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The responsibility of paying a confiscation order remains with the defendant. Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) is responsible for the enforcement of all domestic confiscation orders, while the CPS will assist in some enforcement processes – for instance, by requesting mutual legal assistance from overseas jurisdictions in respect of assets located abroad.
As of the end of the last financial year (31 March 2021), the outstanding debt on CPS obtained confiscation orders was £1.3bn (excluding interest). Of these, the CPS is assisting HMCTS on enforcement action in relation to £600m, of which £170m has been assessed as being recoverable. There is no data held by the CPS in relation to the recoverable debt on confiscation orders that are being enforced solely by HMCTS.
The CPS set up a dedicated enforcement unit in their Proceeds of Crime Division in 2018 to specifically address the issue of enforcement. Where the CPS can take money from those who have profited from crime, they will not hesitate to do so. In 2019/20 over £100 million was recovered on CPS confiscation orders, stopping hundreds of criminals benefitting from their ill-gotten gains.
We are currently engaged in technical discussions with the Commission in order fully to understand their proposals. We welcome the EU’s recognition that there are serious problems with the Protocol which need to be solved. But it’s clear there is still a substantial gap between our two positions in areas such as governance, customs and SPS.
We hope to settle these issues consensually and reach a positive outcome through negotiations. However, we have been clear that if an agreement cannot be reached Article 16 is a legitimate safeguard provision, which we are prepared to invoke if necessary.
The Government’s position on this matter is set out in Command Paper (CP 502), published on 21 July.
Article 1 of the Northern Ireland Protocol states that “This Protocol respects the essential State functions and territorial integrity of the United Kingdom.” Nonetheless, the Government is clear that the current governance arrangements under the Protocol must evolve to reflect the reality that the Protocol is an agreement between two sovereign and autonomous entities, not a relationship of subordination where one party’s rules have to be applied mechanically by the other. That is why the UK's Command Paper sets out the Government's intention to remove the remaining role of the EU institutions and of the CJEU in Northern Ireland.
We do not comment on private diplomatic exchanges. The Government believes it is important that all discussions related to the Northern Ireland Protocol take place on the basis of the clear statements in the Protocol itself that it respects the UK’s territorial integrity (Article 1(2)) and that Northern Ireland is part of the UK’s customs territory (Article 4) and internal market (Article 6(2)).
The EU’s attempt to activate Article 16 of the Protocol in late January created a new situation, with regard to the application of the Protocol. Nevertheless, there have been constructive discussions between us and the EU. These discussions have begun to clarify outstanding issues and have established some positive momentum. Nonetheless, a number of difficult issues remain. As set out following my meeting with Vice President Šefčovič on 15 April, contacts will be intensified at all levels through the structures provided by the Withdrawal Agreement.
This Government is committed to strengthening the Union and the links between different parts of the UK, including between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Departments are taking a variety of actions to strengthen the Union.
Earlier this year the Prime Minister announced a review would be undertaken into union connectivity, exploring ways to improve connectivity between our four nations and to bring forward funding to accelerate infrastructure projects.
The Government is working closely with the devolved administrations on a variety of different policy agendas including preparations for the end of the UK transition period and the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are also working with the devolved administrations to improve intergovernmental relations.
The Government outlined its approach to the Protocol in the Command Paper published in May 2020. We will continue to work with businesses to ensure that the Protocol is implemented in a way that minimises burdens and supports the continued flow of goods.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has established a Business Engagement Forum, which discusses a range of issues concerning the implementation of the Protocol. We have also outlined guidance to business on the requirements of the Protocol which we will update as work proceeds.
In addition, the Government is also providing support to business as they prepare for the end of the transition period and beyond. This includes the new Trader Support Service, a £200m scheme that will provide an end-to-end service which will guide traders through new administrative processes at no additional cost.
We have also committed to exploring further support to those agrifood producers engaging with new sanitary and phytosanitary processes, with further detail to be set out in due course
The Government has consistently stated its commitment to the preservation of seamless trade across the whole of the United Kingdom’s internal market, including between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, within CP226 published in May 2020 and the White Paper published in July 2020.
The UK Internal Market Act 2020 implements these commitments compatibly with the Northern Ireland Protocol and in doing so protects Northern Ireland's place in the UK Internal Market.
In light of challenges in the first part of this year, temporary operational steps have been taken to minimise disruption, support the effective flow of goods and provide a period for businesses to plan, particularly in the current circumstances of a global pandemic. We continue to work very closely with businesses to look at any issues that do need to be addressed, and to offer any support that is required.
Our safer working guidance includes advice specifically on supporting employees with characteristics that put them at higher risk of infection and/or an adverse outcome if infected, including those with health conditions such as diabetes.
This guidance is regularly updated and measures reviewed in line with scientific evidence. The guidance can be found at: www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19.
The Government is fully committed to supporting the businesses that make our high streets and town centres successful as the nation responds to the impacts of COVID-19.
This is why we have delivered one of the most generous and comprehensive packages of support globally, with a total fiscal response of over £200bn. The measures introduced, including loan schemes, grant funding, tax deferrals and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, have been designed to be accessible to businesses in most sectors and across the UK.
Businesses forced to close due will receive up to £3,000 per month, depending on their rateable value. Businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors experienced reduced demand due to restrictions introduced between 1 August and 5 November, will receive up to £2,100 per month to cover the period during which they were subject to these restrictions.
We know that hospitality venues are subject to significant restrictions under the new regional tiered system and that is why on 1 December, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced an additional £1,000 Christmas grant for ‘wet-led pubs’ in tiers 2 and 3 who will miss out on much needed business during the busy Christmas period.
This additional support comes on top of other measures, which include:
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has not held discussions with the Devolved Administrations on re-opening the hospitality sector in their nations. Public health is a devolved matter and this Department’s guidance on safer working applies to England only. The Devolved Administrations were asked if they knew of any stakeholders who had an interest in the development of the safer working guidance for the hospitality sector in England and these stakeholders were included in the consultation process to develop the guidance.
The Government has provided over £35 billion of support in the form of tax reliefs, grants, and loans to the leisure, hospitality, and tourism sectors throughout the pandemic in recognition of the severe impact of COVID-19 on tourism across the UK.
In June the Government published a Tourism Recovery Plan setting out a comprehensive framework for rebuilding the sector, including an ambition to recover domestic tourism to pre- pandemic levels by the end of 2022 and inbound visitor volumes by the end of 2023 both at least a year faster than independent forecasts predict. The recently launched £8 million National Lottery Days Out scheme to encourage domestic trips in the off-peak autumn season is just one example of measures being put in place to support the sector at this time.
In addition to the Levelling Up Fund, the 101 Towns Deals, and the City and Growth Deals in Scotland and Wales, the October Budget announced the Government’s plans to support local high streets as they adapt and recover from the pandemic. The Government is introducing a new temporary business rates relief in England for eligible retail, hospitality, and leisure properties for 2022-23, worth almost £1.7 billion. Over 90% of retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will receive at least 50% off their business rates bills in 2022-23.
All online gambling operators must be licensed by the Gambling Commission and comply with the strict licence conditions including measures to protect children and vulnerable people. Importantly, this includes tough age verification requirements to ensure children cannot gamble online, and an obligation on operators to monitor data and intervene when customers show signs of a risk of harm.
In addition to this, the Government and the Gambling Commission have significantly strengthened the age verification requirements, banned gambling on credit cards, made online slots safer with a new game design code, mandated integration with Gamstop (the one-stop online self exclusion scheme) and introduced new rules on VIP schemes.
Building on this record, we are reviewing the Gambling Act 2005 to ensure it is fit for the digital age. As part of its broad scope, the Gambling Act Review is looking at the effectiveness of existing measures to ensure the protection of young and vulnerable people from the risks associated with online gambling. We are considering the evidence carefully and will publish a white paper outlining any conclusions and proposals for reform in due course.
HM Government recognises the role the industry can play in supporting efforts to tackle problem gambling. Operators are required by the Gambling Commission to monitor play to detect customers who are at risk of harm, to intervene to prevent harm, to provide safer gambling tools and self-exclusion schemes including Gamstop, and to direct them to safer gambling information and support.
We welcome recent steps taken to raise standards across the sector, such as the Betting & Gaming Council’s codes of conduct on high value customer schemes and online product design. Gambling operators licensed by the Gambling Commission are also required to make a contribution to fund research, prevention or treatment of problem gambling. The Government secured a commitment from five major operators to increase their contributions tenfold over 4 years, from 0.1% to 1% of Gross Gambling Yield, raising £100 million for treatment by 2023/24.
The Government is also taking action to tackle problem gambling. Following recent measures such as the ban on credit card gambling and the commitment to increase the number of specialist NHS clinics, we are reviewing the Gambling Act 2005 to ensure it is fit for the digital age. We are considering the evidence carefully and aim to publish a white paper outlining any conclusions and proposals for reform by the end of the year.
The government recognises that the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be extremely challenging for businesses, including the arcades sector.
We are continuing to work with organisations in the land-based gambling sector to understand the impacts and how the government may be able to support them. Currently, we estimate that up to 5% of adult gaming centres have ceased trading in the past twelve months. This estimate is based on recent discussions with Bacta, the trade association for the arcades sector.
Data held by the Gambling Commission shows that there were 1,431 adult gaming centres in operation as of 31 March 2020.
In 2020, 2.2% of pupils at the end of key stage 4 (age 16) in state funded schools in England had no GCSEs and equivalent passes. This is a small improvement compared with both 2019 and 2018 when the figure was 2.4%.
At age 16, the percentage of pupils without level 2 (5 good GCSEs or equivalent) was 27.3% in 2019/20, 35.7% in 2018/19, and 35% in 2017/18.
After the age of 16, pupils should stay in full-time education, be in an apprenticeship or traineeship, or spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training. During this period they should gain further qualifications. Of those leaving at age 18 in 2019/20, 20.6% of pupils left school without level 2 (5 good GCSEs or equivalent), an improvement of 14.5% compared with the same cohort at age 16.
Education is a devolved matter, and the response will outline the education reforms for England.
The government remains committed to raising educational standards for all pupils, to ensure they have the knowledge, qualifications and skills they need to succeed in life. The proportion of schools now rated by Ofsted as Good or Outstanding has risen from 68% in 2010 to 86% in 2020. For all phases of education, there is funding in place that specifically targets disadvantaged children and young people, in order to tackle the attainment gap.
For children in their early years, the department is investing £17 million to deliver the Nuffield Early Language Intervention, improving the language skills of reception age children who need it most during the COVID-19 outbreak. We have also announced £10 million for a pre-reception early language continued professional development programme, supporting early years staff to work with those disadvantaged children who are at risk of falling behind.
Disadvantaged children at school continue to benefit from additional funding given to their schools through the pupil premium, worth over £2.5 billion in 2021/22.
For 16 to 19-year-olds, the national funding formula includes extra funding for disadvantaged students. In 2020/21 the government allocated over £530 million to enable colleges, schools, and other providers to recruit and support disadvantaged 16 to 19-year-olds and to support students with special educational needs and disabilities.
The Disadvantage Gap Index shows that, between 2011 and 2019, the attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils narrowed by 13% at age 11 and 9% at age 16.
The department does not collect data on children who are home educated, however we are aware of the rising numbers of home-educated children.
The department supports the right of parents to educate their children at home. Most parents do this with the intention of providing their child with the best education possible, and sometimes during challenging circumstances.
However, the rising numbers of home educated children cannot be overlooked. For some parents, the child’s education is not the primary reason behind the decision to home educate, which can mean that some children are not being provided with a suitable education.
The government remains committed to a form of registration system for children not in school. Further details on this will be in the government response to the Children Not in School Consultation, which we will publish in the coming months.
We want to support all young people to be happy, healthy and safe and want to equip them for adult life and to make a positive contribution to society. Relationships Education for all primary school-aged pupils, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) for all secondary school-aged pupils, and Health Education for all pupils in state-funded schools, will become compulsory from 1 September 2020.
In light of the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and, following engagement with the sector, the department is reassuring schools that although the subjects will still be compulsory from 1 September 2020, schools have flexibility over how they discharge their duty within the first year of compulsory teaching. For further information, I refer the noble Lord to the answer I gave on 10 June to Question 55660.
The subjects will support all young people in terms of managing risk, making informed decisions, as well as in key aspects such as mental wellbeing and online behaviour. Under the topic of internet safety and harms, the statutory guidance sets out that young people should be taught about the risks related to online gambling, including the accumulation of debt, how advertising and information is targeted at them, and how to be a discerning consumer of information online. The statutory guidance can be accessed via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/relationships-education-relationships-and-sex-education-rse-and-health-education.
As with other aspects of the curriculum, schools will have flexibility over how they deliver these subjects, so they can develop an approach that is sensitive to the needs and background of their pupils. Schools should assess each resource they intend to use, to ensure that it is appropriate for the age and maturity of pupils, and sensitive to their needs. These resources must also be factually accurate. We also expect schools to consult with parents on these matters and to make reasonable decisions about the content of their curriculum.
Many schools draw on the work of subject associations when choosing resources, for example the PSHE Association. They have worked with organisations like Gamble Aware to develop a programme about the dangers of gambling.
To support schools, the department is investing in a central package to help all schools to teach these subjects. We are currently developing a new online service featuring training materials, an implementation guide and case studies. This will cover all of the teaching requirements in the statutory guidance, including modules on how teachers teach about the risks related to online gambling. The first training material, covering mental wellbeing, is now available on GOV.UK, and additional content will be added in the coming months.
There are a wide range of evidence-based programmes and interventions available for schools to use to support the mental health and wellbeing of their pupils. Schools should choose how best to support their pupils depending on local needs and context and reference to the evidence base.
The department-funded ‘Supporting Mental Health in Schools and Colleges’ survey in the academic year 2016-17 found that schools already have a wide range of provision on offer. For example, 61% provided school counselling, 70% had support programmes for specific groups of pupils and 53% offered peer support or mentoring. The department’s School Snapshot survey from summer 2019 found that 96% of schools provided support for pupils with identified mental health needs. We have included schools with sources of evidence-based wellbeing activities as part of our guidance on providing education remotely and as pupils return to school so that they can continue to do this.
In order to improve the evidence base available to schools, the department is funding a large-scale programme of randomised controlled trials of school based mental health and wellbeing interventions. The aim of the ‘Education for Wellbeing’ programme is to provide evidence on what works to support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing and how it can be delivered effectively in a school setting. The programme consists of 2 large trials, and there will be around 350 participating schools by the end of the project in 2021, making this one of the largest studies in the world of its kind.
The department has also published detailed plans for all children and young people to return to full-time education from September. The guidance highlights the particular need to focus on pastoral support and mental wellbeing as a central part of what schools provide, in order to re-engage them and rebuild social interaction with their friends and teachers. This will involve curriculum provision as well as extra-curricular and pastoral support, and our recently published relationships, sex and health education training module will support teachers with preparation to deliver content on mental health and wellbeing. The guidance for schools is available here:
The department in collaboration with Public Health England and NHS England, delivered 2 webinars in July to provide further mental health support. The first webinar was for schools and colleges to support teachers in promoting and supporting the mental wellbeing of children and young people during the COVID-19 outbreak. The second event was for stakeholders across the local system to support strengthening of local partnerships to further support children and young people’s mental health as they return to school. We had around 10,000 sign up to the first webinar and around 1,300 to the second, and they are now available online for wider use.
We also remain committed to implementing the core proposals set out in response to the consultation on ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision: A Green Paper’. Part of that commitment includes establishing new Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) in 20-25% of the country by 2023, as part of the additional support for children and young people’s mental health in the NHS Long Term Plan, and we are ahead of trajectory to achieving this. Where already established, MHSTs are adapting their services to continue supporting children and young people remotely during the COVID-19 outbreak. The green paper is available here:
The National Institute for Health Research and Health Services & Delivery Research Policy Research Programme programmes have jointly commissioned Birmingham, RAND and Cambridge Evaluation Centre and the Policy Innovation and Evaluation Research Unit to carry out a robust and independent evaluation of the implementation of core proposals within the ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision: A Green Paper’. The protocol for this evaluation was published in October 2019 and is available here:
Evaluation fieldwork was paused due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Future plans for the evaluation are currently being reviewed to account for impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on fieldwork, and any revisions will be included in an updated evaluation protocol.
Further education and higher education are devolved matters. The department does not have ready access to the location of all further education colleges within the UK and so cannot provide an answer in the form requested in the time available. The answer below therefore focuses on England.
In England, of the 533 parliamentary constituencies, there are 52 with no further education colleges or higher education institutions registered within their boundaries.
The attached tables contain the full list of these constituencies.
The number and proportion of 16 to 18 year olds not in education, employment or training (NEET) in England for each quarter of 2018 can be found in the table below:
January to March 2018
Number of 16 to 18 year old NEETs
Percentage of 16 to 18 year old NEETs
April to June 2018
Number of 16 to 18 year old NEETs
Percentage of 16 to 18 year old NEETs
July to September 2018
Number of 16 to 18 year old NEETs
Percentage of 16 to 18 year old NEETs
October to December 2018
Number of 16 to 18 year old NEETs
Percentage of 16 to 18 year old NEETs
Source: ‘NEET statistics annual brief: 2018’, from the ‘Labour Force Survey’, available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/neet-statistics-annual-brief-2018. Numbers rounded to the nearest 1000.
It should be noted, that due to seasonal variation in NEET rates, comparisons should not be made between in-year quarters.
The proportion of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) was the lowest on record in the first 3 quarters of 2018.
As shown in the table below, there has been a downward trend in 16 to 18 year old NEETs since 2010:
Percentage of 16 to 18 year old NEETs in 2010
Percentage of 16 to 18 year old NEETs in 2018
Change (in percentage points)
January to March
April to June
July to September
October to December
Local authorities have a statutory duty to identify and support young people who are NEET.
Under Raising the Participation Age, all young people in England are now required to continue in education or training until their 18th birthday. Most continue until the end of the academic year in which they turn 18.
Additionally, the government invested around £7 billion during the last academic year to ensure there was a place in education or training for every 16 to 19 year old.
Regarding further education, the Adult Education Budget funds the first full level 2 and 3 qualifications for 19 to 23 year olds, training up to level 2 for unemployed people and English and maths for all adults who have not achieved level 2.
 The figures are based on young people aged 16 to 18 as at 31 August 2018, the start of the academic year, and will therefore include young people who turn 19 throughout the course of the 2018/19 academic year.
(1) Since 1 January 2021 the UK Government has met and engaged in written correspondence with representatives of the Anglo-North Irish Fish Producers Organisation and the Northern Ireland (NI) Fish Producers Organisation on the effect of the Protocol. Minister Victoria Prentis has also met with NI Members of Parliament, Minister Walker and Minister Poots to discuss NI fishers and industry.
Officials in both Defra and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in NI continue to collaborate and to engage with NI fishers on operationalising the Protocol.
(2) Representatives from all regions of the UK industry were briefed on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement earlier this year.
The UK is committed to protecting the marine environment. However, due to the transboundary nature of marine litter from discarded fishing gear and the challenges around identifying the provenance of abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear, we have not made an estimate of the amount of discarded fishing gear from foreign fishing fleets around the UK coastline.
Under the Merchant Shipping Regulations on the Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships (2020), the discharge of all garbage into the sea is prohibited with very limited exceptions. In all cases the discharge of plastic is prohibited. These regulations bring the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships (MARPOL Annex V) into UK law.
The Regulations require fishing vessels to record the discharge or loss of fishing gear in the Garbage Record Book or ship’s logbook and to report the accidental loss or discharge of fishing gear which poses a significant threat to the marine environment or navigation. Under the Merchant Shipping Regulations it is an offence to fail to report the discharge of fishing gear which poses a significant threat to the marine environment or navigation to (a) the ship’s flag State and (b) any coastal state who has jurisdiction over the waters where the loss or discharge occurs.
The UK collects data on the quantity and type of marine litter in our waters including on seafloor litter, floating litter and beach litter, following methodologies agreed through the OSPAR Convention’s monitoring and assessment programmes. Data is available through the Marine Online Assessment Tool: https://moat.cefas.co.uk/
Recognising the scale, urgency and transboundary nature of the global action needed to tackle marine plastic litter and microplastics, the UK this year has driven the G7 to commit to step up international action to tackle ghost gear, including an agreement to support organisations such as the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and agreement to carefully consider the recommendations of the UK commissioned OECD report ‘Towards G7 Action to Combat Ghost Fishing gear’. The communique and OECD Ghost Gear report can be found here: G7 Climate and Environment Ministers' meeting, May 2021: communiqué - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
As an independent coastal state, the UK has full responsibility over how it ensures compliance in its fisheries. All fishing vessels in UK waters are required to fish in accordance with UK laws and the conditions of their licences. As control and enforcement is a devolved matter, Defra, the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive work together to share information and ensure a coordinated approach to monitoring, compliance and enforcement across UK waters.
In England, the Government has undertaken a significant increase in the number of personnel and surveillance assets relating to fisheries protection with a sizeable increase in personnel, an increase in the number of planes available for aerial surveillance and an increase in the level of at-sea surveillance. This strong presence will deter against fisheries infringements, while also enabling our agencies to take robust action where they may occur. In addition, the Joint Maritime Security Centre has been established to enhance joint working between maritime agencies, increase information sharing across Government and maximise benefit from surveillance assets. This enables a more efficient, effective and prioritised maritime patrol enforcement.
To date, over 80% of invited vessels have registered on the under 10 metre catch recording application and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) continues to engage with industry and provide support during its roll-out across the fleet.
Before launching the app, significant amounts of user research was undertaken and fishers were directly involved in testing a prototype of the app. This feedback was used to develop the service and its functionality before launching it externally.
The MMO is also committed to continuous improvement and based on feedback from those using the app has already improved its functionality and made additional system improvements. This has included increasing the number of ports available within the app, the ability to record weights of fish lower than 1kg and allowing catch to be landed and then weighed on a stable platform prior to being moved for onward sale.
We are working closely with businesses that export fish to the EU to ensure they understand and are compliant with new export requirements. We are also meeting with authorities from Member States and the EU weekly to address border issues which are a significant cause of delays.
The Government has established a new Scottish Seafood Exports Taskforce to address medium and longer term export issues faced by traders of seafood. The Taskforce held its first meeting on 12 February with the primary aim is to increase confidence in the seafood and aquaculture supply chain by ensuring medium and longer-term issues are resolved. In addition to this, we have opened the £23 million Seafood Disruption Support Scheme for seafood exporting businesses across the UK that have been affected by the challenges of adjusting to new requirements for exporting to the EU. The Government has also committed to providing £100m of investment to rejuvenate the industry and coastal communities across the UK, on top of the £32m that will replace EU funding this year.
At the end of the transition period, the UK will be an independent coastal state with rights under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to control and manage the resources in our waters.
On 27 February 2020, the Government published the UK’s approach to the future relationship with the EU. The Government is ready to consider an agreement on fisheries that reflects the fact that the UK will be an independent coastal state at the end of 2020. However, any such framework agreement should set out the scope and process for annual negotiations on access to the parties’ exclusive economic zones and fishing opportunities. Fishing opportunities should be negotiated annually based on the best available science for shared stocks provided by the International Council for Exploration of the Seas. The UK will not accept the Common Fisheries Policy’s ‘relative stability’ mechanism for sharing fishing quotas, which is outdated and based on historical fishing activity from the 1970s. Future fishing opportunities should be based on the principle of zonal attachment, which better reflects where the fish live.
Negotiations with the EU commenced on 2 March. The Government is committed to securing good terms for fishers in the whole of the UK.
HM Government is committed to a trade policy that secures opportunities for people in every corner of the country.
Scoping Assessments are published to provide a preliminary assessment of the potential long run impacts of new Free Trade Agreements in advance of negotiations. We have already published Scoping Assessments for agreements with the United States, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. An impact assessment for the United Kingdom-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) – the first major trade deal that the United Kingdom has struck as an independent trading nation – has also been published.
That Impact Assessment shows the United Kingdom-Japan CEPA could increase British Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by £1.5 billion in the long run, compared to trading under World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.
Strengthening and enhancing our bilateral trading relationships with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are key priorities for the Government’s trade negotiations programme.
(1) The UK-Canada Trade Continuity Agreement (TCA) was signed on 9th December and it will come fully into force once it has completed ratification in Canada. The TCA locked in our existing trading relationship with Canada as we left the transition period and sets out a clear path to begin negotiating a new trade deal during 2021.
(2) Good progress has been made in the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The third round of negotiations was held between 23rd November and 4th December, completing around 50 discussions. Discussions reached an early milestone of exchanging initial tariffs offers. The fourth round of negotiations will begin on 22nd February.
(3) We are also making good progress on a UK-New Zealand FTA; the third round of negotiations with New Zealand took place between 25th January and 9th February, making progress in many chapters, and we will be publishing an Outcome Statement shortly.
The Government is committed to an inclusive and transparent trade policy. We have published scoping assessments for agreements with the United States, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. These scoping assessments set out the potential economic impacts on all nations and regions of the UK, including Northern Ireland. We will publish impact assessments following the conclusion of negotiations which will include an assessment of the impacts on UK regions and nations.
We hope to be able to apply for formal accession of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in early 2021. This continues to be a priority for the government and a key part of our trade negotiations programme.
We have engaged with all eleven member countries at both ministerial and official level, an approach that aligns with the accession process for new CPTPP members, and all CPTPP members have welcomed our interest in accession. In particular, Japan underlined their commitment to supporting the UK’s accession during the Secretary of State’s visit to Japan to sign the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
The preliminary analysis from the published Scoping Assessment before negotiations began shows that a UK-Japan agreement could benefit Northern Ireland with output (measured by gross value added) estimated to increase by between 0.05% and 0.15% in the long run. This Scoping Assessment can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uks-approach-to-negotiating-a-free-trade-agreement-with-japan.
A full Impact Assessment of the Free Trade Agreement itself will be published when the agreement is laid before Parliament.
The fourth UK-US Free Trade Agreement negotiating round took place from 8 September to 18 September 2020. A Written Ministerial Statement was published on 22 September 2020, updating parliament on the progress of the round.
Significant progress has been achieved since launching negotiations in May 2020, and most chapter areas are now in the advanced stages of talks.
Shortly before the fourth negotiating round both sides exchanged their first tariff offers, allowing a series of detailed market access discussions to be held during the round - a notable milestone which demonstrates momentum.
In parallel to the negotiations, my Rt Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade held a series of key meetings with the United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer. They share an ambition for a comprehensive trade agreement. The UK has been clear there is no set deadline for agreeing a deal.
The fifth round of talks will take place in mid-October, with additional intersessional discussions taking place in the meantime.
The second round of negotiations for a UK-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) took place from 15-26 June 2020. A Written Ministerial Statement was published on Tuesday 30 June, updating parliament on the outcomes of the round.
Talks continued to be positive and constructive, with progress being made towards a comprehensive agreement. Discussions spanned the majority of areas covered by an FTA, with further sessions coming over the next two weeks on remaining major policy areas.
During the round, talks advanced across a number of chapters and teams are now into detailed discussions on text.
There was good progress on a dedicated Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) chapter. This included agreement that the next formal UK-US SME Dialogue will be held in Boston in October 2020.
The third negotiating round is expected to take place at the end of July.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has developed a pathway for those leaving the Royal Navy, with the relevant skills and experience, to obtain a UK Merchant Navy Rating or Able Seafarer qualification.
These qualifications lead to an internationally recognised certificate, which is a requirement for those who wish to apply for roles as a rating on vessels such as cruise ships.
The MCA continues to work with its stakeholders, to develop flexible pathways to provide skilled UK seafarers to the maritime sector.
The following table shows the total number of successful prosecutions resulting from enforcement activity by Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) officers.
2019 (January to December)
2020 (January to November)
The Department has been working closely with the maritime sector, including shipping and ports, as they have continued to operate throughout the pandemic and provide vital freight and passenger services.
As the economy continues its safe re-opening, the Department will continue to engage widely across the maritime sector to understand any challenges they face, including the ongoing financial health of maritime companies, shipping and our ports.
The aviation sector can draw on the unprecedented package of economic measures we have put in place during this time. These measures include: HMRC’s Time to Pay flexibilities with tax bills, including VAT deferrals; the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; HMT and the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility; and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for large and small businesses.
If airlines or airports find themselves in trouble as a result of coronavirus, even following the Government’s cross-economy wage and financial interventions, the Transport Secretary and Chancellor have confirmed that we are prepared to enter discussions with individual companies seeking bespoke support as a last resort, having exhausted all other options. Any intervention would need to represent value for money for taxpayers.
The recent announcements about proposed redundancies will be very distressing news for employees and their families. Government recognises the challenges facing the aviation industry and remains committed to an open dialogue with the sector and unions, to minimise the damage to industry and retain jobs. We encourage airports and unions to engage constructively with each other, striving to provide employees with as much certainty as possible during this challenging time.
In May the Government announced a £5.7 million funding package of measures,?supporting?two airlinks,?from Belfast and Londonderry to London,?and associated airport services at City of Derry Airport and Belfast City Airport.
The funding package has ensured that lifeline connectivity services continue to both Belfast and Londonderry during the COVID-19 pandemic. These routes provide critical connectivity for key workers, repatriation, and access to healthcare services.
This approach was taken to ensure in the immediate term the continuity of service for passengers and specifically places an obligation on the operators to ensure the services continue at a minimum appropriate level.
The support provided is a temporary arrangement for up to 3 months. We are continuing to monitor Northern Ireland to Great Britain connectivity as part of the Department’s work on restart and recovery of the sector and are pleased to see commercial services resuming between London and Belfast as well as in other parts of the UK.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is committed to supporting everyone who has been affected by the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the labour market. We want everyone to be able to find a job, progress in work and thrive in the labour market.
Through the Plan for Jobs, the government invested £33 billion in measures to create, support and protect jobs.
The Plan for Jobs package includes the Kickstart Scheme, aimed at creating new, fully subsidised jobs for young people aged 16 to 24 on Universal Credit. This is further supported by the DWP Youth Offer (18 to 24 year olds making a Universal Credit claim), so every young person, whatever their background or challenge, gets the chance to shape their own future.
Most recently, the Restart Scheme started in June, will support all age groups, who have been unemployed for over 12 months, providing intensive and tailored support to help their entry into work. We know from experience that tailored provision can have a real impact on supporting people after an extended period out of work.
The total number of new Universal Credit claims made between 21 March 2020 and the latest published date available, 14 January 2021, was 4,242,453. A small minority of people submitted more than one claim and therefore the number of unique individuals who have made a new claim to Universal Credit during the same time period was 4,063,276.
These statistics are published, by day of claim, every three months on Stat-Xplore and the next publication on 18 May 2021 should include daily claims data to 8 April 2021.
No assessment has been made of the number of people with epilepsy who have been supported into work by the Government since October 2016.
The Government is committed to reducing the disability employment gap and seeing a million more disabled people in work by 2027. We support disabled people, including people with epilepsy, to return to work through programmes such as the Work and Health Programme, Access to Work and the new Intensive Personalised Employment Support Programme. We will publish a National Strategy for Disabled People before the end of 2020. This will look at ways to improve the benefits system, opportunities and access for disabled people in terms of housing, education, transport and jobs.
Several bespoke veterans’ services have been developed to meet the needs of military personnel, veterans and their families. This includes Op Courage, the new specialist mental health service for veterans, which focuses on those in crisis, at risk of self-harm or suicide, or suffering other problems such as homelessness and addiction. To date, Op Courage has received over 10,000 referrals.
NHS England are also working with the Royal College of General Practitioners to accredit general practitioner practices as ‘veteran friendly’. To date, 982 practices have been accredited and the accreditation scheme is being widened to Primary Care Networks.
Reducing unwarranted variation in cancer treatment and outcomes is a strategic priority for the National Health Service Cancer Programme. To support cancer services and target local and national actions for improvement, monthly equality data showing first treatment rates by ethnicity, deprivation, sex and age is directly informing the restoration and recovery of cancer services. This includes targeted messaging in the national ‘Help us help you’ campaign to support people coming forward with symptoms indicative of cancer to their general practitioner. In May 2021, urgent general practitioner referrals were 14% higher than in May 2019.
NHS England and NHS Improvement have put in place single national commissioning arrangements for a number of cancer treatments to mitigate the risk of unwarranted variation in terms of access and clinical outcomes. Audits are currently being carried out for lung, bowel, prostate and oesophageal cancers and for breast cancer in older people to drive improvements in care and ensure equity. Five new clinical audits will be commissioned for ovarian, pancreatic, non-hodgkin lymphoma, kidney and metastatic breast cancer to ensure that care is being provided in line with standards and reduce variations.
The Department invests in health research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The NIHR’s expenditure on cancer research was approximately £138 million in 2019/20. Expenditure for 2020/21 is currently being validated and will be published at the end of 2021.
NHS England’s guide Standard infection control precautions: national hand hygiene and personal protective equipment policy, specifies what standard infection control precautions, including hand hygiene, are to be adhered to by all staff in all care settings, at all times and for all patients. A copy of the guide is attached.
Implementation of and adherence to hand hygiene policy by providers of healthcare is monitored locally, regionally and nationally by standard contractual and regulatory processes. In addition, the Care Quality Commission conducts regular inspections of hospitals to confirm compliance with and adherence to current regulations, legislation and good practice recommendations.
It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.
This information is not held centrally.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recognises that many people who are homeless or sleeping rough are likely to have underlying health conditions which would place them in priority group six. These conditions are likely to be under-diagnosed or not properly reflected in general practitioner (GP) records. The JCVI has advised that homeless people should be offered the vaccine without the need for a National Health Service number or GP registration.
There is work being undertaken to update our operational guidance on reaching rough sleepers and homeless people based on this recent JCVI advice. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government are working closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement to support outreach, and further work is being done to explore the availability of effective on-street models which could be used to support this work. Local teams are now prioritising all homeless people for vaccination alongside priority group six.
Public Health England has issued guidance on infection control, COVID-19: Guidance for the remobilisation of services within health and care settings. This includes infection prevention and control recommendations and advice on maintaining physical distancing and patient placement. A copy of the guidance is attached.
NHS England and NHS Improvement have also produced standardised signage for trusts, primary care, property companies and facilities management suppliers available to estates departments and to suppliers. This signage is not specific to distance, so it did not become obsolete if national guidance changed.
We recognise the crucial role unpaid carers play caring for those with learning disabilities, especially at this time. We commissioned the Social Care Institute of Excellence to develop a hub of resources for paid and unpaid carers of people with learning disabilities and/or autism. The guidance is available in an online only format and covers topics such as social distancing, advance care planning and staying well.
We have also published guidance in an online only format for unpaid carers, which includes advice on infection control, and links to information and support, and we have provided funding to extend Carers UK’s information and advice service.
To help unpaid carers continue to claim Carer’s Allowance if they need to self-isolate, we made temporary amendments so that emotional support counts towards the 35 hours a week threshold.
We continue to work with carers organisations to identify further solutions to support carers.
Veteran mental health needs are very often no different to those of the general population. Data in England has shown that most patients suffer from common mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety and readily make use of the mainstream mental health services provided throughout the United Kingdom.
For veterans that do need specialist support, the Government is fully committed to providing high quality evidence-based services. The National Health Service in England has set up two dedicated veterans’ mental health services, the Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service and the Complex Treatment Services. These services benefit from over £12 million per year investment. The forthcoming Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service will see even more investment and will provide crisis care and therapeutic inpatient support for those who need urgent and emergency care.
The Government has made no such assessment.
We do, however, continuously monitor overall movements in changes in the prices of medicines through various methods, including data from suppliers using the provisions in the Health Service Products (Provision and Disclosure of Information) Regulations 2018. It is too early to assess the increased cost to the National Health Service in light of COVID-19.
For unbranded generic medicines the Department relies on competition to keep prices down. This has led to some of the lowest prices in Europe and allows prices to react to the market. In an international market this ensures that when demand is high and supply is low, prices in the United Kingdom can increase to help secure the availability of medicines for UK patients.
No specific assessment has been made.
Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic the UK Government has been supporting the Overseas Territories in their response. This has included enabling seven Overseas Territories to establish local testing facilities, and ensuring all had sufficient personal protective equipment, testing kits, and other medical supplies. The UK also committed to supply the Territories with a proportionate share of the vaccines it procured, in line with the UK's enduring commitment to the people of the Territories. So far the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has arranged deliveries to all 12 permanently inhabited Territories, most recently the Pitcairn Islands and Tristan da Cunha, but also to South Georgia. The UK Government, including the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Department for Health and Social Care, Public Heath England continue to work closely with the Overseas Territories to support them in their response to COVID-19.
The UK is committed to working with the three pillars of the Commonwealth – the Secretariat, its member states, and its civil society organisations and networks - to build closer social and economic ties. We were particularly pleased to host Commonwealth partners, including Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, at the sixth Commonwealth Trade Ministers' Meeting in London last October. The meeting reaffirmed our shared commitment to deepening trade and investment ties across the Commonwealth, including through our plans for Free Trade Agreements following our departure from the EU. Canada, Australia and New Zealand are close and natural partners based on our shared history and values. These are invaluable relationships for the UK, which are further strengthened through our Commonwealth cooperation.
Cross-border cooperation is a key element of HMRC’s operational response to fuel fraud and we will continue to collaborate with Ireland and others to ensure we are well placed to respond quickly and decisively to detect and prevent this type of illegal activity. This co-operation, as well as a multi-agency approach, has driven down the assessed tax gap for the illicit fuel market share in Northern Ireland from 19% in 2005-06, to a low of 6% in the latest figures published for 2018-19. Similarly, in that period, the assessed tax gap for illicit fuel for Great Britain has reduced from 5% to 1%. Published Tax Gap assessments for illicit fuel have either reduced or remained static for the last five years.
Throughout the pandemic, the government has sought to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods while also supporting businesses and public services across the UK. To do this, the government has put in place an economic package of support which will provide businesses and individuals with certainty over the coming months, even as measures to prevent further spread of the virus change. The cumulative cost to the Government of this support since the start of the pandemic is £352 billion.
This support includes a new Restart Grant of up to £18,000 to over 680,000 business premises, giving them the cash certainty they need to plan ahead and safely relaunch trading over the coming months. Local authorities will also receive an additional £425 million of discretionary business grant funding under the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG), on top of the £1.6 billion already allocated to allow them to support their local businesses. This means local authorities will have received over £2.1 billion of discretionary grant funding to support businesses which are not eligible for Restart Grants, but which are nonetheless experiencing a severe impact on their business due to public health restrictions.
In order to support businesses to retain their employees and protect the UK economy, the Chancellor has extended both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) until September 2021. In Northern Ireland, the CJRS has supported more than 280,000 jobs since the scheme’s inception, and as of 31 January, the SEISS provided £570 million of support to self-employed individuals in Northern Ireland. The fourth and fifth SEISS grants are an estimated £13.5 billion of additional support, taking total support for the self-employed to over £33 billion. The Government has also announced a major improvement in access to the self-employed scheme. As the deadline for 2019-20 tax returns has now passed, HMRC will use these tax returns for the fourth and fifth grants, provided they were submitted by 2 March. This means more than 600,000 people, many of whom became self-employed in 2019-20, may now be able to claim the fourth and fifth grants, bringing the total number of people who could be eligible to 3.7 million.
Businesses have also received billions in loans, tax deferrals, Business Rate reliefs, and general and sector-specific grants. And individuals and families have benefited from increased welfare payments, enhanced statutory sick pay, a stay on repossession proceedings and mortgage holidays. But we must recognise that it will not be possible to preserve every job or business indefinitely, nor stand in the way of the economy adapting and people finding new jobs or starting new businesses. As measures to control the virus change, it is right that government support should also evolve. Because of this, we continue to take a flexible approach and keep all impacts and policies under review.
The retail sector is evolving, as more consumers and businesses opt for the convenience, security, and speed of digital payments and digital banking.
While these innovations have brought considerable benefits to many consumers, the Government recognises that some people continue to prefer to access their banking and payments through more traditional channels. Though the Government does not make direct assessments of the impact of digitalisation of banking and billing services on the elderly, it firmly believes that it is vital to ensure that all customers, including the elderly, have suitable access to banking and bill payment services.
That is why UK banks and building societies are required to provide a prompt, efficient and fair service to all of their customers, including the elderly, as set out in the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Principles of Business. For example, if a customer did not have access to the internet, then the FCA would expect the customers’ bank to provide paper bank statements to them instead.
For billing services, the energy regulator Ofgem requires energy suppliers to maintain a Priority Services Register of customers in vulnerable circumstances, which includes customers of pensionable age. A range of protections are available to these customers, including the provision of account and bill information in an accessible format.
Earlier this month, the Government took several temporary operational steps to avoid disruptive cliff edges which could have affected the delivery of parcel services. These included extending the temporary arrangements that the Government set out on parcels before the end of the transition period, giving further time to parcel operators to prepare for new requirements and minimise the impact on day-to-day lives in Northern Ireland.
The Government remains committed to meeting its obligations in the Northern Ireland Protocol and to doing so in a pragmatic and proportionate way, taking full account of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. The Government is continuing to support parcel operators and businesses across sectors to adapt to the new trading arrangements with the EU.
HM Revenue and Customs do not hold data on VAT collected specifically from adult gaming centres.
HMRC record and publish annually details of VAT receipts and liabilities across trade sectors and subsectors, but not at this level of detail.
The provision of facilities for betting and gaming is usually exempt from VAT.
The information is not held in the form requested; businesses are not taxed in the UK by reference to where their headquarters are, and there is no requirement on businesses to tell HM Revenue and Customs that they have moved their headquarters.
The Government announced an unprecedented support package to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) through this challenging time, including the Government-backed loan schemes.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) provides Government-backed finance of up to £5m per business, helping SMEs who risk becoming unviable during this period. The scheme has provided over 49,000 finance facilities worth a value of over £10.1bn. The Bounce Back Loans Scheme (BBLS), ensures that the smallest businesses can access the finance they need in a matter of days. The scheme so far has provided over 863,000 loan facilities worth over £26bn.
The Government also continues to work with banks and other finance providers to help SMEs access the finance they need, and welcomes lenders ongoing support for customers, such as repayment holidays and fee-free overdraft extensions.
This Government believes that individuals, regardless of their background or income, should have access to useful and affordable financial products and services, including a bank account.
Basic bank accounts are a key financial inclusion policy, enabling people, including those that are vulnerable, to manage their money on a day-to-day basis effectively, securely and confidently. These are bank accounts that are fee-free for all everyday banking services and have no overdraft facility. The 9 largest personal current account providers in the UK are legally required to offer fee-free basic bank accounts to customers who do not have a bank account or who are ineligible for a bank’s standard current account.
The Treasury publishes data on basic bank accounts annually. The December 2019 publication shows that in total there are nearly 7.5 million basic bank accounts open in the UK.
UK banks’ and building societies’ treatment of their customers is governed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA requires firms to identify particularly vulnerable customers, and to deal with such customers appropriately. This includes older people, disabled people, and those who may lack the capacity to manage their account on their own.
Further to this, the FCA recently concluded the first stage of a consultation on firms’ treatment of vulnerable customers and it will be issuing a second consultation in the spring. Protecting vulnerable customers is a key priority for the FCA. While many firms have made significant progress, the Treasury and the FCA want to see this issue being taken seriously by all firms so that vulnerable customers receive consistently fair treatment.
The Treasury continues to work with firms and the FCA to ensure that the needs of vulnerable customers are met.
There is a high level of cooperation on border security between both the UK and Irish Governments to ensure we are taking all the necessary measures to protect and secure the Common Travel Area, this includes people travelling from Ireland to the UK.
The Home Office, Ireland’s Garda National Immigration Bureau and Border Management Unit, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and other police forces work together to tackle abuse of the CTA by conducting intelligence-led checks and enforcement operations.
We continue to take a whole route approach in pursuing the crime groups who facilitate people smuggling to the UK and who exploit vulnerable migrants, knowingly putting people in life-threatening situations.
Our police have continued to dedicate themselves to protecting the public during the pandemic. We recognise that this has been a hugely challenging time for them and looking after their mental health and overall wellbeing is a priority for this Government as we deliver the aims of the Police Covenant.
In addition to my previous answer to your question of 24 March, the National Police Wellbeing Service, funded by the Home Office, undertook the annual national police wellbeing survey for 2020-21 with Durham University. The survey was conducted during the pandemic and adapted to include a question set to give an indication of the impact on officers and staff. Over 22,000 responses were received from police officers and staff. The main findings, published on 6 July, show that whilst some factors influencing overall wellbeing have improved, others remain a concern.
The results of the survey are enabling the wellbeing service to prioritise work at a national level, for example, continuing the rollout of the Emergency Services Trauma Intervention Programme. The findings of this survey are also included in the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s Covid-19 workforce recovery plan.
Information relating to the staffing in the Home Office including UK Visa and Immigration and Border Force is contained in the annual report and accounts since 2017.
UK Visa and Immigration total staff 6,467
Border Force total staff 7,670
The full report for 2016/2017 can be found at:
Home Office annual report and accounts: 2016 to 2017
UK Visa and Immigration total staff 7,680
Border Force total staff 7,734
The full report for 2017/18 can be found at:
Home Office annual report and accounts: 2017 to 2018
UK Visa and Immigration total staff 9,058
Border Force total staff 8,197
The full report for 2018/19 can be found at
Home Office annual report and accounts: 2018 to 2019
UK Visa and Immigration total staff 10,254
Border Force total staff 9,027
The full report for 2019/20 can be found at:
Home Office annual report and accounts: 2019 to 2020
The Home Office Annual reports and accounts for 2020 to 2021 will be published in due course.
UKVI regularly reviews its capacity plans and resources. Redeploying and recruiting staff where necessary to help meet and maintain service standards for individual services.
Border Force is confident the resources to meet anticipated overall operational requirements are in place as well as recruiting sufficient additional frontline staff and continuing to build staffing levels during 2020/2021.
Police custody healthcare services provide care to detainees to support their physical and mental health needs. These services do not extend to the provision of forensic beds within police custody.
The forensic, or secure, mental health estate provides inpatient hospital services to people with severe mental illness who need specialist care.
Patients may be referred by a psychiatrist to these services, or they may be placed there following a court conviction, or they may be transferred there from a prison. People in police custody may be assessed and detained under the Mental Health Act, in some cases the referral may be to a secure service.
The Government stands resolute in its commitment to tackle Organised Immigration Crime (OIC). We continue to pursue the Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) who facilitate illegal travel to the UK and who exploit vulnerable migrants, knowingly putting people in life-threatening situations.
In March 2021, the Government published the New Plan for Immigration which contains provisions to establish legislation to deter illegal entry into the UK, thereby breaking the business model of criminal trafficking networks and protecting the lives of those they endanger. We continue to work at pace to bring this legislation forward so we can crack down on the despicable criminal gangs behind people smuggling.
The Government has taken steps to tackle OIC on social media platforms, reducing the space in which OCGs operate. In March 2021, the Immigration Compliance and Justice Minister met with the National Crime Agency and senior representatives from social media companies to discuss how they can more effectively tackle OIC online. As a result, all partners agreed to develop a joint action plan to tackle content advertising illegal OIC services. This action plan is currently awaiting agreement before implementation.
Reinforcing this commitment to tackle OIC activity online, in June 2021 the Home Secretary wrote to CEOs of key social media companies urging them to do substantially more to proactively identify and remove posts promoting OIC, particularly illegal Channel crossings.
We continue to take steps to tackle highly dangerous entry methods facilitated by these OCGs. As a result of our efforts, more than 4,000 people have been prevented from making the Channel crossing to the UK so far this year. In June 2021, the Government bolstered this effort by utilising the UK G7 Presidency, calling for firmness amongst member states in dealing with ruthless criminality that puts lives in danger and poses a risk to our border security.
The Government will continue to work tirelessly to stop the criminal networks facilitating OIC and protect the lives of those they wish to exploit.
Our police do a very demanding job and continue to dedicate themselves to protecting the public during this hugely challenging time. We recognise that the pandemic will have no doubt had an impact on their wellbeing. The Government and police leaders take this matter very seriously and are working to support the mental and physical wellbeing of all police officers and staff.
This includes providing ongoing funding to the National Police Wellbeing Service in England and Wales, which is helping forces to identify where there is most risk of impacts on mental health, developing work around building resilience, as well as supporting those who need it in response to traumatic events.
The Government has also accelerated work to introduce a Police Covenant for England and Wales, which will ensure our police get the support and protection they need. The Covenant will be enshrined in law as part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, introduced to Parliament on 9 March. The legislation provides a statutory duty for the Home Secretary to report annually to Parliament on the work undertaken. Our focus will be on health and wellbeing, physical protection and support for families, with a real emphasis on mental health support.
The safety and health of the public and our staff in NI, as across the entirety of the UK is of the utmost importance and we are doing everything in our power to stop the spread of this deadly disease.
We have a robust COVID Safe System of Work in place across all our ports. Lead by national guidance, which is informed by the latest government guidelines in order to advise and lead officers in ensuring their own and the public’s safety throughout this pandemic. This includes working closely with Public Health bodies in order to make sure that all staff members are provided with protective clothing and equipment. Supporting and shielding vulnerable staff members as well as ensuring that every Border Force office and workplace has implemented the guidelines to ensure a ‘COVID secure’ workplace.
The Government has been clear that it will provide police forces with the support they need to continue protecting the public and keep communities safe through the coronavirus pandemic.
In October 2020 the Government announced an additional £30m of funding for police forces in England and Wales to step up their enforcement of coronavirus rules.
In addition, we have provided the police the powers and guidance they need to support compliance with covid-19 social distancing and lockdown restrictions. This includes the powers to issue FPNs against offences breaching the Coronavirus regulations
The Home Office continues to work closely with the policing sector to monitor and respond to their needs in these challenging circumstances.
The Government is committed to empowering police to use new technologies, like body-worn cameras, which equip officers with the tools they need for modern policing. Its deployment is an operational matter for each police force and decisions will be made based on local priorities.
There is no centrally held data on its efficacy in investigations or prosecutions, however the benefits are recognised widely in policing.
The Government remains committed to tackling Organised Immigration Crime (OIC) and disrupting the Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) responsible. The NCA undertakes investigations into complex and serious OIC offences, arresting offenders in the UK and overseas and bringing them to justice.
The NCA is the operational lead for the OIC Taskforce. The Taskforce is a critical element of the UK government’s multi-agency response to tackling people smuggling. It takes a whole of route approach, deploying over 150 multi-agency officers to operate in 17 countries, with Crown Prosecution Service prosecutors placed in key source and transit countries to disrupt OCGs profiting from illegal migration. In these locations the Taskforce works with partner law enforcement and prosecution agencies to gather intelligence, build resources and share expertise to disrupt people-smuggling networks. The NCA are actively engaging bilaterally and multilaterally with partner countries to tackle specific cases of OIC activity.
As part of its Taskforce activities, the NCA also works alongside the Home Office Clandestine Threat Command targeting the small boats threat. Activity includes enhancing the collective understanding of the threat, developing intelligence and executing an effective operational response. The Taskforce has also played a significant role in the investigation in the UK’s response to the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants in a lorry in Essex in October 2019 which led to the prosecution of the offenders.
The Government is committed to increasing the number of police officers by 20,000 by March 2023 and good progress is being made to increase the numbers of officers across all forces in England and Wales.
As part of the Police Uplift, data on police recruitment is now published quarterly. The latest data to 31 December 2020, shows that 6,620 additional officers had been recruited in England and Wales as part of the police uplift meaning that we are on track to deliver this commitment.
Since November 2019 (when data collection began), 14,585 officers have joined police forces. 6,620 were recruited specifically as part of the uplift programme, with others joining forces through locally funded recruitment and to replace leavers.
As at 31 December 2020 provisional data show that there were 135,248 officers in the 43 territorial police forces in England and Wales, 5% above the baseline taking into account those recruited through the uplift programme and through other routes since the start of the campaign.
The Police Officer uplift statistics can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/police-officer-uplift-statistics
The Home Office is currently utilising two former military bases.
We have consistently reinforced our ability to crack down on money laundering in the UK and with our operational partners, we continue to bring the full capabilities of law enforcement to bear against serious criminals, corrupt elites, and their assets.
In July 2019 we published an ambitious public-private Economic Crime Plan and Asset Recovery Action Plan, for the first time bringing together government, law enforcement and the private sector to deliver a collective response to the threat from economic crime. We are making good progress, in particular on enabling better information sharing to combat economic crime, reforming the Suspicious Activity Reports system and implementing the 5th Money Laundering Directive to bear down on money laundering.
The Financial Action Task Force completed a landmark review of the UK’s regime for tackling money laundering and terrorist financing in December 2018, concluding that we have some of the strongest controls in the world.
The National DNA Database system does not maintain the conviction (or otherwise) status for retained DNA profiles of individuals.
Under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020, it is against the law to gather outdoors in groups of more than 30 people.
The police have powers to break up groups larger than 30 in certain circumstances, through dispersal and removal powers, as well as through issuing Fixed Penalty Notices.
The Police will continue to follow the four-step escalation principles of engaging, explaining, encouraging, with enforcement as a last resort.
The Government will continue to work closely with the police on any future changes to the regulations and guidance.
The Home Office collects and publishes data on joiners in the annual police workforce statistics, which can be found here:
In 2018/19, 9,427 police officers joined the 43 police forces in England and Wales, accounting for 8% of officers. Excluding those who transferred from other forces, joiners accounted for 6% of all officers. This was a 16% increase on the previous year and the highest number of joiners in a financial year since 2008/09.
The Government is also delivering on the people’s priorities by recruiting 20,000 additional police officers over the next three years. In October 2019 the Home Office confirmed officer allocations for every force in England and Wales in the first year of the uplift.
The Home Office has announced plans to publish quarterly updates outlining the progress on delivering the police uplift programme. They will start from April 2020, lasting throughout the duration of the campaign.
It is important that the police and local agencies have the powers they need to tackle local issues quickly and effectively. That is why we reformed the tools and powers available to tackle anti-social behaviour through the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. We currently do not plan to introduce any new powers.
The powers in the Act are deliberately local in nature, and it is for local agencies to determine whether their use is appropriate in the circumstances. We keep anti-social behaviour policy under review through the Anti-social Behaviour Strategic Board which brings together key partners.
It is for Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners, as operational leaders and elected local representatives, to decide how best to respond to individual crimes and local crime priorities but to help ensure that the police have the resources they need to do so, we are recruiting 20,000 officers over the next three years.
I refer the Noble Lord to the answer I gave on 2 August 2021 to Question HL2267 to the Noble Lord, Lord Empey OBE.
The Armed Forces Covenant is a statement of the moral obligation which exists between the nation, the Government, and the Armed Forces. The Covenant is not an entity which provides any direct service. It is possible that the Noble Lord is referring to Op COURAGE, the current NHS England mental health initiative targeted at veterans. If so, I regret that the Ministry of Defence cannot comment on mental health provision across the UK, as this is not a Defence matter. Health is a devolved responsibility and, since 1948, it has been the policy of successive Governments that the NHS should be the main provider of healthcare, including mental healthcare, for veterans.
The requested information up until 31 December 2020 can be found in the attached ‘UK Regular Forces Intake and Outflow’ tables 4 and 5a in the excel spreadsheet of the quarterly Service personnel statistics.
Information for the most recent quarter, 1 January 2021 – 31 March 2021, will be published on 27 May 2021.
Defence is working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and other Government Departments to ensure that Armed Forces personnel receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the earliest practical opportunity, in line with the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). Those in healthcare roles and individuals most at risk from complications of COVID-19 are being offered the vaccine first.
The Government has been proactive in providing support to the charity sector in response to the COVID-19 pandemic across the United Kingdom. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Office for Veterans' Affairs (OVA) in the Cabinet Office have played a leading role in this effort by providing £6 million in funding for the Armed Forces community, through the COVID Impact Fund. Through this funding the MOD and OVA have distributed £112,372 to charities across Northern Ireland to support efforts in these challenging times. A further 39 grants, totalling nearly £3 million, were awarded to organisations who provide support across the whole of the United Kingdom including Northern Ireland.
Every year around 15,000 Service personnel leave the Armed Forces, with the vast majority making a successful transition back into civilian life without any requirement for additional support, including from Service charities. The Government has no plans to share details of these leavers with the charity sector, given the lack of clear purpose and legal basis for doing so, and recognising the administrative burden it would place on both the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and charities.
However, for those Service leavers and veterans who do require support, the MOD’s Veterans’ Welfare Service and Defence Transition Services have a strong collaborative relationship with charities. We regularly work together to share information, when it is appropriate to do so and consent has been given, on behalf of those veterans who do require support.
We are committed to ensuring that it is as easy as possible for veterans and their families to access the right support. We are continually exploring ways to enhance and improve collaboration with the third sector and other partners in the interests of veterans.
The Armed Forces and Reserve Forces Compensation Scheme came into force on 6 April 2005 to pay compensation for injury, illness or death attributable to Service that occurred on or after that date. It replaced the previous compensation arrangements provided by the War Pensions Scheme and the attributable elements of the Armed Forces and Reserve Forces Pensions Scheme. Tax-free lump sum awards are paid to all Service personnel and veterans as compensation for pain and suffering for an injury or illness that is predominantly caused or made worse by Service.
The Scheme also provides a Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP) for more severe injuries or illnesses.
Armed Forces Compensation Scheme statistics for the last financial year are published on Gov.UK and can be found at the following link:
Between 1 January 2019 and 30 September 2019 3,300 people joined the Reserves both trained and untrained. This consists of Army Reservists, sponsored Reserves, and those personnel now serving on Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS) who were recruited as Army Reservists.
Figures have been rounded to 10 for presentational purposes; numbers ending in "5" have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.
Intake Statistics are published on a quarterly basis by Defence Statistics. These figures are taken from the most recent published figures.
The £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund will invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including regenerating town centres and high streets, upgrading local transport, and investing in cultural and heritage assets.
The Fund will operate UK-wide, extending the benefits of funding for priority local infrastructure across all regions and nations.
In Northern Ireland, the UK Government will accept bids at the most local level, from a range of local applicants, including but not limited to businesses, voluntary and community sector organisations, district councils, the Northern Ireland Executive and other public sector bodies.
Because housing is a devolved issue, we would advise you to contact the Northern Ireland authorities for information about temporary accommodation in Northern Ireland.
The Government is clear that no one should be without a roof over their head. That is why we have now committed to end rough sleeping within this Parliament and to fully enforce the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA).
The latest published statutory homelessness data (April-June 2019) offers promising signs regarding the impact of the HRA:
Under the HRA more households are being offered statutory support, with more single people receiving help than ever before. 65 per cent of households owed a duty were single households, compared to 30 per cent prior to the introduction of the HRA.
Most households at risk of homelessness are having it successfully prevented. 57 per cent of the households whose prevention duty ended in this period secured their existing accommodation or were helped to find alternative accommodation.?40 per cent of the households whose relief duty ended in this period were helped to find accommodation.
Local authorities will now receive an additional £63 million in 2020/21 through the Homelessness Reduction Grant to carry out these duties. This is part of a £437 million package to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping over 2020/21.
In addition, the most recent national figures from the Official 2019 Rough Sleeping Snapshot, showed that the?number of people sleeping on our streets on a single night fell for the second year in a row.?The number of those sleeping rough on one night in 2019 was 9 per cent lower than the previous year.??This follows?year-on-year increases prior to 2018.
Despite the progress made, the level of violence in prisons remains too high. We are continuing work to address this by giving all staff the tools and training needed to help them reduce violence.
We are spending £100 million across the estate to bolster prison security, clamping down on the weapons, drugs and mobile phones that fuel violence and crime behind bars.
We have developed the Challenge, Support and Intervention Plan (CSIP), which is the national case management model for managing those who pose a raised risk of being violent and is being used in all prisons.
We are rolling out PAVA, a synthetic pepper spray, in the adult male estate to protect staff and prisoners from incidents where there is serious violence, or an imminent or perceived risk of serious violence. Alongside this will be the introduction of a new Personal Safety package; (S.P.E.A.R.) to ensure that PAVA is introduced as part of a wider package of skills for staff to resolve and deescalate incidents.
We continue to support the effective use of the 6,000 Body Worn Video Cameras across the estate, whilst continuing to embed the training provided to staff to promote rehabilitative conversations. This provides staff with skills and equipment to deal with challenging situations in a fair and just way. The cameras will also provide high-quality evidence to support prosecutions.
Any prisoner who commits an act of violence should expect to have action taken against them, including an adjudication, which could downgrade their incentives and earned privileges level, or further time added to their sentence.
The Ministry of Justice has published information on convictions for offences relating to human trafficking, up to December 2019, available in the ‘Principal offence proceedings and outcomes by Home Office offence code’ data tool, attached and here:
Offences relating to human trafficking and their offence codes, are the following:
In 2019, there were 25 convictions for offences relating to the above human trafficking.
Data for 2020 is due to be published in May 2021.
The table below represents data for translation including interpretation services budget, by year since 2016, for Public Sector Prisons in England and Wales including Young Offender Institutions.
Translation Budget (including interpretation) £
Total Budget £
% of Total Budget
To note within the tables:
Figures have been extracted from our ledger records.
Both translation and interpretation are held under one budget line in our ledgers; it is not possible to provide separate figures.
Budget data at this granular level is not available for privately managed prisons.
Budget allocations for the translation budget are decided at local prison level according to requirement.
Eight offenders were transferred from prisons in England and Wales to prisons in Northern Ireland in 2019. There have been no such transfers in 2020 as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
We do not underestimate the challenges faced by everyone working in prisons. We are committed to making prisons a safe place to work and providing prison staff with the right support, training and tools to empower them to do their jobs.
We are giving officers PAVA pepper spray and body-worn cameras to make their jobs safer, as well as access to post incident care teams, occupational health support and counselling for those who need it. More widely, we are spending £100 million to bolster prison security, clamping down on the weapons, drugs and mobile phones that fuel violence and crime behind bars. This will fund tough airport-style security, body scanners and phone-blocking technology.
Violence against our hardworking prison officers is unacceptable, and we work closely with the police and Crown Prosecution Service to bring the perpetrators to justice. Additionally, as outlined in our Sentencing White Paper we will double the maximum sentence for assaulting an emergency worker from 12 months to two years.
Alongside these measures, to ensure staff are safe during the COVID-19 pandemic we are providing PPE and ensuring social distancing is in place where possible.
In July 2020, a Covid-19 testing study commenced in 28 prisons in England. The testing programme is being conducted to help understand the spread of Coronavirus in prisons and how it is transmitted within individual establishments and across the wider estate. It is being carried out in collaboration with the University of Southampton, Public Health England, Department of Health and Social Care and National Audit Office.
The results will be used to aid the management of the virus, thereby protecting lives and reducing its spread, as well as to assist in managing any future pandemic in a prison custodial setting.
The study involves asking both prisoners and staff to volunteer to undertake antigen tests to ascertain if they are currently infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19. The study is ongoing, however the first round of testing saw 12500 tests taken. 4400 of these tests were from staff and 8100 were from prisoners.
Since January 2015, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service has actively been recording service in the Armed Forces as part of the screening process for newly received prisoners into custody.
A breakdown of experimental statistics published in October 2019 indicates that as of 30 June 2019, there were 1,833 prisoners serving a custodial sentence in England and Wales that have declared they have been a member of the armed services.
The department is due to release the next estimate of the total number of ex-armed services in October 2020 which will include data as of 30 June 2020.
The Ministry of Justice remains committed to encouraging people in the criminal justice system to declare service in the Armed Forces, as early as possible or at any point whist serving their sentence. This enables them to access the support available, whether that is in custody or the community.
The prisoner discipline system upholds justice in prisons and ensures incidents of prison rule-breaking have consequences. Only Independent Adjudicators, who are District Judges or Deputy District Judges, can make an award of additional days to a prisoner’s custodial time left to serve.
Where an act of violence amounts to a criminal offence, prisoners should be investigated by the police and face serious sanctions. The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 has increased sentencing powers for offences of common assault and battery committed against an emergency worker. This provides Courts with the powers to punish those who commit violent crime against prison staff.
The information requested can be found in the table attached.
A testing programme is being conducted to help understand the spread of Coronavirus in prisons and how it is transmitted within individual establishments and across the wider estate began on Monday 20 July.
The testing study is taking place across 28 prisons in England and is being carried out in collaboration with the University of Southampton, Public Health England, Department of Health and Social Care and National Audit Office.
Every one of the 20,000 prisoners and 10,000 staff at the 28 sites will be invited to carry out an antigen test, consisting of mouth and nose swabs, to see if they currently have the virus. Participation is completely voluntary but we encourage as many as possible to carry out the test. The test will be repeated two more times with a gap of three weeks between each test.
This testing study follows a pilot of voluntary testing of both staff and prisoners at HMP Littlehey. This consisted of over 1,000 tests being undertaken and pleasingly no positive results were found.
This testing study runs for 9 to 12 weeks to allow all three testing rounds to be completed.
Currently, the establishments which have started undertaking this COVID-19 prevalence Testing Programme are: Bure, Coldingley, Drake Hall, Frankland, Gartree, High Down, Leeds, Lewes, New Hall, Norwich, Send, The Mount, Wandsworth and Wealstun.
As of 5pm 30th July 2020, there have been 2542 prisoner tests with four positive results. There have been 1571 staff tests with three positive results.
With HMPPS staff being able to self-refer for testing the complete number of staff who have been tested for COVID-19 is unknown by HMPPS. While the total number of tests carried out on prisoners since testing began is also unknown, the Ministry of Justice has started publishing a weekly release of Covid-19 related statistics, which includes confirmed COVID-19 cases in prisoners and children in custody. These statistics provide total numbers across England and Wales.
The statistics release can be found here each Friday:
Seven offenders were transferred from prisons in England and Wales to prisons in Northern Ireland in 2018 and eight where transferred in 2019.
The law responds to hate crime in four ways by:
The Government have invited the Law Commission to review the law relating to hate crime and to make recommendations to the Government for its reform. The review began in March 2019.
Specifically, the Law Commission have been asked to consider the current range of offences and aggravating factors in sentencing, and to make recommendations on the most appropriate models to ensure that the criminal law provides consistent and effective protection from conduct motivated by hatred towards protected groups or characteristics. The review will also take account of the existing range of protected characteristics, identifying any gaps in the scope of protection currently offered under the law and making recommendations to promote a consistent approach.
The Law Commission plan to issue a consultation on this matter in early 2020. Further information on the review can be found on the Law Commission webpage at: https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/hate-crime/
The Troubles Permanent Disablement Scheme opened in August 2021 and is being delivered by the Northern Ireland Executive. The scheme provides acknowledgement and support to people who were injured in a Troubles-related incident throughout the UK between 1966 and 2010 and living with permanent disablement as a result.
UK citizens, people from Northern Ireland or Crown Servants injured in a relevant incident in Europe will be eligible to apply.
In addition, the Home Office’s Victims of Terrorism Unit ensures that victims of terrorism in Great Britain receive effective, comprehensive and coordinated support. Further details on the range of support available can be found at victimsofterrorism.campaign.gov.uk.
The Home Secretary has committed to an internal review, which will assess the wider support package available to victims of terrorism and will provide recommendations.
The UK Government is committed to promoting Northern Ireland as a great place to live, work, visit and do business. The Government will do everything we can, working collaboratively with the Department for the Economy and Tourism NI, to promote Northern Ireland’s economic recovery and growth in the Northern Ireland tourism sector when it is safe for people to travel again.
This year marks the Centenary of Northern Ireland and presents a wonderful opportunity to showcase the brilliance of Northern Ireland to the world, including as a world-class travel destination. This includes as part of the Dubai Expo, which begins in October 2021, and will be a fantastic opportunity to highlight the trading opportunities across the UK, including in Northern Ireland.
As part of the Centenary programme, we are hosting a NI Business Showcase event in London to boost exports and investment into Northern Ireland. Furthermore, as part of the New Deal for Northern Ireland a total of £8m was allocated to Invest NI to expand their presence overseas and help increase exports and attract investment. We will continue to work with partners in Northern Ireland and beyond to champion all that it, and the rest of the United Kingdom, has to offer.
We continue to engage regularly with the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to work towards the successful delivery of north-south policing and security. I commend the excellent work already carried out by the PSNI and An Garda Síochána in tackling cross-border criminality.
The Joint Agency Task Force was established under the Fresh Start Agreement to enhance cross-border law enforcement cooperation aimed at tackling organised crime and criminality. This Task Force brings together expertise from across law enforcement agencies, including PSNI, HMRC, NCA and Border Force and their counterparts in Ireland. This is an excellent example of how UK-based agencies and bodies collaborate effectively with those in Ireland to tackle illegal activity. Its work is ongoing and will cover the Christmas period.
There will be no new customs infrastructure in Northern Ireland. These rules will be administered by the UK authorities, who can exercise their discretion on when goods need to be checked.
We have always been clear that, following the Northern Ireland Protocol, there would be a limited expansion of facilities at some existing entry points, where certain controls for animal and plant health already take place. We have submitted to the EU applications for these entry points.
We continue to work with the Executive on proposals to minimise requirements on the movement of food and agricultural products, in line with the approach we set out in our May Command Paper.
The Prime Minister has set out his ambitious plan to invest in our future prosperity. Jobs, skills and infrastructure will be central to the UK Government’s New Deal which will unleash the economic potential within every corner of the UK. As part of this, the UK Government intends to bring forward funding to accelerate infrastructure projects in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland and will work with the devolved administrations on our ambitious plan for economic recovery across the UK.
This ambition is also reflected in our commitment of £562m to City and Growth Deals across Northern Ireland (NI) which will drive economic growth and productivity in line with the key local priorities. The NI Executive has recently agreed to match the UK Government commitment to City and Growth Deals and the Inclusive Future Fund, bringing total investment to £1.2bn and highlighting what our partnership can achieve.
This partnership and long-term strategic investment will be vital in supporting Northern Ireland’s economic recovery following the impact and challenges presented by Covid-19. The Councils and their delivery partners are therefore working at speed to ensure their projects reflect the best opportunities for investment. Whilst Covid-19 has required some reassessment of local priorities, we are confident that progress is being made across each of the deals. Northern Ireland Office Ministers continue to engage regularly with the Chief Executives of the City and Growth Deals in Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Office is working closely with Councils and NI Executive colleagues to provide any support necessary to accelerate their implementation.