will shortly cease to be—consular staff accredited to the UK.


Health and Social Care

Correction to Written Answer: HL2636

My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Lord Markham, has made the following written statement:

I would like to amend a written answer that I gave to the House on the 7 November 2022.

An incorrect figure was provided in my reply to HL2636, which was asked by The Lord Bishop of Gloucester. The question was: “To ask His Majesty’s Government how many recipients of Healthy Start vouchers are not in receipt of prepaid cards despite remaining eligible for the scheme.”

The reply stated that “The NHS Business Services Authority estimates that as of 18 October 2022, there were 2,954 households previously were in receipt of paper vouchers which have not successfully applied to the NHS Healthy Start prepaid card scheme.”

However, it has since been brought to my attention that the figures supplied by the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) had a typographical error. The answer should have stated that “the NHS Business Services Authority estimates that, as of 18 October 2022, there were 42,954 households which previously were in receipt of paper vouchers which have not successfully applied to the NHS Healthy Start prepaid card scheme.” I apologise that the incorrect figures were inadvertently supplied.

Further to the revised answer, I am also able to share a more recent estimate. As of 27 November 2022, the NHSBSA estimates that there are now 35,284 households which previously were in receipt of paper vouchers which have not successfully applied to the NHS Healthy Start prepaid card scheme. I would like to clarify that some of these households will not have reapplied to the prepaid card scheme because they no longer meet the eligibility criteria for the scheme. This could be because their child has reached the age of four or because their household income has changed.

I would also like to provide some context about the scheme’s digitisation, and the transition from paper vouchers to prepaid cards. The latest available data shows that uptake of the scheme by the eligible population increased overall, from 55% in March 2021, to 72% in March 2022. Since the paper voucher scheme closed at the end of March 2022, the number of households on the Healthy Start scheme has continued to increase, from 273,280 on the 31 March, to 323,136 on the 27 November.

I would also like to share details of the activity that the NHSBSA has undertaken to support households which were in receipt of paper vouchers to apply for the digitised prepaid card scheme. Since September 2021, the NHSBSA sent multiple communications to all paper voucher beneficiaries to encourage them to apply for the prepaid card scheme. This includes a total of four invitation letters to their home or email address, two leaflets in voucher packs and text messages to those who had mobile numbers on their accounts. There was also targeted social media activity to encourage people to apply to the prepaid card scheme. Stakeholders and local organisations also supported the transition by raising awareness with beneficiaries. Additionally, the NHSBSA actively promotes the scheme through their digital channels and have created free tools to help stakeholders promote the scheme at a local level.

I have also asked the NHSBSA to update me on their future plans to promote uptake of the Healthy Start scheme among all eligible groups.


Home Department

Provisional Police Grant Report (England and Wales) 2023-24

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has today published the Provisional Police Grant Report (England and Wales) 2023-24. The report sets out the Home Secretary’s determination for 2023-24 of the aggregate amount of grants that she proposes to pay under section 46(2) of the Police Act 1996. A copy of the report will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Today the Government are setting out the provisional police funding settlement in Parliament for the 2023-24 financial year. Overall funding for policing will rise by up to £287 million compared to the 2022-23 funding settlement, bringing the total up to £17.2 billion for the policing system. Within this, funding to police and crime commissioners (PCCs) will increase by up to an additional £523 million, assuming full take-up of precept flexibility. This would represent an increase to PCC funding in cash terms of 3.6% on top of the 2022-23 police funding settlement.

The Chancellor confirmed at the autumn statement that departmental budgets set out at spending review 2021 will be maintained to 2024-25. This confirms that, despite the pressures faced by all public services, we are still increasing funding into 2023-24 by providing forces with an increase to Government grants of £174 million, £74 million more than announced at spending review 2021 (SR21), reflecting the commitments made earlier this year to support the 2022-23 pay award. By delivering on this promise, we are making sure that the police receive the funding they need to achieve and maintain their overall officer headcount, comprised of their agreed police uplift baseline plus their allocation of the 20,000 additional officers.

To ensure that policing is able to balance budgets and deliver on key priorities, we have gone even further by providing an additional £5 on top of the £10 precept limit agreed at SR21, which could raise up to an additional £349 million when compared to 2022-23. This means that PCCs will be receiving up to £15.1 billion of funding in 2023-24, an increase of over half a billion pounds.

This Government have provided significant investment into policing over the previous four years, and so now it is only right that we hold forces to account on delivery. We therefore expect policing to approach the 2023-24 financial year with a focus on this Government’s key priorities:

Ensuring overall police officer numbers are maintained at the agreed police uplift baseline plus force level allocations of the 20,000 additional officers.

Deploying these additional officers to reduce crime and honour this Government’s commitment to keep the public safe.

Delivering improvements in productivity and driving forward efficiencies, maximising the value of the Government’s investment.

Police Uplift Programme

Since 2019, this Government have invested over £3 billion, including additional funding each year and that rolled into Government grants, to enable the recruitment of 20,000 additional officers, a Government priority and manifesto commitment. Forces have worked hard and are delivering at pace, having recruited 15,343 additional officers in England and Wales as of the end of September 2022.

It is critical, however, that beyond March 2023 officer numbers are maintained to ensure the benefits of the additional 20,000 officers can be realised. Forces will need to retain both new and more experienced officers as we move into a new phase of the maintenance of officer numbers in 2023-24. We will look to forces to invest in their officers, striving to be efficient and conscientious with their own budgets. Many officers recruited since 2019 will be reaching the end of their probationary period, and we expect forces to deploy new and experienced officers effectively to ensure local communities benefit from the investment now and in years to come.

Reflecting the importance of reaching this milestone and maintaining the additional officers, in 2023-24 £275 million will be ringfenced and allocated in line with funding formula shares. As in previous years, PCCs will be able to access this by demonstrating that they have maintained their overall officer headcount, comprised of their agreed police uplift baseline plus their allocation of the 20,000 additional officers.


Spending review 2021 confirmed that PCCs in England will be empowered to raise additional funding through increased precept flexibility of up to £10 per year to 2024-25. However, recognising the financial pressures police forces are facing, we propose to enable PCCs in England in 2023-24 to increase their precept by up to £15 for a typical band D property, subject to a period of consultation and approval from the House of Commons through the local government finance settlement. This would equate to an additional £349 million should all PCCs maximise this flexibility1.

Using this precept flexibility is a decision that must be taken by each locally elected PCC. Local taxation should not be in place of sound financial management, and therefore I expect PCCs to exhaust all other options to reprioritise their budgets, seek efficiencies and maximise productivity of their existing resources before looking to local taxpayers for additional funding.

Efficiency and productivity

Police, like all public services, must ensure that they make best use of public money. This means reducing inefficiencies and maximising productivity. As part of the spending review 2021, we expect to see at least £100 million of cashable efficiency savings delivered from force budgets by 2024- 25, achieved through areas such as:

Working with BlueLight Commercial to maximise financial and commercial benefits related to procurement, through use of the organisation’s commercial expertise, leveraging the purchasing power available across the sector, and developing the capacity to implement a full commercial life-cycle approach to procurement.

Corporate functions, where the Home Office and BlueLight Commercial are conducting ongoing work with the sector to understand the opportunities around the management of corporate functions for example implementation of shared service models.

BlueLight Commercial is itself a sector-owned company, set up to provide commercial expertise and assistance to policing and assist forces in identifying and making efficiency savings. In 2021-22 the company assisted policing in making efficiency savings of almost £40 million (including cashable savings of £25 million and non-cashable savings of £15 million). The organisation has been funded by the Home Office for the last three years and we will continue to support the company in 2023-24 whilst they work towards establishing and implementing a sustainable funding model.

For the continuing significant investment into policing that the Government have made in recent years it is crucial that we are delivering the best possible value for the public. This includes ensuring that the police are meeting the needs of their community and the public are receiving the highest possible quality of service. We have therefore commissioned the National Police Chiefs’ Council to conduct a review of operational productivity in policing. We expect the review, led by Sir Stephen House, to deliver clear, practical, and deliverable recommendations to improve the productivity of policing, with the review team having already considered how the police respond to individuals experiencing acute mental health distress.

National priorities

This settlement provides £1.1 billion for national policing priorities (as set out at tables 1 and 4) to support PCCs and forces, and to support the strategic vision outlined in the beating crime plan to cut crime, increase confidence in the criminal justice system, and put victims first.

For 2023-24, we will maintain settlement funding for programmes that prevent crime and help keep communities safe, including:

This settlement provides funding to combat serious violence, including violence reduction units and the grip “hotspot policing” programme. Funding arrangements for specific crime reduction programmes will be confirmed in due course.

Delivering on the commitments made in the 10-year drug strategy by prioritising funding to clamp down on drugs and county lines activity which has already achieved over 2,900 county line closures since 2019.

Continuing to invest in tackling exploitation and abuse, including child sexual exploitation and modern slavery.

Prioritising regional organised crime units, ensuring they are equipped with the specialist capabilities and dedicated resource needed to support law enforcement in confronting serious and organised crime.

Funding arrangements for specific crime reduction programmes will be confirmed in due course.

Going further, this settlement provides funding to improve the criminal justice system, victim care, and investigation outcomes including:

Prioritising funding for commitments made through the rape review, ensuring the right support is in place to support police forces in implementing the national operating model for rape investigations and improving their digital capability, crucial for improving timeliness and reducing victim attrition.

Investing in a new victim satisfaction survey to drive improvements in the support police forces provide to victims, and gain new insights into why victims withhold or withdraw support for investigations.

Continuing to invest in the development of forensics tools and services for police forces, and the forensic capability network as a central resource supporting the national network of over 4,000 forensic specialists in police forces.

It is crucial that police forces and law enforcement partners have effective technology systems to support frontline officers. Therefore, we are:

Providing funding for major programmes of work which are already under way to replace and improve systems, such the national law enforcement data programme and emergency services mobile communications programme.

Continuing to invest in critical national police and law enforcement IT capabilities to transform the way that the police engage with the public and unlock more efficient working practices.

Counter-terrorism policing

The Government will continue to provide vital support for counter-terrorism (CT) policing, ensuring they have the resources they need to meet and deal with the threats we face. CT police funding will continue to total over £1 billion in 2023-24. This investment will support ongoing CT policing investigations to keep the country safe and includes funding for both armed policing and the CT operations centre. PCCs will be notified separately of force-level funding allocations for CT policing, which will not be made public for security reasons.

This settlement will support the police to do their vital job to cut crime and keep people safe. I would like to express my gratitude and pay tribute to our dedicated police officers and staff for their exceptional commitment and bravery. I have set out in a separate document, available online, the tables illustrating how we propose to allocate the police funding settlement between the different funding streams and between police and crime commissioners for 2023-24. These documents are intended to be read together.

1 Calculated using the latest forecasts. Council tax in Wales is devolved and PCCs in Wales are not bound by the council tax referendum principles.

Attachments can be viewed online at:


Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Homes for Ukraine Scheme: Update

Today I announce measures to update the Homes for Ukraine scheme. This scheme has been a significant success. Although the initial roll-out of visas was slower than the Government would have liked, over 100,000 Ukrainian guests are now safe in the United Kingdom, and 37,500 more have valid visas and may choose to travel to the United Kingdom if circumstances change. The sheer number of applicants and of British families willing to open their homes to those seeking shelter is truly extraordinary.

The Government are committed to protecting this route to safety into its second year, but we need to do so in a way that is sustainable considering the wider pressures on public finances and the UK’s overseas development assistance budgets. We are therefore setting out today a series of updates. These measures taken together are designed to recognise the contribution made by sponsors while also ensuring the sustainability of the programme over the longer term and to provide certainty to all those who are supporting our guests here in the UK.

“Thank you” payments

Hosting is a very significant commitment. The Government are enormously grateful to all those who have volunteered to share their home with Ukrainian people fleeing war. Without the generosity of all our British sponsors, we simply would not have been able to give shelter to so many of those in need. In recognition of this, I am announcing today that the £350 “thank you” payments, will be extended from 12 months to a maximum duration of two years. The UK Government will also increase the minimum “thank you” payments for hosts from £350 per month to £500 per month, once a guest has been here in the UK for 12 months.

This additional financial support is aimed at helping existing hosts to continue with their sponsorship, as well as new hosts who come forward to offer a home to a Ukrainian individual or family.

Some local authorities are already uprating “thank you” payments using their own resource, and this is a measure we fully support. Our new package shows our strong desire to recognise the contribution made by sponsors, to help them with the rising cost of living and incentivise further sponsorships and rematching.

Funding for local authorities

Since the Homes for Ukraine scheme launched in March 2022, the UK Government have provided £1.1 billion to councils through a tariff for each arrival in their area. This funding is available for councils to support Ukrainian guests and their sponsors. Given a fraction of Ukrainian arrivals return to Ukraine, after arriving in the UK, and the need to manage public finances at a time of significant economic challenge for the UK and the global economy, the Government will reduce the tariff for each local authority. Councils will continue to receive the existing year 1 tariff to support those Ukrainians who have already arrived, as previously set out.

From 1 January 2023, councils will receive funding of £5,900 for each new arrival to support guests and their sponsors, in addition to the “thank you” paid to sponsors. Local authorities will continue to receive separate funding in 2022-23 for the Ukraine education tariff under the rates and terms previously set out—a per child tariff of £3,000 for early years, £6,580 for primary and £8,755 for secondary and payments calculated on a pro-rata basis—and the Ukrainians families will also continue to receive Government support on skills training, jobcentre access and welfare payments. The Department fully recognises the many pressures on local authority budgets and at the autumn statement the Government announced a further £6.5 billion to be made available for local government to deliver core services over the next two years.

The Department will also provide £150 million of new UK-wide funding in the 2023-24 financial year to local authorities and devolved Governments to help support Ukrainian guests move into their own homes and reduce the risk of homelessness. Local authorities are best placed to understand the support needed for local communities, and as is typically the case for various local authority funding, they will also be able to use this funding to support other people at risk of homelessness. This funding will be allocated between the different parts of the UK in relation to their proportion of Ukrainian guests. I will be writing to local authorities and my counterparts in the devolved Administrations with more details on this shortly.

Local authority housing fund

Today, I am also launching a £500 million local authority housing fund, which will provide capital funding directly to English councils in areas that are facing the most significant housing pressures as a result of recent Ukrainian arrivals. These local authorities are facing housing challenges on the back of their generosity, which unless alleviated will further impact existing housing pressures. This fund will allow them to address the immediate pressures as well as build a sustainable stock of affordable housing for the future. This fund will also be used to provide homes for up to 500 Afghan families currently living in bridging hotels at a significant cost to taxpayers. Whilst helping to fulfil the UK’s humanitarian duties to assist those fleeing war, the fund will create a lasting legacy for UK nationals by providing a new supply of accommodation for councils with which to address local housing and homelessness pressures.

The UK Government continues to work with the Ukrainian Government, the devolved Governments, local authorities and charities and voluntary groups to deliver the Homes for Ukraine scheme and support sponsors and their guests.