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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Made on: 22 March 2018
Made by: Lord Bates (Lords Spokesperson)

Amending the Reinsurance (Acts of Terrorism) Act 1993

My honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (John Glen) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today announcing that the government intends to legislate as soon as parliamentary time allows to amend the Reinsurance (Acts of Terrorism) Act 1993. This amendment will enable an extension of the cover provided by the government-backed terrorism reinsurer Pool Re to include business interruption losses that are not contingent on damage to commercial property. I will announce further details in due course.

This government remains committed to ensuring that businesses can continue to secure insurance against the financial costs of terror attacks.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS579
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 22 March 2018
Made by: Baroness Buscombe (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions)

Rollout of Universal Credit

My honourable Friend the Minister of State for Employment (Alok Sharma MP) has made the following Written Statement.

The Implementation of Universal Credit continues to make good progress. The full service is now operating in 250 jobcentres and we expect to complete national coverage and be in all jobcentres as planned by December 2018.

Within this timetable, I am announcing today some modifications to reflect local considerations and discussions.

We continue to make progress in delivering a Welsh language capability within the full service. Whilst it has always been possible to speak to DWP in Welsh, either in jobcentres or on the telephone, and to have dialogue in Welsh on online journals, we want to be able to offer full Welsh functionality as soon as we can for those areas of Wales with the highest density of Welsh speakers. In order to increase the chances that functionality will be in place in time with local rollout, we are moving the 13 jobcentres with the highest density of Welsh speakers to December 2018.

In addition, Barrow Council have asked if their rollout date could be changed to December to reflect the fact that they are bringing their Housing Benefit administration back in-house and they would like to sequence that change before Universal Credit rolls out. This is sensible planning and we have agreed to meet that request.

Finally, in order to balance resources more effectively within DWP we are making several other modifications to the rollout timetable, as set out in the table I have attached to this statement.

We will modify the master schedule on gov.uk to reflect these changes. District Managers are contacting local stakeholders about these changes and writing to their local MPs with details.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS577
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 22 March 2018
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)


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

On 30 November 2017 I told the House that I was minded to implement, subject to Parliamentary approval, the locally-led proposal I had received from West Somerset District Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council to merge, and I invited representations before I took my final decision on this proposal.

Having carefully considered all the representations I have received and all the relevant information available to me, I am today announcing that I have decided to implement, subject to Parliamentary approval, the proposal to merge West Somerset District Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council to become a new single district council named Somerset West and Taunton District Council.

I have reached my decision having regard to the criteria for district council mergers that I announced to the House on 7 November 2017. I am satisfied that these criteria are met and that the new district council is likely to improve local government and service delivery in the area, commands a good deal of local support, and that the new council area is a credible geography.

I now intend to prepare and lay before Parliament drafts of the necessary secondary legislation to give effect to my decision. My intention is that if Parliament approves this legislation the new council will be established on 1 April 2019 with the first election to the council held on 2 May 2019.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS578
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 22 March 2018
Made by: Baroness Buscombe (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions)

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) 15th March 2018, Brussels

My honourable Friend the Minister of State for Employment (Alok Sharma MP) has made the following Written Statement.

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met on 15th March 2018 in Brussels. I represented the United Kingdom.

Under an agenda item on the European Semester, the Council adopted the Joint Employment Report (JER) and Council Conclusions on the Annual Growth Survey (AGS).

The Council received a presentation on the 2018 Country Reports on the implementation of 2017 Country Specific Recommendations.

The Council endorsed the opinion of the Employment Committee (EMCO) on the latest biennial assessment of Member States’ progress against the non-binding Council recommendation of 2013 on a Youth Guarantee for tackling youth unemployment.

The Council adopted a Recommendation for a European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships.

The Council then conducted policy debates on The Future of Social Europe Post 2020 and Closing the gender pay gap: contributing to the achievement of the goals of the European Social Pillar.

Under any other business, the Commission presented information on its awaited Social Fairness Package, the Commission and the President presented information on the Tripartite Social Summit, and the chairs of the EMCO and the Social Protection Committee (SPC) provided information on their respective 2018 Work Programmes.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS575
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 22 March 2018
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) )


My hon Friend,the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility (Andrew Griffiths)has today made the following statement:

I have today published a document summarising the responses we received to last year’s call for evidence, which set out proposals for a new world first beneficial ownership register of overseas companies and other legal entities that own UK property or participate in UK government procurement. This follows the commitment made at the Anti-Corruption Summit in 2016, in order to combat money laundering and achieve greater transparency in the UK property market.

The response to the call for evidence outlines several areas in which policy development has progressed since the publication of the call for evidence. These include proposals for more frequent updates to ensure the timeliness and relevance of the information, and changes in the proposed sanctions to be applied through land registration law to ensure there are no adverse consequences for innocent third parties.

The new register will be the first of its kind in the world, and builds upon the UK’s global leadership in tackling corruption. As stated in the call for evidence, the downside of demonstrating such leadership is that the Government does not have an existing model to work from. The Government will therefore look to strike the right balance between improving transparency and minimising burdens on legitimate commercial activity.

The Department is currently working on the preparation of a draft Bill to deliver these proposals, which the Government intends to publish by summer recess this year. Following consideration of comments received post-publication, the Government intends to introduce the legislation early in the second session of this Parliament.

I have placed copies of the Government response to the call for evidence in the libraries of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS576
Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 21 March 2018
Made by: Lord O'Shaughnessy (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health)

NHS Workforce

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has made the following written statement:

The Government is committed to the delivery of world class public services, and ensuring that public sector workers are fairly remunerated for the vitally important work that they do.

Public sector pay restraint was necessary to tackle the deficit left by the last Government. However, in September last year we ended the 1% pay award policy for public sector workforces, recognising that some flexibility would be required in certain areas, including in return for improvements to public sector productivity. There is still of course a need for fiscal restraint - our debt is the highest it has been in 50 years, and it is not fair to pass an increasing burden of debt onto future generations.

As a result of constructive dialogue over recent months, I am today announcing that I have agreed to NHS Employers and the NHS Trade Unions going out to consultation on a three year pay agreement for NHS staff employed under the Agenda for Change Pay Agreement. This agreement covers over one million staff employed in the NHS excluding employed doctors and very senior managers and is a good example of where public sector employers and Unions can work together to agree a pay rise in return for wider reform.

The 3-year deal aims to ensure that every pound of the £36bn pay bill delivers value for and is fair to patients, staff and the taxpayer. It targets recruitment, retention and capacity issues to support staff and help them meet demand within the NHS.

The deal will help ensure the NHS can continue to recruit the skilled compassionate workforce it needs by:

  • Targeting the greatest pay uplifts at the lowest paid in the NHS, affecting over 100,000 FTE staff, so that the lowest starting salary increases from £15,404 this year to £18,005 in 20/21, through reform.
  • Investing in higher starting salaries for staff in every pay band by reforming the pay system to remove overlapping pay points; so a newly qualified nurse will receive starting pay 12.6% (£2,779) higher in 2020/2021 than this year and starting pay for a midwife on moving to Band 6 will increase by 18.1% (£4,800) as a result of pay band reform.

It will support the retention of staff by:

  • Guaranteeing fair basic pay awards for the next three years to the 50% of staff who are at the top of pay bands – a cumulative 6.5%.
  • Guaranteeing fair basic pay awards and faster progression pay for the next three years to the c.50% of staff that is not yet on the top of their pay band.

Through important reforms to pay progression, the deal will help improve staff engagement and ensure that all staff have the knowledge and skills and support to make the greatest possible contribution to patient care.

  • It will put appraisal and personal development at the heart of pay progression - with virtually automatic incremental pay replaced by larger, less frequent pay increases subject to staff meeting the required standards for their role.
  • Staff will be supported to develop their skills and competencies and demonstrate that they meet the required standards before moving to the next pay point.
  • The system will be underpinned by a commitment from employers to fully utilise an effective appraisal process.

The deal will release capacity for provider organisations:

  • The partners commit to working together to improve the health and wellbeing of NHS staff so as to improve levels of attendance in the NHS with the ambition of matching the best in the public sector. NHS Digital data suggests that latest sickness absence rate for the NHS is 4.13%. For AfC staff, this is estimated at 4.5%. Estimates suggest that a 1% drop in sickness absence could save the NHS £280m.

Finally, the deal will encourage greater consistency and modernisation of terms and conditions:

  • New provisions will be agreed to give staff access to consistent Child Bereavement Leave, Enhanced Shared Parental Leave (extension of statutory), and a national framework for buying and selling annual leave.
  • Steps will be taken to ensure that, over time, the calculation for sickness absence pay is the same for all staff.
  • There will be very modest changes to the value of the higher rates of unsocial hours pay for staff in pay bands 1 to 3, over the period of the multi-year deal to ensure the difference between these staff and all other AfC staff is narrowed over time.

Overall, this pay deal is fair to staff and taxpayers and will help to improve productivity through stronger evidence based appraisal systems and through that, better staff engagement which we know can help improve outcomes for patients.

At the Budget in November my Right Honourable Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that if discussions with health unions on pay structure modernisation for Agenda for Change staff were successful, he would protect frontline services by providing additional funding for such a settlement. I can confirm that through Autumn Budget 2017, we set aside in the reserves £800 million per annum which funds the first year of the Agenda for Change pay deal. If the NHS Trade Unions accept this agreement following consultation with their members, the Government will release this funding. The Chancellor will provide for additional funding required to fulfil his commitment through the 2018 Autumn Budget, and so make available the £4.2 billion over three years needed to fund the deal. This is all part of our balanced approach that keeps debt falling, while investing in our public services and keeping taxes low.

I will also be publishing a draft Equality Statement to meet my Public Sector Equality Duty. A final Equality Statement will be published, when the agreement is implemented.

This agreement will be shared with the independent NHS Pay Review Body and I look forward to their report in due course.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS574
Made on: 21 March 2018
Made by: Lord Bates (Lords Spokesperson)

UK Contribution to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Special Fund

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

In 2015, the UK became a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The AIIB supports economic growth in Asia and drives up living standards. The UK’s membership deepens economic ties with Asia and creates opportunities for British businesses.

At the ninth UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) in Beijing on 16 December 2017, the Chancellor of the Exchequer signed a Contribution Agreement with the AIIB, formalising the UK’s commitment, made at the previous EFD in 2016, to provide US$50m to the AIIB’s Special Fund for Project Preparation. This fund provides grant support to low income developing country members of the AIIB to prepare infrastructure projects for the Bank to finance. China and the Republic of Korea have committed US$50 million and US$ 8 million, respectively, and the Fund is open for more contributions.

The Contribution Agreement states that the UK will make four equal payments of $12.5m by the end of March in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 respectively. The UK’s contribution to the Special Fund will score as 100% Official Development Assistance (ODA) as projects using UK money will only take place in low income countries.

HM Treasury will make these payments, and any future payments to the AIIB, under the powers of the International Development Act (IDA) 2002. The first payment will be made before the end of March.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS573
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 21 March 2018
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government )

Housing Investment

My Rt. Hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government [Sajid Javid] has made the following written ministerial statement today.

Today, the Government announces that we are now working with a further 44 areas across England to develop projects with the remaining £4.1 billion of the £5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund, with the potential to deliver over 400,000 homes in areas where housing need is greatest. This is in addition to the West Midlands, where Housing Infrastructure Fund funding for co-development was announced as part of a housing package at Spring Statement. These are strategic, long term projects which will deliver housing not just for now, but for generations to come - creating new settlements, growing places and backing local authority ambition for growth and regeneration. They follow on from our announcement made on 1 February 2018 to take forward 133 Marginal Viability Fund projects worth £866 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to provide infrastructure to unlock up to 200,000 homes. This announcement reinforces our continued commitment to fix the broken housing market and support projects that would otherwise struggle to go ahead or take years for work to begin.

We are committed to helping to create a new generation of strong, vibrant communities where people want to live, work and build families. We are supporting the development of 24 new locally-led garden cities, towns and villages, ranging in size from 1,500 new homes to over 40,000 homes. Over half of these settlements will go forward to the next stage of Housing Infrastructure Fund Forward Funding co-development.

We also want to back places with ambitious plans for new homes where they are needed. Today the Government announces housing packages for Greater Manchester, who will commit to deliver 227,000 homes by 2035, and the West of England, to accelerate annual housing delivery to 7500 homes over the next three years. Both of these areas will also go forward to the next stage of Housing Infrastructure Fund Forward Funding co-development. This is in addition to the housing packages agreed with Oxfordshire and the West Midlands.The Forward Funding component of the Housing Infrastructure Fund was available to the uppermost tier of local authorities in England to bid into, with a focus on strategic, high impact infrastructure projects.

The full area breakdown of successful Forward Fund projects we will be working with through co-development can be found on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/housing-infrastructure-fund

As this is still a competitive process, success at this stage is not a guarantee of Housing Infrastructure Fund funding. Shortlisted local authorities will submit their final business cases and successful funded bids will be announced from Autumn 2018 onwards.

The Housing Infrastructure Fund is divided into two streams:

A Marginal Viability Fund – available to all single and lower tier local authorities in England – to provide a piece of infrastructure funding to get additional sites allocated or existing sites unblocked quickly. Bids have a soft cap of £10 million.

  • A Forward Fund – available to the uppermost tier of local authorities in England – for a small number of strategic and high-impact infrastructure projects. Bids have a soft cap of £250 million.
  • Housing packages are agreements between central and local government, in which local areas agree to build more homes in return for a package of support from government.

Detail on the housing packages for Greater Manchester, West of England and West Midlands can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/housing-deals

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS572
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 21 March 2018
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)

Justice update

My Right Honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (David Gauke) has made the following Written Statement.

"The Government is today introducing into the House of Lords legislation through the Civil Liability Bill to make important changes to our system of compensation for personal injury.

As announced in the Queen’s Speech on 21 June 2017, the Civil Liability Bill will reform the law relating to whiplash claims. We will introduce a new fixed tariff of compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity for whiplash claims with an injury duration of up to two years. The tariff will be set in supporting regulations. We will also introduce a ban on seeking or offering to settle whiplash claims without medical evidence.

The Civil Liability Bill will also make changes to the way in which the personal injury discount rate for England and Wales is set under the Damages Act 1996. The principal changes we are making are that: the discount rate will be set by reference to expected rates of return on a low risk diversified portfolio of investments rather than a return on very low risk investments as under the present law; in setting the rate, the Lord Chancellor will consult an independent expert panel chaired by the Government Actuary, with HM Treasury remaining a statutory consultee; and the discount rate will be reviewed promptly after the legislation comes into force and, thereafter, at least every three years.

I am also publishing today the Government’s response to the Justice Committee’s report, Pre-legislative scrutiny: draft personal injury discount rate clause, published on 30 November 2017.

I am also placing the Delegated Powers memorandum and accompanying impact assessments in the House libraries.

I notified the market of the Civil Liability Bill earlier today through the London Stock Exchange group."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS566
Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 20 March 2018
Made by: Lord O'Shaughnessy (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health)

NHS Planning in 2018-19

My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Health (Stephen Barclay) has made the following written statement:

In accordance with the NHS Act 2006, I have today laid before Parliament the Government’s mandate to NHS England for 2018-19. To further support the NHS to meet the challenges it faces, I am also today publishing the remit letter for NHS Improvement.

NHS England oversees the commissioning of health services in England and so has a key role in setting direction across the health and care system. The mandate sets objectives that Government expects NHS England to achieve and its budget, which now includes £2.8 billion additional funding between 2017/18 and 2019/20, taking NHS funding to over half a trillion pounds from 2015 to 2020.

Since 2016/17, we have taken a multi-year approach to the mandate, setting enduring objectives to 2020, underpinned by specific 2020 goals and annual deliverables for each financial year. This stability has supported NHS England, working with NHS Improvement and other health and care system partners, to transform services and deliver real improvements for patients, while also working to ensure the sustainability of the NHS for future generations, as set out in its Five Year Forward View and Next Steps on the NHS’s Five Year Forward View.

As the NHS approaches its 70th anniversary, this stability and focus is more important than ever. The NHS is facing unprecedented levels of demand and must meet the immediate challenges of reducing this demand and continuing to improve NHS productivity and efficiency, so that all who need access to vital NHS services can get access within agreed timeframes.

The mandate for 2018-19 is therefore a mandate of consolidation and renewal. It continues the multi-year approach already established, making only one change to the enduring objectives. This is to reflect the important role that NHS England will need to play in ensuring a smooth and orderly withdrawal from the European Union in the best interests of patients. It will include supporting the many EU nationals making an enormous contribution to our health and care services.

Mandate objectives in 2018/19 will therefore be:

  • to improve local and national health outcomes, and reduce health inequalities, through better commissioning;
  • to help create the safest, highest quality health and care service;
  • to balance the NHS budget and improve efficiency and productivity;
  • to lead a step change in the NHS in preventing ill health and supporting people to live healthier lives;
  • to improve and maintain performance against core standards;
  • to improve out-of-hospital care; and
  • to support research, innovation and growth, and to support the Government’s implementation of EU Exit in regards to health and care.

I have agreed with colleagues at Her Majesty’s Treasury and the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government that it is not necessary to impose any requirements for the purpose of ensuring that it achieves its objectives in 2018/19.The Better Care Fund is now well-established, with two-year local plans now underway and progress being made to better join up care around the needs of people and communities. Now is therefore the time for Clinical Commissioning Groups and Local Authorities, supported by Government and NHS England, to work together to continue implementation and reach joint solutions in the interests of their local populations. In addition, the Department of Health and Social Care is currently undertaking a triennial review of its Framework Agreement with NHS England, to ensure that it is up-to-date, including reflecting Managing Public Money principles.

This year, I expect NHS England to step up the joint work that it does with NHS Improvement to ensure that the NHS lives within its means. I have therefore also sought to ensure that, where they share responsibility for delivery, the mandate and the annual remit letter to NHS Improvement are more closely aligned than previously. Both the mandate and the NHS Improvement remit letter are, for the first time, being published simultaneously on gov.uk today.

As required by the Act, I have consulted both NHS England and Healthwatch England in developing the mandate.

As in previous years, I have also re-laid the mandate for 2017-18, reflecting NHS England’s increased budget for 2017-18.

Copies of the mandate for 2018-19, revised mandate for 2017-18, and NHS Improvement remit letter for 2018-19 are attached.

NHSE Mandate 2018-19 (PDF Document, 489.31 KB)
NHSE Revised Mandate 2017-18 (PDF Document, 507.33 KB)
NHSI remit letter (PDF Document, 96.32 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS571
Home Office
Made on: 20 March 2018
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)

Fire Reform

My rt hon Friend the Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service (Nick Hurd) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

Improving firefighter diversity is a key priority for the Government’s ambitious fire reform programme. The most recent 2017 operational data, published on 26 October, showed that only 5.2% of firefighters in England are women and 3.9% are from an ethnic minority group. This is unacceptable and needs to be significantly improved so that firefighters are representative of the communities they serve.

While in 2017 we did see movement in a positive direction in terms of new joiners to the firefighter role: 8.7% were women and 5.1% from ethnic minorities, there is still further to go. This is why the Home Office will shortly be launching a national campaign with a focus of ‘Join the Team; Become a Firefighter’ to raise awareness of the role of a modern firefighter and help improve diversity.

The campaign which is being supported by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), Local Government Association (LGA) and Inclusive Fire Service Group (IFSG) will: (i) target those from underrepresented groups that may not have previously been interested in the role; (ii) provide information on the breadth of role across prevention, protection; and response; and (iii) produce guidance and toolkits to help those interested in the role overcome any challenges they face during the recruitment rounds. The campaign will enhance and not duplicate the work already being undertaken by fire and rescue services in England to improve diversity.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS570
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 20 March 2018
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Local Government Finance

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

The current 50% business rates retention scheme for local government is yielding strong results. Local authorities estimate that in 2017-18 they will keep around £1.3 billion in business rates growth, which we expect will be at least maintained into 2018-19 and 2019-20. On top of the 50% business rates retention scheme which is in place for all local authorities, in 2017-18 the Government established pilots of 100% business rates retention in five areas of England and extended business rates retention to 67% in London. The pilot programme will be expanded further in 2018-19 to cover an additional ten areas.

My officials have worked through the necessary calculations to prepare for the extension of the piloting programme in 2018-19. In doing so, an historic error has been identified in the methodology used to calculate the sums due to pilots. An adjustment is therefore required to the methodology, which will reduce the amount due to these local authorities for participating in the pilot programme to the correct level. This adjustment does not affect the Local Government Finance Settlement nor the Core Spending Power of the local authorities concerned. The relevant local authorities have been informed today.


Under the business rates retention system, local authorities retain a percentage of the business rates they raise locally. Since 2014-15, locally-raised business rates have been lower than they would have been because Government has under-indexed the business rates multiplier in each of 2014-15, 2015-6 and 2018-19. To compensate local authorities for their loss of income, therefore, the Government has calculated the extent of the loss caused by under-indexation and paid that amount as a grant under section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003.

The compensation to be paid to local authorities is paid on account during the course of a year, based on estimates made by authorities before the start of that year. It is then adjusted once outturn figures are available, following the end of the year.

When on account compensation payments were calculated for the six 2017-18 pilot areas, the methodology used to adjust tariffs and top-ups contained an error. This resulted in 27 local authorities and the Greater London Authority being over-compensated by £36 million.

These local authorities will have been operating on the understanding that this funding has already been secured and, at this this late stage in the year, a sudden reduction in their funding could potentially have an impact on the delivery of the objectives agreed as part of their devolution deals. Therefore, although the rules of Managing Public Money indicate that the Department should recover the overpayment, I have issued a Direction requesting that the Permanent Secretary does not do so in this extraordinary circumstance. My correspondence with the Permanent Secretary will be published on the Department’s website.

In respect of the payments due to 2018-19 business rates retention pilot authorities, my department will use the corrected methodology to calculate the Section 31 grant compensation due to authorities. Local authorities will shortly be notified of these amounts.


In recognition of the importance of the business rates retention system to the sustainability of local government, I am also today announcing an independent review of the internal processes and procedures that underpin the department’s oversight of business rates and related systems. This should include modelling and analytical work, how officials manage the interface with policy decision-making, and resourcing and skills.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS569
Department for International Development
Made on: 20 March 2018
Made by: Lord Bates (Minister of State for International Development)

Update on Safeguarding in the Aid Sector

My Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for International Development has today made the following statement:

Following the safeguarding issues exposed through the case of Oxfam in Haiti, I am updating the House on three key areas of work DFID has undertaken.

1. Statements of assurance from UK charities and follow up on cases

All UK charities that I wrote to on 12 February have replied and provided me with a clear statement of their assurance on their organisations’ safeguarding environment and policies, organisational culture, transparency and their handling of allegations and incidents.

This exercise has delivered results in terms of increasing reporting of live and historic cases to the relevant authorities. As of 5 March, 26 charities funded by DFID had made Serious Incident Reports to the Charity Commission, concerning some 80 incidents. There has also been an increased level of reporting of safeguarding concerns into DFID’s ‘Reporting Concerns’ hotline and inbox.

I cannot provide information on live investigations, but will keep the House informed on developments with partners and with regard to DFID’s internal case review.

Writing to UK charities was the first stage in a broader process, which also includes requesting assurances from our top 30 suppliers, 43 multilateral organisations and other partners. Assurances received are a first step, but do not constitute a final conclusion by my Department on the quality of safeguarding. We will test this further through the measures I announced at the Safeguarding Summit held on 5 March and set out below.

A high-level summary of the returns from UK charities and a list of organisations we have written to will be published on gov.uk today. It can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/high-level-summary-safeguarding-assurance-returns-from-uk-charities.

2. Safeguarding Summit follow up

On 5 March, DFID co-hosted a Safeguarding Summit with the Charity Commission where I challenged UK charities to drive up standards and ensure that the aid sector protects the people it serves. As a result a number of actions were agreed. These include immediate short-term measures and longer term initiatives.

Four working groups, including civil society and independent experts, have been established and are meeting this week to refine and test ideas further. They will report back on concrete actions in time for the international Safeguarding Conference that the UK will host this autumn. The working groups are taking forward the following areas:

  • Accountability to beneficiaries and survivors - prioritising those who have suffered and survived exploitation, abuse and violence, and designing systems of accountability and transparency that have beneficiaries at their centre;

  • How the aid sector can demonstrate a step change in shifting organisational culture to tackle power imbalances and gender inequality;

  • Ensuring that safeguards are integrated throughout the employment cycle, including work on the proposal for a global register / passport; and

  • Ensuring full accountability through rigorous reporting and complaints mechanisms, and make sure that concerns are heard and acted upon.

At the Summit, I announced new, enhanced and specific safeguarding due diligence standards for all organisations that work with DFID. A pilot of these new standards starts this week and they will be rolled out shortly. No new funds will be approved to organisations unless they pass these new standards, which will be integrated into DFID’s due diligence Assessments, Supply Partner Code of Conduct and ongoing programme management and compliance checking processes.

Major UK charities, the Charity Commission and DFID agreed on initiatives to be taken forward to improve safeguarding standards - including immediate short term measures, and longer term initiatives to be developed in the coming weeks and months. These include:

  • Exploring options for an international safeguarding centre to support organisations to implement best practice on safeguarding and maximise transparency in the sector. This work could include conducting safeguarding reviews, offering guidance and support to organisations, and a deployable team of experts on sexual exploitation and abuse who can advise organisations on the ground.

  • Carrying out an urgent review of referencing in the sector. At the Summit, it was agreed that vetting and referencing standards are required for: UK-based staff; international staff and locally-employed staff – to ensure no offender can fall through the cracks.

  • Planning for a systematic audit of whistleblowing practices across the sector to ensure individuals feel able to report offences, and developing and implementing mandatory standards which would make organisations accountable to beneficiaries – ensuring those receiving aid are able to identify and raise concerns.

  • Making annual reports more transparent, with specific information published on safeguarding including the number of cases. Also carrying out mandatory inductions on safeguarding for all staff to ensure any issues are identified and acted upon.

  • Establishing clear guidelines for referring incidents, allegations and offenders to relevant authorities - including the National Crime Agency.

Those in attendance at the Summit agreed a Joint Statement which has been published on the Bond and gov.uk websites.

DFID is now building on the 5 March Summit outcomes and working with a wide range of stakeholders, including other nations, to shape and deliver an ambitious agenda for the Safeguarding Conference to be held later this year.

3. Driving up standards in the UN and multilateral organisations

I have written jointly with the Foreign Secretary and with the support of other donor countries to the UN Secretary-General.

Last week, I was in New York to speak at the Commission of the Status of Women to highlight that we will only prevent sexual exploitation and abuse and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, if we deliver our commitments on gender equality.

I hosted a roundtable and held meetings with senior UN partners, calling for a step change across all constituent parts of the UN to ensure they put beneficiaries first, shift their organisational culture, integrate safeguards throughout the employment cycle and ensure that there are robust systems for reporting, complaints and whistleblowing. I challenged the UN to set out concrete actions to take this forward.

I will take this message to other multilateral organisations at the Spring Meetings next month.

A donor group has been established to capitalise on our collective leverage to deliver changes across the international aid sector at the Safeguarding Conference.

I am determined that the UK will continue to lead this agenda to drive up safeguarding standards across the sector and keep people safe from harm.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS568
Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 20 March 2018
Made by: Lord O'Shaughnessy (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health)

Outcome of the General Medical Services contract negotiations for 2018-19

My hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Steve Brine) has made the following written statement:

I am today updating the House on the outcome of the General Medical Services (GMS) contract negotiations with the General Practitioners Committee of the British Medical Association and NHS Employers on behalf of NHS England.

The GMS contract for 18/19 comprises of a pay uplift together with a CPI uplift of 3% to expenses totalling £102.9m, as part of the overall investment of £256 million. The investment includes £60 million which has been allocated to cover increased indemnity costs incurred in the past financial year.

Other key parts of the contract include:

  • An agreement that will pave the way to general practitioners no longer issuing paper prescriptions, instead using the NHS Electronic Prescription Service.
  • The roll out of the NHS e-referral service into general practice. NHS England has allocated £10 million to facilitate GPs uptake of the electronic referral service.
  • An agreement with the GPC to work with DHSC and NHSE to establish the extent and reasons behind locum use and cost.

We understand that NHS England will apply the provision to Personal Medical Services and Alternative Provider Medical Services where appropriate.

Full details of the agreement can be found at www.nhsemployers/GMS201819

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS565
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 20 March 2018
Made by: Lord Ashton of Hyde (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport )

Commencement of Chapters 5 and 7 of Part 5 of the the Digital Economy Act 2017

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

This statement is to inform the House that Regulations were made on 15 March 2018 to bring into force specified provisions in Parts 5 and 6 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 (“the Act”). The Part 5 provisions, also known as the “Digital Government” provisions, provide powers enabling public authorities and other persons to share information for particular purposes, as well as introducing new powers of access to information for the UK Statistics Authority to assist them in exercising their functions.

The Digital Government provisions in Part 5 of the Act allow information-sharing in the areas of Public Service Delivery, civil registration, debt, fraud, research and statistics. Between 21st September and 2nd November last year, the Government carried out a public consultation and obtained the views of statutory consultees on draft codes of practice and other guidance which support these provisions, and on draft regulations which set objectives for the Public Service Delivery provisions. The government expects to lay the draft codes and regulations for consideration by Parliament shortly.

The Research and Statistics provisions (at Chapters 5 and 7 of Part 5) will be brought into force in Northern Ireland as well as in England, Wales and Scotland. Some of the purposes for which information may be shared under Part 5 are devolved with respect to Northern Ireland.

Although it was intended that a legislative consent motion (LCM) would be sought from the Northern Ireland Assembly during the passage of the Act, the Assembly was dissolved before the motion itself could be passed. With that in mind, the Government has sought to keep open the ability to commence the provisions separately in Northern Ireland, in the hope that a restored Executive could seek legislative consent from the Assembly before the provisions were commenced.

In the light of the ongoing absence of a Northern Ireland Executive, however, a point has been reached whereby a decision on whether to commence the Research and Statistics provisions cannot be further deferred. The UK Government has therefore decided to proceed with UK-wide implementation on a limited basis for those provisions, taking into account representations from officials and other stakeholders in Northern Ireland. This decision has not been reached lightly. Not commencing these specific provisions UK-wide at this time would undermine the comprehensiveness and consistency of statistics about society and the economy for both the UK as a whole, and for Northern Ireland in particular. It could also affect the ability of bodies in Northern Ireland to access essential statistical data and to make policy on the basis of relevant research. In both respects it would impact on the ability to make effective, timely and evidenced decision-making at the local and national levels. Given this, and noting the support the measures commanded from the previous Executive (with a Legislative Consent Motion laid in the Assembly albeit not passed) and as part of a public consultation which included Northern Ireland, we assess that now is the right time to move forward with commencement.

When an Executive has been restored, we will write to Northern Ireland Ministers to confirm that they are content for the commenced provisions to remain in place. We will also consider carefully any further representations from stakeholders in Northern Ireland to commence other provisions in the Digital Economy Act 2017, while recognising the broad support that these measures have commanded previously.

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 20 March 2018
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) )

Competitiveness Council - 12 March

My hon friend Richard Harrington, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has made the following written ministerial statement:

The Competitiveness Council (Internal Market and Industry) took place on 12 March in Brussels. I represented the UK.

EU Industrial Policy

Ministers had a wide-ranging discussion on the future of EU industrial policy and the need for European industry to adapt to changes in the global economy and the digital revolution. The UK noted that its recently published industrial strategy identified many of the same challenges and drivers of growth, and stressed our commitment to an open, liberal market economy based around fair competition and high standards. Commissioner Bieńkowska updated Ministers on the first meeting of the ‘Industry 2030’ High Level Roundtable which took place in February. The Roundtable would work towards a future vision for EU industry. Ministers also agreed the draft Council Conclusions (doc. 2793/18).

The UK also raised concerns at the recent announcement by the US administration to introduce tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. The UK stressed that unilateral tariffs were not the right way to tackle global overcapacity. Other Member States stressed the need for a solution that respected the role of the WTO which Commissioner Bieńkowska supported in her response

Digitalisation of the EU economy

Ministers considered how to better focus national reform efforts and funding decisions, to seize the opportunities presented by digitalisation for European industry and citizens. There was wide agreement on the need to boost digital skills, to provide clear regulatory frameworks, and to see SMEs and the public sector as potential beneficiaries as well as large businesses. Member States considered that both private sector and EU funding should be easier to access and complement existing national investment in infrastructure.

Single Market

Ministers held a policy debate on the Single Market to mark the anniversary of the Treaty of Maastricht. A number of Member States, including the UK, called for better enforcement of Single Market rules and an analysis of barriers to the services market to realise the Single Market’s full potential.

Commissioner Bieńkowska hoped that Member States would reflect their aspirations for the Single Market in responding to Commission legislative proposals. The UK underlined our continuing interest in the success of the Single Market and support for ongoing efforts to reduce barriers, and reiterated the Prime Minister’s call for an ambitious UK-EU partnership.

Other items

Commissioner Bieńkowska set out the key elements of the Commission’s Plastics Strategy and highlighted the objectives of a review of the REACH regulation. On Better Regulation, the Presidency presented work to highlight the role of scientific evidence in the EU’s regulatory decision making. Belgium presented a short note to highlight the risk of start-ups and scale-ups being captured by the rescue and restructuring guidelines in the State Aid rules. Under the regular ‘Competitiveness Check-up’ Commissioner Bieńkowska gave a presentation on the link between services reforms and productivity in manufacturing. Commissioner Jourova updated Ministers on the forthcoming package of consumer protection proposals which are due in April.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS564
Department for Transport
Made on: 20 March 2018
Made by: Baroness Sugg (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport)

Rail Update

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

I have today launched an invitation for investors who want to invest in rail infrastructure to bring forward proposals for the new southern rail link to Heathrow. In addition they are being invited to propose schemes around the country that could enhance and expand the rail network. Promoters and investors now have two months to start working up proposals which are financially credible without Government support.

This Government is already making the biggest investment in the railway since the Victorian era, delivering better journeys for passengers across the network. However, I want to go further by unlocking new private sector funding to invest in railway infrastructure across the country. This will be in addition to the Government’s significant commitment to invest £48 billion in railway infrastructure in the next funding period.

Governments do not have a monopoly on good ideas for the railways. I have been clear that I want the knowledge and expertise of investors and local partners to contribute to delivering new connections, more services and better journeys for passengers.

This approach has already proved effective on a number of roads schemes in the UK. By encouraging innovative ideas and new investment on our railways, we can relieve the burden on taxpayers and fare payers with schemes that match our transport needs, support our economic and housing aspirations and ensure everyone benefits from an enhanced rail network.

Heathrow is a perfect example of how this approach can make a real difference. The Department is continuing to work on a western rail link to Heathrow. The proposed southern rail link to Heathrow is an exciting opportunity to harness new and innovative ideas from the private sector and there are already a number of consortia looking to construct it. I am certain that there are other opportunities nationwide for third parties to work with government improve the railway.

I have published my Guidance for Market-led Proposals to provide clarity on what Government is looking for from these ideas and the process by which it will consider them. I have also published the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline.

When I published my High level output specification and Statement of funds available for the railway in England and Wales for the next investment period, I made clear that the Government was developing a new process for rail enhancements - the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline provides this. This is designed to ensure that future rail projects are planned and scrutinised to deliver maximum value and benefit to rail users and taxpayers.

Taken together this provides a clear framework for how we will improve the way we enhance our railway.

The changes I have outlined today lay the foundations for improving rail access to Heathrow. They also set in motion ambitious proposals on new rail schemes that could deliver significant improvements for passengers across the network and to maintain the record levels of investment this government is delivering in our railways.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS562
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 20 March 2018
Made by: Baroness Buscombe (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions)

Access To Work Scheme

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (The Rt. Hon.Esther McVey MP) has made the following Written Statement

In March 2015, as part of a package of improvements to Access to Work, the former Minster for Disabled People, Health and Work and the right honourable member for Forest of Dean announced the introduction of an annual limit on the amount of an Access to Work grant of 1.5 times average salaries in order to encourage better use of public funds and to enable Access to Work to support more people – particularly traditionally under-represented groups. The cap has been in place since October 2015 but a period of transitional protection was granted to enable those who were spending above the level of the cap on introduction time to adjust to the new limits.

During this transitional period for people to adjust to the need to source their support within a limit, we have seen considerable progress. The average spend amongst the remaining transitionally-protected customers has fallen from around £57,000 each to around £45,000 each. This suggests that it is achieving the intended incentive effects on individuals and employers to make best use of funding as well as freeing over £2m per year, to support growing numbers of people benefitting from the scheme, alongside the extra resources provided in the Spending Review. I am therefore persuaded that the principle of the cap is sound, balancing the need to provide support to the largest number of people, and at a significant level for some, with the need to make the best use of public funds.

At the same time, the Government have always said that we would also use this time to monitor the impact of the cap on individuals and work with customers and other stakeholders to see if any further practical mitigations could be applied to those whose needs still remain above the cap. This includes emphasising the duties that employers have to play their part and make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010. At the same time it was agreed that we would lead a review of communication support for Deaf people, which we published last year.

I am therefore pleased to announce that as a result of this engagement – particularly with the UK Council on Deafness (because the majority of capped customers are Deaf), but also with others groups and individuals that as of April 2018, the cap will not rise to £43,100 in line with 1.5 times average earnings. Instead it will rise to £57,200, double average earnings, and will be uprated annually on that basis. This means that considerably fewer British Sign Language users now remain affected by the cap. I believe it is important to retain this link to average earnings so that high-value awards, which are overwhelmingly used to purchase human support, retain their purchasing power over time.

Alongside this change, existing capped customers will, where applicable, have their needs considered against this new limit when their awards are due for their annual review.

As we continually seek to improve Access to Work, which last year approved provision for 8% more people than in 2015/16 – including 13% more people who were Deaf or had hearing loss - we will introduce the following measures:

  • extra support to customers with high-value awards via automatic workplace assessments promoting available technology and reasonable adjustments and voluntary cost-share from employers as well as signposting to advice and guidance provided by third parties;
  • working with stakeholders to co-produce guidance and share best practice as well as continued monitoring of the impacts on the cap;
  • discretion in exceptional cases of multiple disability, to consider award limits averaged over a longer period – for example where a customer’s on-going need for a support worker may be below the cap but when coupled with a periodic need for say a wheelchair, would exceed the cap in that year;
  • introduction of managed personal budgets to enable greater choice and control for customers in the way grants are spent;
  • taking applications 12 weeks ahead of a job start date rather than the current six weeks to allow more time for support to be agreed and put in place;
  • continuing to invest in our digital improvements such as developing the facility to submit invoices online;
  • allowing more flexibility in how people can use Access to Work to support short periods of work experience where there is a likelihood of a paid job in the near future; and
  • encouraging uptake of technological solutions that can both reduce costs and promote independence, we will allow risk free trials of technological solutions so that customers can revert to their old award if they wish, and also introduce a “Tech Fund” that will mean the mandatory cost-sharing contributions from employers for such items are waived where their use will save the taxpayer money.
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS563
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 20 March 2018
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy )

Corporate Governance

My Rt hon Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Greg Clark) has today made the following statement:

The Government is launching a consultation on improving the corporate governance framework to ensure the highest standards of behaviour from those who control companies.

The UK is already recognised as having a leading international reputation for corporate governance. After consulting last year, the Government is preparing secondary legislation to implement a range of reforms that build on and enhance the current framework in relation to executive pay, strengthening the employee and wider stakeholder voice in the boardroom, and corporate governance in large privately held businesses.

Today’s consultation takes this essential work further by improving the corporate governance of firms when they are in or approaching insolvency, and seeking views on a number of areas where our existing rules and processes may need updating. This consultation seeks to respond in a balanced and proportionate way to reinforce public trust and confidence in business, so that the vast majority of responsible companies do not have their reputation besmirched by a small few.

The consultation considers:

  • The sale of businesses in distress: The consultation explores potential changes to ensure that directors responsible for the sale of an insolvent subsidiary of a corporate group take proper account of the interests of the subsidiary’s stakeholders. The proposals seek to ensure fair outcomes when major companies get into difficulties, but to avoid putting barriers in the way of credible business rescue efforts.
  • Reversal of value extraction schemes: The Government wants all creditors to be treated fairly in an insolvency situation and is seeking views on potential changes to how certain transactions, or a series of transactions, entered into before insolvency can be challenged and clawed back if unlawful.
  • Investigation into the actions of directors of dissolved companies: There are difficulties caused when companies are dissolved with outstanding debts or allegations of director misconduct, which the Insolvency Service does not currently have the necessary powers to investigate.
  • Strengthening corporate governance in pre-insolvency situations:

o Whether steps should be taken to improve governance, accountability and internal controls within complex company group structures;

o Whether there are further opportunities to strengthen the role of shareholders in stewarding the companies in which they have investments,

o Whilst the payment of dividends should remain for the directors to decide, having regard to their obligations and guidance, whether the legal and technical framework within these decisions are made could be improved and made more transparent;

o Whether the commissioning and use of professional advice by directors is done so without a proper awareness of their duties as directors; and

o Whether and how a supply chain and other creditors can be better protected in the event of a major insolvency, whilst preserving interests of shareholders.

Today I will be placing copies of the consultation document in the Libraries of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS561
Home Office
Made on: 19 March 2018
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)


My rt hon Friend the Minister of State for Immigration (Caroline Nokes) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

We will today inform the European Commission and the Croatian Government of our decision not to extend further the transitional restrictions on Croatian citizens’ access to the UK labour market when they expire on 30 June 2018. This is in line with the provisions of the Accession Treaty for Croatia, under which temporary restrictions have been in force since Croatia joined the European Union on 1 July 2013. There are only three remaining member states (Austria, Slovenia and the Netherlands) who also currently impose transitional restrictions on Croatians, and will need to consider the case for extending these before July.

Since 2013 when Croatia joined the EU, their citizens, unless exempt, require authorisation from the Home Office before they can take up a post in the UK. After 12 months’ employment, Croatians are free to work in the UK without restriction.

It was always the case that these restrictions were temporary and it would only be legal to extend them further if there was an economic case that to do otherwise would cause or threaten serious labour market disturbance. We have examined the evidence carefully and no such case can be made.

The UK labour market is very strong with near record levels of unemployment and employment. There is a low volume of flows from Croatia to the UK, and a low number of resident Croatians in the UK. Long-term international migration flows suggest an estimated total as low as 4,000 long-term immigrants from Malta, Cyprus and Croatia arrived in the UK in the year to June (ONS, 2017). Estimates of the total number of Croatians resident in the UK in 2016 are below 10,000 (ONS, 2016). The cultural/social network ‘pull’ factor is limited, particularly given the much larger Croatian diaspora size in other EU Member States (e.g. Germany).

This is in contrast to our consideration of extending controls for the EU2 (Romania and Bulgaria) when our economy was still fragile after the recession. Figures at the same point of those transitional controls showed there were around 57,000 Romanians and 35,000 Bulgarians living in the UK.

Our conclusion is that there is insufficient evidence to satisfy the test of ‘serious labour market disturbance’ that is required to extend the restrictions.

The decision not to extend the restrictions will mean that Croatian citizens will be able to seek and obtain employment in the UK on the same basis as currently enjoyed by all other EU citizens.

We will not discriminate between nationals of the EU member states in our implementation of the Citizens’ Rights deal. Croatian citizens will be able to apply for settled status on the same terms as all other EU citizens.

We have been clear that we will take back control of immigration and our borders when we leave the EU, and we will put in place an immigration system which works in the best interests of the whole of the UK.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS560
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