Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.
These initiatives were driven by Lord Bird, and are more likely to reflect personal policy preferences.
A Bill to make provision for a public consultation to inform a set of national wellbeing goals; to require public bodies to act in pursuit of the United Kingdom’s environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing by meeting wellbeing objectives, publishing future generations impact assessments and accounting for preventative spending; to establish a futures and forecasting report; to establish a Commission for Future Generations for the United Kingdom; to extend the duty of the Office of Budget Responsibility to consider wellbeing and the future generations principle in their work; to add onto a Minister in each government department's portfolio a duty to promote the future generations principle across government policy; to establish a Joint Parliamentary Committee on Future Generations; and for connected purposes
A Bill to make provision for requiring public bodies to act in pursuit of the United Kingdom’s environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing by meeting wellbeing objectives, publishing future generations impact assessments, accounting for preventative spending, and through public services contracts; to establish a Commissioner for Future Generations for the United Kingdom; to establish a Joint Parliamentary Committee on Future Generations; to require companies to consider the impact of their activities on the United Kingdom’s wellbeing; and for connected purposes
A Bill to make provision for a public consultation to inform a set of national wellbeing goals; to require public bodies to act in pursuit of the United Kingdom’s environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing by meeting wellbeing objectives, publishing future generations impact assessments and accounting for preventative spending; to establish a futures and forecasting report; to establish a Commission for Future Generations for the United Kingdom; to extend the duty of the Office of Budget Responsibility to consider wellbeing and the future generations principle in their work; to add onto a Minister in each government department's portfolio a duty to promote the future generations principle across government policy; to establish a Joint Parliamentary Committee on Future Generations; and for connected purposes.
Lord Bird has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting
The Government regularly undertakes lessons learned reviews following civil emergencies. COVID-19 is the biggest challenge that the UK, together with nations around the world, has faced in decades. The Government has always been clear that there will be opportunities to look back, analyse and reflect on all aspects of the response to COVID-19. As the Prime Minister has said, this will include an independent inquiry at the appropriate time. We are still at a critical phase in our ongoing response to the pandemic.
Libraries across England have responded swiftly to the COVID-19 pandemic, adapting to meet their users’ needs. Although the physical doors are closed, library services have developed innovative and exciting digital ways to continue to provide services. This has included repurposing stock budgets to meet the increase in demand for e-books and e-audiobooks.
Arts Council England has provided £151,000 (around £1,000 per library authority) to supplement existing e-book funding. Publishers and aggregators have also responded positively. Two aggregators have offered to match the ACE investment where money is spent on e-audio items. Through conversations with the sector we also know that publishers are lifting restrictions to enable remote storytelling so that library Rhyme Times can continue online.
Although physical library locations have closed, library services continue to provide and deliver services to its users. This includes online services such as access to e-books and e-audiobooks, where there has been a significant increase in demand, as well as developing innovative and exciting digital ways to provide services such as Rhyme Time and Storytimes, often reaching far more people than before.
Ministers and officials have held regular calls with public library stakeholders, including the Local Government Association (LGA) since the announcement on 23 March that libraries were to close. These now include discussions related to the re-opening of library services and how this can be achieved in a safe way for both staff and users.
DCMS is working with the library sector and the LGA to identify issues, and to develop guidance, around the measures that public libraries will need to take to enable physical library buildings to reopen and for services to begin to be restored in a phased manner in due course.
The department wants to make the skills systems more responsive to employer skills needs in all sectors and will do whatever it takes to support businesses and people affected by COVID-19, which is why we offer a variety of programmes that businesses and individuals can use to retrain and upskill.
Adult skills?are?key in supporting the economy and tackling disadvantage. We are continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) (£1.34 billion in the 2020/21 financial year). The principal purpose of the AEB is to engage adults and provide the skills and learning they need to equip them for work, an apprenticeship or further learning. This includes fully funded courses in English and maths for adults who need to improve their literacy and numeracy, fully funded first full level 2 and/or level 3 for learners aged 19 to 23 and from 1 August 2020, fully funded specified digital skills qualifications for adults with no/low digital skills. The AEB also funds learning in the workplace, where a learner has a statutory entitlement to full funding.
Employers can offer apprenticeships to new recruits and existing staff, supporting the creation of new jobs as well as opportunities to upskill. They can choose between more than 580 apprenticeship standards that have been designed by employers to deliver the skills they need.
The government is also providing £2.5 billion (£3 billion when including Barnett funding for devolved administrations), for the National Skills Fund.
The fund aims to boost productivity and ensure more people and places can share in the rewards that improved productivity can bring. It also presents a great opportunity to create a more coherent and simpler system that learners, providers, local areas and employers can more easily understand and navigate.
My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister recently announced that for adults who do not currently have a level 3 qualification, the government will be fully funding their first full level 3 through the National Skills Fund. We will target this level 3 entitlement at subjects and qualifications with economic value and the strongest alignment with government priorities, to ensure the best possible returns for individuals, employers and the nation.
The Prime Minister also announced the launch of our new digital bootcamps, in 6 areas, to support local regions and employers to fill in-demand vacancies. The bootcamp training courses will provide valuable skills based on employer demand and will offer a fast track to a job interview on completion. Pending the success of the initial bootcamps, we are planning to expand the digital bootcamps to more of the country from Spring 2021 and we also want to extend this model to include other technical skills training.
Further plans for the National Skills Fund will be communicated in due course.
This Government has taken unprecedented action to support people financially and protect jobs, with over 9.5 million people being supported through the furlough scheme alone since the start of the pandemic. We have injected £9.3 billion of additional support to the welfare system including increases to the Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit standard allowances that will benefit four million of the most vulnerable households by up to £1040 this financial year, as well as permanent uplifts to the Local Housing Allowance rates to cover the lowest 30 per cent of market rents.
A direct assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on specific groups has not been undertaken. However, HM Treasury’s distributional analysis of COVID-19’s impact on working households published in July, showed that the actions this Government has taken to date have supported poorest working households the most, with those in the bottom ten per cent seeing no income reduction.
Our long-term ambition remains to build an economy that will support work, and ensure everyone has the opportunity to enter and progress in work where possible. Our £30 billion Plan for Jobs is the first step on the ladder to achieving this, as well as new schemes such as Kickstart, Job Entry Targeted Support and Job Finding Support.
In April we increased Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates so that they cover 30 per cent of local rents in the Private Rented Sector. This significant investment of almost £1 billion will mean over one million households will see an increase, on average, of £600 this year. A decision on LHA rates from April 2021 will be taken prior to the start of the financial year.
For those living in the Social Rented Sector, maximum housing costs support is based on actual rent and eligible service charges less any deductions for under-occupation.
For those who require additional support Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are available.? We have already provided £180 million in DHP funding to Local Authorities to support vulnerable claimants with housing costs in the private and social rented sector in England and Wales for 2020/21. This includes an extra £40 million as announced at last year’s fiscal event
The Government is committed to delivering a sustainable, long-term solution to poverty in all its forms. This requires an approach that goes beyond a focus on income and tackles the root causes of poverty and disadvantage, to improve long-term outcomes for families and children.
The evidence is clear about the importance of work, in particular full time work, in tackling child poverty and improving children’s educational outcomes. The absolute poverty rate (BHC) of a child, where both parents work full-time is only 4%, compared to 44% where one or more parents are in part-time work. Universal Credit helps by incentivising entry into work, offering smooth incentives to increase hours. We will therefore continue with our reforms to the welfare system so that it works with the tax system and the labour market to support employment and higher pay.
The Government engages with a range of stakeholders on issues relating to the Local Housing Allowance, homelessness and temporary accommodation.
In April 2020, in response to the pandemic, Local Housing Allowance rates were raised to the 30th percentile of market rates. As a result of this increase, over 1.5 million households gained just over £600 per year on average in 2020/21. We have maintained rates at this elevated cash level and will continue to review rates annually.
Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are also available from local authorities for tenants who face a shortfall in meeting their housing costs. Since 2011 the Government has provided nearly £1.6 billion in DHP funding to local authorities.
The Government is committed to preventing homelessness where possible. We have allocated £654 million through the Homelessness Prevention Grant which provides funding to enable Local Authorities to invest in prevention activities and helps meet their temporary accommodation costs. This is in addition to the £50m top-up to the Homelessness Prevention Grant for 2022/23 announced in December.
In light of recent developments in the path of the virus, and the new temporary restrictions announced by the Prime Minister, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be extended until 2 December 2020.
For hours not worked by the employee, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. The extension will apply UK-wise and eligible employers across the UK, small or large, including charitable or non-profit, will be able to claim for the extended CJRS.
The data requested is not held centrally.
As part of the Government’s investment of £433 million to deliver 6,000 new homes for rough sleepers by the end of this Parliament, on 29 October we announced that more than 3,300 new long-term homes for rough sleepers and other vulnerable people have been approved, subject to due diligence and contracting.
Backed by Government investment of more than £150 million the new homes will be made available in every region of England. This will enable people who sleep rough, or at risk of sleeping rough, to be rehoused in secure, long-term accommodation, providing some of the most vulnerable in society with a permanent place to live and help to rebuild their lives.
This funding is in addition to the £91.5 million allocated to 274 councils in September to fund their individual local plans for rough sleepers over the coming months, and to help provide short-term and interim accommodation for vulnerable people, as well as the £10 million Cold Weather Payment for councils to help to keep rough sleepers safe this winter.
Over 90% of those on the streets?at the beginning of the crisis?known to local authorities have now been made offers of safe accommodation – ensuring some of the most vulnerable in society are protected from the pandemic. This includes those rough sleeping or who have been living in accommodation with communal sleeping spaces such as night shelters.
We are ensuring local authorities are supported, with £3.2 million in targeted funding to help support individuals who are sleeping rough off the streets, and an additional £3.2 billion provided to local authorities as part of the wider Government response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding has been provided to help local authorities to reduce risks to public health and to support individuals on the basis of need.
The Government is aware of concerns about those with no recourse to public funds experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis. The legal position on those with no recourse to public funds has not been amended. The Government recognises that these are unprecedented times, and expects local authorities to support people who are sleeping rough, and also to minimise unnecessary risks to public health, acting within the law.
The £3.2 billion of funding provided to local government is paid through a grant that is not ring-fenced, recognising that local authorities are best placed to decide how this funding is spent. This funding will?enable local authorities to respond to COVID-19 pressures across all?the services they deliver, stepping up support for services helping the most vulnerable, including homeless people.?This is in addition to £3.2 million in targeted funding for councils to support vulnerable rough sleepers.
More than 5,400?rough?sleepers?– over 90% of those on the streets?at the beginning of the crisis?known to local authorities have now been made offers of safe accommodation – ensuring some of the most vulnerable in society are protected from the pandemic.?This includes those rough sleeping or who have been living in accommodation with communal sleeping spaces such as night shelters.
More than 5,400?rough?sleepers?– over 90% of those on the streets?at the beginning of the crisis?known to local authorities have now been made offers of safe accommodation – ensuring some of the most vulnerable in society are protected from the pandemic. This includes those rough sleeping or who have been living in accommodation with communal sleeping spaces such as night shelters.
The Government allocated £28 million to pilot Housing First at scale in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and West Midlands combined authorities in May 2018. Our independent contractors for the evaluation, ICF, are making progress and the first interim process report is due to be published later this year. We will use this to inform any potential future decisions on roll out.
This funding is alongside significant investment including £112m across England in 2020/21 for the Rough Sleeping Initiative to help around 270 areas tackle rough sleeping across 2020/21. The funding is a 30% increase on the previous year and will be used to introduce and expand a range of measures, including housing support and housing-led solutions, as well as specialist support workers.