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Written Statements

Volume 742: debated on Monday 18 December 2023

Written Statements

Monday 18 December 2023


UK Emissions Trading Scheme and Carbon Leakage

The UK is taking rapid action on industrial decarbonisation to meet net zero. This includes the use of carbon pricing through the UK emissions trading scheme (UK ETS). This action creates risk of carbon leakage as not all jurisdictions are moving at the same pace. Carbon leakage is the movement of production and associated emissions from one country to another due to different levels of decarbonisation effort through carbon pricing and climate regulation. It can undermine efforts to reduce global emissions and curtail private investment in decarbonisation—compromising efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

The best solution to carbon leakage is an international one. The UK and many others around the world are working to reduce carbon leakage risk by pushing for ambitious climate action. But progress on international solutions takes time.

The Government therefore consulted on a range of potential domestic carbon leakage mitigation measures. The consultation “Addressing carbon leakage risk to support decarbonisation” ran from 30 March 2023 to 22 June 2023. It covered potential policies including a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM), product standards, and other policy measures to help grow the market for low-emission products, as well as emissions reporting that could support the implementation of carbon leakage policy more broadly.

After careful review and giving thorough consideration to the potential implications, the Government have today published a summary of responses and Government response to the consultation, and confirm that:

The Government will implement a CBAM by January 2027. The UK CBAM will place a carbon price on some of the most emissions-intensive industrial goods imported to the UK from the aluminium, cement, ceramics, fertilizer, glass, hydrogen, iron and steel sectors.

A CBAM will ensure that UK decarbonisation efforts lead to a true reduction in global emissions rather than displacing carbon emissions overseas. It will give UK industry confidence to invest in the knowledge that its decarbonisation efforts will not be undermined.

The UK CBAM will work cohesively with the UK ETS to ensure imported products are subject to a carbon price comparable to that incurred by UK production.

The UK ETS Authority has today also published a consultation on the approach to UK ETS free allocation. The UK Government will work with the UK ETS Authority on interactions between a CBAM and provision of free allowances under the UK ETS.

The CBAM will be designed so that other countries which also have a carbon price will see the CBAM liability on their goods adjusted accordingly.

The scope of the CBAM will be kept under review, and delivery will be subject to further consultation in 2024.

The UK CBAM will be designed in compliance with the UK’s international obligations.

Alongside a CBAM, Government will work with industry to establish voluntary product standards that businesses could choose to adopt to help promote their low carbon products to consumers.

The Government will also seek to develop an embodied emissions reporting framework that could serve future carbon leakage and decarbonisation policies.

Voluntary standards and the embodied emissions reporting framework will be subject to further technical consultation in 2024.

The summary of responses and Government response to the consultation are available here: A copy of the document will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.



Armed Forces Covenant and Veterans Annual Report 2023

The following joint statement is released on behalf of myself and the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Moor View (Johnny Mercer).

The events of the last 12 months have continued to highlight the vital work our armed forces carry out. Around the world they work with our allies to defend the global community and support vital humanitarian work. At home they protect our borders, provide military aid to our national communities, and lead epoch-defining state ceremonial events including Their Majesties’ coronations. More than ever, our armed forces community is central to our national life and represents who we are as a country, and we are delighted that public support for our soldiers, sailors, aviators and their families remains consistently high.

We are honoured to introduce the 2023 armed forces covenant and veterans report. This is the primary tool by which the Government are held to account in delivering the covenant. It includes contributions from across the MOD, the Office for Veterans’ Affairs, wider Government Departments, and the devolved Administrations. It is how the Government showcase the extraordinary work that is done throughout the UK to support our armed forces community.

Highlights from this year’s report include:

Improvements to service accommodation under the Defence Command Paper refresh, published in July 2023, which announced an additional £400,000,000 of funding over two years for programmes to address damp and mould issues, improve thermal efficiency and to carry out refurbishment works to unoccupied homes.

The modernisation of service families accommodation policy means over 5,200 families in committed relationships (who are not married or civil partnered), can live together in service families accommodation.

Funding to support the armed forces families strategy continues under the armed forces families fund, with funding of over £900,000 for early years projects, nearly £500,000 for the new supporting partners programme and over £2,000,000 for what was the education support fund.

Following the successful launch of the wraparound childcare scheme in September 2022, there are over 5,500 service families taking advantage of the funding toward their childcare costs.

The Op COMMUNITY pilot is underway across England. Op COMMUNITY is a point of contact for the armed forces community to offer support and guidance as they navigate NHS services.

The Office for Veterans’ Affairs, in partnership with the armed forces covenant fund trust, invested £3,000,000 into the veterans mobility fund

Launch of Op FORTITUDE, to create a pathway for veterans at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Launch of Op RESTORE, to create a clear physical health pathway in the NHS for our veterans.

The number of armed forces covenant signatories has seen substantial growth as of 30

September 2023 with some 10,975 total signatories.

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 representatives of the key external stakeholders who provided their independent observations.

The attachment can be viewed online at:


Children’s Social Care

The Prime Minister has been clear about the importance of family in ensuring children can thrive and this Government are determined to put families at the heart of society. I am therefore pleased to update the House on our progress to reform children’s social care to ensure that children and families get the support they need at the right time.

Earlier this year we set out bold and ambitious plans to reform children’s social care through “Stable Homes. Built on Love”. Our strategy, backed by £200 million investment, responded to reviews that provided a vision of how to do things differently—including the independent review of children’s social care and the national review into the murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson. These reviews were clear that we must reform services to improve the outcomes of children and families. Our strategy set a vision for a transformed children’s social care system that makes sure families get the help they need, when they need it.

We have moved a step closer to realising this vision, and honour commitments to publish:

The first ever national kinship strategy, “Championing Kinship Care” which sets out support for family networks providing loving and stable homes to children.

A new children’s social care national framework which sets out the purpose, principles and outcomes that should be achieved in children’s social care.

Updated statutory guidance, “Working Together”, which sets out how to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

•A data strategy which sets out the long-term plan for transforming data in children’s social care.

Through this statement I update the House on each publication, copies of which have been laid in the Libraries of both Houses. I am also informing Members that we will also increase our budget to deliver fostering reforms by up to £8.5 million, taking the total investment to £36 million. This is the largest ever investment in fostering in England and will support us to roll out recruitment and retention programmes to over 60% of all local authorities in England.

We want children who cannot live with their parents to be supported to live with people who are known to them and love them. Kinship carers need our support and backing to offer this care and love so that they can in turn help us achieve our aim of keeping more families together. Our kinship strategy, “Championing Kinship Care”, sets out the practical and financial support we will provide to kinship families, and is backed by £20 million investment. It details how we will provide further support for kinship carers, including launching a financial allowance pathfinder which will provide more financial stability for children growing up in kinship care and sets out our plans to champion the outcomes of children in kinship care in schools. Prioritising kinship care requires us all to champion, support and empower kinship families.

We must also deliver excellent standards of practice to improve outcomes for children, raise aspirations and ensure partnership working across all agencies, including police, health and education. We have published the children’s social care national framework as statutory guidance. It brings together the purpose, principles, enablers, and outcomes that children’s social care should achieve so children, young people and families can thrive. We want all local authorities to consider how their local offer of support makes a real difference to the lives of children, young people and their families.

Our plans for reform have always recognised the central importance of children’s welfare. Children must be kept safe, and this means we must take swift and decisive action to protect them when they are not. Our multi-agency statutory guidance, “Working Together to Safeguard Children”, has been updated and replaces a version from 2018. We want all parts of the system to embed new child protection standards for practitioners, and to use and deploy a multi-disciplinary workforce to provide co-ordinated help, support and protection.

Lastly, the data we collect about children and families and the information recorded about their lives and interactions with children’s social care is sensitive and personal. This data is held in many places, which makes bringing it together challenging. Our digital and data strategy sets out the foundations needed to embark on ambitious transformation, and the actions we will take between 2023-2025. We will also publish a children’s social care dashboard next year to understand progress towards the outcomes in the national framework.

The reviews from last year called for an urgent, fundamental and system-wide transformation of children’s social care. Today we reaffirm our commitment to reform. Transforming how we operate depends on the support and commitment of local Government leadership, leaders across children’s social care, safeguarding partners, relevant agencies and all practitioners. That is why we have also published a reform statement for local authorities and partners in the system.

Today is a time to reflect on the thousands of people who have shared their views since we embarked on reform, including children and families, kinship carers, social workers, dedicated professionals and practitioners and charities. I give my personal thanks to every individual in helping us reach this milestone in our reform journey.


Child Safeguarding Practice Review: Government Response

Today, the Government have published our response to the recommendations made by the child safeguarding practice review panel (the panel) review into safeguarding of children with disabilities and complex health needs in residential settings, published in April 2023. I would like to thank the panel for their vital work and their continued focus on improving learning, practice, and outcomes for children. I am grateful to everyone who contributed to the review for their commitment, professionalism, and expertise. A copy of the response has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

The abuse and neglect of disabled children in three dual-registered children’s homes and residential special schools was appalling. The settings have closed; as criminal investigations are ongoing; I am unable to comment further on the specifics of the case.

No system, however robust, can fully eliminate all risk of harm and abuse. Those committing abuse were deliberately concealing their actions. Nevertheless, the panel’s report highlights system-wide issues which allowed abuse to be concealed for too long. The owners of the three dual-registered settings and providers of care permitted inadequate leadership and management, poor-quality training, poor support and supervision of the workforce and inadequate compliance with statutory requirements. Statutory and partner agencies demonstrated a lack of oversight, limited professional curiosity, poorly exercised accountability, failures in information sharing and lack of rigour in regulation and inspection practice.

The panel’s recommendations reinforce our determination that every child and their family should get the right support at the right time. Disabled children should not be placed far from home. Local agencies need to work together so that children can be supported as close to home as possible, however complex their needs. The failures identified by the panel demonstrate the urgent need for the transformation of children’s social care and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) that we are driving forward in the SEND and alternative provision improvement plan. Our strategy for children’s social care, “Stable Homes, Built on Love”, and NHS England’s long-term plan aim to improve the lives of disabled children and will deliver fundamental change. These reforms will ensure that disabled children receive the best support, safeguarding and protection, and care from all those who are looking after them.

Our response recognises the three key principles for disabled children to thrive and fulfil their potential:

All relevant agencies need to assure themselves that they are meeting their duties and promoting good practice to keep disabled children with complex health needs in residential care safe and are cared for.

We need to reform the care system so that all disabled children in residential settings have a stable, loving home that is safe and close to their friends and family.

We must provide the right support, in the right place and at the right time to disabled children and their families, so families are better supported to meet children’s needs at home and in the community, and we must reduce the institutionalisation of disabled children.

I have today also written to providers of residential settings, local authority chief executives, directors of children’s services, lead integrated care board members, police chief constables, Ofsted, and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) asking them to review their current working practices. Copies of these letters have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

The response we have published today sets out the steps that we are taking to address the failings identified by the panel. These actions include:

Asking Ofsted and the CQC to work with us to consider further what we could do better and differently now to safeguard disabled children living in regulated children’s homes. We are asking Ofsted and CQC to review the recommendation for joint inspections including any regulatory changes required and cost implications.

Setting a new standard on the provision of non-instructed advocacy for children with complex communication needs. We are strengthening the independence of advocacy services and improving the way these services are promoted so that advocacy support is more widely available to children and young people.

Exploring proposals for introducing professional registration of the children’s homes workforce as well as considering the development of a new Knowledge and Skills Statement and a national leadership programme to support recruitment of new managers.

Considering how information sharing, multi-agency leadership, safeguarding partnerships and cross-government working can be improved to support safeguarding. Committing to work with local authorities and Ofsted to review what changes need to be made to the responsibilities of local authority designated officers (LADO).

Asking the Law Commission to carry out a review of the legislation for disabled children, to inform future changes to legislation and/or guidance.

Consulting on updated statutory guidance “Working Together to Safeguard Children” to set out clear roles and responsibilities for safeguarding partners (police, health, and local authorities) to ensure they work more effectively together.

Many people work hard to care for our most vulnerable children and young people. However, I share the panel’s concern that—too often—agencies act in isolation when the children with the most complex needs require a holistic response. I am committed to working with my colleagues across Government to improve multi-agency and multi-disciplinary working to help, support and protect children.

Ensuring the safety and well-being of disabled children with complex health needs is one of the Government’s most fundamental priorities. We are committed to working with our partners and across Government to ensure all children are kept safe, have their needs met and receive the best support to fulfil their potential.


Energy Security and Net Zero

Energy Efficiency and Clean Heat Capital Funding

In the 2022 autumn statement, the Chancellor announced that new Government funding worth £6 billion will be made available from 2025 to 2028 to support households, businesses and the public sector drive improvements in energy efficiency and clean heating to bring down bills and emissions.

I can today announce to the House how this money is being allocated between the following schemes.

Nearly £2.5 billion of this funding will be allocated to mass market support for the electrification of heat and energy efficiency. This includes the boiler upgrade scheme (BUS), a new £400 million energy efficiency grant, and a new local authority led retrofit scheme.

Breakdown of the £6,050 millionschemes and total amount allocated for period 2025-28

Universal heat pump insulation support: boiler upgrade scheme—£1,545 million

Heat pump innovation accelerator competition—£15 million

Universal support with measure to help reduce energy bills and make more homes heat pump ready: energy efficiency grant—£400 million

Local Authority led support for low-income households to retrofit homes: local authority retrofit scheme—£500 million

Support installing low-carbon heating and energy efficiency in social housing—which requires match funding from social housing landlords: social housing decarbonisation fund (SHDF)—£1,255 million

Heat network infrastructure: green heat network fund (GHNF); heat network efficiency scheme (HNES)—£530 million

Support public sector organisations (e.g. schools, hospitals) with the capital cost of installing low-carbon heating by covering the difference between a replacement fossil fuel system and a low-carbon alternative: public sector decarbonisation scheme (PSDS)—£1,170 million

Industrial energy transformation fund (IETF)—£225 million

Support to drive industrial energy efficiency and decarbonisation (detail to be announced later subject to further policy development)—£410 million


UK Emissions Trading Scheme

My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Lord Callanan) has today made the following statement:

The Government and our partners in the devolved Administrations are today delivering on commitments to continue the development of the UK emissions trading scheme (ETS), a key part of our approach to achieving net zero by 2050. The scheme puts a limit on the emissions of the power, industrial and aviation sectors, and requires participants to obtain carbon allowances to cover their emissions. In doing so, it creates a carbon price signal that incentivises investment in decarbonisation.

In July the UK ETS Authority published an ambitious package of reforms to the scheme, to ensure it supports our net zero goals.

Today, building on those reforms, the UK ETS Authority has launched consultations on changes to market and free allocation policies within the scheme. It has also published a statutory review of the scheme’s operation since its launch in 2021, and a joint response to the UK ETS recommendations in the independent review of net zero.

Review of market policies

The markets consultation explores how to strengthen the functioning of the scheme by supporting market stability and providing long-term confidence for participants. Following a call for evidence last year, it seeks views on a range of potential market policies, including a new supply adjustment mechanism to support the long-term operation of the scheme.

The consultation also considers potential changes to the existing auction reserve price, which sets a minimum auction price of £22 for carbon allowances; and the cost containment mechanism, which allows the UK ETS Authority to intervene if the carbon price rises rapidly over a sustained period.

Free allocation review

The consultation on free allocation is the final stage of a comprehensive review of this vital area of the scheme. It offers UK industries an opportunity to shape UK ETS policy and ensure the scheme can support them in the transition to net zero.

Industries that face a risk of carbon leakage are supported under the UK ETS through free emissions allowances, to ensure their efforts to decarbonise are not undermined. Carbon leakage refers to the movement of production and associated emissions from one country to another, due to different decarbonisation policies, for example carbon pricing and climate regulation.

The consultation explores how to better target free allocations for those most at risk of carbon leakage. It follows the changes to the industry cap (the share of overall allowances put aside for free allocation) announced in July and considers how key UK-specific factors are accounted for when calculating free allocations from 2026. It also consults on new proposals that will ensure closed industrial sites under the scheme do not continue to receive free allocations after they have ceased activity.

Addressing carbon leakage risk to support decarbonisation

In parallel to the free allocation review, this year the Government consulted on a range of potential additional domestic carbon leakage mitigation measures. After careful review, and giving thorough consideration to the potential implications, the Government have today published a response to the consultation. The Government will implement a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) from January 2027 which will place a carbon price on some of the most emissions-intensive industrial goods imported to the UK from the aluminium, cement, ceramics, fertilizer, glass, hydrogen, iron, and steel sectors.

The UK CBAM will work cohesively with the UK ETS to ensure imported products are subject to a carbon price comparable to that incurred by UK production, mitigating the risk of carbon leakage. The Government will work with the rest of the UK ETS Authority to consider whether free allocation should be adjusted to reflect changes to carbon leakage risk for given sectors.

Alongside a CBAM, the Government will work with industry to establish voluntary product standards that businesses can adopt to help promote their low carbon products to consumers, and we will seek to develop an embodied emissions reporting framework that could serve future carbon leakage and decarbonisation policies.

Delivery of the CBAM will be subject to further consultation in 2024, as will voluntary standards and the embodied emissions reporting framework.

UK ETS pathway and statutory review

The UK ETS Authority has also published a joint response to the independent review of net zero’s recommendations for the scheme. It confirms the authority’s commitment to continuing the UK ETS until at least 2050, and is intended to give businesses in sectors covered by the scheme the policy certainty they need to make the long-term decarbonisation investments.

Finally, the UK ETS Authority has published its first statutory review of the operation of the UK ETS since its launch. The review, supported by independent evaluation, confirms the scheme’s central role in delivering on the UK’s net zero targets, alongside recommendations to enhance its function, such as expansion to new sectors and technical amendments to its operation.

These publications demonstrate our commitment to delivering continued development of the UK ETS, and doing so in a way that works in partnership with affected sectors.


Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

Publicly Accessible Registers of Beneficial Ownership: Overseas Territories

Illicit finance is an active and growing threat to the UK family, and can undermine our national security, prosperity and democracy. It is more important than ever that we work together to tackle the emerging challenges. Publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership are an essential tool in the fight against illicit finance and corruption and provide substantial wider benefits to public trust in institutions and transparency in the business environment.

We welcomed the commitments made by all inhabited overseas territories to implement publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership in line with the draft Order in Council issued in response to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018. In 2020, we set out in a written ministerial statement our expectation that the territories would implement registers by the end of 2023.

In November 2022, the Court of Justice of the European Union found that an EU requirement to implement publicly accessible registers was contrary to the EU charter of fundamental rights. This ruling does not apply to the UK or its overseas territories. However, several overseas territories have noted concerns about the legal implications of implementing a publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership if human rights provisions applicable to them were to be interpreted in a similar way. The UK remains satisfied with the lawfulness of our own register and the ability of territories to meet the requirements of the draft Order in Council.

Given our differing views on this ruling with several overseas territories, we have worked with them to find a way to make positive progress through the delivery of an interim step, which would involve the implementation of publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership, with a legitimate interest access filter, next year. This would allow access to beneficial ownership information by members of the public who have a legitimate interest in doing so, including media and civil society organisations that are involved in the fight against illicit finance and money laundering.

Following intensive discussions with each of the overseas territories at the Joint Ministerial Council and across a series of bilateral conversations, we have made significant progress in the delivery of greater corporate transparency. I set out below the progress individual overseas territories expect to make over the next year to deliver against their commitments for greater corporate transparency. We will collectively review progress and discuss broader issues related to combating illicit finance with the overseas territories in March 2024 during the ministerial illicit finance dialogue.

The following territories have either already implemented a publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership or remain committed to delivering one as soon as possible in line with the parameters set out in the draft Order in Council. In recognition of the capacity constraints faced by these territories, the UK will continue to provide both technical and financial assistance.

Falkland Islands

The Government of the Falkland Islands are committed to having a full publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership, in line with the parameters set out in the draft Order in Council. Due to capacity issues, implementation is likely to be during the summer of 2024.


The Government of Gibraltar successfully implemented a publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership in 2020.


The Government of Montserrat are committed to implementing a publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership, in line with the parameters set out in the draft Order in Council. Legislation is currently going through the Montserrat Legislative Assembly and has had its First Reading. It is expected to be passed in the new year and implemented during the summer of 2024.

Pitcairn Islands

The Government of the Pitcairn Islands are committed to implementing a publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership, in line with the parameters set out in the draft Order in Council. Due to capacity issues, implementation is likely to be during the summer of 2024.

St Helena

The Government of St Helena are committed to implementing a publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership, in line with the parameters set out in the draft Order in Council. The draft legislation is currently undergoing its final review with the intention for implementation in the first half of 2024.

The following territories have committed to strengthening their respective levels of corporate transparency through the delivery of publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership with a legitimate interest access filter in 2024. The UK Government will provide technical assistance as required to expedite and support delivery.


The Government of Anguilla have committed to moving forward with the implementation of a publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership where a person or organisation/entity can access specific information by demonstrating a legitimate interest that is consistent with the constitutional framework. Anguilla aspires to having this register operational by the end of 2024.

Cayman Islands

The Government of Cayman Islands are committed to implementing a publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership with a legitimate interest access filter no later than Q4 2024. This will include access to parties seeking to prevent or combat money laundering and terrorist financing, for instance media and civil society organisations under specific circumstances.

Turks and Caicos Islands

The Government of Turks and Caicos Islands are committed to implementing a publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership with a legitimate interest access filter by Q4 2024. This will include access for media and civil society organisations with a legitimate interest.

The following territories have set out a commitment to delivering greater corporate transparency contingent on external developments. As a result, the parameters of their proposed registers, and the precise timelines associated with implementation, remain unclear. The UK maintains that the overseas territories should deliver greater corporate transparency, independently of action being taken in the European Union or other jurisdictions. The UK Government continue engagement with these territories in order to confirm that they will enable access at least to those with a legitimate interest, such as media and civil society organisations, and as soon as possible. The UK will make available technical assistance to expedite delivery.

British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands Government have confirmed that they will implement a publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership consistent with the standards to be identified in the implementation review of the European Union’s fifth anti-money laundering directive. This directive does not apply to the overseas territories, Crown dependencies or the United Kingdom. The British Virgin Islands Government anticipate that the introduction of appropriate frameworks will occur in Q4 2024, but no later than Q2 2025.


The Government of Bermuda expressed their own commitment to make their register of beneficial ownership information accessible to the public within 12 months of the publication of the implementation review of the European Union’s fifth anti-money laundering directive. This directive does not apply to the overseas territories, Crown dependencies or the United Kingdom.

The UK Government welcome the continued co-operation of overseas territory Governments in this matter. Our long-standing commitments to meet the highest standards in beneficial ownership transparency set out our collective desire to be at the forefront of the fight against illicit finance. The commitments outlined above will represent a significant step forward in the overseas territories delivering their commitments to improve corporate transparency. We expect this interim step to be a part of the journey towards the implementation of fully publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership in due course. The UK Government remain committed to publicly accessible registers becoming the global norm.


Home Department

Tackling Spiking

Today will see the publication of the Government statutory report on the nature and prevalence of spiking in accordance with section 71(1) of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. This report has been laid before both Houses today and will be made available on

The report sets out the development of the Government understanding of spiking, the steps taken to provide better support for victims, the legislative measures we will be taking and the non-legislative action that Government, law enforcement and others will be taking to support its implementation.

I would like to thank all those who engaged with the Government as part of the development of this report, including the National Police Chiefs’ Council, and especially those who have shared their stories with us to help shape the response, and bring this practice to an end.

The publication of the report is a pivotal step in understanding the extent of this insidious offence, the context in which it occurs and the comprehensive approach the Government intend to take towards tackling it.


Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement 2024-25: England

On 5 December, I published a policy statement outlining proposals for the 2024-25 local government finance settlement to provide early certainty for councils. Today, I have set out the provisional local government finance settlement for 2024-25 and launched our formal consultation on the proposals. This settlement makes available over £64 billion for local authorities in England, an increase of almost £4 billion or 6.5% in cash terms in core spending power on 2023-24. This is a real-terms increase which demonstrates how the Government stand behind councils up and down the country.

Together, the policy statement published on 5 December, and this proposed settlement:

ensures stability by maintaining the funding guarantee introduced last year, 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; and

makes available an increase of almost £4 billion on 2023-24, of which £2 billion is additional Government funding; £1 billion of this is for children’s and adult social care in 2024-25.


Now is the time for stability and continuity. Despite recent decreases in the rate of inflation, the Government recognise that pressures still exist for all local authorities. In this proposed settlement, we are maintaining the funding guarantee we introduced at last year’s settlement to ensure stability for all local authorities, to support the vital work all tiers of local government undertake for communities across the country. By maintaining the funding guarantee, the Government are ensuring every local authority in England will see a minimum 3% increase in their core spending power, before taking any local decisions to increase council tax rates.

We are also uplifting core settlement funding, with the revenue support grant increasing by CPI, and local authorities seeing an increase in baseline funding levels (BFLs) and compensation grant as if both business rating multipliers had increased by CPI. We are continuing the approach set out at last year’s settlement for other grants such as the rural services delivery grant and new homes bonus, which we know are important to councils.

The Government note that whilst local authority reserves are falling, they remain significantly higher than prior to the pandemic. We continue to encourage local authorities to consider, where possible, the use of their reserves to maintain services in the face of these pressures.

We will continue to support projects that reduce costs and improve efficiency by extending the flexibility to use capital receipts to fund revenue costs of these projects to March 2030. We will also engage with the sector to explore additional capital flexibility options to enable invest-to-save and transformation initiatives.

The Government announced on 23 November that we are allocating £450 million across two years to a third round of the local authority housing fund, which will help support those in temporary housing need. This funding allows councils to manage homelessness pressures more effectively and makes it easier for vulnerable people to find a permanent home. The Chancellor announced at autumn statement that the local housing allowance will increase to the 30th percentile of market rents from April. This means 1.6 million low-income households will be around £800 a year better off on average in 2024-25.

Social care

The Government recognise that many local authorities are facing social care demand pressures. That is why we announced significant additional funding at the 2022 autumn statement. Together with funding announced in-year, this means £1 billion in additional grant funding for social care compared to 2023-24.

Council tax

The Government manifesto commits to continuing to protect local taxpayers from excessive council tax increases. This is an important local democratic check and balance to avoid the repeat seen under the last Labour Government, when council tax more than doubled. The proposed package of referendum principles strikes a fair balance. Local authorities should of course be mindful of cost-of-living pressures when taking any decisions relating to council tax.

As previously set out, we will allow councils to raise their core council tax by up to 3% without a local referendum, and will allow a further adult social care precept of 2% for all authorities responsible for adult social care services. The council tax referendum provisions are not a cap, nor do they force councils to set taxes at the threshold level. It is for individual local authorities to determine whether to use the flexibilities detailed above, taking into consideration the pressures many households are facing. These actions to protect hard-working people from excessive tax rises are in contrast to the Labour Government in Wales which is planning to hike council tax through a council tax revaluation and higher council tax bands.

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. Whilst 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 9.7% last year.

The exceptional financial support framework is available to provide support where a council has a specific and evidenced concern about its ability to set or maintain a balanced budget, including where there has been local financial failure. Where councils need additional support from the Government, they should take every possible step to minimise the need for that support to be funded by national taxpayers, while also recognising the cost-of-living pressures on families. As part of that process, the Government will consider representations from councils, including on council tax provision.

The Government view continues to be that councils in the most severe financial failure, that are seeking multi-year support from Government, should continue to take all reasonable local steps to support recovery including additional council tax increases. Therefore, for the 2024-25 settlement, in consideration of the significant financial failure of Thurrock Council, Slough Borough Council and Woking Borough Council, the Government propose that bespoke council tax referendum principles should apply. For Thurrock and Slough Borough Council, a core council tax referendum threshold of 8%; and for Woking Borough Council, a council tax referendum principle of 10%. Councils in significant financial failure can make use of any additional flexibilities provided to support their financial recovery and going forward the Government will consider all reasonable steps to protect both national and local taxpayers and ensure councils are acting responsibly.

Part time work for full time pay

We have made it clear that any attempt from a local authority to implement part time work for full time pay—for example, a so called “four-day week” or equivalent arrangements—is contrary to the interests of local taxpayers. This working practice does not represent good value for taxpayers’ money, nor places the sector in a good light with the public. We have included in the consultation our proposals to use financial levers within the settlement to disincentivise councils from operating part time work for full time pay in future settlements. Those councils which are considering or operating such arrangements should not start this practice or stop it immediately.


These proposals will provide councils with the support they need. It ensures stability, delivers additional resources for social care, and maintains balance on council tax.

I welcome representations from all interested parties on the consultation we have launched today. The consultation will run until 15 January. The Minister for Local Government will also be holding engagement sessions for Members of Parliament in the week commencing 8 January 2023.

This written ministerial statement covers England only.


Long-term Plan for Towns

In September 2023, the Prime Minister announced the long-term plan for towns, providing up to £20 million of “endowment-style” funding and support for 55 towns across Great Britain.

Today, my Department has published guidance that provides further information regarding the town board and development of the long-term plan. In addition to the guidance is a policy toolkit which sets out the powers available to towns, and a list of policy interventions with an already agreed case for investment. Boards should consider this toolkit when developing their long-term plan. We will release a dedicated Scottish and Welsh version of the policy toolkit early in 2024.

All town boards should be established by 1 April 2024 at the latest, or, wherever possible, sooner. Where a town already has an appropriate structure in place, we would encourage local authorities to utilise that forum to act as the town board. It is also a requirement that Members of Parliament whose constituencies fall within the boundary of a town sit on the town board, and an independent chair of the board should be appointed.

The long-term plan must be submitted to my Department by 1 August 2024 or sooner. The guidance published today sets out our expectations as to what should be covered in the plan. Each benefiting local authority will also shortly receive £50,000 of capacity funding to support the appointment of a chair for the town board and begin community engagement. A further release of £200,000 of capacity funding will be released on 1 April 2024, once boards are in place.

This publication is another important step in our mission to level up the United Kingdom. We are putting power with local people at the heart of communities; equipping our towns to unlock new opportunities and respond to future change.


Science, Innovation and Technology

Project Gigabit Progress Update: December 2023

On 15 December 2023 we published Building Digital UK’s (BDUK) latest progress update on Project Gigabit, the Government £5 billion mission to deliver lightning-fast, reliable broadband across the UK.

In this update, we report on the four latest contracts to be signed in north-east Staffordshire, north Oxfordshire, south Oxfordshire and Derbyshire. Combined, these contracts represent £76 million of Government investment to deliver gigabit-capable broadband to up to 33,000 premises.

The report also highlights the progress of Project Gigabit across the Union. In addition to our live procurements in England and parts of Wales, we have worked with the Scottish Government to confirm the first Project Gigabit procurements to be launched in Scotland, and we have confirmed our approach for Northern Ireland and the remainder of Wales.

The delivery update also notes the recent publication of BDUK’s annual report and accounts, reporting BDUK’s performance during the period 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023. BDUK exceeded its Project Gigabit delivery target for the year, passing 162,600 premises with gigabit-capable broadband, against the minimum target trajectory of 133,000 set out in its corporate plan. In total, BDUK has delivered gigabit connectivity to 929,700 premises, in mostly hard-to-reach communities across the UK. I will place a copy of the latest Project Gigabit progress update in the Libraries of both Houses.



Transport for London: Capital Funding

I am pleased to be able to inform the House that today the Government have agreed a capital funding settlement for 2024 with Transport for London (TfL).

This Government have showed its continued commitment to supporting London’s transport network to recover from the uncertainty of demand following the covid-19 pandemic. Since March 2020, Government have provided TfL with almost £6.4 billion of funding to maintain service levels and support the delivery of major capital projects as well as passenger revenue protection. This is on top of around £1.9 billion per annum of retained business rates for transport, including over £1 billion per annum for capital investment.

In addition, the Government have today agreed a capital settlement which provides a further £250 million of funding, which will enable TfL to continue to deliver its current capital programme and its committed major capital projects, including the delivery of the Piccadilly line upgrade phase 1. This not only provides benefits to Londoners, but it provides benefits for the rest of the country—the Piccadilly line upgrade on its own is expected to support an estimated 700 skilled jobs with a further estimated 250 jobs created in construction and up to 1,700 indirectly in the supply chain.

The current longer-term settlement will end in March 2024, and I continue to encourage Transport for London to modernise and to become a modern, effective, efficient and financially stable operator. Government support has enabled TfL to be on track to being financially sustainable and this capital settlement therefore requires TfL to demonstrate to Government that it is financially sustainable at the end of March 2024, and it will provide to Government in July 2024 its plan demonstrating how it will maintain and strengthen its financial sustainability from FY 24-25.

The decision to provide capital funding to TfL was made at a time when Government are also facing significant financial pressures, as is the rest of the country. Across the board the Government have taken difficult decisions on funding to support those who are hit hardest by rising costs. This is a settlement that is fair and proportionate to London whilst also taking into account funding provided elsewhere in the country and the cost to the national taxpayer, at a time of great pressure on national finances.

Through all of this, Government are continuing to work with the Mayor and TfL to ensure London’s transport system delivers for the public and businesses and contributes to the country’s economy.