Written statements

Government Ministers and a small number of other Members of the two Houses can make a written statement to one or both Houses.

Written statements are published below shortly after receipt in Parliament. They also reproduced in the next edition of the Daily Report and of Hansard in the relevant House.

Written statements made before 17 November 2014 were published only in Hansard:

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Department for Education
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Nadhim Zahawi (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families)
Commons

Schools and Early Years Update

Following the two public consultations my Department ran recently, I am pleased to announce my intention to lay regulations in the House later today that will introduce net earned income thresholds under Universal Credit for free school meals, the early years pupil premium, and the early education entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds.

This approach is consistent with how other government departments have set criteria for other ‘passported’ benefits.

The changes will come into force on 1 April 2018 for the start of the school summer term. Under our proposals, we estimate that by 2022 around 50,000 more children will benefit from a free school meal compared to the previous benefits system. In addition, we will apply transitional protection to anyone currently receiving free school meals.

These changes do not affect the criteria for universal infant free school meals, which will continue to be available to all pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2 regardless of parental income.

For free school meals and the early years pupil premium we are introducing a net earnings threshold of £7,400 per annum. A typical family earning around £7,400 per annum would, depending on their exact circumstances, have a total household income of between £18,000 and £24,000 once benefits are taken into account.

For the early education entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds, we are introducing a net earnings threshold of £15,400 per annum. Under this new threshold, we estimate that by 2023 around 7,000 more children will benefit from the two-year-old entitlement compared to the previous benefits system.

The Government’s responses to these consultations have been published on the Department for Education’s website, and copies of the Regulations will be laid shortly.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS446
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Lord Agnew of Oulton (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System)
Lords

Schools and Early Years Update

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families (Nadhim Zahawi) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Following the two public consultations my Department ran recently, I am pleased to announce my intention to lay regulations in the House later today that will introduce net earned income thresholds under Universal Credit for free school meals, the early years pupil premium, and the early education entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds.

This approach is consistent with how other government departments have set criteria for other ‘passported’ benefits.

The changes will come into force on 1 April 2018 for the start of the school summer term. Under our proposals, we estimate that by 2022 around 50,000 more children will benefit from a free school meal compared to the previous benefits system. In addition, we will apply transitional protection to anyone currently receiving free school meals.

These changes do not affect the criteria for universal infant free school meals, which will continue to be available to all pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2 regardless of parental income.

For free school meals and the early years pupil premium we are introducing a net earnings threshold of £7,400 per annum. A typical family earning around £7,400 per annum would, depending on their exact circumstances, have a total household income of between £18,000 and £24,000 once benefits are taken into account.

For the early education entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds, we are introducing a net earnings threshold of £15,400 per annum. Under this new threshold, we estimate that by 2023 around 7,000 more children will benefit from the two-year-old entitlement compared to the previous benefits system.

The Government’s responses to these consultations have been published on the Department for Education’s website, and copies of the Regulations will be laid shortly.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS459
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Mr Philip Hammond (The Chancellor of the Exchequer)
Commons

ECOFIN: 23 January 2018

A meeting of The Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) was held in Brussels on 23 January 2018. EU Finance Ministers discussed the following:

Early Morning Session

The Eurogroup President provided briefing to Ministers on the outcomes of the 22 January meeting of the Eurogroup, and the Commission provided an update on the current economic situation in the EU.

Deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)

The Council held a policy debate on the deepening of the EMU.

Current Financial Services Legislative Proposals

The Presidency presented information on the current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.

VAT: Simplification of Rates and Simplification for SME’s

The Commission presented proposals to reform the rules on VAT rates and structures, and to simplify VAT obligations for SMEs.

Presidency Work Programme

The Bulgarian Presidency presented its work programme for January to June 2018.

European Semester 2018

The Council adopted the Council conclusions on the Annual Growth Survey 2018 and the Council conclusions on the Alert Mechanism Report 2018. The Council also approved a Council recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area.

Action Plan to Tackle Non-Performing Loans in Europe

The Council exchanged views on a factual report by the Commission regarding the implementation of the action plan to tackle non-performing loans in Europe.

AOB: EU List of Non-Cooperative Jurisdictions for Tax Purposes

The Council approved a report by the EU Code of Conduct Group (Business Taxation) to de-list 8 jurisdictions from the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes that was agreed at December 2017 ECOFIN.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS445
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Lord Bates (Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

ECOFIN: 23 January 2018

My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Philip Hammond) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

A meeting of The Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) was held in Brussels on 23 January 2018. EU Finance Ministers discussed the following:

Early Morning Session

The Eurogroup President provided briefing to Ministers on the outcomes of the 22 January meeting of the Eurogroup, and the Commission provided an update on the current economic situation in the EU.

Deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)

The Council held a policy debate on the deepening of the EMU.

Current Financial Services Legislative Proposals

The Presidency presented information on the current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.

VAT: Simplification of Rates and Simplification for SME’s

The Commission presented proposals to reform the rules on VAT rates and structures, and to simplify VAT obligations for SMEs.

Presidency Work Programme

The Bulgarian Presidency presented its work programme for January to June 2018.

European Semester 2018

The Council adopted the Council conclusions on the Annual Growth Survey 2018 and the Council conclusions on the Alert Mechanism Report 2018. The Council also approved a Council recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area.

Action Plan to Tackle Non-Performing Loans in Europe

The Council exchanged views on a factual report by the Commission regarding the implementation of the action plan to tackle non-performing loans in Europe.

AOB: EU List of Non-Cooperative Jurisdictions for Tax Purposes

The Council approved a report by the EU Code of Conduct Group (Business Taxation) to de-list 8 jurisdictions from the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes that was agreed at December 2017 ECOFIN.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS458
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Gavin Williamson (Secretary of State for Defence)
Commons

Ministry of Defence Votes A Annual Estimate 2018-19

The Ministry of Defence Votes A Estimate 2018-19, has been laid before the House today as HC730. This outlines the maximum numbers of personnel to be maintained for each Service in the Armed Forces during Financial Year 2018-19.

WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Earl Howe (Minister of State for Defence, (Ministry of Defence), Lords))
Lords

Ministry of Defence Votes A Annual Estimate 2018-19

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Gavin Williamson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Ministry of Defence Votes A Estimate 2018-19, has been laid before the House today as HC730. This outlines the maximum numbers of personnel to be maintained for each Service in the Armed Forces during Financial Year 2018-19.

WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Baroness Buscombe (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions)
Lords

Financial Guidance and Claims Bill (Contingencies Fund Advance)

My honourable Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Pensions & Financial Inclusion (Guy Opperman MP) has made the following Written Statement

The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill currently before Parliament provides for an arms-length non-departmental public body, known as the Single Finance Guidance Body, to take on the functions currently delivered by the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.

Our intention, subject to Parliamentary approval, is to launch the new body in autumn 2018. In order to avoid delay in the launch, expenditure is required in advance of the Bill receiving Royal Assent to cover the costs associated with the commencement of the recruitment of the Chair and Chief Executive of the body, including the staffing costs of the DWP Public Appointments Team, any media advertising, and miscellaneous administration costs. Advertising for the posts will be clear that the roles are dependent on the successful passage of the Bill through Parliament.

Parliamentary approval for resources of £ 30,000 for this new service will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the Department of Work and Pensions. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £ 30,000 will be met by repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS456
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) )
Lords

Modern Working Practices

My hon Friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Andrew Griffiths) has today made the following statement:

On 11 July 2017 the Government published The Review of Modern Working Practices, which was led by Matthew Taylor (Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts) at the request of my Rt hon Friend the Prime Minister.

The Government set out in the Industrial Strategy, published in November, a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK by focusing on the five foundations of productivity: Ideas, People, Infrastructure, Business Environment and Places. Good work and developing better jobs for everyone in the British economy is at the centre of our Industrial Strategy vision.

Building on the Industrial Strategy, today the Government is publishing a full response to the Taylor Review, setting out how we intend to develop further the strength of the UK labour market and ensure it meets the challenges and opportunities presented by new ways of working and innovative business models. Alongside the full response, we are publishing four public consultations, which seek views on how to implement a series of proposals to enhance workers’ rights and ensure that the labour market is working for everybody.

The four consultations cover proposed changes on agency workers, employment status, enforcement and increasing transparency.

We are taking forward work on the vast majority of the Review recommendations, and the plans we are outlining build on our pledge to not only protect, but enhance, workers’ rights. Copies of the Government Response and consultations will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS455
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Guy Opperman (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Pensions & Financial Inclusion)
Commons

Financial Guidance and Claims Bill (Contingencies Fund Advance)

The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill currently before Parliament provides for an arms-length non-departmental public body, known as the Single Finance Guidance Body, to take on the functions currently delivered by the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.

Our intention, subject to Parliamentary approval, is to launch the new body in autumn 2018. In order to avoid delay in the launch, expenditure is required in advance of the Bill receiving Royal Assent to cover the costs associated with the commencement of the recruitment of the Chair and Chief Executive of the body, including the staffing costs of the DWP Public Appointments Team, any media advertising, and miscellaneous administration costs. Advertising for the posts will be clear that the roles are dependent on the successful passage of the Bill through Parliament.

Parliamentary approval for resources of £ 30,000 for this new service will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the Department of Work and Pensions. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £ 30,000 will be met by repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS443
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Andrew Griffiths (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy )
Commons

Modern Working Practices

On 11 July 2017 the Government published The Review of Modern Working Practices, which was led by Matthew Taylor (Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts) at the request of my Rt hon Friend the Prime Minister.

The Government set out in the Industrial Strategy, published in November, a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK by focusing on the five foundations of productivity: Ideas, People, Infrastructure, Business Environment and Places. Good work and developing better jobs for everyone in the British economy is at the centre of our Industrial Strategy vision.

Building on the Industrial Strategy, today the Government is publishing a full response to the Taylor Review, setting out how we intend to develop further the strength of the UK labour market and ensure it meets the challenges and opportunities presented by new ways of working and innovative business models. Alongside the full response, we are publishing four public consultations, which seek views on how to implement a series of proposals to enhance workers’ rights and ensure that the labour market is working for everybody.

The four consultations cover proposed changes on agency workers, employment status, enforcement and increasing transparency.

We are taking forward work on the vast majority of the Review recommendations, and the plans we are outlining build on our pledge to not only protect, but enhance, workers’ rights. Copies of the Government Response and consultations will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS442
WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 06 February 2018
Made by: Lord Ashton of Hyde (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport )
Lords

Sustainability of the press

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Right Honourable Matt Hancock MP, has today made the following statement in the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister is today announcing that the Government will be establishing an external review, looking into the sustainability of high quality journalism, including the national, regional and local press.

Robust high quality journalism is important for public debate, scrutiny, and ultimately for democratic political discourse. Yet the press currently faces an uncertain future. Print circulations have declined, with readerships moving online, and the shift from print to digital advertising has led to a loss of revenue for the press. The Government is determined to ensure that the UK has a vibrant, independent and plural free press, which is able to provide high quality journalism as one of the cornerstones of our public debate. As per our manifesto, we are committed to making sure content creators are appropriately rewarded for the content they make available online, and ensure there is a sustainable business model for high quality media online. The review will help us deliver on these commitments.

We have already commissioned research to look into the current state of the local and national press markets. The review will bring together experts who will be able to assess the many factors affecting the health of the UK’s news sector. These factors include the impact of the digital advertising supply chain, the role of content and data in the market, click-bait and the role played by the online platforms.

The review will publish a report and a range of recommendations for the industry and Government to consider. The report is expected to be published later this year.

I have published a summary of the scope of this review on GOV.UK. The Terms of Reference, chair and panel will all be announced in the coming months.



WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 06 February 2018
Made by: Lord Young of Cookham (Lord in Waiting (Government Whip))
Lords

Committee on Standards in Public Life

The Minister for the Constitution has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In July 2017, the Prime Minister asked the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life to undertake a review into the issue of abuse and intimidation experienced by Parliamentary candidates, including those who stood in the 2017 General Election campaign. Concerns were highlighted by those across the political spectrum. The Committee published a comprehensive report in December.

The Government would like to thank the Committee of Standards in Public Life again for their considered and thorough report. The Prime Minister has today announced some initial measures based on the Committee’s findings and the Government will be publishing a substantive response in due course.

As the Prime Minister notes today, in public life, and increasingly in private conversations too, it is becoming harder and harder to conduct any political discussion, on any issue, without it descending into tribalism and rancour. Social media and digital communication – which in themselves can and should be forces for good in our democracy – are being exploited and abused, often anonymously. British democracy has always been robust and oppositional. But a line is crossed when disagreement descends into intimidation.

Individuals standing for elected office

It cannot be right that people looking to participate in our democracy are subject to abuse and intimidation for doing so. The Government will therefore consult in due course on the introduction of a new offence in electoral law on intimidating candidates and campaigners. We also propose to remove the requirement for candidates for local government to include their home addresses on ballot papers, if they do not wish to do so. This extends the protection already offered to parliamentary candidates.

Online content

We want users to be better informed about how reported social media content is dealt with. We will establish a new Annual Internet Safety Transparency Report, to improve our understanding of the offensive content being reported, how social media companies are responding to complaints, and what content is being removed.

The Prime Minister has today called on social media companies to set out how they will respond to the recommendations in the report, and we have been encouraged by the positive response we have seen thus far. It is welcome that social media companies have agreed to take forward the recommendation for a ‘pop up’ social media reporting team for election campaigns and they will actively provide advice and support to Parliamentary candidates.

Political parties

The report has a number of recommendations for political parties, which they will wish to consider carefully. The Prime Minister has noted that the Conservative Party is putting in place a new code of conduct for members and supporters that puts respect and decency at its core. The Prime Minister is encouraging the leaders of other parties to follow this example.

Law, police and prosecutors

The Committee made a number of recommendations for national police leadership bodies, including the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing, on devolved operational policing matters. Both the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College will be responding to the Committee’s report separately, but we are pleased to confirm that they will implement each of the recommendations in the report that refer to them.

Some of these issues touch on devolved matters, and the UK Government will liaise with our colleagues in the Devolved Administrations accordingly.

A more detailed response will be published by the Government in due course. Ministers would welcome further feedback from Parliamentary colleagues, and the House may wish to debate and consider these matters further.

I have placed in the Library a copy of the Prime Minister’s speech from today.

WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 06 February 2018
Made by: Matt Hancock (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Sustainability of the press

The Prime Minister is today announcing that the Government will be establishing an external review, looking into the sustainability of high quality journalism, including the national, regional and local press.

Robust high quality journalism is important for public debate, scrutiny, and ultimately for democratic political discourse. Yet the press currently faces an uncertain future. Print circulations have declined, with readerships moving online, and the shift from print to digital advertising has led to a loss of revenue for the press. The Government is determined to ensure that the UK has a vibrant, independent and plural free press, which is able to provide high quality journalism as one of the cornerstones of our public debate. As per our manifesto, we are committed to making sure content creators are appropriately rewarded for the content they make available online, and ensure there is a sustainable business model for high quality media online. The review will help us deliver on these commitments.

We have already commissioned research to look into the current state of the local and national press markets. The review will bring together experts who will be able to assess the many factors affecting the health of the UK’s news sector. These factors include the impact of the digital advertising supply chain, the role of content and data in the market, click-bait and the role played by the online platforms.

The review will publish a report and a range of recommendations for the industry and Government to consider. The report is expected to be published later this year.

I have published a summary of the scope of this review on GOV.UK. The Terms of Reference, chair and panel will all be announced in the coming months.

WS
Prime Minister
Made on: 06 February 2018
Made by: Mrs Theresa May (Prime Minister)
Commons

Clarification

During Prime Minister’s Questions on 24 January I understand that the monthly 12 hour figures I used, while accurate and drawn directly from data published by the relevant NHS authorities in England and Wales, are not directly comparable (Official report column 256).

I should have used the latest annual data which shows that 3.4% patients waited over 12 hours in Wales last year, compared to 1.3% in England, and the latest monthly data on A&E performance which shows that 85.1% of patients in England were seen within 4 hours in December 2017 compared to 78.9% in Wales.

WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 06 February 2018
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Local Government Finance

Local Government Finance

My Rt Hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (Sajid Javid) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Yesterday, I laid before the House, the ‘Report on Local Government Finance (England) 2018–19’, which represents the annual local government finance settlement for local authorities in England.

I would like to thank all colleagues in the House, council leaders and officers, who contributed to the consultation after the provisional settlement was published before Christmas.

My Ministers and I have engaged extensively with the sector, including offering a teleconference to all local authorities, and holding meetings with representative groups including the Local Government Association and with councils and MPs. Representations from almost 160 organisations or individuals have been carefully considered before finalising the settlement.

This settlement is the third year of a four year offer which was accepted by 97% of councils in return for publishing efficiency plans. This settlement sees two years of real terms increases in available resources to local government: £44.3 billion in 2017-18 to £45.6 billion in 2019-20.

The current business rates retention scheme is yielding strong results. Local authorities estimate that in 2017-18 they will keep around £1.3 billion in business rates growth, which we expect will be maintained into 2018-19 and 2019-20. This is on top of the core settlement funding I am announcing today.

I commend local authorities for their work in securing efficiency savings supported by the long term certainty of the multi-year settlement. Councils continue to seek to maximise public value for every pound invested in public services. Of course, there is further for all councils to go. To help this, I am extending the capital receipts flexibility programme for a further 3 years. This scheme gives local authorities the freedom to use capital receipts from the sale of their own assets to support transformation and unlock efficiency savings. We will also continue to work with the sector to help them increase transparency and share best practice supporting greater progress in delivering increased efficiency over the coming year. I expect this to have a tangible impact on the steps councils take to promote efficiency by 2019-20.

Social Care

I recognise the need to prioritise spending on social care services that councils provide to our elderly and vulnerable citizens. This is why we announced an additional £2 billion at Spring Budget 2017 for adult social care over the three years from 2017-18. This year we have seen how this money has enabled councils to increase provider fees, provide for more care packages and reduce delayed transfer of care.

And, having listening to representations since the provisional settlement, I am today announcing a further £150 million in 2018-19 for an Adult Social Care Support Grant. This will be taken from anticipated underspend in existing departmental budgets, and will not affect existing revenue commitments made ‎to local government. This will be allocated according to relative needs and we will expect to see councils use it to build on their progress so far in supporting sustainable local care markets.

With this, and other measures, the Government has given councils access to £9.4 billion dedicated funding for adult social care over three years.

This is a long-term challenge that requires a sustainable settlement for the future. The publication of a Green Paper this summer setting out our proposals for reform sets us on the path to securing a resilient and sustainable system.

In Children’s Social Care too, it is important to understand cost drivers as well as service quality and efficiency in a highly complex and critical service area. The Government has invested £200 million since 2014 in the Innovation Programme and Partners in Practice Programme, as well as £920 million in the Troubled Families Programme, to help the children’s social care sector innovate and re-design service delivery to achieve higher quality, improve family outcomes and secure better value for money.

I also recognise the good work that local authorities do in caring for unaccompanied asylum seeking children. I have therefore made £19m available to local authorities in 2017/18 from within existing budgets, including the Controlling Migration Fund, to develop the skills and capacity to be able to support these very vulnerable children.

Protecting residents from excessive council tax rises

Under the Localism Act 2011 and as re-affirmed in the Government’s 2017 manifesto, councils can set whatever council tax rates they wish, but they need the direct consent of local people if they wish to impose an excessive rise. This year, that referendum threshold is set in line with inflation at 3%. In addition, local authorities with responsibility for social care may levy a precept to spend exclusively on adult social care. As announced last year, this precept equates to up to 6% over three years, from 2017-18 to 2019-20, with a maximum increase of 3% in the first two years and 2% in the final year. This settlement strikes a balance on council tax between the need to relieve pressure on local services, including social care, while also recognising that many households face their own pressures.

New Homes Bonus

Local authorities are instrumental in ensuring the building of homes this country needs. By the end of 2018-19, we will have allocated £7 billion in New Homes Bonus payments to reward the building of 1,400,000 homes since the scheme was introduced in 2011. We recognise the need for continuity and certainty on New Homes Bonus, and therefore for the year ahead there will be no new changes to the way New Homes Bonus works. The New Homes Bonus baseline will be maintained at 0.4 per cent and £947.5 million in New Homes Bonus payments will be paid in 2018-19.

Rural Funding

I am committed to ensuring the needs of rural areas are met and recognise the particular costs of providing services in sparse rural areas. So in 2018-19, in response to representations made since the provisional settlement, I will increase the Rural Services Delivery Grant by £31 million - £16 million more than proposed in the provisional settlement. This will take the total to £81 million, a little over the 2016-17 level and the highest it has ever been.

2019-20 and later years

To meet the challenges of the future we need an updated and more responsive distribution methodology. We have published a formal consultation on a review of relative needs and resources and aim to implement its findings in 2020-21. There have been widespread calls for a thorough, evidence-based review, and we will deliver this. The review will examine the cost of delivering services across the country, including rural areas, and will consider which factors should be taken into account when considering a local authority’s relative resources.

Following the delay to the implementation of 100% business rates retention and reforms to the local government finance system, I acknowledge concerns around ‘negative RSG’. We will be looking at fair and affordable options that will address the problem of negative RSG that occurs in 2019-20, and will formally consult on proposals ahead of next year’s settlement.

We will also work towards implementing the next phase of our business rates retention reforms in 2020-21 to support the long held objective for local authorities of greater self-sufficiency and financial sustainability. This will give local councils the levers and incentives they need to grow their local economies. Local authorities will be able to keep more business rates, to the value of the Revenue Support Grant, the Greater London Authority Transport Grant, the Rural Services Delivery Grant and the Public Health Grant. Overall, this is equivalent to 75% retention at 2019-20 levels. Local authorities will then be able to keep the equivalent share of business rates growth on their baseline levels from 2020-21, when the system is reset. The Government intends to use the intervening period to develop a set of measures that support a smooth transition of funding for public health services from a grant to retained business rates.

Ahead of this, we will continue to test out aspects of the future business rates retention system in a broad range of authorities right across the country. And, to help us take forward our continued long-term plan to let local government keep 100% of its business rates, in 2018-19 we will continue to pilot 100% business rates retention in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, the West Midlands, West of England and Cornwall, introduce a London pilot, and will take forward ten further 100% business rates retention pilots. These are Berkshire, Derbyshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Kent and Medway, Leeds City Region, Lincolnshire, Solent Authorities, Suffolk and Surrey. The ten pilot areas will cover 89 local authorities in total.

I recognise that there is disappointment among those areas that were unsuccessful in their pilot applications this year and I am pleased to confirm that I intend to open a further bidding round for pilots in 2019/20. Further information on this will be published in due course.

Conclusion

Local government delivers vital services at the heart of the communities they serve. This settlement strikes a balance between relieving growing pressure on local government whilst ensuring that hard-pressed taxpayers do not face excessive bills. We have listened to representations made and delivered on these requests: two years of real terms increases in resources, more freedom and fairness, and greater certainty to plan and secure value for money.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS451
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 06 February 2018
Made by: Chloe Smith (Minister for the Constitution)
Commons

Committee on Standards in Public Life

In July 2017, the Prime Minister asked the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life to undertake a review into the issue of abuse and intimidation experienced by Parliamentary candidates, including those who stood in the 2017 General Election campaign. Concerns were highlighted by those across the political spectrum. The Committee published a comprehensive report in December.

The Government would like to thank the Committee of Standards in Public Life again for their considered and thorough report. The Prime Minister has today announced some initial measures based on the Committee’s findings and the Government will be publishing a substantive response in due course.

As the Prime Minister notes today, in public life, and increasingly in private conversations too, it is becoming harder and harder to conduct any political discussion, on any issue, without it descending into tribalism and rancour. Social media and digital communication – which in themselves can and should be forces for good in our democracy – are being exploited and abused, often anonymously. British democracy has always been robust and oppositional. But a line is crossed when disagreement descends into intimidation.

Individuals standing for elected office

It cannot be right that people looking to participate in our democracy are subject to abuse and intimidation for doing so. The Government will therefore consult in due course on the introduction of a new offence in electoral law on intimidating candidates and campaigners. We also propose to remove the requirement for candidates for local government to include their home addresses on ballot papers, if they do not wish to do so. This extends the protection already offered to parliamentary candidates.

Online content

We want users to be better informed about how reported social media content is dealt with. We will establish a new Annual Internet Safety Transparency Report, to improve our understanding of the offensive content being reported, how social media companies are responding to complaints, and what content is being removed.

The Prime Minister has today called on social media companies to set out how they will respond to the recommendations in the report, and we have been encouraged by the positive response we have seen thus far. It is welcome that social media companies have agreed to take forward the recommendation for a ‘pop up’ social media reporting team for election campaigns and they will actively provide advice and support to Parliamentary candidates.

Political parties

The report has a number of recommendations for political parties, which they will wish to consider carefully. The Prime Minister has noted that the Conservative Party is putting in place a new code of conduct for members and supporters that puts respect and decency at its core. The Prime Minister is encouraging the leaders of other parties to follow this example.

Law, police and prosecutors

The Committee made a number of recommendations for national police leadership bodies, including the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing, on devolved operational policing matters. Both the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College will be responding to the Committee’s report separately, but we are pleased to confirm that they will implement each of the recommendations in the report that refer to them.

Some of these issues touch on devolved matters, and the UK Government will liaise with our colleagues in the Devolved Administrations accordingly.

A more detailed response will be published by the Government in due course. Ministers would welcome further feedback from Parliamentary colleagues, and the House may wish to debate and consider these matters further.

I have placed in the Library a copy of the Prime Minister’s speech from today.

WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 06 February 2018
Made by: Sajid Javid (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Local Government Finance

Local Government Finance

Yesterday, I laid before the House, the ‘Report on Local Government Finance (England) 2018–19’, which represents the annual local government finance settlement for local authorities in England.

I would like to thank all colleagues in the House, council leaders and officers, who contributed to the consultation after the provisional settlement was published before Christmas.

My Ministers and I have engaged extensively with the sector, including offering a teleconference to all local authorities, and holding meetings with representative groups including the Local Government Association and with councils and MPs. Representations from almost 160 organisations or individuals have been carefully considered before finalising the settlement.

This settlement is the third year of a four year offer which was accepted by 97% of councils in return for publishing efficiency plans. This settlement sees two years of real terms increases in available resources to local government: £44.3 billion in 2017-18 to £45.6 billion in 2019-20.

The current business rates retention scheme is yielding strong results. Local authorities estimate that in 2017-18 they will keep around £1.3 billion in business rates growth, which we expect will be maintained into 2018-19 and 2019-20. This is on top of the core settlement funding I am announcing today.

I commend local authorities for their work in securing efficiency savings supported by the long term certainty of the multi-year settlement. Councils continue to seek to maximise public value for every pound invested in public services. Of course, there is further for all councils to go. To help this, I am extending the capital receipts flexibility programme for a further 3 years. This scheme gives local authorities the freedom to use capital receipts from the sale of their own assets to support transformation and unlock efficiency savings. We will also continue to work with the sector to help them increase transparency and share best practice supporting greater progress in delivering increased efficiency over the coming year. I expect this to have a tangible impact on the steps councils take to promote efficiency by 2019-20.

Social Care

I recognise the need to prioritise spending on social care services that councils provide to our elderly and vulnerable citizens. This is why we announced an additional £2 billion at Spring Budget 2017 for adult social care over the three years from 2017-18. This year we have seen how this money has enabled councils to increase provider fees, provide for more care packages and reduce delayed transfer of care.

And, having listening to representations since the provisional settlement, I am today announcing a further £150 million in 2018-19 for an Adult Social Care Support Grant. This will be taken from anticipated underspend in existing departmental budgets, and will not affect existing revenue commitments made ‎to local government. This will be allocated according to relative needs and we will expect to see councils use it to build on their progress so far in supporting sustainable local care markets.

With this, and other measures, the Government has given councils access to £9.4 billion dedicated funding for adult social care over three years.

This is a long-term challenge that requires a sustainable settlement for the future. The publication of a Green Paper this summer setting out our proposals for reform sets us on the path to securing a resilient and sustainable system.

In Children’s Social Care too, it is important to understand cost drivers as well as service quality and efficiency in a highly complex and critical service area. The Government has invested £200 million since 2014 in the Innovation Programme and Partners in Practice Programme, as well as £920 million in the Troubled Families Programme, to help the children’s social care sector innovate and re-design service delivery to achieve higher quality, improve family outcomes and secure better value for money.

I also recognise the good work that local authorities do in caring for unaccompanied asylum seeking children. I have therefore made £19m available to local authorities in 2017/18 from within existing budgets, including the Controlling Migration Fund, to develop the skills and capacity to be able to support these very vulnerable children.

Protecting residents from excessive council tax rises

Under the Localism Act 2011 and as re-affirmed in the Government’s 2017 manifesto, councils can set whatever council tax rates they wish, but they need the direct consent of local people if they wish to impose an excessive rise. This year, that referendum threshold is set in line with inflation at 3%. In addition, local authorities with responsibility for social care may levy a precept to spend exclusively on adult social care. As announced last year, this precept equates to up to 6% over three years, from 2017-18 to 2019-20, with a maximum increase of 3% in the first two years and 2% in the final year. This settlement strikes a balance on council tax between the need to relieve pressure on local services, including social care, while also recognising that many households face their own pressures.

New Homes Bonus

Local authorities are instrumental in ensuring the building of homes this country needs. By the end of 2018-19, we will have allocated £7 billion in New Homes Bonus payments to reward the building of 1,400,000 homes since the scheme was introduced in 2011. We recognise the need for continuity and certainty on New Homes Bonus, and therefore for the year ahead there will be no new changes to the way New Homes Bonus works. The New Homes Bonus baseline will be maintained at 0.4 per cent and £947.5 million in New Homes Bonus payments will be paid in 2018-19.

Rural Funding

I am committed to ensuring the needs of rural areas are met and recognise the particular costs of providing services in sparse rural areas. So in 2018-19, in response to representations made since the provisional settlement, I will increase the Rural Services Delivery Grant by £31 million - £16 million more than proposed in the provisional settlement. This will take the total to £81 million, a little over the 2016-17 level and the highest it has ever been.

2019-20 and later years

To meet the challenges of the future we need an updated and more responsive distribution methodology. We have published a formal consultation on a review of relative needs and resources and aim to implement its findings in 2020-21. There have been widespread calls for a thorough, evidence-based review, and we will deliver this. The review will examine the cost of delivering services across the country, including rural areas, and will consider which factors should be taken into account when considering a local authority’s relative resources.

Following the delay to the implementation of 100% business rates retention and reforms to the local government finance system, I acknowledge concerns around ‘negative RSG’. We will be looking at fair and affordable options that will address the problem of negative RSG that occurs in 2019-20, and will formally consult on proposals ahead of next year’s settlement.

We will also work towards implementing the next phase of our business rates retention reforms in 2020-21 to support the long held objective for local authorities of greater self-sufficiency and financial sustainability. This will give local councils the levers and incentives they need to grow their local economies. Local authorities will be able to keep more business rates, to the value of the Revenue Support Grant, the Greater London Authority Transport Grant, the Rural Services Delivery Grant and the Public Health Grant. Overall, this is equivalent to 75% retention at 2019-20 levels. Local authorities will then be able to keep the equivalent share of business rates growth on their baseline levels from 2020-21, when the system is reset. The Government intends to use the intervening period to develop a set of measures that support a smooth transition of funding for public health services from a grant to retained business rates.

Ahead of this, we will continue to test out aspects of the future business rates retention system in a broad range of authorities right across the country. And, to help us take forward our continued long-term plan to let local government keep 100% of its business rates, in 2018-19 we will continue to pilot 100% business rates retention in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, the West Midlands, West of England and Cornwall, introduce a London pilot, and will take forward ten further 100% business rates retention pilots. These are Berkshire, Derbyshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Kent and Medway, Leeds City Region, Lincolnshire, Solent Authorities, Suffolk and Surrey. The ten pilot areas will cover 89 local authorities in total.

I recognise that there is disappointment among those areas that were unsuccessful in their pilot applications this year and I am pleased to confirm that I intend to open a further bidding round for pilots in 2019/20. Further information on this will be published in due course.

Conclusion

Local government delivers vital services at the heart of the communities they serve. This settlement strikes a balance between relieving growing pressure on local government whilst ensuring that hard-pressed taxpayers do not face excessive bills. We have listened to representations made and delivered on these requests: two years of real terms increases in resources, more freedom and fairness, and greater certainty to plan and secure value for money.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS439
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 06 February 2018
Made by: Boris Johnson (The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

Provision of Border Assistance to Lebanon

The United Kingdom is strongly committed to supporting Lebanon’s peace, stability and prosperity. Through a long-standing Conflict Stability and Security Fund project worth £22.6m over three years, the UK is helping the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) secure the Lebanon-Syria border. Our ambition is for Lebanon to have complete authority over its border with Syria.

In order to reach this objective, our Embassy in Beirut wish to place an order worth £319,916.61 for communications equipment to support the LAF. On 7 September 2017, I made a Written Ministerial Statement (HCWS118) in respect of our Embassy in Beirut placing an order of £1.8m for additional defensive barriers/towers as part of this project. This communications equipment will be used in the new towers to allow secure communications between troops and the headquarters of both the Land Border Regiment and the LAF.

The provision of this assistance is fully in-line with the Government’s security and stability objectives in the Middle East. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials carry out regular reviews of our programmes in Lebanon to ensure funding is not directed to non-state actors.

WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 05 February 2018
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Extending buildings upwards to create new homes

My Rt Hon Friend, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (Sajid Javid) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government is committed to ensuring the planning system supports the delivery of more homes where they are needed. The opportunity for new homes is not always an empty plot, or the redevelopment of a derelict site. As set out in the White Paper, “Fixing our broken housing market”, it is important that development uses the space that is available efficiently, and avoids building at low densities especially in areas of high demand such as London. The Government recognises that one of the ways to achieve this is to build up rather than build out, using the space above existing buildings to create new homes.

Alongside the White Paper, the Government confirmed its intention to bring forward policy changes to support this objective, which this Written Ministerial Statement sets out.

Planning policies and decisions should respond positively to suitable opportunities to use the airspace above existing residential and commercial premises for new homes. They should allow residential and commercial premises to extend upwards, where such extensions would be consistent with the prevailing height and form of neighbouring properties and the overall street scene, are well-designed (including complying with any local design policies and standards), respect the privacy of neighbours and can maintain safe access and egress for occupiers.

Policies and decisions on upwards extensions should take into account national and local policies, as well as relevant legal requirements, including relating to the conservation of heritage assets such as listed buildings and conservation areas. This will ensure councils can continue to protect valued areas of open space and the character of residential neighbourhoods, and stop unwanted garden grabbing.

The Government will be consulting on changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, including changes to incorporate building up to ensure effective use of land for current and future homeowners. Appropriate guidance will be produced in due course.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS449
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 05 February 2018
Made by: Baroness Sugg (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport )
Lords

Notification of a Contingent Liability

My Right Honourable friend, the Secretary of State for Transport (Chris Grayling), has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I have today laid before Parliament a Departmental Minute describing a Contingent Liability (CL) of £4 million associated with Solum JV.

Solum JV was created in 2008 to help Network Rail (NR) deliver its agreed housing target. Since its formation, the Solum JV has delivered over 200 housing units, has c.200 more under construction (to complete by 2021) and a pipeline of c.1500 further units, subject to planning and other approvals.

This counter-indemnity, for which NR’s CL of £4m will be matched by its JV partner, Kier, will cover further multiple residential developments being built by the JV, initially at Twickenham and Walthamstow (Phase 2) stations.

The Treasury has approved the proposal in principle. If, during the period of fourteen Parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which this minute was laid before the House, a Member signifies an objection by giving notice of a Parliamentary Question or a Motion relating to the Minute, or by otherwise raising the matter in the House, final approval will be withheld pending an examination of the objection.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS447
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