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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WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 22 July 2020
Made by: Christopher Pincher (Minister of State for Housing )
Commons

Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme 2020

Today, I am laying before Parliament a Departmental Minute setting out the details of a contingent liability that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government intends to incur under the Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Act 2012. The contingent liability will be created by a new £3bn Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme.

The new Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme – announced at Spring Statement 2019 – will be delivered by a delivery partner on behalf of the Ministry under the oversight of Homes England. The delivery partner is being appointed through a fair, open and competitive procurement process, and we have appointed a preferred bidder with whom we will agree the detailed operational arrangements. We plan on awarding the contract over the coming weeks and for the scheme to be open for business by the end of the year. In delivering the scheme, the delivery partner will raise capital from bond market investors and on-lend the proceeds to Registered Providers of affordable housing in England. The Ministry will guarantee both the proceeds to bond investors and payments by borrowers to the issuing entity.

Through the scheme the Government will boost investment in providers of affordable housing and support the delivery of a significant number of new affordable homes for those whose housing needs are not currently met by the market.

WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 20 July 2020
Made by: Lord Greenhalgh (Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities)
Lords

Building Safety update

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

I would like to update Parliament on the Government’s progress in overhauling the building and fire safety system, as part of our unwavering commitment to ensuring that people, and the buildings they live in, are safe.

Building safety

We must never forget the seventy two people who lost their lives as a result of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Countless lives were torn apart by that tragedy and we owe it to the deceased, the bereaved, the survivors, and the residents of all high-rise buildings to ensure that we do all we can to prevent a repeat of events like that fateful night occurring again.

We promised to overhaul the system and to establish a national building safety regulator at its heart. Today I am pleased to be making a significant step towards that fundamental reform by publishing the draft Building Safety Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny, before the final Bill is brought forward to Parliament.

The Bill will establish the regulator in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and give it significant powers to improve safety and performance across the built environment, especially in higher-risk buildings.

These reforms will improve safety and performance standards across all buildings. However, certain buildings warrant even closer oversight because the potential for significant consequences should a fire spread or the structure fail. It is right that we have a more stringent regime where the risk is deemed greatest, to protect the greatest number of people. Initially the scope of the more stringent regime will apply to multi-occupied residential buildings of 18 metres or more in height or more than six storeys, whichever is reached first. We have designed the new regime so its scope can be changed if the evidence base or operational experience suggest it should.

The Bill will provide a stronger framework to make sure those responsible for managing building safety risks in higher-risk buildings are held to account, with stronger enforcement powers and sanctions where those rules are not followed. It will also ensure that the residents of high-rise buildings have a stronger voice, alongside giving them better access to safety information about their building, clarifying their rights and providing recourse to raise safety concerns directly to the regulator.

The draft Bill applies to England only with the exception of the policies to require developers to belong to a New Homes Ombudsman scheme, strengthen the oversight of the construction products regulatory regime, and allow the Architects Registration Board (ARB) to monitor the competence of architects. Further detailed analysis of the territorial extent is provided in the Explanatory Notes.

Building safety financing

The Government is clear that it is unacceptable for leaseholders to have to worry about the cost of fixing historic safety defects in their buildings that they didn’t cause.

The draft Bill proposes a new ‘building safety charge’, which will give leaseholders greater transparency around costs incurred in maintaining a safe building. We want these to be fair and proportionate, which is why I have deliberately included numerous powers in the Bill that will enable us to limit the building safety costs that can be re-charged to leaseholders.

This is a topic that we are particularly committed to developing further throughout the process of scrutiny and as the Bill is finalised for introduction. I have asked Michael Wade, senior adviser to the Cabinet Office, to accelerate this work with leaseholders and the financial sector. We must remove barriers to fixing historic defects and identify financing solutions that protect leaseholders from unaffordable costs; but we must also ensure that the bill does not fall on tax payers. We will update on any further measures required before the final Bill is introduced to Parliament.

Establishing the Building Safety Regulator

As I announced in January, the HSE is establishing the regulator in shadow form, and I am today announcing that I have set aside £16.4 million in this financial year for HSE to recruit the people and develop the capabilities that will enable the regulator to hit the ground running once its powers come into effect.

HSE has a strong track record of improving safety and fostering a safety-first culture within the construction and major hazards industries, and will draw on years of experience to deliver results quickly and effectively. As shadow regulator, HSE is playing an increasingly important role in the Government’s Building Safety Programme: it is supporting work on how to identify higher-risk buildings; supporting work by the National Fire Chiefs Council to assess the fire risk in every high-rise residential building by end 2021; and supporting work with early adopters in the construction industry, social landlords and local government to trial the new regime, and to promote culture change across the industry. I am today announcing that HSE will also take over as chair of the Joint Regulators’ Group, which advises the Government on ways to strengthen the regulatory regime; and will take over the Independent Expert Advisory Panel, which advises the Government on fire safety in high-rise residential buildings.

Over coming months, the shadow regulator will engage with and advise residents, building owners, the construction industry and other regulators on how the new system will operate, what it will mean for them, and what they should do now to make their buildings safe and prepare for the new regime. In the Autumn, we will kick off work to appoint the first national Chief Inspector of Buildings, who will lead the new regulator.

We, and the public, expect industry to manage building safety risks now and prepare to fulfil their duties when this new regime comes into effect. The public expects and demands industry to implement these reforms with conviction and speed. The new Building Safety Regulator stands ready to work hand in hand with industry to bring about a culture change that prioritises residents and their safety.

Fire safety reforms

The Home Office is also today publishing a Fire Safety Consultation, which sets out proposals to: strengthen the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – the Fire Safety Order – and improve compliance for all regulated buildings; implement the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report recommendations for multi-occupied residential buildings which require a change in law; and, seeks views on the effectiveness of the arrangements for consultation and information sharing between building control bodies and fire and rescue authorities in relation to building work. This is alongside a commitment to overhaul the Fire Safety Order’s supporting guidance.

Proposals for multi-occupied residential buildings, mostly high-rise buildings, include prescribing in law the frequency of checks of fire doors; that Responsible Persons (RPs) carry out inspections of other key fire-fighting equipment, not just lifts designed to be used by firefighters; and that RPs provide information to residents including in relation to fire safety (including evacuation and other specific information) in an accessible format.

Our proposals go beyond the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s recommendations in several areas. In others, our proposals prioritise residents’ safety in a way that is practical, proportionate and effective to the risks the Inquiry has identified. The Government wants to listen to the views of those who have experience of these matters, including those who have been personally affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The proposals set out in the Home Office consultation will further deliver the Government’s objective to improve building and fire safety in all regulated premises where people live, stay or work.

Construction products

The Bill also enables us to progress our commitment to radically strengthen oversight of the regulatory regime for construction products. The bill will make sure a wider range of construction products are subject to strengthened safety regulations. It will also strengthen the powers available to the Government, paving the way to create a new national regulatory function that will have oversight of the construction products regulation. The Government is developing options for how this new national regulatory function could be implemented.

Other housing measures

The draft Bill also contains measures to protect the rights of all new build homebuyers by requiring developers to belong to the New Homes Ombudsman. It also includes new measures that will make access to redress swifter and more effective for all social housing residents.

Pre-legislative scrutiny

These are extensive reforms that it is incumbent on us all to get right. The Building Safety Bill is a large and complex piece of legislation, reflecting the scale of the reforms needed. In this spirit, I am publishing the Bill in draft form to ensure it receives the due and proper consideration it deserves through pre-legislative scrutiny from Parliament, from industry, from regulatory bodies, and from residents. I want to thank those that have helped shape the legislation so far, including those who contributed to the ‘Building a Safer Future’ consultation and who have engaged in various forums with my department. I now encourage colleagues from across both Houses to engage wholeheartedly in strengthening these proposals so that together we can further improve the legislation and deliver greater safety for residents.

I will deposit copies of the draft Building Safety Bill, Delegated Powers Memorandum and Impact Assessment in the libraries of both Houses. A copy of the full Fire Safety Consultation and its Impact Assessment will also be deposited in the libraries of both Houses.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS391
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 20 July 2020
Made by: Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Building Safety update

I would like to update Parliament on the Government’s progress in overhauling the building and fire safety system, as part of our unwavering commitment to ensuring that people, and the buildings they live in, are safe.

Building safety

We must never forget the seventy two people who lost their lives as a result of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Countless lives were torn apart by that tragedy and we owe it to the deceased, the bereaved, the survivors, and the residents of all high-rise buildings to ensure that we do all we can to prevent a repeat of events like that fateful night occurring again.

We promised to overhaul the system and to establish a national building safety regulator at its heart. Today I am pleased to be making a significant step towards that fundamental reform by publishing the draft Building Safety Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny, before the final Bill is brought forward to Parliament.

The Bill will establish the regulator in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and give it significant powers to improve safety and performance across the built environment, especially in higher-risk buildings.

These reforms will improve safety and performance standards across all buildings. However, certain buildings warrant even closer oversight because the potential for significant consequences should a fire spread or the structure fail. It is right that we have a more stringent regime where the risk is deemed greatest, to protect the greatest number of people. Initially the scope of the more stringent regime will apply to multi-occupied residential buildings of 18 metres or more in height or more than six storeys, whichever is reached first. We have designed the new regime so its scope can be changed if the evidence base or operational experience suggest it should.

The Bill will provide a stronger framework to make sure those responsible for managing building safety risks in higher-risk buildings are held to account, with stronger enforcement powers and sanctions where those rules are not followed. It will also ensure that the residents of high-rise buildings have a stronger voice, alongside giving them better access to safety information about their building, clarifying their rights and providing recourse to raise safety concerns directly to the regulator.

The draft Bill applies to England only with the exception of the policies to require developers to belong to a New Homes Ombudsman scheme, strengthen the oversight of the construction products regulatory regime, and allow the Architects Registration Board (ARB) to monitor the competence of architects. Further detailed analysis of the territorial extent is provided in the Explanatory Notes.

Building safety financing

The Government is clear that it is unacceptable for leaseholders to have to worry about the cost of fixing historic safety defects in their buildings that they didn’t cause.

The draft Bill proposes a new ‘building safety charge’, which will give leaseholders greater transparency around costs incurred in maintaining a safe building. We want these to be fair and proportionate, which is why I have deliberately included numerous powers in the Bill that will enable us to limit the building safety costs that can be re-charged to leaseholders.

This is a topic that we are particularly committed to developing further throughout the process of scrutiny and as the Bill is finalised for introduction. I have asked Michael Wade, senior adviser to the Cabinet Office, to accelerate this work with leaseholders and the financial sector. We must remove barriers to fixing historic defects and identify financing solutions that protect leaseholders from unaffordable costs; but we must also ensure that the bill does not fall on tax payers. We will update on any further measures required before the final Bill is introduced to Parliament.

Establishing the Building Safety Regulator

As I announced in January, the HSE is establishing the regulator in shadow form, and I am today announcing that I have set aside £16.4 million in this financial year for HSE to recruit the people and develop the capabilities that will enable the regulator to hit the ground running once its powers come into effect.

HSE has a strong track record of improving safety and fostering a safety-first culture within the construction and major hazards industries, and will draw on years of experience to deliver results quickly and effectively. As shadow regulator, HSE is playing an increasingly important role in the Government’s Building Safety Programme: it is supporting work on how to identify higher-risk buildings; supporting work by the National Fire Chiefs Council to assess the fire risk in every high-rise residential building by end 2021; and supporting work with early adopters in the construction industry, social landlords and local government to trial the new regime, and to promote culture change across the industry. I am today announcing that HSE will also take over as chair of the Joint Regulators’ Group, which advises the Government on ways to strengthen the regulatory regime; and will take over the Independent Expert Advisory Panel, which advises the Government on fire safety in high-rise residential buildings.

Over coming months, the shadow regulator will engage with and advise residents, building owners, the construction industry and other regulators on how the new system will operate, what it will mean for them, and what they should do now to make their buildings safe and prepare for the new regime. In the Autumn, we will kick off work to appoint the first national Chief Inspector of Buildings, who will lead the new regulator.

We, and the public, expect industry to manage building safety risks now and prepare to fulfil their duties when this new regime comes into effect. The public expects and demands industry to implement these reforms with conviction and speed. The new Building Safety Regulator stands ready to work hand in hand with industry to bring about a culture change that prioritises residents and their safety.

Fire safety reforms

The Home Office is also today publishing a Fire Safety Consultation, which sets out proposals to: strengthen the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – the Fire Safety Order – and improve compliance for all regulated buildings; implement the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report recommendations for multi-occupied residential buildings which require a change in law; and, seeks views on the effectiveness of the arrangements for consultation and information sharing between building control bodies and fire and rescue authorities in relation to building work. This is alongside a commitment to overhaul the Fire Safety Order’s supporting guidance.

Proposals for multi-occupied residential buildings, mostly high-rise buildings, include prescribing in law the frequency of checks of fire doors; that Responsible Persons (RPs) carry out inspections of other key fire-fighting equipment, not just lifts designed to be used by firefighters; and that RPs provide information to residents including in relation to fire safety (including evacuation and other specific information) in an accessible format.

Our proposals go beyond the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s recommendations in several areas. In others, our proposals prioritise residents’ safety in a way that is practical, proportionate and effective to the risks the Inquiry has identified. The Government wants to listen to the views of those who have experience of these matters, including those who have been personally affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The proposals set out in the Home Office consultation will further deliver the Government’s objective to improve building and fire safety in all regulated premises where people live, stay or work.

Construction products

The Bill also enables us to progress our commitment to radically strengthen oversight of the regulatory regime for construction products. The bill will make sure a wider range of construction products are subject to strengthened safety regulations. It will also strengthen the powers available to the Government, paving the way to create a new national regulatory function that will have oversight of the construction products regulation. The Government is developing options for how this new national regulatory function could be implemented.

Other housing measures

The draft Bill also contains measures to protect the rights of all new build homebuyers by requiring developers to belong to the New Homes Ombudsman. It also includes new measures that will make access to redress swifter and more effective for all social housing residents.

Pre-legislative scrutiny

These are extensive reforms that it is incumbent on us all to get right. The Building Safety Bill is a large and complex piece of legislation, reflecting the scale of the reforms needed. In this spirit, I am publishing the Bill in draft form to ensure it receives the due and proper consideration it deserves through pre-legislative scrutiny from Parliament, from industry, from regulatory bodies, and from residents. I want to thank those that have helped shape the legislation so far, including those who contributed to the ‘Building a Safer Future’ consultation and who have engaged in various forums with my department. I now encourage colleagues from across both Houses to engage wholeheartedly in strengthening these proposals so that together we can further improve the legislation and deliver greater safety for residents.

I will deposit copies of the draft Building Safety Bill, Delegated Powers Memorandum and Impact Assessment in the libraries of both Houses. A copy of the full Fire Safety Consultation and its Impact Assessment will also be deposited in the libraries of both Houses.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS384
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 14 July 2020
Made by: Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Planning update

Planning update: preventing loss of cultural venues and planning conditions for holiday parks

Introduction

The Nation’s cultural and tourism industries are vitally important to the economy and the communities they serve. Many businesses in the sector have, and are continuing to face, severe disruption due to Covid-19. This Statement comes into effect immediately.

Preventing loss of theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues

The Covid-19 pandemic presents particular challenges for organisations that depend on engaging with audiences and visitors in person. It has forced thousands of cultural institutions to close their doors, including theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues across the country. This is why my Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture Media and Sport announced £1.57 billion in financial support for the sector on 5 July to help these venues survive this period, and enable them to re-open when it is safe and economically viable to do so.

However, Covid-19 will continue to prevent the full reopening of a number of these venues for some time. This means that previously viable businesses face unprecedent financial difficulty. The Government recognises that the temporary closure of theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues due to Covid-19 has the potential to lead to permanent loss of important cultural and economic assets, and is determined that otherwise viable facilities are not lost forever.

The purpose of this Written Ministerial Statement, is to set out how local planning authorities should approach decision-making to prevent the unnecessary loss of these venues. With immediate effect, local planning authorities should have due regard to their current circumstances when considering whether to grant planning permission for a change of use or demolition of a theatre, concert hall or live music performance venue that has been made temporarily vacant by Covid-19 business disruption.

Where an alternative use or demolition for a long-term vacant theatre, concert hall or live music performance venue is proposed, local planning authorities should consider the application in the normal way. The Theatres Trust is a statutory consultee under the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 (S.I 2015/595) for applications seeking to develop any land where there is a theatre and will have an opportunity to comment on any application relating to theatres.

This policy remains in place until 31 December 2022 unless superseded by a further statement.

It is also our intention to make an amendment to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development (England) Order 2015 (S.I. 2015/596) to remove permitted development rights for demolition of theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues.

Caravan, campsites and Holiday parks

The Government also recognises that the tourism industry will need to be able to adapt to secure its financial future. In response to Covid-19 the majority of UK businesses closed in March 2020, including caravan, campsites and holiday parks. This has had a significant impact on the financial viability of over 2,200 businesses in this sector that employ around 46,000 staff. These parks are a mainstay of their local economies, providing employment and supporting local services and businesses.

Caravan, campsites and holiday parks in England were able to reopen from 4th July 2020. Extending their operation beyond the usual summer season will be invaluable to parks as the sector begins to recover. We are aware that current planning conditions may limit their open season. The temporary relaxation of these planning restrictions can play a vital role in helping local businesses to get up and running again.

The National Planning Policy Framework already emphasises that planning enforcement is a discretionary activity, and local planning authorities should act proportionately in responding to suspected breaches of planning control. Given the current situation, while local planning authorities must have regard to their legal obligations, they should not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would unnecessarily restrict the ability of caravan, campsites and holiday parks to extend their open season.

Where local planning authorities consider it appropriate to require an application to vary relevant planning conditions (where for instance there is a risk of flooding or where parks are situated close to protected sites) they should prioritise the application and make an early decision to provide certainty to caravan, campsites and holiday park operators. In doing so, they should consider the benefits of longer opening season times to the local economy as it recovers from the impact of Covid-19.

This Written Ministerial Statement only covers England.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS359
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 14 July 2020
Made by: Lord Greenhalgh (Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities)
Lords

Planning update

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

Planning update: preventing loss of cultural venues and planning conditions for holiday parks

Introduction

The Nation’s cultural and tourism industries are vitally important to the economy and the communities they serve. Many businesses in the sector have, and are continuing to face, severe disruption due to Covid-19. This Statement comes into effect immediately.

Preventing loss of theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues

The Covid-19 pandemic presents particular challenges for organisations that depend on engaging with audiences and visitors in person. It has forced thousands of cultural institutions to close their doors, including theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues across the country. This is why my Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture Media and Sport announced £1.57 billion in financial support for the sector on 5 July to help these venues survive this period, and enable them to re-open when it is safe and economically viable to do so.

However, Covid-19 will continue to prevent the full reopening of a number of these venues for some time. This means that previously viable businesses face unprecedent financial difficulty. The Government recognises that the temporary closure of theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues due to Covid-19 has the potential to lead to permanent loss of important cultural and economic assets, and is determined that otherwise viable facilities are not lost forever.

The purpose of this Written Ministerial Statement, is to set out how local planning authorities should approach decision-making to prevent the unnecessary loss of these venues. With immediate effect, local planning authorities should have due regard to their current circumstances when considering whether to grant planning permission for a change of use or demolition of a theatre, concert hall or live music performance venue that has been made temporarily vacant by Covid-19 business disruption.

Where an alternative use or demolition for a long-term vacant theatre, concert hall or live music performance venue is proposed, local planning authorities should consider the application in the normal way. The Theatres Trust is a statutory consultee under the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 (S.I 2015/595) for applications seeking to develop any land where there is a theatre and will have an opportunity to comment on any application relating to theatres.

This policy remains in place until 31 December 2022 unless superseded by a further statement.

It is also our intention to make an amendment to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development (England) Order 2015 (S.I. 2015/596) to remove permitted development rights for demolition of theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues.

Caravan and Holiday parks

The Government also recognises that the tourism industry will need to be able to adapt to secure its financial future. In response to Covid-19 the majority of UK businesses closed in March 2020, including caravan and holiday parks. This has had a significant impact on the financial viability of over 2,200 businesses in this sector that employ around 46,000 staff. These parks are a mainstay of their local economies, providing employment and supporting local services and businesses.

Caravan and holiday parks in England were able to reopen from 4th July 2020. Extending their operation beyond the usual summer season will be invaluable to parks as the sector begins to recover. We are aware that current planning conditions may limit their open season. The temporary relaxation of these planning restrictions can play a vital role in helping local businesses to get up and running again.

The National Planning Policy Framework already emphasises that planning enforcement is a discretionary activity, and local planning authorities should act proportionately in responding to suspected breaches of planning control. Given the current situation, while local planning authorities must have regard to their legal obligations, they should not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would unnecessarily restrict the ability of caravan and holiday parks to extend their open season.

Where local planning authorities consider it appropriate to require an application to vary relevant planning conditions (where for instance there is a risk of flooding or where parks are situated close to protected sites) they should prioritise the application and make an early decision to provide certainty to caravan and holiday park operators. In doing so, they should consider the benefits of longer opening season times to the local economy as it recovers from the impact of Covid-19.

This Written Ministerial Statement only covers England.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS367
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 08 July 2020
Made by: Lord Greenhalgh (Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities)
Lords

Park Homes

My Hon. Friend, the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing (Luke Hall) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

I am today publishing the Government response to our consultation “Mobile Homes –a fit and proper person test for park home sites”. I am placing copies of the response in the libraries of the House, and it will also be available on gov.uk.

As part of our ongoing commitment to improving protections for park home residents, the Government undertook a two-part review of park homes legislation in 2017. In the response published on 22 October 2018, we committed to introduce the fit and proper person test, subject to a technical consultation. This consultation was undertaken between 25 July and 17 September 2019 and received 370 responses, the majority of which were highly supportive.

The purpose of the test is to improve the management of park home and other residential caravan sites. By introducing an assessment that the person responsible for managing the site is suitable to do so and of good character, this will help target and remove the worst offenders from the sector. The test will be an important tool for Local Authority enforcement and marks an important milestone in my department’s work to protect residents of park homes and other residential caravan sites, who are often elderly and vulnerable, from unscrupulous site owners.

I am today laying the required regulations bringing the test into effect. They will mandate that:

  • each local authority must set up and maintain a register of people who are fit and proper to manage a park home site in their area. A site owner, or an appointed manager, must appear on the local authority register in order to manage a site;
  • when an applicant applies for registration, a local authority must consider, among other details, the applicant’s criminal record and details of all sites in which the applicant has an equitable interest; and
  • if convicted of any offences under the Regulations the site owner would face an unlimited fine. Offences include operating a site without being on the local authority register, breaching the conditions attached to an entry on the register, and providing false information in an application.

The regulations will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure so will require the approval of both Houses.

The Government is dedicated to improving protections for park home residents and these regulations are an important step towards delivering on that commitment.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS348
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 08 July 2020
Made by: Luke Hall (Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing )
Commons

Park Homes

I am today publishing the Government response to our consultation “Mobile Homes –a fit and proper person test for park home sites”. I am placing copies of the response in the libraries of the House, and it will also be available on gov.uk.

As part of our ongoing commitment to improving protections for park home residents, the Government undertook a two-part review of park homes legislation in 2017. In the response published on 22 October 2018, we committed to introduce the fit and proper person test, subject to a technical consultation. This consultation was undertaken between 25 July and 17 September 2019 and received 370 responses, the majority of which were highly supportive.

The purpose of the test is to improve the management of park home and other residential caravan sites. By introducing an assessment that the person responsible for managing the site is suitable to do so and of good character, this will help target and remove the worst offenders from the sector. The test will be an important tool for Local Authority enforcement and marks an important milestone in my department’s work to protect residents of park homes and other residential caravan sites, who are often elderly and vulnerable, from unscrupulous site owners.

I am today laying the required regulations bringing the test into effect. They will mandate that:

  • each local authority must set up and maintain a register of people who are fit and proper to manage a park home site in their area. A site owner, or an appointed manager, must appear on the local authority register in order to manage a site;
  • when an applicant applies for registration, a local authority must consider, among other details, the applicant’s criminal record and details of all sites in which the applicant has an equitable interest; and
  • if convicted of any offences under the Regulations the site owner would face an unlimited fine. Offences include operating a site without being on the local authority register, breaching the conditions attached to an entry on the register, and providing false information in an application.

The regulations will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure so will require the approval of both Houses.

The Government is dedicated to improving protections for park home residents and these regulations are an important step towards delivering on that commitment.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS341
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 02 July 2020
Made by: Lord Greenhalgh (Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities)
Lords

Local Government Update

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

I wish to set out to the House the further measures this Government is putting in place so that local government can continue to fulfil its essential role in the national response to Covid-19 and lead us through the next phase of recovery.

I said at the start of the pandemic that we would ensure local authorities have the resources they need. To do that, the Government has provided £27 billion to support local councils, businesses and communities; including £3.8 billion of support specifically for local authorities. This funding has allowed councils to deliver for their communities: including helping get rough sleepers off the streets, establishing our shielding programme, controlling infection in care homes and providing support for 800,000 small and medium-sized businesses.

The comprehensive plan I am announcing today demonstrates my commitment by ensuring that local councils have the certainty they need to manage their finances to the end of the financial year. The plan covers Covid-related expenditure, income losses from sales, fees and charges, and irrecoverable tax losses.

Additional funding for spending pressures

We recognise the pressures on councils and our communities have not yet passed, and today I have announced a further £500 million to help ensure that councils have the money they need to meet costs in the coming months. I would like to thank councils for the financial information they have provided, and I will continue to work with my cabinet colleagues to monitor the pressures on the sector.

This award follows two previous rounds of grant allocations. The first was primarily focussed on getting emergency support into Adult Social Care. The second round addressed both expenditure pressures and income shortfalls. With the benefit of better data, we now plan to address income shortfalls separately to expenditure and so we have created a new formula for the additional £500 million. This formula will reflect the factors which the data returns have told us correlate most closely with expenditure, and will take account of population, deprivation and the way that service costs vary across the country. Details on allocations will be announced in due course.

Non-tax income

The pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on councils' income from sales, fees and charges - for which they could not have planned. To help mitigate this, the Government is also introducing a co-payment scheme to compensate local authorities for relevant, irrecoverable losses in 2020-21. Under this scheme councils bear the first 5% of losses compared to their budgeted income – reflecting the fact these income sources are by their nature volatile from one year to the next – but the Government will support those worst affected by covering 75p in every pound of losses beyond this.

Irrecoverable tax losses

I am also committed to supporting the sector through an apportionment of irrecoverable Council Tax and Business Rates losses between central and local government, to be agreed at the Spending Review. I have announced today that the repayment of collection fund deficits arising in 2020-21, will be spread over the next three years rather than the usual period of a year, giving councils breathing space in setting budgets for next year.

Taken together, these measures will give local councils sufficient confidence to continue to deliver the services their communities rely on. Nevertheless, my department will continue to work closely with councils to monitor the situation as it develops, and I will return to the House setting out any further measures necessary should a changing situation require it.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS333
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 02 July 2020
Made by: Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Local Government Update

I wish to set out to the House the further measures this Government is putting in place so that local government can continue to fulfil its essential role in the national response to Covid-19 and lead us through the next phase of recovery.

I said at the start of the pandemic that we would ensure local authorities have the resources they need. To do that, the Government has provided £27 billion to support local councils, businesses and communities; including £3.8 billion of support specifically for local authorities. This funding has allowed councils to deliver for their communities: including helping get rough sleepers off the streets, establishing our shielding programme, controlling infection in care homes and providing support for 800,000 small and medium-sized businesses.

The comprehensive plan I am announcing today demonstrates my commitment by ensuring that local councils have the certainty they need to manage their finances to the end of the financial year. The plan covers Covid-related expenditure, income losses from sales, fees and charges, and irrecoverable tax losses.

Additional funding for spending pressures

We recognise the pressures on councils and our communities have not yet passed, and today I have announced a further £500 million to help ensure that councils have the money they need to meet costs in the coming months. I would like to thank councils for the financial information they have provided, and I will continue to work with my cabinet colleagues to monitor the pressures on the sector.

This award follows two previous rounds of grant allocations. The first was primarily focussed on getting emergency support into Adult Social Care. The second round addressed both expenditure pressures and income shortfalls. With the benefit of better data, we now plan to address income shortfalls separately to expenditure and so we have created a new formula for the additional £500 million. This formula will reflect the factors which the data returns have told us correlate most closely with expenditure, and will take account of population, deprivation and the way that service costs vary across the country. Details on allocations will be announced in due course.

Non-tax income

The pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on councils' income from sales, fees and charges - for which they could not have planned. To help mitigate this, the Government is also introducing a co-payment scheme to compensate local authorities for relevant, irrecoverable losses in 2020-21. Under this scheme councils bear the first 5% of losses compared to their budgeted income – reflecting the fact these income sources are by their nature volatile from one year to the next – but the Government will support those worst affected by covering 75p in every pound of losses beyond this.

Irrecoverable tax losses

I am also committed to supporting the sector through an apportionment of irrecoverable Council Tax and Business Rates losses between central and local government, to be agreed at the Spending Review. I have announced today that the repayment of collection fund deficits arising in 2020-21, will be spread over the next three years rather than the usual period of a year, giving councils breathing space in setting budgets for next year.

Taken together, these measures will give local councils sufficient confidence to continue to deliver the services their communities rely on. Nevertheless, my department will continue to work closely with councils to monitor the situation as it develops, and I will return to the House setting out any further measures necessary should a changing situation require it.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS325
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 25 June 2020
Made by: Lord Greenhalgh (Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities)
Lords

Planning update

My Rt. Hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Housing (Christopher Pincher) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

Responding to Covid – 19 – temporary measures to ease restrictions on the planning system

Today the Government has introduced the Business and Planning Bill in Parliament. The Bill responds to the Covid-19 emergency and brings forward temporary changes to the planning system to support economic recovery. This statement sets out supporting temporary measures that the Government proposes to ensure the planning system continues to operate effectively.

Online inspection of documents

The effects of Covid-19 mean that it is not possible for everyone to enter public buildings safely to access certain planning documents made available for inspection. The Government has made clear [Written Ministerial Statement, 13 May 2020 ‘Virtual working and planning – Responding to Covid – 19 Restrictions’] that online inspection of documents should be the default position. It has already made secondary legislation providing temporary flexibility for consultation and publicity requirements for planning applications under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA) and for Environmental Impact Assessment development under the TCPA in relation to environmental statements.

This statement makes clear, for the regimes addressed below, how the Government expects local authorities, applicants and the Mayor of London to meet the requirements for making documents available for inspection by the public whilst social distancing restrictions apply. Everyone involved in the planning process is expected to engage proactively in the move to online inspection of documents and to consider the practical measures needed to ensure fair participation. When it becomes possible for documents to be made available for inspection in public buildings again, then the Government expects this to be done as soon as practicable.

Compulsory purchase orders (CPOs)

There are requirements in the Acquisition of Land Act 1981 for newspaper and site notices to provide details of a place where copies of CPOs and associated maps can be inspected, both prior to submission of the CPO to the confirming authority and when it is confirmed. Provisions in secondary legislation requiring inspection of documents are similar, and in some cases require documents to be provided on request. It is the Government’s view that these legislative requirements can be satisfied by the acquiring authority making a copy of the order and map available for inspection on a website. Hard copies of documents should be provided by the acquiring authority on request. The Government has published updated planning guidance in relation to the compulsory purchase process which can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-compulsory-purchase-guidance.

Development consent orders (DCOs)

The Planning Act 2008, relating to Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP), requires that at the pre-application stage the Statement of Community Consultation must be made available for inspection. At the post-consent stage, where a Development Consent Order grants authority to acquire compulsorily an interest in land, the Act requires that a copy of the DCO must be made available for inspection.

It is the Government’s view that these requirements can be met by making documents available for inspection online. It expects applicants to take reasonable steps to ensure that anyone wishing to view the documentation can find these documents online. Hard copies should be made available by the applicant on request.

For the NSIP regime there are other provisions in secondary legislation relating to consultation and publicity requirements. The Government intends to bring forward secondary legislation shortly to replace temporarily the requirement for documents to be made available for inspection in a place, with a requirement for documents to be made available online.

Planning appeals

For planning appeals there are provisions in secondary legislation for consultation and publicity requirements, and the Government is considering whether these should be amended to enable more to be undertaken by digital processes, similar to the flexibilities already brought in for planning applications under the TCPA. The Government expects local planning authorities, appellants, the Planning Inspectorate and other parties to be proactive in their use of digital processes for consultation and publicity.

Local development documents

When preparing Local Development Documents, local planning authorities are required to make certain documents available for inspection at their principal office, and other places that they consider appropriate, and provide copies of the plan or strategy to a person that requests one. In addition, local planning authorities must publish the document on their website. The Government intends to bring forward secondary legislation shortly to remove temporarily the requirement for local planning authorities to make these documents available for inspection at their offices and other places, as well as the requirement for these documents to be provided on request. Local planning authorities will need to ensure that these documents are made available on their website.

Spatial development strategies

The Business and Planning Bill amends the provisions in the Greater London Authority Act 1999 that require the Mayor of London to make the Spatial Development Strategy (SDS) available for physical inspection at certain locations and to provide a copy on request.

The Bill will remove these requirements provided that the Mayor makes the current SDS available by appropriate electronic means. The Mayor will be required to have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State on arrangements that may be appropriate for those who do not have internet access.

There are also similar provisions in secondary legislation that apply for the Mayor of London and combined authorities who have been conferred the power to make a spatial development strategy. The Government intends to bring forward secondary legislation shortly to temporarily disapply requirements for these documents to be made available for inspection at their offices and enable them to be made available online.

Extending development consents

The Business and Planning Bill includes a provision to extend certain planning permissions and consents under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. There are already established routes to make changes to DCOs and it is the Government’s view that these routes can be used to extend commencement periods in certain circumstances. Developers can submit applications for non-material or material changes to the relevant Secretary of State. The Secretary of State can also make a material change to a DCO in exceptional circumstances. The Government expects developers to take proactive steps to ensure that applications to extend DCOs are submitted in sufficient time and the Government will actively engage with any such applications.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS316
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 25 June 2020
Made by: Christopher Pincher (Minister of State for Housing )
Commons

Planning update

Responding to Covid – 19 – temporary measures to ease restrictions on the planning system

Today the Government has introduced the Business and Planning Bill in Parliament. The Bill responds to the Covid-19 emergency and brings forward temporary changes to the planning system to support economic recovery. This statement sets out supporting temporary measures that the Government proposes to ensure the planning system continues to operate effectively.

Online inspection of documents

The effects of Covid-19 mean that it is not possible for everyone to enter public buildings safely to access certain planning documents made available for inspection. The Government has made clear [Written Ministerial Statement, 13 May 2020 ‘Virtual working and planning – Responding to Covid – 19 Restrictions’] that online inspection of documents should be the default position. It has already made secondary legislation providing temporary flexibility for consultation and publicity requirements for planning applications under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA) and for Environmental Impact Assessment development under the TCPA in relation to environmental statements.

This statement makes clear, for the regimes addressed below, how the Government expects local authorities, applicants and the Mayor of London to meet the requirements for making documents available for inspection by the public whilst social distancing restrictions apply. Everyone involved in the planning process is expected to engage proactively in the move to online inspection of documents and to consider the practical measures needed to ensure fair participation. When it becomes possible for documents to be made available for inspection in public buildings again, then the Government expects this to be done as soon as practicable.

Compulsory purchase orders (CPOs)

There are requirements in the Acquisition of Land Act 1981 for newspaper and site notices to provide details of a place where copies of CPOs and associated maps can be inspected, both prior to submission of the CPO to the confirming authority and when it is confirmed. Provisions in secondary legislation requiring inspection of documents are similar, and in some cases require documents to be provided on request. It is the Government’s view that these legislative requirements can be satisfied by the acquiring authority making a copy of the order and map available for inspection on a website. Hard copies of documents should be provided by the acquiring authority on request. The Government has published updated planning guidance in relation to the compulsory purchase process which can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-compulsory-purchase-guidance.

Development consent orders (DCOs)

The Planning Act 2008, relating to Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP), requires that at the pre-application stage the Statement of Community Consultation must be made available for inspection. At the post-consent stage, where a Development Consent Order grants authority to acquire compulsorily an interest in land, the Act requires that a copy of the DCO must be made available for inspection.

It is the Government’s view that these requirements can be met by making documents available for inspection online. It expects applicants to take reasonable steps to ensure that anyone wishing to view the documentation can find these documents online. Hard copies should be made available by the applicant on request.

For the NSIP regime there are other provisions in secondary legislation relating to consultation and publicity requirements. The Government intends to bring forward secondary legislation shortly to replace temporarily the requirement for documents to be made available for inspection in a place, with a requirement for documents to be made available online.

Planning appeals

For planning appeals there are provisions in secondary legislation for consultation and publicity requirements, and the Government is considering whether these should be amended to enable more to be undertaken by digital processes, similar to the flexibilities already brought in for planning applications under the TCPA. The Government expects local planning authorities, appellants, the Planning Inspectorate and other parties to be proactive in their use of digital processes for consultation and publicity.

Local development documents

When preparing Local Development Documents, local planning authorities are required to make certain documents available for inspection at their principal office, and other places that they consider appropriate, and provide copies of the plan or strategy to a person that requests one. In addition, local planning authorities must publish the document on their website. The Government intends to bring forward secondary legislation shortly to remove temporarily the requirement for local planning authorities to make these documents available for inspection at their offices and other places, as well as the requirement for these documents to be provided on request. Local planning authorities will need to ensure that these documents are made available on their website.

Spatial development strategies

The Business and Planning Bill amends the provisions in the Greater London Authority Act 1999 that require the Mayor of London to make the Spatial Development Strategy (SDS) available for physical inspection at certain locations and to provide a copy on request.

The Bill will remove these requirements provided that the Mayor makes the current SDS available by appropriate electronic means. The Mayor will be required to have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State on arrangements that may be appropriate for those who do not have internet access.

There are also similar provisions in secondary legislation that apply for the Mayor of London and combined authorities who have been conferred the power to make a spatial development strategy. The Government intends to bring forward secondary legislation shortly to temporarily disapply requirements for these documents to be made available for inspection at their offices and enable them to be made available online.

Extending development consents

The Business and Planning Bill includes a provision to extend certain planning permissions and consents under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. There are already established routes to make changes to DCOs and it is the Government’s view that these routes can be used to extend commencement periods in certain circumstances. Developers can submit applications for non-material or material changes to the relevant Secretary of State. The Secretary of State can also make a material change to a DCO in exceptional circumstances. The Government expects developers to take proactive steps to ensure that applications to extend DCOs are submitted in sufficient time and the Government will actively engage with any such applications.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS311
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 24 June 2020
Made by: Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Additional Funding for Rough Sleeping

Today I am announcing a further £105 million for local authorities to enable them to support and accommodate rough sleepers.

At the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government took quick action to accommodate rough sleepers and those in communal shelters, giving them the chance to self-isolate. This action was supported by councils, charities, faith groups, public sector partners and businesses. I want to put on record my thanks to everyone who has worked tirelessly to deliver this – this action has undoubtedly saved countless lives. These efforts and the action taken to support people at risk of becoming homeless during the pandemic has resulted in 15,000 vulnerable people being housed in emergency accommodation, including hotels.

Now is the time to help local authorities and the vulnerable people housed during the pandemic with what comes next. Local authorities, working with my department, have already been assessing the needs of each individual currently in emergency accommodation. For the first time ever, we know who these vulnerable people are and where they are – allowing us to take a more personal and sophisticated look at each of their needs. The additional funding, which is available in this financial year, will allow local authorities to provide appropriate accommodation and support for the next steps, as we help these individuals to put their lives on a more stable footing. It will fund a wide range of measures, including: short-term accommodation before moves into safe, long-term homes can be arranged; moves into the private rental sector; and assistance to secure training and employment. This sustained support is vital to ensure progress is maintained as people move out of emergency accommodation.

This investment comes on top of significant funding we have already provided this year, including plans I announced last month alongside Dame Louise Casey to provide 6,000 supported homes for vulnerable rough sleepers taken off the streets during the pandemic. These homes will be held as a national asset with the specific purpose of providing move on accommodation to rough sleepers and former rough sleepers.

The Government also understands the need to support people with complex and underlying issues which may be behind their rough sleeping. That is why I am also pleased to announce that a further £16 million in funding will be made available this financial year – bringing the total to £23 million – to tackle the substance dependence treatment needs of rough sleepers. This will help strengthen people’s engagement with substance dependence services while in emergency accommodation as they move into safer, long term accommodation. It will also help people into treatment services and support them as they recover, to prevent a return to the streets.

Our manifesto set out our bold ambition to end rough sleeping within this Parliament and the measures I have announced today are a significant step towards that.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS305
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 24 June 2020
Made by: Lord Greenhalgh (Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities)
Lords

Additional Funding for Rough Sleeping

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

Today I am announcing a further £105 million for local authorities to enable them to support and accommodate rough sleepers.

At the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government took quick action to accommodate rough sleepers and those in communal shelters, giving them the chance to self-isolate. This action was supported by councils, charities, faith groups, public sector partners and businesses. I want to put on record my thanks to everyone who has worked tirelessly to deliver this – this action has undoubtedly saved countless lives. These efforts and the action taken to support people at risk of becoming homeless during the pandemic has resulted in 15,000 vulnerable people being housed in emergency accommodation, including hotels.

Now is the time to help local authorities and the vulnerable people housed during the pandemic with what comes next. Local authorities, working with my department, have already been assessing the needs of each individual currently in emergency accommodation. For the first time ever, we know who these vulnerable people are and where they are – allowing us to take a more personal and sophisticated look at each of their needs. The additional funding, which is available in this financial year, will allow local authorities to provide appropriate accommodation and support for the next steps, as we help these individuals to put their lives on a more stable footing. It will fund a wide range of measures, including: short-term accommodation before moves into safe, long-term homes can be arranged; moves into the private rental sector; and assistance to secure training and employment. This sustained support is vital to ensure progress is maintained as people move out of emergency accommodation.

This investment comes on top of significant funding we have already provided this year, including plans I announced last month alongside Dame Louise Casey to provide 6,000 supported homes for vulnerable rough sleepers taken off the streets during the pandemic. These homes will be held as a national asset with the specific purpose of providing move on accommodation to rough sleepers and former rough sleepers.

The Government also understands the need to support people with complex and underlying issues which may be behind their rough sleeping. That is why I am also pleased to announce that a further £16 million in funding will be made available this financial year – bringing the total to £23 million – to tackle the substance dependence treatment needs of rough sleepers. This will help strengthen people’s engagement with substance dependence services while in emergency accommodation as they move into safer, long term accommodation. It will also help people into treatment services and support them as they recover, to prevent a return to the streets.

Our manifesto set out our bold ambition to end rough sleeping within this Parliament and the measures I have announced today are a significant step towards that.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS311
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 09 June 2020
Made by: Lord Greenhalgh (Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities)
Lords

Local Authority Procurement Fraud and Corruption Risk Review

My Hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government (Simon Clarke) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

Today I have published a review into the risks of fraud and corruption in local government procurement in England, in collaboration with the Government’s Anti-Corruption Champion, the Hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (John Penrose). This report delivers on a commitment by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) in the UK Anti-Corruption Strategy 2017-2022 and is an important part of the wider agenda to strengthen the UK’s response to the risks posed by corruption. The findings highlight the importance of continued vigilance across the whole procurement lifecycle and is particularly relevant at this time of heightened activity by councils, as they are working hard to respond to the challenges posed by Covid-19.

Acknowledging and mitigating the risk of fraud and corruption is critical to sound financial management and ensuring that every pound spent by local councils supports the communities they serve. Activities to reduce vulnerability to the risks of fraud and corruption will also have the potential to improve efficiency and identify losses resulting from error, by highlighting weaker areas within systems and processes.

The potential benefits to both councils and the local taxpayer are significant. Under ‘business as usual’ circumstances councils in England spend around £55 billion a year on goods, works and services[1]. Estimates[2] of the losses to government expenditure caused by fraud and error range between 0.5% and 5%[3] (equating to between £275 million and £2.75 billion per year for local government procurement spend).

It is also important to emphasise that fraud and corruption are by their nature hidden, and a low level of reported cases does not necessarily indicate a lack of fraudulent or corrupt activity. Recent cross government reports demonstrate that detected fraud and corruption is only a proportion of the true scale of the problem[4]. Furthermore, of the 86 councils responding to the survey as part of this review, 23% reported having experienced cases of fraud and corruption within procurement in the 2017-2018 financial year.

Although there is no silver bullet for tackling the issue of fraud and corruption within procurement, this review draws together a range of activities which collectively help identify and mitigate the risks faced by local councils. The report details anonymised examples of good practice already in place across England, providing excellent evidence of local authorities’ innovation, commitment and collaborative approach.

The case studies of incidents of fraud and corruption and examples of best practice in prevention, illustrate how risks can materialise and what can be done to mitigate them. In addition, the report includes a risk matrix, which highlights possible measures that councils can use to strengthen their resilience to the risks of fraud and corruption. I hope the report will serve as a valuable resource for councils across the country to learn from. In additional to this report, I would also encourage councils to make best use of the National Fraud Initiative[5], CIPFA Counter Fraud resources[6] and the case studies from the Counter Fraud Fund pilots MHCLG funded in 2014[7], as well as the latest Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally Strategy[8].

Taking forward the findings of the Review

This report sets out suggested next steps for the public sector as a whole, for local councils and for MHCLG. Those for the public sector focus on putting in place standard definitions and measurement methodologies, ensuring there is a central place to record reports of fraud and corruption and strengthening whistleblowing arrangements.

MHCLG has a key role in supporting a culture of strong governance and robust accountability within the local government sector, and the Counter Fraud and Anti-Corruption agenda are important strands within this work.

At the level of individual councils, appropriate capacity is needed to prevent, detect and respond to incidents of fraud and corruption within the procurement lifecycle. This means having in place effective fraud and corruption risk management structures and risk assessments, effective due diligence and management of gifts and hospitality and conflicts of interest.

Capacity and capability within local authority contract management and commercial activities have been identified as areas for improvement and all those involved in procurement must understand their roles and responsibilities, whenever commissioning, procuring or purchasing on behalf of their council. Councils should consider how the risks of fraud and corruption are managed in their wider networks, including local authority companies, Arms-Length Management Organisations (ALMOS) and other special purpose vehicles.

Procurement is only one area where fraud and corruption risks are present for councils, and similar risks are present in other areas of council operations. Many of the recommendations in this report should support efforts by councils to prevent and detect fraud and corruption, and to hold perpetrators successfully to account.

[1]. National Procurement Strategy for Local Government in England 2018, LGA, page 5 https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/11.122%20-%20National%20Procurement%20Strategy%202018_main%20report_V7.pdf

[2] See page 16, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/764832/Cross-GovernmentFraudLandscapeAnnualReport2018.pdf.

[3] The Fraud Measurement and Assurance Oversight Board concluded that there is an upper and lower range of likely losses: 0.5% to 5%. See page 31, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/764832/Cross-GovernmentFraudLandscapeAnnualReport2018.pdf.

[4] Page 15, Cross-Government Fraud Landscape Annual Report 2018, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/764832/Cross-GovernmentFraudLandscapeAnnualReport2018.pdf

[5] https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-fraud-initiative

[6] https://www.cipfa.org/services/counter-fraud-centre

[7] https://www.local.gov.uk/our-support/efficiency-and-income-generation/counter-fraud-hub-outcomes-counter-fraud-fund-0

[8] https://www.cifas.org.uk/insight/public-affairs-policy/fighting-fraud-corruption-local-authorities

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS275
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 08 June 2020
Made by: Mr Simon Clarke (Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government)
Commons

Local Authority Procurement Fraud and Corruption Risk Review

Today I have published a review into the risks of fraud and corruption in local government procurement in England, in collaboration with the Government’s Anti-Corruption Champion, the Hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (John Penrose). This report delivers on a commitment by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) in the UK Anti-Corruption Strategy 2017-2022 and is an important part of the wider agenda to strengthen the UK’s response to the risks posed by corruption. The findings highlight the importance of continued vigilance across the whole procurement lifecycle and is particularly relevant at this time of heightened activity by councils, as they are working hard to respond to the challenges posed by Covid-19.

Acknowledging and mitigating the risk of fraud and corruption is critical to sound financial management and ensuring that every pound spent by local councils supports the communities they serve. Activities to reduce vulnerability to the risks of fraud and corruption will also have the potential to improve efficiency and identify losses resulting from error, by highlighting weaker areas within systems and processes.

The potential benefits to both councils and the local taxpayer are significant. Under ‘business as usual’ circumstances councils in England spend around £55 billion a year on goods, works and services[1]. Estimates[2] of the losses to government expenditure caused by fraud and error range between 0.5% and 5%[3] (equating to between £275 million and £2.75 billion per year for local government procurement spend).

It is also important to emphasise that fraud and corruption are by their nature hidden, and a low level of reported cases does not necessarily indicate a lack of fraudulent or corrupt activity. Recent cross government reports demonstrate that detected fraud and corruption is only a proportion of the true scale of the problem[4]. Furthermore, of the 86 councils responding to the survey as part of this review, 23% reported having experienced cases of fraud and corruption within procurement in the 2017-2018 financial year.

Although there is no silver bullet for tackling the issue of fraud and corruption within procurement, this review draws together a range of activities which collectively help identify and mitigate the risks faced by local councils. The report details anonymised examples of good practice already in place across England, providing excellent evidence of local authorities’ innovation, commitment and collaborative approach.

The case studies of incidents of fraud and corruption and examples of best practice in prevention, illustrate how risks can materialise and what can be done to mitigate them. In addition, the report includes a risk matrix, which highlights possible measures that councils can use to strengthen their resilience to the risks of fraud and corruption. I hope the report will serve as a valuable resource for councils across the country to learn from. In additional to this report, I would also encourage councils to make best use of the National Fraud Initiative[5], CIPFA Counter Fraud resources[6] and the case studies from the Counter Fraud Fund pilots MHCLG funded in 2014[7], as well as the latest Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally Strategy[8].

Taking forward the findings of the Review

This report sets out suggested next steps for the public sector as a whole, for local councils and for MHCLG. Those for the public sector focus on putting in place standard definitions and measurement methodologies, ensuring there is a central place to record reports of fraud and corruption and strengthening whistleblowing arrangements.

MHCLG has a key role in supporting a culture of strong governance and robust accountability within the local government sector, and the Counter Fraud and Anti-Corruption agenda are important strands within this work.

At the level of individual councils, appropriate capacity is needed to prevent, detect and respond to incidents of fraud and corruption within the procurement lifecycle. This means having in place effective fraud and corruption risk management structures and risk assessments, effective due diligence and management of gifts and hospitality and conflicts of interest.

Capacity and capability within local authority contract management and commercial activities have been identified as areas for improvement and all those involved in procurement must understand their roles and responsibilities, whenever commissioning, procuring or purchasing on behalf of their council. Councils should consider how the risks of fraud and corruption are managed in their wider networks, including local authority companies, Arms-Length Management Organisations (ALMOS) and other special purpose vehicles.

Procurement is only one area where fraud and corruption risks are present for councils, and similar risks are present in other areas of council operations. Many of the recommendations in this report should support efforts by councils to prevent and detect fraud and corruption, and to hold perpetrators successfully to account.

[1]. National Procurement Strategy for Local Government in England 2018, LGA, page 5 https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/11.122%20-%20National%20Procurement%20Strategy%202018_main%20report_V7.pdf

[2] See page 16, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/764832/Cross-GovernmentFraudLandscapeAnnualReport2018.pdf.

[3] The Fraud Measurement and Assurance Oversight Board concluded that there is an upper and lower range of likely losses: 0.5% to 5%. See page 31, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/764832/Cross-GovernmentFraudLandscapeAnnualReport2018.pdf.

[4] Page 15, Cross-Government Fraud Landscape Annual Report 2018, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/764832/Cross-GovernmentFraudLandscapeAnnualReport2018.pdf

[5] https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-fraud-initiative

[6] https://www.cipfa.org/services/counter-fraud-centre

[7] https://www.local.gov.uk/our-support/efficiency-and-income-generation/counter-fraud-hub-outcomes-counter-fraud-fund-0

[8] https://www.cifas.org.uk/insight/public-affairs-policy/fighting-fraud-corruption-local-authorities

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS271
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 03 June 2020
Made by: Lord Greenhalgh (Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities)
Lords

Rough Sleeping: COVID-19 Response

My Hon. Friend, the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing (Luke Hall) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Government has worked closely with local authorities, charities and health providers to offer accommodation to as many rough sleepers as possible in order to help them stay safe during the pandemic.

We have asked all local authorities to provide information on the number of individuals they have accommodated. The information provided is management information, not official statistics, and local authorities continue to hold the most recent information.

This information submitted shows that since the start of the pandemic, local authorities have accommodated 14,610 people. This includes people coming in directly from the streets, people previously housed in shared night shelters and people who have become vulnerable to rough sleeping during the pandemic.

This is a truly remarkable achievement and has been possible because of an incredible effort by the Government, local authorities and charities.

In order to be transparent, we have today published the management information received from local authorities which provides a breakdown of this figure both inside and outside of London.

This number should not be compared to the official autumn annual snapshot of rough sleeping numbers because the data sets are not comparable. A significant proportion of the 15,000 people accommodated were not rough sleepers but have been housed in order to prevent any risk of them sleeping rough during the pandemic. The work local authorities have undertaken during the pandemic has assisted many who were sleeping rough or living in accommodation where they share sleeping spaces, for example in hostels or night shelters, where they wouldn’t be able to fully self-isolate. Local authorities have also housed those at risk of rough sleeping, or who have presented to local authorities as at risk of sleeping rough throughout this pandemic.

The Government has supported this vital work with £3.2 million emergency funding as an initial first step, followed by funding totalling £3.2 billion to local authorities to allow them to meet local need during the pandemic, including protecting the most vulnerable and rough sleepers.

We have also announced a further £433m to provide 6,000 long-term, safe homes to support thousand of rough sleepers currently housed in emergency accommodation move on to more sustainable accommodation.

The Government is now supporting local authorities on their next steps plans to ensure accommodation arrangements can continue to be managed safely to protect the most vulnerable, assessing individuals’ needs in order to ensure as few people as possible return to the streets. We have asked Dame Louise Casey to spearhead this work through a new Covid-19 Rough Sleeping Taskforce.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS263
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 03 June 2020
Made by: Luke Hall (Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing)
Commons

Rough Sleeping: COVID-19 Response

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Government has worked closely with local authorities, charities and health providers to offer accommodation to as many rough sleepers as possible in order to help them stay safe during the pandemic.

We have asked all local authorities to provide information on the number of individuals they have accommodated. The information provided is management information, not official statistics, and local authorities continue to hold the most recent information.

This information submitted shows that since the start of the pandemic, local authorities have accommodated 14,610 people. This includes people coming in directly from the streets, people previously housed in shared night shelters and people who have become vulnerable to rough sleeping during the pandemic.

This is a truly remarkable achievement and has been possible because of an incredible effort by the Government, local authorities and charities.

In order to be transparent, we have today published the management information received from local authorities which provides a breakdown of this figure both inside and outside of London.

This number should not be compared to the official autumn annual snapshot of rough sleeping numbers because the data sets are not comparable. A significant proportion of the 15,000 people accommodated were not rough sleepers but have been housed in order to prevent any risk of them sleeping rough during the pandemic. The work local authorities have undertaken during the pandemic has assisted many who were sleeping rough or living in accommodation where they share sleeping spaces, for example in hostels or night shelters, where they wouldn’t be able to fully self-isolate. Local authorities have also housed those at risk of rough sleeping, or who have presented to local authorities as at risk of sleeping rough throughout this pandemic.

The Government has supported this vital work with £3.2 million emergency funding as an initial first step, followed by funding totalling £3.2 billion to local authorities to allow them to meet local need during the pandemic, including protecting the most vulnerable and rough sleepers.

We have also announced a further £433m to provide 6,000 long-term, safe homes to support thousand of rough sleepers currently housed in emergency accommodation move on to more sustainable accommodation.

The Government is now supporting local authorities on their next steps plans to ensure accommodation arrangements can continue to be managed safely to protect the most vulnerable, assessing individuals’ needs in order to ensure as few people as possible return to the streets. We have asked Dame Louise Casey to spearhead this work through a new Covid-19 Rough Sleeping Taskforce.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS259
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 03 June 2020
Made by: Luke Hall ( Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing )
Commons

Troubled Families Annual Report

As required by the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, section 3(1), today my Department has published the fourth annual report, setting out how the Troubled Families Programme (2015-2020) has been supporting our most disadvantaged families who face multiple and complex problems. We are laying this report today and will place a copy in the House of Commons library. There has been a slight delay to the publication of the report, due on 31 March, as my Department focused on the emergency response to the Covid 19 pandemic.

The Troubled Families Programme has been at the heart of our ambition to strengthen families and improve their futures since 2015. This year’s Annual Report details the Programme’s performance for the period up to the end of March 2020, outlines the changes introduced for the 20/21 financial year to allow more families to be eligible for support, and clarifies how their progress towards outcomes will be measured. The report was drafted before the Covid 19 pandemic so does not reflect the ongoing response from local government to support families during this unprecedented time.

Improving families’ lives: Fourth annual report of the Troubled Families Programme 2019-2020 details how the Programme is driving a profound shift in the way that local services respond to entrenched problems and support our most disadvantaged families. Assigning a single key worker to each family, backed by multi-agency partners and coordinated data, this joined up ‘wrap-around' support works with whole families to tackle the range of issues they face.

Over the lifetime of the Programme, local authorities have supported 350,105 families to achieve successful outcomes, including 30,000 adults who were helped into sustained employment, although the Programme has worked with many more families. These families faced multiple and complex problems including a combination of crime, truancy, neglect, anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse, poor mental health, worklessness and financial exclusion. Every successful family outcome represents a family’s life changed for the better – a considerable achievement for the families and the local authorities supporting them.

Analysis to track family outcomes over time, and case study research, indicates that the Programme delivered successful outcomes by intervening early to prevent escalation to Children’s Social Care. Analysis found that for every £1 spent on the Programme it delivers £2.28 of economic benefits (includes economic, social and fiscal benefits) and £1.51 of fiscal benefits (only budgetary impacts on services).

Analysis also suggests that the Programme is reducing the probability of future interaction with the criminal justice system, and the severity of offending, for adults and juveniles who had been convicted or given a custodial sentence before they joined the Programme.

The Troubled Families Programme has received new investment to extend the Programme for an additional year. The additional government funding of £165m will enable the current Programme to continue until the end of 2020-21.

The refreshed Financial Framework for 2020/21 was published on 14 May 2020 and sets out the expanded eligibility criteria and an explanation of the way in which local authorities should identify and support families using a range of indicators.

‘Improving families’ lives: Fourth annual report of the Troubled Families Programme 2019-2020 is accompanied by a range of publications that evaluate the Programme’s progress which can be accessed at Gov.uk.

These are:

Analysis of national and local data sets: part five

Staff Surveys - Troubled Families Coordinators: part four

Staff Surveys - Troubled Families Keyworkers: part four

Staff Surveys - Troubled Families Employment Advisors: part four

Case Study Research: part four

Family Survey additional analysis

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS257
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 03 June 2020
Made by: Lord Greenhalgh (Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities)
Lords

Troubled Families Annual Report

My Hon. Friend, the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing (Luke Hall) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

As required by the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, section 3(1), today my Department has published the fourth annual report, setting out how the Troubled Families Programme (2015-2020) has been supporting our most disadvantaged families who face multiple and complex problems. We are laying this report today and will place a copy in the House of Commons library. There has been a slight delay to the publication of the report, due on 31 March, as my Department focused on the emergency response to the Covid 19 pandemic.

The Troubled Families Programme has been at the heart of our ambition to strengthen families and improve their futures since 2015. This year’s Annual Report details the Programme’s performance for the period up to the end of March 2020, outlines the changes introduced for the 20/21 financial year to allow more families to be eligible for support, and clarifies how their progress towards outcomes will be measured. The report was drafted before the Covid 19 pandemic so does not reflect the ongoing response from local government to support families during this unprecedented time.

Improving families’ lives: Fourth annual report of the Troubled Families Programme 2019-2020 details how the Programme is driving a profound shift in the way that local services respond to entrenched problems and support our most disadvantaged families. Assigning a single key worker to each family, backed by multi-agency partners and coordinated data, this joined up ‘wrap-around' support works with whole families to tackle the range of issues they face.

Over the lifetime of the Programme, local authorities have supported 350,105 families to achieve successful outcomes, including 30,000 adults who were helped into sustained employment, although the Programme has worked with many more families. These families faced multiple and complex problems including a combination of crime, truancy, neglect, anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse, poor mental health, worklessness and financial exclusion. Every successful family outcome represents a family’s life changed for the better – a considerable achievement for the families and the local authorities supporting them.

Analysis to track family outcomes over time, and case study research, indicates that the Programme delivered successful outcomes by intervening early to prevent escalation to Children’s Social Care. Analysis found that for every £1 spent on the Programme it delivers £2.28 of economic benefits (includes economic, social and fiscal benefits) and £1.51 of fiscal benefits (only budgetary impacts on services).

Analysis also suggests that the Programme is reducing the probability of future interaction with the criminal justice system, and the severity of offending, for adults and juveniles who had been convicted or given a custodial sentence before they joined the Programme.

The Troubled Families Programme has received new investment to extend the Programme for an additional year. The additional government funding of £165m will enable the current Programme to continue until the end of 2020-21.

The refreshed Financial Framework for 2020/21 was published on 14 May 2020 and sets out the expanded eligibility criteria and an explanation of the way in which local authorities should identify and support families using a range of indicators.

‘Improving families’ lives: Fourth annual report of the Troubled Families Programme 2019-2020 is accompanied by a range of publications that evaluate the Programme’s progress which can be accessed at Gov.uk.

These are:

Analysis of national and local data sets: part five

Staff Surveys - Troubled Families Coordinators: part four

Staff Surveys - Troubled Families Keyworkers: part four

Staff Surveys - Troubled Families Employment Advisors: part four

Case Study Research: part four

Family Survey additional analysis

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS261
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 02 June 2020
Made by: Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Grenfell Update

On 30 October 2019 Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, which focused on how the fire started and spread and the emergency response, concluded with the publication of the Phase 1 report. In January 2020 the Government reaffirmed the acceptance, first given on the day of publication, to accept in principle, all the recommendations that Sir Martin Moore-Bick made for central government in that report.

Six months on from the publication of the Government’s response to the Phase 1 report, I would like to update Parliament on the Government’s progress at turning our commitments into real and lasting change to building and fire safety.

The Grenfell fire was an unimaginable tragedy that must never be allowed to happen again. Even in these unprecedented times, the Government’s commitment to implementing the Inquiry’s recommendations, as a priority, remains unchanged. As does the Government’s commitment to ensuring those most affected, the bereaved and survivors – who have displayed such remarkable courage, resilience and dignity – continue to be engaged in discussions about policy development.

Ban on the use of combustible materials

The Inquiry’s report was clear that the use of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) rainscreen cladding and combustible insulation on the exterior of the Tower was the defining factor in the rapid spread of the fire. The Government introduced regulations in December 2018 that banned the use of combustible materials in and on the external walls of specific types of new high-rise buildings. A public consultation was held between January and May 2020, to further explore and refine the scope of that ban – including a proposal to ban the use of ACM with unmodified polyethylene core and similar materials on all buildings in England. We are analysing feedback and will be publishing a response in due course.

Remediation

Since the Grenfell Tower fire, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Home Office (HO) have identified over 450 buildings with unsafe ACM cladding, and we have worked with local authorities and fire and rescue authorities to ensure that appropriate interim safety measures are in place, while these buildings undergo remediation.

In March this year the Government announced that it will provide £1 billion to fund the removal and replacement of unsafe non-ACM cladding systems. This is in addition to the £600 million which Government has made available for remediation of the highest risk ACM cladding. The prospectus for this fund was launched last month and sets out the buildings and non-ACM cladding systems that are eligible for funding and registration is now open for potential applicants, in advance of the full application process opening by the end of July 2020. More information on the Fund Prospectus can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remediation-of-non-acm-buildings#prospectus---outlining-eligibility-for-the-fund.

This fund will meet the cost of remediating unsafe non-ACM cladding systems where building owners (or other entities legally responsible for making buildings safe) are unable to do so. Government are also providing additional, specialist project management capability to building owners or managing agents to speed up the development and implementation of building plans.

The Fire Protection Board

The Government has also established a Fire Protection Board, chaired by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), to provide greater assurance to central government of Fire and Rescue Service protection activity. The Board is leading a Building Risk Review Programme, supported by government funding to ensure that all high-rise residential buildings of 18m or above are inspected or reviewed by the end of 2021. We are also using a proportion of the additional £20m secured for fire and rescue services in the recent Budget to further support an uplift in protection capability.

Stay Put

At the end of last year, a joint HO and MHCLG steering group was set up to support a technical review of stay put. There are three strands to this work: an evidence review, assessing academic evidence on methods of evacuation; operational research to test evacuation strategies; and building design research. The first stage of this work has been commissioned and is underway whilst preliminary work is being carried out on the other strands.

Building safety

At the heart of the Government’s radical reforms to building safety is the new Building Safety Regulator, which we are establishing within the Health and Safety Executive. The Government set out plans in our response to the ‘Building a Safer Future’ consultation for the biggest change in building safety for a generation.

The new regulator will be responsible for implementing and enforcing a more stringent regulatory regime for higher risk buildings, as well as providing wider and stronger oversight of safety and performance across all buildings and increasing the competence of those working on building safety. This work complements the establishment of a new construction products regulatory role to strengthen national oversight and effectively enforce the new regulatory regime.

The Government will soon be publishing the draft Building Safety Bill for scrutiny before it is introduced in Parliament. This Bill will put in place this new and enhanced regulatory regimes for building safety and construction products, and ensure residents have a stronger voice.

In April, the Government published a workplan detailing the next steps for the wider review of Approved Document B, following the technical review that was started in December 2018. Research will be carried out in areas such as means of escape, compartmentation and toxicity. This work will build on the changes we have published in an update to Approved Document B last month, so that sprinklers and wayfinding signage will be provided in all new blocks of flats above 11 metres. The Government is also working with the NFCC on further tests of evacuation with a view to including guidance on provision of these systems in a later update to Approved Document B.

Fire Safety Bill

The Inquiry’s Phase 1 report also called for new duties on building owners and managers to share technical information with fire and rescue services and undertake regular inspections of flat entrance doors. It is our intention to take forward these recommendations for existing buildings under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 underpinned by the changes being introduced through the Fire Safety Bill.

The Fire Safety Bill, which was introduced in March and received cross-party support, clarifies that the scope of the Fire Safety Order covers external walls (including cladding and balconies) and flat entrance doors in multi-occupied residential buildings. It provides a firm foundation upon which to bring forward secondary legislation to implement the recommendations that require further changes to the law. The Bill is a significant further step to ensure better identification and management of fire safety risks in such buildings.

It is important that the Government’s response to the Inquiry’s recommendations has the support of those with experience in these matters, and those most affected by them. To ensure their views inform our response, a public consultation will be issued soon setting out the Government’s proposed approach to the remaining recommendations that call for legislative change.

Fire and Rescue Services

Many of the recommendations within the Inquiry’s Phase 1 report were directed at non-Government organisations that are equally committed to the reforms. The report was clear that the London Fire Brigade (LFB) must learn and change to restore public confidence. Our request for regular progress reports from the LFB setting out how they are translating the recommendations into action are a key part of retaining focus and momentum on the need for change.

There remains much to do, but the HO is already seeing a commitment to revised policy and procedures backed up by the use of better equipment and technology to support high-rise fire fighting and fire fighting in London more broadly. The pandemic has created many challenges, but it has not affected the LFB’s commitment to implementing the Inquiry’s Phase 1 recommendations.

It is important that the lessons from Grenfell are learned beyond London. This is why the NFCC is working to ensure that the Phase 1 recommendations are implemented across all fire and rescue services. The HO is working closely with the NFCC on an improvement plan to help it drive real change across the sector.

In the three years since the Grenfell Tower fire, the Government has remained steadfast in its commitment to driving forward both cultural and legislative change so that no such tragedy can ever be allowed to happen again. Through implementation of the reforms highlighted in this statement, and wider work of Government and our stakeholders, we will move from the conditions that allowed a tragedy like the fire at Grenfell Tower to occur almost three years ago, to a system which ensures developers and building owners demonstrate greater responsibility for the safety of residents and which allows local authorities and fire and rescue authorities to enforce this. The Government is firmly committed to ensuring all residents are safe in their homes, now and in the future.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS253
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 02 June 2020
Made by: Lord Greenhalgh (Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities)
Lords

Grenfell Update

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

On 30 October 2019 Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, which focused on how the fire started and spread and the emergency response, concluded with the publication of the Phase 1 report. In January 2020 the Government reaffirmed the acceptance, first given on the day of publication, to accept in principle, all the recommendations that Sir Martin Moore-Bick made for central government in that report.

Six months on from the publication of the Government’s response to the Phase 1 report, I would like to update Parliament on the Government’s progress at turning our commitments into real and lasting change to building and fire safety.

The Grenfell fire was an unimaginable tragedy that must never be allowed to happen again. Even in these unprecedented times, the Government’s commitment to implementing the Inquiry’s recommendations, as a priority, remains unchanged. As does the Government’s commitment to ensuring those most affected, the bereaved and survivors – who have displayed such remarkable courage, resilience and dignity – continue to be engaged in discussions about policy development.

Ban on the use of combustible materials

The Inquiry’s report was clear that the use of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) rainscreen cladding and combustible insulation on the exterior of the Tower was the defining factor in the rapid spread of the fire. The Government introduced regulations in December 2018 that banned the use of combustible materials in and on the external walls of specific types of new high-rise buildings. A public consultation was held between January and May 2020, to further explore and refine the scope of that ban – including a proposal to ban the use of ACM with unmodified polyethylene core and similar materials on all buildings in England. We are analysing feedback and will be publishing a response in due course.

Remediation

Since the Grenfell Tower fire, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Home Office (HO) have identified over 450 buildings with unsafe ACM cladding, and we have worked with local authorities and fire and rescue authorities to ensure that appropriate interim safety measures are in place, while these buildings undergo remediation.

In March this year the Government announced that it will provide £1 billion to fund the removal and replacement of unsafe non-ACM cladding systems. This is in addition to the £600 million which Government has made available for remediation of the highest risk ACM cladding. The prospectus for this fund was launched last month and sets out the buildings and non-ACM cladding systems that are eligible for funding and registration is now open for potential applicants, in advance of the full application process opening by the end of July 2020. More information on the Fund Prospectus can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remediation-of-non-acm-buildings#prospectus---outlining-eligibility-for-the-fund.

This fund will meet the cost of remediating unsafe non-ACM cladding systems where building owners (or other entities legally responsible for making buildings safe) are unable to do so. Government are also providing additional, specialist project management capability to building owners or managing agents to speed up the development and implementation of building plans.

The Fire Protection Board

The Government has also established a Fire Protection Board, chaired by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), to provide greater assurance to central government of Fire and Rescue Service protection activity. The Board is leading a Building Risk Review Programme, supported by government funding to ensure that all high-rise residential buildings of 18m or above are inspected or reviewed by the end of 2021. We are also using a proportion of the additional £20m secured for fire and rescue services in the recent Budget to further support an uplift in protection capability.

Stay Put

At the end of last year, a joint HO and MHCLG steering group was set up to support a technical review of stay put. There are three strands to this work: an evidence review, assessing academic evidence on methods of evacuation; operational research to test evacuation strategies; and building design research. The first stage of this work has been commissioned and is underway whilst preliminary work is being carried out on the other strands.

Building safety

At the heart of the Government’s radical reforms to building safety is the new Building Safety Regulator, which we are establishing within the Health and Safety Executive. The Government set out plans in our response to the ‘Building a Safer Future’ consultation for the biggest change in building safety for a generation.

The new regulator will be responsible for implementing and enforcing a more stringent regulatory regime for higher risk buildings, as well as providing wider and stronger oversight of safety and performance across all buildings and increasing the competence of those working on building safety. This work complements the establishment of a new construction products regulatory role to strengthen national oversight and effectively enforce the new regulatory regime.

The Government will soon be publishing the draft Building Safety Bill for scrutiny before it is introduced in Parliament. This Bill will put in place this new and enhanced regulatory regimes for building safety and construction products, and ensure residents have a stronger voice.

In April, the Government published a workplan detailing the next steps for the wider review of Approved Document B, following the technical review that was started in December 2018. Research will be carried out in areas such as means of escape, compartmentation and toxicity. This work will build on the changes we have published in an update to Approved Document B last month, so that sprinklers and wayfinding signage will be provided in all new blocks of flats above 11 metres. The Government is also working with the NFCC on further tests of evacuation with a view to including guidance on provision of these systems in a later update to Approved Document B.

Fire Safety Bill

The Inquiry’s Phase 1 report also called for new duties on building owners and managers to share technical information with fire and rescue services and undertake regular inspections of flat entrance doors. It is our intention to take forward these recommendations for existing buildings under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 underpinned by the changes being introduced through the Fire Safety Bill.

The Fire Safety Bill, which was introduced in March and received cross-party support, clarifies that the scope of the Fire Safety Order covers external walls (including cladding and balconies) and flat entrance doors in multi-occupied residential buildings. It provides a firm foundation upon which to bring forward secondary legislation to implement the recommendations that require further changes to the law. The Bill is a significant further step to ensure better identification and management of fire safety risks in such buildings.

It is important that the Government’s response to the Inquiry’s recommendations has the support of those with experience in these matters, and those most affected by them. To ensure their views inform our response, a public consultation will be issued soon setting out the Government’s proposed approach to the remaining recommendations that call for legislative change.

Fire and Rescue Services

Many of the recommendations within the Inquiry’s Phase 1 report were directed at non-Government organisations that are equally committed to the reforms. The report was clear that the London Fire Brigade (LFB) must learn and change to restore public confidence. Our request for regular progress reports from the LFB setting out how they are translating the recommendations into action are a key part of retaining focus and momentum on the need for change.

There remains much to do, but the HO is already seeing a commitment to revised policy and procedures backed up by the use of better equipment and technology to support high-rise fire fighting and fire fighting in London more broadly. The pandemic has created many challenges, but it has not affected the LFB’s commitment to implementing the Inquiry’s Phase 1 recommendations.

It is important that the lessons from Grenfell are learned beyond London. This is why the NFCC is working to ensure that the Phase 1 recommendations are implemented across all fire and rescue services. The HO is working closely with the NFCC on an improvement plan to help it drive real change across the sector.

In the three years since the Grenfell Tower fire, the Government has remained steadfast in its commitment to driving forward both cultural and legislative change so that no such tragedy can ever be allowed to happen again. Through implementation of the reforms highlighted in this statement, and wider work of Government and our stakeholders, we will move from the conditions that allowed a tragedy like the fire at Grenfell Tower to occur almost three years ago, to a system which ensures developers and building owners demonstrate greater responsibility for the safety of residents and which allows local authorities and fire and rescue authorities to enforce this. The Government is firmly committed to ensuring all residents are safe in their homes, now and in the future.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS257
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 19 May 2020
Made by: Lord Greenhalgh (Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities)
Lords

Energy Performance of Buildings: A consultation on changes to The Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations 2012, No. 3118

My Rt. Hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Housing (Christhoper Pincher) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

I wish to update the House on the publication of a consultation on changes to the Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 (SI2012/3118).

The United Kingdom has set in law a target to bring its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 to help tackle climate change. Heating and powering buildings currently accounts for 40% of the UK’s total energy usage. We must ensure that buildings are constructed to high standards of energy efficiency and that the regime for regulating the energy performance of buildings is robust.

This consultation seeks views on proposals to amend existing requirements for inspecting heating and air conditioning systems in order to improve the regime and contribute to carbon emission reductions and energy efficiency savings. The new requirements aim to strengthen the effectiveness of the regime by increasing the threshold for inspection to focus on larger systems. It further aims to improve the regime’s impact by broadening the scope of inspection to include combined heating and ventilation systems and combined air conditioning and ventilation systems.

The Government proposes to retain its domestic arrangements (i.e. take the option of Alternative Measures). This means continuing to provide consumers with the advice necessary to make informed decisions on the energy efficiency of their heating systems and widening the scope to include combined heating and ventilation systems. The United Kingdom boiler market is the biggest in the world and has some of the most experienced manufacturers and installers. The United Kingdom’s equivalence reports, which are required to demonstrate that the domestic policy achieves the aims intended by the changes to the regulations, have demonstrated that the carbon savings attributable to the UK’s Alternative Measures were greater than those that would have been achieved through inspection. One of the key elements of the domestic regime is Boiler Plus whose standards are expected to help reduce carbon emissions by up to 2 MtCO2e[1] in Carbon Budget 4 (2023-2027)[2] and 3.2 MtCO2e in Carbon Budget 5 (2028-2032)[3], whilst enabling consumers to heat homes at a lower cost.

The consultation also proposes to amend the inspection regime for air conditioning systems increasing the threshold and widening the scope to include combined air conditioning and ventilation systems, bringing with it the benefits of a stronger regime set out above.

These measures are only part of our journey towards a cleaner, greener built environment. The Government is determined that we will be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it and improving the energy performance of our buildings will be a key factor in tackling climate change, achieving clean growth and safeguarding our planet for the future.

This Written Ministerial Statement covers England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in relation to the inspection of heating systems. It covers England and Wales in respect of the proposed changes to air conditioning inspections. The devolved administrations are considering similar changes.

The consultation document can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/energy-performance-of-buildings-changes-to-the-energy-performance-of-buildings-regulations-2012-no-3118

I am depositing a copy of the consultation in libraries of both the House of Commons and House of Lords.

[1] A metric measure used to compare the emissions from different greenhouse gases based upon their global warming potential (GWP).

[2] 4th carbon budget (2023 to 2027) 1,950 MtCO2e

[3] 5th carbon budget (2028 to 2032)1,725 MtCO2e

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS243
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 19 May 2020
Made by: Christopher Pincher (Minister of State for Housing )
Commons

Energy Performance of Buildings: A consultation on changes to The Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations 2012, No. 3118

I wish to update the House on the publication of a consultation on changes to the Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 (SI2012/3118).

The United Kingdom has set in law a target to bring its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 to help tackle climate change. Heating and powering buildings currently accounts for 40% of the UK’s total energy usage. We must ensure that buildings are constructed to high standards of energy efficiency and that the regime for regulating the energy performance of buildings is robust.

This consultation seeks views on proposals to amend existing requirements for inspecting heating and air conditioning systems in order to improve the regime and contribute to carbon emission reductions and energy efficiency savings. The new requirements aim to strengthen the effectiveness of the regime by increasing the threshold for inspection to focus on larger systems. It further aims to improve the regime’s impact by broadening the scope of inspection to include combined heating and ventilation systems and combined air conditioning and ventilation systems.

The Government proposes to retain its domestic arrangements (i.e. take the option of Alternative Measures). This means continuing to provide consumers with the advice necessary to make informed decisions on the energy efficiency of their heating systems and widening the scope to include combined heating and ventilation systems. The United Kingdom boiler market is the biggest in the world and has some of the most experienced manufacturers and installers. The United Kingdom’s equivalence reports, which are required to demonstrate that the domestic policy achieves the aims intended by the changes to the regulations, have demonstrated that the carbon savings attributable to the UK’s Alternative Measures were greater than those that would have been achieved through inspection. One of the key elements of the domestic regime is Boiler Plus whose standards are expected to help reduce carbon emissions by up to 2 MtCO2e[1] in Carbon Budget 4 (2023-2027)[2] and 3.2 MtCO2e in Carbon Budget 5 (2028-2032)[3], whilst enabling consumers to heat homes at a lower cost.

The consultation also proposes to amend the inspection regime for air conditioning systems increasing the threshold and widening the scope to include combined air conditioning and ventilation systems, bringing with it the benefits of a stronger regime set out above.

These measures are only part of our journey towards a cleaner, greener built environment. The Government is determined that we will be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it and improving the energy performance of our buildings will be a key factor in tackling climate change, achieving clean growth and safeguarding our planet for the future.

This Written Ministerial Statement covers England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in relation to the inspection of heating systems. It covers England and Wales in respect of the proposed changes to air conditioning inspections. The devolved administrations are considering similar changes.

The consultation document can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/energy-performance-of-buildings-changes-to-the-energy-performance-of-buildings-regulations-2012-no-3118

I am depositing a copy of the consultation in libraries of both the House of Commons and House of Lords.

[1] A metric measure used to compare the emissions from different greenhouse gases based upon their global warming potential (GWP).

[2] 4th carbon budget (2023 to 2027) 1,950 MtCO2e

[3] 5th carbon budget (2028 to 2032)1,725 MtCO2e

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS240
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 18 May 2020
Made by: Mr Simon Clarke (Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government)
Commons

Contingencies Fund Advance

I hereby give notice of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s intention to seek an advance from the Contingencies Fund. The Department requires an advance of its cash requirement pending parliamentary approval of the Main Estimate 2020-21.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £1,415,000,000 will be sought in a Main Estimate for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £1,415,000,000 has been met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS236
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 18 May 2020
Made by: Lord Greenhalgh (Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities)
Lords

Contingencies Fund Advance

My Hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government (Simon Clarke) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

I hereby give notice of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s intention to seek an advance from the Contingencies Fund. The Department requires an advance of its cash requirement pending parliamentary approval of the Main Estimate 2020-21.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £1,415,000,000 will be sought in a Main Estimate for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £1,415,000,000 has been met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS239
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 13 May 2020
Made by: Lord Greenhalgh (Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities)
Lords

Planning update

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

Virtual working and planning – Responding to Covid – 19 Restrictions

Introduction

The planning system has a vital role to play in enabling the delivery of housing and economic growth that will support the UK’s economic recovery. It is important that the system continues to operate effectively, ensuring that all those involved, including local authorities, the Planning Inspectorate, developers, statutory consultees, local communities and others can engage in the process while adhering to the Government’s guidance on social distancing.

This Statement sets out the Government’s expectations for how the planning system should be operating during the COVID-19 emergency. It applies to applications and appeals under the Town and Country Planning Act; Development Consent Orders under the Planning Act 2008; the Compulsory Purchase Order regime and to development plans, including neighbourhood plans and spatial development strategies.

The role of digital

Local planning authorities and the Planning Inspectorate drive the planning process forward and should ensure that it continues to operate effectively to support economic recovery. Moving to digital events and processes will be critical. This means adapting to working virtually, including virtual hearings and events (such as using video-conferencing and/or telephone) and making documents available for inspection online. The Government expects everyone involved in the planning process to engage proactively.

The Government considers that the current legislative framework allows for virtual hearings. It is confident that processes can be put in place in the vast majority of cases to allow for the participation of all parties. The Government recognises that the method by which hearings and events are conducted is a matter for the Inspectorate, operating in accordance with their legal obligations, and it expects these arrangements to be made as the default method of operation in the vast majority of cases. The Government recognises that in exceptional circumstances it may not be fair to proceed virtually and that alternative arrangements may be needed. These alternative arrangements should be taken forward speedily, where possible, taking into account the Government’s guidance on social distancing.

The Government expects opportunities for virtual hearings and processes to be maximised. It will draw from current and emerging practice to inform policy and process in the longer term.

Virtual events

The Government fully supports the Planning Inspectorate’s programme for moving to digital inquiries, hearings, meetings and other events. Digital events present opportunities to increase participation in planning processes which are important for local communities and will minimise the impacts of delays to planning decisions which might otherwise occur due to the requirements for social distancing.

The Inspectorate conducted the first digital hearing event on 11 May and will be quickly scaling up in relation to further virtual events during May and early June where this is consistent with fair participation. In doing so it will accommodate essential legal and procedural requirements. The Government expects events to be taking place virtually by mid-June, other than in exceptional circumstances.

The Government expects Inspectors and Examining Authorities to take decisions about whether and how virtual events should proceed and to consider the practical measures needed to ensure fair participation.

The Courts have led in demonstrating the successful use of technology to continue their work. Recognising that the use of technology to support virtual planning events may be challenging, the Government expects that appropriate measures are put in place by the Inspectorate to test the technology and ensure that it enables fair participation. It also expects the Inspectorate to identity those more exceptional circumstances where a virtual event may not be appropriate, making decisions about how to proceed based on the facts of each particular case.

Digital documentation

The effects of COVID-19 mean that it is not always possible to access public buildings. As a result, access to planning documents by making them physically available for inspection at local libraries, council offices etc, is now not available. During these exceptional circumstances, the Government considers that online inspection of documents should be the default position across all planning regimes, and it is actively exploring all options to achieve this.

The Government recognises there are sections of the community with limited or no access to the internet and authorities and developers should take reasonable steps to ensure those without access are involved and consider alternative and creative ways to achieve this where possible. This could for example, include sending out documents by CD or USB stick where this meets the needs of those requesting such documents.

As restrictions are eased, planning authorities and others should integrate the range of methods that are available to them into their approaches to ensure all sections of the community are reached as thoroughly as is practically possible.

Site Visits

Site visits, whether conducted by local authorities, planning inspectors or statutory consultees, are an important part of the process of considering development proposals and plans. Where site visits are required or necessary, they should be undertaken in line with the Government’s guidance on social distancing and safety requirements. .

The Planning Inspectorate will be restarting site visits from mid-May. The Government supports the Inspectorate’s determination to facilitate site visits. It will expect Inspectors to use their judgement in deciding if a site visit is necessary or whether alternative approaches are acceptable, taking account of the particular circumstances.

Publicity and community engagement

The Government will introduce from tomorrow temporary regulations to supplement the existing statutory publicity arrangements for planning applications, listed building consent applications and environmental statements for EIA development.

Local planning authorities (and applicants of EIA development under the TCPA) now have the flexibility to take other reasonable steps to publicise applications if they cannot discharge the specific requirements for site notices, neighbour notifications or newspaper publicity. These steps will notify people who are likely to have an interest in the application and indicate where further information about it can be viewed online. These steps can include the use of social media and other electronic communications and must be proportionate to the scale and nature of the proposed development.

Guidance to accompany these regulations will also be published to highlight what alternative publicity local planning authorities could undertake. In particular, if local newspapers are not circulating in their area, authorities should seek to use local online news portals in the first instance.

In relation to development plans, the Government has issued additional planning guidance on reviewing and updating Statements of Community Involvement and Neighbourhood Planning to support authorities and neighbourhood planning groups in engaging with their communities on their plans at this time

Guidance and Advice

The Planning Inspectorate has published and regularly updates guidance on its work during the COVID-19 social distancing measures, which can be viewed here (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-planning-inspectorate-guidance).

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS235
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 13 May 2020
Made by: Lord Greenhalgh (Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities)
Lords

Construction update

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

Our Plan to Rebuild: the UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy published by the Government on Monday 11 May makes clear that construction work can be undertaken across England providing sites are able to operate safely in line with the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines. A number of developers have already announced plans to restart work on sites.

In doing so, the Government recognises that the construction industry needs to be able to adapt its normal practices. As part of this, temporary extensions to working hours may be required on some sites to facilitate safe working and allow tasks to be completed where social distancing can be challenging. Longer working hours may also be needed to facilitate social distancing in the wider community, for instance by reducing pressure on public transport. It might be necessary to start work earlier in the day or work until later in the evenings.

However, many construction sites in England are subject to controls which restrict their hours of operation. These controls include planning conditions, which might directly restrict working hours or which might restrict working hours through a construction management plan. These conditions may be necessary, for example, to make the development acceptable to local residents and businesses who might otherwise suffer from traffic, noise and other local amenity issues.

The purpose of this Written Ministerial Statement is to make clear that, with immediate effect, local planning authorities should take a swift and positive approach to requests from developers and site operators for greater flexibility around construction site working hours. This is to ensure that, where appropriate, planning conditions are not a barrier to allowing developers the flexibility necessary to facilitate the safe operation of construction sites during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to proceed at pace with work otherwise delayed as a result of COVID-19.

The National Planning Policy Framework already emphasises that planning enforcement is a discretionary activity and local planning authorities should act proportionately in responding to suspected breaches of planning control.

Where only a short term or modest increase to working hours is required, local planning authorities should, having regard to the reason for the condition and to their legal obligations, not seek to undertake enforcement action.

Where developers require longer term or more significant changes to working hours, they should apply to the local planning authority to temporarily amend a condition or a construction management plan in the usual way. In doing so, it will be important for applicants to consider potential impacts and, where necessary, to put forward brief plans to manage concerns, drawing on existing good practice. In return, local planning authorities should respond speedily and sympathetically and engage positively with applicants to find solutions. Local authorities should prioritise these types of applications and give early clarity on the acceptability of extended hours to developers. They should ensure that decisions are issued quickly – with the aim of doing so within 10 working days.

In allowing greater flexibility, the Government recognises the need to mitigate the impact that any temporary relaxation of working hours could have on local residents and businesses. Requests to extend working hours should be proportionate and should not involve working on Sundays or bank holidays.

However, local authorities should not refuse requests to extend working hours until 9pm, Monday to Saturday without very compelling reasons for rejection. In some cases, such as in areas without residential properties, extending working hours beyond this, including allowing 24 hour working where appropriate, may be justified. In all cases, sympathetic site management should be demonstrated to mitigate local impacts and local authorities should show best endeavours to facilitate such requests.

Applications should only be refused where there are very compelling reasons such as significant impact on neighbouring businesses or uses which are particularly sensitive to noise, dust or vibration, which cannot be overcome through other mitigation, or where impacts on densely populated areas would be unreasonable.

Any temporary changes to construction working hours conditions granted by local planning authorities should not extend beyond 13 May 2021.

This Statement covers England only. The need for the Statement will be reviewed when the requirement for social distancing on construction sites diminishes.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS234
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 13 May 2020
Made by: Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Planning update

Virtual working and planning – Responding to Covid – 19 Restrictions

Introduction

The planning system has a vital role to play in enabling the delivery of housing and economic growth that will support the UK’s economic recovery. It is important that the system continues to operate effectively, ensuring that all those involved, including local authorities, the Planning Inspectorate, developers, statutory consultees, local communities and others can engage in the process while adhering to the Government’s guidance on social distancing.

This Statement sets out the Government’s expectations for how the planning system should be operating during the COVID-19 emergency. It applies to applications and appeals under the Town and Country Planning Act; Development Consent Orders under the Planning Act 2008; the Compulsory Purchase Order regime and to development plans, including neighbourhood plans and spatial development strategies.

The role of digital

Local planning authorities and the Planning Inspectorate drive the planning process forward and should ensure that it continues to operate effectively to support economic recovery. Moving to digital events and processes will be critical. This means adapting to working virtually, including virtual hearings and events (such as using video-conferencing and/or telephone) and making documents available for inspection online. The Government expects everyone involved in the planning process to engage proactively.

The Government considers that the current legislative framework allows for virtual hearings. It is confident that processes can be put in place in the vast majority of cases to allow for the participation of all parties. The Government recognises that the method by which hearings and events are conducted is a matter for the Inspectorate, operating in accordance with their legal obligations, and it expects these arrangements to be made as the default method of operation in the vast majority of cases. The Government recognises that in exceptional circumstances it may not be fair to proceed virtually and that alternative arrangements may be needed. These alternative arrangements should be taken forward speedily, where possible, taking into account the Government’s guidance on social distancing.

The Government expects opportunities for virtual hearings and processes to be maximised. It will draw from current and emerging practice to inform policy and process in the longer term.

Virtual events

The Government fully supports the Planning Inspectorate’s programme for moving to digital inquiries, hearings, meetings and other events. Digital events present opportunities to increase participation in planning processes which are important for local communities and will minimise the impacts of delays to planning decisions which might otherwise occur due to the requirements for social distancing.

The Inspectorate conducted the first digital hearing event on 11 May and will be quickly scaling up in relation to further virtual events during May and early June where this is consistent with fair participation. In doing so it will accommodate essential legal and procedural requirements. The Government expects events to be taking place virtually by mid-June, other than in exceptional circumstances.

The Government expects Inspectors and Examining Authorities to take decisions about whether and how virtual events should proceed and to consider the practical measures needed to ensure fair participation.

The Courts have led in demonstrating the successful use of technology to continue their work. Recognising that the use of technology to support virtual planning events may be challenging, the Government expects that appropriate measures are put in place by the Inspectorate to test the technology and ensure that it enables fair participation. It also expects the Inspectorate to identity those more exceptional circumstances where a virtual event may not be appropriate, making decisions about how to proceed based on the facts of each particular case.

Digital documentation

The effects of COVID-19 mean that it is not always possible to access public buildings. As a result, access to planning documents by making them physically available for inspection at local libraries, council offices etc, is now not available. During these exceptional circumstances, the Government considers that online inspection of documents should be the default position across all planning regimes, and it is actively exploring all options to achieve this.

The Government recognises there are sections of the community with limited or no access to the internet and authorities and developers should take reasonable steps to ensure those without access are involved and consider alternative and creative ways to achieve this where possible. This could for example, include sending out documents by CD or USB stick where this meets the needs of those requesting such documents.

As restrictions are eased, planning authorities and others should integrate the range of methods that are available to them into their approaches to ensure all sections of the community are reached as thoroughly as is practically possible.

Site Visits

Site visits, whether conducted by local authorities, planning inspectors or statutory consultees, are an important part of the process of considering development proposals and plans. Where site visits are required or necessary, they should be undertaken in line with the Government’s guidance on social distancing and safety requirements. .

The Planning Inspectorate will be restarting site visits from mid-May. The Government supports the Inspectorate’s determination to facilitate site visits. It will expect Inspectors to use their judgement in deciding if a site visit is necessary or whether alternative approaches are acceptable, taking account of the particular circumstances.

Publicity and community engagement

The Government will introduce from tomorrow temporary regulations to supplement the existing statutory publicity arrangements for planning applications, listed building consent applications and environmental statements for EIA development.

Local planning authorities (and applicants of EIA development under the TCPA) now have the flexibility to take other reasonable steps to publicise applications if they cannot discharge the specific requirements for site notices, neighbour notifications or newspaper publicity. These steps will notify people who are likely to have an interest in the application and indicate where further information about it can be viewed online. These steps can include the use of social media and other electronic communications and must be proportionate to the scale and nature of the proposed development.

Guidance to accompany these regulations will also be published to highlight what alternative publicity local planning authorities could undertake. In particular, if local newspapers are not circulating in their area, authorities should seek to use local online news portals in the first instance.

In relation to development plans, the Government has issued additional planning guidance on reviewing and updating Statements of Community Involvement and Neighbourhood Planning to support authorities and neighbourhood planning groups in engaging with their communities on their plans at this time

Guidance and Advice

The Planning Inspectorate has published and regularly updates guidance on its work during the COVID-19 social distancing measures, which can be viewed here (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-planning-inspectorate-guidance).

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS231
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 13 May 2020
Made by: Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Construction update

Our Plan to Rebuild: the UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy published by the Government on Monday 11 May makes clear that construction work can be undertaken across England providing sites are able to operate safely in line with the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines. A number of developers have already announced plans to restart work on sites.

In doing so, the Government recognises that the construction industry needs to be able to adapt its normal practices. As part of this, temporary extensions to working hours may be required on some sites to facilitate safe working and allow tasks to be completed where social distancing can be challenging. Longer working hours may also be needed to facilitate social distancing in the wider community, for instance by reducing pressure on public transport. It might be necessary to start work earlier in the day or work until later in the evenings.

However, many construction sites in England are subject to controls which restrict their hours of operation. These controls include planning conditions, which might directly restrict working hours or which might restrict working hours through a construction management plan. These conditions may be necessary, for example, to make the development acceptable to local residents and businesses who might otherwise suffer from traffic, noise and other local amenity issues.

The purpose of this Written Ministerial Statement is to make clear that, with immediate effect, local planning authorities should take a swift and positive approach to requests from developers and site operators for greater flexibility around construction site working hours. This is to ensure that, where appropriate, planning conditions are not a barrier to allowing developers the flexibility necessary to facilitate the safe operation of construction sites during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to proceed at pace with work otherwise delayed as a result of COVID-19.

The National Planning Policy Framework already emphasises that planning enforcement is a discretionary activity and local planning authorities should act proportionately in responding to suspected breaches of planning control.

Where only a short term or modest increase to working hours is required, local planning authorities should, having regard to the reason for the condition and to their legal obligations, not seek to undertake enforcement action.

Where developers require longer term or more significant changes to working hours, they should apply to the local planning authority to temporarily amend a condition or a construction management plan in the usual way. In doing so, it will be important for applicants to consider potential impacts and, where necessary, to put forward brief plans to manage concerns, drawing on existing good practice. In return, local planning authorities should respond speedily and sympathetically and engage positively with applicants to find solutions. Local authorities should prioritise these types of applications and give early clarity on the acceptability of extended hours to developers. They should ensure that decisions are issued quickly – with the aim of doing so within 10 working days.

In allowing greater flexibility, the Government recognises the need to mitigate the impact that any temporary relaxation of working hours could have on local residents and businesses. Requests to extend working hours should be proportionate and should not involve working on Sundays or bank holidays.

However, local authorities should not refuse requests to extend working hours until 9pm, Monday to Saturday without very compelling reasons for rejection. In some cases, such as in areas without residential properties, extending working hours beyond this, including allowing 24 hour working where appropriate, may be justified. In all cases, sympathetic site management should be demonstrated to mitigate local impacts and local authorities should show best endeavours to facilitate such requests.

Applications should only be refused where there are very compelling reasons such as significant impact on neighbouring businesses or uses which are particularly sensitive to noise, dust or vibration, which cannot be overcome through other mitigation, or where impacts on densely populated areas would be unreasonable.

Any temporary changes to construction working hours conditions granted by local planning authorities should not extend beyond 13 May 2021.

This Statement covers England only. The need for the Statement will be reviewed when the requirement for social distancing on construction sites diminishes.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS230
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 29 April 2020
Made by: Lord Greenhalgh (Minister of State for Building Safety and Communities)
Lords

Local Government Finance update

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

I wish to set out to the House the financial support my department has provided to local government so that it can fulfil its essential role in the national response to covid-19.

Additional Funding

In total I have announced over £3.2 billion of additional funding for councils to support their continued efforts to address the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic in their communities, both through increased expenditure and those budgetary pressures that arise from falls in income during the lockdown period.

Recognising that councils are best placed to decide how to meet pressures in their local area, this funding has not been ringfenced; however, we expect councils to prioritise spending in those areas where we asked them to carry out extra work and new tasks, in particular, in relation to adult social care, children’s services, public health services, shielding the vulnerable, homelessness and rough sleeping, supporting the NHS, and managing excess deaths.

An initial £1.6 billion of funding was announced on 19 March, and allocated based on a mixture of the Adult Social Care Relative Needs Formula; and the 2013-14 Settlement Funding Assessment, which is a measure of general service needs – both of which are familiar formulations to local councils. Further details of this allocation, broken down by individual local authority, can be found on the government website.

On 18 April I announced a further £1.6 billion to support councils in their continued response to the pandemic. Full details of the allocation of this further funding were announced on 28 April 2020 and have, once again, been made available on the Government website. These additional allocations have been made on a per capita basis, using the latest ONS population projections. This reflects that this is a national emergency and there are a range of pressures across local government. For two-tier areas, the split of this funding between county and district authorities will be 65:35. This provides significantly more funding to district councils than the first round of allocations reflecting the impact that a reduction in incomes from sales, fees and charges has had, particularly on these councils. However, this formulation also continues to reflect the acute pressures on social care.

Of the additional funding, £28.5 million will support standalone fire and rescue authorities (including Greater Manchester Fire). In addition, the Home Office will launch a £6 million Fire Covid-19 Contingency Fund specifically to support fire and rescue authorities who incur significant costs as a result of additional duties during the covid-19 outbreak.

Cashflow Support

On 16 April, I announced measures to provide cashflow support to authorities. These were intended in part to mitigate the impact of temporary delays in tax payments. These measures include deferring the payment of the central government share of business rates by councils: payments collectively worth £2.6 billion; and, bringing forward central government payments of social care grants worth £850 million, so that they are paid entirely in April rather than in April, May, and June.

Future Reform

I am committed to reforming the funding framework for local government so that it is simpler, more up to date, and more transparent. However, in order to ensure that we get these reforms right, both the Government and councils need to work together to arrive at the right approach. Neither we nor councils currently have the capacity, nor the necessary degree of financial certainty, to engage properly with these reforms now. As such, I have announced that we will be suspending implementation of the Review of Relative Needs and Resources and the planned increase to 75% business rates retention in 2021-22. These decisions will allow councils to focus on meeting the immediate public health challenge posed by the pandemic.

The Government will work closely with local councils as it determines how best to treat accumulated business rates growth and the local government finance settlement in 2021-22.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS220
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 29 April 2020
Made by: Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Local Government Finance update

I wish to set out to the House the financial support my department has provided to local government so that it can fulfil its essential role in the national response to covid-19.

Additional Funding

In total I have announced over £3.2 billion of additional funding for councils to support their continued efforts to address the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic in their communities, both through increased expenditure and those budgetary pressures that arise from falls in income during the lockdown period.

Recognising that councils are best placed to decide how to meet pressures in their local area, this funding has not been ringfenced; however, we expect councils to prioritise spending in those areas where we asked them to carry out extra work and new tasks, in particular, in relation to adult social care, children’s services, public health services, shielding the vulnerable, homelessness and rough sleeping, supporting the NHS, and managing excess deaths.

An initial £1.6 billion of funding was announced on 19 March, and allocated based on a mixture of the Adult Social Care Relative Needs Formula; and the 2013-14 Settlement Funding Assessment, which is a measure of general service needs – both of which are familiar formulations to local councils. Further details of this allocation, broken down by individual local authority, can be found on the government website.

On 18 April I announced a further £1.6 billion to support councils in their continued response to the pandemic. Full details of the allocation of this further funding were announced on 28 April 2020 and have, once again, been made available on the Government website. These additional allocations have been made on a per capita basis, using the latest ONS population projections. This reflects that this is a national emergency and there are a range of pressures across local government. For two-tier areas, the split of this funding between county and district authorities will be 65:35. This provides significantly more funding to district councils than the first round of allocations reflecting the impact that a reduction in incomes from sales, fees and charges has had, particularly on these councils. However, this formulation also continues to reflect the acute pressures on social care.

Of the additional funding, £28.5 million will support standalone fire and rescue authorities (including Greater Manchester Fire). In addition, the Home Office will launch a £6 million Fire Covid-19 Contingency Fund specifically to support fire and rescue authorities who incur significant costs as a result of additional duties during the covid-19 outbreak.

Cashflow Support

On 16 April, I announced measures to provide cashflow support to authorities. These were intended in part to mitigate the impact of temporary delays in tax payments. These measures include deferring the payment of the central government share of business rates by councils: payments collectively worth £2.6 billion; and, bringing forward central government payments of social care grants worth £850 million, so that they are paid entirely in April rather than in April, May, and June.

Future Reform

I am committed to reforming the funding framework for local government so that it is simpler, more up to date, and more transparent. However, in order to ensure that we get these reforms right, both the Government and councils need to work together to arrive at the right approach. Neither we nor councils currently have the capacity, nor the necessary degree of financial certainty, to engage properly with these reforms now. As such, I have announced that we will be suspending implementation of the Review of Relative Needs and Resources and the planned increase to 75% business rates retention in 2021-22. These decisions will allow councils to focus on meeting the immediate public health challenge posed by the pandemic.

The Government will work closely with local councils as it determines how best to treat accumulated business rates growth and the local government finance settlement in 2021-22.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS216
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 13 March 2020
Made by: Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Delivery restrictions

I wish to update the House on the urgent matter of enabling retailers of food, sanitary and other essential items to increase the frequency of deliveries to their stores to support the response to Covid-19.

Many supermarkets, food retailers and distribution centres in England are subject to controls which restrict the time and number of deliveries from lorries and other delivery vehicles, particularly at night. These include planning conditions, which are necessary to making the development acceptable to local residents who might otherwise suffer from traffic, noise and other local amenity issues as a result of these deliveries.

Given the exceptional challenges facing the UK from the coronavirus however, it is vital that deliveries of food, sanitary and other essential products over the coming weeks can be made as quickly and safely as possible, minimising disruption to the supply chains on which our communities depend. The likely pressures on driver capacity mean additional flexibility is needed so that retailers can accept deliveries throughout the day and night where necessary.

The National Planning Policy Framework already emphasises that planning enforcement is a discretionary activity, and local planning authorities should act proportionately in responding to suspected breaches of planning control.

The purpose of this Written Ministerial Statement, which comes into effect immediately, is to make clear that as a matter of urgency local planning authorities should take a positive approach to their engagement with food retailers and distributors, as well as the freight industry, to ensure planning controls are not a barrier to food delivery over the period of disruption caused by the coronavirus.

Given the current situation local planning authorities should not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would result in unnecessarily restricting deliveries of food and other essential deliveries during this period, having regard to their legal obligations.

The Government recognises that the increased frequency of deliveries, particularly at night, could have a temporary impact on local residents. However, this needs to be balanced by the significant public interest in ensuring local residents have continued access to food, sanitary and other essential goods in their local shops. The retail and logistics sectors have also worked to minimise impacts on residents over recent years through Quiet Deliveries and the Government expects that such good practice continues. The Government will review the need for the flexibility outlined in this statement after the pressure from the coronavirus has reduced, and it is the intention to withdraw it once the immediate urgency has subsided.

This Written Ministerial Statement only covers England. We are working closely with the devolved administrations to consider similar arrangements.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS154
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 13 March 2020
Made by: The Earl of Courtown (Lords Deputy Chief Whip)
Lords

Delivery restrictions

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

I wish to update the House on the urgent matter of enabling retailers of food, sanitary and other essential items to increase the frequency of deliveries to their stores to support the response to Covid-19.

Many supermarkets, food retailers and distribution centres in England are subject to controls which restrict the time and number of deliveries from lorries and other delivery vehicles, particularly at night. These include planning conditions, which are necessary to making the development acceptable to local residents who might otherwise suffer from traffic, noise and other local amenity issues as a result of these deliveries.

Given the exceptional challenges facing the UK from the coronavirus however, it is vital that deliveries of food, sanitary and other essential products over the coming weeks can be made as quickly and safely as possible, minimising disruption to the supply chains on which our communities depend. The likely pressures on driver capacity mean additional flexibility is needed so that retailers can accept deliveries throughout the day and night where necessary.

The National Planning Policy Framework already emphasises that planning enforcement is a discretionary activity, and local planning authorities should act proportionately in responding to suspected breaches of planning control.

The purpose of this Written Ministerial Statement, which comes into effect immediately, is to make clear that as a matter of urgency local planning authorities should take a positive approach to their engagement with food retailers and distributors, as well as the freight industry, to ensure planning controls are not a barrier to food delivery over the period of disruption caused by the coronavirus.

Given the current situation local planning authorities should not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would result in unnecessarily restricting deliveries of food and other essential deliveries during this period, having regard to their legal obligations.

The Government recognises that the increased frequency of deliveries, particularly at night, could have a temporary impact on local residents. However, this needs to be balanced by the significant public interest in ensuring local residents have continued access to food, sanitary and other essential goods in their local shops. The retail and logistics sectors have also worked to minimise impacts on residents over recent years through Quiet Deliveries and the Government expects that such good practice continues. The Government will review the need for the flexibility outlined in this statement after the pressure from the coronavirus has reduced, and it is the intention to withdraw it once the immediate urgency has subsided.

This Written Ministerial Statement only covers England. We are working closely with the devolved administrations to consider similar arrangements.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS159
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 06 February 2020
Made by: Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Local Government Finance

Today I laid before the House the ‘Local Government Finance Report (England) 2020–21’, the ‘Referendums Relating to Council Tax Increases (Principles) (England) Report 2020-21’ and the ‘Referendums Relating to Council Tax Increases (Alternative Notional Amounts) (England) Report 2020-21’, which represent the final local government finance settlement for 2020-21.

This year’s settlement delivers an increase in Core Spending Power from £46.2 billion in 2019-20 to £49.2 billion in 2020-21. In real terms this is a 4.4% increase and the largest year on year real terms increase in a decade.

The local government finance settlement relies on collaboration. My Ministers and I have engaged extensively with the sector, holding meetings with representative groups, with councils, and with MPs. During this process, we received over 200 representations from organisations or individuals, and these have been carefully considered before finalising the settlement. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all colleagues in the House, and council leaders and officers, who have contributed to the consultation process.

This year’s settlement is a strong and well-balanced package, that delivers significant extra resources to the priority areas of adult and children’s social care, whilst protecting other vital service areas.

Extra social care resources

This Government is serious about protecting the millions of people that rely upon adult and children’s social care in their daily lives. To do this, this settlement will allow local authorities to access an additional £1.5 billion for social care. This comprises £1 billion of additional grant – for both adult and children’s social care – and a proposed 2% council tax precept for adult social care, which will enable councils to access a further £500 million. £150 million of the additional grant will be used to equalise the distributional impact of the adult social care council tax precept.

These additional resources sit on top of the existing social care package, which will continue at 2019-20 levels, and mean that local authorities will have access to almost £6 billion of dedicated funding across adult and children’s social care in 2020-21.

Core settlement resources

The local government finance settlement for 2020-21 will also protect other key services by providing a uniform percentage uplift in core settlement resources, in line with the change in the small business rates multiplier. Vital services are also protected by continuing other key grants from 2019-20.

Council tax 

Local authorities will continue to be able to increase council tax in 2020-21 by a core principle of up to 2%, without holding a local referendum, with a bespoke council tax referendum principle of 2% or £5, whichever is higher, for shire district councils, and a £10 Band D council tax referendum principle for all police authorities.

Authorities with adult social care responsibilities will be able to increase their council tax by a further 2% on top of the core principle, without holding a local referendum, to be spent exclusively on adult social care.

The proposed referendum principles strike a balance between giving local authorities the flexibility to address service pressures, and not overburdening council tax payers with excessive increases which do not have local support.

The 2020-21 final local government finance settlement will mean that the expected average council tax increase for 2020-21 will be the lowest since 2016.

New Homes Bonus 

The Government will be making a new round of allocations of the New Homes Bonus for 2020-21, amounting to £907 million.

As part of this, I am committing an additional £7 million to maintain the growth baseline for payments at 0.4%. We will make no legacy payments on these new allocations, but the Government will make legacy payments on allocations made in earlier years which are due to be paid in 2020-21.

In order to ensure that the New Homes Bonus is focussed on incentivising homes where they are needed most, I am announcing that the Government will consult on the future of the housing incentive in the Spring. This will include moving to a new, more targeted approach that rewards local authorities where they are ambitious in delivering the homes we need.

Rural Services Delivery Grant 

We will continue to recognise the extra costs of delivering services in rural areas and propose to maintain last year’s Rural Services Delivery Grant of £81 million, which is the joint-highest paid to date. It will be distributed using the same methodology as in 2019-20, which allocated funding to the top quartile of local authorities on the ‘super-sparsity’ indicator.

Conclusion

This settlement acts as the foundation for a robust and resilient future for local government finance, delivering on calls for certainty and stability from local government. For those who deliver key front-line services, it provides significant extra resources where they are needed most.

I look forward to debating this topic with all MPs next week.

WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 30 January 2020
Made by: Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Housing update

The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission has published their final report today. I am depositing this report in the libraries of the House and made it available on www.gov.uk. I would like to thank the Commissioners for all of their hard work in producing the report. The government will provide a response in due course.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS78
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 30 January 2020
Made by: Viscount Younger of Leckie (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Housing update

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

The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission has published their final report today. I am depositing this report in the libraries of the House and made it available on www.gov.uk. I would like to thank the Commissioners for all of their hard work in producing the report. The government will provide a response in due course.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS81
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 29 January 2020
Made by: Viscount Younger of Leckie (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Housing update

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

Today, I am laying before Parliament a departmental minute setting out the details of a contingent liability that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government intends to take on. The contingent liability will be created by the £1billion ENABLE Build guarantee scheme.

ENABLE Build - announced at Autumn Budget 2018 and launched in May 2019 – is being delivered through the British Business Bank with the support of Homes England. Under the scheme the Ministry is guaranteeing loan portfolios of new lending to smaller housebuilders in order to encourage additional lending.

A lack of development finance has been identified as a barrier preventing smaller builders from delivering more. Through this scheme the Government will support SME housebuilders to grow and get Britain building the homes we need.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS74
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 29 January 2020
Made by: Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Housing update

Today, I am laying before Parliament a departmental minute setting out the details of a contingent liability that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government intends to take on. The contingent liability will be created by the £1billion ENABLE Build guarantee scheme.

ENABLE Build - announced at Autumn Budget 2018 and launched in May 2019 – is being delivered through the British Business Bank with the support of Homes England. Under the scheme the Ministry is guaranteeing loan portfolios of new lending to smaller housebuilders in order to encourage additional lending.

A lack of development finance has been identified as a barrier preventing smaller builders from delivering more. Through this scheme the Government will support SME housebuilders to grow and get Britain building the homes we need.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS70
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 28 January 2020
Made by: Viscount Younger of Leckie (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Rough Sleeping Initiative allocation of additional funding for 2020/21

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

Today, I am announcing provisional allocations of up to £112 million for a third year of Rough Sleeping Initiative and Rapid Rehousing Pathway funding. This funding covers around 270 local authorities in England, including those that were part of joint funding proposals and represents an uplift of £26 million on last year’s Rough Sleeping Initiative and Rapid Rehousing Pathway funding.

We announced the Rough Sleeping Initiative in March 2018 to make an immediate impact on rough sleeping. Our impact evaluation of the initiative (published September 2019) demonstrated that it drove the first national reduction in rough sleeping in almost a decade. The analysis demonstrated a 32% net reduction in the number of rough sleepers, compared to what the level would have been had the initiative not been in place.

To build on the Rough Sleeping Initiative, we launched the Rapid Rehousing Pathway. This approach includes funding for Somewhere Safe to Stay hubs, which provide warm and dry shelter, rapid assessment, and support to people who are already, or at risk of, sleeping rough; specialist Navigators, who act as a single point of contact to support people from the streets into settled accommodation; the establishment of Local Lettings Agencies to source, identify, or provide homes and advice for rough sleepers or those at risk; and funding for Supported Lettings initiatives, which will provide flexible support to help individuals sustain their tenancies.

For the next financial year we have combined the Rough Sleeping Initiative and Rapid Rehousing Pathway to form one consolidated funding pot for 2020/21, to simplify the process for local authorities. We have drawn on learnings from both programmes to optimise the effectiveness of next year’s funding, which was open to all local authorities in England. Since October 2019 our expert adviser teams have worked intensively with local authorities to coproduce plans to further reduce rough sleeping.

A full list of the areas funded is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rough-sleeping-initiative-2020-to-2021-funding-allocations

With the funding I have announced today, local areas will be able to enhance services that connect people with the right support and sustainable housing to move them swiftly away from the street and facilitate their recovery. This important work is part of delivering on the commitment made in the government manifesto to end rough sleeping by the end of this parliament.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS69
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 28 January 2020
Made by: Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Rough Sleeping Initiative allocation of additional funding for 2020/21

Today, I am announcing provisional allocations of up to £112 million for a third year of Rough Sleeping Initiative and Rapid Rehousing Pathway funding. This funding covers around 270 local authorities in England, including those that were part of joint funding proposals and represents an uplift of £26 million on last year’s Rough Sleeping Initiative and Rapid Rehousing Pathway funding.

We announced the Rough Sleeping Initiative in March 2018 to make an immediate impact on rough sleeping. Our impact evaluation of the initiative (published September 2019) demonstrated that it drove the first national reduction in rough sleeping in almost a decade. The analysis demonstrated a 32% net reduction in the number of rough sleepers, compared to what the level would have been had the initiative not been in place.

To build on the Rough Sleeping Initiative, we launched the Rapid Rehousing Pathway. This approach includes funding for Somewhere Safe to Stay hubs, which provide warm and dry shelter, rapid assessment, and support to people who are already, or at risk of, sleeping rough; specialist Navigators, who act as a single point of contact to support people from the streets into settled accommodation; the establishment of Local Lettings Agencies to source, identify, or provide homes and advice for rough sleepers or those at risk; and funding for Supported Lettings initiatives, which will provide flexible support to help individuals sustain their tenancies.

For the next financial year we have combined the Rough Sleeping Initiative and Rapid Rehousing Pathway to form one consolidated funding pot for 2020/21, to simplify the process for local authorities. We have drawn on learnings from both programmes to optimise the effectiveness of next year’s funding, which was open to all local authorities in England. Since October 2019 our expert adviser teams have worked intensively with local authorities to coproduce plans to further reduce rough sleeping.

A full list of the areas funded is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rough-sleeping-initiative-2020-to-2021-funding-allocations

With the funding I have announced today, local areas will be able to enhance services that connect people with the right support and sustainable housing to move them swiftly away from the street and facilitate their recovery. This important work is part of delivering on the commitment made in the government manifesto to end rough sleeping by the end of this parliament.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS65
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 09 January 2020
Made by: Viscount Younger of Leckie (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Towns update

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

Today I am announcing the opportunity for towns across England to compete in a new Town of the Year competition. The competition aims to celebrate towns’ achievements in areas such as entrepreneurship, technology, community, enterprise, and integration. This will help deliver on the Prime Minister’s bold agenda for the future, making this decade a time of renewal for towns and communities.

In the months ahead, I will complete a countrywide tour of all the 100 areas receiving funding under the £3.6 billion Towns Fund. This will ensure these places are receiving the practical support and investment they need on the ground so we can help local communities to deliver real change.

£16 million of funding has now been delivered to local authorities to help develop new innovative proposals in the 100 areas across England, as part of the Towns Fund. Each place will have the opportunity to bid for funding of up to £25 million.

To assist with this, I will establish a new ‘Towns Hub’ within my department, which will work to develop each town’s investment proposals. The hubs, based across the country will have a named representative from the department, supporting local people on the development of their plan. They will also evaluate the emerging town investment plans, share best practice across towns and build on the Towns Fund investments for potential future support to towns from across government.

Finally, today I am also announcing a new expert-led advisory panel, which will be convened to advise on how we can revitalise our towns over the next year. The specialists, including entrepreneurs and people who have delivered real change, will help shape this government’s policy to support the growth agenda.

These announcements reaffirms out the Government’s ambition to level up the country. It sets out how we will help restore the fabric of our towns and cities and give local people far more control in how they are invested in, and to hear directly from people in these communities on the specific support and investment they need.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS28
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 09 January 2020
Made by: Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Towns update

Today I am announcing the opportunity for towns across England to compete in a new Town of the Year competition. The competition aims to celebrate towns’ achievements in areas such as entrepreneurship, technology, community, enterprise, and integration. This will help deliver on the Prime Minister’s bold agenda for the future, making this decade a time of renewal for towns and communities.

In the months ahead, I will complete a countrywide tour of all the 100 areas receiving funding under the £3.6 billion Towns Fund. This will ensure these places are receiving the practical support and investment they need on the ground so we can help local communities to deliver real change.

£16 million of funding has now been delivered to local authorities to help develop new innovative proposals in the 100 areas across England, as part of the Towns Fund. Each place will have the opportunity to bid for funding of up to £25 million.

To assist with this, I will establish a new ‘Towns Hub’ within my department, which will work to develop each town’s investment proposals. The hubs, based across the country will have a named representative from the department, supporting local people on the development of their plan. They will also evaluate the emerging town investment plans, share best practice across towns and build on the Towns Fund investments for potential future support to towns from across government.

Finally, today I am also announcing a new expert-led advisory panel, which will be convened to advise on how we can revitalise our towns over the next year. The specialists, including entrepreneurs and people who have delivered real change, will help shape this government’s policy to support the growth agenda.

These announcements reaffirms out the Government’s ambition to level up the country. It sets out how we will help restore the fabric of our towns and cities and give local people far more control in how they are invested in, and to hear directly from people in these communities on the specific support and investment they need.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS25
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 08 January 2020
Made by: Viscount Younger of Leckie (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Departmental update

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

Troubled Families allocations

On 5 January I announced up to £165 million of new funding for the Troubled Families Programme for 2020-21. This funding will provide intensive support for some of the most vulnerable families and place the programme on a stable footing for the future. It will help more families to get early, practical and coordinated support to transform their lives for the better, with key workers working with the whole family to address their needs holistically rather than responding to each problem, or single family member separately.

This funding will also help local authorities and their partners to work together to reduce demand and dependency on costly, reactive key public services. The latest evaluation results show that as a result of the Troubled Families programme, two years after joining there were a third fewer children going into care, a quarter fewer adults going to prison, 15 per cent fewer juvenile convictions and 11 per cent fewer claiming Job Seekers Allowance.

Pets in privately rented accommodation

As part of the steps the government is taking to secure a better deal for renters, I have called on landlords to make it easier for responsible tenants to have well behaved pets in their homes while recognising landlords’ rights to protect their properties from damage. Pets bring a huge amount of joy and comfort to people’s lives, but some families can’t experience this because they rent their homes privately. We will publish a revised model tenancy agreement shortly, which can be used as the basis of lease agreements, to remove restrictions on responsible tenants with well-behaved pets.

Rogue landlord enforcement

I have awarded more than 100 councils across England a share of over £4 million to crack down on criminal landlords and letting agents through the Private Rented Sector Innovation and Enforcement Grant Fund. This builds on £2.4 million awarded in January 2019 and will continue the government’s ongoing work to make the private rented sector fairer and stamp out criminal practices for good. Most landlords provide decent homes for their tenants, but a small minority persist in breaking the law, making tenants’ lives a misery by offering inadequate or unsafe housing. The grants support a range of projects to enable councils to make the best use of their enforcement powers and include trialling innovative ideas, sharing best practice and targeted enforcement where we know landlords shirk their responsibilities. The Government is committed to helping good landlords to thrive, and ensuring that hard-working tenants across the country get the homes they deserve - creating a housing market that works for everyone.

High Streets package

At the heart of this new government’s mission is a commitment to supporting places and communities that have been overlooked and undervalued for far too long. We will make an immediate start on levelling up across the regions and I am reorganising my department to relentlessly focus on these places so that we can deliver real change for communities through our £3.6 billion Towns Fund, announced by the Prime Minister in July 2019. It will support an initial 100 town deals across England and which includes £1 billion for the Future High Street Fund.

The Future High Streets Fund aims to renew and reshape town centres in a way that improves experience, drives growth and ensures future sustainability. Last week we released over £1 million of additional funding, on top of £13.5 million already invested in local authorities, to further support places developing detailed business cases of their original proposals.

In addition to this funding I also announced that the High Streets Task Force, established to provide hands-on support to local areas, will be piloting interventions, products and services in 20 places in early 2020 before rolling out expert, training and data offer across the country later in the year. The places benefitting from being part of this pilot will be a mixture of local authorities, Business Improvement Districts and community groups. The Task Force is also holding an open recruitment for a Board Chair to provide expert leadership to this programme.

My department has also launched a survey to consult on the proposed register of empty commercial properties, to improve transparency of ownership on the high street and make it easier for businesses or community groups to make use of vacant commercial properties and identify landlords. The consultation exercise will remain open until 9 February 2020, after which we will consider responses and decide how to proceed.

Cold Weather Fund

This Government is committed to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping within the term of this parliament. To this end, on 23 December I announced the allocation of £263 million in funding to local authorities designed to support the delivery of services to tackle homelessness. This is an increase in overall funding for local authority homelessness services of £23 million on the previous financial year.

My department is also funding many additional rough sleeping services across the country this winter through our £10 million Cold Weather Fund. In recognition of the level of interest in the fund we have announced a further £3 million available to all local authorities in England. This will enable us to build on the successes of the fund so far by increasing outreach work further and extending winter shelter provision to support rough sleepers off the streets this winter. These announcements underline our commitment to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping and will ensure local authorities are given the resource they need to make this a reality in local areas.

Housing First

My department announced recently that 200 people have so far been housed through the Housing First pilot, underway since 2018 in Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Liverpool City Region and West Midlands Combined Authority areas. The Housing First approach offers permanent affordable housing to rough sleepers with multiple complex needs as well as wrap-around support to ensure that they are able to maintain their tenancies and provide the support that they need to recover from mental health issues, substance misuse and the physical effects of living on the streets.

Community pubs

On the 22nd of December I announced a £1.15 million fund that will assist an estimated 100 communities to either own their local pub or benefit from new, pub-based community services and facilities. This funding will also create valuable new jobs and volunteering opportunities. Pubs run by the community and for the community help bring people closer together. Importantly, they are a space for older, vulnerable and more isolated residents to access important local services and feel part of their communities.

The £1.15 million fund will support pubs through two key programmes, £650,000 will be allocated to the second ‘more than a pub’ programme. More than a pub provides small grants and specialist advice for community groups at the start of their journey to community ownership. It also supports groups later in the process who require specialist professional advice with larger grants and loans to help with business planning, conveyancing, architectural help or financial advice.

£500,000 will be allocated to Pub is the Hub to enable a range of projects providing new, pub-based community services from post offices and shops to libraries and allotments. This will increase the services available in rural and remote communities and help sustain pubs as community assets and businesses.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS22
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 07 January 2020
Made by: Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Departmental update

Troubled Families allocations

On 5 January I announced up to £165 million of new funding for the Troubled Families Programme for 2020-21. This funding will provide intensive support for some of the most vulnerable families and place the programme on a stable footing for the future. It will help more families to get early, practical and coordinated support to transform their lives for the better, with key workers working with the whole family to address their needs holistically rather than responding to each problem, or single family member separately.

This funding will also help local authorities and their partners to work together to reduce demand and dependency on costly, reactive key public services. The latest evaluation results show that as a result of the Troubled Families programme, two years after joining there were a third fewer children going into care, a quarter fewer adults going to prison, 15 per cent fewer juvenile convictions and 11 per cent fewer claiming Job Seekers Allowance.

Pets in privately rented accommodation

As part of the steps the government is taking to secure a better deal for renters, I have called on landlords to make it easier for responsible tenants to have well behaved pets in their homes while recognising landlords’ rights to protect their properties from damage. Pets bring a huge amount of joy and comfort to people’s lives, but some families can’t experience this because they rent their homes privately. We will publish a revised model tenancy agreement shortly, which can be used as the basis of lease agreements, to remove restrictions on responsible tenants with well-behaved pets.

Rogue landlord enforcement

I have awarded more than 100 councils across England a share of over £4 million to crack down on criminal landlords and letting agents through the Private Rented Sector Innovation and Enforcement Grant Fund. This builds on £2.4 million awarded in January 2019 and will continue the government’s ongoing work to make the private rented sector fairer and stamp out criminal practices for good. Most landlords provide decent homes for their tenants, but a small minority persist in breaking the law, making tenants’ lives a misery by offering inadequate or unsafe housing. The grants support a range of projects to enable councils to make the best use of their enforcement powers and include trialling innovative ideas, sharing best practice and targeted enforcement where we know landlords shirk their responsibilities. The Government is committed to helping good landlords to thrive, and ensuring that hard-working tenants across the country get the homes they deserve - creating a housing market that works for everyone.

High Streets package

At the heart of this new government’s mission is a commitment to supporting places and communities that have been overlooked and undervalued for far too long. We will make an immediate start on levelling up across the regions and I am reorganising my department to relentlessly focus on these places so that we can deliver real change for communities through our £3.6 billion Towns Fund, announced by the Prime Minister in July 2019. It will support an initial 100 town deals across England and which includes £1 billion for the Future High Street Fund.

The Future High Streets Fund aims to renew and reshape town centres in a way that improves experience, drives growth and ensures future sustainability. Last week we released over £1 million of additional funding, on top of £13.5 million already invested in local authorities, to further support places developing detailed business cases of their original proposals.

In addition to this funding I also announced that the High Streets Task Force, established to provide hands-on support to local areas, will be piloting interventions, products and services in 20 places in early 2020 before rolling out expert, training and data offer across the country later in the year. The places benefitting from being part of this pilot will be a mixture of local authorities, Business Improvement Districts and community groups. The Task Force is also holding an open recruitment for a Board Chair to provide expert leadership to this programme.

My department has also launched a survey to consult on the proposed register of empty commercial properties, to improve transparency of ownership on the high street and make it easier for businesses or community groups to make use of vacant commercial properties and identify landlords. The consultation exercise will remain open until 9 February 2020, after which we will consider responses and decide how to proceed.

Cold Weather Fund

This Government is committed to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping within the term of this parliament. To this end, on 23 December I announced the allocation of £263 million in funding to local authorities designed to support the delivery of services to tackle homelessness. This is an increase in overall funding for local authority homelessness services of £23 million on the previous financial year.

My department is also funding many additional rough sleeping services across the country this winter through our £10 million Cold Weather Fund. In recognition of the level of interest in the fund we have announced a further £3 million available to all local authorities in England. This will enable us to build on the successes of the fund so far by increasing outreach work further and extending winter shelter provision to support rough sleepers off the streets this winter. These announcements underline our commitment to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping and will ensure local authorities are given the resource they need to make this a reality in local areas.

Housing First

My department announced recently that 200 people have so far been housed through the Housing First pilot, underway since 2018 in Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Liverpool City Region and West Midlands Combined Authority areas. The Housing First approach offers permanent affordable housing to rough sleepers with multiple complex needs as well as wrap-around support to ensure that they are able to maintain their tenancies and provide the support that they need to recover from mental health issues, substance misuse and the physical effects of living on the streets.

Community pubs

On the 22nd of December I announced a £1.15 million fund that will assist an estimated 100 communities to either own their local pub or benefit from new, pub-based community services and facilities. This funding will also create valuable new jobs and volunteering opportunities. Pubs run by the community and for the community help bring people closer together. Importantly, they are a space for older, vulnerable and more isolated residents to access important local services and feel part of their communities.

The £1.15 million fund will support pubs through two key programmes, £650,000 will be allocated to the second ‘more than a pub’ programme. More than a pub provides small grants and specialist advice for community groups at the start of their journey to community ownership. It also supports groups later in the process who require specialist professional advice with larger grants and loans to help with business planning, conveyancing, architectural help or financial advice.

£500,000 will be allocated to Pub is the Hub to enable a range of projects providing new, pub-based community services from post offices and shops to libraries and allotments. This will increase the services available in rural and remote communities and help sustain pubs as community assets and businesses.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS19
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 20 December 2019
Made by: Viscount Younger of Leckie (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Local government update

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

Introduction

Today I have published the provisional local government finance settlement for 2020-21. The proposals set out in this consultation will give local authorities a 4.4% real-terms increase in their Core Spending Power, which will rise from £46.2 billion in 2019-20 to £49.1 billion in 2020-21. It is a strong and well-balanced package, that delivers significant extra resources to the priority areas of adult and children’s social care, while offering protection to other key service areas.

In October of this year we launched a technical consultation, within which we invited views on the proposed package for 2020-21. I would like to thank all colleagues in local government for their responses to the October consultation and thank them in advance for comments on this next consultation. I have now taken the responses to the technical consultation into account and, following this, I am now publishing our proposals for the provisional local government finance settlement for 2020-21: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/provisional-local-government-finance-settlement-england-2020-to-2021.

Extra social care resources

We recognise the importance of addressing the challenges in our social care system. This is why we want to build the same level of cross-party consensus on social care as we have with the NHS, to make far-reaching changes to the way these services are financed and delivered.

In the meantime, we will do all we can to support local authorities. The proposals I have published today will allow local authorities to access an additional £1.5 billion for social care. This comprises £1 billion of additional grant – for both adult and children’s social care – and a proposed 2% council tax precept for adult social care, which will enable councils to access a further £500 million. £150 million of the additional grant will be used to equalise the distributional impact of the council tax adult social care precept.

These additional resources sit on top of the existing social care package, which will continue at 2019-20 levels, and mean that local authorities will have access to over £5.5 billion of dedicated funding across adult and children’s social care in 2020-21.

Core settlement resources

The provisional settlement also provides protection for vital services by increasing core settlement resources, which includes Revenue Support Grant and business rates baseline funding levels, in line with inflation, and by continuing other key grants from 2019-20.

Council tax

The proposed referendum principles strike a balance between giving local authorities the flexibility to address service pressures, without overburdening council tax payers with excessive increases. Local authorities will therefore be able to increase council tax in 2020-21 by a core principle of up to 2%, without holding a local referendum, with a bespoke council tax referendum principle of 2% or £5, whichever is higher, for shire district councils. In addition, councils with adult social care responsibilities will be able to increase their council tax by a further 2%, on top of the core principle, to be spent exclusively on adult social care. If confirmed, this package will mean that the expected average council tax increase for 2020-21 will be the lowest since 2016-17.

New Homes Bonus

To reward local authorities for house building in their area, I can confirm that we will make a new round of allocations of the New Homes Bonus for 2020-21 amounting to £907 million. As part of this, I am committing an additional £7 million to maintain the growth baseline for payments at 0.4%. We will make no legacy payments on these new allocations, but the Government will make legacy payments on allocations made in earlier years which are due to be paid in 2020-21.

It is not clear that the New Homes Bonus in its current form is focussed on incentivising homes where they are needed most. I am therefore announcing that the Government will consult on the future of the housing incentive in the Spring. This will include moving to a new, more targeted approach that rewards local authorities where they are ambitious in delivering the homes we need and which is aligned with other measures around planning performance.

Rural Services Delivery Grant

We will continue to recognise the extra costs of delivering services in rural areas and propose to maintain last year’s Rural Services Delivery Grant of £81 million, which is the joint-highest paid to date. It will be distributed using the same methodology as in 2019-20, which allocated funding to the top quartile of local authorities on the ‘super-sparsity’ indicator.

Independent Living Fund and Schools

Following the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in June 2015, the Government agreed to continue funding pre-existing ILF arrangements until the end of 2019-20, through the Former ILF Recipient Grant.

We can confirm that the Former ILF Recipient Grant will continue to be paid to local authorities in 2020-21. The total value of the grant in 2020-21 will be maintained at the 2019-20 value of £160.6 million, with the same approach to individual local authority allocations. Details will be published shortly.

We recognise that the settlement is just one source of funding that local authorities need to know about. Government has now also confirmed Dedicated Schools Grant allocations for 2020-21.

https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2019-12-20/HCWS2/

Conclusion

Local government have asked us for certainty and stability from the settlement for 2020-21. This provisional settlement delivers on this, building on Spending Round 2019 and our recent technical consultation. It provides certainty for 2020-21 for those planning vital front-line services and provides significant extra resources where they are needed most.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS17
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 20 December 2019
Made by: Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Local government update

Introduction

Today I have published the provisional local government finance settlement for 2020-21. The proposals set out in this consultation will give local authorities a 4.4% real-terms increase in their Core Spending Power, which will rise from £46.2 billion in 2019-20 to £49.1 billion in 2020-21. It is a strong and well-balanced package, that delivers significant extra resources to the priority areas of adult and children’s social care, while offering protection to other key service areas.

In October of this year we launched a technical consultation, within which we invited views on the proposed package for 2020-21. I would like to thank all colleagues in local government for their responses to the October consultation and thank them in advance for comments on this next consultation. I have now taken the responses to the technical consultation into account and, following this, I am now publishing our proposals for the provisional local government finance settlement for 2020-21: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/provisional-local-government-finance-settlement-england-2020-to-2021.

Extra social care resources

We recognise the importance of addressing the challenges in our social care system. This is why we want to build the same level of cross-party consensus on social care as we have with the NHS, to make far-reaching changes to the way these services are financed and delivered.

In the meantime, we will do all we can to support local authorities. The proposals I have published today will allow local authorities to access an additional £1.5 billion for social care. This comprises £1 billion of additional grant – for both adult and children’s social care – and a proposed 2% council tax precept for adult social care, which will enable councils to access a further £500 million. £150 million of the additional grant will be used to equalise the distributional impact of the council tax adult social care precept.

These additional resources sit on top of the existing social care package, which will continue at 2019-20 levels, and mean that local authorities will have access to over £5.5 billion of dedicated funding across adult and children’s social care in 2020-21.

Core settlement resources

The provisional settlement also provides protection for vital services by increasing core settlement resources, which includes Revenue Support Grant and business rates baseline funding levels, in line with inflation, and by continuing other key grants from 2019-20.

Council tax

The proposed referendum principles strike a balance between giving local authorities the flexibility to address service pressures, without overburdening council tax payers with excessive increases. Local authorities will therefore be able to increase council tax in 2020-21 by a core principle of up to 2%, without holding a local referendum, with a bespoke council tax referendum principle of 2% or £5, whichever is higher, for shire district councils. In addition, councils with adult social care responsibilities will be able to increase their council tax by a further 2%, on top of the core principle, to be spent exclusively on adult social care. If confirmed, this package will mean that the expected average council tax increase for 2020-21 will be the lowest since 2016-17.

New Homes Bonus

To reward local authorities for house building in their area, I can confirm that we will make a new round of allocations of the New Homes Bonus for 2020-21 amounting to £907 million. As part of this, I am committing an additional £7 million to maintain the growth baseline for payments at 0.4%. We will make no legacy payments on these new allocations, but the Government will make legacy payments on allocations made in earlier years which are due to be paid in 2020-21.

It is not clear that the New Homes Bonus in its current form is focussed on incentivising homes where they are needed most. I am therefore announcing that the Government will consult on the future of the housing incentive in the Spring. This will include moving to a new, more targeted approach that rewards local authorities where they are ambitious in delivering the homes we need and which is aligned with other measures around planning performance.

Rural Services Delivery Grant

We will continue to recognise the extra costs of delivering services in rural areas and propose to maintain last year’s Rural Services Delivery Grant of £81 million, which is the joint-highest paid to date. It will be distributed using the same methodology as in 2019-20, which allocated funding to the top quartile of local authorities on the ‘super-sparsity’ indicator.

Independent Living Fund and Schools

Following the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in June 2015, the Government agreed to continue funding pre-existing ILF arrangements until the end of 2019-20, through the Former ILF Recipient Grant.

We can confirm that the Former ILF Recipient Grant will continue to be paid to local authorities in 2020-21. The total value of the grant in 2020-21 will be maintained at the 2019-20 value of £160.6 million, with the same approach to individual local authority allocations. Details will be published shortly.

We recognise that the settlement is just one source of funding that local authorities need to know about. Government has now also confirmed Dedicated Schools Grant allocations for 2020-21.

https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2019-12-20/HCWS2/

Conclusion

Local government have asked us for certainty and stability from the settlement for 2020-21. This provisional settlement delivers on this, building on Spending Round 2019 and our recent technical consultation. It provides certainty for 2020-21 for those planning vital front-line services and provides significant extra resources where they are needed most.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS9
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