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Written Statements

Volume 741: debated on Wednesday 29 November 2023

Written Statements

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Culture, Media and Sport

Lionesses Futures Fund

The Government have today announced they are investing £25 million in 2024-25, complemented with £5 million of additional investment from the Football Association, to create a new Lionesses Futures Fund. This fund is expected to deliver 30 state-of-the-art 3G artificial grass pitches across England, providing gold-standard provision for women and girls.

This funding honours the Lionesses’ win at the UEFA Euro 2022 final and their journey to the final of the FIFA World cup 2023, as well as their efforts to continue to raise the profile of women’s football, both domestically and internationally. It is important to build on these successes to ensure a long-lasting and sustainable future for women’s football in this country.

The Football Foundation, the charitable body responsible for delivering the existing Government (as well as FA and Premier League) investment in grassroots facilities in England, will lead delivery of this new fund. The foundation is applying robust principles to identify sites to benefit from this investment across all of England. The Government will continue to monitor and work closely with the foundation to ensure projects have women’s and girls’ usage at the heart of their plans.

Many of the selected projects—which will be confirmed by the Football Foundation in due course—will have a women and girls-led club at their heart. In total these sites will support an estimated 8,000 unique female players—built around women’s and girls’ priority use, using reserved peak-time slots, women and girls-only evenings and priority booking for women’s and girls’ teams to drive up participation and create pathways for growth.

The decision to focus investment on artificial grass pitches allows for increased hours of playing time as well as a larger variety of playing formats, creating more opportunities for women and girls to get involved at a recreational level. We know that a lack of appropriate and accessible changing facilities is a current barrier to women’s and girls’ participation. With this in mind, each site will also have a new or upgraded changing facility.

The new investment the Government are committing to today builds on our existing investment of over £300 million in grassroots and multi-sport facilities across the UK between 2021 and 2025 (which we deliver in partnership with the Football Associations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). This funding also seeks to increase access for under-represented groups (including women and girls) and ensures that every community has access to the grassroots facilities it needs.

We are in a defining period for women’s football in this country and the Government are committed to honouring the Lionesses and building on their legacy—this investment will transform grassroots access and make sure that high-quality facilities are ready and available when women and girls turn up to play.



Childcare Reforms

The bold and transformative reforms to childcare that this Government announced at the spring Budget, including the single biggest investment in childcare in England ever made, will help to give children the best start in life and is a core element to our long-term strategy to grow the economy and get people back into work.

By 2027-28, we expect the amount of money we are investing in childcare to have doubled from £4 billion to £8 billion each year. It will give working parents 30 free hours of childcare per week from when their children are nine months old until they start school.

Today’s announcements are a vital next step to deliver our new entitlements for parents, providers, local authorities, and the early years sector in preparation for the first phase of delivery in April 2024.

They include details of when and how eligible working parents of two-year-olds can apply to receive the first 15 hours free childcare for two-year-olds and the significant increases to sector funding to support the successful delivery of the upcoming entitlements.

Early years funding

We have published the new local authority rates funding for 2024-25 alongside the Government’s response to the recent consultation on early years funding.

In 2024-25, we are providing over £400 million additional funding to deliver a significant uplift to the hourly rate paid to local authorities for the entitlements. This includes £67 million of new funding to reflect the 9.8% increase in the national living wage from April 2024, £57 million in recognition of teacher pay and pension costs in 2024, and the £288 million additional funding for 2024-25 announced at spring Budget in March 2023.

The final local hourly funding rates for 2024-25 include an average 4.7% increase for the current three and four-year-old entitlement, from £5.62 in 2023-24 to £5.88 in 2024-25. Average funding rates for two-year-olds will be £8.28 per hour, and rates for under-twos will be £11.22 per hour.

As set out in the Government response to our consultation, there was broad agreement with our proposals relating to funding the entitlements for two-year-olds and under-twos, and we will implement the majority of the proposals included in the consultation. This includes a new national funding formula to distribute entitlement funding for two-year-olds and under-twos, extending the majority of the existing local funding rules to the new entitlements, and extending eligibility for the disability access fund and the early years pupil premium to younger age groups. These proposals will ensure that funding for the early years entitlements are distributed fairly and efficiently, and support delivery of the entitlements across the country. The full consultation response has been published on

Full details of the 2024-25 local authority hourly funding rates, including step-by-step tables, have been published on id="45WS" class="column-number" data-column-number="45WS">

Childcare entitlement codes

From 2 January, eligible working parents will be able to apply for their 15 hours childcare for their two-year-olds. Parents have until 31 March to apply for a code.

To apply for a childcare code, each parent needs to be working and earning the equivalent of 16 hours a week at national minimum/living wage. This means that each parent needs to earn from just over £9,500 per year to be eligible for 15 hours a week of childcare during term time. Parents must also each earn under £100,000 adjusted net income per year to remain eligible for the entitlement.

More information on the range of childcare support available to parents can be found on the Childcare Choices website, where parents can explore the early education entitlements and other Government help with childcare costs.

Capital funding allocations

We will publish this week the allocations of the £100 million of capital funding for the 2023-24 financial year to support local authorities in delivering the expansion of the 30 hours early years entitlements and our commitment that all parents will be able to access wraparound care from 8 am to 6 pm by 2026.

Local authorities are responsible for mapping supply and demand in their areas to ensure there are sufficient places available locally. They will be expected to work their local private, voluntary and independent providers and schools to introduce or expand childcare provision in their area where there are gaps in provision.

The funding is anticipated to help deliver thousands of new places across the country.

Full details of the allocations, including guidance for local authorities and childcare providers, will be published on this week.

Childminder grants

The childminder start-up grant scheme is open for applications from Thursday 30 November. The scheme supports new childminders by providing them with grant funding, worth up to £7.2 million, helping childminders with the cost of setting up their own businesses.

As previously announced, we are offering £600 to new childminders registering with Ofsted, and £1,200 to new childminders registering with a childminder agency, or CMA. Grants to childminders registering with CMAs will be paid in two instalments, with a six-month limit on claiming the second instalment.

Childminders must apply for the grant within two months of registering as a childminder, or within two months of the scheme launching.

The scheme is available to all new childminders who have completed their registration on or after 15 March 2023. Individuals who have previously been registered as childminders and wish to re-register into the sector may also apply for the scheme, but there must be at least a 12-month gap between the date of their previous registration being cancelled and their new registration being finalised.

The scheme will be facilitated by Ecorys UK Ltd, and new childminders can apply on


Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Restoring our Natural Heritage

Tackling climate change and restoring nature go hand in hand. As we prepare for the next international climate discussion at COP28, today we are delivering a package of measures to steward and restore our natural heritage, connect people with nature and strengthen our global environmental leadership. Together, these measures are a huge step forward in delivering our environmental improvement plan.

From rare British rainforests in our countryside to the trees in our towns and cities, we are investing in nature and ensuring more people can enjoy its benefits. We will work in partnership with businesses, communities and farmers to restore nature across the country.

We know that access to the countryside boosts our wellbeing and the rural economy. Getting out into nature can help our physical and mental wellbeing. Natural England research shows that we could save the NHS more than £2 billion a year if everyone had good access to green space.

Every year there are 270 million visits to national parks and national landscapes—the new name for areas of outstanding natural beauty, in recognition of their importance to the nation—but we need to do more to make sure everyone, especially those unfamiliar with the countryside, has the chance to enjoy it responsibly.

To deliver on our manifesto commitment, we will start the process to designate a new national park. To support existing national parks and national landscapes, the Government will publish the final response to the landscapes review and provide an additional £10 million in the new year to help them achieve more for people and nature. The Government are also making an additional £5 million available this year, for protected landscapes teams to apply for, to improve the water environment in these special places.

To restore nature and support responsible access to the countryside we are:

Taking forward a further 34 new landscape recovery projects, involving over 700 land managers across the country. Together these projects will restore more than 35,000 hectares of peatland, sustainably manage more than 20,000 hectares of woodland, including some temperate rainforest, create over 7,000 hectares of new woodland, and benefit more than 160 protected sites (sites of special scientific interest), alongside the sustainable production of food. The successful round 2 projects will now be awarded a share of around £25 million in development funding to finalise delivery plans, and secure money from private investors through green finance. This builds on the success of the first 22 landscape recovery projects that are already under way, aiming to restore more than 600 km of rivers and targeting the conservation of more than 260 flagship species.

Publishing a plan to recover England’s temperate rainforests, a globally rare and important habitat found in, for example, Cornwall, Devon, and Cumbria.

Creating two new community forests in Tees Valley and Derbyshire—locally led projects planting trees near to where people live and work.

Launching a competition for a second national forest—inspired by the existing national forest in the midlands, this competition will support the creation of a new forest for the nation in England, helping to increase public access to woodlands, boost tree planting, support nature recovery and tackle climate change.

Publishing the woodland access implementation plan to protect, improve and expand access to woodlands, enabling more people to spend time in nature.

Delivering our biodiversity net gain package so new homes improve the local environment.

Giving residents a say on the future of street trees in their neighbourhood, and implementing a new duty to ensure communities are consulted before trees are cut down.

Dedicating £2.5 million of funding to connect more children with nature, building on the success of the Generation Green project. The funding will help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to experience the wonders of our most beautiful landscapes.

These announcements today will build on our environmental leadership and help us to deliver our commitments to protect 30% of land by 2030. We have already created or restored wildlife habitats the size of Dorset and passed the world-leading Environment Act 2021 with long-term targets to restore nature. At COP28, we will once again champion nature as a vital ally to tackle climate change and commit to get more people out into nature.

A full list of the successful projects in the second round of landscape recovery can be found in annex A.

Attachments can be viewed online at:


Health and Social Care

Public Health: Opt-out HIV Testing

The Government remain committed to ending new HIV transmissions within England by 2030. In order to do this successfully, we must identify and treat more of those who are unknowingly living with HIV.

As part of our HIV action plan, NHS England is currently operating a bloodborne virus emergency department opt-out testing programme for HIV and for hepatitis B and C for 34 emergency departments across London, Manchester, Salford, Brighton and Blackpool, focusing on areas with extremely high HIV prevalence (five or more HIV cases per 1,000 residents aged 15 to 59), in line with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence HIV testing guidance.

This means that anyone aged 16 years and over attending an emergency department in these areas and having a routine blood test will automatically be tested for HIV and for hepatitis B and C, unless they opt-out. Accessible public-facing information about testing, its benefits and how they can opt out allows individuals to make informed choices.

Through their recently published evaluation report, the data from NHS England and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) indicate that the existing opt-out testing programme has been highly successful in areas of extremely high HIV prevalence, helping identify over 2,000 cases of bloodborne viruses, including 550 cases of people living with undiagnosed or untreated HIV.

After careful consideration of the available evidence, I am pleased to announce that the Government are committing to new research, commissioned through the National Institute for Health and Care Research, to evaluate the expansion of HIV opt-out testing to a further 46 emergency departments, in areas across England where there is high HIV prevalence (two or more HIV cases per 1,000 residents). Funding will support 12 months of testing for each emergency department, to begin during the next financial year.

We anticipate that this will be an effective way to reach a substantial proportion of the estimated 4,500 people England who are living with HIV but unaware of their status.

We will continue to keep Parliament updated on our progress to meet our 2030 ambitions as set out in our HIV action plan. We also want to thank our partners across the NHS, in NHS England, UKHSA, local government, and the community and voluntary sector, for their work towards ending HIV transmission in England.