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).
Give UK nurseries emergency funding if they have to close down amid COVID-19Gov Responded - 14 Apr 2020 Debated on - 25 Jun 2020 View Fay Jones's petition debate contributions
If nurseries are shut down in view of Covid-19, the Government should set up an emergency fund to ensure their survival and ensure that parents are not charged the full fee by the nurseries to keep children's places.
Provide financial support to performers and creators during the COVID-19 crisisGov Responded - 22 Jul 2020 Debated on - 25 Jun 2020 View Fay Jones's petition debate contributions
The prospect of widespread cancellations of concerts, theatre productions and exhibitions due to COVID-19 threatens to cause huge financial hardship for Britain's creative community. We ask Parliament to provide a package of emergency financial and practical support during this unpredictable time.
Extend grants immediately to small businesses outside of SBRRGov Responded - 29 May 2020 Debated on - 25 Jun 2020 View Fay Jones's petition debate contributions
The cash grants proposed by Government are only for businesses in receipt of the Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Relief, or for particular sectors. Many small businesses fall outside these reliefs desperately need cash grants and support now.
Government to offer economic assistance to the events industry during COVID-19Gov Responded - 27 Mar 2020 Debated on - 25 Jun 2020 View Fay Jones's petition debate contributions
For the UK government to provide economic assistance to businesses and staff employed in the events industry, who are suffering unforeseen financial challenges that could have a profound effect on hundreds of thousands of people employed in the sector.
Make nurseries exempt from business rates to support the childcare sectorGov Responded - 2 Apr 2020 Debated on - 25 Jun 2020 View Fay Jones's petition debate contributions
After owning nurseries for 29 years I have never experienced such damaging times for the sector with rising costs not being met by the funding rates available. Business Rates are a large drain on the sector and can mean the difference between nurseries being able to stay open and having to close.
Offer more support to the arts (particularly Theatres and Music) amidst COVID-19Gov Responded - 20 Jul 2020 Debated on - 25 Jun 2020 View Fay Jones's petition debate contributions
As we pass the COVID-19 Peak, the Government should: State where the Theatres and Arts fit in the Coronavrius recovery Roadmap, Create a tailor made financial support mechanism for the Arts sector & Clarify how Social Distancing will affect arts spaces like Theatres and Concert Venues.
Support the British aviation industry during the COVID-19 outbreakGov Responded - 7 May 2020 Debated on - 25 Jun 2020 View Fay Jones's petition debate contributions
As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak there are travel bans imposed by many countries, there is a disastrous potential impact on our Aviation Industry. Without the Government’s help there could be an unprecedented crisis, with thousands of jobs under threat.
Business Rate Relief to be extended to all small businesses in healthcare.Gov Responded - 5 Jun 2020 Debated on - 25 Jun 2020 View Fay Jones's petition debate contributions
To extend the business rate relief to all dental practices and medical and aesthetics clinics and any small business that’s in healthcare
Provide financial help to zoos, aquariums, & rescue centres during the pandemic.Gov Responded - 28 Jul 2020 Debated on - 25 Jun 2020 View Fay Jones's petition debate contributions
Zoos, aquariums, and similar organisations across the country carry out all sorts of conservation work, animal rescue, and public education. At the start of the season most rely on visitors (who now won't come) to cover annual costs, yet those costs do not stop while they are closed. They need help.
These initiatives were driven by Fay Jones, 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.
In July 2021, we published a new all-age autism strategy that set out our commitments to address the inequalities autistic people experience. These include poorer health outcomes and a 16 year life expectancy gap. As part of this, we have provided over £13 million to improve access to diagnosis, including through testing ways to reduce waiting times and expanding a pilot that is identifying autistic children and young people earlier on in life. To improve inclusion of autistic people, we have also provided £600,000 to train many more educational staff across England, and we will launch an autism public understanding initiative this year.
I refer the hon. Member to the answers given to PQ 906285 and 111603. The majority of veterans successfully access mental health support through mainstream services such as the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) in NHS England. For those who need more specialised support, they can access bespoke services through the NHS, such as the Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) and the Complex Treatment Services (CTS). Most recently, the new NHS Veterans Mental Health High Intensity Service has started to be introduced across England, with services in London, the Midlands and the North now live.
The Office of Veteran Affairs works closely with NHS, the Department for Health and Social Care, and the Devolved Administrations, who deliver mental health support to veterans, including exploring making access to this growing range of high quality mental health services as easy as possible.
After the end of the transition period the EU will grant UK nationals visa free access for short-term visits, subject to reciprocity. This means that UK business visitors and tourists will not need a visa when travelling to the Schengen area for short stays of up to 90 days in every 180-day period. UK nationals will require permission from the relevant Member State to stay longer than 90 days in a rolling 180-day period.
At present the Registrar has the power to remove certain information from the register, but she must follow a statutory process before doing so. Upon receipt of supporting evidence, showing rights to an address the Registrar can assist by replacing an erroneous registered office address with a Companies House default address on the public register.
On 28 February 2022 Government published a detailed White Paper (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/corporate-transparency-and-register-reform) setting out far-reaching reforms to Companies House. It is intended that, following enactment, the Registrar will have new powers to challenge information that appears dubious, and will be empowered to inform security agencies of potential wrongdoing.
The Government is investing £6.6 billion in this Parliament to decarbonise buildings, of which over £2 billion is aimed specifically at lower-income households, helping people save money on their energy bills.
The total committed funding to the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, to date, is just over £1 billion, representing a significant investment in driving the decarbonisation agenda. £240 million has been awarded to Registered Providers of social housing through the Demonstrator and Wave 1, delivering energy efficiency upgrades to Social Homes currently below EPC C from 2022 to 2023. As confirmed in the 2021 spending review settlement, £800 million has been committed for Wave 2 of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (FY22/23 –24/25). The competition window is currently planned to open in late summer 2022.
The Government has allocated £1.1 billion to the Home Upgrade Grant since 2020. £219 million has been awarded to local authorities to deliver energy efficiency upgrades to low-income, off-gas grid, households by March 2023. BEIS is working across government and with key stakeholders to decide the final policy scope and delivery approach for future Home Upgrade Grant funding iterations until 2025.
The Government has introduced a number of measures to support businesses that have been affected by the covid-19 pandemic. The Department also published guidance for tradesmen, so that they could continue to operate safely while carrying out installations in people’s homes.
In March 2020, as part of the budget statement, the Government extended the lifetime of the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (DRHI) scheme by an additional 12 months, so it is now scheduled to close at the end of March 2022. The extension will provide support for businesses and the installer supply chain for an additional year.
The Department is also making a further amendment to the regulations to relax the requirement for installations to be accredited to the RHI within 12 months of the installation taking place. This will help both consumers and businesses who have been unable to complete building work due to the. The amendment should come into force on 1st April 2021.
Wedding venues are able to access a wide package of support to help them through the current crisis. This includes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, government-backed loans, and the Local Restrictions Support Grants.
The Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) of up to £3,000 per four-week period is available to all businesses in England that have been required to close due to local and national restrictions.
In order to qualify for this grant, businesses must be part of the business rate system. Therefore, businesses that manage accommodation remotely must be the eligible business rate payer for that hereditament in order to receive a grant through the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) scheme.
The Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) is a discretionary fund and local authorities are free to determine which businesses to support.
The Devolved Administrations are responsible for the administration of support schemes in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
The government recognises that as part of a digitally inclusive society, television content should be accessible for all UK audiences. Under the Communications Act 2003 and Broadcasting Acts of 1990 and 1996, broadcasters are required to meet accessibility requirements for their linear TV services. Statutory targets on subtitling, sign language and audio description are also set by Ofcom, the UK’s independent broadcasting regulator.
The government also asked Ofcom to provide recommendations on how legislation could make on demand services more accessible. Ofcom published this report in December 2018, and has since completed a further targeted consultation looking at how a legislative framework should work in practice. This consultation closed on 16 September 2020. Once Ofcom has reported back to DCMS, we will review their recommendations and set out next steps.
In 2018, the Government published the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR), which set out the Government’s strategy to deliver nationwide gigabit capable broadband
as soon as possible, including in rural areas, by encouraging greater network competition and commercial investment.
The strategy focuses on:
The Government has recognised that not all areas of the country, particularly those in the most rural and remote areas, are likely to benefit from network competition and receive
gigabit capable broadband through private investment alone, which is why we have committed to invest £5 billion in supporting deployment in these areas. The use of this funding will encourage a variety of rural broadband providers to deploy gigabit networks.
It is vital that we continue to strive for greater equality and opportunity in sport. I am keen that we maintain the focus on women’s sport and build on the fantastic progress made in recent years. In May I wrote to major sporting bodies setting out my expectation that momentum in women's and girl's sport would not be lost because of the pandemic. I followed this letter up with a meeting in June where the sporting bodies and Women in Sport (a charity whose aim is to campaign for increased representation and visibility of women and girls in all aspects of sport) detailed their plans to increase participation levels. I also met with Baroness Sue Campbell in November to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on women’s football. I am committed to helping women’s sport come out of the current crisis stronger than ever and we will continue to work closely with the sector to ensure that happens.
I am keen that we continue to maintain the focus on women’s sport and build on the fantastic progress made in recent years. We recognise that Covid-19 has brought new challenges to the way people are able to engage in physical activity. We welcome initiatives like Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign which has inspired 3.9 million women to take part since its launch in 2015 and their “Join the Movement” campaign which is encouraging everyone to stay active during the lockdown.
We are determined to get more women and girls active. That is why in June I met with sports bodies and Women in Sport to ask about their plans for promoting women’s sport including increasing women and girls participation. I’m happy to say there was a real shared commitment amongst sports to protect investment in women’s sport and promote its growth. The new local restriction tier arrangements coming into force from 2 December in England should also mean that there will be greater options for how people can be physically active, from going to the gym to using sports facilities, to taking part in organised sport.
As tourism is devolved, the Welsh Government is responsible for any targeted financial initiatives to support the sector in Wales.
Welsh tourism businesses can continue to access the Government’s UK-wide support package, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, as well as various government-backed loans. We have also extended the UK-wide reduced VAT rate for tourism and hospitality activities until March 2021.
I remain in regular contact with my Devolved counterpart in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We will continue to work together to assess how we can most effectively support the tourism sector’s recovery.
English students eligible for the doctoral degree loan can access one loan up to the maximum amount that was available when they started their course. There is no discretion within the regulations to increase the entitlement where a student extends their study but those who have not accessed the maximum can apply for an additional amount of loan. If a student has withdrawn from their PhD due to compelling personal reasons they may nonetheless be eligible for a further loan for a second full course. Withdrawal as a result of reasons connected to COVID-19 is usually considered to be one such compelling personal reason.
UK Research and Innovation has made over £62 million of financial support available to PhD students in receipt of research council funding most impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. It is estimated that this funding is available for up to 12,000 students.
We are aware of the enormous pressures that the COVID-19 outbreak has had on doctoral students and their ability to conduct their research and recognise that some students may face financial hardship. The department has worked with the Office for Students (OfS) to clarify that English providers are able to use existing funds, worth around £256 million for academic year 2020/21, towards hardship support.
In addition, we are currently making available up to a further £20 million on a one-off basis to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students. The funding is being distributed by the OfS to approved fee cap providers, who will have flexibility in how they distribute the funding to students in a way that will best prioritise those in greatest need. The funding can be distributed to a wide population of students, including postgraduates research students.
The government plays no role in the provision of student residential accommodation. Universities and private accommodation providers are autonomous and are responsible for setting their own rent agreements. Whether a student is entitled to a refund or to an early release from their contract will depend on the specific contractual arrangements between them and their provider.
This has been a very difficult time for students, and we encourage universities and private landlords to review their accommodation policies to ensure they are fair, clear and have the interests of students at heart.
Officials speak regularly with representatives of private and university owned accommodation, as well as sector bodies. The government worked closely with universities to ensure they were well prepared for the return of students in the autumn term, and we have published updated guidance to help them keep students and staff as safe as possible.
If students have concerns about their accommodation fees, they should first raise their concerns with their accommodation provider. If their concerns remain unresolved, and their higher education (HE) provider is involved in the provision of the accommodation, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for HE to consider their complaint.
If a student thinks their accommodation provider is treating them unfairly, they can raise a complaint under the accommodation codes of practice, as long as their provider is a code member. The codes can be found at: https://www.thesac.org.uk/, https://www.unipol.org.uk/the-code/how-to-complain and https://www.rla.org.uk/about/nrla-code-of-practice.shtml.
We recognise that in these exceptional circumstances some students may face financial hardship. The Department for Education has worked with the Office for Students (OfS) to clarify that providers are able to use existing funds, worth around £256 million for academic year 2020/21, towards hardship support. The government is currently making available up to a further £20 million on a one-off basis to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students. The funding is being distributed by the OfS to approved fee cap providers, who will have flexibility in how they distribute the funding to students in a way that will best prioritise those in greatest need. The funding can be distributed to a wide population of students, including postgraduates (whether taught or research) and international students.
This has been a very difficult time for students, and the government is working with the sector to make sure that all reasonable efforts are being made to enable students to continue their studies. The government’s clear and stated expectation is that universities should maintain the quality and quantity of tuition, and seek to ensure that all students regardless of their background have the resources to study remotely. This is more important than ever at the moment, with the vast majority of students studying solely online.
We continue to regularly engage the sector in discussion on this issue, including universities, and have met with other groups across the sector only last week. I wrote to the Office for Students (OfS) on 13 January, outlining the government’s expectations of the higher education sector following the new national lockdown. Following this, the OfS wrote to provider Accountable Officers, setting out the actions that they are taking in connection with providers’ compliance to existing regulatory requirements. Both letters are available here: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/media/928ddbfc-7d48-4a7b-853e-411c34d6202f/ao-letter-regulation-during-the-current-phase-of-pandemic-14-jan-2021.pdf. We expect providers to ensure that continuing and prospective students receive the clear, accurate and timely information needed to make informed decisions.
Universities are autonomous and responsible for setting their own fees, up to a maximum of £9,250 for approved (fee cap) institutions. The Office for Students (OfS), as regulator for higher education (HE) providers in England, has made it clear that HE providers must continue to comply with registration conditions relating to quality and academic standards, which set out requirements to ensure that courses are high-quality, that students are supported and achieve good outcomes and that standards are protected, regardless of whether a provider is delivering its courses through face-to-face teaching, remote online learning, or a combination of both.
Whether or not an individual student is entitled to a refund of fees will depend on the specific contractual arrangements between the provider and student. If students have concerns, there is a process in place. They should first raise their concerns with their university. If their concerns remain unresolved, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for Higher Education to consider their complaint.
The OIA website is available via the following link: https://www.oiahe.org.uk/.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published guidance on consumer contracts, cancellation and refunds affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. This sets out the CMA’s view on how the law operates to help consumers understand their rights and help businesses treat their customers fairly. This is available via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/cma-cases/consumer-protection-review-of-higher-education.
The OfS has also published guidance on student consumer protection during the COVID-19 outbreak, which is available via the following link: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/student-wellbeing-and-protection/student-protection/consumer-benefit-forum/.
My counterpart in the Welsh Government, the Noble Baroness Morgan of Ely, the Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language, recently wrote to me that ‘For a small nation, Wales enjoys a reputation which stretches far beyond its borders’. She is right. Wales was my second visit as a Minister as we see the opportunities to help promote Wales abroad. Indeed I recall pushing the cause of Welsh Lamb quite recently in Vietnam. I hope we may continue those conversations today when I Chair the inaugural Ministerial Forum for Trade with Ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) places a strong focus on accessibility when developing its services, ensuring that they work for those who have specific needs or use assistive technology. The DVLA’s user research team conducts usability testing of new services and ensures that 20 per cent of participants with an accessibility need or a medical condition take part in the usability testing to ensure the service meets the needs of all users.
The DVLA also uses a third-party supplier to provide independent usability/user testing and technology audits of live and prototype DVLA web services against the relevant accessibility guidelines. The DVLA aims for each service to be tested at least once during the development cycle to ensure recommendations can be assessed and implemented.
Research studies in the UK, notably those conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), have separately proven that both on-road experience and hazard perception skills reduce crash risk. They also evidence that hazard perception is related to experience.
Other TRL research on independent driving also highlights the assumption that the learner driver is exposed to tasks that are typical of post-test driving as part of their pre-test learning.
Those with theory test certificates expiring may have taken their test in early 2019. Since then, their on road practical experience will have been significantly curtailed during recent lockdowns. Therefore, whilst a short extension would allow more on-road experience it does not ensure that the learner will have had sufficient experience, or been sufficiently exposed to driving tasks, to be able to drive safely at the critical point that they drive independently for the first time.
The most recent assessments we have made about Traffic Regulation Orders are in two reports. The first discovery research report was published in 2019 and laid the foundations for the second report available here:
Each of these reports considered the impacts on different groups of potential improvements to the legislative process.
The Department plans to consult on proposed reforms to Traffic Regulation Orders more generally later in 2021. An Impact Assessment will accompany this consultation.
On 22 February, there were three cases of Covid across the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s workforce of more than 6,000 staff.
Since January, more than 5,000 lateral flow tests have been carried out with DVLA contact centre staff, with no positive results identified. This scheme is currently being extended to other DVLA staff working across its estate undertaking work which cannot be done from home.
All staff whose jobs can be done remotely are working from home, with now more than 2,000 staff doing so exclusively. Extensive safety measures have been put in place across the DVLA’s sites. These include enhanced cleaning, social distancing leasing an additional building, perspex screens installed, floors divided into zones with no mixing within zones, one-way systems introduced, and communal areas closed.
The DVLA has made significant investment in making its estate Covid-secure, working closely with Public Health Wales, Swansea Council’s Environmental Health team and the trade union. Swansea Bay University Health Board has confirmed a high level of compliance with control measures and did not identify any additional concerns over the control regime in place.
Throughout the pandemic, the DVLA has implemented Welsh Government legislative requirements and advice fully, including the workplace guidance for offices and contact centres. The organisations mentioned work closely with the DVLA and regularly review the measures in place. When advice is revised, it is acted upon and changes made quickly.
The maximum duration of two years between passing the theory test and a subsequent practical test is in place for road safety reasons; to ensure that a candidate’s knowledge is current. This validity period is set in legislation and the Government has no current plans to lay further legislation to extend it.
It is important that road safety knowledge and hazard perception skills are up to date at the critical point that they drive unsupervised for the first time. Those with theory test certificates expiring may have taken their test in early 2019. Since then, their lessons and practice sessions will have been significantly curtailed during recent lockdowns and it is likely that their knowledge base will have diminished. Research suggests that this would be particularly harmful for hazard perception skills, a key factor in road safety.
Ensuring new drivers have current relevant knowledge and skills is a vital part of the training of new drivers, who are disproportionality represented in casualty statistics. Taking all this into consideration, the decision has been made not to extend theory test certificates and learners will need to pass another theory test if their certificate expires.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has a range of services available online offering quick and easy ways of transacting. The DVLA’s online services have worked well and as normal throughout the pandemic. Between March and the end of August, the DVLA has issued nearly seven million registration certificates and three and a half million driving licences.
The DVLA’s 6,000 staff are largely based at a single site in Swansea and to adhere to Welsh social distancing requirements the number of staff onsite had been greatly reduced. This impacted on the time taken to process applications sent by post as these have to be dealt with in person. The DVLA has reconfigured its accommodation to maximise staff numbers whilst meeting the requirement in Wales to maintain the two-metre social distancing and ensure it remains Covid secure.
Drivers with a licence that expires between 1 February and 31 December 2020 have been given an automatic extension from the date of expiry. This means they will not need to renew their entitlement to drive until 11 months after the original expiry date.
The DVLA has also accelerated the development of additional online services to further reduce paper applications and supported their take up through a publicity campaign.
Ministers and officials are engaging extensively with UK hydrogen stakeholders including through the Net Zero Transport Board, our strategic priority workshops that ran through July and August and involved over 700 key stakeholders, as well as a number of Ministerial and official roundtables and bi-laterals meetings as we develop the Transport Decarbonisation Plan. We are committed to exploring all the options for green hydrogen across freight, buses, trains, maritime and aviation and ensuring the UK can leads the world in its deployment and use in transport applications.
In 2018, the Department for Transport published the outputs of the Transport Energy Model. The model provides an assessment of the relative environmental impacts of a range of fuel and powertrain options for road vehicles over the period to 2050, including hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
We welcome applications from all employers regardless of structure. Small businesses and organisations which are not registered on Companies House or do not have PAYE systems can now apply to the Kickstart Scheme through an organisation offering a ‘Gateway Plus’ model. This model enables Kickstart young people to be placed on the gateway’s PAYE system for the duration of their placement.
Universal Credit (UC) will be paid to eligible adults and the entitlement calculation will be based on their family circumstances.
For the purposes of UC, a person trading through a company as a company director in a position analogous to a sole trader or partner, is treated in the same way as a person who has not set up a company to conduct their business.
Companies not registered with Companies House are still able to access the Department for Work and Pensions’ Kickstart Scheme by applying through a Gateway which can place the Kickstart participant on the Gateway’s PAYE scheme - such as the one set up in partnership between the Federation of Small Business and Adecco Working Ventures.
The Department has not awarded grant funding to the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). In 2018, the Department for Education agreed grant funding for the HCPC to support the transfer of regulatory functions for social workers in England from the HCPC to Social Work England. A total of £3.3 million was paid in 2018/19 and 2019/20. The Department does not have legal powers to award grant funding to individuals registering with the HCPC.
The total cost of clinical negligence claims in England managed by NHS Resolution in 2020/21 was £2.2 billion, which represents approximately 1.5% of the National Health Service resource budget.
In January 2022, the Department published a consultation on the introduction of fixed recoverable costs for lower value clinical negligence claims. The proposals aim to address high legal costs and streamline the claims-handling process. The consultation closes on 24 April 2022.
Medical waste is being disposed of in line with local clinical waste disposal arrangements. Through Local Resilience Forums, health and care leaders with managers of vaccine sites and other vaccines delivery facilities are working collaboratively with local authorities to ensure there is sufficient capacity for this essential function. All staff involved in vaccinating patients in all types of vaccination facility are fully trained in the vaccination process including the disposal of medical waste.
Slate-grey naevi are a benign skin condition present from birth, which are most common on babies with darker skin. They can be mistaken for bruising but do not require treatment, will usually disappear by the age of four years old and are not a sign of a health condition.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence clinical knowledge summary on bruising, last revised in 2016, contains guidance for healthcare professionals, in the diagnosis of bruising. It contains recommendations that they also consider other skin conditions that could be mistaken for bruising, including Slate-grey naevi. Healthcare professionals should make diagnostic decisions in line with this guidance. The guidance is available at the following link:
The Government is committed to a proportionate system of safeguards for the professionals who work in the health and care system. The Government considered introducing statutory regulation for counsellors and psychotherapists in 2012 but concluded that this was not proportionate to the risks to patients and the public, opting instead for a system of accredited voluntary registration by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) for health and social care.
The PSA currently accredits 10 voluntary registers relating to therapists which can be used by service users to choose a practitioner to meet their needs and be assured they are safe, trustworthy and competent to practise.
The Government is providing support worth over £20 billion across this financial year and next that will help families with the cost of living. This includes cutting the Universal Credit taper rate and increasing work allowances to make sure work pays, freezing alcohol and fuel duties to keep costs down, and the £9.1 billion package announced in February 2022 to help households with rising energy bills.
The Government’s Plan for Jobs is also helping people into work and giving them the skills they need to progress – the best approach to managing the cost of living in the long term. We are building on the success of the Plan for Jobs, investing more than £6 billion on labour market support over three years. In addition to this, we are increasing the National Living Wage (NLW) by 6.6% to £9.50 in April 2022 for those aged 23 and over, which will mean a full-time worker on the NLW will see an increase in their earnings of over £1,000 a year.
The Government has provided a comprehensive economic response that is one of the most generous globally, including very substantial steps to protect jobs. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has helped to pay the wages of people in 9.9 million jobs across the country, providing £46.4bn worth of support as of 13 December. The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has received claims from 2.7 million self-employed workers, amounting to £13.7bn as of 13 December.
The Government will set out the next phase of the plan to tackle the virus and support jobs at Budget 2021.
Approximately 600,000 payments were deferred to the value of £34 billion through the VAT payments deferral scheme, which ended on 30 June 2020. As part of the Winter Economy Plan, the Government announced further support for those with deferred VAT. Instead of paying the full deferred VAT outstanding by 31 March 2021, businesses can spread what they owe over up to 11 smaller monthly payments. More information is available at www.gov.uk/hmrc/vat-deferral.
Alcohol duties are kept under review and the merits of a change to beer duty is considered at each fiscal event. Announcements about any changes to beer duty will be made in the usual way at the next Budget.
The self-employed are very diverse and have a wide mix of turnover and profits, with monthly and annual variations even in normal times, and in some cases with substantial alternative forms of income too. The design of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), including the eligibility requirement that an individual’s trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to their non-trading income, means it is targeted at those who need it the most, and who are most reliant on their self-employment income
Income from furnished holiday lets is classified as non-trading income and therefore it is not considered as part of a self-employed individual’s trading profits.
Beyond this, the SEISS continues to be just one element of a comprehensive package of support for the self-employed. The Universal Credit standard allowance has been temporarily increased for 2020-21 and the Minimum Income Floor relaxed for the duration of the crisis, so that where self-employed claimants' earnings have fallen significantly, their Universal Credit award will have increased to reflect their lower earnings. In addition to this, they may also have access to other elements of the package, including Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, self-isolation support payments and other business support grants.
The zero rate for women’s sanitary products announced in the March 2020 Budget will apply from 1 January 2021 to those products which are currently subject to the reduced rate of 5 per cent. This covers the supply of any sanitary protection product that is designed and marketed solely for the absorption or collection of menstrual flow or lochia, whether disposable or reusable. The relief excludes dual purpose period and incontinence products, items of clothing such as reusable menstrual underwear, or purely incontinence products.
The new zero rate will ensure that every woman needing sanitary protection during their monthly cycle will, from the start of January and for the first time, have access to a variety of zero rated sanitary protection products on which they had previously paid a 5 per cent rate of VAT.
Ahead of unrestricted international travel returning, HM Passport Office prepared extensively to serve an unprecedented number of customers, with 9.5 million British passport applications forecasted throughout 2022.
These preparations, which include the recruitment of 500 additional staff since April 2021 and with plans in place to recruit a further 700 by this summer, have ensured that passport applications can be processed in higher numbers than ever before. This was demonstrated in March and April 2022 when HM Passport Office achieved a record monthly high by completing the processing of approximately two million applications.
Ministers continue to meet regularly with officials to monitor performance, and to explore further options that will help to ensure that people receive their passports in good time.
The AIRE (Advice, Issue Reporting and Eligibility) service provided for the Home Office by Migrant Help offers support and guidance to vulnerable migrants.
AIRE asylum services provide free independent advice, guidance and information on the asylum process, accommodation, financial support, finding legal representation and any other asylum related matters. AIRE run a national helpline that is free and accessible to all asylum seekers in the UK.
Excess speed is still a major cause of death and serious injury on our roads. Anyone who breaks the speed limit should expect to face proper sanction.
Enforcement of speeding offences and the deployment of resources in rural areas, is an operational matter for local chief officers of police, taking into account the specific local problems and demands with which they are faced.
The intent remains to dispose of The Barracks, Brecon subject to further assessment work. Units currently based at the barracks, including Headquarters 160th (Welsh) Brigade, will be relocated within Wales. The MOD will work closely with Local Authorities to determine the impact of any decisions on local communities.
The use of digital tools is important to be able to standardise and improve the user interface where local people seek to engage in the planning system. It is not a replacement for engagement but is a tool to make this engagement more transparent and more accessible to all parts of communities across England. This is particularly the case for publicity of planning applications where we want to see greater digital coverage, and we will be exploring the best way of doing that as we develop our proposals to reform the planning system. In doing so, we recognise the importance of local newspapers to communities and that there will continue to be a need to reach out to people without digital access to information.
The Government is committed to meeting its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The National Planning Policy Framework sets out how we expect the planning system to help mitigate and adapt to?climate change. In their development plan policies, local planning authorities can encourage the use of sustainable materials like wool in new development.
The Building Regulations are generally couched in performance terms and do not prescribe the technologies, materials or fuels to be used, allowing builders the flexibility to innovate and select the most practical and cost-effective solutions in particular circumstances. Developers are able to use wool products in construction projects where it is safe to do so and where it can be shown to meet all applicable Building Regulations requirements.
The behaviour known as cyberflashing would likely be caught by one or more of a range of existing offences.
However, to ensure that the law is up to date and fully equipped to protect victims from such abuse the Government asked the Law Commission to review the existing criminal law relating to harmful communications online and offline.
The Law Commission has published its final report, and has made a number of recommendations, including the creation of a new offence to capture specifically cyberflashing.
Activities involving sharing or threatening to share intimate images are captured by existing offences tackling “revenge pornography”, harassment, malicious communications, blackmail, and “coercive or controlling behaviour”.
However, the Government recognises that there is concern over the growth of new technology and the impact on the law in this area.
We have asked the Law Commission to review the law in this area to ensure victims are properly protected. The Law Commission intends to publish a public consultation paper shortly with a view to announcing findings later this year, which the Government will consider carefully.
The Government continues to implement the New Decade New Approach agreement and is united around the ambition for a strong functioning Executive delivering a more prosperous, shared future for Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland are going to the polls on 5 May. It is vital that we give people the space to make that choice in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect, to ensure that fully functioning devolved institutions are restored at the earliest possible moment.
My Department is working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Transport to consider proposals for the development of a Global Centre of Rail Excellence and I have discussed the proposition with the Minister for Economy and Transport in the Welsh Government.
The Government aims to consult on a preferred business model for low-carbon hydrogen production in 2021. This will be key to stimulating the deployment of hydrogen across the UK.
In addition, I am pleased to see that the South Wales Industrial Cluster is being supported by UK Research and Innovation’s £170m Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge, which is looking at options for decarbonising the region’s industrial base, including using hydrogen.
My officials regularly engage with officials in other departments across the UK Government to raise awareness of the opportunities in Wales for hydrogen energy generation.