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).
Do not give consent for another Scottish Independence Referendum
The SNP government appears solely intent on getting independence at any cost.
These initiatives were driven by Gregory Campbell, 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.
Gregory Campbell has not been granted any Urgent Questions
Gregory Campbell has not been granted any Adjournment Debates
Gregory Campbell has not introduced any legislation before Parliament
Gregory Campbell has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting
The Representative Money allocation and spend breakdown for the previous financial year ending 31 March 2021, together with the allocation scheduled to be paid for the current financial year (1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022) will be published in due course on the pages below.
Since 2016-17 it has been a requirement to publish the amounts paid for each financial year and these can be found on the Parliament website via the following link:
Budget allocations for Representative Money since 2005-06 are published in Appendix 3 (p34) of the following document:
The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.
The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.
Under a resolution of the House, Representative Money is provided to opposition parties represented by Members who have chosen not to take the Oath.
Budget allocations for Representative Money since 2005-06 are published in Appendix 4 of the following document:
Since 2016-17 it has been a requirement to publish the amounts paid for the financial year and these can be found on the Parliament website via the following link:
The Representative Money scheduled to be paid following the General Election on 12 December 2019 to the end of the current financial year (31 March 2020) will be published in due course on the above page, as will amounts relating to subsequent financial years.
The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have, therefore, asked the Authority to respond.
This information is not held by the UK Government. However, as indicated by the Chief Veterinary Officer for Northern Ireland, on the 15 April 2021 in the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Committee for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, the Northern Ireland Executive has estimated that from January to March, the number of entry documents for products of animal origin, germinal products, and animal by-products (CHED-Ps) processed in Northern Ireland represented approximately 20% of the EU total. This is more than any single EU Member State - even though the population of Northern Ireland is just 0.5% of that of the EU as a whole.
The Integrated Review published in March set a goal of cementing the UK’s position as a leading responsible and democratic cyber power, and committed to launching a new comprehensive cyber strategy in 2021 to implement this vision. The strategy will set out how we will build up the UK’s cyber resilience; deter our adversaries; and influence tomorrow’s technologies so they are safe, secure and open. Work is underway to develop the new strategy, and the government plans to continue engaging with partners before publishing it later this year and aligning with funding decisions in the next Spending Review.
Cyber security is a key priority for this Government. Advances in cyber technologies are revolutionising the way in which we live our lives and guard our national security, and our aim is to ensure citizens can enjoy the benefits this brings while mitigating the risks. The Covid pandemic has made the UK more reliant on digital technologies and we are seeing a growth in damaging threats such as ransomware.
Our National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) continues to work closely with law enforcement, government and industry to tackle cyber threats and support the country’s response to the covid-19 crisis, publishing guidance and identifying and removing malicious sites. This includes ramping up the Active Cyber Defence Programme, launching the Suspicious Email Reporting tool and working closely with the NHS to keep their systems and the healthcare sector safe. We are able to draw upon these resources because of the implementation of the 2016 National Cyber Security Strategy.
We are also planning for the future to strengthen our approach and maintain the UK’s position as a leading responsible and democratic cyber power. Later this year we will be launching a new comprehensive Cyber Strategy, setting out how we will build up the UK’s cyber resilience; detect, disrupt and deter our adversaries; and shape, influence and unlock tomorrow’s technologies and opportunities so they are safe, secure and open.
The Border and Protocol Delivery Group is an organisational unit within the Cabinet Office, not a standing body. The UK Government has made clear, though, that there are outstanding issues that must be addressed as to the operation of the Protocol to restore confidence among the people of Northern Ireland following the EU’s invocation of Article 16 on 29 January. The Joint Committee meeting on 24 February underlined the importance of dealing with these issues and of continuing to engage with businesses and other stakeholders as they proceed.
There are long-standing arrangements in place for non-UK personnel, including those from the Commonwealth, who have served in the Armed Forces to apply for citizenship and settlement either during or at the end of their service. These are set out in the Armed Forces Appendix to the immigration regulations and the Government is currently exploring how to further improve these systems.
The Government is unaware of any deportation action in progress against any veterans of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces at this time and any such action would require authorisation by Ministers. However, any former member of the Armed Forces who have not previously applied for settlement, who wishes to change their immigration status in the UK or who wishes to have their case re-examined is entitled to make an application to the Home Office to have their case looked at.
Veterans UK’s provide the same level of support to Foreign and Commonwealth veterans as they do to any other veteran. They provide relevant advice, information and support to meet veterans individual needs and requirements, including immigration and naturalisation issues. This support continues for as long as required as part of our commitment to providing ‘through-life support’ to veterans
The Border Operating Model, published 13 July, covers trade between Great Britain and the EU only. As for goods movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, guidance was published on 8 August. That guidance is being updated on an ongoing basis and in response to developments, including discussions in the UK-EU Joint Committee.
As for medical supplies, the Department of Health and Social Care, in consultation with the Devolved Administrations and Crown Dependencies, is working with trade bodies, product suppliers, and the health and care system in England to make detailed plans to help ensure continued supply of medicines and medical products to the whole of the UK, at the end of the transition period. With respect to Northern Ireland, guidance will be set out in due course, taking into account discussions in the Joint Committee as appropriate.
The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.
The Border and Protocol Delivery Group holds regular meetings with representatives of Northern Ireland ports and airports. Recent meetings have covered a range of topics including the Trader Support Service, the Goods Vehicle Movement Service and infrastructure.
This letter was transferred to the Northern Ireland Office who will be issuing a response shortly. May I apologise for the delay in considering and responding to the issues the hon. Member has raised.
The Border and Protocol Delivery Group holds regular meetings with representatives of Northern Ireland ports and airports alongside representative bodies. The group is scheduled to meet with airports and ports in September.
I refer the Hon. Gentlemen to the answer I gave to PQ 33512 on 21 April 2020.
The UK Civil Service operates in all parts of the Union and our commitment to make it easier for Veterans to join is UK wide. Civil Service employment policies take into account legislation and employment factors throughout the UK, but we are working to implement this policy in Northern Ireland.
Our National Cyber Security Strategy (2016-2021) is delivering transformational change across the United Kingdom, building new capabilities and intervening to address the cyber threat.
Government Departments and the National Cyber Security Centre regularly engage with the Devolved Administrations to understand priorities and work together to address shared challenges, and will continue to do so as we develop our plans beyond 2021.
The cyber security challenge will endure beyond 2021. We committed in our manifesto to invest more in cyber security, embrace new technologies and legislate to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.
Work on our plans for cyber security after 2021 is in progress. This work includes reviewing progress on delivery, while recognising that cyber security operates in a dynamic environment which is constantly evolving and will continue to change up to – and beyond – 2021.
Immediately following the publication of the Deal in March this year, we met with industry, government and regulator members of the North Sea Transition Forum in April to agree our approach to implementing and overseeing the Deal. We have established governance mechanisms to identify near term and longer-term priorities, and to drive progress. As committed in the Deal, we have set up a government-led group to address barriers to electrification of oil and gas platforms. We continue to make progress on the business case for the Global Underwater Hub in Aberdeen and on proposals for spending the £2m allocated in the Budget for the Deal.
The Government recognises and values the diversity of the retail sector and is clear that it wants to see the sector continue to thrive in all forms and settings, including town centres.
Retail remains a key part of the high street and thriving town centres will need a strong retail offering. While the trend towards online shopping has been accelerated by Covid-19, 72% of retail sales in 2020 took place in stores and physical retail will remain an important route to consumers.
The Retail Sector Council remains a key part of working to address the challenges the sector faces and on 15 July. The Government published the Build Back Better High Streets Strategy, which sets out our long-term plan to support the evolution of high streets into thriving places to work, visit and live. The report can be found here:
The independent Green Jobs Taskforce has concluded its work, with the publication of its recommendations to government, industry and skills sector on the 14th July 2021. Government will now consider these recommendations as part of the development of our Net Zero Strategy, building on the work already underway to deliver the skills for net zero.
The Government has already invested in a variety of initiatives that will boost green skills and jobs across the country, including a wide range of green apprenticeships; Green Skills Bootcamps; the Emerging Skills Electrification Project; and, Free Courses for Jobs, backed by £95 million from the National Skills Fund, to allow adults to take a Level 3 qualification for free. Additionally, as part of our initial response to the Taskforce's independent report, we have announced a cross-cutting delivery group to oversee the development and delivery of the Government’s plans for green jobs and skills.
The Financial Reporting Council’s investigation into the audit of the accounts of NMC Health for the year ended 31 December 2018 was launched in May 2020 under the FRC’s Audit Enforcement Procedure and is ongoing. The Government is committed to restoring trust in audit and corporate governance as set out in the white paper published in March this year. The Government will consider the findings of the Financial Reporting Council’s investigation when it is concluded.
Through the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage, the Government protects the lowest paid within our society. On 1 April 2021, the Government increased the minimum wage rates for all age groups. Young people and apprentices saw above inflation increases in the National Minimum Wage rates of between 1.5% and 3.6% on 1 April 2021. In addition, the reduction in the National Living Wage age threshold from 25+ to 23+ gave an extra 71p per hour to those aged 23 and 24 – the largest individual increase for this group ever.
Our best estimates suggest that over 300,000 workers aged 16-24 benefitted from the rise in the National Minimum Wage. This consists of under 100,000 23-24 year olds, over 100,000 21-22 year olds, approximately 90,000 18-20 year olds and around 20,000 16-17 year olds. Furthermore, around 30,000 Apprentices of all ages also received a pay rise as a result of the April 2021 uprating.
Further details on the impact of the rate increases on young people are contained in the 2021 Impact Assessment here.
A breakdown on the number of loans issued through the Bounce Back Loan Scheme as of 10 January 2021 is in the table below.
Value of Loans Offered (£)
Number of Loans Offered
Updated figures will be published in due course.
We recognise that these are very challenging conditions for businesses in the travel sector, including travel agents, which is why we have provided a range of measures to support the sector.
In total, over £25bn has been provided to the tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors in the form of grants, loans and tax breaks. On top of the Government’s wider economic support package, we have extended business rates relief and introduced new Restart Grants of up to £18,000 for many in the sector.
We have also extended the cut in VAT for tourism and hospitality activities to 5% until the end of September. To help businesses manage the transition back to the standard rate, a 12.5% rate will then apply for a further six months.
We are listening to feedback on the Green Homes Grant, including on the type of technologies included in the scheme. The list of technologies currently included in the scheme reflects our assessment of the best balance between economic stimulus and maximising value for householders and taxpayers. We will assess potential technologies under consideration against the following broad policy criteria - job creation, carbon savings, fuel poverty, delivery confidence, value for money, along with BEIS’ wider departmental objectives.
The Enterprise Zones programme has supported the design of the Freeports model. A consultation was run earlier in the year and the Government response has recently been published at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/878352/Freeports_Consultation_Extension.pdf.
We are committed to continuing to work with local places to deliver economic growth across the country.
As part of the Bounce Back Loan Scheme application process lenders undertake fraud checks, including Know Your Customer and Anti Money Laundering checks as required. In addition, the application form is clear – any individual who knowingly provides false information is at risk of criminal prosecution. We are working across Departments, and with lenders and law enforcement agencies, to tackle fraudulent abuse of the scheme.
Further details of how we expect the Bounce Back Loan Scheme to perform are set out in our accounts for 2019-20, a copy of which has been placed in the Libraries of the House. At this early stage, such estimates are naturally highly uncertain as reflected in the explanatory notes of the Accounts.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports small and medium-sized businesses with access to working capital (including loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance) of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.
The Scheme is available to self-employed individuals with an eligible business entity. This includes sole traders, freelancers, bodies corporate, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships or any other legal entity carrying out a business activity in the United Kingdom, with a turnover of less than £45m, operating in most sectors.
Whether or not a business is liable for Business Rates, or occupies business premises, is not a consideration under the Scheme.
The Friends Against Scams initiative protects and prevents people from becoming victims of scams. In 2019, 208,158 people joined the scheme, bringing the total number to over 412,800. Regional figures are not available to National Trading Standards.
The Government will continue to collaborate with Europe on scientific research, and the UK’s negotiating approach states that the UK is ready to consider participation in certain EU programmes, including Horizon Europe.
The shape and content of EU Programmes post-2020, including Horizon Europe, are currently being negotiated in the EU Institutions and have not yet been finalised. These EU Programmes must be adopted by the EU before arrangements for potential UK participation could be finalised.
We know that the offshore oil and gas sector has a key role to play as we move to a Net Zero economy. We have committed to supporting this transition with a transformational Sector Deal. The oil and gas sector, including its supply chain, has a UK-wide footprint and as such we envisage that any Sector Deal should benefit companies across the whole of the UK. This will ensure they benefit from the opportunities of a Net Zero economy thereby anchoring them to the UK and retaining the high skilled jobs in the sector.
The Government is committed to ensuring that everyone entitled to National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) receives it. This is why we have more than doubled the compliance and enforcement budget for the NMW and NLW to £27.4 million for 2019/20, up from £13.2 million in 2015/16.
In 2018/19, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) identified a record £24.4 million in minimum wage arrears for over 220,000 workers and issued over £17 million in penalties to non-compliant employers.
HMRC use a range of techniques ranging from ‘nudge’ letters in low risk cases to criminal prosecution in the most egregious cases of underpayment. Without fail, HMRC investigate where they believe an employer is not paying the minimum wage, which includes following up every worker complaint they receive.
As with any international treaty, UK ratification of UNESCO Conventions should be considered fully, taking into account value for money to the UK taxpayer and the interests of both the Devolved Administrations and our Overseas Territories. When this process has been completed, Ministers will take a decision on the merits of ratification.
The BBC Board is responsible for ensuring the BBC delivers its Charter obligations, including its mission and public purposes and for the appropriate use of licence fee revenue. Under the Royal Charter, the Board must put in place 'appropriate policies and controls to ensure that licence fee and other income is spent and operations are managed efficiently, effectively and in accordance with regularity, propriety, value for money and feasibility'.
The Comptroller and Auditor General of the NAO is the BBC's independent external auditor. The NAO is responsible for auditing the BBC accounts and ensuring value for money in the way the BBC uses its funds.
The BBC is operationally and editorially independent from the government and the government cannot intervene in the BBC’s day-to-day operations.
The BBC Board is ultimately responsible for appropriate use of licence fee payers' money.
The government recognises the important role the UK Safer Internet Centre delivers on online safety. This includes the operation of a public hotline for reporting and removing child sexual abuse material online and a helpline to support professionals working with children in the UK with any online safety issues young people in their care may face.
The government engages regularly with the UK Safer Internet Centre, and has previously provided it with funding to develop advice for schools on understanding, preventing and responding to cyberbullying, and an online safety toolkit to help schools deliver sessions about cyberbullying, peer pressure and sexting.
Ofcom has recently completed its fourth round of community radio licensing and awarded 24 licences to new community stations between November 2019 and April 2020. A total of 302 community radio stations are currently on air across the UK.
During 2019, Ofcom also agreed to improve the quality of the coverage of 63 community radio stations, and extend the coverage of 33, enabling community radio to reach a wider audience than ever.
Decisions on whether to offer new FM community radio licences are a matter for Ofcom to determine.
The BBC is operationally and editorially independent from the government and the government cannot intervene in the BBC’s day-to-day operations, including with regards staffing matters. The BBC Board is responsible for the governance of the BBC. The government established Ofcom as the BBC regulator to ensure the BBC is robustly held to account as the nation's broadcaster. Issues such as these are therefore to be dealt with by the BBC, the BBC Board and, when appropriate, Ofcom.
The Government understands that Ofcom has recently published updated licensing information for people and organisations wishing to put on drive-in services. These events need a ‘restricted service licence’, so people in their cars can hear what is being said on their car radios.
It is for Ofcom, as the independent regulator, to set tariffs to cover their licensing costs, and to ensure that these are reasonable attributable to the sectors from which they recover them.
Fees for restricted service licences will vary according to the band, the power and the duration for which the applicant requires the licence, and the options and associated costs are set out in Ofcom’s annually published tariff tables.
The Government recognises the value of free TV licences for over-75s and believes that they should be funded by the BBC. The Government is disappointed with the BBC's decision to restrict the over 75 licence fee concession only to those in receipt of Pension Credit. However, the BBC remains responsible for the administration of the concession and it will be responsible for setting out what those affected will need to do.
The BBC and the Government have been discussing the national Coronavirus situation. Recognising the exceptional circumstances, the BBC Board decided to change the start date of its new policy on over 75s. The current plan is to reduce the concession on 1 August and the BBC will keep the issue under review as the situation continues to evolve.
In the Tackling Loneliness Strategy, published October 2018, government committed to publishing annual progress reports to provide an update on the implementation of policies set out in the strategy. The first annual report was published in January 2020. This set out progress to date, including action by frontline workers across the public sector to recognise and act on loneliness, the launch of the Let’s Talk Loneliness campaign, the commitment to include measures in the Public Health Outcomes Framework so we can understand local rates of loneliness, and the announcement of an additional £2m of grant-funding to help frontline grassroots organisations that bring people together.
The ministerial group on loneliness will consider whether any further reports should be published this year, as part of its ongoing discussions around the government’s work on tackling loneliness.
In 2015, the Government agreed a licence fee funding settlement with the BBC for a five year period between 2017 and 2022. We agreed that responsibility for the over 75 licence fee concession would transfer to the BBC in June 2020. In return, we closed the iPlayer loophole, committed to increase the licence fee in line with inflation for each year of the settlement period, and reduced a number of other BBC spending commitments.
The BBC reports annually on the revenue raised by the licence fee in the ‘Television Licence Fee Trust Statement’ available on the TV Licensing website. For 2017/18, it said that it received an additional £23m as a result of the uplift in the level of the licence fee. For 2018/19, it said that it received an additional £79 million to BBC revenue as a result of the increase.
The estimate for the impact on BBC revenue following the implementation of the revised over 75 licence fee concession from June 2020 is a matter for the BBC.
On the 20th March, the Universal Service Obligation will come into effect, giving all citizens the right to request a ‘decent broadband’ service, up to a reasonable cost threshold.
This initiative, combined with greater commercial availability of broadband services of all types, will provide a ‘safety net’ for broadband provision in the UK.
Progress on the rollout of broadband services continues apace across the UK. The commercial rollout of Gigabit-Capable Networks is accelerating, with more than 10% of the UK now covered with full-fibre services. Superfast services are now available to more than 96% of the UK population. Mobile broadband coverage is also improving, and should benefit from the Shared Rural Network programme.
The department is responsible for apprenticeships policy in England only.
The apprenticeship levy is collected by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs from all UK employers with a pay bill above £3 million. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland receive a share of levy funding and it is the responsibility of the devolved administrations to determine how they spend this share to fund and operate their apprenticeship programmes.
Apprenticeships are vital in driving economic recovery, and we continue to improve apprenticeships to make it easier for employers in England to make full use of their levy funds. To help businesses of all sizes in England to offer apprenticeships as new employment opportunities, we have increased our cash incentive payments to £3,000 for every apprentice they hire as a new employee from 1 April until 30 September 2021.
We are improving the apprenticeship levy transfer process so that, from August 2021, employers in England who pay the levy will be able to pledge funds for transfer to other employers, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), supported by a new online service to match levy payers with SMEs.
In addition, since 1 April 2021 all SMEs in England arranging new apprenticeship starts have done so through the apprenticeship service. This gives them more control over their apprenticeship choices and the ability to reserve funds before choosing the provider that best meets their needs.
We are also making apprenticeships in England more flexible so that they better meet the needs of employers from all sectors. We continue to support employers by encouraging greater use of innovative apprenticeship training models, such as the front-loading of off-the-job training. We are also developing accelerated apprenticeships so that apprentices with substantial prior learning (e.g. T Level graduates) can complete an apprenticeship more quickly.
The Department has worked closely with the devolved administrations throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, mutually and beneficially exchanging information and policy developments across the full range of issues and challenges facing education systems in the UK. For example, in addition to education recovery, there has also been a UK-wide discussion on the reopening of schools and colleges and arrangements for awarding qualifications in 2021.
One example where the Department is working with the devolved administration to enhance educational opportunities is on the Turing scheme, the UK-wide replacement for Erasmus+, which will support 35,000 students from schools, further education and higher education across the UK to do study and work placements abroad. It aims to improve social mobility, targeting students from disadvantaged backgrounds, making life-changing opportunities accessible to everyone across the country.
The Department will continue to engage with the devolved administrations on the response to the COVID-19 outbreak and on how to support education recovery. This engagement will include sharing information and evidence on education recovery initiatives, including the National Tutoring Programme.
There is no place in our society, including within higher education (HE), for antisemitism. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition is an important tool in tackling antisemitism. Adopting the widely recognised definition sends a strong signal that HE providers take these issues seriously.
My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, wrote to the sector in October 2020, calling upon leaders to adopt the IHRA definition. He repeated this message in May, reinforcing the government's expectation that providers adopt the IHRA definition, stressing the even greater importance of doing so in light of increased number of antisemitic incidents recorded (as a result of the conflict in the Middle East). We are aware of over 100 HE providers which have now adopted the IHRA definition. This includes over 80 universities.
In his February 2021 strategic guidance letter, the Secretary of State also asked the Office for Students (OfS) to undertake a scoping exercise, to identify providers which are reluctant to adopt the definition. He asked them to consider introducing mandatory reporting of antisemitic incident numbers by providers, with the aim of ensuring a robust evidence base, which the OfS can then use to effectively regulate in this area. I meet regularly with the OfS, and they have assured me they are progressing work in response to Secretary of State's request, including in relation to a scoping exercise to identify higher education providers which have yet to adopt the IHRA definition.
The decision on adoption of the definition rests with individual providers, but the government will continue to urge them to adopt the definition and ensure that HE is a genuinely fulfilling and welcoming experience for everyone.
Adoption of the IHRA definition is only a first step, and while the government considers that adoption of the definition is crucial, it is not enough on its own. That is why I will continue to work with the sector to ensure it better understands antisemitism and does more to end it.
The Strategic Priorities Grant, formerly referred to as the Teaching Grant, plays an important role in supporting providers and students to develop the skills and knowledge needed locally, regionally and nationally to support the economy.
We have asked the Office for Students (OfS) to reform the Grant for 2021-22. These reforms include the reallocation of high-cost subject funding towards the provision of high-cost subjects that support the NHS and wider healthcare policy, high-cost science, technology and engineering subjects and subjects meeting specific labour market needs.
One of our proposals is for a 50% reduction in the rate of high-cost subject funding, which is one element of the wider Strategic Priorities Grant, for some subjects in order to enable this reprioritisation.
It is important to note that the Strategic Priorities Grant accounts for a relatively small proportion of the total income of higher education providers today. For the providers losing funding due to this reallocation, the income lost would account for approximately 0.05% of their estimated total income, based on the latest data available.
This important reprioritisation of taxpayers’ money does not mean this government is devaluing the arts or social sciences. High-quality provision in a range of subjects is critical for our workforce, and our public services, and is culturally enriching for our society.
That is why, as part of the same reform programme, we have asked the OfS to invest an additional £10 million in our world-leading specialist providers, many of which specialise in arts provision. We want to ensure that our specialist providers receive additional support, and that grant funding is used to effectively support students.
The OfS has now publicly consulted on these proposals, and responses from universities, students and others will be taken into account before any final decisions on allocations are made.
I refer the hon. Member for East Londonderry to the answer I gave on 7 July 2020 to Question 68342.
The 2020 data for the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) will be available in December 2021. PRTR data is collated by 30 November each year and will be published within one month of this. The UK’s PRTR includes a range of industrial activities, including waste and wastewater management, which are listed in Annex I of the UK PRTR legislation.
We want the entire supply chain to help deliver healthier food and encourage healthy eating and look forward to seeing Henry Dimbleby's review. Our Food Strategy White Paper will set out future policy, building on existing work such as that developed under the Agriculture Act and the Obesity Strategy, to help ensure that our food system delivers healthy and affordable food for all people and is built upon a resilient and sustainable agriculture sector.
The Secretary of State regularly meets with colleagues across Government to discuss measures to improve the healthiness of our food and diets. Public Health England (PHE) oversees the sugar reduction programme on behalf of the Government. As part of ongoing efforts to tackle the overconsumption of sugar, this programme challenged businesses across all industry sectors to reduce levels of sugar by 20% by 2020 in foods that contribute significantly to the sugar intakes of children up to 18 years. Juices and milk-based drinks excluded from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy also form part of the programme. Progress on sugar reduction is regularly and transparently monitored, and the most recent report on industry action was published in October 2020. This can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sugar-reduction-report-on-progress-between-2015-and-2019
Analysis shows mixed progress to date across categories, sectors and businesses and within individual products. Defra officials work closely with counterparts at PHE and the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure that policies and programmes on food, diet, and obesity are developed and delivered successfully.
We work, through the UK Squirrel Accord, with a number of organisations towards the conservation and recovery of red squirrels in England. This work is primarily focused on the management of habitat for the benefit of red squirrels and the culling of grey squirrels to reduce competition and the spread of squirrel pox. Additionally, we continue to support the development of fertility control for grey squirrels. We are not aware of any projects which seek to reintroduce red squirrels into areas from which they have been lost.
The recently announced Species Reintroduction Taskforce will bring together experts, landowners and NGOs to prioritise, share knowledge, find consensus and build collaborative projects, towards a more ambitious approach to recovering iconic species in England such as red squirrel.
Public Health England (PHE) oversees the voluntary sugar reduction programme on behalf of the Government, as set out in all parts of the childhood obesity plan. PHE is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the Government department responsible for nutrition policy and the Government’s obesity strategy.
PHE published the third progress report for the sugar reduction programme on 7 October 2020. This showed a 3.0% reduction in overall average sugar per 100g for retailers and manufacturer branded food products. Larger reductions were seen in some categories, but increased sales of higher sugar categories reduced the impact of these reductions. The eating out of home sector saw hardly any change in average sugar levels. The 2021 progress report will provide a fourth assessment towards the 20% reduction ambition.
DHSC will hold discussions with PHE on the sugar reduction programme and the voluntary ambition. Defra will work with other Government departments and agencies including PHE to respond to recommendations in Part Two of the forthcoming National Food Strategy relating to healthy eating.
The Government is committed to protecting and expanding red squirrel populations and tackling the threats that grey squirrels pose to them. This is a devolved matter, and the information below applies directly to England. The Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019 is, however, joint legislation between England and Wales.
In December 2019 the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order (2019 No 527) came into force. This legislation ensures that a number of listed invasive species, including grey squirrels, cannot be imported, kept, bred, transported, sold, used or exchanged, allowed to reproduce, or be grown, cultivated, or released into the environment. The Order is an important step in achieving the Government’s strategy to tackle invasive non-native species, as outlined in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. The risks posed by key widespread invasive species, such as the grey squirrel, will be managed though measures aimed at their eradication, population control or containment.
The red squirrel is protected under Schedules 5 and 6 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence intentionally to kill or injure a red squirrel or intentionally damage or destroy any structure it uses for shelter or protection, as well as to kill or trap the species using certain prohibited methods. Two Sites of Special Scientific Interest: Breckland Forest and Poole Harbour, have been designated in part to protect the red squirrel in England.
The Forestry Commission (FC) checks all felling licence applications against a large number of records, including the Red Squirrel Reserves. This allows them to highlight any potential issues and advise the applicant how to avoid the disturbance or damage of protected species. The FC also undertakes actions to protect red squirrels from the impact of grey squirrels more widely as outlined in the Grey Squirrel Action Plan for England.
In addition, the FC and Natural England (NE) are members of Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE), a red squirrel conservation partnership project managed by Northumberland Wildlife Trust, which works in seven northern counties. Defra, NE and the FC are signatories to the United Kingdom Squirrel Accord (UKSA), working with over 30 other signatories, including RSNE, to secure and expand red squirrel populations. Defra, in partnership with UKSA, has provided funding for work by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) for the development of a fertility control method for grey squirrels. Further research is needed; however, the results continue to show promise as one potentially effective and humane method to control grey squirrel numbers in the longer term.
The conservation of red squirrels is a devolved matter. The Government works closely with leading red squirrel conservation organisations who estimate the red squirrel population in England to be around 15,000.
The World Health Organisation already works with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to produce regular analysis on the COVID-19 outbreak in Yemen. Their most recent update can be found online here: https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/yemen-covid-19-preparedness-and-response-snapshot-13-june-2020-enar.
Additionally, my officials remain in close and regular contact with the World Health Organisation in Yemen to discuss the latest COVID-19 developments and ways of improving the humanitarian response.
As part of our £160 million aid commitment for Yemen in the 2020/21 financial year, the UK expects to provide support to at least 300,000 vulnerable people each month to help them buy food and household essentials, treat 40,000 children for malnutrition and provide 1 million people with improved water supply and basic sanitation.
Our funding will also help tackle the spread of COVID-19 in Yemen and we expect this new package to provide over 700,000 medical consultations, train 12,000 healthcare workers to work safely in a COVID-19 environment and provide a much-needed boost to nearly 4,000 health centres to continue providing existing health services.
We are deeply concerned about the devastating locust outbreak in East Africa. It is destroying crops, livelihoods and essential food supplies.
UK aid is helping to tackle this outbreak though the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). The CERF has released £7.5 million to the UN Food and Agriculture Office (FAO) Locust Appeal. Our support is having an immediate impact, with UK aid backed funding, the FAO is spraying pesticides on the ground and by air to prevent further damage to crops and protect livelihoods.
DFID’s existing humanitarian and development programming in the region is working to address current food insecurity and poverty challenges and is ready to flex to respond to this crisis. We continue to monitor the situation closely and stand ready to help further.
As rising temperatures due to climate change make such events across Africa more likely, we are also helping communities adapt longer term to climate shocks.
The Department of International Trade’s (DIT) Bounce Back package and the more recently launched Open Doors campaign have supported UK businesses in accessing international opportunities, through initiatives such as our export masterclasses and virtual trade promotion events. Last year, DIT secured market access to the USA for UK beef exports for the first time in 20 years, worth an estimated £66m over five years. Northern Irish beef producers are already taking advantage of this lucrative market.
The Government’s published impact assessment shows that every region and nation of the UK is estimated to benefit from the UK-Japan agreement compared to a situation where the UK does not have an agreement with Japan. In 2020 Northern Ireland's agri-food exports to Japan were worth £8.6 million, an increase of 33% from 2019 levels.
The resumption of market access for beef to the US marks an historic moment for our farmers and producers, with the first shipment originating from Northern Ireland on 30th September.
On 22nd June, in partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for International Trade launched a Bounce Back Plan to support the food, drink and agriculture industries. The package offers initiatives to support the agri-food sector, both in Northern Ireland and across the whole of the UK, and includes support such as export masterclasses and virtual meet the buyer events. This bespoke package will further boost our trade efforts and complement new opportunities for Northern Irish companies presented by free trade agreements, such as with Japan.
China and Taiwan remain strategically important trade partners for the UK as the world recovers from Covid-19.
The Department is continuing work to identify market opportunities through its dedicated teams in Taipei and Beijing, who are ready to provide advice and support to ensure UK businesses take full advantage of emerging opportunities.
The UK also holds annual ministerial trade talks with Taiwan, and with China through the UK-China Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO), designed to develop our trading relationships further and improve market access.
The Government is in the process of engaging with a range of industry, business and academic experts across the UK to develop our future Freeport model. Specific locations for Freeports will be chosen according to a fair and transparent bidding process and we are keen to ensure that we hear from all ports who are interested in becoming a Freeport. We recognise the importance of working with the Devolved Administrations to make sure that Freeports are a UK-wide offer, not just one for English ports.
The recently published Maritime Skill Commissions report included recommendations specifically targeted at improving the recruitment of cadets. The recommendations are aimed at improving the system to ensure it delivers appropriately skilled seafarers to meet the future needs of an evolving global industry.
Officials at the Department for Transport, including the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, will now work with its stakeholders to implement these recommendations. They will set up a ‘Seafarers Reform Oversight Group’ to oversee these changes to ensure they move forward with the urgency required to address any shortfalls within the sector.
My Department has been monitoring international shipping operations, and engaging closely, with the sector throughout the pandemic. Shipping costs during 2021 have risen to a global high level in international freight markets as a result of unprecedented levels of demand driven by changed consumer behaviour during the pandemic.
Historical trends in the shipping sector are of pricing peaks and troughs and although industry estimates that high levels of demand and pricing are likely to continue throughout 2021, it is expected that pricing levels should similarly re-adjust when the current demand drivers change.
Launched in 2019, the Clean Maritime Plan is the environmental route map of the Maritime 2050 Strategy. As stated in the Plan, the Government will publish a review of its implementation by 2022.
As part of the Union Connectivity Review, Sir Peter Hendy CBE is assessing the feasibility of such a link. Outputs of this study are due to be published this summer.
Throughout the pandemic the Department has worked closely with the train operating companies to keep passengers and the public safe. Government has published Safer Travel guidance for operators which sets out measures that train operating companies can take to assess and mitigate the risks of Covid-19 for passengers. Based on this guidance, train operators are using a range of on board and station announcements to encourage passengers to travel safely, including using the length of the platform to board trains, wearing face coverings, and maintaining social distancing where possible.
Prior to the end of the transition period, the UK as a whole was obliged to comply with the 2009 EU Motor Insurance Directive. Now that the transition period has ended the UK is free to create its own laws and Ministers are currently collectively considering how motor insurance might be improved in GB – that is England, Wales and Scotland. Motor insurance is transferred to Northern Ireland, meaning that Northern Ireland has full legislative powers over this matter.
A response to your letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer was sent on 14 October.
The Government recognises that airports are critical in enabling essential air services across the country and overseas, including getting Britons home from abroad, delivering essential supplies, and connecting isolated communities. We are working to make sure that a network of infrastructure remains in place across the UK to continue to deliver these services.
Airports are able to draw upon the unprecedented package of measures announced by the Chancellor, including a Bank of England scheme for firms to raise capital, Time to Pay flexibilities with tax bills, financial support for employees and VAT deferrals, as well as existing measures such as the UK Guarantee scheme.
The 2017 Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy set out ambitious plans to make cycling and walking the natural choices for short journeys. In 2018, people cycled an estimated total of 1,006 million stages, an increase of 22% since the 2013 baseline. The 2025 aim for walking stages has already been exceeded, with people walking an average of 347 stages per year in 2018. Further details were set out in the Report to Parliament, published on 7 February and available on gov.uk.
The Department has now received 39 draft Local Cycle and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) from local authorities, which will set the context for future scheme investment.
Last week the Court of Appeal ruled that the designation of the Airports National Policy Statement did not take account of the Paris Agreement, non-CO2 emissions or emissions post 2050, and therefore has no legal effect unless and until the Government carries out a review under the Planning Act 2008.
The Government has taken the decision not to appeal the Court’s judgment. We take seriously our commitments on the environment and reducing carbon emissions.
This is a complex and important judgment which the Government will need time to consider carefully.
The Government will not comment on an ongoing legal case.
The Department has provided support to 46 local authorities to help them develop Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure plans (LCWIPs). To date, the Department has received 36 draft plans. Authorities are at different stages of development, with many plans requiring local consultation and cabinet clearances. The Department is also working with the sector to develop further support for authorities on scheme development. Decisions on future funding for cycling and walking infrastructure will be a matter for the Budget and forthcoming Spending Review.
The Attendance Allowance Award Success Rate for the 2012/13 (full financial year) was 75.2% and the rate for 2020/21 (full financial year) was 88.9%.
Source: Output from Attendance Allowance Computer System (AACS)
The Department for Work and Pensions will be monitoring and evaluating the Kickstart Scheme throughout and after its implementation, and will continue to evaluate the longer term outcomes for Kickstart participants after they have completed their six-month job placements.
The evaluation will include large scale surveys to capture the views and experiences of Kickstart participants and of employers and gateway organisations. The evaluation will consider how experiences and outcomes from the scheme vary and examine how participants’ and employers’ characteristics, local context and local approaches to delivery affect experiences. Qualitative case-studies will provide a detailed understanding of how different aspects of the scheme interact and we will draw on available data and insights.
We will publish the findings of the evaluation once complete.
The DWP publishes annual take-up statistics for income related benefits, including Pension Credit for Great Britain.
The latest estimates relating to the year 2018/19 can be found in the following publication: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/income-related-benefits-estimates-of-take-up-financial-year-2018-to-2019
The DWP publishes bi-annual benefit expenditure and caseload figures for its benefits, including Pension Credit for Great Britain.
The latest estimates published in March 2021 can be found here:
DWP are responsible for the allocation of National Insurance Numbers to residents living in England, Scotland and Wales. The Department for Communities is responsible to the residents of Northern Ireland.
In order for a National Insurance Number (NINo) to be allocated an individual’s identity needs to have been verified.
DWP have continued to allocate NINos to those who require one for benefit purposes and for those who are entitled to Student Finance. DWP have also continued to work with the Home office to provide a NINo allocation services for Tier 2 visa holders and Refugees and their adult dependants.
In England, Scotland and Wales, DWP are offering a NINo allocation service to foreign nationals who have already had their identity verified as part of their visa application before they entered the UK. This is done through a data sharing agreement with the Home Office.
DWP started testing a partial digital solution, on a small scale, in mid-October, to support the issuing of National Insurance Numbers, which is still ongoing. This solution enables collection of the applicant’s data, but not the online verification of their identity. Alternative identity verification solutions to reduce the need for a face to face identity check for some customer groups is under development as part of this test.
The Government published a consultation response discussing Guaranteed Minimum Pension equalisation methods in March 2017, and guidance on Guaranteed Minimum Pension conversion and equalisation in April 2019.
The Government believes that schemes have a requirement to equalise in respect of Guaranteed Minimum Pensions and it is something they have been aware of, and should have been planning for, for many years.
We have always been committed to evaluating Bereavement Support Payment, but we need to ensure that we have enough information to assess all aspects of the policy, so that the review is meaningful. As BSP was introduced in 2017 and is payable in 18 monthly instalments we are only now reaching a point that we have sufficient data. We will set a date for publication of the review in due course.
On 3 March 2021, we committed to continue the Thalidomide Health Grant beyond 31 March 2023. This commitment includes an initial payment of approximately £39 million for the first four years after the current grant ends. Future funding figures will be confirmed every four years following an assessment of need.
We have no current plans to do so. While the NHS Long Term Plan commits to diagnosing 75% of cancers in England at an early stage by 2028, in other parts of the United Kingdom this is a devolved matter. The Department engages in sharing best practice between the devolved administrations.
The National Health Service low calorie diet (LCD) programme does not include children under the age of 16 years old. However, NHS England and NHS Improvement continue to monitor the latest evidence to inform future updates to the eligibility. NHS England and NHS Improvement launched the pilot program in September 2020, following a commitment in the NHS Long Term Plan. It provides LCD treatment for adults between 18 and 65 years of age living with type 2 diabetes who are overweight or obese.
In the majority of cases, colour vision deficiency is caused by a hereditary genetic fault. Due to the pattern of inheritance, the condition most commonly appears in males, with females being carriers rather than expressing the condition, resulting in much higher rates among men. Colour vision deficiency acquired later in life may improve with treatment for the underlying cause. Sight tests are recommended every two years, although some people will be advised to attend more frequently due to increased risk factors.
However, occasionally colour vision deficiency may develop later in life as a result of other factors such as a side effect of certain medications and underlying health conditions, such as glaucoma and diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy can lead to problems with vision, including colour vision deficiency. The National Health Service diabetes prevention programme identifies those at high risk of developing diabetes and refers them for tailored, personalised education. Diabetic retinopathy screening is also offered to anyone over the age of 12 years old who has diabetes.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published interim advice on a potential COVID-19 booster vaccination programme on 30 June, which is available at the following link:
Final decisions on the timing and scope of the booster programme, as well as cohorts and eligibility, will be made later in the year, informed by further independent advice from the JCVI. NHS England and NHS Improvement are asking all local systems to develop detailed plans to ensure they are ready to deliver a booster programme from the start of September should this be required.
The trial was paused last year due to the pandemic and it is now expected that the results will be in the public domain in early 2025.
The trial was paused last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it is now expected that the results of the trial will be in the public domain in early 2025.
Recent data show that the number of in vitro fertilisation cycles and birth rates have both increased over time for all patients under 43. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s annual statistics on trends in fertility treatment is available at the following link:
The Government remains committed to reducing the prevalence of women smoking during pregnancy. Addressing this issue will be a priority for our new Tobacco Control Plan, which we will publish later this year. A number of targets are currently under consideration, which will support our ambition to be Smokefree by 2030.
The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch’s national review of Intrapartum stillbirths during the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing.
Public Health England publishes rates of hospitalisation to all levels of care and separately, rates based on admission to intensive care units/high dependency units, which is available at the following link:
Data on COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital and patients on ventilation machines, as proxy for intensive care units, is available at the following link:
In February 2021, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence issued final guidance that recommends niraparib for use within the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) for the maintenance treatment of advanced ovarian, fallopian tube and peritoneal cancer after response to first-line platinum-based chemotherapy. Niraparib is now available to eligible National Health Service patients in England through the CDF in line with this recommendation.
It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before prorogation.
The level of funding in the current Parliament for brain tumour research is dependent on funding applications received. We are looking to researchers to submit higher quality applications into the system, so that research funding can be directed to this very difficult area.
In May 2018 the Government announced £40 million over five years for brain tumour research as part of the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The NIHR welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including brain tumours. The NIHR released a public announcement to the research community in April 2018, making clear our desire to receive brain tumour research funding applications.
Current smoking prevalence in adults is at a historic low of 13.9%. The ambition set in the current Tobacco Control Plan to reduce adult smoking prevalence to 12% or less by the end of 2022 remains. A new Tobacco Control plan is due to be published later this year and will set out further ambitions to deliver a smoke free country by 2030.
As of 14 March, an estimated 13.7 million doses of the Oxford /AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered. As of the same date, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has received 187 reports of blood clots reported in temporal association with the vaccine.
Such reports are not proven side effects of the vaccine. Blood clots can occur naturally and are not uncommon and this number is not greater than would have occurred naturally in the vaccinated population.
No new contracts were awarded to suppliers by the Department for face coverings or face masks since July 2020.
The outbreak of COVID-19 placed extreme strain on the global supply chain of personal protective equipment (PPE) and procuring PPE was a significant challenge many countries were posed with. This led to a significant surge in demand in global markets, increased competition and limited supply. These factors resulted in vast increases in the cost of PPE including face masks.
The United Kingdom market for face masks has stabilised since the first peak in 2020 and we have now moved to a stable situation which has equipped us for any further spikes or waves. If we need to procure more face masks for frontline workers, we anticipate this to be at the prevailing price point.
Actions already taken include a measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) catch-up vaccination programme for 10 and 11 year olds delivered through primary care, communications campaigns targeting festival goers and students and local initiatives addressing inequalities in vaccine uptake.
Public Health England provides information on the benefits and risks of the MMR vaccine to the public using National Health Service branded leaflets, some of which are available in multiple languages. The leaflets address common questions about the MMR vaccine and encourage parents to have their children vaccinated. The leaflets, designed for use in schools, healthcare centres, accident and emergency departments, hospital wards, walk-in centres and general practices, are available at the following link:
We take parliamentary scrutiny incredibly seriously and it is fundamentally important that hon. Members are provided with accurate and timely information to enable them to hold the Government to account. We are working rapidly to provide all Members with accurate answers to their questions, as well as supporting the Government’s response to the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hon. Member’s question will be answered as soon as possible.
The Therapeutics Taskforce is continuing to monitor any new, high quality evidence on COVID-19 therapeutics and has been following recent findings on ivermectin.
The Department has monitored a collection of small studies which have now completed and provided some positive signals on the use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19. This is a promising step. However, larger-scale studies are still needed to confirm the effectiveness and safety of this treatment. The Therapeutics Taskforce is aware that several more studies into ivermectin are set to conclude in the next few months and will continue to monitor these ongoing trials to assess the evidence available on whether ivermectin reduces transmission and/or severity of COVID-19. The Department and its arm’s length bodies are prepared to act rapidly should any trial readouts prove positive at a greater scale.
This information is not collected centrally.
Currently, we do not know how long immunity developed from infection or vaccines lasts.
Further research is being carried out to establish the efficiency of long-term immunity after infection or vaccination that remains after initial antibody levels have dropped off.
The Department does not hold information on the method of delivery for abortion pills.
No contracts were awarded to suppliers by the Department for face coverings or face masks in the months of September, October and November 2020.
An assessment has not yet been made of the reasons for reported increases in the number of still births since April 2020.
A national review has been launched by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) to look at the reported increase in the number of still births. It is important that we wait for the full data from HSIB and other reviews of stillbirth cases during this time to draw any conclusions.
The Department, in consultation with the devolved administrations and Crown Dependencies, is working with trade bodies, product suppliers, and the health and care system to make detailed plans to help ensure continued supply of medicines and medical products to the whole of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, at the end of the transition period, and will continue to after the end of the transition period.
- medicines (prescription-only, pharmacy and general sales list and unlicensed medicines);
- medical devices and clinical consumables;
- supplies for clinical trials and clinical investigations;
- vaccines and countermeasures; and
- blood, tissue and transplant materials.
Further detail on the plans to help ensure continuity of medical supplies is available at the following link:
A 10-year review of the outcomes of the Change4Life programme has not been undertaken.
Continued United Kingdom membership of the European Reference Networks beyond the end of 2020 remains subject to the outcome of negotiations with the European Commission. The European Reference Networks are not negotiated in isolation and instead form part of a complex set of interlinked policy issues that remain subject to ongoing negotiations with the European Union.
As part of the UK Strategy for Rare Diseases the Government has supported world-leading experts in rare diseases through clinical services and research. We remain committed to improving the diagnosis and treatment of rare disease patients through the new UK Rare Disease Framework, set to be published by the end of 2020, and the Genome UK strategy. Additionally, UK clinicians across all four nations have been asked to advise the Government on which elements should be retained if future participation in the ERNs is not agreed.
The National Institute for Health Research has funded, and supported, several research studies on high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) therapy for prostate cancer over the last five years. This includes an award of £677,000 for the feasibility of a randomised controlled trial of partial prostate ablation (via HIFU) versus radical prostatectomy in intermediate risk unilateral clinically localised prostate cancer.
The NHS Long Term Plan commitments remain in place despite the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the commitment of staging 75% of all cancers at stage 1 or 2.
Public Health England has published an online monitoring tool to track behavioural changes, including alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings on alcohol consumption are that intake across the population as a whole remained about the same during the pandemic. Those aged 18 to 34 were more likely to report consuming less alcohol each week than before and those aged 35 to 54 were more likely to report an increase. There was also an increase in the proportion of ‘high risk’ drinking between February and June 2020. The monitoring tool can be viewed at the following link:
Domestic abuse helplines have reported significant increases in calls during lockdown and the police have also reported an increase in reported domestic abuse incidents based on provisional data, a 6% increase in the four weeks up to 5 July compared to the same period last year.
We are working with the National Health Service, Public Health England and other key partners to gather evidence and assess the potential longer-term mental health impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, and plan for how to support mental health and wellbeing throughout the ‘recovery’ phase.
Public Health England has published an online monitoring tool to track behavioural changes, including alcohol consumption. The findings on alcohol consumption throughout the COVID-19 pandemic are that intake across the population as a whole remained about the same during lockdown. Those aged 18 to 34 were more likely to report consuming less alcohol each week than before and those aged 35 to 54 were more likely to report an increase. There was an increase in the proportion of ‘high risk’ drinking between February and June 2020. The monitoring tool is available at the following link:
NHS England and NHS Improvement and Public Health England agree that a phased approach is required to safely introduce the lowering of the starting age for bowel screening from 60 to 50, allowing capacity and resources (financial, facilities and accredited workforce) to be built into the system.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, NHS England and NHS Improvement is currently undertaking detailed modelling to assess endoscopy capacity and demand within the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, which will inform decisions about the timing and implementation of the age extension.
A number of measures are in place to reduce death and harm from unnecessary medicines. Healthcare professionals are advised to take an approach known as medicines optimisation to their prescribing practice. Medicines optimisation focuses on patients and their experiences: the goal is to help patients to improve their outcomes, take their medicines as intended, avoid taking unnecessary medicines, reduce wastage of medicines and improve medicines safety. Medicines optimisation is a key workstream within NHS England’s Medicines Value Programme, which aims to improve outcomes, quality and value from the investment made in medicines.
The United Kingdom National Screening Committee’s (UK NSC) three-month public consultation on prostate cancer screening/prostate specific antigen testing in men over the age of 50 closed on the 21 September 2020. The responses are being carefully reviewed internally and with the external reviewer before this is submitted to the UK NSC to make a final recommendation.
Information about the outcome of the 2020 evidence review and the recommendation on prostate screening is estimated to be completed by December 2020. It will be updated and be made available at the following link:
In England, there were 1,796 laboratory confirmed mumps cases reported in 2017, 1,061 in 2018 and 5,042 in 2019. The data is available at the following link:
Mumps activity in 2019 was the highest observed in a decade and the number of laboratory confirmed cases remained high in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020. This rise in mumps cases has been driven by outbreaks in universities and colleges. Many of the cases were seen in young adults born in the late nineties and early 2000s who missed out on the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine when they were children.
In Q1 of 2020 there were 3,088 laboratory confirmed mumps infections. Cases were reported in all regions of England, predominantly in young adults aged 15 to 34 years -2,533/3,088 or 82% - so the total number of laboratory-confirmed mumps cases in Q2 is likely to be an underestimate.
‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’ takes forward actions from previous chapters of the childhood obesity plan including our ambition to halve the number of children living with obesity by 2030.
The Government does not publish data in the format requested.
We do not have access to data on the outcome of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) catch-up programme for 10- and 11-year olds. This data is transferred from school-aged vaccination service providers into general practice IT systems, so information is held at individual practice level.
The MMR vaccination programme is a priority as the Government has committed to regaining the UK’s measles elimination status. The catch-up programme for 10- and 11-year olds is part of the work supporting the Measles and Rubella Elimination Strategy.
No specific assessment has been made. Funding for services for people with myalgic encephalomyelitis is a local matter and is the responsibility of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). CCGs are best placed to ensure NHS services are commissioned to meet local population need, taking into account best practice guidance such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guideline ‘Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (or encephalopathy): diagnosis and management’, published in 2007 and currently being updated.
Ministers have accepted the United Kingdom National Screening Committee’s (UK NSC) recommendation from its November 2019 meeting, that further research is needed on the use of pulse oximetry (PO) as an additional test to understand the effect of screening on all babies, before a final recommendation can be made to add PO to the Newborn and Infant Physical Examination programme. Minutes from the UK NSC’s meeting can be viewed at the following link:
To increase take-up of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, NHS England and NHS Improvement and Public Health England are working with key regional and local stakeholders, such as Directors of clinical quality, clinical commissioning groups and local authorities, to implement actions from Public Health England’s ‘Measles and rubella UK elimination strategy 2019’. The actions include notifications from Child Health Information Services to help general practices identify children with due and overdue vaccinations and improving information to parents that emphasises the importance getting the MMR vaccination.
The Government provides advice on the importance of drinking in moderation. This can be found through the One You service and at the following link:
The 2016 UK Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines also provide the public with the most up to date information to help people make informed decisions about their own drinking.
Local authorities are responsible for assessing local needs and commissioning alcohol prevention, treatment and harm reduction services to meet these needs. It is important that these services are maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic. Guidance to support commissioners and providers of services for people who use alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic has been published and is available at the following link:
Additionally, a Clinical Speciality guide for the management of people with alcohol dependence during the COVID-19 pandemic was published on 8 April and is available at the following link:
Guidance to support alcohol-dependent drinkers to reduce their intake in a managed way will be published shortly.
In 2018/19 the prevalence of smoking in pregnant women was 10.6%.
The Government has a track record of reducing the harms caused by tobacco and is committed to achieving its ambition to reduce smoking in pregnancy to 6% or less by 2022.
The National Health Service is working with its professional leads, regulators, NHS employers and the Department to set out how it engages with retirees and leavers who are willing to return to work for a period of time to provide the extra capacity we need to meet the demands of COVID-19.
The NHS has been developing with stakeholders, a clear and straight forward re-registration process including simplified employment checks. This will also include how it assesses if individuals are fit to work and the employment contract and terms and conditions. The NHS is also identifying what training is required to support returners as well as developing guidance to help employers engage these staff and to provide advice and support to all staff through this period.
Screening for prostate cancer forms part of the United Kingdom National Screening Committee’s 2019/20 work plan. A three-month public consultation will take place in summer 2020 where a recommendation will be made for the screening of prostate cancer.
Further information and how to participate in the consultation is available at the following link:
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the independent body responsible for developing authoritative, evidence-based recommendations on whether new medicines represent value for money for the National Health Service in England.
NICE may recommend promising new cancer drugs for use in the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) where there is potential for the drug to be considered for routine commissioning but there is significant remaining clinical uncertainty which needs more investigation through data collection in the NHS or clinical trials.
In July 2018 NICE published guidance recommending niraparib (brand name Zejula) for use within the CDF as an option for treating relapsed, platinum-sensitive high-grade serious epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer, that has responded to the most recent course of platinum-based chemotherapy in adults who have had two or more courses of platinum-based chemotherapy. Niraparib is now available to NHS patients through the CDF in line with this guidance.
In March 2019, the Department asked NICE to conduct an appraisal of niraparib for maintenance treatment of advanced ovarian, fallopian tube and peritoneal cancer after response to first-line platinum-based chemotherapy. NICE expects to publish final guidance in February 2021.
The Department assesses the potential risk to the supply of medicines on an ongoing basis. It is not the role of the National Supply Disruption Response to provide an ongoing assessment of the potential risk to the supply of medicines.
Where we are aware of a potential risk, the Department’s Medicine Supply team works closely with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority, the pharmaceutical industry, the National Health Service and others operating in the supply chain to help prevent shortages and to ensure that the risks to patients are minimised when they do arise.
In addition to this, marketing authorisation holders of United Kingdom licensed medicines are required under the Health Service Products Regulations 2018 to notify the Department if they are aware of an impending supply shortage of a medicine at least six months prior to the shortage or, if not possible, as soon as reasonably practicable.
Between 2013/14 and 2018/19 coverage for one Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine dose at 24 months decreased 2.4% points from 92.7% to 90.3%. Coverage for two doses, at five years of age, decreased 1.9% points from 88.3% in 2013/14 to 86.4% in 2018/19. Coverage of the first dose by five years of age in England has been more or less stable from 2015 to 2018 reaching the World Health Organization’s target level of 95% for the first-time in 2016-17 but dropping to 94.9% in 2017-18.
The following table shows uptake of the MMR vaccine at first dose at 24 months and in five year olds, and second dose in five year olds in England since 2013/14.
% MMR (1st Dose)
% MMR (1st Dose)
% MMR (1st and 2nd Dose)
The National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS) are currently developing a new early diagnosis metric which will be used specifically to track progress towards the 75% ambition. This new metric will provide a more comprehensive measure of early diagnosis, including more cancer sites than the current available measures.
This metric will be regularly reported on the NCRAS website.
The National Health Service Cervical Screening Programme (NHS CSP) published its programme and colposcopy management guidance on 5 February 2020. This can be viewed at the following link:
This includes guidance on policy, management and referral for colposcopy, providing a quality colposcopy clinic as well as colposcopic diagnosis treatment and follow up. In addition, there is a new section on conservative management for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN 2) cell changes and other aspects of colposcopy and programme management. This can be viewed at the following link:
Adult smoking rates in England are at their lowest level recorded at 14.4% of the population. The Government continues to make progress towards delivering the ambition of 12% or less by the end of 2022. As announced in the Prevention Green Paper the Government has set out a further ambition to go ‘smoke-free’ in England by 2030. Proposals for this will be set out at a later date.
The high prevalence of childhood obesity has been decades in the making. It is going to take time to see results.
Through the three chapters of ‘Childhood obesity: a plan for action’ we are delivering a wide range of measures to help achieve our bold ambition to halve childhood obesity by 2030. We have seen important successes including the average sugar content of drinks subject to the soft drinks industry levy decreasing by 28.8% between 2015 and 2018, and significant investment being made in schools to promote physical activity and healthy eating.
Unicef’s ‘State of the World's Children’ report, published in October 2019, recognised that “the UK is paving the way to ensure that all children grow up in a healthy food environment”. The Unicef report is available at the following link:
The latest data from the NHS Digital Survey on ‘Smoking, Drinking and Drug use among Young People in England’ shows that in 2018, 5% of 15-year olds were regular smokers, down from 7% in 2016.
NHS England and NHS Improvement, the Department and Public Health England (PHE) are working with national and local stakeholders to raise awareness of the rise in mumps activity and promote uptake of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, in particular to the age groups that are most affected - 15 to 25 year olds.
PHE is running a ‘Value of Vaccines’ campaign to help share messages and information on vaccination, which is available at the following link:
There have been targeted communications for university students and festival goers in collaboration with Universities and Colleges Admissions Service which will continue to be amplified in the coming weeks. PHE provides information on the benefits and risks of the MMR vaccine to the public using National Health Service branded leaflets. The leaflets address common questions about the MMR vaccine. This information is designed for use by schools, healthcare centres, accident and emergency departments, hospital wards, walk-in centres and general practices.
In addition, NHS England is running an MMR catch-up programme for 10 and 11-year olds through general practices.
It is not known exactly what causes prostate cancer, or breast cancer, although a number of things can increase the risk of developing the condition. These include age, ethnic group, family history, obesity and diet.
There are no interventions that can reduce the prevalence of prostate cancer or breast cancer for the first three risk factors, although the Government does have strategies in place to reduce obesity and improve diets, such as Change4Life.
The UK warmly welcomed the normalisation agreements between Israel, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan. These are historic steps which sees the normalisation of relations between friends of the UK. The changing regional context and converging Arab and Israeli interests presents an opening to make progress on the Israel-Palestine issue. We need to build on this momentum through further dialogue and compromise to move towards a two state solution and a lasting solution to the conflict. We look forward to working with the US, alongside regional partners, and the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships, to pursue that goal.
HMG considers the Taiwan issue one to be settled peacefully by the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait through constructive dialogue. However, we remain concerned by any action which raises tensions and risks destabilising the status quo.
The Joint Monitoring Programme (hosted by the World Health Organization and United Nations' International Children's Emergency Fund) is the global monitoring mechanism that tracks progress against the water supply and sanitation targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Joint Monitoring Programme's most recent update concludes that since 2000, the proportion of the population of sub-Saharan Africa using safely managed drinking water supplies has risen from 18% to 27%. By comparison, the global estimate is 71%, indicating that more needs to be done. Less progress has been made on sanitation. Access to safely managed sanitation services has only increased from 15% to 18% since 2000. For both water supply and sanitation, progress is slower in rural areas compared to urban areas. The Joint Monitoring Programme also reports differences in coverage between the better-off and poorest households and regions within countries.
Between 2015 and 2020 the UK supported 62.6 million people to gain access to basic water and sanitation services. Africa was the largest beneficiary of our water supply, sanitation and hygiene programmes, with 26.3 million beneficiaries reached and we targeted some of the poorest communities in Africa. Our support to the region will continue by helping governments deliver reliable and climate resilient water and sanitation services that can reach the poorest households.
Donor contributions to the current International Development Association (IDA) replenishment are expected to be paid in over the period from July 2020 to June 2023. The UK pledged £3,062 million to this replenishment and we have contributed £995 million towards this to date. Our final specific funding allocations for 2021-22 will be published in due course. However, the 2021/22 Spending Review confirmed that the UK would remain the largest donor to this replenishment.
We urgently convened the UN Security Council following the coup and secured a unanimous statement expressing concern at the situation. We convened the UN Security Council again on 5 March. We welcome the strong statements from the UN Secretary General in response to the coup and subsequent violence. We are working with his office, and with partners, to explore all options to seek a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
As a champion of the rules based international order, we are working closely with partners to deliver a strong international response, including in our role as President of the G7. We secured G7 statements on 3 and 23 February, which condemned the coup and the violent response unleashed on peaceful protestors. Working with partners, including the US and Canada, we have sanctioned 9 military officers, including the Commander-in-Chief, for their role in the coup. We are working with partners to consider further action to apply pressure on the military.
Belfast City Council and the Chinese Consulate currently have a positive working relationship, as highlighted by recent exchanges between the First and Deputy First Ministers and the Consul General. As a sign of this continuing positive relationship, the Consulate has now made planning and listed building applications for further development at its premises.
Following the recent Spending Review settlement we are currently assessing the budgetary implications on all programme lines including IDA for 2021/22 to ensure strategic coherence of our aid budget. Until this process is complete we cannot confirm this as yet.
While COVID-19 restrictions are in place, Her Majesty's Ambassador to Ireland and the Embassy team remain at the Committee's disposal, including by means of virtual contact, to support any virtual Committee visits to Ireland or other virtual engagement with the Irish authorities, in line with the existing arrangements.
It is long standing practice in Her Majesty's Government that Select Committees should receive briefings from the relevant Minister and from the relevant Ambassador when travelling. As has been made clear to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Her Majesty's Ambassador to Ireland and the Embassy team will be at the Committee's disposal for their visits to Ireland or other engagement with the Irish authorities.
We expect diplomatic and consular missions in the UK to respect our laws and regulations in line with their obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and UK law. We encourage parties to any disputes to resolve differences through dialogue, but the Vienna Conventions and UK law provide for a number of sanctions, including placing limits on the size of diplomatic missions and consular posts, declaring members of the mission or consular post personae non gratae or not acceptable and, ultimately, breaking off diplomatic or consular relations. Questions of law relating to diplomatic, consular and state immunity are for the courts to determine.
Subsequent to a judgment earlier this year by the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland about the planning dispute, we have continued to facilitate contact between with the Consulate-General and Belfast City Council. The perimeter works are complete and both parties continue to co-operate productively about the remaining construction works. We expect diplomatic and consular missions in the UK to respect our laws and regulations in line with their obligations under the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations and UK law.
As indicated in the Report from the Executive Directors published in February, the UK pledged £3.062 billion to the 19th replenishment of the International Development Association, covering the period between July 2020 and June 2023. The UK's contribution in 2021 is to be confirmed.
We welcome the recent release of at least 60 Christians, as well as people from other faith groups. The UK Government, along with partners in the international community, takes every opportunity to voice our concern about arbitrary arrests and detentions in Eritrea, and have called for the release of those arrested and detained on the basis of religion. Over the past year, our Ambassador in Asmara has raised arbitrary detentions of members of the Christian community, as well as members of non-registered religious groups - most recently with the Minister of Information on 7 August. We will continue to seek opportunities to raise these cases in our engagements.
We remain deeply concerned about the persecution of Christians and other religious groups on the grounds of their religion or belief in China. The freedom to practise, change or share ones faith or belief without discrimination or violent opposition is a human right that all people should enjoy. We regularly raise our concerns about freedom of religion or belief in China, including at the most recent session of the UN Human Rights Council on 25 September. We will continue to raise this important issue.
The UK is deeply concerned by the arrest of Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova including the recent return of Ms Mamombe to prison. Our Ambassador in Harare tweeted on 28 September to express her concern at the unfair treatment of Ms Mamombe and called for the rights of all those detained to be upheld. When I wrote to Foreign Minister Moyo on 12 August, following a telephone call with him on 8 June, I raised specific human rights violations, including the treatment of Ms Mamombe, Ms Chimbiri, and Ms Marowa. I made it clear that the UK has yet to see meaningful progress on human rights. Until this changes, UK and international support for Zimbabwe would not be possible. Our Ambassador in Harare reinforced these messages when she met Foreign Minister Moyo in Harare on 14 August.
The British Embassy in Harare will continue to monitor developments on the case of Ms Mamombe, Ms Chimbiri, and Ms Marowa closely. We will continue call on the Government to uphold the rule of law. This includes respecting the Zimbabwean Constitution which clearly prohibits enforced disappearances, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.
The UK Government works with the United Nations Statistics Division via the UNICEF and WHO Joint Monitoring Programme, an initiative which the UK supports, to assess progress against sanitation and water goals. The Millennium Development Goal target to reduce by half the number of people without access to improved water supply was not met in the sub-Saharan Africa region.
The Millennium Development Goal targets were superseded by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The sub-Saharan Africa Region is currently not on track to reach the SDG access to water target by the target year of 2030. The most recent evidence on access to safe water suggests that only 61% of people in sub-Saharan Africa had access to at least basic water supply services in 2017. The impact of COVID-19 makes attainment of the global goals harder but also more urgent as access to water is vital to enable people to wash their hands to stop the spread of the virus.
A list of countries and territories from which passengers arriving in England will no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days was published on 3 July. This follows the Government's first review of public health measures at the border, which were introduced in June 2020. The Government has always been clear that any decisions on border measures will be proportionate and science-led.
We are continuing to engage with partners on all aspects of the global response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The FCO is aware of the ongoing planning dispute between Belfast City Council and the Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in Belfast and has been liaising with both parties. We will continue to support dialogue between both parties and hope they can reach a satisfactory resolution.
The Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange (BIRAX) is a flagship project of the British Embassy in Tel Aviv and the British Council Israel. Since the launch of BIRAX in 2011, around £13 million has been invested in 26 research projects, focusing on regenerative medicine including cardiovascular and liver disease, Alzheimer's, Diabetes and Parkinson's. BIRAX-supported research has been published in 77 publications and presented in about 96 conferences around the world. With projects at the forefront of scientific innovation, BIRAX has now progressed to tackle the global challenge of ageing, a priority for both the UK and Israel.
The UK is an active permanent member of the United Nations Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), which leads the international response to violations committed against children in conflict. These violations include: the recruitment and use of children, sexual violence against children, killing and maiming of children, abduction, attacks on schools and hospitals and the denial of humanitarian access to children in conflict. The Working Group focuses on responding to the UN Secretary-General's annual report on CAAC which lists governments and armed groups for committing grave violations against children. As a member of the group, the UK applies diplomatic pressure to listed parties to enter into concrete UN action plans to verify and release any children associated with armed groups and forces, to prevent re-recruitment and ensure the provision of appropriate reintegration and rehabilitation assistance. In recent years, we have negotiated strong calls to action for parties to conflict in Syria, Myanmar, South Sudan, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia.
The UK is appalled by the reported attack on the school in Kamuthe, Kenya and the killings of three Christian teachers. 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. Our High Commission in Nairobi regularly engages with the Kenyan authorities on the importance of protecting civilians, including all ethnic and religious communities, and human rights for all Kenyans.
While we have not made representations to the Government of Kenya about this specific incident, the UK and Kenya are close partners in the fight against terrorism and recognise Kenya's sacrifices leading efforts to defeat Al Shabaab. Further strengthening our counterterrorism cooperation is a priority under the UK-Kenya Strategic Partnership agreed on by the Prime Minister and President Kenyatta in their meeting on 21 January.
The United Kingdom provided two Defence Advisers to support the drafting and implementation of North Macedonia's Strategic Defence Review. The British Government remains committed to supporting North Macedonia's accession to NATO and looks forward to welcoming North Macedonia as the 30th member of the alliance.
We have been at the forefront of international efforts to reach a political settlement to the conflict in Yemen. The UK has used its role as penholder at the UN Security Council to help push the Yemen peace process forward. In September 2019, the UK co-hosted a political event at the UN General Assembly where UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths briefed his plan to begin political consultations. We welcome the Saudi-brokered Riyadh Agreement and the de-escalation we have seen in the border area in recent months. We are concerned about recent heavy clashes in the Nehm region and fully support the UN Special Envoy’s statement of 22 January calling on the parties to adhere to their commitments and avoid further escalation.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office are advising against all travel to the Hubei Province region and we are working to make available an option for British nationals to leave the area. We continue to monitor developments closely and are in touch with the Chinese authorities.
We encourage all British nationals to monitor our China travel advice page.
Freeports will be national hubs for international trade, innovation and commerce, regenerating communities across the UK by attracting new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities throughout the country.
We want to ensure that the whole of the UK can benefit. We continue to work with the Northern Ireland Executive to establish at least one Freeport in Northern Ireland as soon as possible.
The Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) undertakes an annual review of frozen assets in the UK, requiring all persons or institutions that hold or control frozen assets in the UK to report to OFSI. Details of assets reported to OFSI in 2020 are not yet available and will be published in OFSI’s 2020-2021 Annual Review.
Details of assets reported to OFSI in 2019 were published in OFSI’s 2019-2020 Annual Review. As of September 2019, £12.5 billion of frozen funds across all regimes were reported to be held by UK institutions. This figure is provided on an aggregate basis so as not to disclose the value of funds held by particular individuals.
The government announced details regarding the use of red diesel in Northern Ireland at Budget 2021 and Excise Notice 554 was updated on 21 May 2021. This includes guidance on private pleasure craft (PPC) that travel to and from Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Specifically, PPC can refuel with red diesel in Great Britain after 1 October 2021, then travel to Northern Ireland with the red diesel already in the fuel tank. PPC users are advised to keep receipts or other documents (such as logbooks) to show HMRC officers if required.
The Excise Notice can be found here:
The British Business Bank have published final Future Fund data, including the breakdown of funding by region and is available on their website here: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/final-future-fund-final-data-shows-scheme-completed-1-14bn-of-convertible-loan-agreements/
The Future Fund used a set of standard terms with published eligibility criteria, independent of ministers. This was a clear, efficient way to make funding available as widely and as possible, irrespective of location. This means that the proportions allocated to different regions and nations of the UK have followed wider-VC funding trends that exist in the market.
As of the 30th June the final amount of investment support allocated to the following areas are:
a) London and the South east: £798.7m
b) Scotland: £8.3m
c) Wales: £18.7m
d) Northern Ireland: £11.6m
The Treasury does not publish forecasts of the economy or the public finances; the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is the UK’s official forecaster. In their March 2021 forecast, the OBR projected that Public Sector Net Debt (PSND) for 2021-22 will be £2.5 trillion or 107.4% of GDP. In addition, underlying debt (PSND excluding the Bank of England) is forecast to be £2.2 trillion or 93.8% of GDP in 2021-22.
This reflects that the policy support announced by the government in response to the pandemic has led to a significant but necessary increase in borrowing and debt. At the Budget in March, the government set out steps to strengthen the public finances, with the OBR forecast showing the public finances on a more sustainable footing with debt stable over the medium-term.
Reaching a two-pillar solution on global tax reform which reallocates taxing rights and introduces a global minimum tax has been a long-standing priority for the UK.
The Government is delighted that the G7 agreement secured on this in June has formed the basis for an historic agreement among over 130 members of the OECD Inclusive Framework. The Government looks forward to continuing discussions with its global partners in the coming months with a view to finalising the details by October.
Securing and implementing a final agreement on this will help stabilise the international tax framework and ensure multinational businesses pay their fair share, with the right companies paying the right amount of tax in the right place.
If final agreement is reached and both pillars are implemented in the UK, they would be subject to standard tax policymaking process, with their impacts formally assessed through the OBR forecast process.
A total of 1.3 million employers have claimed under the furlough scheme (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, CJRS) and 11.6 million employments have been put on furlough for at least part of the duration of the scheme. These figures are based on CJRS claims received by HMRC up to 14 June 2021.
Employees may be on furlough from more than one employment, in which case they would appear in these statistics for each job from which they are on furlough.
HMRC have opened 6,150 inquiries into suspected overpayments due to error or fraud as of 30 June. This figure refers to any cases open where HMRC believe there has been fraud or an error which requires HMRC intervention.
The Government continues to engage with the regulators and industry to monitor and assess trends and risks around cash, including those resulting from COVID-19. The Government created the Joint Authorities Cash Strategy Group in 2019, which has provided a forum for the public bodies to formally co-ordinate regarding access to cash. This is chaired by HM Treasury and attended by the Bank of England, Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The Group published an update on the actions of the Group’s members in July 2020. This included work led by the PSR and FCA to develop a comprehensive picture of cash access infrastructure across the UK.
UK Finance publishes annual analysis on payment trends in the UK. The UK Payment Market Report 2021 was published on 16 June 2021 and shows that cash remained the second most frequently used method of payment in the UK, as of 2020, representing almost a fifth of payments.
The Government recognises that cash remains important to the daily lives of millions of people and businesses across the UK and has committed to protecting access to cash for those who need it and ensuring that the UK's cash infrastructure is sustainable for the long term.
To these ends, the Government made legislative changes via the Financial Services Act 2021 to support the widespread offering of cashback without a purchase, and on 1 July published a consultation on broader legislative proposals to protect access to cash. These proposals seek to ensure that people only need to travel reasonable distances to pay in or take out cash, and that the right regulatory oversight for cash access is in place for the future. The consultation is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/access-to-cash-consultation.
The Government recently consulted on aviation tax reform. As part of the consultation, the Government outlined its initial view that the effective rate of Air Passenger Duty (APD) on domestic flights should be reduced in order to support Union and regional connectivity and that the number of international distance bands should be increased in order to align APD more closely with our environmental objectives.
The consultation sought evidence on the potential impacts of these proposals, including on regional air routes, and closed on 15 June. The Government is currently reviewing responses and will update in due course.
To date there have been no prosecutions or convictions for fraudulent use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). HMRC have made arrests in relation to the CJRS, with the first coming just two months after the scheme was launched. These cases are complex and will take time to investigate thoroughly in order to present to the relevant prosecuting authorities across the United Kingdom for consideration of charge and prosecution.
Freeports will be national hubs for international trade, innovation and commerce, regenerating communities across the UK by attracting new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities up and down the country.
We want to ensure that the whole of the UK can benefit. We remain committed to establishing at least one Freeport in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as soon as possible.
The UK Infrastructure Bank is now operating in interim form and it is able to support projects across the entire UK, including Northern Ireland.
Currently the UKIB offers private sector financing. Once fully operational, the UKIB will invest in private and public sector projects that reflect the Bank’s two core objectives to tackle climate change and support regional and local economic growth.
As it builds its presence, the UKIB will actively pursue relationships with each of the devolved administrations as well as project sponsors, institutions and local leaders across the whole of the UK.
The Government is delighted that the G7 has come together to back the proposals developed by the OECD to reform the international tax framework.
Reaching final agreement, with the G20 and OECD Inclusive Framework, on a two-pillar solution which reallocates taxing rights and introduces a global minimum tax would be a major multilateral achievement and introduce greater stability into the international tax landscape.
The details of a final agreement are still subject to international negotiation, and it would not be appropriate to provide a detailed impact assessment.
If a political agreement is reached and both pillars are implemented in the UK, they would be subject to standard tax policymaking process, with their impacts formally assessed through the OBR forecast process.
At Budget, the Chancellor announced 8 Freeports from 8 regions of England, as selected by the Secretary of State for the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government – this followed the fair, open and transparent assessment process outlined in the Bidding Prospectus.
We want to ensure that the whole of the UK can benefit, not just England. We will continue to work with the Devolved Administration to establish at least one Freeport in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as soon as possible.
Ireland is due to repay the final tranche of its bilateral loan from the UK in March 2021. The Government continues to expect the loan to be repaid in full and on time. The next report under section 2 of the Loans to Ireland Act 2010, which the Government will publish in April 2021, will disclose all interest payments from the outset to full repayment.
HMRC’s “Self Service Time to Pay” online payment plan (SSTTP) enables Self-Assessment taxpayers to set up an instalment plan to pay their Self-Assessment liabilities, without the need to contact HMRC directly.
This service was previously available to those Self-Assessment taxpayers with liabilities of up to £10,000. On 24 September 2020 the Chancellor announced that the £10,000 threshold was being increased to £30,000 to increase support for businesses and individuals. Taxpayers using this service can have up to 12 monthly instalments to pay their Self-Assessment tax liabilities.
In the period 1 November to 30 November 2019, 109 SSTTP arrangements were set up, to pay Self-Assessment liabilities totalling £295,092. In the period 1 November to 30 November 2020, 5,248 SSTTP arrangements were set up, to pay Self-Assessment liabilities totalling £12,291,633.
In addition to HM Revenue and Customs’ regular contact with customers with no deposits in their Help to Save accounts, HMRC are about to start a programme of sending e-mails to customers, with no money in their account after 3 months, to explain the advantages of using their accounts and the impact on their potential bonus payment.
HMRC published guidance in the fourth quarter of 2020 relating to tax arrangements under the Northern Ireland Protocol, including duty free allowances, on GOV.UK. This guidance can be found through the following links:
General guidance with respect to VAT: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/accounting-for-vat-on-goods-moving-between-great-britain-and-northern-ireland-from-1-january-2021
General guidance with respect to excise: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/moving-excise-goods-as-freight-under-the-northern-ireland-protocol-from-1-january-2021/moving-excise-goods-as-freight-under-the-northern-ireland-protocol-from-1-january-2021#excise-movements-from-great-britain-to-northern-ireland-via-the-eu
Guidance on duty-free allowances: https://www.gov.uk/duty-free-goods
Public notice on UK customs information: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/948077/UK_customs_information_Northern_Ireland.pdf
No estimate of the number of individual bankruptcies has been made, although the original impact assessment acknowledges that there are likely to be some. The impact assessment can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/disguised-remuneration-further-update/disguised-remuneration-further-update.
HMRC cannot provide an estimate for the number of people subject to the Loan Charge who have been declared bankrupt, as they could have been declared bankrupt for many reasons and not necessarily as a direct result of a Loan Charge liability. HMRC are not always the only creditor and some people may be declared bankrupt as a result of a non-HMRC debt, and some individuals may choose to enter insolvency themselves based on their overall financial position.
HMRC only ever consider insolvency as a last resort, and encourage people to contact them to agree the best way to settle their tax debts. Anyone who is worried about being able to pay what they owe is encouraged to get in touch with HMRC as soon as possible on 03000 599110.
There are no plans to move the Self-Assessment (SA) filing date from 31 January 2021. However, the Government recognises that some taxpayers may have difficulty submitting their SA return due to the impact of COVID-19 on their personal circumstances.
HMRC do not charge penalties for failure to submit a return on time where taxpayers have a reasonable excuse. HMRC’s current guidance explains that they will accept the impact of COVID-19 as a reasonable excuse for submitting a return late, provided that taxpayers explain how they were affected and submit the return as soon as they can. More information is available in the HMRC online guidance covering the reasonable excuse provisions.
The Government urges taxpayers to submit returns on time where possible. Where taxpayers or their agents are struggling to get the information they need to submit a return by 31 January, they can complete it using provisional figures and give HMRC the actual figures as soon as they can.
Taxpayers who are unable to pay all of their SA tax due on 31 January can access HMRC’s enhanced Time to Pay (TTP) arrangements. HMRC have recently enhanced their self-serve, online TTP service.
This now allows liabilities of up to £30,000 – increased from £10,000 - to be paid in up to 12 instalments without having to contact HMRC beforehand.
To support the Northern Ireland Executive to respond to coronavirus across its devolved responsibilities, the UK Government announced an unprecedented upfront funding guarantee. This means a total increase this year of at least £2.4 billion for the Northern Ireland Executive, on top of their Spring Budget 20 funding. This is in addition to the UK-wide measures that have directly supported the people and businesses in Northern Ireland.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has published statistics on Help to Save accounts up to July 2020. These statistics show the total number of accounts opened now stands at 222,000 and there are 60,500 accounts that are yet to receive a deposit. The latest publication is available at: www.gov.uk/government/statistics/help-to-save-statistics.
HMRC has recently issued regional press releases to highlight the advantage of the Help to Save scheme and bonuses available.
All Help to Save customers receive a welcome pack that gives them information on how to maximise the bonus available. They also receive annual statements that update them on their account status. HMRC regularly contacts customers with no deposits to remind them that their account is open and how this affects their future bonus payments.
As part of the Budget, the Chancellor published the government’s response to its consultation on the pre-paid funeral plan sector. This can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/regulation-of-pre-paid-funeral-plans-consultation-on-a-policy-proposal
It is not possible to answer this question in detail, without further information about the specific plan referred to.
The Honourable Member may wish to note that for the forthcoming Self-Assessment deadline HMRC are developing an integrated external campaign which includes direct communications, social media, press and stakeholder management. HMRC would like taxpayers to complete and file their tax return early, so they can plan and budget and ultimately pay the tax they owe. HMRC’s communications will include messages to explain the support available to taxpayers who have been affected financially by COVID-19 and who cannot pay in full by the deadline.
The Government is committed to ensuring that businesses and infrastructure projects have access to the finance they need.
In March 2019, the Government launched the Infrastructure Finance Review, to examine how it can best support infrastructure investment in the future. The review will be concluded in the Autumn.
The Government is committed to delivering an operating customs model by December 2020 as set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, with the introduction of customs controls over a period from 1 January 2021.
The Government keeps its delivery plans for the Customs Declaration Service under continuous review, alongside input from software developers, Community Systems Providers and Express Operators, in order to ensure that any impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic are considered.
Prosecution is an important tool in tackling fuel fraud and is used where it is most effective. However, HMRC cannot prosecute every oils crime, and neither is it in the public interest to do so. HMRC reports cases to the Public Prosecution Service where there is sufficient evidence and it is considered proportionate across the range of fuel crime they detect.
Number of NI Prosecutions
HMRC enforce the National Minimum?Wage (NMW)?and?National Living Wage (NLW) in line with the law and policy set out by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Breaches of NMW legislation are normally a civil (non-criminal) matter which attract penalties of up to 200% of the identified wage arrears and public naming.
Prosecutions can be lengthy and cause delays in recovering arrears for workers and do not necessarily guarantee payment. HMRC therefore balance recovering NMW arrears for workers as quickly as possible with the robust enforcement of NMW when deciding whether to pursue prosecution. Prosecution is reserved for the most serious NMW offences involving obstruction, falsifying of documents or wilful failure to pay workers the minimum wage, and such cases are referred to the CPS who decide whether to prosecute.
In the last two years (2018/19 – 2019/20), HMRC have completed nearly 6,400 NMW investigations, identifying over £45 million in arrears for nearly 485,000 workers, issuing over £35.5 million in penalties, and resulting in one conviction.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes regular data on the public sector finances including for end-month Public Sector Net Debt. Public sector net debt was 101.9% of gross domestic product (GDP) at 31st August 2020. The next ONS Public sector finances release is expected on the 21st of October 2020.
Our fiscal response has been the right thing to do to support jobs, livelihoods and the economy, and will ensure stronger public finances over the longer term. Although this will lead to a rise in borrowing and debt in the near-term, with borrowing costs now close to record lows, this is affordable and sustainable. Over time and as the economy recovers, the government will take the necessary steps to ensure the long-term health of the public finances.
Fuel fraud is an important issue, particularly in Northern Ireland. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) continually refreshes its comprehensive anti-fraud oils strategy introduced in 2002, and the illicit market share in Northern Ireland has since reduced from 26% to 6% in 2018-19. More details can be found at:
The Accutrace fuel marker, introduced into rebated fuel in 2015, presents criminals with a significant challenge and continues to be effective in driving down fuel fraud. HMRC has also expanded its capacity for fuel testing and investigation of fuel fraud in Northern Ireland.
Since 2002, around 6.3 million CTF accounts have been set up, roughly 4.5 million by parents or guardians and a further 1.8 million set up by HMRC where parents or guardians did not open an account. From 1 September 2020, the oldest children eligible for a Child Trust Fund will have turned 18 and will be able to access their money. As set out in HMRC’s press release in August 2020 it is expected that over 700,000 accounts will mature each year.
HMRC cannot provide an estimate on how much Child Trust funds, which were introduced in September 2002 and now eligible for maturity, are worth as of September 2020. This analysis would require a significant amount of resource and therefore unachievable in the timescale provided.
Since 2002, around 6.3 million CTF accounts have been set up, roughly 4.5 million by parents or guardians and a further 1.8 million set up by HMRC where parents or guardians did not open an account. From 1 September 2020, the oldest children eligible for a Child Trust Fund will have turned 18 and will be able to access their money. As set out in HMRC’s press release in August 2020 it is expected that over 700,000 accounts will mature each year.
HMRC cannot provide an estimate on how much Child Trust funds, which were introduced in September 2002 and now eligible for maturity, are worth as of September 2020. This analysis would require a significant amount of resource and therefore unachievable in the timescale provided.
Ahead of the end of the transition period, the Government has announced the VAT and excise duty treatment of goods purchased by individuals for personal use and carried in their luggage, arriving from or going overseas (passengers). The following rules will apply from 1 January 2021:
- Personal allowances will apply to passengers entering England, Scotland and Wales from a destination outside of the United Kingdom, with alcohol allowances significantly increased.
- Passengers travelling from England, Scotland and Wales to any destination outside the United Kingdom will be able to purchase duty-free excise goods once they have passed security controls at ports, airports, and international rail stations.
- The VAT Retail Export Scheme in England, Scotland and Wales will not be extended to passengers travelling to the EU, and will be withdrawn for all passengers.
- The concessionary treatment on tax-free sales for non-excise goods will be removed across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The total outstanding principal of the bilateral loan to Ireland stands at £806,740,000 as of 24 September 2020. Ireland is scheduled to pay the final tranche of the loan when it matures in March 2021. The Government continues to expect the loan to be repaid in full and on time.
The 2018-19 Self-Assessment tax return typically has an online filing deadline of 31 January 2020.
The value of payments attributed to late filing penalties for people filing late and after the deadline of 31 January 2020:
Tax Year penalty relates to
Note: The figure has been rounded to the nearest thousand. The figure has been produced using an extract of the data provided for analytical purposes, and there may be small differences between this and other HMRC systems including the live SA system (CESA).
This analysis is based on penalties created and payments received to 4 September 2020. It includes penalty payments made during a period of about six months. Further penalties will be issued and paid relating to this tax return.
The figure provided should not be compared with previous figures provided for earlier years. More penalties will be issued and paid relating to all years but further payments to recent years will be relatively higher, so there will be greater changes to recent years. It is not possible to make meaningful comparisons between different years’ figures.
The above figures include payments for the initial £100 late filing penalty. Late Payment penalties have not been included.
These late filing penalties relate to: individuals who filed online after 31 January after the end of the corresponding tax year and at least 3 months after they were issued with a notice to file; individuals who have missed the 31 January deadline and who have not yet filed their SA return for the corresponding tax year; and individuals who did not need to file an SA return for that tax year but received late filing penalties due to late notification.
The figures may include some penalty payments relating to Trust returns as they receive the same penalty code. Penalty payments relating to partnership returns are not included.
Penalties are not used as a means of generating revenue. HMRC charge penalties to encourage taxpayers to meet their tax obligations and to act as a sanction for those who do not, so the majority who do pay correctly and on time are not disadvantaged. Not all taxpayers who fail to submit their return on time will have to pay a penalty. A penalty will not be payable if a taxpayer had a reasonable excuse for not filing their return on time or if they no longer need to file a return.
HMRC recognise that because of the exceptional circumstances presented by COVID-19, some taxpayers will not be able to meet their tax obligations on time, or appeal or review HMRC decisions within the usual time limit. HMRC’s approach has been to collect the tax and penalties due in a way that recognises the challenges that businesses and individuals are facing, and these figures reflect that approach.
Excluding businesses with more than 25 outlets, there were 2,207 restaurants registered for the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme in Northern Ireland on 27 August.
HMRC published a parliamentary constituency breakdown for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme on 4 September: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eat-out-to-help-out-scheme-claims-by-parliamentary-constituency.
The Treasury has passed this correspondence to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who are responsible for this policy.
More than £27.4 billion has been claimed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), supporting 1.1m employers and 9.4m furloughed jobs. The vast majority of employers have used the scheme responsibly. Compliance and anti-fraud measures have been built into the administration of the scheme since its inception.
Since 1 July, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs have enabled employers who have overclaimed the CJRS to pay back part or all of their grant; this includes employers that have accidentally overclaimed without intending to abuse the scheme. Employers can either correct overclaims in their next claim or make a payment to HMRC.
Since the start of the scheme, the Government has asked employees to report any concerns about CJRS fraud to HMRC. Fraudulent abuse of the scheme can be reported through HMRC’s online reporting form, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/report-fraud-to-hmrc.
HMRC will not hesitate to act on reports of abuse and the first arrest made in relation to CJRS fraud took place on 8 July.
Raising over £130 billion in 2019/2020, VAT is an important source of revenue for the Exchequer and plays an important part in funding the Government’s spending priorities including hospitals, schools and defence.
A VAT reduction would therefore come at a considerable cost to the Exchequer.
In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chancellor has announced a range of measures to help individuals and businesses through the crisis, including grants, loans and relief from business rates worth more than £300 billion.
The Government keeps all taxes under review.
The average payment for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme per furloughed employee in Northern Ireland is not available.
Payments for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) covered a period of three months. As of 31 May 2020 the average payment from the SEISS to individuals in Northern Ireland was £2,900.
The Public Works Loan Board provides loans at lower than market rates for capital expenditure to local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales. The Local Government Finance Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 provides the legal basis which permits district councils to borrow and sets out the responsibilities of the council should they choose to do so. The Financial Provisions (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 is the legislation which underpins government lending from the Northern Ireland Consolidated Fund to local councils to support capital expenditure. This provides loans at lower than market rates for capital expenditure without extending the remit of the Public Works Loan Board to include local councils in Northern Ireland.
Everyone in Northern Ireland who is eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be able to claim their grants.
People who have engaged with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) online in the past using an existing Government Gateway credential – for example, to file their Self-Assessment tax return – can reuse their existing online Government Gateway credentials to claim the grant. Most people who are eligible to claim have credentials already.
Those dealing with HMRC online for the first time will be required to verify their identity. HMRC worked quickly with the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency to enable people to use a GB driving licence to verify their identity for SEISS. It has not been possible to add non-UK passports or non-GB driving licences to the Government Gateway authentication service in the same timeline. HMRC are currently exploring whether it is possible to connect to Northern Ireland Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) and Irish Passport Service data, as part of their continuing improvement of the Government Gateway.
Those who do not have a UK passport or GB driving licence can use the multiple-choice questions option to verify their identity. This uses a financial checking service that does not require a passport or driving licence. Anyone who is unable to verify their identity in this way can also make their claim by telephone.
The Border Delivery Group (BDG) is a function within HM Government. Officials in the BDG meet regularly with a wide range of stakeholders.
HMRC have confirmed to businesses that to preserve the integrity of the customs platform, both CHIEF and CDS will continue to be dual run beyond the end of the Transition Period. This decision was based on delivery partner assessment of achieving the 2020 migration target prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. As is the case for all businesses, the COVID-19 outbreak is having an impact on delivery partner capacity and HMRC continue to work closely with the sector on the delivery of CDS.
The Government recognises that widespread access to cash remains extremely important for consumers and businesses across the whole of the United Kingdom, particularly in rural areas.
That is why, at the March 2020 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the Government will bring forward legislation to protect access to cash. This will ensure that millions of people can get the cash they need when they need it.
This announcement builds upon existing initiatives from industry. LINK, the scheme that runs the UK’s largest ATM network, has acted to protect remote free-to-use ATMs which are one kilometre or further from the next nearest free-to-use ATM or Post Office. Furthermore, LINK continue to support the viability of ATMs in rural areas through premium fees paid to ATM deployers.
Any employer using a UK PAYE scheme can access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme provided they meet the other eligibility criteria.
As of January 2020, there were about 29.2 million employees being paid through a PAYE scheme.
There are various types of deadline that may relate to single premium pension payments.
If the deadline is set out in the contract of the personal pension plan, this is a contractual issue between the individual and their pension provider.
In relation to tax matters, the Government allows up to three years of unused annual allowance to be carried forward, if individuals have not used up their whole annual allowance in previous tax years.
The government’s medium-term economic and fiscal forecasts are produced by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).
The most recent Budget forecast was published on 11 March 2020. In this publication, the OBR’s forecast for the level of public sector net debt is £1827 billion in 2021-22, which is 75.0% as a share of GDP.
On 13 March 2020, the OBR are due to publish a supplementary forecast.
The Infrastructure Finance Review was launched at the Spring Statement 2019 and consulted on how the Government can best support private investment in infrastructure. This included consulting on the Government’s existing financial tools, such as the UK Guarantees Scheme. The review will conclude later this year. The UK Guarantees Scheme remains open across the UK and has so far supported over £4 billion worth of investment.
HMRC recognise that this is a significant change and on 24 February started to roll out a comprehensive communications plan publicly, so that people understand what the changes mean for them and what they need to do. HMRC are confident that the majority of tax agents are aware of this change, as it has been widely reported in the sector media.
On Monday 24th February HMRC held a webinar with approximately 1,200 agents to talk through the new process and requirements. This was well received and HMRC is in the process of planning further events around the time of implementation. A news story on GOV.UK has now been published: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/get-ready-for-changes-to-capital-gains-tax-payment-for-uk-property-sales.
Further targeted communications are planned throughout March into April, and throughout the year, to make sure this information is fully embedded.
The 2015-16 Self-Assessment (SA) tax return typically has an online filing deadline of 31 January 2017, the 2016-17 Self-Assessment (SA) tax return typically has an online filing deadline of 31 January 2018 and correspondingly, the 2017-18 Self-Assessment tax return typically has an online filing deadline of 31 January 2019.
The value of payments attributed to late filing penalties for people filing late and after the deadline of 31 January in (a) 2017, (b) 2018 and (c) 2019 is as follows:
Tax Year penalty relates to
Note: Figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand. These figures have been produced using an extract of the data provided for analytical purposes, and there may be small differences between this and other HMRC systems including the live SA system (CESA).
This analysis is based on penalties created and payments received to February 2020. The 2017-18, 2016-17 and 2015-16 figures cover a period of 1, 2 and 3 years’ penalty payments respectively. More penalties will be issued and paid in relation to all these years but further payments to recent years will be relatively higher, so there will be greater changes to recent years. It is not possible to make meaningful comparisons between different years’ figures.
The above figures include both full and part-payments for the initial £100 late filing penalty, daily penalties, 6 month and 12 month late filing penalties. Late payment penalties have not been included.
These late filing penalties relate to individuals who filed online after 31 January after the end of the corresponding tax year and at least 3 months after they were issued with a notice to file; individuals who have missed the 31 January deadline and who have not yet filed their SA return for the corresponding tax year; and, individuals who did not need to file an SA return for that tax year but received late filing penalties due to late notification.
The figures may include some penalty payments relating to Trust returns as they receive the same penalty code. Penalty payments relating to partnership returns are not included.
Penalties are not used as a means of generating revenue. HMRC want taxpayers to comply with their obligations.
HMRC charge penalties to encourage taxpayers to meet their tax obligations and to act as a sanction for those who do not, so the majority who do pay correctly and on time are not disadvantaged.
Not all taxpayers who fail to submit their return on time will have to pay a penalty. A penalty will not be payable if a taxpayer had a reasonable excuse for not filing their return on time or if they no longer need to file a return.
HMRC will not know if a taxpayer has a reasonable excuse or no longer need to file a return until the taxpayer tells HMRC.
Labour productivity in the UK is just 2.4% above its pre-crisis peak. Productivity growth has slowed globally since the crisis but in the UK this slowdown has been more pronounced - across the G7 productivity growth has slowed from 1.9% per year in the decade to 2007 to just 0.8% since. In the UK, by comparison, it has fallen from 2.3% pre crisis to 0.3% since. To level up growth we will continue to invest responsibly including increased investment in infrastructure - connecting the country and businesses by road, rail and broadband and committing to our target of 2.4% of GDP being spend on R&D. We will also continue to invest in people – our greatest asset – levelling up skills and opportunity by creating a new national skills fund.
The Border Delivery Group will continue to have regular engagement with representatives from the border industry throughout 2020. The frequency and nature of these meetings will be regularly reviewed to reflect the changing priorities of the border industry.
The upcoming changes to discourage post duty point dilution are intended to bring the wine category into alignment with the rules affecting other alcoholic products. UK drinks manufacturers have been given over 18 months’ notice to adapt their business models. However, the Treasury keeps all taxes under review, including their impact on drink manufacturers.
On 5 February, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published new rules and guidance to improve access to travel insurance for all consumers with medical conditions.
Included within the FCA’s rules is a requirement for firms to signpost consumers to specialist providers if they are declined cover, offered cover with an exclusion, or charged a significantly higher premium based on their medical condition.
From 6 April 2020 anyone disposing of a UK residential property on which a chargeable gain arises, such as on a second home or a rental property, will be required to report and pay any capital gains tax due within 30 days of the completion of the sale.
HMRC recognise that this is a significant change and are starting to roll out a comprehensive communications plan, so that people understand what the changes mean for them and what they need to do.
The Infrastructure Finance Review was launched at the Spring Statement 2019 and consulted on how the Government can best support private investment in infrastructure. This included consulting on the Government’s existing financial tools, such as the UK Guarantees Scheme. The review will conclude alongside the upcoming National Infrastructure Strategy at the Spring Budget 2020. The Strategy will set out the Government’s long-term ambitions for economic infrastructure, to ensure that the benefits of a prospering economy are felt across the whole of the UK.
The 2016-17 Self-Assessment (SA) tax return typically has an online filing deadline of 31 January 2018, and correspondingly, the 2017-18 Self-Assessment tax return typically has an online filing deadline of 31 January 2019.
The value of payments attributed to late filing penalties for people filing late and after 31 January for these two tax years has been provided below.
Tax Year penalty relates to
Note: Figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand. These figures have been produced using an extract of the data provided for analytical purposes, and there may be small differences between this and the live SA system.
This analysis is based on penalties created and payments received to 3 January 2020. The 2017-18 figures cover a period of 11 months. The 2016-17 figures cover a period of 23 months. HMRC anticipate that more penalties will be issued and paid in relation to 2017-18, so it is not possible to make meaningful comparisons between the two sets of figures.
The above figures include both full and part-payments for the initial £100 late filing penalty, daily penalties, 6 month and 12 month late filing penalties. Late payment penalties have not been included.
These late filing penalties relate to:
• Individuals who filed online after 31 January after the end of the corresponding tax year and at least 3 months after they were issued with a notice to file
• Individuals who have missed the 31 January deadline and who have not yet filed their SA return for the corresponding tax year
• Individuals who did not need to file an SA return for that tax year but received late filing penalties due to late notification
As with the answer to PQ268996, the figures may include some penalty payments relating to Trust returns as they receive the same penalty code. Penalty payments relating to partnership returns are not included.
Penalties are not used as a means of generating revenue. HMRC want taxpayers to comply with their obligations and to file their returns on time.
HMRC charge penalties to encourage taxpayers to meet their tax obligations and to act as a sanction for those who do not, so the majority who do are not disadvantaged.
Not all taxpayers who fail to submit their return on time will have to pay a penalty. A penalty will not be payable if a taxpayer had a reasonable excuse for not filing their return on time or if they no longer need to file a return.
HMRC will not know if a taxpayer has a reasonable excuse or no longer needs to file a return until they inform HMRC.
The Northern Ireland Steering Group does not have its next meeting date or location planned. Members of the Steering Group will continue to be included in future engagement.
I refer the Hon. Member to the answer given on 9 September 2019 (UIN 286140). The migration of traders to the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) is planned to be completed by late 2020. CDS can accept all types of import and export declarations and the final elements of IT functionality will be delivered by the end of March. HMRC are dual running the CHIEF system alongside CDS until all trader migration is completed.
The Border Delivery Group (BDG) has not met any parties face to face within Northern Ireland during the dates specified. BDG has engaged in London with Northern Ireland Government departments (Border Force NI, DAERA, NIO and FSA NI) during this period.
The Government recognises that widespread free access to cash remains extremely important to the day-to-day lives of many consumers and businesses in the UK.
LINK, the scheme that runs the UK’s ATM network, has put in place a Financial Inclusion Programme that includes premium fees for ATM deployers to protect remote free-to-use ATMs one kilometre or further from the next nearest free-to-use ATM or Post Office counter. LINK recently announced that £5 million would also be made available to fund requests for new ATMs from local areas with poor access to cash.
Furthermore, UK Finance – the trade association for the UK banking and financial services sector – has launched a Community Access to Cash Initiative, offering grants to local communities to improve cash access where an ATM is not appropriate or required.
The Payment Systems Regulator is closely monitoring developments in the ATM market and has used its powers to hold LINK to account over commitments to preserve the broad geographic spread of ATMs.
The Government continues to engage with the Payments Systems Regulator via the Joint Authorities Cash Strategy Group, along with the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England, to ensure comprehensive oversight of the overall cash infrastructure.
The Common Travel Area facilitates the free movement of people between the United Kingdom, Crown Dependencies, and Ireland.
As now, the UK will not operate routine immigration controls on journeys from within the Common Travel Area, with no immigration controls whatsoever on the Republic of Ireland-Northern Ireland land border given the Common Travel Area Arrangements and Ireland not being part of the EU’s Schengen Border Free Area.
However, as now, individuals arriving in the UK from will need to continue to enter in line with the UK’s immigration framework including the Universal Permission to Travel requirement (except British and Irish citizens) when it is introduced.
We do not publish the specific data relating to how many non-UK veterans have settled in the UK. To capture numbers would require a manual trawl of data and to do so would incur disproportionate cost.
We do, however, publish statistics relating to individuals granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK as part of published Migration Statistics and this can be located at:
Fraudsters will use any means they can, including through highly deceptive and sophisticated techniques such as text messaging scams, to trick people into handing over their hard-earned money.
This Government is committed to protecting people from all types of fraud and pursuing those who perpetuate these crimes wherever possible. It is for this reason as part of the 2020 Spending Review, the Government committed a further £63m to the Home Office to tackle economic crime, including fraud. In May, we published a Statement of Progress on the Economic Crime Plan which committed to developing a comprehensive Fraud Action Plan.
We are working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) and the telecommunication industry to tackle fraud carried out through texts and calls and close those vulnerabilities criminals too easily exploit. We are also engaging with the banking sector to ensure victims are not left out of pocket through no fault of their own. Certain banks are subject to the Contingent Reimbursement Model; a voluntary code signed up to by some banks, which commit them to reimbursing victims of fraud. More information on this can be found here:
We continue to encourage the public to forward suspicious text messages to 7726 (which is free of charge) and anyone who has been a targeted by fraud to report it. Action Fraud is the national reporting service for all victims of fraud and cybercrime and can be contacted by phone on 0300 123 2040 or through their website:
All of this information is being used by the City of London Police, the National Cyber Security Centre, and the National Crime Agency to identify, disrupt and stop fraudsters.
Now freedom of movement has ended, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens may continue to travel to the UK for short trips, including for tourism, short-term business visits or short-term studies, and will not require a visa, but they will need to seek entry on arrival at the border and meet the requirements of the relevant immigration rules: they will also require a passport for travel to the UK from 1 October 2021.
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can also continue to use their biometric passports to pass through e-passport gates (Where available) on arrival.
It is also worth noting there are no routine immigration controls on journeys within the Common Travel Area, which includes the Republic of Ireland, and none whatsoever on the Irish land border. This will not change.
The Domestic Abuse Bill, as introduced on 3 March, includes a new statutory duty on tier one local authorities in England to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children within safe accommodation. These provisions have been designed in the light of extensive consultation and analysis about how to address the gaps in current provision.
We fully recognise the vital role played by community-based support services in helping victims of domestic abuse and their children to rebuild their lives. However, until we have undertaken a similar analytical exercise in relation to community-based support services, we believe it would be premature to legislate in this Bill.
To enable us to better understand the complex landscape for community-based support for all victims, including children, the designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner has agreed to undertake an in-depth exploration of the current community-based support landscape over 2020/21. The Government will then work with the Commissioner to understand the needs identified and develop options on how best to address them.
The provision of community-based services for victims of domestic abuse and their children in Northern Ireland is a matter for the Northern Ireland Executive.
Yes, Operation Gull is an intelligence led operation and is deployed on that basis.
The Government is committed to tackling child sexual exploitation and abuse wherever and however it occurs. There can be no safe space for paedophiles to operate either here or abroad and we will do all we can to keep children safe. We continue to work closely with law enforcement in the UK and international partners to close down online networks and bring offenders to justice. We announced in the 2019 Spending Round an investment of an £30 million to support UK law enforcement to bear down on child sexual exploitation and abuse.
The Government is working closely with the Netherlands to tackle online child sexual abuse material that is held in, and distributed from, the Netherlands and available in the UK. The Dutch approach to addressing the threat of online child sexual exploitation and abuse was outlined in a letter from their Ministry of Justice and Security to the European Union. This provided a useful platform for our engagement on how we can work together on this issue, identify areas of common interest, best practice and ways to coordinate our efforts to tackle the threat.
The Dutch hotline, EOKM, will also be working with the UK’s Internet Watch Foundation to combat the issue of child sexual abuse material. In 1996 when the Internet Watch Foundation was founded, the UK hosted 18% of the global total of online child sexual abuse content; in 2019 this figure was just 0.1%.
UK police have existing powers under section 72 and Schedule 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which provides for extra-territorial jurisdiction in relation to certain offences under the 2003 Act where the victim is under the age of 18 years old. We continue to look at what more we can do with our international partners giving due consideration to the findings of the “Children Outside the UK report’ published by the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse in January 2020.
As at the 15 July 2021 through our relocation schemes, 1,646 former staff including their families have relocated to the UK so far, with several thousand more due to arrive over the summer. These have arrived through either the Ex Gratia Scheme (EGS), the Intimidation policy or the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP).
The EGS launched on 4 June 2013 with the first relocations occurring in August 2014. To date, under EGS 484 Afghan local staff have relocated to the UK, the majority of which were interpreters.
The ARAP launched on 1 April 2021, under the ARAP, 22 Local Staff have relocated to the UK. We are rapidly accelerating relocations under the ARAP, with thousands more Afghans and their families due to arrive in the UK over the Summer.
Afghan forces have led on security in Afghanistan for the last six years. The ANDSF are now 350,000 strong and are increasingly capable and self-sufficient. They have shown remarkable resilience and courage in meeting the challenges they face. They are committed to protecting the people of Afghanistan while tackling the threat from non-state actors, to ensure Afghanistan does not again become a safe-haven for terrorists. We are committed to providing financial support to the ANDSF through to at least 2024.
Throughout the pandemic the Ministry of Defence has supported the Northern Ireland Assembly in their response to COVID-19. Armed Forces personnel have worked around the clock to protect our people in all four corners of the nation and assisted the Northern Ireland Department of Health with vaccinations and providing support to other health services. All political parties have recognised the overarching need to save lives and support the health service during the pandemic and Ministers have received no complaints regarding the support provided.
The information requested to answer the hon. Member's question will take time to collate, and I will write to him in due course.
The Ministry of Defence publishes annually the regional expenditure with UK industry and supported employment publication, available at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/mod-regional-expenditure-with-uk-industry-and-supported-employment-index
The Ministry of Defence previously provided estimates on both expenditure and employment within the UK Defence Statistics (UKDS) publication. However, within the UKDS bulletins, the inclusion of the breakdowns for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were not given prior to 2013. It should also be noted that due to differing methodologies used across the years, historic figures are not directly comparable.
 Figures in this table are in constant 2019-20 prices and have been adjusted for inflation using GDP deflators from HM Treasury (September 2020).
The United Kingdom Government takes a multi-layered approach to detect, understand and deter state threats below the threshold of war through persistent engagement overseas. When aircraft are deployed overseas on operations a wide range of multi-layered Force Protection measures are put in place to ensure their safety.
NATO membership is open to any European country that is able to undertake the commitments and obligations of membership of the Alliance, and contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area. This "open door policy" is based upon Article 10 of the Washington Treaty.
Since the accession to NATO of the Republic of North Macedonia in March 2020, three NATO partner countries have continued to undertake domestic reforms which will help them to pursue their Euro-Atlantic aspirations: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia and Ukraine. NATO's engagement with each of these continues through bespoke means: with Georgia through the NATO-Georgia Council; with Ukraine through the NATO-Ukraine Council; and with Bosnia-Herzegovina through the Membership Action Plan, which has been in place since 2010. As a means of improving their interoperability with NATO, Georgia and Ukraine also enjoy "Enhanced Opportunities Partner" status with the Alliance.
For the year 2020, 264 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) taskings were conducted in Northern Ireland by army bomb disposal units. 103 taskings related to "suspicious items", of which 70 devices were found to be not viable.
Unfortunately, the letter posted by the hon. Member has not yet been received by the Ministry of Defence. When alerted to the problem on 4 January the Ministry of Defence requested that the letter be sent by email. This was received the same day and a response has already been sent by email.
As detailed in the Defence Safety Authority (DSA) Charter, the Director General DSA prepares and submits an Annual Assurance Report for consideration by the Permanent Secretary, as chair of the Defence Health, Safety and Environment Protection (HS&EP) Committee, prior to consideration by the Defence Board and final approval by the Secretary of State for Defence. This yearly report provides the Secretary of State for Defence with independent assurance that Defence policy for HS&EP is being promoted and implemented. In addition, an independent audit of the DSA is planned for 2023 to provide assurance of the continuing effectiveness of the DSA.
Northern Ireland Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) call outs from 1 July 2019 to 31 December 2019
Total Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD) Tasks
Total Conventional Munition Disposal (CMD)Tasks
As a non-EU country, the UK will not participate in the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD), and we have no plans to ask for CARD to be open to third countries. The UK will, however, continue to call for full coherence between CARD and NATO's Defence Planning Process to avoid unnecessary duplication.
The safety and wellbeing of our personnel remains our top priority. Many elements of our training carry risk, and it is regularly assessed and monitored. The Defence Safety Authority (DSA) works in tandem with the new Director of Health Safety and Environmental Protection (D HS&EP), appointed in March 2019, to assist the Permanent Secretary in discharging his HS&EP responsibilities. Since 2015, the DSA has made a significant contribution to the development of the Ministry of Defence's Safety approach, including:
a. Supporting the introduction of the Defence Safety & Environmental Committee (DSEC), chaired by the Permanent Secretary, to improve oversight of the duty of care and risk associated with defence activities;
b. The establishment, in 2016, of a pan-domain standardised approach to Duty Holding for managing hazardous activities that represent a credible and foreseeable Risk to Life. The Duty Holder role being to balance and reduce the risk to as low as reasonably practicable and tolerable with due regard to the strategic benefits required from Defence; and
c. The publication of new guidance and regulations setting out rules and standards for Defence HS&EP, in line with the Defence Secretary's Policy Statement for all HS&EP matters in Defence. These include chapters on the duty holding construct and duty of care on deployments. Those appropriate for the Gov.uk website are available at:
There will be no UK forces deployed to an EU Battlegroup during 2020.
The UK regularly collaborates with international partners and will continue to explore the opportunity to work with partners in Europe and beyond on joint capability programmes.
There were 11 visits to Northern Ireland ports by Naval Ships in 2018 and five visits in 2019.
The Government is committed to encouraging settlement of Hong Kong British Nationals (Overseas) in all parts of the United Kingdom.
To achieve this, we are setting up new Hong Kong-UK Welcome Hubs across the UK, including in Northern Ireland. Activities may include working with local government, civil society and Devolved Administrations to promote opportunities for relocation. Welcome Hubs will be given resources to develop activities and support for their own areas.
Funds have also been provided through the Barnett Formula of over £1 million for this year to support Hong Kong BN(O) status holders who choose to settle in Northern Ireland.
MHCLG has also released a Welcome Pack in English and Cantonese with links to resources in the Devolved Administrations. We will continue to grow this resource to ensure that Hong Kong BN(O) status holders are made aware of opportunities across the UK.
The External Wall System form (EWS1) and process was introduced by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors to assist in the valuation of high-rise residential buildings for mortgage purposes. Not all lenders request an EWS1 form and the Government does not support a blanket approach in EWS1 use for lower risk properties. The EWS1 process should only be used where there is clear need, and where no reasonable assurances or regulatory evidence exists to support valuations. Ministers and officials continue to engage with lenders on this issue.
The Drug Recovery Prison (DRP) at HMP Holme House is jointly run and funded by the MoJ/HMPPS and NHS England/Improvement (the body responsible for overseeing NHS trusts and independent healthcare providers). The DRP aims to create a whole prison approach to tackle the supply of drugs into prison, together with creating an environment where prisoners have access to the full range of health services that meet individual needs and are given support to lead a drug free life while they are in custody and also following their release into the community.
The DRP pilot began in April 2017 and ended in March 2020. The DRP was mentioned in part one of Dame Carol Black’s Review of Drugs as an example of good practice. MoJ/HMPPS and NHSE have though continued to fund the work of the DRP as part of business as usual funding.
The pilot will be subject to three evaluations. A process evaluation is currently being finalised and will be published in Autumn 2021. Following this, economic and impact evaluations of pilot will be conducted and will be published in 2023/24 (the lag in the impact and economic evaluations is due to the delay in the 1-year reoffending statistics becoming available). Findings from the evaluations of the pilot will help to inform future health and justice interventions across the prison estate.
This Government is committed to reducing reoffending by ensuring that all offenders have the tools they need to turn their backs on crime.
Families and friends can be a positive influence on reducing reoffending. Strengthening the ties individuals have with their families and friends is one of the many important factors to successful rehabilitation and reducing intergenerational crime.
We know family contact can reduce the likelihood of reoffending, Ministry of Justice research analysis reporting on surveys carried out from 2001 to 2004 found that the odds of reoffending were 39% higher for prisoners who had not received visits compared to those who had. The research summary is available here: Factors linked to re-offending: a one-year follow-up of prisoners who took part in the Resettlement Surveys 2001, 2003 and 2004 (antoniocasella.eu). However, information on the number of visits a prisoner receives and a reduction in reoffending behaviour is not available.
The latest published data on reoffending rates for those released from custody was published 27 May: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/proven-reoffending-statistics-january-to-march-2019
Stopping drugs getting into and circulating in prisons is a key priority. Whilst we will not be introducing a specific target, we are taking decisive action to improve our ability to disrupt this type of criminality by putting in place security counter-measures that would allow us to seize more items than ever before.
In August 2019, we announced £100 million investment to boost prison security and restrict supply with a focus on technology to detect and disrupt drugs and mobile phones from entering prisons. This is supported by enhancements to intelligence and counter corruption capabilities.
This investment supports our National Prison Drugs Strategy published in April 2019. The Strategy has three strands to tackle drugs in prisons: (1) restricting the supply; (2) reducing demand; and (3) building recovery from drugs and substance misuse. We are working with law enforcement and health partners across government to implement this and improvements to our drug testing framework are a key component of this strategy.
The Drug Recovery Prison (DRP) at Holme House, is a £9 million project which is jointly funded by the Department for Health and Social Care and MoJ. It provides an innovative, whole system approach to tackling substance misuse. The pilot aims to reduce the supply and demand for illicit substances in prisons, whilst supporting recovery. Findings from the evaluations of the pilot will help to identify successful initiatives that will be shared across the prison estate.
By its very nature, drug trafficking is intended to be a clandestine activity. It is therefore not possible to estimate a volume reduction in drugs being smuggled into prisons. However, we are taking a number of steps to strengthen our prisons’ defences against this type of criminality.
To support the ‘reducing supply’ strand of the National Prison Drugs Strategy, we are taking decisive action to improve security. This will make it much harder for illicit items to be smuggled in by prisoners, staff and visitors; strengthen staff resilience to corruption; and target organised criminals who exploit prisons as a lucrative illicit market. This package of measures is being funded through the £100m investment to tackle crime behind bars, announced by the Prime Minister last summer. This is funding tough new measures including X-ray body scanners to detect items smuggled inside prisoners’ bodies. Our ability to tackle drugs supply is also supported by efforts to reduce demand for drugs. This is why the National Drugs Strategy takes a three-pronged approach and focusses on tackling supply, reducing demand and building recovery from substance misuse.
A planned evaluation of the £100m investment will consider the wider benefits and outcomes for the safety and security of prisons as measures of success. It will use a range of both quantitative and qualitative measures to assess whether delivery of the investment has successfully reduced drug trafficking into prisons through the targeted supply routes.
Employment is a significant factor in reducing reoffending. Secure and sustained employment for people released from prison starts with getting the right education in prison and we are creating a Prisoner Education Service focussed on work-based training and skills.
The Sentencing White Paper also sets out proposals for changes to rehabilitation periods – shortening the time in which prison leavers have to declare criminal records to prospective employers. For the first time, some custodial sentences of over 4 years will become spent as part of criminal records checks for non-sensitive roles in addition to significant reductions to the rehabilitation periods for sentences under 4 years.
These proposals, along with recently approved legislation to change the rules governing disclosure for sensitive roles by removing the multiple convictions rule and the disclosure of youth cautions, reprimands and warnings, will help those who have offended in the past access employment.
We are taking decisive action to improve security to: stop illicit items being smuggled in by prisoners, staff and visitors; to strengthen staff resilience to corruption; and to target organised criminals who exploit prisons as a lucrative illicit market. This package of measures is being funded through the £100m investment to tackle crime behind bars, announced by the Prime Minister last summer.
Enhanced gate security is being deployed to the most challenging prisons in the estate. Cutting-edge x-ray body scanners will target prisoners internally smuggling illicit items into prisons. We recently announced the first 16 sites to receive this equipment.
Whilst the vast majority of our staff are honest and hardworking, we are also investing new resource to step up our counter corruption capability and strengthen (in scale and reach) intelligence-led operations and investigations with law enforcement partners against those that present the greatest threat of harm to prison security and the community.
We will also equip sites with new technology and staff to enhance staff and visitor searching at the gate. We have already announced the first 7 sites for this provision.
We are fully supporting the Right Hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham’s Private Member’s Bill on Prisons (Substance Testing) which is due to have its second reading on the 15 May. This Bill will improve our ability to test for drugs across the estate and provide the appropriate support to prisoners using drugs.
The number of drug finds in prisons across England and Wales between 2008 and 2018 can be found in the HMPPS Annual Digest 2018/19:
Drug finds in prisons continue to rise, and in the 12 months to March 2019, there were 18,435 incidents; an increase of 41% over the previous 12-month period.
The increase in drug finds since 2015 is partly due to the increase in finds of psychoactive substances. HM Prison and Probation Service has also put in place a number of security counter-measures over this period, allowing it to seize more items of contraband than ever before. These included:
We are now investing a further £100m in prison security to stop contraband such as drugs from entering prisons. This includes more X-ray baggage scanners to enhance searching of visitors and staff and more X-ray body scanners to detect prisoners concealing contraband inside their bodies.
This is part of our £2.75 billion investment to make prisons safer for offenders and staff, while working closely with healthcare providers to ensure prisoners have the support they need to live drug-free. We therefore also published in April 2019 The National Prison Drug Strategy which has three strands: restricting supply, reducing demand and ensuring prisoners are encouraged to engage in meaningful activity and treatment interventions.
This Government is committed to reducing reoffending by ensuring that all offenders have the tools they need to turn their backs on crime. Prisons and probation must provide the opportunity for prisoners to rehabilitate, which will ultimately reduce reoffending and protect the public.
The Ministry of Justice does not hold data on the number of offenders released following a Parole Board decision who were subsequently convicted and imprisoned for a further offence. However, a breakdown of the total number of reoffences following release after serving an indeterminate sentence is published. A breakdown of these is included below:
Table 1: Total number of reoffences following release from custody after serving an indeterminate sentence
April 2015 – March 2016
April 2016 – March 2017
April 2017 – March 2018
Indeterminate sentence for public protection
Mandatory life prisoner
‘Other life’ category includes discretionary and automatic life sentences
The Law Commission remains committed to completing its work on wills, the timetable for which remains under review. The next step will be publication of its final report rather than a response to the consultation undertaken in 2017.
The current system for dealing with the legacy of the past is failing to bring satisfactory outcomes for families and placing a heavy burden on the criminal justice system. It is not working for anyone and is leaving society in Northern Ireland hamstrung by its past.
On 24 June, the UK Government - along with the Irish Government - agreed to commence a process of intensive engagement with the Northern Ireland parties and all relevant stakeholders and civil society, including victims groups, with a view to making progress on this issue as soon as possible. This engagement process has now started, and the UK Government has committed to bringing forward proposals and to introducing legislation to address the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland as soon as possible.
I have engaged extensively in the build up to and since the Protocol was implemented at the start of this year, talking to businesses throughout Northern Ireland and across sectors. These experiences have also been set out to me in writing as correspondence and as reports for individuals businesses and business representative organisations.
I have heard first-hand about the range of experiences under the Protocol as it is currently operating for people and businesses in Northern Ireland. Where concerns have been raised - for example about reduced choice of products from Great Britain, burdensome checks and processes on products for supermarkets, cancelled deliveries, increased costs, risks to the supply of generic medicines and the impact on investment and growth - these have shaped and guided the Government’s approach to Protocol implementation.
Private audiences with members of the Royal Family are a matter for the Royal Household.
The UK Government is committed to creating a UK Shared Prosperity Fund which will bind together the whole United Kingdom, tackling inequality and deprivation in each of our four nations. It will, at a minimum, match the size of the EU structural funds in each nation.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland continues to engage regularly with colleagues from across the Government and will ensure that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund works for the people and businesses of Northern Ireland, drives growth and promotes innovation. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund will be used to boost the links between our family of nations, Strengthening the Union and levelling up the entire country creating a more successful and resilient economy.
Funding decisions are made at arms length from the Government and the Government does not comment on individual cases.
I regularly speak to Treasury Ministers to discuss opportunities for the economy in Northern Ireland. The Government continues to work through the implications of the Northern Ireland Protocol and the unique situation it creates for VAT and excise. Guidance will be provided on how the Protocol will work, including for duty-free goods ahead of the transition period.