Monday 19 December 2022
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Household Energy Bills: Support
Following is a statement on energy bill support schemes.
Help with household energy bills—widening the support
On 29 July, details were announced of the energy bills support scheme, which is now providing a £400 discount on electricity bills to households across Great Britain, delivered over six months. On the same date we announced that energy bill support scheme alternative funding would be developed to deliver the same level of support to households without a domestic electricity account.
The Government announced further support in September with the energy price guarantee, which is reducing energy bills for households across the United Kingdom. It currently brings a typical household energy bill in Great Britain for dual-fuel gas and electricity down to around £2,500 per year and, at an equivalent level of support, in Northern Ireland to around £1,950 per year.
Energy policy is devolved in Northern Ireland and it would normally be the responsibility of Northern Ireland Ministers to put in place support for households with energy costs. In the absence of a functioning Executive but in consultation with Northern Ireland Ministers, the UK Government committed in August to develop and deliver a scheme comparable to that being delivered in Great Britain.
I am now able to update the House on both the energy bill support scheme alternative funding process in Great Britain and a scheme for Northern Ireland to ensure payments reach all eligible households this winter.
Energy bill support scheme—alternative funding
The energy bill support scheme alternative funding is for households in Great Britain who are not eligible for the energy bills support scheme which started delivering in October, as they do not have a direct relationship with a domestic electricity supplier. This includes many of the most vulnerable in our society. Those set to benefit include residents of park homes, some care home residents, tenants in certain types of private and social rented homes, homes supplied by private wires, residents of caravans and houseboats on registered sites, farmers living in domestic farmhouses without a domestic electricity connection, and households off-grid.
It is important to note that most households who do not have a direct relationship with a domestic energy supplier benefit from a discount on their energy bills through the energy bill relief scheme, which is already providing support to intermediaries such as landlords and park home operators. The Energy Prices Act 2022, passed earlier in the year, ensures those benefits are passed on to consumers who do not pay their energy bills directly to an energy supplier.
In January we will publish details on eligibility and open a portal on gov.uk offering a short online application process for those eligible households to apply for energy bill support scheme alternative funding. A helpline will be available for those unable to apply online. Applications will be validated, and payments processed by the relevant local authority. The £400 Government credit will be paid this winter to all eligible households who apply.
Northern Ireland energy bill support scheme
For Northern Ireland we have developed and will deliver a separate and bespoke energy bills support scheme, working with the separate Northern Ireland electricity suppliers, and respecting the very different nature of the energy market in that part of the United Kingdom. This scheme will also deliver for households this winter, with payments starting in January.
The payment will be for £600, comprising £400 for the energy bills support scheme and £200 for the alternative fuel payment, which all Northern Ireland households will receive, given the high level of alternative fuel use. The single payment will reach customers through their supplier, either direct to the relevant electricity bill payer’s bank account, or as a voucher which will need to be redeemed into a bank account or as cash.
We are making funds available to suppliers for this purpose by the end of this year, so suppliers will be able to start paying customers in January.
A further announcement will be made in respect of alternative funding support for those in Northern Ireland without a domestic electricity supply.
I have also written to Northern Ireland energy suppliers setting out expectations for them to suspend all debt recovery and enforcement activity until the end of January, as well as to provide payment holidays until the end of January when customers are struggling to pay their bills.
Alternative fuel payment scheme
I can also set out today our intended timings for the £200 alternative fuel payment scheme for households in Great Britain who use fuels such as heating oil, LPG or biomass to heat their homes. Payments will commence in February, with most payments being made that month through electricity suppliers. More details about how we will target the scheme will follow soon in the new year. Households that will not receive automatic payments will be able to apply to the same gov.uk portal used for the energy bill support scheme alternative fund from February.
The Treasury has approved these extensions to the energy bills support scheme.
I will continue to update Parliament.
Publication of Resilience Framework
I wish to inform the House that I am publishing the UK Government resilience framework further to the commitment made in the integrated review for greater strategic planning in this vital area. With the increasing volatility and inter-connectedness of risks and hazards, a strong resilience system is more important than ever. In March 2021, the integrated review committed the Government to developing a new resilience strategy to strengthen our approach to preparedness and civil protection. This new framework delivers on that commitment and takes a systemic approach to all national threats.
The UK Government’s resilience framework articulates our ongoing plan to strengthen the systems and capabilities that underpin the UK’s resilience to all civil contingencies risks, from extreme weather to supply chain challenges or public health emergencies. It is ensuring that as well as managing immediate crises, we maintain a greater collective focus on preparation and preventing crises from happening in the first place.
The framework is built around three core principles:
A shared understanding of the risks we face is essential: it must underpin everything that we do to prepare for and recover from crises;
Prevention rather than cure wherever possible: resilience-building spans the whole risk cycle so we must focus effort across the cycle, particularly before crises happen; and
Resilience is a ‘whole of society’ endeavour: so we must be more transparent and empower everyone to make a contribution.
Work is already underway across Government to deliver on these principles and act on lessons from recent crises, but the framework outlines our further ambition on priorities such as:
Becoming more transparent on the risks we face so that businesses, charities, individuals and all levels of Government can prepare.
Protecting the most vulnerable in our communities and helping responders to target support effectively before, during, and after emergencies.
Strengthening accountability on resilience within Government and externally, including through an annual statement to Parliament on civil contingency risk and resilience.
Ensuring that local resilience forums have the resources, capacity, information, and capability needed to plan for and respond to the risks that we face.
Incentivising and supporting businesses, including operators of Critical National Infrastructure, to strengthen their resilience to real world risks.
Implementation of the proposals in the framework has already started. We have already made changes at the centre of Government to strengthen our approach to long-term resilience and short-term crisis management, and to embed a culture of resilience in all Government Departments. We have refreshed the classified national security risk assessment and will update the public version, the national risk register, in the new year.
The Prime Minister has approved a new sub-committee of the National Security Council on resilience which I will chair. I look forward to establishing the committee in the new year, when the terms of reference and membership will be published in the usual way.
I have requested that a copy of the resilience framework be deposited in the Libraries of the Houses of Parliament.
Armed Forces Covenant and Veterans Annual Report
Today, I am pleased to lay before Parliament, “The Armed Forces Covenant and Veterans Annual Report 2022.” This year has thrown into sharper focus the importance of our armed forces as standard bearers for the values we hold dear as a nation. This includes the support the armed forces have provided to Ukraine to defend its sovereign territory against Russian aggression, the role the armed forces played during the 10 days of national mourning and state funeral of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and in this year’s commemorations of the 40th anniversary of the Falklands conflict. More than ever, our armed forces community is central to our national life, and about who we are as a country.
The UK’s promise to support our armed forces community and to ensure they are treated fairly is as important as ever. We owe them a vast debt of gratitude and have a duty to ensure that those who serve, or who have served in our armed forces, and their families, suffer no disadvantage in comparison to other citizens. In some cases, special consideration is appropriate, particularly for those such as the injured or the bereaved. This is what the covenant sets out to do. In the same vein, this Government have committed to making the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran, acknowledging veterans’ service to this country and setting out our plans in the strategy for our veterans.
Never has the armed forces covenant and support to veterans been more vital, and we recognise that partners across the UK, at all levels of the public, private and charitable sectors, have been working hard to support those who serve or have served, and their families. I am proud to lay this report before Parliament as a demonstration of that work.
Highlights from this year’s report include:
The Government have fulfilled its 2019 manifesto commitment to “further incorporate the armed forces covenant into law”. A new armed forces covenant duty has been created, that places a new legal obligation on specific public bodies to have due regard to the covenant principles when delivering certain services, or deciding certain policies, in healthcare, education and housing, that could impact the armed forces community.
Armed forces covenant signings are rapidly approaching 10,000, with 1,634 signing over the last 12 months alone.
The inclusion of veterans’ health in the GP training curriculum and national GP licensing assessment in England and Scotland, and the launch of a veterans’ health innovation fund.
The Office for Veterans’ Affairs published the Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan 2022-24, setting out over 60 commitments, with over £70 million of additional funding, from across Government to further improve the lives of our veteran community.
A servicewomen’s health improvement team worked on an eight-month sprint to address issues related to servicewomen’s health, resulting in ground-breaking new policies and guidance to support servicewomen throughout the armed forces.
There were record levels of investment in service family accommodation in financial year 2021-22, with £179 million invested overall.
The Ministry of Defence has published its new UK armed forces families strategy, which provides the framework for an ambitious 10-year programme. Delivery of initiatives under each workstream has begun.
This report is a collaborative effort with input from service providers and professionals from a diverse array of backgrounds. I would like to thank colleagues across central Government, the devolved Administrations and local authorities, and those at every level and from every sector who are continuing to drive forward the work of the covenant and the strategy for our veterans in support of our armed forces community. We are also grateful to the external members of the Covenant Reference Group who provided their independent observations.
Making Tax Digital: Income Tax Self-assessment
Across the globe, digitisation of tax is increasingly the norm. Modernisation of UK businesses and the tax system remains of crucial importance to the UK.
Making tax digital (MTD) for VAT is already demonstrating the benefits to businesses that digital ways of working can bring.
MTD for income tax self-assessment (ITSA) will follow, with businesses, self-employed individuals, and landlords keeping digital records and using MTD-compatible software to submit updates to HM Revenue and Customs.
The Government understand businesses and self-employed individuals are currently facing a challenging economic environment, and that the transition to MTD for ITSA represents a significant change for taxpayers, their agents, and for HMRC.
That means it is right to take the time needed to work together to maximise those benefits of MTD for small business by implementing gradually.
The Government are therefore announcing more time to prepare, so that all businesses, self- employed individuals, and landlords within scope of MTD for income tax, but particularly those with the smallest incomes, can adapt to the new ways of working.
The mandation of MTD for ITSA will now be introduced from April 2026, with businesses, self- employed individuals, and landlords with income over £50,000 mandated to join first.
Those with income over £30,000 will be mandated from April 2027.
The Government will now review the needs of smaller businesses, and particularly those under the £30,000 threshold. This will look in detail at whether and how the MTD for ITSA service can be shaped to meet the needs of smaller businesses and the best way for them to fulfil their income tax obligations. Once that review is complete—and in consultation with businesses, taxpayers, agents, and others—the Government will lay out the plans for any further mandation of MTD for ITSA.
Following the phased approach, the Government will not extend MTD for ITSA to general partnerships in 2025. It remains committed to introducing MTD for ITSA to partnerships at a later date.
The new penalty system, harmonising late submission and late payment penalties for income tax self-assessment with those for VAT, will come into effect for taxpayers when they become mandated to join MTD. This makes penalties fairer and simpler for taxpayers. The Government will introduce the new penalty system for income tax self-assessment taxpayers outside the scope of MTD after its introduction for MTD taxpayers.
The Government anticipate that most taxpayers within the scope of MTD for ITSA will be able to sign-up voluntarily before they are mandated to do so. HMRC will keep this under review to ensure that all taxpayers using the MTD for ITSA service receive a high-quality service.
OBR Forecast: Spring Budget
Today I can inform the House that I have asked the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to prepare a forecast for 15 March 2023 to accompany a spring Budget.
This forecast, in addition to the forecast that took place in November 2022, will fulfil the obligation for the OBR to produce at least two forecasts in a financial year, as is required by legislation.
School Rebuilding and Funding Allocations for Schools, High Needs and Early Years
My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System and Student Finance (Baroness Barran) has made the following statement.
The Department for Education has announced the next 239 schools to be provisionally selected for the school rebuilding programme and has also confirmed schools, high needs and early years revenue funding allocations for 2023-24 across England.
The school rebuilding programme was launched in june 2020 and will rebuild or significantly refurbish buildings at 500 schools and sixth form colleges over the next decade. Including the 161 projects previously announced, this announcement means that 400 schools have now been selected for the programme. Projects will enter delivery at a rate of approximately 50 per year, and will transform the educational environment for hundreds of thousands of children in the poorest condition schools.
To ensure we are delivering the greatest improvement to the school estate, each school in the programme has been selected from nominations based on the condition and safety of its buildings. Selected schools include primary, secondary and special schools and sixth form colleges.
Construction of new buildings at some of the previously announced schools is already underway, with a number of projects almost completed. These projects are supporting jobs and skills in local communities and driving productivity and innovation in the construction sector. New buildings will be net zero carbon in operation, incorporating modern designs and technologies, contributing to our sustainability commitments.
In addition to the school rebuilding programme, we are continuing to invest in the school estate with annual capital funding. We have allocated over £13 billion since 2015 to maintain and improve school facilities across England, including £1.8 billion in financial year 2022-23. We have also allocated an additional £500 million in capital funding to schools and colleges this financial year for energy efficiency upgrades, helping to reduce energy use during the winter months and beyond.
Details of the schools selected for the programme and more information about the methodology used have been published on www.gov.uk.
On funding, we are allocating the additional net £2 billion for schools announced at the autumn statement.
Overall, core schools funding is increasing by £3.5 billion in 2023-24 compared to 2022-23. School funding will be at its highest ever level in real terms per pupil by 2024-25, totalling £58.8 billion.
This includes an increase in mainstream school funding, for the 5-16 age group, of over £2.5 billion in 2023-24, compared to 2022-23. High needs funding is increasing by almost £1 billion in total.
As part of this increase, mainstream schools will receive a new, mainstream schools additional grant (MSAG) for primary and secondary provision in the 2023-24 financial year. This equates to a 3.4% increase in per pupil funding for mainstream schools, on top of the allocations through the dedicated schools grant, which we are also publishing.
The detailed methodology for allocating this new grant is published at:
The dedicated schools grant allocations are available at:
Maintained special and alternative provision schools and academies will also receive supplementary autumn statement funding, delivered by placing a new condition of grant on local authorities’ use of their high needs allocations.
Pupil premium per pupil rates in 2023-24 will increase by 5%. This will increase pupil premium funding to £2,865 million in 2023-24, an increase of £180 million from 2022-23. This increase will ensure that this targeted funding continues to support the most disadvantaged children in our schools.
Finally, for early years, we have published the Government response to the early years funding formulae consultation launched on 4 July 2022, confirmed the hourly funding rates for the free early education entitlements in 2023-24 for each local authority, and announced their indicative allocations.
Reflecting the recently announced national living wage increases, we are investing an additional £20 million into the early years entitlements. This is on top of the £180 million for 2023-24 announced at the spending review. Taken together, this will mean at national level, early years providers are supported with the additional national living wage costs associated with delivering the free childcare entitlements next year.
We have updated the data underpinning the early years funding formulae, and have confirmed the approach to protections set out in the consultation to ensure the transition to new funding levels implied is manageable. The minimum funding floor for the three and four-year-old funding rate will therefore increase from £4.61 per hour in 2022-23 to £4.87 per hour in 2023-24. All local authorities will see at least a 1% increase in their funding rates in 2023-24, and up to a maximum of 4.9% for the three and four-year-old rate and up to 10% for the two-year-old rate. We will also increase the early years pupil premium (EYPP) and disability access fund (DAF) rates, from 60p to 62p per hour for the EYPP, and from £800 to £828 per child per year for DAF.
For maintained nursery schools (MNS), we are confirming the additional £10 million announced on 4 July 2022, providing for a minimum hourly rate of £3.80 per hour for MNS supplementary funding for all local authorities in 2023-24, and a £10 cap on the hourly rate, with transitional arrangements for the most affected local authority. We intend to maintain the cap at that level in 2024-25.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Environment Act 2021: Final Environmental Targets
I am repeating the statement made by my noble Friend the Minister for Biosecurity, Marine and Rural Affairs, Lord Benyon, on Friday 16 December.
Final Environmental Targets under the Environment Act 2021
This Government are committed to leaving the environment in a better state than we found it. Following our consultation earlier in the year, we are confirming an ambitious suite of targets to deliver on that commitment.
These targets will tackle some of the biggest pressures facing our environment. They will ensure progress on clean air, clean and plentiful water, less waste and more sustainable use of our resources, a step change in tree planting, a better marine environment, and a more diverse, resilient natural environment.
The 13 targets that will be laid through statutory instruments are as follows:
Biodiversity on land
To halt the decline in species abundance by 2030.
To ensure that species abundance in 2042 is greater than in 2022, and at least 10% greater than 2030.
Improve the red list index for England for species extinction risk by 2042, compared to 2022 levels.
To restore or create in excess of 500,000 hectares of a range of wildlife-rich habitat outside protected sites by 2042, compared to 2022 levels.
Biodiversity in the sea
70% of the designated features in the marine protected area network to be in favourable condition by 2042, with the remainder in recovering condition.
Water quality and availability
Abandoned metal mines target: halve the length of rivers polluted by harmful metals from abandoned mines by 2038, against a baseline of around 1,500 km.
Agriculture target: reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution from agriculture into the water environment by at least 40% by 2038, compared to a 2018 baseline.
Wastewater target: reduce phosphorus loadings from treated wastewater by 80% by 2038 against a 2020 baseline.
Water demand target: reduce the use of public water supply in England per head of population by 20% from the 2019-20 baseline reporting year figures, by 2037-38.
Increase total tree and woodland cover from 14.5% of land area now to 16.5% by 2050.
Resource efficiency and waste reduction
Reduce residual waste—excluding major mineral wastes—kilograms per capita by 50% by 2042 from 2019 levels.
An annual mean concentration target for PM2.5 levels in England to be 10 µg m-3 or below by 2040.
A population exposure reduction target for a reduction in PM2.5 population exposure of 35% compared to 2018 to be achieved by 2040.
The suite of targets that we consulted on was the result of significant scientific evidence collection and development over preceding years that included input from evidence partners and independent experts, supported by over 800 pages of published evidence. We have full confidence in the final suite of targets, which represents the robust analysis already undertaken.
These targets are stretching and will be challenging for us to meet, whether that is through Government, through business or indeed at home in our individual lives through choices we make. In turn this will support action to tackle climate change, restore our natural capital and protect our much-loved landscapes and green spaces.
We will set out more details about our plans to deliver them in our environmental improvement plan: our manifesto for the environment for the next five years. We will publish this by 31 January, as required by law.
The Government response to the consultation will be published on www.gov.uk.
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
British Council Annual Report and Accounts 2021-22
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. It supports peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. It does this by uniquely combining the UK’s deep expertise in arts and culture, education and the English language, its global presence and relationships in over 100 countries and its unparalleled access to young people and influencers around the world. In 2021-22 the British Council received £183 million grant-in-aid from the FCDO. With a total reach of 648 million people in 2021-22, the British Council creates mutually beneficial relationships between the people of all four nations of the UK and other countries. Such connections, based on an understanding of each other’s strengths and shared values, build an enduring trust. This helps strengthen the UK’s global reputation and influence, encouraging people from around the world to visit, study, trade and make alliances with the UK. Copies of the British Council’s Annual Report and Accounts for the 2021-22 financial year have been placed in the Library. The annual report can also be found at the British Council’s website: www.britishcouncil.org/about-us/how-we-work/corporate-reports.
Health and Social Care
The NHS workforce are the key component of the NHS. The NHS is one of the largest single employers in the country and globally. Around 5% of the England workforce are employed by the NHS, so the way in which we value the workforce matters, both in ensuring delivery of health services and as a role model for other employers.
The autumn statement has made up-to £14.1 billion available to Health and Social Care service over the next two years. This funding will help enable us to continue to support the NHS in England. I am therefore pleased to report that there are a record number of people working in the NHS. Latest data for September 2022 show almost 1.4 million full time equivalent staff working across NHS hospital trusts and primary care in England.
Within this workforce there are a record number of over 168,000 full time equivalent doctors across hospitals and general practice. This includes over 131,000 in NHS hospitals and over 37,000 in general practice. There is also a record number of over 333,000 nurses across the NHS, with over 316,000 working in NHS hospital and over 16,000 across primary care.
We have over 32,000 more nurses now than we had in September 2019, putting us well on the way to meeting the Government’s commitment of 50,000 more nurses across hospital and general practice settings by March 2024. Over the last three years, this speed of growth in nursing numbers is faster than we have seen since 2009 when current recording began.
Internationally trained staff are an important component of the 50,000 nurse target. They have been an integral part of the NHS since its inception in 1948 and continue to play a vital role. We hugely value their contribution to providing excellent care. While we are working hard to increase our homegrown supply of health and social care staff, ethical international recruitment remains a key element of achieving our workforce commitments.
I am also pleased to see that other key NHS hospital workforce groups continue to grow, such as the now almost 18,000 professionally qualified ambulance staff, 12% more than in 2019 and over 81,000 allied health professionals, 20% more than 2019. These staff work hand in hand with the over 380,000 clinical support staff who are so vital to the effective delivery of patient care.
We are also growing new professions to support patient care and I am pleased to see over 2,500 physician associates and over 4,600 nursing associates working across hospitals and primary care.
We also have a very healthy pipeline of people training to work in the NHS. There are record numbers of medical students in undergraduate training and graduates from recent expansion in medical school places and schools are starting to enter foundation training. Large numbers of candidates also continue to choose courses in nursing and midwifery in England, and since September 2020 all eligible nursing, midwifery and allied health profession students have received a non-repayable training grant of a minimum of £5,000 per academic year.
For the third consecutive year we have seen over 26,000 acceptances to undergraduate nursing and midwifery programmes. There were 3,700 more acceptances in 2022 than in 2019—a 16% increase. This is alongside substantial expansion of nursing apprenticeships, with over 3,000 people starting in 2021-22 compared to less than 1,000 in 2019-20.
However, in spite of the growth we are seeing, we know health and care staff are facing ongoing challenges. The rising demand for services due to the pandemic, service recovery and an ageing population means that staff continue to work under pressure.
Therefore, alongside expanding the workforce we must therefore work to retain the staff that we have and ensure the NHS is an attractive place to work.
The NHS People Plan and the NHS retention programme are focused on improving the experience of staff working in the NHS, as well as seeking to address the reasons they leave. This means ensuring we support staff health and wellbeing, improve the leadership and workplace culture of NHS organisations, and increase opportunities to work flexibly.
To help with flexible working, we are making changes to NHS pension rules to help retain experienced doctors and nurses, and remove barriers for retired staff who want to return. We have therefore launched a consultation on detailed proposals to enable staff to work more flexibly up to and beyond retirement age, and protect them from unintentionally higher annual allowance pension tax charges driven by inflation.
Looking to the future, we must ensure that the future workforce is both large enough to meet the challenges it will face and has the right people with the right skills working in the right places to address future demand.
To that end, we have commissioned NHS England to develop a long-term workforce plan for the NHS workforce for the next 15 years. This will look at the mix and number of staff required across all parts of the country and will set out the actions and reforms that will be needed to reduce supply gaps and improve retention. We have committed to independently verifying this report, and publishing it next year.
Protect Duty Bill: Martyn's Law
Today I am pleased to announce the foundational policy elements that will form the basis of this Government’s upcoming Protect Duty Bill, also known as Martyn’s law. These proposals have been developed in response to feedback received to the Government’s 2021 consultation on policy, where seven in 10 respondents supported the concept that businesses should protect the public, in partnership with key stakeholders. Government will continue to work closely with business stakeholders to ensure that guidance and support is bespoke, accessible and easy to understand, enabling Martyn’s law to be implemented successfully in an effective and proportionate manner.
As the House will be aware, the chair of the Manchester Arena inquiry recommended the introduction of a duty in June 2021. This was further to the 2017 London Bridge prevention of future deaths report, which recommended the introduction of legislation setting out the duties of public authorities. Martyn’s law has been championed by the Martyn’s Law Campaign—led by Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett, killed in the Manchester attack—and the Survivors Against Terror network, whom I would like to pay tribute to today. It is also supported by expert security partners such as the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) and the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) within Counter Terrorism Policing.
The proposed Martyn’s law will seek to improve the safety and security of our citizens so they can enjoy public premises without fear of terrorism by improving protective security and organisational preparedness at a wide range of locations across the UK. It is emphatically in the public interest for the Government and business to work together to ensure people are protected when visiting venues, retail areas, and other publicly accessible venues without introducing undue burden. Those responsible will be required to consider the threat from terrorism and implement appropriate, proportionate mitigation measures. The two primary objectives for Martyn’s Law will be to:
clarify who is responsible for security activity at locations in scope, thereby increasing accountability;
and improve outcomes UK-wide so that security activity is delivered to a consistent level. An inspection and enforcement regime will seek to educate, advise, and ensure compliance with Martyn’s law.
In developing Martyn’s law policy, I have been clear that proportionality and clarity are fundamental to successful delivery. Legislation will therefore establish a tiered model, introducing a requirements framework that is linked to the type of activity that takes place at eligible locations and the number of people—occupancy —that the location can safety accommodate at any time. Wherever possible and appropriate the policy has been aligned to wider regimes designed to keep the public safe—e.g., health and safety and fire safety—to increase ease of understanding. The distinct requirements for each tier are:
Standard: will drive good preparedness outcomes. Locations with a maximum occupancy of greater than 100 people at any time will be required to undertake low-cost, simple yet effective activities to improve protective security and preparedness. This will be achieved by accessing free awareness raising materials and development of a basic preparedness plan considering how best a location can respond to a terrorist event in their locale.
Enhanced: focused on high-capacity locations in recognition of the potential consequences of a successful attack. Locations with an occupancy of 800+ at any time will additionally be required to take forward a risk assessment and subsequently develop and implement a security plan. Enhanced duty holders will be required to meet a reasonably practicable test. Locations with a maximum occupancy at any time of less than 100 will fall out of scope, however, they will be encouraged to adopt good security practices on a voluntary basis. This will be supported by free guidance and training materials. To ensure that Martyn’s law is agile and responsive, Government will have the ability to adjust capacity thresholds in response to changes in the nature of the terrorist threat.
Premises will fall within scope of Martyn’s law where “qualifying activities” take place. This will include activities such as entertainment and leisure, retail, food and drink, museums and galleries, sports grounds, public areas of local and central Government buildings—e.g., town halls—visitor attractions, temporary events, places of worship, health, and education. It is proposed that Martyn’s Law will apply to eligible locations which are either: a building—including collections of buildings used for the same purposes, e.g., a campus; or location/event—including a temporary event—that has a defined boundary, allowing capacity to be known. Eligible locations whose maximum occupancy meets the above specified thresholds will be then drawn into the relevant tier. This would include, for example, music festivals, where there are known and controlled boundaries in place.
To deliver clarity of responsibility and accountability, Martyn’s law will define parties obliged to meet its requirements. This will be a simple formulation to establish persons in control of a premise. Where there are multiple parties at a location, Martyn’s Law will primarily place obligations on a lead party while placing requirements on others to co-operate with that party, such as in the development of risk assessments and security plans. Martyn’s law guidance will detail how and where it would be envisaged that parties will need to co-ordinate on assessments and plans and provide examples of good practice.
I intend that there will be some limited exclusions and exemptions from the duty. This includes locations where transport security regulations already apply; and those that are vacant over a reasonable period or are permanently closed. Those with a large floor space and low occupancy in practice—e.g. warehouses and storage facilities—as well as offices and private residential locations, will not be in scope.
As a unique cohort, places of worship (PoW) will receive bespoke treatment under Martyn’s law. All PoW will be placed into the standard tier, with a small cohort of locations that charge for entry placed into the enhanced tier. Similarly, given the existing safety and safeguarding policies in place at under-18 educational settings, such sites will be placed into the standard tier regardless of their occupancy. However, due to the accessible nature of higher educational settings I consider there is no case for any special treatment. I also consider that given their iconic status, with many locations operating as high-footfall visitor attractions, there is no case to provide any exemption for publicly accessible Defence, royal and Crown estate sites.
To limit burdens on the Criminal justice system, avoiding unnecessary criminalisation of individuals, enforcement will predominantly be delivered via a civil sanctions regime—to a civil standard. In all but the most serious cases a civil monetary penalty is likely to be issued to provide a backstop to the civil sanctions. However, in the case of the most egregious breaches a limited number of criminal offences will be available. It is not my intention for a failure to comply with standard Martyn’s law requirements to result in criminal prosecution. In line with recent, comparable regimes, to disincentivise financial benefit from non-compliance, variable monetary penalties will be available. A maximum penalty of up to £18 million or 5% of worldwide turnover will be available for enhanced sites. Standard locations will be subject to a maximum £10,000 penalty. Civil liability for failure to comply with the requirements will be precluded by way of express provision for all duty holders.
Sensitive Information in Licensing Applications (SILA)
I intend to introduce the Sensitive information in licensing applications (SILA) protocol—by way of an amendment to the Licensing Act 2003—to align to the similar system already in place within planning legislation, sensitive information in planning applications, to reduce the risk of misuse of sensitive information in the public domain.
Bill preparation and Government support
I am pleased to have set out the above elements of Martyn’s law, on the basis of which Government will introduce measures to the House as soon as parliamentary time allows. Statutory guidance to support duty holders in fulfilling Martyn’s law requirements will also be developed. This will encourage a culture of continuous improvement. In addition, a range of initiatives are already in train to support understanding of Martyn’s law and its requirements. ProtectUK will be a key tool for the effective delivery of support to all owners and operators of publicly access, providing guidance and advice, training options and, engagement opportunities through webinars and forums.
An impact assessment has been developed to robustly assess the expected impact on organisations in scope.
Licensing Hours: Consultation on Extension for Coronation
On 6 May 2023, the Coronation of King Charles III will take place. To celebrate this historic occasion, events will likely be taking place throughout the weekend, both in the UK and across the Commonwealth.
The Government have already announced an additional Bank Holiday on 8 May and celebrations will include public events and local community activities.
I am pleased to launch a consultation on extending licensing hours throughout the Bank Holiday weekend to allow those who wish to make the most of this opportunity. The consultation proposes that an extension would take place on 5, 6 and 7 of May to 1am the following day on each day.
Opportunities to gather with our families, friends and local communities were severely impacted by the covid-19 pandemic. His Majesty the King’s Coronation provides an opportunity to come together and celebrate this great nation and enjoy our renewed ability to spend time together in marking this historic occasion.
A copy of the consultation will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and also made available on www.gov.uk.
Serious Violence Duty: Statutory Guidance
On Friday 16 December 2022, my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Sharpe of Epsom) made the following written statement:
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Act received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022 and it includes provisions for the Serious Violence Duty.
The duty requires, specified authorities, namely police, fire and rescue services, health, local authorities, youth offending teams and probation services to work collaboratively, share data and information and put in place a strategy to prevent and reduce serious violence. Educational authorities and prisons/youth custodial institutions are also under a separate duty to co-operate with specified authorities. As announced in the then Crime and Policing Minister’s statement of 9 June 2002, the Government held a formal public consultation on a draft statutory guidance. This guidance is issued by the Secretary of State under chapter 1 of part 2 of the PCSC 2022 and supports the specified authorities across England and Wales in exercising their functions under the duty prior to its commencement on 31 January 2023.
Via the consultation, we sought views on the contents of the guidance including policy intentions for the secondary legislation, which were laid on 12 December, and we also requested separate feedback on what support partners might find beneficial to enable them to implement the duty effectively. This insight has helped finalise our plans for a local support offer. Further case studies were also requested which will form part of this package of local support. We would like to thank all those who contributed to the consultation, including those who officials engaged with directly through a series of sessions. The views received covered a range of issues but there was clear consensus on key areas that needed clarifying. This included clearer local accountability and responsibilities for local partnerships and Police and Crime Commissioners and additional clarity on the inclusion of domestic abuse and sexual offences under the duty. These are set out in the Government’s consultation response along with our plans for commencement of the duty and addressed in the revised statutory guidance which are both published today.
A copy of the consultation response and the statutory guidance will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and also made available on www.gov.uk.
Work of the Home Office
Today I am updating Parliament on Home Office delivery since the previous written ministerial statement of 5 September 2022. In the face of an increasingly complex operational context, the Home Office continues to make a significant positive impact. We have faced substantial external pressures that have continued over the last three months, including the ongoing arrival of small boats and war in Ukraine. The Department remains committed to delivering better outcomes for the public and continues to work to deliver a safer, fairer and more prosperous United Kingdom.
Following the sad death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Home Office successfully delivered departmental responsibilities and assurance of police and security plans for Operation London Bridge from 8 to 19 September. Keeping the capital safe during an event on this scale—the equivalent of 160 state visits within three days—was a major achievement. This was the largest no-notice policing operation of a generation, which included over 12,000 police officers deployed on the day of the state funeral.
The first job of any Government is to keep its people safe, which is why we have put more police on our streets, are cutting crime and are protecting the public. Over the last three months, the Home Office has worked hard to achieve these priorities. Overall crime has fallen by 10% since December 2019, equivalent to 1 million fewer crimes.
Neighbourhood crime is down by 20% since December 2019, and burglary has fallen by 30% over the same period. Since the Safer Streets fund was established, we have awarded £120 million to local projects in high-crime areas across England and Wales through four rounds of funding, supporting over 250 projects. I am pleased that the National Police Chiefs’ Council has announced that all police chiefs in England and Wales committed in September to attend all home burglaries. An example of this in action is Operation Tenacity, which saw the Metropolitan police attend most burglaries, resulting in 1,700 arrests in just six weeks during October and November this year.
Hospital admissions for assault with a sharp object among under-25s—our primary metric for measuring serious violence—have fallen by 22% since December 2019. Our violence reduction unit programme, alongside targeted police enforcement activity, has prevented over 49,000 violent offences since funding for the programmes began in March 2019. In addition, 260,000 vulnerable young people have been supported through violence reduction units in their second year alone, and 90,000 weapons have been taken off our streets since 2019.
The Grip police enforcement programme is supporting the police to take targeted action in parts of England and Wales most affected by serious violence. Grip is helping to drive down violence by using a highly data-driven process to identify violence hotspots—often to individual street level—to target operational activity in those areas.
We are seeing the impact in areas we are funding. For instance, hospital admissions for assault with a sharp object among under-25s in the Metropolitan Police Force area fell from 465 in 2020-21 to 410 in 2021-22.
We know that the drugs trade is at the heart of much of the homicide, serious violence and neighbourhood crime that blight our communities. Our 10-year cross-Government drug strategy, published in December 2021, includes £300 million of dedicated investment over the next three years, to drive work on tackling drug supply. We are breaking drug supply chains—our work to tackle the supply of drugs through county lines is already making an impact. Since the county lines programme was launched in 2019, the police have closed down more than 2,900 deal lines, including over 500 lines since April 2022, and made over 8,000 arrests. Dedicated specialist services are supporting children and young people and their families to escape county lines exploitation and rebuild their lives.
Drug data from Project ADDER—addiction, disruption, diversion, enforcement and recovery—a programme trailblazing a whole-system response to combatting drug misuse, shows positive early signs. Between January 2021 and September 2022, the ADDER programme has supported over 1,600 organised crime group disruptions, over 20,500 arrests, and over £7 million cash seized. We are also diverting people into treatment and wider support. For example, 12,400 out-of-court disposals have been offered and over 8,000 naloxone kits distributed in the community.
Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls
Between January 2021 and August 2022, a team of academics conducted sequential deep dives on the police response to rape in five police forces: Avon and Somerset Police, the Metropolitan Police Service, Durham Constabulary, West Midlands Police and South Wales Police. A wide range of data and information was gathered and examined during the deep dives, including reviews of case files, observations of investigations and training, and focus groups with support services and victims. Following the deep dives, the forces have developed tailored improvement plans to address the findings, which has led to the roll out of Operation Soteria.
We continue to implement the rape review action plan, investing £6.65 million in Operation Soteria to deliver the national operating model for the investigation of rape for all forces to adopt from June 2023; introducing new powers to stop unnecessary and intrusive requests for victims’ phones; and continuing to work with police forces to ensure they have the capability to return victims’ devices within 24 hours. In the year ending June 2022, the police recorded 196,889 sexual offences, the highest level recorded within a 12-month period. This is a 21% increase compared to the year ending March 2020.
On 15 December, the Government published our third six-monthly rape review progress update, which showed that, although there is still more to do, the Government are on track to meet our rape review ambition to more than double the number of adult rape cases reaching court by the end of this Parliament. In the most recent data for 2022, the number of cases referred by the police to the Crown Prosecution Service was up by 95%; the volume of cases charged was up by two thirds; and the number of cases reaching the Crown court was up by 91% compared with 2019 averages.
We have continued to implement the strategy on tackling violence against women and girls—VAWG—the tackling domestic abuse plan, and have enshrined in law the Domestic Abuse Act 2021. We have introduced new offences relating to non-fatal strangulation, hymenoplasty and virginity testing. We have strengthened protections and support for victims of domestic abuse and the response to perpetrators through the provisions in the Domestic Abuse Act. We have made the regime for managing sex offenders and those that pose a risk of sexual harm more robust through provisions in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.
In January 2020 we introduced stalking protection orders, to protect victims of stalking at the earliest possible opportunity—456 orders were issued in their first year. Extensive work is also under way to launch the pilot for the new domestic abuse protection notices and domestic abuse protection orders early next year.
On 25th October we launched the second phase of our national multimedia “Enough” campaign, which promotes safe ways for bystanders to intervene if they witness VAWG. The campaign has reached millions of individuals across England and Wales, with thousands of clicks through to organisations offering support for victims of VAWG.
Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation
We received the final report of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse after seven years of investigation into institutional failings to properly safeguard children from this most horrific abuse. I commend the bravery of the thousands of victims and survivors for sharing their testimonies and perspectives with the inquiry. We will continue doing everything we can to combat this crime, pursue these vile offenders, bring them to justice, and ensure that support is in place for all victims and survivors to help them rebuild their lives.
The Public Order Bill will further enhance the police’s ability to deal with disruptive protests that prevent ordinary people going about their daily lives and divert police resources from communities where they are needed most to prevent serious violence and neighbourhood crime. So far, disruptive protests in London alone have taken up over 12,500 police officer shifts. The Metropolitan Police Service has made over 750 arrests since the beginning of October.
My Department is launching a new fraud strategy, including stepping up our response to pursuing and disrupting fraudsters, working with industry to stop frauds and to empower and support victims.
This Government are delivering the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, which will deliver the largest reform to Companies House in recent history. It will give law enforcement and industry the tools to bear down on the use of UK companies as vehicles for economic crime, including fraud. It will also better protect personal information and addresses provided to Companies House.
We have seen the success of the National Crime Agency’s Operation AGADE, where we have recovered £54 million of criminal proceeds using a civil recovery order—the first of its kind.
We have seen Operation Elaborate, the largest anti-fraud operation in the UK to date, dismantling a website that was responsible for 3.5 million fraudulent calls in 2022—involving many agencies and forces, and led by the Metropolitan police, there have been over 100 arrests made across the country so far.
The police uplift programme continues to support forces with additional police officers, and we remain on track to recruit 20,000 additional officers by March 2023. Data published on 30 September 2022 shows that 15,343 additional officers have already been recruited, accounting for 77% of our target. There are now 11 forces with the highest number of officers they have ever had: Cheshire, Dyfed-Powys, Essex, Kent, City of London, the Metropolitan, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, South Wales, Suffolk, and Thames Valley.
The police workforce is more representative than ever before. For the first time ever, there are over 50,000 female officers—50,364, as at 30 September 2022, which is 34.9% of all officers in post. There were 11,477 ethnic minority officers, as at 30 September 2022, which is 8.2% of all officers in post, the highest figures on record.
His Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary, fire and rescue services continues to shine a light on force performance. Humberside received an excellent report from its latest inspection, with six “outstanding” grades. Humberside was awarded the “outstanding” grade for preventing crime, treatment of the public, protecting vulnerable people, managing offenders, developing a positive workplace and good use of resources. It received a further two “good” grades and one “adequate” grade.
Greater Manchester Police has made great strides in getting the basics right. Under strong leadership, it is responding faster to emergency calls and halved the number of open investigations since 2021. HMICFRS removed GMP from its “engage” phase in October 2022. I am pleased to see GMP working so constructively with HMICFRS and others to act on its inspection findings. I encourage others to learn from its experience.
Six police forces remain “engaged” by HMICFRS, and I expect all forces to make the necessary improvements and work towards restoring public trust and confidence in the police.
We recognise that police culture and standards need to improve to rebuild public trust and confidence. We are bringing forward part 2 of the Angiolini inquiry to focus on these issues and are reviewing the process of dismissals to ensure that policing can swiftly remove officers who fall well short of the standards expected of them.
We have commissioned the National Police Chiefs’ Council to conduct a review of operational productivity in policing, led by Sir Stephen House. This will address issues that may affect the anticipated outcomes from our investment in policing.
We believe that a policing career must be open to talented and committed people from across our communities, including those who do not have a degree or want one. That is why I have commissioned the College of Policing to develop options for a new non-degree entry route. The current transitional non-degree entry route will be kept open in the meantime.
Reducing the Risk to Homeland Security
The Home Office has continued to focus relentlessly on reducing risk across the full range of threats to our homeland security. In October, counter-terrorism police responded swiftly to an attack on a migration facility in Dover that was declared as terrorism.
On 30 October we announced a refresh of the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST. This will ensure that we are able to best protect the public from the enduring threat of terrorism. The refresh will maintain clarity and consistency of purpose, and ensure that the necessary tools are in place to tackle terrorist hatred and violence.
Our counter-terrorism system never stops learning. Volume 2 of the Manchester Arena inquiry was published on 3 November 2022. This covered the emergency services’ response on the night of the attack. The Government will respond fully when all three volumes have been published. However, we are already enhancing our response using the learning from the attacks—for example, in improving joint working between the emergency services—which will feed the refresh of CONTEST. We have also received the independent review of Prevent, which we will look to publish next year alongside His Majesty’s Government’s response. We will reflect the lessons and learning from the Shawcross review, along with those from the numerous inquests, inquiries and other reviews from recent years through the CONTEST refresh.
I have today issued a further written ministerial statement providing an update on our progress on developing Martyn’s law—also known as the protect duty. This is a significant milestone in the development of this legislation—the first of its kind—which will keep people safe by scaling up preparedness for, and protection from, terrorist attacks. This legislation will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows. This is a recommendation in Volume 1 of the Manchester Arena inquiry. This duty has been tirelessly campaigned for by Figen Murray, who tragically lost her son Martyn in the Manchester Arena attack. I would like to pay tribute to her, alongside all other victims, survivors and those affected by these heinous events.
Access to data is fundamental to the investigation and prosecution of serious crimes. The UK-US data access agreement entered into force on 5th October 2022. This world-first capability will fundamentally change the way we are able to fight serious crime across the UK, including terrorism, organised immigration crime and child abuse. The agreement permits certain UK public authorities to obtain data directly from US-based communications service providers. This will allow us to access vital data more quickly than ever before. Operational benefits are already being derived from the agreement.
Earlier in the year, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Home Office delivered a transformative package of work through emergency legislation to strengthen financial sanctions legislation, creating new register of overseas entities and reforming unexplained wealth orders.
We are building on that work through the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, which was introduced in Parliament on 22 September 2022. This cracks down even further on kleptocrats, criminals and terrorists who abuse our open economy, and ensures that we drive out dirty money from the UK. It strengthens the UK’s reputation as a place where legitimate businesses can thrive and enhances our ability to tackle new and emerging threats such as the use of crypto-assets, ransomware and the growth of cyber-enabled fraud.
The National Crime Agency’s Combatting Kleptocracy Cell is also delivering significant success, with nearly 100 disruptions against Putin-linked elites and their enablers. It has frozen over £18 billion-worth of assets in the UK. On 1 December 2022 it conducted a major operation to arrest a wealthy Russian businessman on suspicion of offences including money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the Home Office and conspiracy to commit perjury.
The National Security Bill, which is now at its Committee stage in the House of Lords, represents a fundamental reform of our framework for tackling state threats. It includes a suite of new measures to tackle the full range of modern-day state threats, from sabotage and spying to foreign interference and economic espionage. It will ensure that our world-class law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the modern tools, powers and protections they need to counter those who seek to do the UK harm.
The first meeting of the new Defending Democracy taskforce took place on 28 November 2022. The taskforce’s primary focus will be to protect the democratic integrity of the UK from threats of foreign interference. The taskforce will work across Government and with Parliament, the UK intelligence community, the devolved Administrations, local authorities and the private sector on the full range of threats facing our democratic institutions.
Tackling illegal migration, removing those with no right to be here, and protecting the vulnerable
This year has been challenging for our efforts to tackle illegal migration due to pressures on the system, particularly due to consistently high numbers of arrivals by small boats and pressures on available accommodation, which have been exacerbated by responding to the war in Ukraine and continued instability in Afghanistan. I will continue to protect the public and keep our borders secure and the British people safe from harm.
The Prime Minister recently set out a range of significant new steps the Government are taking to tackle the challenge of illegal migration, including:
A new deal with Albania and changes to our approach to speed up the removal of Albanians with no right to be here. This includes assurances from Albania that it can offer the required protection, in line with our international obligations, to genuine victims of modern slavery; embedding Border Force officers in Tirana airport; increasing the threshold for people referred to the modern slavery system; establishing a unit to expedite Albanian claims, with 400 specialist staff and new country guidance for our caseworkers, making it clear that Albania is a safe country.
Establishing a new, permanent unified small boats operational command, with 700 additional dedicated staff to deliver a more co-ordinated response to tackling crossings; bringing together military, civilian and NCA expertise to co-ordinate our intelligence, interception, processing and enforcement.
Clearing the initial asylum decision backlog of legacy cases by the end of next year. We will make an initial decision in all cases that have been outstanding since before 28 June 2022.
Plans to bring forward legislation next year to prevent abuse of our legal framework, which will make it unambiguously clear that people entering illegally should have no right to stay here, and will be returned to their home country or a safe country for their asylum claim to be considered.
Due to the unprecedented number of small boat arrivals and the pressure from covid-19 on the asylum system, it has been necessary to use hotels to accommodate some asylum seekers. This is only ever a short-term solution and we are working with our accommodation providers to find appropriate dispersed accommodation across the UK.
The new UK-French agreement that I agreed with my counterpart lays the foundations for deeper co-operation to tackle illegal migration and marks the next step for the close operational partnership between the two countries, which has prevented over 31,500 crossings—nearly 50% more than to this point in 2021.
The arrangement means that, for the first time, specialist UK officers will also be embedded with their French counterparts, which will increase information sharing, improve understanding of the threat, and ensure that UK expertise is at the heart of efforts to disrupt crossings and clamp down on people smugglers. This more integrated approach will also include strengthened operational co-operation, including joint UK-France analysis teams, supporting the co-ordination and exchange of information by French command headquarters. We have signed the biggest small boats joint bilateral deal with France; we have put the Calais group on a permanent footing, showing the importance of this issue to our European partners; and we have agreed new levels of intelligence co-operation with our European neighbours.
These measures build on the progress we have made through the year. We have introduced part 5 of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, which provides legislative clarity to victims and decision makers on victims’ rights, including the entitlement to a recovery period and the circumstances in which it may be withheld.
We continue to return foreign national offenders by scheduled and charter flights. From January 2019 to March 2022, we have removed 11,532 FNOs. Since April 2020, we have chartered 156 flights to Europe and around the world. In the year ending June 2022, there were 3,250 enforced returns, of which 1,600 were to EU countries.
Safe and Legal Routes
We have continued to support those fleeing conflicts abroad, granting indefinite leave to remain to over 11,300 individuals from Afghanistan under ARAP or ACRS pathway 1.
As of 24 November, 202,710 visas have been granted and 146,222 have arrived in the UK from Ukraine; 59,480 have been granted and 41,093 people have arrived under the Ukraine Family Scheme; and 143,230 visas have been granted and 105,129 arrived under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
Through the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) route, there have been a total of 150,600 applications since its introduction on 31 January 2021 up to the end of September 2022, of which there were 144,576 grants—96%.
Enabling the legitimate movement of people and goods
Passports are about to enter the busy period in January, and plans are well advanced in preparation for that and for a high level of demand forecast across 2023. There was record demand for passport applications this year, with approximately 7.4 million applications processed by the end of October. Service standards have remained high since November, and 99.9% of UK standard applications were completed within the 10-week service standard in the week ending 20 November. Every effort is being made to return to the three-week service standard.
The visa service has faced significant demands post pandemic and following Ukraine, and higher than forecast levels of demand. Considering this, it is performing well under pressure and, through supportive contingency measures, standard applications have returned to service standards and we are on track for complex applications to also return to service standards in December.
Despite these challenges, staff productivity has remained high, and we continue to manage staff flexibly across services to reduce work in progress to minimal levels for passport and deliver the visa recovery by the year end.
Border Force has seen passenger numbers increase to near pre-pandemic levels by the end of summer and also managed the introduction of post-EU exit goods checks and the first full year of EU citizens requiring passports and additional checks. The eGates have performed well and IT resilience has been strong, enabling over 90% of passengers to cross borders within tolerance levels.
Border Force also reached its annual target for cigarette and tobacco seizures within seven months of 2022-23. In October, £35 million-worth of cigarettes and tobacco were seized, bringing the year-to-date total to £255 million —101%—of the annual target of £252 million. On alcohol, Border Force seized £4.3 million, bringing the year-to-date total to £25.1 million—63%—of the annual target of £40 million.
The FBIS programme has built up the expertise and capability to reduce significantly the time taken to launch a brand-new visa route or to amend criteria for existing visa applications.
We have made significant progress in digitising the immigration system. We are increasingly replacing physical and paper-based products and services with accessible, easy-to-use online and digital services. This has provided applicants with an easy online application process, including providing biometrics and establishing or verifying identity using their smartphones. A fully digital application process has been delivered for the BN(O) route and some points-based system routes and now for Ukraine schemes.
All these achievements have been delivered against a challenging background and represent a significant effort across the Home Office in continuing to deliver on the people’s priorities. The Home Office remains committed to keeping the public safe, protecting our borders, and countering hostile state threats.
Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
Local Government Finance Settlement 2023-24
On 12 December, I published a policy statement outlining proposals for the 2023-24 local government finance settlement and details of funding in 2024-25. Today, I have set out the provisional local government finance settlement for 2023-24 and launched our formal consultation on the proposals. This settlement provides a 9% increase in national level core spending power, making available almost £5 billion in additional resources, demonstrating how Government stand behind councils up and down the country.
Together, the policy statement published on 12 December, and this proposed settlement:
Give multi-year certainty to local authorities, allowing them to plan ahead with more confidence over the rest of the spending review period.
Ensure stability by introducing a one-off funding guarantee to ensure that every council sees at least a 3% increase in core spending power next year before any local decisions on council tax rates.
Provide around £2 billion in additional grant for children’s and adult social care in 2023-24.
Maintain a balance on council tax, protecting residents from excessive increases while allowing councils to generate income to deliver local services.
Local government has long called for greater certainty on funding following repeated one-year settlements. In the policy statement published on 12 December, the Government have provided this certainty by setting out clearly our intentions and proposals for the 2024-25 settlement.
Government recognise that all local authorities are facing pressures. In this proposed settlement we are taking action to provide stability for all local authorities, across all tiers of local government, to support the vital work they undertake for communities across the country.
We are introducing a new, one-off funding guarantee that ensures every local authority will see a minimum 3% increase in their core spending power, before taking any local decisions to increase council tax rates.
Adult and children’s social care services provide crucial support to care users and young people in need, and this proposed settlement provides significant additional funding for this key area of concern. Government have listened, and we know that many local authorities are already facing difficult decisions brought on by inflationary and demand pressures. This is why we are providing around £2 billion in additional grant for social care, compared to 2022-23. Additionally, for social care authorities, we are consulting on a 2% precept for 2023-24. The council tax referendum provisions are not a cap, nor do they force councils to set taxes at the threshold level. When taking decisions on council tax levels, local authorities should recognise the pressures many households are facing.
We have also listened to councils’ concerns about implementing adult social care charging reform in light of these pressures. That is why Government have made the difficult decision to delay these reforms, and to prioritise core pressures rather than risk destabilising the market. The funding intended for implementation will be retained in local authority budgets.
The Government’s manifesto commits to continuing to protect local taxpayers from excessive council tax increases. This is an additional local democratic check and balance to avoid a repeat of what was seen under the last Labour Government when council tax more than doubled. The Government intend to proceed with a core referendum principle of 3% for 2023-24. Furthermore, we are proposing a bespoke council tax referendum principle of up to 3% or £5, whichever is higher, for shire districts. On top of this, we intend to proceed with a £5 referendum principle on band D bills for all fire and rescue authorities and a £15 referendum principle on band D bills for police and crime commissioners.
This proposed package of referendum principles strikes a fair balance. The council tax referendum provisions are not a cap, nor do they force councils to set taxes at the threshold level.
The Mayor of London has requested flexibility to levy an additional £20 on band D bills to the Greater London Authority (GLA) precept to provide extra funding for Transport for London (TfL). The Government have expressed ongoing concern about the management of TfL by this Mayor, and it is disappointing that London taxpayers are having to foot the bill for the GLA’s poor governance and decision making. While the Government will not oppose this request, any decision to increase the precept is solely one for the Mayor, who should take into account the pressures that Londoners are currently facing on living costs and his decision to raise his share of council tax by 8.8% last year.
We are also today announcing £100 million of additional funding for local authorities to support the most vulnerable households in England. This funding will allow councils to deliver additional support to the 3.8 million households already receiving council tax support, whilst also providing councils with the resources and flexibility to determine the local approaches to support other vulnerable households in their area.
These proposals will provide councils with the support they need. They give certainty, ensure stability, provide significant additional resources for social care, and maintain balance on council tax.
I welcome representations from all interested parties on the consultation we have launched today. The consultation will run until 16 January. The Local Government Minister will also be holding engagement sessions for Members of Parliament in the week commencing 9 January 2023.