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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Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 16 July 2020
Made by: Dominic Raab (Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

Annual Human Rights and Democracy Report 2019

I have today laid before Parliament a copy of the 2019 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Report on Human Rights and Democracy (CP number 273).

The report analyses human rights developments overseas in 2019 and illustrates how the government works to promote and defend human rights globally.

The report assesses the situation in 30 countries, which the FCO has designated as its Human Rights Priority Countries. These are Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burma, Burundi, Central African Republic, China, Colombia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Libya, Maldives, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

Almost 75 years ago, the UN Charter established the three pillars of the UN’s work: maintaining international peace and security; promoting and protecting human rights; and fostering development. As we mark the UN’s 75th anniversary, the UK’s commitment to these three pillars remains steadfast. This report details the UK’s partnerships with human rights defenders, our leadership on promoting media freedom and gender equality, our work to eradicate modern slavery, and our commitment to deliver change for those who are abused, targeted, or killed for their religion or beliefs.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS370
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Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 16 July 2020
Made by: Helen Whately (Minister of State (Minister for Care))
Commons

The fourth annual report of the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review Programme

I am announcing today the publication of the fourth annual report of the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review Programme (LeDeR). A copy will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

Addressing the persistent health inequalities faced by people with learning disabilities is a priority for this government and this report is an important contribution towards that.

The LeDeR programme was established in June 2015 to help reduce early deaths and health inequalities for people with a learning disability by supporting local areas in England to review the deaths of people with a learning disability and to ensure that the learning from these reviews lead to improved health and care services. The programme is led by the University of Bristol and commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

As in previous years, the report makes a number of recommendations for Government and its system partners to improve the care of people with a learning disability which does not always meet the high standard we would expect for each and every individual. We must carefully consider these recommendations to better support those who need care and take the right action as soon as possible.

Earlier this year, we provided an update on action being taken in response to the third LeDeR report and any ongoing actions highlighted in previous years’ reports. This week, NHS England has also published its Action from Learning Report alongside the fourth LeDeR report, which sets out a range of work taking place to improve the safety and quality of care to reduce early deaths and health inequalities.

The fourth annual LeDeR report covers the period 1 July 2016 up to the 31st December 2019, with a particular focus on deaths in 2019. This means the report will not include reference to deaths from Covid-19, as the reviews it includes, and the analysis of them, were completed before the pandemic. From 1st July 2016 – 31st December 2019, 7145 deaths were notified to the LeDeR programme. 3450 of these were notified in 2019. In 122 of the cases reviewed, people received care that fell so far short of expected good practice that it significantly impacted on their well-being or directly contributed to their cause of death.

Based on the evidence from completed LeDeR reviews, the Report makes ten recommendations for the health and care system, as follows:

  1. A continued focus on the deaths of adults and children from BAME groups is required.
  2. For the Department of Health and Social Care to work with the Chief Coroner to identify the proportion of deaths of people with learning disabilities referred to a coroner in England and Wales.
  3. The standards against which the Care Quality Commission inspects should explicitly incorporate compliance with the Mental Capacity Act as a core requirement.
  4. Establish and agree a programme of work to implement the from the ‘Best practice in care coordination for people with a learning disability and long term conditions’ (March 2019) report and liaise with the National Institute for Health Research regarding the importance of commissioning a programme of work that develops, pilots and evaluates different models of care coordination for adults and children with learning disabilities.
  5. Adapt (and then adopt) the National Early Warning Score 2 regionally to ensure it captures baseline and soft signs of acute deterioration in physical health for people with learning disabilities.
  6. Consider developing, piloting and introducing: Specialist physicians for people with learning disabilities who would work within the specialist multi-disciplinary teams; a Diploma in Learning Disabilities Medicine; and making ‘learning disabilities’ a physician speciality of the Royal College of Physicians.
  7. Consider the need for timely, NICE evidence-based guidance that is inclusive of prevention, diagnosis and management of aspiration pneumonia.
  8. Right Care to provide a toolkit to support systems to improve outcomes for adults and children at risk of aspiration pneumonia.
  9. Safety of people with epilepsy to be prioritised. The forthcoming revision of the NICE Guideline ‘Epilepsies in children, young people and adults’ to include guidance on the safety of people with epilepsy, and safety measures to be verified in Care Quality Commission inspections.
  10. For a national clinical audit of adults and children admitted to hospital for a condition related to chronic constipation.

The inappropriate use of Do Not Attempt Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) decisions is highlighted in this fourth report, as it has been previously. DNACPRs should never be used in a blanket way and this has been reiterated during the Covid-19 crisis through letters from the NHSE, including the NHSE Medical Director on 7 April 2020, and by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on 15 April 2020.

I am clear that we must tackle the issues raised in the LeDeR report to ensure the care that each individual deserves is provided. We will consider the report and its recommendations in more detail in the coming weeks, in order to determine the action that must be taken.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS373
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Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 16 July 2020
Made by: Helen Whately (Minister of State (Minister for Care))
Commons

Implementation of Liberty Protection Safeguards

This statement provides an update on the implementation of Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS). The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019, which received Royal Assent in May 2019, introduced LPS to replace Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS).

LPS will authorise deprivation of liberty in order to provide care or treatment to an individual who lacks capacity to consent to their arrangements, in England and Wales. It will replace a system that many agree is overly bureaucratic and complicated.

It is paramount that implementation of LPS is successful so that the new system provides the safeguards needed. The intention to date, subject to the Department for Health and Social Care’s work with stakeholders and delivery partners, was for LPS to come into force on 1 October 2020.

It is now clear that successful implementation is not possible by this October. We now aim for full implementation of LPS by April 2022. Some provisions, covering new roles and training, will come into force ahead of that date. I will continue to update the sector and stakeholders on timings.

The Government will undertake a public consultation on the draft regulations and Code of Practice for LPS. That will run for 12 weeks, allowing sufficient time for those that are affected, including those with learning disabilities, to engage properly.

The sector will need time following the publication of the final Code to prepare for implementation. We will give the sector sufficient time to prepare for the new system to ensure successful implementation. I am considering a period of approximately six months for this.

After we have considered responses to the consultation, the updated Code and regulations will need to be laid in Parliament to allow for proper scrutiny. This needs to happen well in advance of the target implementation date, first to allow for that scrutiny and second because some of the regulations need to come into force earlier.

Health and social care has been at the frontline of the nation’s response to COVID-19, with social care providers looking after many of the most vulnerable in society. We have received representations from public and private bodies from across the sector over the last few months, outlining the pressures they face if they were to implement by October 2020.

My overall objective remains to ensure implementation of an effective system in particular for those whose lives will be most affected by this legislation.

The forthcoming draft Code of Practice and regulations will also offer more detailed information about how LPS will operate in practice. I will provide a further update on the progress of implementation in due course. I hope that the additional time announced today provides reassurance to the sector.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS372
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Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 16 July 2020
Made by: Ms Nadine Dorries (Minister of State (Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health))
Commons

Independent Investigation of Patient Safety Incidents and Deaths at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust Terms Of Reference

Following questions raised about the management of the Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust an Independent Review chaired by Dr Bill Kirkup CBE was established. The Review Report, published on 8 February 2018, found that there were significant failings in the Trust from November 2010 to December 2014.

It is important that these failings are investigated, and lessons learnt to improve. services. In response to these serious patient safety incidents described in the Report the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care commissioned Dr Bill Kirkup to conduct an Independent Investigation into patient safety incidents at the Trust.

The Terms of Reference cover patient safety incidents that occurred in the same period as the initial Independent Review addressed, namely November 2010 to December 2014.

This Independent Investigation will be conducted over three stages. Stages 1 and 2 identify individual serious patient safety incidents that had not been reported or adequately investigated by the Trust and undertake a series of historic mortality reviews.

Stage 3 will fully investigate those individual serious patient safety incidents identified from the previous stages to determine the scale of deaths and patient harm and identify local and national learning.

The work of the Independent Investigation Panel is expected to complete by the end of 2021 and arrangements will be made for publication of its Report to Parliament.

A copy of the Terms of Reference will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS371
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 16 July 2020
Made by: Matt Warman (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Digital Infrastructure)
Commons

A Call for Views on Proposals for Regulating Consumer Smart Product Security

This government has ambitious plans to ensure the UK’s smart technology, products and services are more secure by having cyber security designed into them by default.

From January 2017 to February 2018, my department conducted a review, in collaboration with the National Cyber Security Centre, to identify proposals for improving the cyber security of consumer smart products and associated services. This led to the creation of our Code of Practice for Consumer Internet of Things (IoT) Security, which was published on 14 October 2018.

The Government initially encouraged industry to adopt the guidelines in the Code of Practice for Consumer IoT Security voluntarily. However, in many cases, poor security practices remain commonplace.

In a consultation held in 2019, we found widespread support for the introduction of a mandatory cyber security baseline for consumer smart products sold in the UK. As part of the Government response to the 2019 consultation, in January 2020 I announced the Government’s intention to implement regulation to ensure that stronger security is built into consumer smart products, aligned with the top three security requirements of the Code of Practice for Consumer IoT Security.

Since then, my officials have been working with the National Cyber Security Centre, industry leaders and cyber security experts to develop world-leading legislation in this space. Today I am pleased to inform members that we are launching a public Call for Views on the Government’s proposed regulatory approach to consumer smart products on the 16th of July. This will run until 6 September 2020, and represents an important opportunity for us to test our proposed approach, and for industry to input and build a regulatory framework that is world-leading, promotes innovation, and protects consumers.

Our proposed regulation will set a cyber security baseline for consumer smart products sold in the UK. The Call for Views will detail the scope of products the legislation would apply to, security requirements that we are proposing to mandate, obligations on producers and distributors, and a proposed enforcement approach. Following the conclusion of this call for views, we will develop our regulation approach further, before introducing legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows.

As a reserved matter, these proposed amendments will apply across the UK. The safety of consumer smart products is a priority across the whole of the UK, and my officials will continue to work closely with the Devolved Administrations on this policy.

WS
Home Office
Made on: 16 July 2020
Made by: Priti Patel (The Secretary of State for the Home Department)
Commons

Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (1 March 2020 to 31 May 2020)

Section 19(1) of the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 (the Act) requires the Secretary of State to report to Parliament as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of every relevant three-month period on the exercise of her TPIM powers under the Act during that period.

The level of information provided will always be subject to slight variations based on operational advice.

TPIM notices in force (as of 31 May 2020)

6

Number of new TPIM notices served (during this period)

0

TPIM notices in respect of British citizens (as of 31 May 2020)

6

TPIM notices extended (during the reporting period)

1

TPIM notices revoked (during the reporting period)

0

TPIM notices revived (during the reporting period)

1

Variations made to measures specified in TPIM notices (during the reporting period)

0

Applications to vary measures specified in TPIM notices refused (during the reporting period)

2

The number of subjects relocated under TPIM legislation (during this the reporting period)

3

The TPIM Review Group (TRG) keeps every TPIM notice under regular and formal review. Second quarter TRG meetings took place on 31 May 2020.

One individual has been charged with two counts of breaching their TPIM notice. The criminal trial has been listed to be heard in January 2021.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS368
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Treasury
Made on: 15 July 2020
Made by: Lord Agnew of Oulton (Minister of State)
Lords

Supply and Appropriation (Main Estimates) Bill

I have made a statement under Section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 that, in my view, the provisions of the Supply and Appropriation (Main Estimates) Bill are compatible with the convention rights. A copy of the statement has been placed in the Library of the House.

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Treasury
Made on: 15 July 2020
Made by: Lord Agnew of Oulton (Minister of State)
Lords

OBR 2020 Fiscal Sustainability Report and response to the OBR 2019 Fiscal Risks Report

My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Rishi Sunak) made the following Written Ministerial Statement on 14 July.

Today’s publication of the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) 2020 Fiscal Sustainability Report (FSR) fulfils the OBR’s legal obligation to publish an analysis of the sustainability of the public finances over the long-term and an assessment of the public sector balance sheet at least once every two years. This report has been laid before Parliament today and copies are available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office. The OBR also produces a biennial Fiscal Risks Report (FRR) to which the government is required to respond within a year. This statement provides the government’s response to Office for Budget Responsibility - Fiscal risks report July 2019 [CP131], laid 18 July 2019[1].

The action the government has taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was necessary to protect public health, support household incomes, and to minimise permanent damage to the economy – thereby supporting growth, employment and the public finances over the medium to long term. As the OBR have said in the FSR: “The outlook would have been much worse without the measures the Government has taken. These have provided additional financial support to individuals and businesses through the lockdown. They should also help to limit any long-term economic scarring, by keeping workers attached to firms and helping otherwise viable firms stay in business”.

OBR 2020 Fiscal Sustainability Report

The magnitude and duration of the economic shock caused by COVID-19 will have important consequences for the medium and long-term fiscal position. In all three scenarios the OBR have published in the FSR, the level of borrowing this year is significantly higher than expected in the OBR’s Spring Budget forecast. Public sector net borrowing is projected to reach between 13% and 21% of GDP in 2020-21, with differences across scenarios reflecting the size of the economic shock. This in turn means that public sector net debt is also projected to be higher compared to the Spring Budget forecast under all scenarios, although the OBR have highlighted that low borrowing costs help to make this more affordable in the near-term. The gilt market is deep and liquid with a good track record in responding smoothly to increases in gilt supply. Underlying demand for the UK’s debt remains strong, with borrowing costs at historical lows, signalling confidence in the UK’s institutions.

The government has taken significant action to support the recovery and minimise permanent damage from the pandemic. In the long-run, the OBR also expect demographic change and other cost pressures in health spending to put upward pressure on public spending while leaving revenues broadly unchanged. The government is committed to fiscal sustainability and ensuring the long-term health of the public finances. The government will set out further details on its plans to put the public finances back on a sustainable footing over the medium-term at the next Budget, alongside an updated OBR forecast. As part of this, as set out in the March Budget, HM Treasury is reviewing the UK’s fiscal framework to ensure it remains appropriate for the macroeconomic context, while ensuring the sustainability of the public finances. The FSR provides important analysis and scenarios which will be used to inform this review.

Managing fiscal risks from COVID-19

In July 2019, the OBR published their second Fiscal Risks Report covering the main risks to the public finances at that time. With COVID-19 now clearly the most significant immediate source of fiscal risk facing the UK, this response to the report focuses on how the government is managing the fiscal risks associated with the pandemic.

The work of the last ten years in bringing borrowing and debt back under control means that the UK was well-placed to respond to the immediate and long-term challenges posed by COVID-19.

The government acted quickly to implement interventions containing the initial economic shock from the pandemic. When designing these interventions, the government drew on the experience gained from HM Treasury’s Balance Sheet Review[2] and international best practice[3] to ensure that fiscal risks are managed effectively. The IMF commended the government’s powerful response to the initial shock of COVID-19, finding the interventions to be large, substantial and carefully targeted[4].

In the first phase of the economic response to COVID-19, the government kept people attached to their work, protected their incomes and supported businesses, delivering one of the most generous and comprehensive packages of support globally, with a fiscal response totalling £160 billion. While the economic impacts of COVID-19 and the government’s necessary response have come at a significant fiscal cost, the costs of failing to act to support public services, businesses, and workers would have been much higher.

Building on the action taken in the face of the immediate threat posed by the virus, the government is now proceeding with the second phase of its response, supporting the UK’s economic recovery while continuing to prioritise people’s health. The Plan for Jobs announced last week, made up to £30 billion available to help kickstart the nation’s economic recovery while continuing to prioritise people’s health by: introducing a new Job Retention Bonus to encourage firms to keep on furloughed workers; supporting jobs with direct help to find work and to gain the skills people need to get a job; protecting jobs in the hard-hit hospitality and accommodation sectors and at attractions by supporting demand for these businesses, giving them confidence to reopen; creating jobs with action to get the property market moving, to increase and bring forward infrastructure investment, and to make homes greener, warmer and cheaper to heat.

The third phase of the government’s plan will be set out in the autumn with measures to support the longer-term recovery through a Budget and a Spending Review. These will detail further plans to invest in public services, to support innovation and growth-enhancing infrastructure with a National Infrastructure Strategy, to seize global opportunities and to level up opportunity across every region and nation of the UK.

Wider fiscal risk management

While the immediate focus of government action is on dealing with COVID-19, the management of the wider risks facing the UK public finances remains important. The government has acted to address a number of the risks that were discussed by the OBR in FRR 2019.

To address the long-term challenge of low productivity growth, Budget 2020 announced measures investing in UK infrastructure, backing tech and innovation, making tax changes to support firms to invest, and introducing measures to support a dynamic and competitive economy. The Prime Minister also announced on 30 June that we will be improving the quality, speed and efficiency of delivering infrastructure through a new Infrastructure Delivery Taskforce named Project Speed.

In the longer-term, climate change remains a significant challenge for the wider public finances. Demonstrating the government’s commitment to mitigating climate change, in November 2019, the Chancellor launched an HM Treasury review into how the transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions will be funded and where the costs will fall. Spring Budget allocated £640 million for tree planting and peatland restoration, over £1 billion for ultra-low emission vehicles and introduced tax measures to encourage greater energy efficiency and reduce plastic waste. The UK is also increasing its International Climate Finance support for developing countries to at least £11.6 billion. To improve the UK’s climate resilience, the government announced a doubling of investment in flood and coastal defences in England to £5.2 billion over the next six years. The devolved administrations will benefit from the Barnett consequentials of this substantial increase in government investment in flood and coastal defences.

To manage risks associated with non-bank financial intermediation and increase the resilience of the UK financial system, in the remit for the Financial Policy Committee (FPC), HMT recommended that the FPC publishes a detailed assessment of the oversight and mitigation of systemic risks from the non-bank sector. The FPC has confirmed it will publish preliminary findings in the August Financial Stability Report, followed by a more detailed report that outlines gaps in non-bank resilience and potential measures that may be taken to increase resilience.

The OBR also highlighted fiscal risks related to tax reliefs. The government recognises the need to monitor and evaluate existing tax reliefs; the government will continue to monitor their use and act where appropriate, for example through the recent reforms to Entrepreneurs’ Relief, and the planned changes to the entitlement to use Red Diesel. HMRC is committed to increasing the number of published costs of tax reliefs and in May 2020 published cost estimates for another 47 non-structural tax reliefs. HMRC will continue to build on this to increase transparency.

[1] https://obr.uk/frr/fiscal-risks-report-july-2019/

[2] The Balance Sheet Review (BSR) was launched in 2017 to identify opportunities to dispose of assets that no longer serve a policy purpose, improve returns on retained assets, and reduce the risk and cost of liabilities.

[3] https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/SPROLLs/covid19-special-notes

[4] https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2020/04/14/tr041420-transcript-of-april-2020-world-economic-outlook-press-briefing

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS364
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Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 15 July 2020
Made by: Lord Bethell (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Innovation))
Lords

Update on implementation of the Immigration Health Surcharge exemption for health and care workers

My Hon Friend the Minister of State (Minister for Health) (Edward Argar) has made the following written statement:

Following announcements by the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care earlier this week, I would like to further update the House on progress made by the Department of Health and Social Care towards implementing the Immigration Health Surcharge exemption for health and social care staff, as announced by the Prime Minister on 21 May 2020.

The Prime Minister’s announcement demonstrated our continued commitment to supporting our health and social care workforce and their families, not least because of the support they have provided to all of us throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our election manifesto included the commitment to introduce an NHS Visa. As set out by the Home Secretary, next month, we will launch a Health and Care Visa, following the Fees Regulations that were laid yesterday. This will make it cheaper, quicker and easier for the best health and care professionals to come and work in the UK. The launch of this new visa will also mean that for the very first time, overseas health and care staff on this visa will not need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge upfront, either for themselves or their dependents.

I am, however, conscious that this visa does not exempt everyone in the health and care sector who has paid the Immigration Health Surcharge, such as the thousands of overseas staff working as direct care workers in social care, or as cleaners, porters or healthcare assistants throughout the NHS. I am pleased, therefore, to be able to reiterate what the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care confirmed in the House yesterday: that all employees working in the health and care sector that have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge on or after the 31 March 2020 will be eligible for a reimbursement of what they have paid since that date, including those vital staff outlined above.

This reimbursement will be paid in arrears of six-month increments. This ensures we only reimburse those workers and their families who have worked in the sector for an appropriate period of time. This will also provide an incentive to continue working in the health and care sector. I can confirm that this scheme will be launched by 1 October 2020. This is the earliest date that eligible workers and their families would be able to claim a reimbursement. My officials continue to work with colleagues across government, the devolved administrations, representative bodies and the health and care sector to ensure those who are eligible for reimbursement are accounted for within the scheme, and my Department will publish further details of the scheme in due course.

These are significant steps in ensuring that our health and social care workforce and their families are themselves cared for, after they have cared for and supported so many of us in incredible circumstances.

My Department will make further announcements to update the House on the progress of the Immigration Health Surcharge exemption and the reimbursement scheme, and relevant documents will be published on gov.uk in advance of the reimbursement scheme launching in October.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS372
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Northern Ireland Office
Made on: 15 July 2020
Made by: Brandon Lewis (Secretary of State for Northern Ireland)
Commons

National Security Arrangements in Northern Ireland - 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019

This is a summary of the main findings from the report by His Honour Brian Barker QC, the Independent Reviewer of National Security Arrangements in Northern Ireland, covering the period from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019. His Honour Brian Barker concludes:

The overview is a twelve-month period of almost constant change and unpredictability. At the core was another year without a functioning Executive or Assembly and no representative capacity for vital decisions on development to be taken.

Throughout the reporting period I have taken the opportunity to arrange meetings with appropriate senior members of the Service and PSNI, and to be briefed on significant events. My visits to both MI5 and various PSNI establishments confirm my view that there is a deep sense of commitment and high level of professionalism in the continuing and unpredictable battle against indiscriminate and violent lawlessness. Relations with An Garda Siochana continue to strengthen aided by the appointment of PSNI’s Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris as Garda Commissioner in September 2018.

Following the pattern in recent years there have been successes in the containment of dissident groups, but the context in which national security activities are performed remain ‘challenging’ and constant care and vigilance by members of the PSNI and the Prison Service both in relation to personal safety remain absolutely necessary.

Arriving from Cheshire Constabulary, Chief Constable Simon Byrne took over on July 1st and was given little time to settle in before a marching season that was disappointingly violent. I was grateful for an introductory meeting in August, and a fuller exchange took place in November covering many of the difficulties, not least the step change in dissident attacks. An examination of CHIS procedures and control had been satisfactory.

The frustrations of the Policing Board were partially addressed by legislation in November 2018 allowing new membership, followed by effective reconstitution in December. I was able to assess progress at a meeting in May and attended what was a very useful exchange. The Board was now able to discharge their wide range of overseeing constitutional duties and follow the seven principles set out in the 2017-2020 Plan to continue oversight of the work of the police and to encourage engagement at all levels. In a meeting with Professor Duncan Morrow and Dr Jonny Byrne of the University of Ulster a valuable perspective was provided by their reflections on the ‘state of the union’ based on years of research and teaching.

The annual statistics issued to mid 2019 show that the powers of stop and search under section 47a of the Terrorism Act 2000 were not exercised. There were 169 premises searched under warrant under section 37 Schedule 5 of the same Act. There were 146 persons detained under section 41 of the Terrorism Act and 143 (98%) were held for 48 hours or less. 16 persons were charged with a total of 39 offences including four charges of attempted murder, eight charges of firearms offences, six charges of GBH with intent and four charges of possession of offensive weapon. A total of 34 persons were disposed of by non-jury trial, 29 of whom were found guilty of at least one charge. A total of 17 non-jury trial certificates were issued by the DPP, four down on the previous year. There as a total of six persons convicted in the Crown Court under the Terrorism Act 2000, the Terrorism Act 2006 or the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, one less than the previous year. There were 1515 examinations carried out by police officers under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, 656 of which were examinations of persons, eight of which resulted in a detention. Paramilitary style shootings resulted in 17 casualties, down four compared with 2017, all being aged 18 or above. Paramilitary assaults resulted in 60 casualties, up by six. No compensation or agency payments were made under section 38 schedule 4 of the Justice and Security (NI) Act 2007 where property was broken, destroyed or damaged or other private property rights interfered with.

I wish to note the full co-operation extended to me by both MI5 and the PSNI where standards and commitment, in the face of unpredictable difficulties, continue to be of high order.

Determined attacks from extremists have continued and police and prison officers face unacceptable risk in pursuing their duties as they continue to be regarded as legitimate targets.

The tragic killing of Lyra McKee has robbed Northern Ireland of a ‘rising star’ - someone who also believed passionately in social and religious tolerance; but her death generated widespread anger and condemnation of the activities of terrorists. One of her legacies hopefully will be an acceleration along the slow road to normalization.

I have measured performance in this reporting period against the five key principles identified in relation to national security in Annex E to the St Andrews Agreement of October 2006. My conclusions are set out in the attached table.

Annex E to the St Andrew's Agreement (Word Document, 14.61 KB)
WS
Northern Ireland Office
Made on: 15 July 2020
Made by: Viscount Younger of Leckie (Government Spokesperson for Northern Ireland)
Lords

National Security Arrangements in Northern Ireland - 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019

My Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Brandon Lewis) has today made the following statement:

This is a summary of the main findings from the report by His Honour Brian Barker QC, the Independent Reviewer of National Security Arrangements in Northern Ireland, covering the period from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019. His Honour Brian Barker concludes:

The overview is a twelve-month period of almost constant change and unpredictability. At the core was another year without a functioning Executive or Assembly and no representative capacity for vital decisions on development to be taken.

Throughout the reporting period I have taken the opportunity to arrange meetings with appropriate senior members of the Service and PSNI, and to be briefed on significant events. My visits to both MI5 and various PSNI establishments confirm my view that there is a deep sense of commitment and high level of professionalism in the continuing and unpredictable battle against indiscriminate and violent lawlessness. Relations with An Garda Siochana continue to strengthen aided by the appointment of PSNI’s Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris as Garda Commissioner in September 2018.

Following the pattern in recent years there have been successes in the containment of dissident groups, but the context in which national security activities are performed remain ‘challenging’ and constant care and vigilance by members of the PSNI and the Prison Service both in relation to personal safety remain absolutely necessary.

Arriving from Cheshire Constabulary, Chief Constable Simon Byrne took over on July 1st and was given little time to settle in before a marching season that was disappointingly violent. I was grateful for an introductory meeting in August, and a fuller exchange took place in November covering many of the difficulties, not least the step change in dissident attacks. An examination of CHIS procedures and control had been satisfactory.

The frustrations of the Policing Board were partially addressed by legislation in November 2018 allowing new membership, followed by effective reconstitution in December. I was able to assess progress at a meeting in May and attended what was a very useful exchange. The Board was now able to discharge their wide range of overseeing constitutional duties and follow the seven principles set out in the 2017-2020 Plan to continue oversight of the work of the police and to encourage engagement at all levels. In a meeting with Professor Duncan Morrow and Dr Jonny Byrne of the University of Ulster a valuable perspective was provided by their reflections on the ‘state of the union’ based on years of research and teaching.

The annual statistics issued to mid 2019 show that the powers of stop and search under section 47a of the Terrorism Act 2000 were not exercised. There were 169 premises searched under warrant under section 37 Schedule 5 of the same Act. There were 146 persons detained under section 41 of the Terrorism Act and 143 (98%) were held for 48 hours or less. 16 persons were charged with a total of 39 offences including four charges of attempted murder, eight charges of firearms offences, six charges of GBH with intent and four charges of possession of offensive weapon. A total of 34 persons were disposed of by non-jury trial, 29 of whom were found guilty of at least one charge. A total of 17 non-jury trial certificates were issued by the DPP, four down on the previous year. There were a total of six persons convicted in the Crown Court under the Terrorism Act 2000, the Terrorism Act 2006 or the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, one less than the previous year. There were 1515 examinations carried out by police officers under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, 656 of which were examinations of persons, eight of which resulted in a detention. Paramilitary style shootings resulted in 17 casualties, down four compared with 2017, all being aged 18 or above. Paramilitary assaults resulted in 60 casualties, up by six. No compensation or agency payments were made under section 38 schedule 4 of the Justice and Security (NI) Act 2007 where property was broken, destroyed or damaged or other private property rights interfered with.

I wish to note the full co-operation extended to me by both MI5 and the PSNI where standards and commitment, in the face of unpredictable difficulties, continue to be of high order.

Determined attacks from extremists have continued and police and prison officers face unacceptable risk in pursuing their duties as they continue to be regarded as legitimate targets.

The tragic killing of Lyra McKee has robbed Northern Ireland of a ‘rising star’ - someone who also believed passionately in social and religious tolerance; but her death generated widespread anger and condemnation of the activities of terrorists. One of her legacies hopefully will be an acceleration along the slow road to normalization.

I have measured performance in this reporting period against the five key principles identified in relation to national security in Annex E to the St Andrews Agreement of October 2006. My conclusions are set out in the attached table.

Annex E to the St Andrew's Agreement (Word Document, 14.61 KB)
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Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 15 July 2020
Made by: Edward Argar (Minister of State (Minister for Health))
Commons

Update on implementation of the Immigration Health Surcharge exemption for health and care workers

Following announcements by the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care earlier this week, I would like to further update the House on progress made by the Department of Health and Social Care towards implementing the Immigration Health Surcharge exemption for health and social care staff, as announced by the Prime Minister on 21 May 2020.

The Prime Minister’s announcement demonstrated our continued commitment to supporting our health and social care workforce and their families, not least because of the support they have provided to all of us throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our election manifesto included the commitment to introduce an NHS Visa. As set out by the Home Secretary, next month, we will launch a Health and Care Visa, following the Fees Regulations that were laid yesterday. This will make it cheaper, quicker and easier for the best health and care professionals to come and work in the UK. The launch of this new visa will also mean that for the very first time, overseas health and care staff on this visa will not need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge upfront, either for themselves or their dependents.

I am, however, conscious that this visa does not exempt everyone in the health and care sector who has paid the Immigration Health Surcharge, such as the thousands of overseas staff working as direct care workers in social care, or as cleaners, porters or healthcare assistants throughout the NHS. I am pleased, therefore, to be able to reiterate what the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care confirmed in the House yesterday: that all employees working in the health and care sector that have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge on or after the 31 March 2020 will be eligible for a reimbursement of what they have paid since that date, including those vital staff outlined above.

This reimbursement will be paid in arrears of six-month increments. This ensures we only reimburse those workers and their families who have worked in the sector for an appropriate period of time. This will also provide an incentive to continue working in the health and care sector. I can confirm that this scheme will be launched by 1 October 2020. This is the earliest date that eligible workers and their families would be able to claim a reimbursement. My officials continue to work with colleagues across government, the devolved administrations, representative bodies and the health and care sector to ensure those who are eligible for reimbursement are accounted for within the scheme, and my Department will publish further details of the scheme in due course.

These are significant steps in ensuring that our health and social care workforce and their families are themselves cared for, after they have cared for and supported so many of us in incredible circumstances.

My Department will make further announcements to update the House on the progress of the Immigration Health Surcharge exemption and the reimbursement scheme, and relevant documents will be published on gov.uk in advance of the reimbursement scheme launching in October.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS365
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Northern Ireland Office
Made on: 15 July 2020
Made by: Viscount Younger of Leckie (Government Spokesperson for Northern Ireland)
Lords

The First Report on the Use of the Petition of Concern Mechanism in the Northern Ireland Assembly

My Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Brandon Lewis) has today made the following statement:

I am today laying before both Houses of Parliament the first report by Her Majesty’s Government on the use of the Petition of Concern mechanism in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

As part of the New Decade, New Approach deal upon which the devolved Executive and Assembly was restored in Northern Ireland on 11 January 2020, the UK Government committed to undertaking such a report every six months.

This report covers the period from 11 January 2020 to 10 July 2020, during which no Petition of Concern has been lodged against any motion in the Assembly. During much of that period the normal business of the Assembly has been disrupted due to Covid-19. The Assembly has adapted to deal with this by moving to meet frequently as a committee of the whole Assembly.

The fact that there have been no Petitions of Concern since the Assembly was reconvened is a positive reflection on the operation of the Assembly and of the Executive. I know that political leaders in Northern Ireland will share my view that the Assembly should aim to proceed on this basis for the remainder of the current Assembly.

The next UK Government report on the use of the Petition of Concern will cover the period from 11 July 2020 to 10 January 2021.

The report notes that full implementation of the Petition of Concern reforms in NDNA will require Westminster legislation. The Government will bring forward such legislation when parliamentary time allows, after which the Assembly will be able to reflect the detail of the reforms in its standing orders.

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Northern Ireland Office
Made on: 15 July 2020
Made by: Brandon Lewis (Secretary of State for Northern Ireland)
Commons

The First Report on the Use of the Petition of Concern Mechanism in the Northern Ireland Assembly

I am today laying before both Houses of Parliament the first report by Her Majesty’s Government on the use of the Petition of Concern mechanism in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

As part of the New Decade, New Approach deal upon which the devolved Executive and Assembly was restored in Northern Ireland on 11 January 2020, the UK Government committed to undertaking such a report every six months.

This report covers the period from 11 January 2020 to 10 July 2020, during which no Petition of Concern has been lodged against any motion in the Assembly. During much of that period the normal business of the Assembly has been disrupted due to Covid-19. The Assembly has adapted to deal with this by moving to meet frequently as a committee of the whole Assembly.

The fact that there have been no Petitions of Concern since the Assembly was reconvened is a positive reflection on the operation of the Assembly and of the Executive. I know that political leaders in Northern Ireland will share my view that the Assembly should aim to proceed on this basis for the remainder of the current Assembly.

The next UK Government report on the use of the Petition of Concern will cover the period from 11 July 2020 to 10 January 2021.

The report notes that full implementation of the Petition of Concern reforms in NDNA will require Westminster legislation. The Government will bring forward such legislation when parliamentary time allows, after which the Assembly will be able to reflect the detail of the reforms in its standing orders.

WS
Department for Education
Made on: 15 July 2020
Made by: Baroness Berridge (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System)
Lords

Independent Review of College Financial Oversight

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills (Gillian Keegan) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am publishing today the report of the Independent Review of College Financial Oversight, conducted by Dame Mary Ney DBE.

At the heart of the report is recognition of the contribution of colleges to their local communities and economies– essential to meeting both the skills needs of business and enabling young people and adults to succeed and adapt to the changing economy. Colleges must be recognised as an integral part of each region’s growth strategy with a long-term role in raising productivity and living standards. They are vital to building skills to power our national economic recovery at this time.

The principal conclusion of the report, which I endorse, is that government must have a strategic relationship with FE Colleges. This means not just acting as a regulator, or intervening in the event of failure, but ensuring that every college is part of a coherent plan to meet local and regional need. There are many outstanding colleges, and exceptional college leaders, who are well placed to drive not just the success of their institutions, but wider prosperity working with local authorities, businesses, universities and schools.

The report supports a collaborative FE system. Colleges are critical infrastructure backed over time by substantial government capital investment. There is a place for competition, but it is also important that colleges work together to meet need and learn from the exceptional practice that exists in the sector. Dame Mary’s report highlights how this collaborative approach has driven improvement through the Strategic College Improvement Fund, and National Leaders of FE – work that is now been taken forward through the new College Collaboration Fund and the expansion of the National Leader programmes. I endorse this approach.

The FE Commissioner has played a critical role in bringing FE practitioner expertise into government and successfully working to strengthen the leadership and governance of colleges. I intend to maintain the role, reporting directly to ministers as a public appointment, but strengthening alignment with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), and placing its civil service support team there. This change will further empower and develop the ESFA’s territorial teams and enable them to draw upon practitioner expertise. There will be a regular strategic dialogue with each college board around priorities. This will reduce the perception that support is only available to colleges in trouble, and focus not just on prevention but on building success and outstanding practice.

The review also recommends further action to improve the effectiveness of the financial data collected from colleges. In February, the ESFA took the first step towards adopting a new integrated single data return, working closely with the Association of Colleges. We have also commissioned a July financial collection to assess the financial impact of COVID-19 on the sector and individual colleges. This will enable us to continue to work with governing bodies to mitigate financial risks arising from COVID-19, avoid failure and help reduce intervention, while remaining ready to act decisively when necessary. This will be supported through additional requirements for colleges to be transparent – including protection for whistle blowers - through our Audit Code of Practice and grant conditions. Starting from 2020/21, they will require all colleges to publish their whistleblowing policy externally. We are also considering the link between the ESFA’s financial assessments and OFSTED judgements - in light of OFSTED’s plans to consider piloting of changes in schools. The report is also right to highlight the importance of funding simplification.

Inspirational leadership, overseen by strong governance, is the ultimate driving force in all our outstanding colleges – providing the structure and culture that supports outstanding teaching and develops exceptional teachers. We are investing in learning and development programmes for those in key governance and leadership roles in colleges through the Education and Training Foundation and Oxford SAID business school. We have allocated up to £4.5m for the current financial year, which will include a new programme of learning and development for governance professionals. Dame Mary was right to highlight the importance of this role. We will also strengthen the governance guide for college corporations.

Fundamentally, Dame Mary Ney’s report demonstrates that government must set out a long-term radical vision which places colleges where they belong – driving the success of regional economies and communities. This could not be more opportune. As we renew our economy and society following the historic challenge of Covid-19, our young people and adults must have the skills to succeed. The steps we are already taking, particularly with the launch of the first wave of our new, high status T levels this autumn, are a vital step. We must build on this to create a broad and bold strategy to elevate the role of Further Education and support our colleges in their vital and transformative mission. Our forthcoming White Paper will set out how we plan to do that.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS370
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Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 15 July 2020
Made by: Baroness Sugg (Minister for the Overseas Territories and Sustainable Development)
Lords

Publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership in the British Overseas Territories

The Government welcomes the statements made by eight Overseas Territories in which they have committed to greater transparency by announcing they will establish publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership.

The eight Territories – Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Montserrat, the Pitcairn Islands and St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, and the Turks and Caicos Islands – have all demonstrated good progress and political leadership as part of the global effort to increase transparency in financial services and tackle illicit finance.

This follows an earlier announcement made by the Crown Dependencies to implement publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership within the next few years, and the establishment of a publicly accessible register by Gibraltar, in line with the EU’s Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

In line with the Sanctions and Money Laundering Act 2018 the Government will prepare a draft Order in Council before the end of 2020, which will be published. We hope that the British Virgin Islands will also commit to publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership without delay.

The Government considers that the end of 2023 is a reasonable deadline for the introduction of such registers. Meeting this date will be a considerable ask for many Overseas Territories, given their limited resources; especially those Overseas Territories that do not currently have a company beneficial ownership register. It will involve significant legislative and operational changes. To provide the Overseas Territories with assistance on registers the Government ran a technical workshop last July, hosted webinars in November and will be providing further assistance.

It took the UK over three years to introduce its own public register. The 2023 deadline also aligns with the Government’s international campaign to advance publicly accessible company beneficial ownership registers as a global norm. We believe that action on beneficial ownership information in the Overseas Territories should be complemented by improved public access to beneficial ownership information internationally. This maximises the protection of our national security.

The statements issued underscore the Overseas Territories’ continued contribution to the global fight to tackle illicit finance. However, it is not the only action they have taken.

All Overseas Territories with financial centres participate in the Exchange of Notes arrangements. These are bilateral arrangements under which they share beneficial ownership information with UK law enforcement and other agencies within 24 hours (or 1 hour in urgent cases). They are an invaluable capability for our law enforcement, particularly for the National Crime Agency on money laundering and asset denial activity. Last year’s statutory review found that these arrangements are working well and are providing UK law enforcement with rapid access to information used to support ongoing criminal investigations

Many Overseas Territories have committed to global tax transparency standards, including the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard; under which taxpayer financial account information is automatically exchanged for tax purposes. This reciprocal, automatic exchange of financial information addresses the secrecy that facilitates offshore tax evasion and provides evidence of tax non-compliance.

The Government therefore welcomes the statements on making company beneficial ownership information publicly accessible and all the constructive action the Overseas Territories are taking as responsible jurisdictions.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS369
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Department for Education
Made on: 15 July 2020
Made by: Gillian Keegan (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills)
Commons

Independent Review of College Financial Oversight

I am publishing today the report of the Independent Review of College Financial Oversight, conducted by Dame Mary Ney DBE.

At the heart of the report is recognition of the contribution of colleges to their local communities and economies– essential to meeting both the skills needs of business and enabling young people and adults to succeed and adapt to the changing economy. Colleges must be recognised as an integral part of each region’s growth strategy with a long-term role in raising productivity and living standards. They are vital to building skills to power our national economic recovery at this time.

The principal conclusion of the report, which I endorse, is that government must have a strategic relationship with FE Colleges. This means not just acting as a regulator, or intervening in the event of failure, but ensuring that every college is part of a coherent plan to meet local and regional need. There are many outstanding colleges, and exceptional college leaders, who are well placed to drive not just the success of their institutions, but wider prosperity working with local authorities, businesses, universities and schools.

The report supports a collaborative FE system. Colleges are critical infrastructure backed over time by substantial government capital investment. There is a place for competition, but it is also important that colleges work together to meet need and learn from the exceptional practice that exists in the sector. Dame Mary’s report highlights how this collaborative approach has driven improvement through the Strategic College Improvement Fund, and National Leaders of FE – work that is now been taken forward through the new College Collaboration Fund and the expansion of the National Leader programmes. I endorse this approach.

The FE Commissioner has played a critical role in bringing FE practitioner expertise into government and successfully working to strengthen the leadership and governance of colleges. I intend to maintain the role, reporting directly to ministers as a public appointment, but strengthening alignment with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), and placing its civil service support team there. This change will further empower and develop the ESFA’s territorial teams and enable them to draw upon practitioner expertise. There will be a regular strategic dialogue with each college board around priorities. This will reduce the perception that support is only available to colleges in trouble, and focus not just on prevention but on building success and outstanding practice.

The review also recommends further action to improve the effectiveness of the financial data collected from colleges. In February, the ESFA took the first step towards adopting a new integrated single data return, working closely with the Association of Colleges. We have also commissioned a July financial collection to assess the financial impact of COVID-19 on the sector and individual colleges. This will enable us to continue to work with governing bodies to mitigate financial risks arising from COVID-19, avoid failure and help reduce intervention, while remaining ready to act decisively when necessary. This will be supported through additional requirements for colleges to be transparent – including protection for whistle blowers - through our Audit Code of Practice and grant conditions. Starting from 2020/21, they will require all colleges to publish their whistleblowing policy externally. We are also considering the link between the ESFA’s financial assessments and OFSTED judgements - in light of OFSTED’s plans to consider piloting of changes in schools. The report is also right to highlight the importance of funding simplification.

Inspirational leadership, overseen by strong governance, is the ultimate driving force in all our outstanding colleges – providing the structure and culture that supports outstanding teaching and develops exceptional teachers. We are investing in learning and development programmes for those in key governance and leadership roles in colleges through the Education and Training Foundation and Oxford SAID business school. We have allocated up to £4.5m for the current financial year, which will include a new programme of learning and development for governance professionals. Dame Mary was right to highlight the importance of this role. We will also strengthen the governance guide for college corporations.

Fundamentally, Dame Mary Ney’s report demonstrates that government must set out a long-term radical vision which places colleges where they belong – driving the success of regional economies and communities. This could not be more opportune. As we renew our economy and society following the historic challenge of Covid-19, our young people and adults must have the skills to succeed. The steps we are already taking, particularly with the launch of the first wave of our new, high status T levels this autumn, are a vital step. We must build on this to create a broad and bold strategy to elevate the role of Further Education and support our colleges in their vital and transformative mission. Our forthcoming White Paper will set out how we plan to do that.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS362
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 15 July 2020
Made by: Wendy Morton (Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas)
Commons

Publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership in the British Overseas Territories

My Honourable Friend, the Minister for the Overseas Territories and Sustainable Development (Baroness Sugg), has made the following written Ministerial statement:

The Government welcomes the statements made by eight Overseas Territories in which they have committed to greater transparency by announcing they will establish publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership.

The eight Territories – Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Montserrat, the Pitcairn Islands and St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, and the Turks and Caicos Islands – have all demonstrated good progress and political leadership as part of the global effort to increase transparency in financial services and tackle illicit finance.

This follows an earlier announcement made by the Crown Dependencies to implement publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership within the next few years, and the establishment of a publicly accessible register by Gibraltar, in line with the EU’s Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

In line with the Sanctions and Money Laundering Act 2018 the Government will prepare a draft Order in Council before the end of 2020, which will be published. We hope that the British Virgin Islands will also commit to publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership without delay.

The Government considers that the end of 2023 is a reasonable deadline for the introduction of such registers. Meeting this date will be a considerable ask for many Overseas Territories, given their limited resources; especially those Overseas Territories that do not currently have a company beneficial ownership register. It will involve significant legislative and operational changes. To provide the Overseas Territories with assistance on registers the Government ran a technical workshop last July, hosted webinars in November and will be providing further assistance.

It took the UK over three years to introduce its own public register. The 2023 deadline also aligns with the Government’s international campaign to advance publicly accessible company beneficial ownership registers as a global norm. We believe that action on beneficial ownership information in the Overseas Territories should be complemented by improved public access to beneficial ownership information internationally. This maximises the protection of our national security.

The statements issued underscore the Overseas Territories’ continued contribution to the global fight to tackle illicit finance. However, it is not the only action they have taken.

All Overseas Territories with financial centres participate in the Exchange of Notes arrangements. These are bilateral arrangements under which they share beneficial ownership information with UK law enforcement and other agencies within 24 hours (or 1 hour in urgent cases). They are an invaluable capability for our law enforcement, particularly for the National Crime Agency on money laundering and asset denial activity. Last year’s statutory review found that these arrangements are working well and are providing UK law enforcement with rapid access to information used to support ongoing criminal investigations

Many Overseas Territories have committed to global tax transparency standards, including the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard; under which taxpayer financial account information is automatically exchanged for tax purposes. This reciprocal, automatic exchange of financial information addresses the secrecy that facilitates offshore tax evasion and provides evidence of tax non-compliance.

The Government therefore welcomes the statements on making company beneficial ownership information publicly accessible and all the constructive action the Overseas Territories are taking as responsible jurisdictions.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS361
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Department for Education
Made on: 14 July 2020
Made by: Vicky Ford (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families)
Commons

Children’s Social Care Update

On 24 April 2020 regulations were introduced to provide local authorities and children’s social care providers with temporary flexibilities to support them to focus on core safeguarding duties during the coronavirus pandemic. We made no amendments to primary legislation, and the vast majority of statutory duties in secondary legislation remained unchanged. The regulations – the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 – are due to lapse on 25 September 2020.

When the regulations were introduced, we faced exceptional circumstances, with social workers and others facing decisions that they had never faced before. There was an urgent need to take action to ensure that local authorities and others supporting children and young people could focus on core safeguarding responsibilities should the worst-case scenario come to pass. We needed to prepare for very significant rates of staff sickness coupled with family illness potentially leading to many more children needing to be found emergency care. We were aware that the coronavirus pandemic would have a real impact on the lives of children and families, and that this would be a difficult time for them.

Protecting vulnerable children has been at the heart of the Government’s response to the virus. These regulations formed part of that response, alongside keeping schools and other settings open for vulnerable children, substantial additional investment, and additional support direct to children, young people, and their families.

The Government has always been clear that these temporary amendments should be used only when absolutely necessary and only if consistent with the overarching safeguarding and welfare duties that have remained in place. Our guidance sets out clear safeguards about how and when they should be used:

  • where staff shortages, due to sickness or other reasons, make it difficult or impossible to meet the original requirements.
  • where making use of flexibilities to take a different approach is the most sensible, risk-based response in light of other demands and pressures on services, this might involve focusing services on those most at risk.
  • where there is a consequential reason to make use of flexibilities, for example, due to limited capacity in other providers or partners making it difficult or impossible to comply with the original requirements.

Our monitoring has shown that the majority of the regulatory flexibilities have been rarely used and only when needed in response to coronavirus.

Our approach to monitoring is based on a triangulation of information we are gathering from a range of delivery partners to understand which of the regulations are being used and why. We are actively seeking regular feedback from a variety of sources including local authorities, social workers, charities, Ofsted, and other key partners. We will continue to engage on this scale whilst the regulations remain in place.

Our monitoring data shows that the regulations are being used infrequently. Out of 128 local authorities we have spoken with in June and July, 87 have used at least one regulation, although many have only used them on a limited number of occasions and in a limited number of areas.

The most used related to the fostering and adoption regulations, notably allowing medical reports to be considered at a later stage in the adoption and fostering process though still prior to approval. This has minimised delays in approving adopters for children needing a new, forever, family. Similarly, relaxations around panels have allowed for the continued recruitment of foster carers and a continued functionality of processes.

Virtual engagement with children and families has often been used alongside face to face visits and, in some cases, this has resulted in greater levels of contact between children, young people, parents, and carers – and improved engagement from some young people.

Senior leaders in children’s social care have set out to the Government and Ofsted how they have approached the use of the temporary regulations and explained that they have robust sign-off processes in place for when a regulation has been used. Ofsted report that local authorities have said decisions on the use of the regulations are being made with the child at the heart of the case, in line with the principles in the guidance, including assessing risks and working on a collaborative basis.

We have always been clear that these temporary amendments will remain in place only for so long as they are needed.

The extraordinary measures the Government has taken over the last few months means that we are now in a much better position to ease the restrictions that everyone has faced. Given the lower level of coronavirus now present, there is a significantly reduced need for local authorities and providers to use these flexibilities. I therefore intend to update guidance immediately to make it clear that there should no longer be a need to use most of these flexibilities and will be writing to local authorities and providers accordingly. Where they do use flexibilities, local authorities and providers should ensure that they have strong justification.

I would also like to provide further clarity about the future of these flexibilities and am today announcing that, subject to a short period of consultation, the overwhelming majority of these regulations will expire as planned on 25 September.

The Government believes that there may be circumstances in which some services continue to face specific and exceptional challenges into the autumn. As more children are seen by schools, and social distancing eases further and hitherto hidden harms come to light, we must be prepared for the potential additional demands that may still be placed on services.

I am therefore minded, subject to consultation, to extend a very small number of temporary changes for a further period. These regulations specifically address the following points.

  • Medical reports

In order to become a foster carer or adoptive parent, one needs to provide a medical report from a General Practitioner. As restrictions are eased and schools return, we expect that there may be more children needing care than is usual, and therefore there will be a higher need for potential adopters and foster carers. Our National Health Service still faces significant challenges as we enter a period of recovery. Therefore, I am minded to extend the amendments that allow more time for General Practitioners and other health professionals to provide information to support the process of approving much needed potential adopters and foster carers. This does not remove the requirement for medical reports to be provided but moves the time during the process that the report must be provided before the child is placed with the foster parent or adoptive parent.

  • Virtual visits

We must be able to keep essential services, such as social worker visits, operating during any local lockdowns, and in cases where households are being required to self-isolate due to a case, or suspected case, of coronavirus, or contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, in line with medical advice from the NHS test and trace service. Therefore, I am suggesting that it may be appropriate to continue to enable visits in these situations to happen virtually. However, in all other situations I would expect face to face visits to take place. Moreover, in my view the flexibilities regarding timing of these visits should lapse, as the provision for virtual visits should now provide sufficient flexibility on the basis that workforce capacity, the original reason for these flexibilities being introduced, is now no longer the concern that it was.

  • Ofsted inspections

Ofsted inspections have not taken place since March so Ofsted will need a period of catch-up before it can resume normal service. As announced last week, Ofsted are planning to carry out a phased return to routine inspections. This will include risk-based assurance visits to children’s social care settings, based on the previous inspection judgement, the amount of time since a setting was last inspected and other information Ofsted hold about the setting. These assurance visits will occur between September 2020 and March 2021. At this point full graded inspections will recommence. I am therefore recommending that the suspension of the existing frequency regulation for Ofsted inspections be extended until 31 March 2021, to allow Ofsted to provide the most assurance, to the sector and the wider public, about the safety and care of children.

A short consultation will launch later this week to inform final decisions and I would encourage all interested parties to respond. Should a new Statutory Instrument be proposed to extend any flexibility beyond 25 September 2020, Parliament will be provided with the customary 21 days opportunity to scrutinise the regulations before they come into force.

Our guidance has been clear that the regulatory flexibilities should only ever have been used with senior management oversight and that all decisions should be recorded. I am, however, considering how additional safeguards on the use of the flexibilities could be employed. Our consultation will therefore seek views on this question.

As inspections resume, Ofsted will want to be assured that any flexibilities have been used in the best interests of children, following careful risk assessment and with clear records of decisions made by local authorities and providers. As such, local authorities and providers must maintain a focus on child-centred practice and continue to record their decisions and ensure that these records are available for Ofsted. Inspectors will want to see the best possible practice for children. Whilst routine inspections have been suspended, Ofsted has continued to inspect where they have been made aware of safeguarding concerns. They have acted swiftly and have taken action to restrict children going into a home or stop a home operating in 23 cases. They have continued to start proceedings to cancel the registration of homes or managers where this is the right thing to do. And while they have prioritised registration of new children’s homes, they have still refused to register people they did not think were suitable.

Throughout this pandemic, social workers, charities, and others working to support our most vulnerable children and families have worked tirelessly to ensure that they continue to receive the support they need. I would like to place on record my personal gratitude, and that of the whole Government, for everything they have done and continue to do. I would also like to acknowledge the extremely difficult circumstances many children and families have faced during this pandemic.

Protecting vulnerable children remains our top priority, as it does for local authorities and children’s social care providers across the country. As the country begins to return to a more normal way of life, it is absolutely right that this also applies to children’s social care.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS360
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Department for Education
Made on: 14 July 2020
Made by: Baroness Berridge (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System)
Lords

Children’s Social Care Update

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

On 24 April 2020 regulations were introduced to provide local authorities and children’s social care providers with temporary flexibilities to support them to focus on core safeguarding duties during the coronavirus pandemic. We made no amendments to primary legislation, and the vast majority of statutory duties in secondary legislation remained unchanged. The regulations – the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 – are due to lapse on 25 September 2020.

When the regulations were introduced, we faced exceptional circumstances, with social workers and others facing decisions that they had never faced before. There was an urgent need to take action to ensure that local authorities and others supporting children and young people could focus on core safeguarding responsibilities should the worst-case scenario come to pass. We needed to prepare for very significant rates of staff sickness coupled with family illness potentially leading to many more children needing to be found emergency care. We were aware that the coronavirus pandemic would have a real impact on the lives of children and families, and that this would be a difficult time for them.

Protecting vulnerable children has been at the heart of the Government’s response to the virus. These regulations formed part of that response, alongside keeping schools and other settings open for vulnerable children, substantial additional investment, and additional support direct to children, young people, and their families.

The Government has always been clear that these temporary amendments should be used only when absolutely necessary and only if consistent with the overarching safeguarding and welfare duties that have remained in place. Our guidance sets out clear safeguards about how and when they should be used:

  • where staff shortages, due to sickness or other reasons, make it difficult or impossible to meet the original requirements.
  • where making use of flexibilities to take a different approach is the most sensible, risk-based response in light of other demands and pressures on services, this might involve focusing services on those most at risk.
  • where there is a consequential reason to make use of flexibilities, for example, due to limited capacity in other providers or partners making it difficult or impossible to comply with the original requirements.

Our monitoring has shown that the majority of the regulatory flexibilities have been rarely used and only when needed in response to coronavirus.

Our approach to monitoring is based on a triangulation of information we are gathering from a range of delivery partners to understand which of the regulations are being used and why. We are actively seeking regular feedback from a variety of sources including local authorities, social workers, charities, Ofsted, and other key partners. We will continue to engage on this scale whilst the regulations remain in place.

Our monitoring data shows that the regulations are being used infrequently. Out of 128 local authorities we have spoken with in June and July, 87 have used at least one regulation, although many have only used them on a limited number of occasions and in a limited number of areas.

The most used related to the fostering and adoption regulations, notably allowing medical reports to be considered at a later stage in the adoption and fostering process though still prior to approval. This has minimised delays in approving adopters for children needing a new, forever, family. Similarly, relaxations around panels have allowed for the continued recruitment of foster carers and a continued functionality of processes.

Virtual engagement with children and families has often been used alongside face to face visits and, in some cases, this has resulted in greater levels of contact between children, young people, parents, and carers – and improved engagement from some young people.

Senior leaders in children’s social care have set out to the Government and Ofsted how they have approached the use of the temporary regulations and explained that they have robust sign-off processes in place for when a regulation has been used. Ofsted report that local authorities have said decisions on the use of the regulations are being made with the child at the heart of the case, in line with the principles in the guidance, including assessing risks and working on a collaborative basis.

We have always been clear that these temporary amendments will remain in place only for so long as they are needed.

The extraordinary measures the Government has taken over the last few months means that we are now in a much better position to ease the restrictions that everyone has faced. Given the lower level of coronavirus now present, there is a significantly reduced need for local authorities and providers to use these flexibilities. I therefore intend to update guidance immediately to make it clear that there should no longer be a need to use most of these flexibilities and will be writing to local authorities and providers accordingly. Where they do use flexibilities, local authorities and providers should ensure that they have strong justification.

I would also like to provide further clarity about the future of these flexibilities and am today announcing that, subject to a short period of consultation, the overwhelming majority of these regulations will expire as planned on 25 September.

The Government believes that there may be circumstances in which some services continue to face specific and exceptional challenges into the autumn. As more children are seen by schools, and social distancing eases further and hitherto hidden harms come to light, we must be prepared for the potential additional demands that may still be placed on services.

I am therefore minded, subject to consultation, to extend a very small number of temporary changes for a further period. These regulations specifically address the following points.

  • Medical reports

In order to become a foster carer or adoptive parent, one needs to provide a medical report from a General Practitioner. As restrictions are eased and schools return, we expect that there may be more children needing care than is usual, and therefore there will be a higher need for potential adopters and foster carers. Our National Health Service still faces significant challenges as we enter a period of recovery. Therefore, I am minded to extend the amendments that allow more time for General Practitioners and other health professionals to provide information to support the process of approving much needed potential adopters and foster carers. This does not remove the requirement for medical reports to be provided but moves the time during the process that the report must be provided before the child is placed with the foster parent or adoptive parent.

  • Virtual visits

We must be able to keep essential services, such as social worker visits, operating during any local lockdowns, and in cases where households are being required to self-isolate due to a case, or suspected case, of coronavirus, or contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, in line with medical advice from the NHS test and trace service. Therefore, I am suggesting that it may be appropriate to continue to enable visits in these situations to happen virtually. However, in all other situations I would expect face to face visits to take place. Moreover, in my view the flexibilities regarding timing of these visits should lapse, as the provision for virtual visits should now provide sufficient flexibility on the basis that workforce capacity, the original reason for these flexibilities being introduced, is now no longer the concern that it was.

  • Ofsted inspections

Ofsted inspections have not taken place since March so Ofsted will need a period of catch-up before it can resume normal service. As announced last week, Ofsted are planning to carry out a phased return to routine inspections. This will include risk-based assurance visits to children’s social care settings, based on the previous inspection judgement, the amount of time since a setting was last inspected and other information Ofsted hold about the setting. These assurance visits will occur between September 2020 and March 2021. At this point full graded inspections will recommence. I am therefore recommending that the suspension of the existing frequency regulation for Ofsted inspections be extended until 31 March 2021, to allow Ofsted to provide the most assurance, to the sector and the wider public, about the safety and care of children.

A short consultation will launch later this week to inform final decisions and I would encourage all interested parties to respond. Should a new Statutory Instrument be proposed to extend any flexibility beyond 25 September 2020, Parliament will be provided with the customary 21 days opportunity to scrutinise the regulations before they come into force.

Our guidance has been clear that the regulatory flexibilities should only ever have been used with senior management oversight and that all decisions should be recorded. I am, however, considering how additional safeguards on the use of the flexibilities could be employed. Our consultation will therefore seek views on this question.

As inspections resume, Ofsted will want to be assured that any flexibilities have been used in the best interests of children, following careful risk assessment and with clear records of decisions made by local authorities and providers. As such, local authorities and providers must maintain a focus on child-centred practice and continue to record their decisions and ensure that these records are available for Ofsted. Inspectors will want to see the best possible practice for children. Whilst routine inspections have been suspended, Ofsted has continued to inspect where they have been made aware of safeguarding concerns. They have acted swiftly and have taken action to restrict children going into a home or stop a home operating in 23 cases. They have continued to start proceedings to cancel the registration of homes or managers where this is the right thing to do. And while they have prioritised registration of new children’s homes, they have still refused to register people they did not think were suitable.

Throughout this pandemic, social workers, charities, and others working to support our most vulnerable children and families have worked tirelessly to ensure that they continue to receive the support they need. I would like to place on record my personal gratitude, and that of the whole Government, for everything they have done and continue to do. I would also like to acknowledge the extremely difficult circumstances many children and families have faced during this pandemic.

Protecting vulnerable children remains our top priority, as it does for local authorities and children’s social care providers across the country. As the country begins to return to a more normal way of life, it is absolutely right that this also applies to children’s social care.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS368
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