Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.
e-Petitions are administered by Parliament and allow members of the public to express support for a particular issue.
If an e-petition reaches 10,000 signatures the Government will issue a written response.
If an e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures the petition becomes eligible for a Parliamentary debate (usually Monday 4.30pm in Westminster Hall).
These initiatives were driven by Desmond Swayne, and are more likely to reflect personal policy preferences.
MPs who are act as Ministers or Shadow Ministers are generally restricted from performing Commons initiatives other than Urgent Questions.
Desmond Swayne has not been granted any Urgent Questions
Desmond Swayne has not been granted any Adjournment Debates
Desmond Swayne has not introduced any legislation before Parliament
Desmond Swayne has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting
The Government is not seeking to agree specific mobility arrangements for owners of a second home.
After the end of the transition period, UK nationals will require permission from the relevant Member State to stay longer than 90 days in a rolling 180-day period.
Further to the statement by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 23 September, the Government has announced a £705 million package of investment for border infrastructure, staff and technology to ensure our border systems are fully operational after the end of the Transition Period.
The Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme was designed to provide a short-term economic stimulus while tackling our contribution to climate change.
My Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced £320 million for the scheme in the next financial year, as part of funding to make homes and public buildings more energy efficient.
Under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) businesses in England that would have been in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) on 11 March 2020, with a rateable value of less than £51,000, will be eligible for cash grants of up to £25,000 per property.
Private stables are included in the guidance as an example of ineligible hereditaments. However, this is not intended to rule out all stables. If a stable is a genuine commercial enterprise and meets all the other criteria such as being eligible for rates relief under the expanded retail discount scheme, then they can qualify for a grant. It would be up to local authorities to decide whether the stable in question was for personal/private or commercial use.
Guidance intended to support local authorities in administering this fund was first published on 24 March and can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/881040/business_support_grants-local_authorities_guidance.pdf.
Guidance for Local Authorities on the Expanded Retail Discount Scheme can be found here:
The Government has announced a package of support for business to help with their ongoing costs in recognition of the disruption caused by Covid-19. This includes £12.33 billion to local authorities in England to support businesses under the Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund. As at 14 June, £10.36 billion has been paid out to over 844,000 business properties across the two schemes.
On 1 May, the Government announced a further £617 million available, in the form of the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund, for local authorities to support small businesses that are not eligible for business rates or rates relief and are therefore not in scope of the existing grant schemes. Local authorities are responsible for defining precise eligibility for this scheme, and have discretion to pay grants to businesses based on local economic need – within the national guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-business-support-grant-funding
Local authorities will need to manage their schemes effectively to stay within their Discretionary Grants Fund allocation.
As with other business support measures, Ministers continue to keep the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund under review, monitoring roll-out and level of demand to assess how to ensure businesses and local economies are best supported.
As part of the Spring Budget 2020, the Government committed to consider how to provide appropriate support to self-employed parents, including adopters, so that they can continue to run their businesses, as part of the Government’s wider review of Parental Pay and Leave.
Currently, adopters may be eligible for adoption allowance from their local authority to help them cope with the extra costs adoption brings about.
All consumer products, including single use barbecues must be safe in normal or reasonably foreseeable use in line with the requirements of the General Product Safety Regulations 2005.? There are no plans to ban their sale.
The Government welcomes BP’s new 2050 Net Zero goals for its worldwide business. These should allow the company to make a significant contribution to climate action. It would not, however, be appropriate for the Government to assess the feasibility of BP’s plans given the international and commercial context in which they will be delivered.
More generally, while welcoming the action already being taken to reduce emissions, the Government would encourage the oil and gas sector to build ambitiously on what they are doing. Major and rapid cuts in unabated emissions are essential to meeting global climate goals.
The Government has put the UK at the forefront of global action on climate change and we are determined to build on the leadership we have shown to date, notably through our world-leading net zero target set in UK legislation in June last year. We are determined to use our Presidency of this year’s crucial COP26 climate negotiations to promote ambitious action to deliver the transformational change required by the Paris Agreement.
Government has robust checks in place and carries out due diligence through its Delivery Partners when issuing grants to both start-ups and established businesses. Where recipients have been found to act fraudulently serious action will be taken.
Through Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) competitive funding is provided to businesses, including start-ups. UKRI have a zero-tolerance approach to fraud and there are stringent controls and checks in place to stop fraud from happening throughout the lifetime of a project. These include:
In addition, UKRI have a dedicated investigations team tasked with identifying individuals and companies who submit false information in order to obtain funding. Relevant information and intelligence is shared with Action Fraud and CIFAS, and where appropriate UKRI will apply as many sanctions as possible, including criminal prosecution and civil recovery. UKRI take all reasonable steps to prevent any organisation found to have acted fraudulently from accessing future funding, on behalf of the whole of Government.
The Government recognises the ongoing importance of telecommunications at this critical time.
Whilst the industry has continued to offer consumers support online and over the phone, we also appreciate the role that mobile phone retail outlets play in ensuring that everyone in society remains connected. Tougher national restrictions are necessary to help get the virus under control and to protect the NHS. The current set of restrictions strike the right balance between containing the virus and protecting society whilst allowing limited parts of essential retail to remain open. We are keeping this under constant review. The Government will continue to work closely with the sector to ensure consumers and businesses continue to receive the support they need.
DCMS is only responsible for organising and delivering the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph on Whitehall on 8 November.
We have taken advice from Public Health England on the appropriate controls and mitigations to ensure safe social distancing and we will continually review the situation seeking advice from health experts and making necessary changes where and when required.
Those organising local Remembrance Sunday events across the UK should follow the guidance on outdoor events prepared and issued by the Events Industry Forum, with input from DCMS and in consultation with Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive. This guidance can be found here. The Local Government Association has also issued guidance for local authorities about outdoor events here.
As of 14 September non-professional performing arts activity, including choirs, orchestras or drama groups can continue to rehearse or perform together where this is planned activity in line with the performing arts guidance and if they can do so in a way that ensures that there is no interaction between groups of more than six at any time. If an amateur group is not able to ensure that no mingling takes place between these sub-groups of no more than six (including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising) then such non-professional activity should not take place.
We will continue to work with the Performing Arts sector to understand how the new regulations affect those engaging in activity. We have always been clear that the easing of restrictions depends on the prevalence of COVID-19.
Sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active. The Government has made it clear that it will adopt a phased approach based on scientific and medical advice, and that the primary goal is to protect public health. The Government is in discussions with representatives from the sport and physical activity sector about the steps required to restart grassroots sport and will update the public when it is deemed safe to open up facilities such as water parks as soon as it is safe to do so.
My Department has been working closely with the sector, including UKHospitality, through the Visitor Economy Working Group to produce guidance on the reopening of the tourism sector. This will include guidance on hotels and other forms of accommodation. This guidance will be published shortly.
We will look at opening forms of holiday accommodation in Step 3 of the Government’s recovery strategy, currently planned for 4 July at the earliest. This will be subject to the further scientific advice and the latest risk assessment at the time.
We remain in regular contact with hotel stakeholders through the Visitor Economy Working Group and the Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group.
The Government is committed to reopening sports and physical activity facilities as soon as it is safe to do so. We are holding regular discussions with representatives from the leisure sector and national sports organisations to develop guidance that will support them to open their facilities in a timely and safe manner once lockdown measures are eased.
The Secretary of State has made no such assessment. This is an operational matter for the Chief Executive of The Royal Parks, who I have asked to write to you directly regarding this matter. We will place a copy in the House Library.
On 13 April, the government announced that remaining students should return to in-person teaching alongside Step 3 of the roadmap, which is not earlier than 17 May.
Students and providers will be given at least a week’s notice of any further return in accordance with the timing of Step 3 of the roadmap. We have also updated our guidance on the return of students during the spring and summer terms: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses.
The Department continues to work closely with other government departments throughout its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as stakeholders across the sector. We continue to work to ensure that our policy is based on the latest scientific and medical advice, to continue to develop comprehensive guidance based on the PHE-endorsed ‘system of controls’ and to understand the impact and effectiveness of these measures on staff, pupils and parents.
The Department has recently published updated guidance to support the full opening to education from 8 March, which includes updated advice on face coverings. The guidance can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/964351/Schools_coronavirus_operational_guidance.pdf.
As the guidance outlines, where pupils and students in Year 7 and above are educated, we recommend that face coverings should be worn by adults, pupils and students when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.
In addition, from 8 March, we now also recommend that in schools and colleges where pupils and students in year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn in classrooms unless social distancing can be maintained.
In primary schools, we recommend that face coverings should be worn by staff and adult visitors in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible (for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas). Children in primary school do not need to wear a face covering.
Some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. This includes people who cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in education settings.
Transparent face coverings, which may assist communication with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate, can also be worn. There is currently very limited evidence regarding the effectiveness or safety of transparent face coverings, but they may be effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.
The Department is recommending these precautionary measures for a limited time during this period of high COVID-19 prevalence in the community. These measures will be in place until Easter, and as with all measures, we will keep this under close review.
The Department is continuing to work closely with colleagues across government and local authorities to secure the most effective approach to asymptomatic testing for the whole of the early years sector.
We are rolling out our asymptomatic testing programme to primary schools with deliveries of test kits starting from week commencing 18 January 2021.
The asymptomatic testing programme will offer all primary school, schools based nursery and maintained nursery school staff home Lateral Flow Device test kits for twice weekly testing. This will help to break the chains of transmission of COVID-19 in primary schools and nurseries by identifying asymptomatic positive cases. Those who test positive will then self-isolate, helping to reduce transmission of the virus.
Community Testing programmes are currently being rolled out across the country. Local authorities will be encouraged to target testing to people who cannot work from home during lockdown. Further information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/community-testing-explainer/community-testing-a-guide-for-local-delivery.
Early years staff, as critical workers, continue to have priority access to DHSC-led symptomatic PCR testing via the online portal: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested.
On 5 January we announced that schools and colleges can continue with the vocational and technical exams that are scheduled to take place in January, where they judge it right to do so.
In the event that this is not possible, we will put in place arrangements to ensure they are not disadvantaged. The department will continue to work with Ofqual, awarding organisations and relevant stakeholders to discuss the next steps and provide more detail on the way forward, including ensuring other students have a way to progress with as little disruption as possible.
School exchanges provide pupils with the chance to experience different cultures, improve their language skills and to build their independence. It is for individual schools to choose where and how they might wish to run a school exchange, including whether they use the support of third-party companies and organisations such as the British Council.
The Department funds the British Council-delivered International School Exchange programme, which provides opportunities for young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to take part in an international exchange and visit partner schools around the world, including in EU Member States. It is hoped to restart the programme in the latter part of 2021.
The newly announced Turing scheme, which replaces the UK’s participation in Erasmus+, will allow thousands of students to study and take part in work placements in the EU and beyond. The Turing scheme will be backed by over £100 million, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas, starting in September 2021.
All international arrivals and passengers travelling from a country not on the travel corridor list will need to self-isolate on their return for 14 days, and that includes UK nationals studying abroad: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors#countries-territories-and-regions-on-the-travel-corridor-list.
On arrival, students should adhere to Public Health England advice. Students are not exempt from wider restrictions in place when in the UK and are required to complete a passenger locator form as all other international arrivals would. The government will review these measures regularly to ensure that they are in line with the latest scientific evidence and that they remain effective and necessary.
This year, appeals against A and AS Level and GCSE grades can be submitted by schools or colleges where they think the exam board did not apply its procedures properly and fairly or where the data used by the exam board to calculate results contained an error.
Guidance to schools and colleges from the independent qualifications regulator in England, Ofqual, provided advice on objectivity in deciding on their centre assessment grades. All centre assessment grades were signed off by head teachers and or college principals who confirmed that they honestly and fairly represented the grades that these students would have been most likely to achieve if they had sat their exams as planned.
Any students who have evidence of bias or discrimination will be able to go through the normal complaints procedure at their school or college or complain to the exam board, which could investigate potential malpractice.
From 1 June, primary schools have been able to welcome back children in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside children of critical workers and vulnerable children. Each school’s circumstances will be slightly different. Any school that cannot achieve the small group sizes set out in the protective measures guidance for the current phase of wider opening should discuss options with their local authority or academy trust. If necessary, schools have the flexibility to focus first on continuing to provide places for priority groups and then, to support children’s early learning, schools should prioritise groups of children as follows:
We know that in some schools, there will be capacity to welcome more children back, in group sizes of no more than 15, before the summer holidays. Primary schools have the flexibility to do this, but should only welcome back additional children where provision for eligible groups has already been made, and where they do not require additional funding, staff or classrooms to do so.
We have published guidance on the additional funding we are providing to schools to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources. The fund is targeted towards the costs we have identified as the biggest barrier to schools operating as they need to at this challenging time.
The cost categories covered by the fund are clearly set out in the guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools/school-funding-exceptional-costs-associated-with-coronavirus-covid-19-for-the-period-march-to-july-2020. These are: the increased premises-related costs of opening over school holidays; support for free school meals for eligible children who are not in school, where schools are not using the national voucher scheme; and additional cleaning costs relating to cases or suspected cases of coronavirus, above the cost of existing cleaning arrangements.
The Department currently advises against any overseas, domestic or residential visits for children under 18 organised by schools. This advice will remain under review and will be updated in line with guidance from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Department for Transport (DfT) and Public Health England (PHE).
My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, has issued a notice to modify temporarily the duty on local authorities and health commissioning bodies to secure or arrange the provision specified in education, health and care (EHC) plans, so that they can discharge this by using their ‘reasonable endeavours’. The modified duty applies to all local authorities and health commissioning bodies in England.
The maximum period for which a notice can be issued is a month, although the Secretary of State can issue a further notice if necessary. The current notice is in force from 1 to 30 June 2020 (inclusive), following a notice that was issued for the month of May.
We are committed to ceasing this temporary change to the duty on local authorities and health commissioning bodies to secure or arrange the provision specified in EHC plans at the earliest opportunity. We will continue to work with a range of stakeholders, including representative bodies for local authorities and parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and a number of specialist SEND organisations, to keep this measure under close review and to inform decisions as to whether or not further notices should be issued.
As of 1 June 2020, the Government has asked primary schools to welcome back children in Nursery, Reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside priority groups.
We want to get all children and young people back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn, and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers, carers and teachers. The safety of children and staff is our utmost priority.
Guidance for schools and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020 can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-educational-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020/actions-for-education-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020.
We expect all mainstream schools and colleges, including independent schools, to follow the same approach, to ensure national parity for children in this year group.
As my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced to the House on 18 March, the Government has taken the difficult decision to cancel all examinations due to take place in schools and colleges in England this summer, as part of the fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The Department’s priority is to ensure that students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including starting university, college or sixth form courses or apprenticeships, in the autumn. For GCSE, AS and A-level students, we will make sure they are awarded a grade which reflects their work. Our intention is that a grade will be awarded this summer based on the best available evidence, including any non-examination assessment that students have already completed. Students will also have the option to sit an examination, as soon as is reasonably possible after the beginning of the academic year, if they wish to do so.
The independent regulator of qualifications, Ofqual, is working urgently with examination boards to set out proposals for how this process will work and to look at the options available in relation to external candidates, including home educated students.
Further information will be published as soon as possible.
Dogs imported into Great Britain (GB) for rescue or rehoming must be moved in compliance with the rules on the commercial movement of dogs. Since the transition period ended, the health requirements for entering GB have not changed and there have been no restrictions placed on the importation of rescue dogs from Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, importers must ensure that they meet the requirements as laid down by the European Union (EU) where consignments transit within the EU during the journey to GB.
Yes, Defra has received such representations. We continue to work closely with stakeholders, regulators (the Marine Management Organisation, and Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authorities) and scientists, to explore whether it would be possible to support a recreational scientific bluefin tuna research, catch and release tagging programme in English waters.
The Trade and Cooperation Agreement reached with the EU secures the UK a share of the EU’s current bluefin tuna allocation. No decisions have yet been taken on how to use the UK’s new national quota. Stakeholders will be consulted on potential options in due course.
Camping in the Forest is an independent operator of campsites in Great Britain. It is majority owned by the Camping and Caravanning Club. The decision not to open campsites in the New Forest in summer 2020 was taken by the Camping in the Forest business. Forestry England is disappointed in this decision and has been in regular dialogue with CITF seeking the opening of the sites.
The Government committed in its manifesto to introduce a deposit return scheme for drinks containers to incentivise people to recycle plastic and glass, and is seeking powers to do so in the Environment Bill. Since consulting on its introduction in 2019, the Government has been developing proposals for a deposit return scheme for drinks containers using further evidence and ongoing engagement with stakeholders. The scope of the scheme is being further developed and will be presented in a second consultation.
Defra has received several pieces of correspondence on this issue. On the substance of the department’s response to those representations, I refer my Rt Hon Friend to the answer I gave to the Rt Hon Member for New Forest East on 11 May 2020, PQ UIN 41876.
The Government has well-established ways of working with the food industry during disruption to supply situations. Our retailers already have highly resilient supply chains and they are working around the clock to ensure people have the food and products they need. Industry is adapting quickly to these changes in demands, and food supply into and across the UK is resilient.
To help the industry to respond to this unprecedented demand we have introduced new measures to support businesses to keep food supply flowing on to shelves and into homes. These include temporary relaxation of competition laws to allow supermarkets to work together, extending delivery hours to supermarkets and flexing rules on drivers’ hours to allow a higher frequency of deliveries to stores to ensure shelves are being replenished more quickly.
We are in close contact with industry to discuss further ways to help with their preparations, including how they can support key workers.
Natural England’s advice to land owners and managers responsible for the New Forest is laid out in our “European Site Conservation Objectives: Supplementary advice on conserving and restoring site features” which brings together the best available scientific evidence relating to the site’s priority habitats and species (http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/publication/6183967367626752).
Heathland management requires the removal of trees such as birch and conifers to enable the rare heather habitat, grassland and mire habitats to thrive. The New Forest is a unique mosaic of natural habitats including broadleaved woodland which, where appropriate, is allowed to naturally expand its range supporting both biodiversity and climate change demands.
The biodiversity benefits of heathland are well known and its management and restoration forms part of the Government’s commitments in the 25 Year Environment Plan. Heathland supports a range of specialist species that cannot live anywhere else. A total of 133 UK priority species are associated with lowland heathlands in England. These are species found exclusively on heathland sites or for which a significant proportion of records come from heathlands. The New Forest is now the UK stronghold for a number of these species as addressed in the following publication: Managing for species: Integrating the needs of England’s priority species into habitat management (http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/publication/30025).
As part of the transition to our new agriculture policy in England we plan to delink Direct Payments from the land. When delinked payments are introduced, they will entirely replace the current Basic Payment Scheme (and greening and young farmer payment) for all farmers. The earliest we will delink is 2022. Once we have delinked payments, recipients will no longer have to farm in order to receive payments during the agricultural transition.
Eligibility for delinked payments will be based on a reference period. This reference period will be a year, or period of years, before we introduce delinking. We will consult farmers and stakeholders on the detail of how delinking will work before deciding when to introduce it.
This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only.
Defra does not hold this information. Maintaining and verifying stock numbers is a matter for the Verderers of the New Forest.
Payments to commoners for the number of livestock that they release on to the New Forest are currently made through Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) Environmental Stewardship agreements. The main New Forest HLS agreement has been recommended for a one-year extension, as have other expiring New Forest HLS agreements. We would expect further negotiations with New Forest agreement holders (and commoners who release livestock onto the land) to take place. This may result in further extensions in the short term, or lead to negotiating a new Countryside Stewardship Higher Tier agreement.
From 2024 we will be introducing a new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme. ELM will reward farmers and other land managers for delivering environmental public goods such as clean air, and thriving plants and wildlife. We will determine in more detail what ELM will pay for to support the delivery of these public goods as we develop the scheme. A National Pilot for ELM is due to commence in late 2021 and the scheme is scheduled to roll out in late 2024 across England. Our expectation is that HLS agreements, such as the New Forest’s, will provide an excellent foundation for developing into new agreements under ELM from late 2024.
The cost of felling work to date has been £740 + VAT, so a total of £888. The estimated cost of completing the work will be £6,200 + VAT. The actual cost will depend on the contractor’s assessment of the time involved to complete the work, modified following recent discussions with Burley Parish Council.
The application for a felling licence was placed on the public register for consultation by Forest Services for a period of 28 days from 25 September 2019; this period was subsequently extended to accommodate the parish council. Officials from Forest Services and Forestry England had a meeting with local residents on 22 October 2019. A further meeting took place on 18 November 2019, which included representatives from Burley Parish Council. At these meetings an explanation of the work proposed was provided and questions answered. Adjustments were made to the proposed felling area as a result. Forestry England officials continued to respond to further emails from Burley Parish Council over the following days and also spoke by telephone.
The Ancient and Ornamental woodlands of the New Forest are generally understood to refer to the unenclosed woods originating in the 18th century or earlier. Collectively these are amongst the finest remnants of comparatively undisturbed ancient deciduous forest in the lowlands of Western Europe. All of the Ancient and Ornamental woodlands are already included in the designated area and given their nature there are no plans to extend the area designated as Ancient and Ornamental woodland.
Following the decommissioning of the Royal Mail Ship St Helena in 2018, the St Helena Government contracted sea cargo services using the MV St Helena, which delivers bulk supplies on a monthly basis. A commercial air passenger service also provides capacity to transport freight to the island on a weekly basis. We are working to support Overseas Territories including St Helena during the COVID-19 pandemic and are in regular dialogue with them on the assistance required, including on supplies.
The decision to introduce enhanced border measures is in direct response to scientific and medical data, which represents an increased risk to UK public health and an increased risk of community transmission of the new COVID-19 variants identified in other countries. These are intended to be temporary measures and the government keeps data for countries and territories under constant review.
The government has made it consistently clear that it will take decisive action to contain the virus, including adding further countries to the red list if the public health risk of people returning from a particular country without self-isolating becomes too high.
There are an extremely limited number of exemptions from enhanced border measures, and only introduced where absolutely necessary for reasons of national importance. Exemptions from enhanced border measures are set out on Gov.uk and are kept under regular review.
As part of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement we have agreed measures that will guarantee legal certainty to UK companies providing international maritime transport services, including both passenger and freight transport between Member States of the EU. UK vessels will continue to enjoy non-discriminatory access to ports, the use of port infrastructure and maritime auxiliary services.
In line with precedent in other UK and EU free trade agreements, the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement excludes maritime cabotage. This allows each country to decide who can provide cabotage services. Some countries in the EU and EEA do not restrict cabotage, and UK flagged commercial vessels will continue to have access to these markets.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has been engaging with EU Member States to remove technical barriers to enable provision of cabotage services by UK vessels in specific EU Member States. We will continue to engage with relevant countries to seek to unblock technical and regulatory restrictions to maritime cabotage, where they exist. However, companies that currently provide such services in the waters of EU Member States will need to be aware of the local rules that apply.
From 4am on 15th January 2021, the government introduced travel restrictions to the UK from several South American destinations, Portugal, Madeira, the Azores, Panama and Cape Verde in order to prevent the spread of a new strain of coronavirus into the UK. This includes a flight ban on countries with direct flights to the UK, including Argentina, Brazil, Cape Verde and Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores). The decision to ban travel from these destinations follows the discovery of a new coronavirus variant first identified in Brazil, that may have spread to countries with strong travel links to Brazil.
The Government is actively working on the practicalities of using testing to release people from self-isolation earlier than 14 days. The Global Travel Taskforce is working at pace to consider how testing, technology and innovation can drive a recovery for international travel and tourism, without adding to infection risk or infringing on our overall NHS test capacity.
The Taskforce is also considering what steps we can take to facilitate business and tourist travel on a bilateral and global basis, through innovative testing models and other non-testing means.
The Department’s initial trials of a prototype acoustic camera have concluded and the results will be published shortly. The outcome of the trials is currently being considered, including what further development would be required to enable the technology to be used for more targeted and efficient enforcement.
It is too early in the development of the device to provide a plan for its introduction, but we are optimistic that it will provide an effective enforcement tool in the future.
The Government continues to follow Public Health England guidance in relation to public health measures for passengers arriving to the UK. As this is a fast-evolving situation, the Government is currently working through a large number of potential measures specific to the aviation sector.
The Department of Health and Social Care has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.
On 31 March 2021 the national contracts used during the height of the pandemic came to an end as they were no longer needed. From 1 April 2021 NHS England and NHS Improvement have returned to local commissioning arrangements.
There are currently no plans to do so. As a residence-based system, the National Health Service does not provide healthcare, including vaccinations, outside the United Kingdom. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office are providing information through Travel Advice pages and 'Living In' guides on GOV.UK to inform British nationals of healthcare options available to them and how they can receive a vaccine locally.
Sole traders can register for rapid lateral flow testing in their workplace and order tests online. However due to the status of these sole trader businesses, we are currently unable to validate/approve via the site at the moment. Sole traders should provide the Department with the following information to email@example.com:
- Name of sole trader;
- Registration number or equivalent of sole trader;
- Size or number of employees;
- Email of main contact; and
Once approval is granted, sole traders are able to order rapid lateral flow testing kits to be sent to their place of work through the standard online portal.
We currently have no plans to do so.
National Health Service staff on national terms and conditions benefit from up to six months of full salary when off sick, followed by up to six months of half salary, depending on length of service. In March 2020 we introduced temporary COVID-19 sick pay for NHS staff, providing an additional level of support to help ensure infection control. NHS terms and conditions also contain Injury Allowance provisions which top up sick pay further for eligible staff where illness or injury is work related.
Foster carers who are classified as adult carers will be prioritized in priority group six. This includes those who are eligible for a carer’s allowance or those who are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable.
Cosmetic surgery may only be performed by doctors registered with the General Medical Council and providers are required to register with the Care Quality Commission. The Department is working with stakeholders to assess the need for strengthened safeguards around the regulation of providers who offer some of the more invasive non-surgical cosmetic procedures.
The United Kingdom is supporting the World Health Organization’s investigation and we now await the publication of the mission’s report.
The Government is extending the provision of free personal protective equipment (PPE) for all health, social care and public sector workers until the end of June. The Government has made this decision to ensure that frontline and wider public service workers can access rigorously tested and high-quality PPE as vaccination efforts progress. The scheme will be reviewed in April 2021 to determine PPE provision beyond June 2021.
The Department remains in constructive discussions with wholesalers on the provision of COVID-19 PPE and we have sought and considered a range of viewpoints in reaching the decision to continue provision. The PPE we are providing is for COVID-19 purposes only and we have established limits to ordering to ensure providers are using the PPE portal for this purpose. This means that wholesale business-as-usual PPE distribution continues as before.
The Government is extending the provision of free personal protective equipment (PPE) for all health, social care and public sector workers until the end of June. The Government has made this decision to ensure that frontline and wider public service workers can access rigorously tested and high-quality PPE as vaccination efforts progress. The scheme will be reviewed in April 2021 to determine PPE provision beyond June 2021.
The Department remains in constructive discussions with wholesalers on the provision of COVID-19 PPE and we have sought and considered a range of viewpoints in reaching the decision to continue provision. The PPE we are providing is for COVID-19 purposes only and we have established limits to ordering to ensure providers are using the PPE portal for this purpose. This means that wholesale business-as-usual PPE distribution continues as before.
Jurors who are eligible for a vaccine because of their age or clinical factors, will have access to a vaccine in the first phase. Prioritisation decisions for the second phase of delivery are subject to the surveillance and monitoring of data and information from phase one, as well as further input from independent scientific experts such as the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. Phase two will focus on further reduction in hospitalisation and targeted vaccination of those at high risk of exposure and/or those delivering key public services.
The United Kingdom-wide Infection, Prevention, Control guidance for the National Health Service and for care home settings recommends the same standard of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the NHS and in care homes. The Government provides free medical grade PPE to the health and social care sector for COVID-19 needs in line with this guidance.
The Government committed to the provision of free medical grade PPE for the COVID-19 needs of the adult social care sector until March 2021. The scheme has now been extended until June 2021.
The Department has received representations from Blood Cancer UK on expediting COVID-19 vaccination for the members of households of patients suffering from blood cancer. Those with a blood cancer and undergoing treatment are prioritised in phase one of the COVID-19 vaccine deployment programme in priority group four as clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV). Adult members of a household that includes someone who is CEV are prioritised for vaccination according to their own age and clinical risk. They are not prioritised on the basis of sharing a household with someone who is CEV.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has to date concluded there is not sufficient evidence for prioritisation of household members of those who are CEV. The JCVI continues to look at the emerging evidence on COVID-19 and offers further advice if and when evidence is found that vaccinating a particular group, including household members of individuals most at risk from COVID-19, would further reduce overall mortality, morbidity and hospitalisation.
Those who are eligible for a carer’s allowance or those who are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable, should be offered vaccination in priority group six. This group includes unpaid carers. On 29 March 2021, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advised that household contacts of the immunosuppressed should be offered a COVID-19 vaccination alongside priority group six.
At present, private nurseries are not in scope to receive lateral flow device testing specifically. However, we are encouraging local authorities to prioritise appropriate testing for early years staff via community testing programmes, which now cover all local authorities.
Public Health England has published braille, and large print versions of COVID-19 vaccination information.
The national booking letters are sent in size 16 point font as standard as defined by the RNIB. As well as providing an option to book on the National Health Service website, the national booking letters also provide 119 as an option. Booking information will be available in braille, audio, larger print and easy read soon. This is in addition to what general practitioners and Primary Care Networks are doing locally.
In December 2020 we launched regular weekly PCR testing for staff and monthly for residents in the most high-risk extra care and supported living settings. Eligible settings must meet both of the following criteria - a closed community with substantial facilities shared between multiple people and where most residents receive the kind of personal care that is regulated by the Care Quality Commission, rather than help with cooking, cleaning and shopping. These criteria were set in consultation with the sector to identify settings most similar to care homes, and most at risk of an outbreak.
On 23 November 2020, we began offering Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered domiciliary organisations access to weekly COVID-19 testing for their carers looking after people in their own homes. We will extend this offer shortly to other homecare workers, including non-CQC registered organisations and personal assistants. All frontline social care workers, including those who are not CQC registered, will have been offered the first dose of the vaccine by mid-February.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that for phase one of the COVID-19 vaccine programme, the vaccine first be given to care home residents and staff and those over 80 years old, followed by frontline health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors.
Frontline healthcare workers include staff involved in direct patient care who have frequent face-to-face clinical contact with patients and who are directly involved in patient care in either secondary or primary care/community settings. This also includes those working in independent, voluntary and non-standard healthcare settings such as hospices, and community-based mental health or addiction services.
The COVID-19 vaccination programme is based on the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The JCVI is an independent expert advisory committee to the Government.
The JCVI has advised that the priority for the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of mortality. The JCVI has advised that teachers will be considered for prioritisation in the second phase of the programme. Teachers aged 50 years and older, or in an at-risk group are eligible for vaccination in the first phase of the programme.
From the onset of the pandemic, the Government’s policy has been guided by the advice of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), and by evidence reviewed by Public Health England (PHE). There is some evidence to suggest the virus spreads most easily in enclosed spaces and that using face coverings as a precautionary measure could be at least partially effective at reducing the rate of transmission in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible. These conclusions were reached by clinicians and experts of SAGE and PHE after reviewing the available scientific literature on face coverings.
Based on this evidence, we have mandated the wearing of face coverings on public transport, in shops and other indoor venues. The Government continues to keep the evidence under review in order to inform future policy decisions as the pandemic developments.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who advise the Government on which vaccine/s the United Kingdom should use, including prioritisation at a population level. For the first phase, the JVCI has advised that the vaccine be given to care home residents and staff, as well as frontline health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors.
The JCVI considers frontline health and social care workers who provide care to vulnerable people a high priority for vaccination. The definition of frontline healthcare staff includes those involved in direct patient care. This includes staff who have frequent face-to-face clinical contact with patients and who are directly involved in patient care in either secondary or primary care/community settings.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) consists of independent experts who advise the Government on which vaccine/s the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation at a population level. The JCVI has advised that the first priorities for any COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of COVID-19 mortality and the protection of health and social care staff and systems.
Therefore, in line with the recommendations of the JCVI, the vaccine is being rolled out to the priority groups including care home residents and staff, people over 80 years old and health and care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and risk, including those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and all individuals aged 16-64 years old with underlying health conditions.
Following vaccinations across the priority groups, Phase 2 of deployment, may include the targeted vaccination of those at high risk of exposure and/or those delivering key public services.
All Care Quality Commission-registered adult care homes are receiving lateral flow device (LFD) test kits to enable safe visits, where permitted. We have processed the delivery of the second order of LFD kits to care homes at the end of January 2021. If any care homes have not received their delivery or are not able to reorder, they should contact 119.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) consists of independent experts who provide advice to the Government on which vaccine(s) the United Kingdom should use and which groups within the population to prioritise.
The JCVI in their advice has stated that Phase 1 roll out of a vaccine will have the prevention of mortality at the forefront of its objectives, as well as to support the National Health Service and social care system. For the first phase, the JVCI have advised that the vaccine be given to care home residents and staff, followed by frontline health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors. Included are those with underlying health conditions, which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality.
The Department, in consultation with the devolved administrations and Crown Dependencies, and with partners across the health and social care sector, has made detailed plans to help ensure continued supply of medicines and medical products, including medical supplies for diabetic insulin pumps, to the whole of the United Kingdom from 1 January 2021.
The Department wrote to industry on 3 August 2020 and an updated letter on 17 November setting out the plans. The letters are available at the following links:
The Christmas social contact easements enabled people to form an exclusive bubble of three households between 23 and 27 December.
The regulations do not provide the scope to create an exemption for National Health Service workers that would have enabled them to form a Christmas bubble either before or after the specified period.
We encouraged employers to be as flexible as possible with leave arrangements over the Christmas period.
Whilst deployment of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine would be a welcome step forward, we do not yet know what impact this will have on the current wave of the pandemic. We first need to improve understanding of the any potential vaccine in order to fully understand the potential of vaccine certificates as part of our efforts to recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to reduce pressure on health services, employers have been advised to use their discretion about what evidence is required where an employee is absent due to COVID-19. In March 2020, the Get an Isolation Note (GaIN) service was established to support employees who need evidence for their employer to cover a period of absence due to COVID-19 and to avoid the need for them to contact their general practitioner (GP) surgery for a fit note.
Employers are able to check the authenticity of an isolation note through the verification service and should have their own absence management policies in place to deal with any issues that may arise.
GaIN has been warmly welcomed by GPs, since it has helped them to manage demand and ensure that appointments remain available for those that need a fit note for non-COVID-19 health reasons.
The rationale for the Department’s decision to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) free of charge to establishments in England registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is to protect the lives of frontline staff by ensuring a sustainable readily available supply of free PPE for COVID-19 use in line with the clinical guidance.
This decision was informed by a range of data on demand and supply of PPE, including the impact on businesses supplying PPE.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Guideline ‘Care of dying adults in the last days of life’, published in 2015, sets out recommendations for healthcare professionals caring for dying patients in all settings, including hospitals and care homes. This includes recommends that adults in the last days of life should have their hydration needs assessed daily and be provided with clinically assisted hydration, in line with their wishes and their safety and needs. The guidance is available at the following link:
From 14 September, there are limits on the number of people you can see socially. When meeting friends and family you do not live with (or have not formed a support bubble with) you must not meet in a group of more than six, indoors or outdoors. A children’s party can take place if it is limited to six people or one household or support bubble.
Further details are available at the following link:
NHS England has been clear that, to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) need to streamline their commissioning arrangements. In many places, this means encouraging CCGs to merge, so they better align with integrated care systems.
We recognise that COVID-19 is adding pressure to the system – however, allowing CCGs to merge will produce a stronger commissioning voice, better able to support the National Health Service to respond to COVID-19, as well as supporting transformation and the delivery of the Long Term Plan.
The Nightingale hospitals are available to support the National Health Service when needed. Local clinical leaders are working to determine how this is done whilst considering the needs of all patients requiring NHS care.
The Department remains clear that the blanket application of do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation decisions (DNACPRs) is unacceptable and that standards and quality of care should be maintained even in pressurised circumstances. The Adult Social Care Winter Plan published on 18 September 2020 reiterates this.
Agreement to a DNACPR is an individual decision and should involve the person concerned or, where the person lacks capacity, their families, carers, guardians or other legally recognised advocates. We have been working with NHS England and NHS Improvement to take national action across a number of fronts and continue to work with stakeholders to understand what more we can do nationally, to stop inappropriate DNACPR decisions being made for individuals.
The national evaluative roll out for non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) as part of the NHS Foetal Anomaly Screening Programme is yet to be implemented. Once rolled out, the programme will be able to monitor how the introduction of NIPT is working at each stage of the screening pathway and data will be collected on the choices women make regarding screening and/or diagnosis.
The Department is aware of the Queen’s Nursing Institute report. There were 163 responses to the survey with 16 reporting some changes to standard Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) practice. The responses are anonymous and the Department is unable to comment on individual cases.
The Department asked the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to review how DNACPR decisions were used during the COVID-19 pandemic, building on concerns reported earlier in the year. The review will take a national view of how these decisions were made in and across different types of services including hospitals, primary care and care homes. The CQC is working closely with stakeholders, users of services and providers. Interim findings were published on 3 December, with a final report due in early 2021.
From 2 December all registered hospices have access to regular weekly asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for staff and patients.
From 14 September, social gatherings, both indoors and outdoors, must be limited to six people. There are several exemptions including where a household or support bubble is larger than six and for support groups which meet qualifying conditions.
The majority but not all support groups are not subject to the six person social gathering limit if they are in COVID-secure settings or public outdoor spaces, and are organised by a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support to its members or those who attend its meetings. This includes, but is not limited to, providing support:
- to victims of crime (including domestic abuse);
- to those with, or recovering from, addictions (including alcohol, narcotics or other substance addictions) or addictive patterns of behaviour;
- to new and expectant parents;
- to those with, or caring for persons with, any long-term illness, disability or terminal condition or who are vulnerable;
- to those facing issues related to their sexuality or identity including those living as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender; and
- to those who have suffered bereavement.
MRI scans have not stopped in the South West. The service slowed down due to lockdown but still continued to see all patients and has been at full capacity for the past three weeks.
On 15 May we published details of an additional £600 million Infection Control Fund for Adult Social Care. This funding is to support adult social care providers in England reduce the rate of transmission in and between care homes and to support workforce resilience. Twenty-five percent of it may be used to support domiciliary care providers and support wider workforce resilience to deal with COVID-19 infections.
The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 introduced a ban on flavoured cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco. As the ban is part of United Kingdom legislation, it will remain in place when the UK exits the transition period with the European Union. Removing menthol cigarettes is an important milestone to help people quit smoking and improve their health and support the Government’s drive towards a smoke-free society by 2030.
The Department is working with colleagues at NHS England and NHS Improvement, and Public Health England on the delivery of the 2020/21 seasonal flu vaccination programme. As part of these discussions we are working to expand access to vaccination, so that more people who are eligible for flu vaccination are protected this winter. To improve access to vaccinations is already available through general practice, community pharmacies, schools, community and other National Health Service settings. We will be publishing a further annual flu letter 2020/21 which will provide more detailed information on the flu programme ahead of the flu season.
The number of people who have been admitted with COVID-19 or discharged from hospital after recovering from COVID-19 is not currently available or published in the format requested. NHS England is keeping what data it publishes under regular review.
The guidance on what is meant by extremely vulnerable has been published and is available to view at the following link:
The list is strongly indicative but not exclusive. It is up to attending clinicians to judge whether the severity of similar conditions meets the specified extremely vulnerable criteria.
The Government recognises the challenges faced by those who are homeless or sleeping rough during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Department is working closely with NHS England, Public Health England, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the sector to minimise the risk for vulnerable people and those currently unable to self-isolate.
Public Health England has published guidance for hostels or day centre providers of services for people experiencing rough sleeping which is available at the following link:
As we move into the delay phase of the COVID-19 outbreak, which is about slowing the spread, lowering the peak impact of the disease and pushing it away from the winter season, we will continue to report figures daily and maintain a consistent approach.
The reporting and messaging will adapt as required, with the number of people who have recovered not being a reliably knowable figure at present.
National Health Service organisations can currently buy goods and services from many sources, within the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and national and local procurement policies, and there is no single or definitive list of approved suppliers to the NHS.
Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are responsible for commissioning health services for their local populations. This includes technologies, medical devices and equipment. CCGs are best placed as clinically led organisations that have both the local knowledge and accountability to make commissioning decisions in the best interests of their patients.
The cost of clinical negligence claims in 2018/19 was £2.36 billion, up from around £0.5 billion in 2006-7, and is now approximately 1.8% of total health expenditure. These continued year-on-year rises in costs are eating progressively into resources available for front-line care; this is unsustainable. The rises are despite our substantial safety programmes.
This is a complex and sensitive issue. The Department is working intensively across Government and with the National Health Service to explore possible options, looking at all the drivers of cost. We will provide an update in due course.
We look forward to an ambitious PM visit that will deliver on shared priorities, and multi-lateral collaboration with India as a guest at the G7, and as a non-permanent member of the UNSC.
In December, the Foreign Secretary visited India to deepen our bilateral strategic partnership and demonstrate our commitment to closer partnership with the region as a whole. In February, the Trade Secretary visited India to push forward delivery of an Enhanced Trade Partnership, as a springboard for a future FTA. The visit secured 1,500 jobs and investment in UK vaccine manufacturing. Ahead of UK COP26 Presidency, Alok Sharma visited India in February, meeting with PM Modi to increase momentum for UK-India climate collaboration.
The Government discussed arrangements with the EU for British Citizens travelling to the Schengen Area. Regrettably, the EU consistently maintained that British Citizens will be treated as Third Country Nationals under the Schengen Borders Code from 1 January 2021. This means that British Citizens will be able to travel visa-free for short stays for up to 90 days in a rolling 180-day period. This is the standard length of stay that the EU offers to nationals of eligible third countries that offer visa-free travel for EU citizens, in line with existing EU legislation. British Citizens planning to stay longer will need permission from the relevant Member State.
The UK's Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU confirms that both the UK and EU currently provide for visa-free travel for short-term visits for each other's nationals in accordance with their respective laws. The detail of those arrangements is set by domestic law. The Government does not typically enter into bilateral agreements on visa-free travel. However, the UK keeps its visa system under regular review, and the new points-based immigration system has been developed in the national interest.
We are working with the Department for Health and Social Care to consider the international aspects of vaccination, including the situation of workers engaged in essential work overseas.
The global response to coronavirus is developing rapidly, with many countries imposing travel restrictions and closing borders and we have now taken the step to advise against all but essential travel globally, including India. Travellers should speak to their tour operator, airline, transport/accommodation provider and insurance company (as applicable) to discuss the options available to them in regards to claiming on their travel insurance.
Communities of different religions live together peacefully across most of Nigeria. However, for many decades Nigeria has experienced episodes of serious religious conflict, including between Muslim and Christian communities. The drivers of violence are complex and rooted in ethnic and religious identities, politics and access to resources.
For more than a decade, Islamic insurgents including Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA), have caused immense suffering to both Muslim and Christian populations in the North East of the country. The groups seek to undermine the right to freedom of religion by attacking indiscriminately those who do not subscribe to their extremist views. We are appalled by and condemn these attacks, including a recent increase in attacks on Christians in December 2019.
The UK is firmly committed to promoting and protecting the right to freedom of religion or belief around the world. We are a strong voice internationally in defence of this fundamental right. We have made clear to the Nigerian authorities, at the highest levels, the importance of protecting civilians, including ethnic and religious minorities, and human rights for all Nigerians.
Employees can take holiday while on furlough. If an employee is flexibly furloughed, then any hours taken as holiday during the claim period should be counted as furloughed hours rather than working hours.
Employees should not be placed on furlough for periods simply because they are on holiday. This means that employees should only be placed on furlough because their employer’s operations have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and not just because they are on paid leave. This also applies during peak leave periods such as late December and early January.
Existing legislation means that furloughed employees continue to accrue leave as per their employment contract. The employer and employee can agree to vary holiday entitlement as part of the furlough agreement. However, almost all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks of statutory paid annual leave each year which they cannot go below; for workers who work a five-day week, this amounts to 28 days each year.
Working Time Regulations (WTR) require holiday pay to be paid at the employee’s normal rate of pay or, where the rate of pay varies, calculated on the basis of the average pay received by the employee in the previous 52 working weeks. Therefore, if a furloughed employee takes holiday, the employer should pay them their usual holiday pay in accordance with the WTR. Employers will be obliged to pay additional amounts over the CJRS grant, although they will have the flexibility to restrict when leave can be taken if there is a business need. This applies for both the furlough period and the recovery period.
If an employee usually works bank holidays then the employer can agree that this is included in the grant payment. If the employee usually takes the bank holiday as leave then the employer would either have to top up their pay to their usual holiday pay, or give the employee a day of holiday in lieu.
During this unprecedented time the policy on holiday pay during furlough is being kept under review.
Information in the form requested is not readily available and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.
Like other service organisations, HMRC have been affected by the pandemic and are doing all they can to offer the best possible service to their customers, whether supporting them with their taxes or delivering the Government’s support schemes. HMRC are sorry for delays and will continue to prioritise Corporation Tax repayments, ensuring taxpayers receive moneys due as quickly as possible during this exceptional time.
In my Written Ministerial Statement on 17 December 2020, I outlined the three main channels through which London Capital & Finance plc (LCF) bondholders can seek compensation. These are the administration process, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), and the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Complaints Scheme.
My statement also announced that, taking into consideration the specific and complex set of circumstances surrounding the collapse of LCF, the Treasury will set up a compensation scheme which will assess whether there is justification for further one-off compensation payments in certain circumstances for some LCF bondholders . The Government will announce further details, including on timescales, the scheme’s administering body, and the eligibility of compensation, in due course.
This year the Government has provided an unprecedented business rates holiday for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties due to the direct adverse effects of COVID-19, worth about £10 billion, and has frozen the business rates multiplier for all businesses for 2021-22.
The Government is also considering options for further COVID-19 related support through business rates reliefs. In order to ensure that any decisions best meet the evolving challenges presented by COVID-19, the Government will outline plans for 2021-22 reliefs in due course.
The costs incurred in the move to digital record keeping and reporting through Making Tax Digital (MTD) will vary from business to business, and are dependent on factors such as business size, complexity, degree of digital capability and the cost and functionality of the software used. There are free software products available for businesses with the simplest affairs.
HMRC’s early estimates published on 21 July anticipated that businesses will incur costs of, on average, £175 to make the transition to MTD, with about £20 a year in additional continuing costs. HMRC have since undertaken significant engagement with representative bodies within both the business and accountancy worlds, as well as software developers, in order to further understand the associated costs of future MTD mandation. These costs represent an investment that will yield dividends in terms of increased productivity and turnover. HMRC are working with these bodies in order to ensure estimates are accurate and will do all they can to minimise costs. A new publication with revised estimates will be published in due course.
The Government is aware of concerns about the six-month deadline for paying inheritance tax and the twelve-month deadline for filing a return. Where a taxpayer is unable to file their return on time because of COVID-19, HMRC will consider that within the scope of a reasonable excuse and as grounds for appeal against late filing penalties. The Government continues to explore all avenues to help those affected.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) covers employees on any type of employment contract, including full-time, part-time, agency, flexible or zero-hour contracts. It covers agency workers (including those employed by umbrella companies), so long as the other conditions of the scheme are met.
It is for employers to decide to whom to offer a furlough. Equality and discrimination laws will apply to such decisions in the usual way.
For the purposes of making a claim under CJRS, it is not possible for the Government to set out how the scheme will apply to every possible set of contractual arrangements. However, employers should follow the published online guidance in order to calculate the correct reference pay.
Where an employee is on furlough and is also on annual leave in accordance with their contract and any relevant employment law, the employer can claim for that employee under CJRS.
No additional funds can be claimed under CJRS, beyond those specified in the online guidance. BEIS will be issuing further guidance on issues relating to furloughed employees and accrued leave.
Where an employer subsequently re-employs a member of staff who left their employment on or after 28 February 2020, upon re-employment the employee may be furloughed.
From the date the employee is furloughed, the employer is then eligible to claim towards the wages of their employee under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This applies regardless of when they are re-employed.
In order to qualify, the employee must have been on the employer’s PAYE payroll as of 28 February 2020. This means a Real Time Information (RTI) submission notifying payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 28 February 2020.
An employee on a fixed term contract can also be re-employed, furloughed and claimed for, if either:
- their contract expired after 28 February 2020 and an RTI payment submission for the employee was notified to HMRC on or before 28 February 2020, or
- their contract expired after 19 March 2020 and an RTI payment submission for the employee was notified to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020
In these circumstances, employers can apply for a grant that covers 80% of the usual monthly wage costs for their furloughed, re-employed member of staff, up to £2,500 a month. In addition, the employer can also claim the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions (up to the level of the minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contribution) on that subsidised furlough pay.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced new support for the self-employed on 26 March 2020.
The new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will help those with lost trading profits due to COVID-19. To qualify, an individual’s self-employed trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and more than half of their income must come from self-employment. Some 95% of people who receive most of their income from self-employment could benefit from this Scheme.
Income from furnished holiday lets is not considered to be ‘trading profit’, but is property related income which is not included in the scope of SEISS.
Guidance on how HMRC work out total income and trading profits for SEISS has been published on GOV.UK and is updated regularly. The guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme
Under the terms of the withdrawal agreement, the UK will maintain a declining c. €40bn financial commitment to the EIB in respect of the existing book of EIB operations approved up to exit. The UK’s liability for callable capital to the EIB is recorded in the consolidated fund of accounts. (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/818268/CF_Annual_Accounts_2018-19__FINAL_TYPESET_150719__covers_final.pdf)
This liability is reported to Parliament in the accounts as having a remote probability of crystallising. The arrangement would only be called upon in very exceptional circumstances and on equal terms as other Member States. The Bank has never made a call on the callable capital since it was established. The UK will not provide backing to any new EIB operations approved following exit.
EEA identity cards are among the least secure documents seen at the UK border and are, as a rule, not as secure as corresponding national passports. They continue to dominate detection figures for document abuse at the border.
The Government is committed to strengthening the security of our border, so we phase out the use of EU, EEA and Swiss national identity cards as a valid travel document for entry to the UK.
From 1 October 2021, EU, EEA and Swiss nationals will require a passport to travel to the UK unless they have status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), are frontier workers, S2Healthcare Visitors or Service Providers from Switzerland. These groups will still be able to use national identity cards for travel until at least 31 December 2025.
Making an exception to this for German school parties would mean treating a particular group of EEA citizens whose rights are not enshrined in the withdrawal agreements more generously than other EEA citizens, and more generously than students from other countries.
We do not accept identity cards as a travel document from any other nationalities. This means we expect the millions of people who visit the UK from outside the EU (including the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) each year to hold a passport. We will now expect those visiting from EEA countries to do the same.
We have provided almost a year’s notice for this change to allow people to plan ahead and obtain a passport, if they need to, before they travel.
The Offensive Weapons Act surrender and compensation scheme was launched on 10 December and allows the owners of relevant firearms and offensive weapons to surrender these to the police, and to claim financial compensation if they wish to do so, before the scheme ends on 9 March 2021. Guidance for the public on what items qualify under the scheme, and the levels of compensation that we expect to pay for each item have been placed in the libraries of both Houses and can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/offensive-weapons-act-surrender-and-compensation-scheme.
Claims for financial compensation submitted to the police will be forwarded to the Home Office, where they will be processed as quickly as possible.
We know that there are some variations in practice between police forces in processing firearms licensing applications. This is why the Government intends to issue statutory guidance to the police on their firearms licensing functions. We consulted on draft guidance between 23 July and 17 September 2019 and we are considering the responses received, as well as discussing the details with interested parties. While the granting of firearm certificates is an operational matter for the police, they will be required to have regard to the statutory guidance when issued, which will ensure greater consistency in firearms licensing practice across all forces.
The National Firearms Licensing Management System is a central database which provides records of all firearm and shotgun certificate holders and registered firearms dealers who have been licensed by the police to hold firearms in accordance with the Firearms Act 1968.
Our priority will always be to protect the public’s health, to contain the spread of the virus and prevent a second wave. We recognise these are extremely difficult conditions for businesses and the Government continues to support businesses through one of the most generous economic packages provided anywhere in the world.
It has always been understood the measures taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 will have a substantial impact on our economy, but these measures were essential to protect our NHS and save lives. The Home Office has continued to work closely with industry partners ahead of announcing new measures which are subject to regular review. This will ensure they are in line with the latest scientific evidence and remain effective and necessary.
I refer the Rt Hon. Member to the answer I gave on 19 March 2020 to the Hon. Member the Member for Ilford North, UIN 30105 and to the Hon. Member the Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, UIN 30049.
The clergy of other denominations cannot conduct Church of England marriages, though they may be able to participate to a limited extent in Church of England weddings by, for example, reading lessons, or leading prayers by agreement with the local incumbent or priest who is officiating.
The Department intends to publish the review of the Reserve Forces and Cadets Associations in February 2020.
From 28 September no more than 15 people can legally attend a marriage or civil partnership, even where a larger number could be safely accommodated with social distancing in a large COVID-19 secure venue. Those who are working at the ceremony are not included as part of this legal limit.
We recognise that this rule will be disappointing for those planning such events. By their nature, marriage and civil partnership ceremonies are events that bring families and friends together, making them particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19.
We do not wish to keep this restriction in place for any longer than we?have to, and?it will be kept under review in line with the changing situation.
The Government has introduced regulations which require certain business and venues to close, including many retail stores. There are a number of exemptions to this which are contained in the regulations found here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/350 and are also outlined in the guidance found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close.
It is for each business to assess whether they are exempt from closing, having considered the regulations and associated guidance; this advice applies to businesses supplying kitchen and bathroom fittings. Where stores do remain open they are strongly advised to do so only where staff and customers can adhere to PHE guidelines on social distancing.
The Government recognises the uncertainty faced by commercial tenants due to the Covid-19 pandemic and we want to protect them during this difficult time.
This is why we introduced an amendment to the Coronavirus Act which prevents commercial tenants from being evicted for 3 months. Commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent, but this provides a grace period and builds on the significant package of support for businesses already announced.
The Secretary of State has met with representatives of local authorities affected by the nitrates issue in the South Hampshire area. The Government understands the importance of this issue and the very real effects it is having on house building and the local economy.
Officials across MHCLG, Defra and its agencies are working together and liaising with the affected authorities and house builders to identify and implement measures to address the problem. The underlying issues cannot be solved through the planning system, but instead require action on agricultural pollution and wastewater treatment to help tackle the problem of nitrates pollution at source and enable more development to proceed.
A timeframe for when the decision will be issued is unknown as the request is still under consideration.
There are 6 outstanding cases in the Administrative Court seeking to judicially review the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care which involve a challenge to the coronavirus regulations. These can be broken down as follows:
Of the 4 applications awaiting an initial decision, 3 have been waiting for an average of 7 weeks. One of the applications has been ongoing for 50 weeks, having been held back pending a decision of the Court of Appeal on a related case.
The application in which permission was refused is listed for a renewal hearing in April, which will be 31 weeks since it was received.
The final case in which judgment was reserved, took 13 weeks from receipt to the date permission was granted and a total of 37 weeks from receipt to the final hearing.
The Government is very clear that our prison staff are vital key workers, and many are going above and beyond the call of duty to keep the public, their colleagues, and prisoners safe.
HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) staff are maintaining social distancing of two metres wherever possible. However, we are following the public health advice on the use of medical face masks alongside other items of personal protective equipment (PPE) where close contact is sustained, essential and unavoidable. We have worked closely with suppliers to ensure adequate supply of soap, cleaning materials, and PPE for staff. HMPPS also issued a face mask strategy for staff and prisoners which sets out when face coverings must be worn.
A comprehensive regular testing regime of both staff and prisoners is in place across the estate and is key in helping to prevent the spread of the virus.
Vaccines are at the centre of the Government’s plan to ensure life can return to as normal as soon as possible. As we have done since the beginning of the pandemic, we are working very closely with public health bodies and the NHS to plan collaboratively for future vaccine delivery. During the first phase of vaccine delivery, priorities have been decided by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and those priorities apply equally to prison staff who fall within the groups identified. We are currently in discussion with the Department of Health and Social Care about how and when priorities for vaccinations in future phases of delivery will be administered to prisoners and prison staff
Probation staff are considered key workers but we are encouraging them to work from home when possible. Probation officers will continue supervising in person those who pose the highest risk ensuring the monitoring of high-risk offenders remains as tough as it always is.
Face-to-face contact will remain for terrorists, offenders without a phone and prison leavers reporting for their initial appointment. Guidance has been issued to staff on adherence to government instructions on social distancing when conducting face to face supervision. Additional hygiene products are also being provided to reporting sites.
Doorstep visits will be the default option for all other high-risk offenders and medium-risk offenders with domestic abuse or other safeguarding issues. This will involve a phone call with the offender visible to their probation officer, with a separation of at least 2m. Video and voice calls will be used in addition.
Lower-risk offenders will now be supervised more frequently, via telephone or video messaging rather than face-to-face. If staff believe it is the right thing to do, offenders can always be recalled to prison.
Her Majesty Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) constantly monitor and review performance on the processing of probate applications. From April 2019 to September 2019, there was a temporary increase in waiting times which was caused by a combination of an increased volume of incoming work and the transition to a new case management system. The move to the new system meant that staff had to spend time being trained and familiarising themselves with it. There were also some initial performance issues which have now been resolved.
Official statistics are not published on the average length of time from receipt of the application to the issue of a grant of probate. Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) internal management information, which is not subject to the rigorous quality assurance processes of official statistics, has been used to show average times from receipt of an application to a grant being issued in January 2020.
Average Weeks to issued
Median to issue
Submission to issue for all grants issued in the month (including those stopped for queries or missing documentation)
From submission to issue for grants issued in the month that were not stopped.
These figures include applications made via the online service and uses the receipt date of the digital application for recording the time of issue, rather than the time the necessary supporting documentation is sent to HMCTS in order to start processing the application. The data has been extracted from the HMCTS Reform Core Case Data system, which is a new system in active development, and may not be directly comparable with figures for earlier periods.