First elected: 7th June 2001
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).
Make it unlawful for shops to refuse cash payments.Gov Responded - 25 Apr 2022 Debated on - 20 Mar 2023 View 's petition debate contributions
Make it illegal for retailers and services to decline cash payments.
Require all businesses and public services to accept cash paymentsGov Responded - 22 Sep 2022 Debated on - 20 Mar 2023 View 's petition debate contributions
All businesses (excepting internet-based ones) and public services in which monetary transactions take place should be required by law to accept cash as a method of payment
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
Cash and cards can be used on all food, drink and souvenir transactions in catering and souvenir outlets with the exception of two venues in locations away from the main estate and all vending machines, where only card is permitted. The reason for a cashless policy at the two outbuildings is due to security constraints on the transportation of monies between the outbuildings and the main Palace. The cost for monies to be collected outweighed the cash taken. Vending machines are procured as card only for security reasons.
Under this government the gender pay gap has fallen significantly, with the gap having fallen from 19.6% to 14.9% over the last decade.
In 2017, we introduced world-leading regulations requiring large employers to publish the differences in average salaries and bonuses for men and women every year. This has ensured that employers are aware of their gaps and are taking steps to close them.
We know that reporting is just the first step, but do not believe that setting arbitrary targets will help to drive the changes that we all want to see. The causes of the gender pay gap are complex, and the wider societal shifts required to close it will take time.
The Independent Review of Lowest Income Communities Funding and Strategic Development Funding led by Sir Robert Chote was published in March 2022 and can be read here: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2022-03/irls-final-report-2.pdf
In respect of meeting the objective of assisting clergy and parishes in hardest to reach communities the Review recommended:
The action taken so far by the Archbishops' Council's Vision and Strategy team in response to those recommendations has been to:
From the start of 2023, the new Strategic Mission and Ministry Investment Board (SMMIB), a committee of the Archbishops' Council, has replaced the previous Strategic Investment Board and Strategic Ministry Board. It distributes and monitors funds made available by the Church Commissioners and Archbishops' Council via LInC, SDF, and other similar funds.
More information about the role the SMMIB plays can be found here: https://www.churchofengland.org/media-and-news/press-releases/new-board-oversee-unprecedented-church-england-investment-mission-and
The BBC regional channels have been restored.
The Bloomberg channel currently has no sound. This is awaiting parts and is expected to be restored by mid-July.
Problems with tuning of televisions should be reported to the Parliamentary maintenance helpdesk.
The Commission has not had discussions on the flying of the St Patrick’s Cross on 17 March in New Palace Yard.
This data is only kept for seven days. Seven MPs have not taken their seats. The data held at the time of the search showed that two had accessed the estate during the 7-day period covered, each on one occasion.
The table below details how much Representative Money has been made available to elected Members who have not taken the Oath in each year between 2006 and 2022:
Representative Money allocations, 2005/06-2021/22
Main budget (£)
Travel budget (£)
2010/11** (1 Apr-5 May)
(6 May-31 Mar)
2015/16 # (1 Apr-7 May)
(8 May-31 Mar)
2017/18 $ (1 Apr-8 Jun)
(9 Jun-31 Mar)
2019/20 ^ (1 Apr-11 Dec)
(12 Dec-31 Mar)
* from 1 November 2005-31 March 2006
** general election year full year allocations based on 2005 and 2010
general election results would have been:
# general election year full year allocations based on 2010 and 2015
general election results would have been:
$ general election year full year allocations based on 2015 and 2017
general election results would have been:
^ general election year full year allocations based on 2015 and 2017
general election results would have been:
This information can also be found on the App3 tab in the Excel spreadsheet (44 KB) accessed from the following link:
Exit 3 to Westminster Underground Station (the subway under Bridge Street beyond the Subway Entrance) was closed at Christmas 2018 by Westminster Council, due to low footfall and rough sleeping, following consultation with the Parliamentary Estate and London Underground. The land was then transferred to the Parliamentary Estate. There is no plan to reopen Exit 3.
There has not been access from Westminster Bridge to the estate for many years, and currently there are no plans for access from the north side of Bridge Street to the underpass in the Underground station to be re-opened.
The New Palace Yard flags are an initiative by the Speaker and decisions about which flags are flown there are not decided by the Commission. Members can make representation to the Speaker about flags they wish to be flown.
For safety reasons, exit 3 (or the underpass) must remain closed until the end of the Elizabeth Tower Conservation project, which would not be until Summer 2022. In addition, we are exploring how the exit could be best used for Parliament in a way that would benefit Members, staff, and the Estate. Any decision regarding exit three will be reviewed in the next six months.
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:
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 Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) does not have a central record showing the number of fraud cases relating to Covid-19 currently awaiting an outcome. To obtain the data would require manually reviewing CPS case records at disproportionate cost.
Searches by my Office have not identified such correspondence. If the hon. Member would like to provide a copy, my Office will arrange for a reply to be sent.
The Government Consultancy Hub (GCH) ran from May 2021 to 31 January 2023. One of the unit’s goals was to grow the Civil Service’s internal capability and confidence to frame and/or address its strategic questions, to be a strong customer of consultancy, and to redeploy knowledge and experience.
Since May 2021 until September there have been a total of:
- 36 cohorts, with 576 places, of the GCH sponsored Core Consulting Skills programme
- 3 cohorts, with 48 places, of the contextualised IPA Core Consulting Skills programme.
- 15 people completed a Senior Leaders Consulting Skills programme.
In addition, 18 people in DWP completed Leadership Capability team development – core capability developments on how to consult and identify needs.
The Government has powers under the National Security and Investment Act 2021 (NSIA) to scrutinise and, where necessary, intervene in acquisitions of control over entities and assets in or linked to the UK that may pose national security risks. We will not hesitate to use our powers to protect national security where we identify concerns.
The National Security and Investment Act Annual Report 2022-23 shows that in the period April 2022- March 2023, 65 cases were called in for scrutiny and 15 final orders were made. 2 final orders have been made since March 2023.
The 2022 Annual Report, covering January 2022 to March 2022, shows that over that time period 17 acquisitions were called in for scrutiny and no final orders were made.
In both reporting periods, no penalties were issued, and no criminal penalties were sought.
Figures for the financial year 2023-24 will be published in the next Annual Report.
At the end of August 2023, GCS published a new guide for communicators working in the digital discipline, which includes specific references to appropriate and ethical use of social media channels: https://gcs.civilservice.gov.uk/guidance/digital-communication/#propriety.
All of this guidance complements the Civil Service code, which lays out the behaviours expected of civil servants, available at the following link:
The £20 million Veteran Housing Capital Grant Programme is designed to contribute to the Government's commitment of ending veteran homelessness across the UK, by ensuring veterans have access to good quality, affordable accommodation that meets their needs.
Applications for funding will be open to housing organisations supporting veterans from across the four nations, including Northern Ireland, and we expect the initial £2 million grant to be open for applications later this year.
The Borders Group, formerly known as the Border and Protocol Delivery Group, is a group of teams within the Cabinet Office, rather than a standing body. It is responsible for coordinating the Government's approach to the border, both in relation to our leaving the EU and in developing our longer term strategy for the most effective border in the world. As a result these teams work together on an ongoing basis.
4772 calls were made to the COVID Fraud Hotline between its launch in October 2020 and its closure on 30 September 2022. Of these, 4300 were disseminated to the relevant department or organisation for investigation. The remainder are being processed and will be disseminated before March 2023.
Investigations take time to get to the stage where the Crown Prosecution Service can consider prosecution, and further time to go through the court system to secure convictions. Our Hotline intelligence is forwarded to the relevant department/agency for consideration for investigation, with the decision to investigate sitting with the relevant department/agency. The department/agency then submits cases for consideration for prosecution, with the decision being taken by the CPS in most cases.
The value of intelligence is not only for progressing prosecutions - the sharing of intelligence with the BBL accredited lenders has led to interventions and recoveries by the lenders. In addition, the Hotline intelligence has helped government to better understand the threat across Government and significantly contributed to media campaigns by providing guidance to the general public.
I met the Director–General of the BBC, on 1 December 2022. I raised the proposed changes to Radio Foyle.
While the BBC is editorially and operationally independent and it is for it to decide how to deliver its services and meet the BBC’s Charter responsibilities, we expect the BBC to consider the views of stakeholders when it makes the decision over whether to proceed with these plans.
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 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.
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.
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.
The British Business Bank launched the £70m Investment Fund for Northern Ireland on 16 November 2023 in Belfast and will be promoting it to smaller businesses, their advisers, and the business community in Northern Ireland.
The appointed fund managers, Whiterock Capital and Clarendon Fund Managers, will host a webinar on 12 December 2023. This will introduce their teams, present the product offering, and explain how smaller businesses can apply for funding.
Any business seeking information on the fund should visit the British Business Bank’s website where they can sign up to receive more information.
The Department's impact assessments of the UK-Australia and UK-New Zealand Free Trade Agreements were published on 16th December 2021 and 28th February 2022 respectively. These impact assessments set out the potential long-run incremental economic impact of these FTAs, including the impact on Northern Ireland, and are available on gov.uk.
As the agreements only entered into force on 31st May 2023 it would not be credible or proportionate to assess the impact to date, including on businesses in Northern Ireland.
Existing product safety laws already apply to e-bikes, their batteries and chargers and we keep the legislation under review, including through the recent consultation on the Product Safety Review.
Under current law manufacturers and importers must ensure their products are safe before they are sold. The Office for Product Safety and Standards in this Department, as well as Local Authority Trading Standards, have the powers to enforce these requirements and are prioritising action to identify and test e-bikes, modification kits and chargers so that products found to be unsafe can be removed from the market.
The Department published the response to this consultation on 5th September 2023. The response can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/british-industry-supercharger-capacity-market-consultation-and-eiis-government-response
The numbers of registered company insolvencies in the United Kingdom in the periods requested were:
England and Wales
1 April 2019 – 31 March 2020
1 April 2022 – 31 March 2023
Insolvent businesses also include trader (self-employed) bankruptcies. In England and Wales, there were 3,487 trader bankruptcies between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020, while there were 1,301 trader bankruptcies between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2023.
Information on trader bankruptcies is sourced from Insolvency Service administrative systems. For Scotland and Northern Ireland, the administration of bankruptcies is devolved and therefore the relevant information is not held by the Insolvency Service.
This information is not held centrally. However, figures supplied by the Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders (SMMT) show the proportion of vehicles produced in the UK in recent years that were fully electric or hybrid electric.
Proportion of electric or hybrid electric cars produced (%)
In 2022 the Department for Business and Trade established a trade and investment hub in Northern Ireland.
There are currently ten officials working in the hub, led by a senior civil servant. Roles include leads for key Northern Ireland sectors, such as advanced technology and manufacturing, life and health sciences, agriculture, food and drink and the creative industries.
The team work closely with local partners and are dedicated to ensuring businesses across Northern Ireland have access to DBT services, help businesses understand what trade opportunities are available to them, and ensure Northern Ireland business interests are represented in trade policy.
Zero hours contracts are an important part of the UK’s flexible labour market. They are useful where there is not a constant demand for staff, allowing flexibility for both employers and individuals.
Individuals on zero hours contracts represent a very small proportion of the workforce. The ONS publishes quarterly data on the number of individuals in work on zero hours contracts in the UK. The ONS estimates that between April – June 2023, 3.6% of people aged 16 or over in employment in the UK were on a zero hours contract. This is up from 2.8% between April – June 2017.
To date we have named around 2,700 employers since the National Minimum Wage Naming Scheme began.
Employers can make representations for not being named under this scheme, however, in practice we accept very few representations, as all employers have a duty to pay their staff correctly. We do not hold data on employers not named publicly due to exceptional circumstances.
DBT is committed to engagement with the devolved administrations in the development of policies to support businesses across the whole country and across all sectors.
For example, the Minister of State for International Trade chairs the Interministerial Group for Trade, which last met on 7 September 2023, to facilitate discussion with devolved administrations on trade policy priorities. The UK’s trade policies remove barriers, offer increased trade, and support growth for all parts of the UK economy.
DBT recently hosted the Northern Ireland Investment Summit, working closely with officials in the Northern Ireland Executive and Invest Northern Ireland to grow the advanced manufacturing and engineering, technology, financial and professional services, the green economy, and the life and health sciences sectors in Northern Ireland.
The Retained EU employment law consultation ran between 12 May 2023 and the 7 July 2023 and we are currently analysing the responses received. We will publish the Government’s response in due course.
Where an export licence is no longer consistent with the Strategic Export Licensing Criteria, such as when there has been a change in circumstances in the destination country, then that licence will be revoked. Alternatively, we may invite the licensee to surrender the licence.
Between 1 January 2018 to 31 March 2023, we revoked 19 Standard Individual Export Licences and two Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs) in full for military-rated goods. In addition, three multi-destination OIELs were amended to remove one destination and three OIELs were amended to remove two destinations.
HM Government publishes Official Statistics on export licences granted, refused and revoked to all destinations: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/strategic-export-controls-licensing-data. Currently this includes information up to 31 March 2023.
There are no current plans to establish such a body.
The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is responsible for the General Product Safety Regulations which set the safety requirements for batteries. OPSS and Local Authority Trading Standards Services already have the powers to remove unsafe products from sale and are using data and intelligence to target unsafe products.
OPSS is prioritising work to understand and tackle the risks of e-bikes and e-scooters and has commissioned research into the safety of lithium-ion batteries. This work will help inform how this issue is tackled in future.
The five countries with the highest value of agri-food exports from Northern Ireland in 2022 were Ireland, France, Netherlands, United States, and Belgium.
Northern Ireland agri-food exports 2022 – top 5 export markets
Top 5 export markets
% of total
Total agri-food exports
From 2022 to 2023, the number of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Projects and jobs created by those projects broken down by nation are as follows:
The Government is working to improve business productivity in various ways. These include: Help to Grow: Management scheme offers training to help small businesses across the UK improve their performance and boost growth potential. The British Business Bank supports access to finance, and business helplines across the UK provide advice and guidance. Our network of Growth Hubs around England, and devolved equivalents, offer businesses support in their local areas. Our export growth support includes our Great.gov.uk online offer, the Export Academy, our International Trade Advisers and International Market advisers, as well as access to finance via UK Export Finance.
Department for Business and Trade (DBT) nation hubs are dedicated to working with local businesses to help increase international exports; to attract more investment; and to realise the benefits of Free Trade Agreements. In quarter 1 2022/23, DBT hubs hosted many export promotion events, including tradeshows and meet the buyer activities. Officials continue to roll-out DBT services across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, including the UK Export Academy.
Nearly 8,000 jobs have been created by Foreign Direct Investment projects across the nations in the last financial year. Planned investment activity, such as the Northern Ireland Investment Summit will continue to support investment across the nations.
In 2022 the value of agri-food exports from Northern Ireland to Japan was £14 million.
At Spending Review 2021, the government announced a £1.6 billion commitment to the nations and regions including £70m to provide a new Investment Fund for Northern Ireland. Other British Business Bank programmes are demand-led, without any geographical allocation.
It has not been possible, in the time available, to analyse these UK-wide programmes and determine the finance supported for Northern Ireland businesses in each case. I will write to the Hon. Member as soon as this analysis is complete and will place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.
Friends Against Scams (FAS) is a National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team initiative which launched in October 2016 and provides scams awareness training either online or face-to-face. The training is designed to help protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams.
FAS is an independent NTS initiative last reviewed by them in May 2021 and was found to be successful in promoting awareness and helping those trained recognise and avoid scams.
The £70 million Investment Fund for Northern Ireland is on course to be launched by the British Business Bank in autumn 2023. The fund will offer a range of commercial finance options with loans from £25,000 to £2 million and equity investment of up to £5 million, increasing the supply and diversity of early-stage finance for smaller businesses in Northern Ireland. The Bank is currently inviting proposals from potential fund managers to operate the new fund.
Finance will be allocated based on the commercial merits of the proposals received.
The Nations and Regions Investment Funds were announced at the 2021 Spending Review and will be delivered by the British Business Bank. The Funds will deliver a mix of debt and equity finance to businesses in their area. The allocations are:
This department supports businesses in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland on the ground through our Trade and Investment Hubs, ensuring businesses across the UK can access the right support at the right time. These Hubs increase our capacity to engage nationally on trade policy issues and influence regional thinking so that we drive competitiveness and investment in all nations.
The Department speaks regularly with employers and business representative organisations about flexible working. These discussions have covered a range of issues, including the importance of flexible working in managing employees with long term health conditions, such as long covid.
In December 2022 the Government announced plans to make the right to request flexible working a day one right, alongside other changes to make flexible working more accessible to all employees. The Government is pleased to support the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Private Members’ Bill which will deliver several of these changes.
The matter is devolved to the administration in Northern Ireland.
The Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding launched on 27 February 2023 and closed to new applications on 31 May 2023. The contact centre helpline launched on 1 February 2023, when the pilot phase began, and closed on 31 August 2023. The contact centre helpline received a total of 127,175 calls between 1 February and 31 August.
Information on the number of homes that have received measures through the Energy Company Obligation in the last 12 months can be found in Table 1.2 of the latest Household Energy Efficiency Statistics release.
In September, the Government published a consultation to help to build the necessary evidence base to determine whether hydrogen blending offers strategic and economic value and meets the required safety standards. The Government is aiming to reach a strategic policy decision in 2023 on whether to support blending of up to 20% hydrogen by volume into the Great Britain gas distribution networks.
The Government is developing a new nuclear National Policy Statement, which will cover the policy framework for deploying new nuclear power stations beyond 2025. As an initial step, the Government plans to consult on its proposed approach for determining how new nuclear developments could be sited in future in England and Wales. The intention is to publish this consultation before the end of 2023.
The Contracts for Difference scheme now runs on an annual basis. The Government has confirmed that the sixth allocation round will open, as scheduled, in March 2024.
The Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF) runs in accordance with the relevant subsidy control scheme for each country. The same IETF rules apply to companies in all countries, with the exception of the aid thresholds for decarbonisation deployment projects. For companies in England and Wales, the maximum aid intensity that a company can claim is 50%, 60% and 70% for small, medium and large companies respectively. To comply with the General Block Exemption Regulations (GBER), applicable under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the maximum aid intensity that companies in Northern Ireland can claim is 40%, 50% and 60%, dependent on their size, plus a further 5% to reflect the region’s Tier 2 status under the EU subsidy control regime.
The most up-to-date figures on households receiving the Alternative Fuel Payment Alternative Fund can be found here:
DESNZ Ministers and officials regularly meet with Ofgem to discuss a range of issues relating to GB energy markets. The regulation of energy supply in Northern Ireland, including the avoidance of large credit balances on customer energy accounts is a devolved matter.
The Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) operates in England and Wales. Up until the end of July 2023, there had been 6,378 grants paid towards the installations of heat pumps that were replacing gas systems.
The Government is investing £6.6 billion over this Parliament on clean heat and improving energy efficiency in buildings, reducing reliance on fossil fuel heating.
The recently announced Great British Insulation Scheme will upgrade around 300,000 of the country’s least energy efficient homes. Households could save £300-£400 each year as part of a £1 billion energy efficiency programme by March 2026.
Consumers can also access the Government’s home retrofit tool ‘Find ways to save energy in your home’ on GOV.UK’. Users can get tailored recommendations for home improvements that could make their property cheaper to heat and keep warm.
To be eligible for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme installers must be Microgeneration Certification Scheme certified and members of a Consumer Code to provide assurances and protections to consumers.
79 installer accounts are currently suspended by Ofgem, some of which are under investigation and may be reinstated later. Accounts can be suspended for a variety of reasons in relation to potential scheme non-compliance and not all are related to issues with standards.
The Government’s consumer facing energy efficiency campaign It All Adds Up, targeted all UK adults with advice on energy saving measures. The Great British Insulation Scheme will also run until 2026 and support around 300,000 households to insulate their homes. Whilst the marketing and delivering of the scheme is industry led, the Government is looking to improve its energy advice and information service to make it easier for people to see if they are eligible for schemes like the Great British Insulation Scheme. The Government will support industries' promotion of the scheme and communicate improvements to the advice service when ready.
In Northern Ireland, electricity suppliers have been providing a £600 payment to domestic contract customers since January, with this Scheme closing on 30 June. The design of the scheme and the nature of the electricity market has meant that voucher redemption has been very successful. Redemption rates rapidly rose to in excess of 90% shortly after launch.
The Department worked with suppliers, consumer groups and charities in Northern Ireland to publicise and raise awareness of the voucher deadline to ensure all eligible households redeemed their vouchers, right up until the end of the Scheme.
I refer the Hon. Member to the answer given on 23 October to Question 203232, the study is being conducted by a consortium of industry and academic partners led by the Institute for Manufacturing at Cambridge University. The Department has worked closely with the consortium and they are expected to report back by the end of the year.
The study has consulted extensively across the sector and workshops have been held in all four nations of the UK to determine a holistic picture of the UK’s capabilities and the needs of industry.
The UK Semiconductor Infrastructure Initiative feasibility study is being conducted by a consortium of industry and academic partners led by the Institute for Manufacturing at Cambridge University and will provide recommendations on how to improve access to R&D infrastructure to boost innovation and growth in the UK semiconductor sector.
The study has consulted extensively across the sector and workshops have been held in all four nations of the UK to determine a holistic picture of the UK’s capabilities and the needs of industry.
The Semiconductor Advisory Panel is representative of the UK’s semiconductor industry, and the ecosystem that supports it. In selecting the panel, consideration was given to representation across UK specialisms in design, compound semiconductors and R&D, company size and geographic location. In an independent capacity, the panel includes senior figures from British industry leaders such as ARM, IQE and PragmatIC, as well as experts in venture capital, research and skills development. We’re confident that we have the right mix of talent to represent the breadth of the UK’s industry and help drive our strategy forward.
We continue to speak with the full spectrum of the UK’s semiconductor industry, including regular engagement with companies and representatives from across the UK.
Social tariffs are available in 99% of the UK from over 25 different providers to support those on Universal Credit and other means tested benefits to stay connected.
The Department meets regularly with providers of social tariffs to discuss awareness and take up and continues to work closely with Ofcom to encourage operators to do more to promote their social tariff offers to their customers. On 7 July 2023, Melanie Dawes, the Chief Executive of Ofcom, wrote to industry leaders to set out the regulator’s expectation that they take practical action to increase awareness.
The Life Sciences sector plays a key role in levelling up the wealth and health of the UK and is one of the Chancellor’s five key growth sectors to drive the UK economy. The Government is committed to supporting Life Sciences businesses across the country. To date over 80% of the funding allocated and employment created through our two recent sector-wide capital grants schemes – the Medicines and Diagnostics Transformation Fund and the Life Sciences Innovation Manufacturing Fund – is outside London and the South-East, through projects in all four nations of the UK.
Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the national funding agency investing in research & innovation which is sponsored by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT). Its main purpose is to invest in and facilitate research and innovation activities across the United Kingdom.
Innovate UK works closely with partners across government, including the Department of Business and Trade, to support attracting and retaining inward investment in Northern Ireland. This includes showcasing Northern Ireland’s excellent digital connectivity, including the widespread availability of gigabit-capable broadband, which is a key driver in Northern Ireland’s attractiveness as a place to live, work and invest.
Gigabit-capable networks can deliver the broadband services that businesses will rely on for decades to come, paving the way for new developments in commerce, trade and society and bringing benefits including improved productivity, jobs and economic growth.
Our £5 billion Project Gigabit is about future-proofing the broadband needs for generations to come.
The most recent summary of evidence of the benefits of high-speed broadband supported through government programmes is at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/superfast-broadband-programme-synthesis-and-process-evaluation-reports-2021. Further evaluations of the impacts of gigabit broadband will be published during the period of deployment of Project Gigabit.
The Government is committed to working with broadband suppliers so that 85% of UK premises can access gigabit-capable broadband by 2025.
We are on track to achieve our target. At present, over 74% of UK premises can access a gigabit-capable connection, up from just 6% in January 2019.
In Northern Ireland, 90.6% of premises already have access to gigabit-capable broadband. This is the highest percentage of any of the four UK nations, followed by England (75.5%), Scotland (68.3%) and Wales (59.5%).
On 19th December, the Government announced that all households in Northern Ireland will receive support with their energy bills this winter through a single payment of £600. This is made up of £400 of the Energy Bills Support Scheme and £200 of the Alternative Fuel Payment. This will be delivered through electricity suppliers, with payments starting in January and concluding as soon as is reasonably practicable.
The British Business Bank has an objective to identify and help to reduce imbalances in access to finance for smaller businesses across the UK. In 2021/22, the Bank supported £166 million of funding to 2,699 businesses in Northern Ireland.
At Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced over £1.6 billion for the British Business Bank’s Nations and Regions Investment Funds, including a new £70m Investment Fund for Northern Ireland.
The Bank gathers data and publishes research to identify gaps and imbalances in access to finance, including the Nations and Regions Tracker, available at https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/research/nations-and-regions-tracker-2022/.
Following the Government’s request for an urgent review of the fuel market, the Competition and Markets Authority published its road fuel report on 8 July. Its initial findings were that the UK retail fuel market appears to be competitive but areas for further investigation were identified. A market study to look at the growing gap between the oil price, and the wholesale price of petrol and diesel was launched which will make recommendations where there are no legitimate reasons for this. The Government will carefully consider, alongside relevant industry partners, any recommendations made in the study.
Information on energy suppliers that have ceased trading, and their customer base, is published by the regulator Ofgem at https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications/check-whos-taken-over-your-energy-supply.
Suppliers can make a claim for the unrecoverable costs of acting as the supplier of last resort. The individual claims and decisions can be found on Ofgem’s website.
Mergers and takeovers are primarily commercial matters for the parties involved. The Government has powers under the Enterprise Act 2002 to intervene in transactions which raise national security concerns. The Government has recently strengthened those powers through the National Security and Investment Act 2021.
Innovation is at the heart of the UK’s strategy to boost productivity and international competitiveness. Cutting-edge businesses require access to growth capital and funding for high-risk, high-reward innovation activities available to businesses across all economic sectors, value chains and UK regions. Since 2004, Innovate UK has offered over £158 million in grants for R&D to businesses in Northern Ireland.
Spending Review 2021 secures increased funding for core Innovate UK programmes, reaching c.£1 billion per year by 2024/25 (over £300 million more than in 2021/22) to ensure it can support business in bringing innovations to market and drive economic growth. The money will be used to help boost private sector investment across the whole of the UK, creating the right conditions for all businesses to innovate and giving them the confidence to do so.
Following the Spending Review, BEIS will set R&D budgets through to 2024/25. Further details of how this funding will be allocated will be announced in due course.
Enterprise Zones have been a very successful government policy. They drive growth in local economies, by attracting and supporting businesses, which increases investment and employment to the area. There are no current plans to review Enterprise Zones; however, the experience of delivering Enterprise Zones has informed the development of the Government's new Freeports programme.
Through its Heat and Buildings Strategy the Government has set out a policy framework to support the development of the heat pump market towards 600,000 installations per year by 2028.
The Government has announced grants of up to £6,000 for installing heat pumps in homes and small commercial properties, through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. Support for heat pumps in domestic properties is also available via the Home Upgrade Grant and Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.
The Government is also consulting on a on a new market-based incentive for heating system manufacturers to be introduced from 2024 and options to phase out new installations of fossil fuel heating in off-gas grid non-domestic buildings from 2024 and homes from 2026.
Building on the £1.9bn from Spending Review 2020, the Government has committed an additional £620m to support the transition to electric vehicles. The additional funding will support the rollout of charging infrastructure, with a particular focus on local on street residential charging, and targeted plug-in vehicle grants.
Government and industry have supported the installation of almost 26,000 publicly available charging devices. This includes more than 4,900 rapid devices – one of the largest networks in Europe.
Later this year Government will publish an EV Infrastructure Strategy to set out the vision and action plan for charging infrastructure rollout needed to achieve the 2030/35 phase out successfully. It will also discuss possible ranges for the numbers of chargepoints required, recognising that charging habits are likely to evolve over time, and that needs will differ between local areas.
The National Trading Standards Annual Report (2020-21) states that between April 2020 and March 2021, 324,296 ‘Friends’ have signed up and pledged their action as part of the initiative, which has recently celebrated its fourth anniversary. This brought the total number of ‘Friends’ to 738,440 by the end of March 2021. The initiative gained an additional 292 ‘SCAMchampions’, who drive the initiative forward for example by running in person awareness sessions to recruit ‘Friends’, bringing the total to 2,088. The initiative also gained 5 ‘SCAMbassadors’, who are MPs and senior officials who use their influence to raise the profile of the work and highlight scams at a national level, bring that total to 211. A further 31 national and local organisations have pledged their support to the initiative across the UK, bring that total to 269. Finally, an additional 400 ‘Scam Marshals’ have signed up, who are former targets of scams who help to fight back using their own experiences, bringing that total to 1920.
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.
The Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) is open to all regions of the UK, including Northern Ireland. The Government’s £1bn investment in innovation through the NZIP will support levelling-up and will support the best ideas and organisations, wherever they are based.
All grants through the programme will be awarded on the basis of fair and open competition. As a result, we cannot determine how much grant funding will go to any particular region.
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.
The Independent Review of Women’s Football, published earlier this year, made ten strategic recommendations which would lift minimum standards of women’s football, delivering bold and sustainable growth at elite and grassroots levels. The Government is due to publish its response to the Review before the end of the year.
The government takes seriously concerns regarding Artificial Grass Pitches (AGPs), specifically the presence of rubber infill. Following the UK’s exit from the EU, the regulatory framework for these matters now sits at a UK level (except for Northern Ireland, which will continue to follow EU REACH requirements).
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) commissioned an evidence project, under the UK REACH 2022/23 Work Programme, on intentionally added microplastics, including rubber infill. This will assess any risks they pose, and will inform any future regulatory actions in the UK.
The sports councils across the UK (Sport England, Sport Wales, sportscotland, Sport NI) are working together with leading sport bodies and respective governments to appropriately manage the transition away from rubber infill, and to identify suitable alternatives. The Group's latest statement on the issue can be viewed here.
As a public service broadcaster, the Government expects the BBC to be as open and transparent as possible.
Since the beginning of 2021, the BBC has published a quarterly summary of the paid-for external events undertaken by on-air staff in journalism and senior leaders.
The BBC’s external events register can be seen here.
His Majesty’s Government is fully committed to the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in the UK.
As with any international treaty, ratification of UNESCO Conventions should be considered fully, including assessing their adequacy and value for money to the UK taxpayer. This process is making good progress, and ministers expect to take a decision on the merits of ratification soon.
The Government remains committed to the future of digital terrestrial television (DTT), the technology which underpins Freeview. Millions of households across the UK rely on digital terrestrial television, particularly rural communities and older people.
We also recognise the crucial role that digital terrestrial television services play in the wider UK broadcasting system, in particular in helping ensure that public service content continues to be widely available free-to-air to all audiences.
For these reasons, the Government has legislated to secure continuity of digital terrestrial television until at least 2034.
As the sector evolves, it is right that we continue to evaluate the future distribution of television services. To that end, and as set out in the Broadcasting White Paper, the Government has asked Ofcom to continue to track changes in DTT viewing and to undertake an early review on market changes that may affect the future of content distribution before the end of 2025.
Before any decisions about the future of terrestrial television are made, close consideration will be given to how any changes would impact audiences, and especially those who rely on DTT as their primary means of watching television.
The Government is fully committed to the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in the UK.
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 vast majority of the United Kingdom (96.7%) has access to superfast broadband. Superfast broadband allows households to work or learn from home and stream a high definition film simultaneously. Additionally, the government is committed to delivering nationwide gigabit connectivity as soon as possible. Today, over 66% of premises can access gigabit-capable networks, up from just one in ten in November 2019. By 2025 the government is targeting a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage.
According to ThinkBroadband, as of 21/03/2022 coverage statistics were as follows:
England - (Superfast 97.5%) and (Gigabit 67.9%)
Scotland - (Superfast 94.9%) and (Gigabit 60.8%)
Wales- (Superfast 96%) and (Gigabit 49%)
Northern Ireland - (Superfast 91.5%) and (Gigabit 82.3%)
As set out in Public Health England’s evidence review on gambling-related harms, the estimated overall problem gambling rate for England was 0.5% in 2018, and has been stable at this rate since 2012. This estimate was drawn from the Health Surveys conducted in 2012, 2015, 2016 and most recently in 2018. The problem gambling rates for those aged between 16-44 years old in the 2015 combined Health Survey for Great Britain and the 2018 Health Survey for England were as follows:
Combined Health Survey for Great Britain (2015)
Health Survey for England (2018)
To supplement the Health Surveys, the Gambling Commission carries out a quarterly survey by telephone which includes a shortened problem gambling screen. For the year to December 2020 this estimated a problem gambling rate of 0.3% (estimated at 0.5% in 2015). The problem gambling rate among 16-24 year olds was 0.5%, among 25-34 year olds was 0.2% and 35-44 year olds was 0.8%.
The Gambling Commission’s Young People and Gambling Report has measured gambling behaviour in children since 2014, including problem gambling using an adapted screen. The data is not directly comparable over the period as the sample group has changed from 12-15 year olds in England and Wales (2014-16) to 11-16 year olds in England, Scotland and Wales, and there have also been changes to the survey methodology. In 2015, the Commision found the problem gambling rate among 12-15 year olds in England and Wales was 0.6%. In 2019, the last year for which the survey has been based on complete data, the rate for 11-16 year olds in England, Scotland and Wales was 1.7%.
Hosting a FIFA World Cup would be an exciting opportunity for the whole of the UK and Ireland. UK Government - along with the Devolved Administrations, the Government of Ireland, and the five football associations - has committed to scoping a potential bid for the 2030 competition.
Although the final decision on host venues would be made by FIFA, it is our strong aspiration that matches (as well as other venues, such as training locations) would be hosted in all parts of the UK. We are working closely with all bid partners to assess the options for doing so.
The Department’s response to the COVID-19 recognised the importance of social connection, and we are continuing to build on this as part of our strategy to tackle loneliness.
In addition to providing over £34 million to charities tackling loneliness through the £750 million Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) funding package, over recent months we have continued to deliver the £4 million Local Connections Fund. This funding is being delivered in partnership with the National Lottery Community Fund, and so far we have awarded over 1,300 microgrants to charities and community groups that help people to connect via the things they enjoy. For example, we’ve supported songwriting workshops in Devon, dance classes in Bedfordshire, and online chat services in Durham.
In September, we launched the Loneliness Engagement Fund to provide small grants to organisations that can reach the groups in England most affected by loneliness during COVID-19. Funding will be provided to support communications and engagement activity that will help reduce feelings of stigma, and encourage people to take steps to help themselves and others. We will inform organisations who have been successful in applying for funding in early November.
We are also preparing to deliver winter loneliness campaign activity as part of the Better Health: Every Mind Matters campaign. Building on the success of the Let’s Talk Loneliness campaign, we will be reminding people that it is OK to feel lonely, and providing advice on how people can help themselves and others to tackle loneliness.
We continue to support organisations across sectors to take action on loneliness through our Tackling Loneliness Network. This year, we set up a digital platform to support members of the Network to connect and share resources and best practice. We are also working closely with stakeholders and experts through our new Social Connection Funders Group, and our Loneliness Evidence Group.
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 Gambling Commission conducts an annual survey of children and young people that collects data about gambling participation. Since 2014, that survey has included screening questions adapted for use with adolescents to identify respondents who may be problem gamblers. Problem gambling rates for all available years are given in the accompanying table. No comparable data is available for the years 2010-2013.
The latest published data is from 2019 and gives a problem gambling rate of 1.7% amongst 11-16 year olds, which is steady from the previous year. Changes to the survey’s methodology throughout its lifetime mean it is not possible to identify long-term trends. In 2017 the survey was extended to cover Scotland and the pool of respondents was widened to include 16 year olds, and in 2018 the survey moved online from paper-based questionnaires. Further detail about the survey and its findings can be found in its 2019 report, available at: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/PDF/Young-People-Gambling-Report-2019.pdf
Table: Rates of problem gambling amongst 11-15/16 year olds since 2014
Rate of problem gambling (%)
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.
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.
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.
Although the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill received royal assent in May 2023, the main provisions of the Act will not come into force until 1 August 2024. This is because the Office for Students (OfS) will need to create the new free to use complaints scheme introduced by the Act and develop guidance on how providers and students’ unions can comply with their new duties, in consultation with the sector.
When in force, however, this Act will only apply to higher education providers in England registered with the OfS. The University of St Andrews will not, therefore, be in scope.
The new duties under the Act will give specific protections to academic staff and introduce routes of redress where an individual may not have clear contractual protections in place in respect of freedom of speech and academic freedom. The Act is clear that the job security of staff should not be undermined by the expression of lawful speech, including where they may question and test received wisdom, and put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions.
On 1 June 2023, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, announced steps to prevent pupils getting access to e-cigarettes illegally. As part of this, the Department is planning to include a specific reference to the harms of e-cigarettes in the amended Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) curriculum.
The Department expects to publish an amended draft of the statutory guidance for consultation later this autumn, with a view to a final version being published in 2024.
The RSHE statutory guidance, which sets out the curriculum topics, already states that in primary and secondary school, pupils should be taught the facts about legal and illegal harmful substances and associated risks, including smoking, alcohol use, and drug taking. To support schools to deliver this content effectively, the Department published a suite of teacher training modules, including drugs, alcohol and tobacco, which makes specific reference to e-cigarettes.
In addition, the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco are taught in compulsory health education. This supplements drug education which is part of the National Curriculum for Science in Key Stages 2 and 3.
Schools are required by law to have a behaviour policy that sets out what is expected of all pupils, including what items are banned from school premises. This should be communicated to all pupils, parents and school staff.
Schools have the autonomy to decide which items should be banned from their premises, and these can include e-cigarettes. Items banned by the school can be searched for as outlined in the Department’s Searching, Screening and Confiscation guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/searching-screening-and-confiscation.
The Department believes that this will help head teachers to manage e-cigarettes on school premises and to inform pupils about the risks, with a view to reducing the numbers of pupils who are currently using e-cigarettes, or who might be tempted to try them in the future.
Apprenticeships offer a high-quality and popular route into over 680 occupations, from entry level to expert roles.
The below table shows the number of apprenticeship vacancies advertised on the Find An Apprenticeship (FAA) service in each of the last five academic years.
669,450 applications were submitted through FAA in the 2022/23 academic year, and 681,090 applications were submitted in 2021/22. Due to the data protection policy in place prior to 2021/22, the department does not hold an accurate record of the number of applications submitted between 2018/19 and 2020/21.
Employers can choose to advertise apprenticeship vacancies through their own websites, recruitment agencies, or local job centre, instead of, or in addition to FAA. As a result the actual number of apprenticeship vacancies and applications will be higher.
The department is encouraged to see consistent and strong demand for apprenticeships, and are committed to supporting more employers and individuals to benefit from the high-quality training that apprenticeships offer.
Flexible training models have been created, like flexi-job and accelerated apprenticeships, to make apprenticeships accessible for all sectors, and have developed career starter standards to attract more young people to apprenticeships.
The department is also providing an additional £40 million over the next two years to support degree apprenticeship providers to expand and help more people access this provision, on top of our £8 million investment in 2022/23.
I can confirm that a response to Question 195762 has been provided to the hon. Member for East Londonderry.
Education is a devolved matter, and the response outlines the information for England only.
The government recognises that registering as a childminder can be costly, and that the cost of registration can be a barrier for some prospective childminders. We are therefore introducing financial help in the form of grants.
The overall budget available for Childminder Start-up Grant Scheme is £7.2 million. This budget would be able to provide approximately 8,500 grants, based on the assumption that 75% of applicants will register with Ofsted and 25% will register with a Childminder Agency (CMA).
The scheme will provide grant funding of either £600 or £1,200 to new childminders upon the completion of registration activities. Childminders can register with either Ofsted or a CMA.
There is no target for this scheme. However, the department’s aim is to increase the number of childminders in the system. As such, our objective for this scheme is to maximise take-up, and thus increase the number of new childminders.
The Skills Electrification Project was part of the Emerging Skills Projects, which were pilot projects funded by the department to identify future skills needs and develop high-quality modular courses to help address future skills gaps in key sectors.
The Skills Electrification Project, as well as the other Emerging Skills Projects, were out to tender in 2021 and were developed and run by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.
The projects completed at the end of March 2022. Training material and modules are still available on the High Value manufacturing Catapult’s website, which can be found at: https://emergingskillsproject.com/electrification-units/.
There are currently 30 Confucius Institutes in the UK, including five in Scotland, three in Wales and one in Northern Ireland.
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 Department believes that music is an important subject and that all pupils should receive a high-quality music education. That is why the subject is compulsory in the National Curriculum up to age 14.
Music education is primarily the responsibility of schools. To support schools to offer a broad and balanced curriculum, the Department announced an increase in investment for schools across England of £14 billion over the next three years at the 2019 Spending Round, with increases of £2.6 billion to core schools funding in 2020-21, and further increases of £4.8 billion and £7.1 billion in 2021-22 and 2022-23 respectively. On top of this we are providing £1.5 billion for the additional pension costs for teachers, bringing the total core schools budget to £52.2 billion by 2022-23.
To support schools deliver high-quality music education for all their pupils, the Department has provided funding of over £300 million for music education hubs between 2016 and 2020, including £76 million in 2019-20. This is a significant increase from the £58 million hubs received in 2014.
In early January, we announced further funding of £85 million for music and arts in 2020-21; £80 million for music hubs coupled with further investment in film, dance, theatre and design. The Department has also confirmed that an arts premium will be provided to secondary schools to fund enriching activities for all pupils. Work is underway to develop the arts premium and we will be making further statements on this in due course.
The Government is currently considering the 10 recommendations from the Independent Review into Labour Shortages and intends to publish a Government Response shortly.
Veterinary medicines play a vital role in protecting our animals’ health and welfare. Defra is updating the Veterinary Medicines Regulations in respect of Great Britain, to ensure the Regulations continue to be fit for purpose, and we consulted on these changes earlier this year. We are finalising the response to the consultation, where we will set out the changes we are taking forward. We are aware that there is significant interest in our proposed changes and we are taking our time to make sure we get it right.
Over £2m will be spent this year with the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a charity that helps business and citizens to waste less.
Included in this work is the development, provision of, and roll out of advice, best practice and guidance to help the supply chain redistribute more surplus food to the charitable sector.
Redistribution charities continue to benefit from the increased capacity and capability from the £13m that has spent since 2018 on infrastructure such as warehousing, vehicles, fridges and freezers.
We are aware of this case of Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) in an imported kitten from Cyprus and the subsequent diagnostic testing and sequencing carried out at Edinburgh University and the Roslin Institute.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis is caused by a mutation in a common feline coronavirus (FeC). This strain of virus is unrelated to those which cause SARS, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans) or MERS. Most infections with feline coronavirus cause a mild diarrhoea but sometimes, if the virus mutates within the cat, it can cause a severe infection and in vulnerable kittens can cause high mortality. FeC is often found in multiple cat households, cat shelters and feral cat colonies, as is the case in Cyprus where many cats have died of FIP.
At present, we understand this is an isolated case and there has been no transmission to other cats in contact with the kitten, but we are following the work closely through APHA’s Small Animal Expert Group to understand whether this has the potential to become an issue for the UK cat population. FeC is not a notifiable or reportable pathogen in the UK and there are no trade rules or quarantine rules for cat imports relating to FeC or FIP.
There are guidelines provided by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association for how to deal with outbreaks in cat shelters, where spread can happen quickly and with certain highly pathogenic strains, can lead to high fatality rates.
The referenced evidence project is a UK-wide study, covering England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It will review the emissions of intentionally added microplastics, including rubber crumb in sports pitches, and the risks they pose to both human health and the environment, as well as undertaking a socio-economic assessment. Defra and the Devolved Governments will consider its recommendations once complete. Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and Windsor Framework, EU REACH continues to apply in full to Northern Ireland. As we take forward the new arrangements in the Windsor Framework, will work with the EU to manage issues should they arise.
My officials continue to work with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to understand the future needs for the UK veterinary workforce. We will look to work with the College and other stakeholders to progress any findings that emerge.
As well as being a threat to the native red squirrel, the grey squirrel poses a severe challenge to the sustainable management of woodlands in England.
In the Environmental Improvement Plan we committed to do more to tackle the impacts of grey squirrels on our trees, woodlands and red squirrel population by updating the Grey Squirrel Action Plan, embedding grey squirrel management into woodland and farming schemes, and encouraging public bodies and adjacent landowners to work together to manage grey squirrel populations, where appropriate.
Countryside Stewardship funding is now available for grey squirrel management. We have also provided funding to the UK Squirrel Accord, including for work on an innovative grey squirrel immunocontraceptive.
The updated Grey Squirrel Action Plan will build on existing support delivered through the Forestry Commission and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, setting out the additional actions Government will take to combat grey squirrels.
These actions are all aimed at reducing the pressures of grey squirrels on the environment and industry, through population reduction. Our objectives are to support red squirrel conservation and to reduce damage to trees and it is better to target our action to achieve those goals.
Defra plans to publish guidance towards the end of July regarding the processes that, from 1 October 2023, will be put in place for the movement of plants, seeds, seed potatoes and used agricultural machinery from GB-NI. This is a huge step for the industry.
The estimated costs of SPS Inspection Facilities at Northern Ireland ports are:
(a) capital (financial years 2023/2024 to 2027/2028): £192.385m
(b) resource (each financial year): circa £33m
These costs include provision for optimism bias in accordance with HMT guidance and are expected to be the maximum costs.
The Royal Colleague of Veterinary Surgeons is currently undertaking workforce modelling across the veterinary sector, which will provide estimated numbers for future veterinary demand and capacity. This includes any future need around animal welfare.
Our annual Hive Count exercise indicates that numbers of managed honey bees have increased in recent years, from around 252,000 UK colonies in 2017 to 288,000 in 2022. Annual figures are provided in the table below.
Estimated number of hives
To a large extent, numbers of honey bees are dependent on the number of people willing to keep bees.
I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, on 17 November 2022, PQ UIN 84854.
According to the latest HM Revenue and Customs’ regional overseas trade data, agri-food exports from Northern Ireland to Japan were estimated to be worth £6.47 million in 2019 and £11.06 million in 2021.
I am sure the whole House will join me in welcoming the great news that the US market is opening its doors to UK lamb again after over two decades of restrictions. We will support the UK lamb sector by working with colleagues in the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board and the UK Export Certification Partnership to promote the benefits of UK lamb in the USA.
Now that the US doors are open, we will also continue to work with counterparts in the USA to ensure the necessary technical requirements are in place for our lamb exports to happen. Similarly, we will support food business operators here in the UK as they make their preparations for the resumption of UK lamb exports, which I very much look forward to occurring in 2022.
We are grateful to Henry Dimbleby and his team for their work on the independent review examining our food system and the vital role it plays in all our lives, which included their proposal for sugar and salt reformulation tax. The proposals put forward in the review are independent of Government. We will be developing a food strategy White Paper within the next six months setting out our own ambitions and priorities for a food system that delivers healthy and affordable food for all people.
Sugar is sometimes purchased by beekeepers in order to feed their bees and as was the case following the first report from this independent review, we will continue to work collaboratively across Government to evaluate the impacts of each recommendation made by the review.
The overall size of the honey bee population is dependent to a large extent on the number of individuals who wish to keep bees. Under the Healthy Bees Plan 2030, Defra works in partnership with beekeeping stakeholders on a range of measures to maintain a healthy honey bee population in England and Wales. For example, UK beekeepers benefit from an extensive programme of apiary inspections and bee health training and advice provided by the National Bee Unit.
We need to ensure that our food systems are sustainable and resilient systems which deliver for people, nature and climate, to support our exceptional British food and drink producers, protect and enhance the nation's health and the natural environment for generations to come. The Government’s food strategy White Paper will set out how we will achieve that.
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 protection of species and the setting of targets for biodiversity are devolved matters.
In England, the Government remains committed to taking action to recover our threatened native species. Defra, Natural England and the Forestry Commission are signatories to the United Kingdom Squirrel Accord, working with over 30 other signatories to secure and expand red squirrel populations.
The 25 Year Environment Plan marked a step-change in ambition for wildlife and the natural environment. We are already taking action to fulfil this ambition. We are exploring the use of powers in the Environment Bill to strengthen our commitment to improve the status of threatened species by setting at least one biodiversity target in law, as set out in our recently published policy paper on environmental targets.
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 Government is working with industry to deliver electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure.
The management of motorways and major roads is a devolved policy area and as such the Rapid Charging Fund is England only. Certain Government funding schemes, namely the EV Chargepoint Grant, the Workplace Charging Scheme, and the On-Street Residential Charging Scheme, are available UK-wide.
In addition, funding has been awarded to projects in the devolved administrations to support chargepoint installation - for example through the Levelling Up Fund, where in Northern Ireland, ESB has received £3 million towards the upgrade of the EV charging network.
There are seven publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling stations in the UK, which serve a fleet of approximately 230 vehicles, including buses, HGVs and light duty cars and vans. The Department most recently published illustrative future hydrogen demand ranges as part of the Government’s UK Hydrogen Strategy (2021), which projected between 0 and 6 TWh of future hydrogen demand from transport in 2030.
Active Travel England is an England only organisation. The Department for Transport has allocated a total of £112 million to Active Travel England in the 2023-24 financial year, comprising £54 million of capital and £58 million of revenue funding.
The Department regularly engages with regional airports to discuss a variety of important issues.
Where opportunities for new commercial flights exist, airports, Local Authorities, local enterprise partnerships, local businesses and other stakeholders can work together to establish the case for commercial flights and work with airline partners to create new connections for their communities.
We have not had recent discussions, however officials did discuss with Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland officials progress on their implementation of GDL in December 2022 and January 2023. We have asked to be updated on progress as appropriate.
It is for the relevant local authority to determine the need for a PSO and to submit a business case to DfT for consideration. Under this policy, DfT, along with respective local authorities / local sources currently joint funds three routes into London.
Yes. As with all government strategies, we will be reviewing and monitoring progress made as a result of the refreshed Clean Maritime Plan, and the impact of its implementation. We will also publish future refreshes of the Clean Maritime Plan at a suitable time.
I have recently written to the Chairman of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, inviting the organisation to facilitate discussions relating to the potential for reciprocal arrangements for driving licence exchange.
The next report to Parliament is likely to be published alongside the third statutory Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy in 2025.
The next Operation Zero steering board meeting will take place at the beginning of October. A specific date is yet to be agreed by members.
Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency officials wrote to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) about reciprocal licence exchange arrangements with the USA in December 2020. No response has been received to date.
The department still intends to publish an update to the Clean Maritime Plan by the end of 2023. This update will set out the next steps for decarbonising the maritime sector and limiting the impact of domestic shipping on the wider environment by setting out a range of policies and interim decarbonisation goals for the domestic maritime sector between now and 2050.
The Government has made no recent assessment of the average cost of installing domestic electric vehicle charging points nor forecasted future costs to 2030.
Funding is available through the Electric Vehicle Chargepoint Grant to support the provision of chargepoints in flats or rental accommodation, with up to £350 available towards the cost of purchasing and installing a chargepoint.
The Cadet Training and Modernisation Oversight Committee last met on 21st February 2023. The next meeting is currently being arranged by the Oversight Committee secretariat on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
The Government’s most recent assessment of progress against these and other targets was set out in the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy report to Parliament in July 2022, a copy of which is available in the House Libraries. One of the targets in the 2020 Cycling and Walking Plan for England was for 50% of all journeys in towns and cities to be walked or cycled by 2030. On this, the 2022 report notes that the percentage is currently forecast to be between 41-47% by 2030, but that it could be higher depending on various uncertainties. The percentage rose to 48% in 2020, but this may have been an anomaly as part of the impact of the pandemic.
Post Office Ltd currently provides a limited range of DVLA services and an extension to the current contract has been agreed, ensuring that DVLA services will remain available at post offices.
The Department intends to publish an update to the Clean Maritime Plan later this year. It will set out the next steps to decarbonise the maritime sector and limit the impact of shipping on the wider environment.
The update is currently being developed in collaboration with the maritime industry.
Progress on the delivery of the Government’s Gear Change plan will be outlined in the next statutory ‘Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy Report to Parliament’.
Ministers and Officials at the Department for Transport regularly meet with individual operators and colleagues in the Devolved Administrations to discuss issues affecting regional airports.
The Government’s ambitions for walking and cycling up to 2024/5 are outlined in the second statutory Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS2) which was published in July 2022. The Strategy complements the Government’s Gear Change plan, which was published in July 2020.
As set out in the Transport Decarbonisation Plan published in 2021, we have committed to update the Clean Maritime Plan. We plan to publish an updated version in 2023.
Launched in 2019, the Clean Maritime Plan is the environmental route map of the Maritime 2050 Strategy. We intend to publish a refresh of the Clean Maritime Plan in 2023. This will identify clear milestones and actions to spark the transition to net zero shipping technologies, as we place the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future.
Launched in 2019, the Clean Maritime Plan is the environmental route map of the Maritime 2050 Strategy. We intend to publish a refresh of the Clean Maritime Plan in 2023. This will identify clear milestones and actions to spark the transition to net zero shipping technologies, as we place the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future.
This and other matters will be set out in the second Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy which will be published early next year. This will also reflect the policies outlined in the Prime Minister’s long-term cycling and walking plan, Gear Change, including the vision for half of all journeys in towns and cities to be cycled or walked by 2030.
On 20 May 2021, legislation was introduced to designate specified driving licences issued in the Cayman Islands, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and North Macedonia for exchange in GB.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is currently dealing with requests for reciprocal driving licence exchange agreements from Malaysia, Serbia and Sri Lanka and continues to work with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office to identify further opportunities.
The DVLA has also been in contact with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators to gauge interest in reciprocal licence exchange arrangements among US licensing authorities.
The law requires that driving licences are only granted to drivers who are resident in the UK for at least 185 days in each calendar year and hold a valid, exchangeable licence which has been issued by an EU/EEA country or one of the other designation countries listed here.
If a driver does not hold an exchangeable licence but previously held a UK licence, the UK licence will be reissued.
The Union Connectivity Review final report is due to be published by the end of the year and the Secretary of State will respond to Sir Peter's recommendations after that point
In respect of England, we are supporting apprenticeships, including to train lorry drivers. A revised standard will be available from 2 August 2021 attracting £7,000 in apprenticeship levy funding. There is also an incentive payment of £3,000 available for new apprentices of any age with an employment start date of 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021.
The Department for Work and Pensions is developing a scheme to train jobseekers in HGV driving. The Flexible Support Fund is available to help the unemployed or those in receipt of Universal Credit renew their Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).
On 20 July 2021, the Government announced a package of measures to support road haulage industry. This includes more capacity for driving tests.
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.
The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) produces risk assessments of countries and territories. Decisions on Red, Amber or Green List assignment and associated border measures are taken by Ministers, who take into account the JBC risk assessments, alongside wider public health factors. Key factors in the JBC risk assessment of each country include genomic surveillance capability, COVID-19 transmission risk and Variant of Concern transmission risk. A summary of the JBC methodology has been published on GOV.UK, alongside key data that supports ministers’ decisions.
The countries on the green list are those that present the lowest risk to the UK. Arrivals from green list countries must take a pre-departure test as well as a PCR test on or before day 2 of their arrival in England but will not need to quarantine. Countries on the green list have low case rates, low positivity, good surveillance and low risk from variants of concern.
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 table below shows data for Calls Offered to Agent Queue (number of calls received) for Disability Services, for each of the last two complete reporting years, 2021/22 and 2022/23.
Calls Offered to Agent Queue
Please note this information is derived from the Department’s management information designed solely for the purpose of helping the Department to manage its business. As such, it has not been subjected to the rigorous quality assurance checks applied to our published official statistics. As DWP holds the information internally, we have released it. However, it is possible information held by DWP may change due to operational reasons and we recommend that caution be applied when using it.
In addition to our ongoing Pension Credit communications campaign, in July we launched a more targeted ‘Invitation to Claim’ trial. Approximately 2,500 pensioner households across ten local authority areas in Great Britain were sent letters encouraging them to contact DWP and make a claim. The areas were chosen to be representative of urban, rural and coastal communities and target households were identified as most likely to be missing out because they were claiming Housing Benefit but not Pension Credit.
The objectives of the trial are to learn whether using data in this way can help accurately identify eligible households; and whether directly contacting households in this way is an effective way of boosting Pension Credit applications.
The department is responsible for the disability benefits that provide a passport to the Motability scheme, which enables disabled people in receipt of a relevant benefit to lease cars, powered wheelchairs and scooters. The Motability scheme includes electric vehicles in its offer. Disability benefits are increased yearly in line with CPI. It was announced at Autumn Statement that benefits will rise by 6.7% in April 2024. Motability Foundation is an independent charitable organisation that is wholly responsible for the terms and the administration of the scheme together, with oversight of Motability Operations and this includes support for leasing electric vehicles.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) do not provide information to the Universal Credit system. The administration of National Insurance Credits is a HMRC function, but every tax year the Department for Work and Pensions sends data on Universal Credit claim dates to HMRC to enable them to apply credits to claimant records.
DWP has corrected the Universal Credit data issues for all the cases impacted for the tax years 2017/18 and 2018/19. This data is now being shared with HMRC. Data has also been shared with HMRC for 2019/20, 20/21 and 21/22.
DWP expect National Insurance records will be fully updated by HMRC, by April 2024.
The average time taken to make a decision on an Access to Work assessment from
(a) October 2022 to March 2023 was 60.5 days
(b) April 2023 to (end of) October 2023 was 47.0 days
Please note that the data supplied is derived from unpublished management information, which was collected for internal departmental use only, and have not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard. They should therefore be treated with caution.
The Child Maintenance Decision Makers’ Guide is published on the gov.uk website providing transparency of our policy and guidance for caseworkers and resident and non-resident parents. This can be found here.
The Administration of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland is devolved to the Department for Communities.
The Administration of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland is devolved to the Department for Communities.
Universal Credit is a transferred matter in Northern Ireland, where it is administered by the Department for Communities.
The Kickstart evaluation will continue to assess the longer-term outcomes for Kickstart participants after they have completed their six-month jobs. The commissioned process evaluation will conclude in Spring 2023.
We aim to publish the findings of the Kickstart Scheme evaluation once complete.
The Department’s 2017 Review confirmed that the Automatic Enrolment (AE) framework cannot be straightforwardly extended to people who are self-employed, as by definition there is no employer to enrol them into a scheme; select a scheme or make contributions.
We remain committed to enabling self-employed people to achieve greater financial security in later life. Finding effective and enduring solutions is a long-term challenge given the highly diverse nature of this group, with varying incomes, assets, and employment experiences.
The learnings from the recent trialling and research programme delivered through Nest Insight have provided a useful platform to move forward, helping us to build the evidence base. We are working with software providers to explore the feasibility of building and testing retirement savings solutions in digital platforms, such as accountancy software and payment platforms, used by self-employed people to manage their money.
The Kickstart evaluation will continue to assess the longer-term outcomes for Kickstart participants after they have completed their six-month jobs. The commissioned process evaluation will conclude in Spring 2023.
The changes to the Universal Credit Administrative Earnings Threshold as referred to in the letter of 6 October 2022 apply to the whole of the UK.
The Universal Credit (Administrative Earnings Threshold) (Amendment) Regulations 2022 and the Universal Credit (Administrative Earnings Threshold) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2022 both came into force on 26th September 2022 to ensure that the changes applied to Northern Ireland as well as Great Britain.
Whilst the department works closely with Motability and is responsible for the disability benefits that provide a passport to the Motability scheme, Motability is an independent charitable organisation that is wholly responsible for the terms and the administration of the scheme, along with oversight of Motability operations. Any questions relating to the terms and conditions of a lease should be directed to Motability.
The information requested is not readily available for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claimants and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.
The Department does not hold the data requested for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants.
The latest available Motability annual report can be found here. The report shows that over 640,000 people use the scheme.
Under existing legislation, the state pension age is due to increase to 67 between 2026 and 2028 and 68 between 2044 and 2046. The Pensions Act 2014 requires Government to undertake a periodic review of whether the rules about pension age are appropriate. The first review of State Pension age was undertaken in 2017. It set out the Government’s intention to bring forward the increase to 68 in 2037-39 but that the Government would carry out a further review before tabling any changes to legislation.
Work has now begun on the second review of State Pension age, which will consider evidence from across the UK, including findings from two independent reports. It has not yet concluded and will be published by May 2023.
The fieldwork for the commissioned evaluation will continue until at least 2023. This evaluation will continue to assess the longer term outcomes for Kickstart participants after they have completed their six-month jobs. We plan to publish the findings once complete.
This information is not collated as a matter of normal business and is only available at disproportionate cost to the Department.
Information about how awards of the new State Pension are calculated is available on the GOV.UK website, searching for “new State Pension explained”. In addition, the personalised digital “Check your State Pension” forecast service allows people to find out when they could receive their payments, how much they can get and what they can do to increase their amount, to enable people to find out what the changes mean for them. Since its launch in February 2016, over 26 million digital forecasts have been viewed.
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.
Statutory Sick Pay is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland and is therefore the responsibility of the Department for Communities.
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.
The National Homecare Medicines Committee provided evidence about an electronic prescribing system (EPS) for the Homecare Medicine Service to the House of Lords Public Services Select Committee as part of its recent inquiry into the Service. The Committee published its report on 16 November 2023 which included recommendations on Information Technology interoperability and electronic prescribing. The Government welcomed this report and will respond in due course. This report is available at the following link:
NHS England and the National Homecare Medicines Committee Digital Sub-Group have been working to develop an output-based specification to support electronic prescribing and the transmission of prescriptions using the national EPS. Adoption of this is dependent on IT suppliers, as well as the development capability and priorities of the National Health Service EPS Product Team.
It is too early to give an indicative timetable for this work. NHS England has, however, set up a working group to explore the feasibility of whether the current EPS can be utilised across Homecare Medicines Services. This group is likely to report at the end of April 2024.
‘Pace Checker’ is a new feature that launched in the NHS Active 10 mobile application in September 2023. The feature was developed to support individuals to measure their walking pace when using the Active 10 application, providing guidance and motivation to reach a brisk pace of over 100 steps per minute. Brisk walking contributes to reaching the Chief Medical Officer’s adult physical activity guidance of at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week.
The NHS Active 10 mobile application is primarily promoted through the Better Health programme and partnership initiatives, encouraging the public to take steps to improve their physical and mental health. Most recently, the application was promoted through a World Mental Health Day campaign by Every Mind Matters to encourage individuals to take up a ‘little big thing’ to support their mental health. More information on the Better Health programme is available at the following link:
The Department of Health and Social Care has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.
The Department invests in health research through the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). The NIHR invests in research, clinical expertise, specialist facilities, workforce, and support services across a range of clinical areas. NIHR expenditure on cancer research was £101.2 million in 2021/22.
The Government is committed to funding high-quality brain tumour research. The May 2018 Government announcement of £40 million for brain tumour research as part of the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission remains available and if we can spend more on the best quality science we will do.
We welcome high-quality applications for brain tumour research funding. Applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition. The NIHR continues to follow its normal high-quality processes in making funding recommendations to the Department. It is worth noting that all applications that were fundable in open competition have been funded.
The Federated Data Platform (FDP) is software that will sit across National Health Service trusts and integrated care systems allowing them to connect data they already hold in a secure and safe environment.
NHS England announced the outcome of the tender for the FDP on Tuesday 21 November. The service is not yet live or in use. In line with current transition planning, we do not expect data to be placed into the FDP until 2024.
No unauthorised parties have gained access to sensitive data or confidential information for the Care Coordination Solution or OPTICA pilots, which have been testing and demonstrating the kinds of benefits which the FDP is expected to deliver.
The Federated Data Platform (FDP) is software that will sit across National Health Service trusts and integrated care systems allowing them to connect data they already hold in a secure and safe environment. The contract for the FDP has not yet been awarded.
The service is not yet live or in use. In line with current transition planning, we do not expect data to be placed into the FDP until 2024. No unauthorised parties have gained access to sensitive data or confidential information for the Care Coordination Solution or OPTICA pilots.
NHS England is currently running a ‘Help us Help you’ campaign highlighting the abdominal and urological symptoms of cancer, including ovarian cancer, and addressing the barriers that stop people from accessing services in the National Health Service.
It encourages the public to contact their general practitioner if they're worried about symptoms, such as “tummy discomfort or diarrhoea that lasts for three weeks or more, or if they've seen blood in their pee even once”.
It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.
NHS England is currently finalising and approving the evaluation report before publication. Once approved the report will be published.
The Barnett consequentials of the funding settlement underpinning the development of the NHS Long Term Plan were set out on 18 June 2018 in a press release on the subject, which is available at the following link:
Funding to be spent on mental health is not identified separately. It would be for NHS England and each devolved administration to make their own decisions on funding for mental health services.
Mental Health is one of the six groups of conditions that are within the scope of the forthcoming Major Conditions Strategy (MCS).
We have heard from a wide range of stakeholders, citizens and the National Health Service and their views are informing the development of the Strategy. This includes engagement at official level with the devolved governments which will continue throughout the process. There are no plans to hold separate discussions specifically on sharing of information on mental health in the context of the MCS.
There are over 70 hormone replacement therapy (HRT) products, and the vast majority are in good supply. There have been issues with the supply of a limited number of HRT products, primarily due to very sharp increases in demand, but the supply position for most of those HRT products has improved considerably over the last year. Only one of the 23 Serious Shortage Protocols issued since April last year remain. We continue to engage with suppliers to address these issues and improve resilience in the short, medium, and long term. We are holding quarterly roundtables with manufacturers, wholesalers, and community pharmacists to monitor progress and agree what more needs to be done to help ensure supply is sufficient to meet demand.
The Government will respond to the youth vaping call for evidence in the coming weeks.
We are concerned about the rise in the number of young people using vapes. There is well established concern about the addictive harms and risks from vaping, specifically associated with children and young people. Nicotine is highly addictive and there are unanswered questions on the effects of longer-term use.
That is why the Government ran a call for evidence on youth vaping which closed on 6 June 2023. This will identify opportunities to reduce the number of children accessing and using vaping products and explore where the government can go further to protect children from the harms of vaping.
We will respond to the call for evidence in due course.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the independent, expert body responsible for translating evidence into authoritative guidance on best practice for the health and care system in England.
NICE has published a number of guidelines relevant to the management of patients with Huntington’s disease, including on the recognition and referral of neurological conditions and depression in adults with a chronic physical health problem. A NICE guideline on rehabilitation for chronic neurological disorders, including acquired brain injury, is expected to be published in January 2025, and will include a specific category on progressive neurological diseases such as Huntington’s disease.
The recommendations of the NHS England’s Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) 2021 national report on rheumatology are publicly available, including to the devolved Governments.
The Department remains committed to the UK Measles and Rubella elimination strategy and is supporting the UK Health Security Agency and NHS England to refresh an implementation plan that includes short-, medium- and long-term actions related to key areas in the Strategy for England. The effectiveness of this strategy is continuously reviewed, including through regular publications of uptake data and attitudinal surveys.
In England, the Department of Health and Social Care is responsible for National Health Service continuing healthcare (CHC) policy and legislation which includes the National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare and NHS-funded Nursing Care. In Northern Ireland, CHC is the responsibility of Department of Health Northern Ireland. More information on the National Framework is available at the following link:
In England, paragraph 122 of the National Framework sets out clearly that the Checklist can be completed by staff who have been trained in its use. Once an individual has been referred for a full assessment of eligibility for CHC, a multidisciplinary team must assess whether the individual has a primary health need using the Decision Support Tool.
The clinical and cost-effectiveness of testing for Group B Streptococcus: a cluster randomised trial with economic and acceptability evaluations (GBS3) trial is currently still recruiting participants. We expect these findings, as with all research funded via the National Institute for Health and Care Research, to be published following a full analysis of the trial data.
Unipart Logistics completed a trial of HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) on four vehicles for a period of 40 days across February and March 2023. Whilst this found a major reduction of 90% in carbon dioxide impact, the trial also found a 62% increase in fuel costs and highlighted the operational challenge of HVO not being available at fuel retailers. The results are currently being considered.
The National Health Service is committed to reducing its reliance on fossil fuels across its estate and will continue to explore new options and innovations.
While no specific assessment has been made of the PROTECT study, we welcome research that will help us to understand how brain functioning changes as we age and that could lead to further research to prevent conditions such as dementia.
We have committed to double funding for dementia research to £160 million per year by 2024/25. This will span all areas of research from causes and prevention to treatment and care, delivering evidence to help prevent, diagnose, and treat dementia, enabling the best possible care and quality of life for people with dementia.
31 December 2022 3,009,511 people with diabetes were offered routine digital screening (RDS) for diabetic retinopathy. From those 2,356,894 (78.3%) people attended a RDS appointment where images were captured.
Health is a devolved matter and figures provided are for the NHS in England only.
Coverage of childhood vaccines is measured when children reach their first, second and fifth birthdays.
The following table shows annual data from 2019/20 to 2021/22 for MMR vaccine coverage (percentage uptake) in England:
MMR1 at two years
MMR1 at five years
MMR2 at five years
Source: NHS Digital ‘Childhood Vaccination Coverage Statistics’
New regulations on out-of-home calorie labelling for food sold in large businesses, including restaurants, cafes and takeaways, came into force in April 2022. Restrictions on the placement of less healthy products in key selling locations in store and online came into force on 1 October 2022. The location restrictions are the single most impactful obesity policy for reducing children’s calorie consumption and are expected to accrue health benefits of over £57 billion and provide National Health Service savings of over £4 billion over the next 25 years.
We are also working with the food industry to make further progress on reformulation and ensure it is easier for the public to make healthier choices. We have seen important successes, including the average sugar content of drinks subject to the Soft Drinks Industry Levy decreasing by 46% between 2015 and 2020. There has also been success in some categories of the sugar reduction programme, including a 14.9% reduction of sugar in retailer- and manufacturer-branded breakfast cereals and a 13.5% reduction in yoghurts and fromage frais.
We want all parts of the United Kingdom to play a role in the delivery of the Dame Barbara Windsor Dementia Mission, and for patients and communities across the UK to benefit from its work. However, expenditure and delivery plans are still in development and we cannot at this stage confirm what funding or initiatives are planned for Northern Ireland.
The requested data is not available as health service datasets in England do not record whether a person is a school pupil.
We intend to update the projected estimates of people with diabetes in due course, however we are still awaiting sufficient validated data for us to do this.
The data requested is not collected centrally.
NHS England can provide a count of patients with a recorded diagnosis of dementia. This is a count of patients with a dementia diagnosis on their general practice record at the specified point in time irrespective of when the diagnosis was made.
The dementia diagnosis figures for all ages for April of each year for the last 10 years are shown in the table below:
Recorded dementia diagnoses for all ages
The below table shows the most recent data on the number of people in England with a diabetes diagnosis.
In 2016, Public Health England published the estimated number of people aged 16 years old or older, who would have diabetes in England in 2030, would be 4.8 million, a prevalence of 9.3%
Type 2 and other
The ambition for England to be Smokefree by 2030 covers smoking prevalence only. It does not cover the prevalence of vaping.
NHS England is working with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on the evaluation of two products for Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), birch bark extract for skin wounds associated with dystrophic and junctional EB and the gene therapy Beremagene geperpavec for skin wounds associated with dystrophic EB. If any of these treatments are given a positive recommendation by NICE, NHS England will ensure that service provision is in place to deliver these treatments in line with the terms of the NICE mandate.
We have regulations in place to discourage underage vaping. The law protects children through restricting sales of vapes to over 18 years old only, limiting nicotine content, refill bottle and tank sizes, labelling requirements and through advertising restrictions.
However, given the changing circumstances surrounding vapes, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) has launched a call for evidence to identify opportunities to reduce the number of children accessing and using vape products. The call for evidence will close on Tuesday 6 June. Following this, the Government will consider a range of options based on the evidence provided, including potential changes to vaping policy and regulations. In October 2022, we published new content on the potential risks of vaping for young people on the FRANK and Better Health websites and we have provided input to educational resources produced by partners including the PSHE Association.
We are also developing a new resource pack for schools on vaping which will be made available by July.
It remains the Department’s policy to have a national target to be Smokefree by 2030. In the coming weeks, the Government will unveil a set of proposals to realise the Smokefree ambition and respond to the recommendations in the Khan Review.
The National Clinical Audit and Patient Outcomes Programme includes two diabetes audits focusing on adults and children respectively due to the differences in the way that diabetes care and services are delivered for adults and children. The Data and Analytics Directorate at NHS England collect and analyse data relating to adults with diabetes for the National Diabetes Audit while the Royal College of Paediatric Child Health deliver the National Paediatric Diabetes Audit.
The Department has not made an assessment.
The Department continues to work with the Department for Work and Pensions and as more evidence about the disease emerges, will consider the Government’s provisions and approach for those key workers experiencing the long-term effects of COVID-19.
Group B Streptococcus: a cluster randomised trial with economic and acceptability evaluations is expected to end on 31 May 2024 and findings will be reported following a full analysis of the trial data.
In March 2021, the Government committed to continue the Thalidomide Health Grant beyond 31 March 2023, when the current Grant concludes. This includes an initial payment of approximately £39 million for the first four years after the current Grant ends. The following table shows awards through the Thalidomide Health Grant in each year since 2013/14.
Health is a devolved matter. Many people qualify for a free eye test and optical vouchers to contribute towards the cost of glasses, with over 12 million National Health Service sight tests provided in England in 2021/22.
The NHS is ensuring that high quality, sustainable eye care services are available in the future, following the impact of the pandemic. We are also supporting research into diagnosis, prevention and treatment of eye conditions, including a £20 million award to the National Institute for Health and Care Research’s Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre for vision research.
Between April 2016 and March 2020, levels of routine digital screening for diabetic retinopathy in England were approximately 82%. Due to the impact of the pandemic, this rate reduced to 67.7% between January and March 2021.
The National Health Service and its partners are ensuring that participation in diabetic eye screening participation returns to pre-pandemic levels and we will continue to monitor progress.
The calorie reduction programme challenges all sectors of the food industry to achieve up to a 20% reduction in calories by 2024 in product categories which contribute significantly to the intakes of children up to the age of 18 years old. The programme includes retailers and manufacturers as well as businesses in the eating out, takeaway and delivery sector.
NHS England and NHS Improvement have advised that the modelling of endoscopy capacity and demand for the NHS Bowel Screening Programme has been completed and its outcomes are currently under review. Initial data was shared with regional public health commissioning teams to support the age extension to the Bowel Screening Programme over the next three years.
The reimbursement of travel costs for National Health Service staff is covered by the NHS Terms and Conditions, jointly agreed by employers and NHS trades unions. The current rate of reimbursement is 56 pence per mile. The NHS Terms and Conditions sets out the process for reviewing the rate of reimbursement every six months. This includes reviewing fluctuations in fuel prices.
The vast majority of care workers are employed by private sector providers who ultimately set their pay and terms and conditions, independent of central Government. HM Revenue and Customs sets the approved mileage allowance rate at 45 pence per mile for 10,000 miles. Employees can claim tax relief if they are reimbursed at less than 45 pence per mile.
The following table shows the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes in each year from 2011 to 2020. Data for 2021 is not yet available. The National Diabetes Audit (NDA) does not hold comprehensive data on children with diabetes.
Type 1 diagnoses
Type 2 and other diagnoses
Source: NHS Digital
There are no plans to do so. The UK Health Security Agency does not review the accuracy of official World Health Organization (WHO) data from other countries. The Government continues to engage with South African colleagues and other international partners such as the WHO, foreign ministries and public health laboratories to enable data sharing and strengthen global surveillance.
All COVID-19 lateral flow test devices and their manufacturers are subject to the Medical Device Regulations 2002 and COVID Testing Devices Authorisation requirements regardless of the origin of manufacture. There are no alternative or additional requirements for devices manufactured in the United Kingdom.
In exceptional circumstances, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) can issue an Exceptional Use Authorisation (EUA). The MHRA publishes the names of tests and other medical devices which have been granted an EUA online. All manufacturers are subject to the same EUA assessment standards regardless of the location of the manufacturer.
The Department is undertaking further policy development on the Tobacco Control Plan, including whether to introduce incremental targets. We will publish the Plan in due course.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has not made a specific assessment. However, the UKHSA monitors weekly COVID-19 cases by vaccination status, which is available at the following link:
The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch’s (HSIB) national review set out that there remains uncertainty among experts as to whether the rate of stillbirths has increased during the pandemic. The stillbirth rate has fallen by 25% since 2010 and we continue work to achieve our ambition to halve the 2010 rates of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths and brain injuries in babies occurring during or soon after birth by 2025.
The HSIB report also recommended that the Department commission a review to improve the reliability of existing assessment tools for fetal growth and fetal heart rate to minimise the risk for babies. The Department is considering this recommendation and will publish an official response in due course.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has not made an assessment of the proportion of reinfections of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the United Kingdom in the last six months. However, the UKHSA monitors weekly COVID-19 cases, including numbers and rates of reinfections in England. This data is published in the weekly COVID-19 Vaccine Surveillance Report, which is available at the following link:
Data on COVID-19 reinfections is available to 31 October 2021 which shows that 72,264 possible reinfections have been identified since the first recorded case of a reinfection. In the same period there were 7.9 million first positive COVID-19 test results.
The randomised controlled trial of Partial prostate Ablation versus Radical prosTatectomy (PART) in intermediate risk unilateral clinically localised prostate cancer a feasibility study’ was funded and supported by the National Institute for Health Research. The research was undertaken between 2015-2017 and the results were published on 1 September 2018 at the following link:
I refer the hon. Member to the answer of 25 October to Question 58745.
I refer the hon. Member to the answer of 30 July to Question 35525.
The United Kingdom Measles and Rubella Elimination Strategy, published in 2019, focuses on four components required to maintain elimination. These are to: achieve and sustain at least 95% coverage with two doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in the routine childhood programme; achieve at least 95% coverage with two doses of MMR vaccine in older age cohorts through opportunistic and targeted catch-up; strengthen measles and rubella surveillance through rigorous case investigation and testing at least 80% of all suspected cases with an Oral Fluid Test; and ensure easy access to high-quality, evidence-based information for health professionals and the public. This will improve mumps control and reduce outbreaks occurring.
The epidemiology of mumps in the UK has been impacted in several ways during the COVID-19 pandemic. The closures and public health measures in place in educational settings since March 2020 has led to the interruption of transmission of mumps and very few cases being reported. In England, there were two laboratory confirmed mumps infections between April and June 2021.
The Secretary of State holds weekly meetings with the Health Ministers of the Devolved Administrations (DAs). He has raised the importance of the uptake of COVID-19 boosters and third doses in these meetings with the DAs.
As health is devolved across the United Kingdom, vaccination deployment is managed by the health services in each nation: NHS England and NHS Improvement, NHS Wales, NHS Scotland, and Health and Social Care Northern Ireland. The UK government is working closely with the DAs to facilitate an aligned approach to COVID-19 vaccine deployment across the UK. Officials in the Department of Health and Social Care hold regular meetings with colleagues in the DAs to discuss COVID-19 vaccine uptake progress and interventions to drive vaccine uptake.
Data on the number of people who have received a booster or third dose COVID-19 vaccination in the UK, including a breakdown by nation, can be found at the following link: https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/vaccinations
Inhaled budesonide, a corticosteroid, was entered into the PRINCIPLE clinical trial in November 2020 for the treatment of non-hospitalised patients with COVID-19 who are 65 years old and over or 50 years old and over with an underlying health condition. The final trial results were peer reviewed by an independent panel of experts and published in The Lancet on 10 August 2021. The PRINCIPLE trial reported a three-day median benefit in self-reported recovery for patients with COVID-19 in the community setting who received inhaled budesonide.
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). We are relying on researchers to submit high-quality fundable research applications in a difficult area with a small research community. We have released a public announcement making clear our desire to receive funding applications.
Working with the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission, we held customised workshops in October 2021 to support the research community in submitting more fundable research applications and we are funding training in research for specialist brain tumour oncologists. The NIHR has received 69 applications to date, of which 10 have already been successful with others still under consideration.
The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch’s national learning report, ‘Intrapartum Stillbirth: learning from maternity safety investigations that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, 1 April to 30 June 2020’ was published on 16 September 2021.
NHS England and NHS Improvement have concluded their modelling and data has been shared with regional commissioners and providers of the National Health Service Bowel Cancer Screening Programme for planning services appropriately and to maximise delivery.
NHS England and NHS Improvement have established a number of workstreams to increase diagnostic capacity, including investment of £150 million in new imaging and endoscopy equipment, increasing the number and accessibility of accreditation sessions for new endoscopists and building further capacity through community diagnostic centres and the adopt and adapt programme.
We are committed to reducing the harms caused by tobacco and smoking rates amongst adults are currently at 13.9%, the lowest on record. The Department is currently preparing a new Tobacco Control Plan which will deliver our ambition to be smoke-free by 2030.
The data is not available in the format requested.
Of 750,518 cases reported with a specimen date between 6 September to 3 October 2021, 402,004 were in individuals aged over 18 years old. Of these, 60,497 cases were unvaccinated and 21,340 had a specimen date at least 21 days post receiving one vaccine dose.
Ministers meet regularly with general practitioner stakeholders, including the Royal College of General Practitioners and the British Medical Association to discuss a range of issues.
A national catch-up campaign was launched in April 2013 with the objective of ensuring that 95% of children aged 10 to 16 years old received at least one dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. Subsequent evaluation estimated that vaccine coverage in England following the campaign was close to 95%.
The fourth progress report for the sugar reduction programme is expected to be published by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities in late autumn 2021.
The information requested, for the years where data is available is shown in the following table.
Total NHS England Departmental Expenditure Limit (£ million)
Percentage change from previous year
Source: HM Treasury Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 2018 and 2021
We expect the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch’s national review of intrapartum stillbirths during the COVID-19 pandemic to be published shortly.
The United Kingdom National Screening Committee (UK NSC) looked at the evidence to use pulse oximetry (PO) as an additional test in the Newborn and Infant Physical Examination programme in 2019. The UK NSC recommended that there were still crucial gaps in the evidence to determine whether PO could be offered within a population screening programme to all newborn babies, as it was unclear whether PO would benefit or cause harm in finding babies with mild hypoxaemia or abnormally low oxygen blood levels.
The UK NSC supported the call for further research to help explore the uncertainties of the offer of PO in all babies, before a final recommendation is made. In 2020, the National Institute of Health Research made a call for evidence and a feasibility report is underway.
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.
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.
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 Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch is aiming to publish its report in September 2021.
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.
The Department does not hold information on the method of delivery for abortion pills.
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.
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.
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.
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 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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
‘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.
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.
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 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.
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:
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 Government remains committed to championing human rights around the world and we work with the UN and other multilateral fora to promote Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB). For India's 2022 Universal Periodic Review, we recommended India reinforce efforts to protect the rights of all minorities as enshrined in the Indian Constitution. We have a broad and deep partnership with the Government of India, and discuss all elements of our relationship, including human rights and FoRB, and raise concerns where we have them, including at Ministerial level.
The UK Government is committed to defending Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) for all, and promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities. We work with the UN, G7, and other multilateral fora to promote FoRB. The Prime Minister's Special Envoy for FoRB, Fiona Bruce MP, has written to the Malaysian High Commissioner to the UK about the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh, lodging her interest on this issue.
Recent attacks by Islamic State affiliated Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) are alarming and we are saddened by the loss of life from such attacks. The ADF is already under UK and UN sanctions. The protection of civilians, promotion of respect between different religious and non-religious groups, and human rights is a priority for the UK. We continue to work through the UN General Assembly Third Committee, UN Security Council and UN Human Rights Council to promote and protect these rights in the DRC. We regularly engage with the Government of DRC at all levels, including through Ministers in London and the British Embassy in Kinshasa. The UK is committed to supporting efforts to build stability and reduce violence in the DRC. We firmly believe the regional peace processes provide the best means by which to achieve a lasting peace and offer them our full support.
The FCDO does not hold this information. The UK does not have an extradition treaty with China. We suspended the UK-Hong Kong extradition treaty indefinitely on 20 July 2020 following China's imposition of the National Security Law (NSL) in Hong Kong.
As per the Integrated Review Refresh (2023), the United Kingdom is developing "new levers to adapt to the changing threat environment", to increase the costs of aggression by hostile actors. The Foreign Influence Registration Scheme (FIRS) is one such lever and will promote greater transparency and assurance around the activities of foreign powers or entities. Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office officials will work with the Home Office and other government departments on its implementation, which I [Minister Docherty] follow with interest, as I will its operation once live next year.
In 2021, during the UK COP26 Presidency, the World Bank Group made a commitment to fully align its sovereign operations with the Paris Agreement by 1 July 2023, and non-sovereign operations by 1 July 2025. In March this year the World Bank published a comprehensive set of methodologies and sector notes detailing its approach to Paris alignment. Since 1 July, all projects are assessed for Paris alignment. While the Bank is still in the early stages of implementation, HMG is confident that the Bank is implementing a rigorous process and is applying oversight through its seat on the Board.
The UK continues to drive efforts to eradicate all forms of modern slavery in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 by 2030. We work closely with international partners, including the UN, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Commonwealth, to encourage joint action on priorities including ending the worst forms of child labour and the exploitation of women and girls.
We support the International Labour Organisation and UNICEF through our Asia Regional Child Labour Programme which has linked 3.6 million children at risk of the worst forms of child labour with social protection schemes.
The UK Government regularly engages with Northern Ireland officials on a range of issues, including with those who are part of the UK delegation at the Joint Consultative Working Group. While it is not for the UK Government to determine what reports or other materials Northern Ireland officials should consider, I [Minister Docherty] am of course happy to ensure that UK Government officials offer to brief their counterparts on the Committee's report of 25 July. Of course, were Northern Ireland power sharing arrangements operating as they should be, Executive ministers would be able to instruct their officials to request such briefings.
UK and Canadian Ministers regularly meet to discuss a range of Government business. There are no current plans for Ministers to discuss the Government of Canada's travel advice for the UK.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued a formal apology to Mr Hedges on 31 August 2023 in accordance with the recommendations set out following an investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, which upheld aspects of his complaint. Supporting British nationals when they need help abroad remains an enduring priority of the FCDO.
The UK condemns in the strongest possible terms attempts to undermine democracy, peace and stability in Niger. From the outset of the crisis, the UK has stood firmly behind the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in calling for the restoration of constitutional order and democracy in Niger, and the immediate release of President Bazoum and his family. On 1 August the Foreign Secretary visited Nigeria and met with President Tinubu, ECOWAS Chair, and emphasised the UK's support for ECOWAS' strong statements and leadership on the coup. Minister for Armed Forces also visited Nigeria from 22-23 August where he met the President of the ECOWAS Commission. We are using our diplomatic presence in Abuja to keep in regular contact with ECOWAS and its members, and will continue to engage with and support ECOWAS in its efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
The International Development Association's 21st (IDA21) replenishment negotiations will commence in 2024. The IDA21 replenishment package should meet the challenge in IDA countries. The $93 billion International Development Association 20th (IDA20) replenishment was the largest in IDA's history. The UK is the third largest IDA20 donor, with £1.4 billion pledged.
We continually monitor the impact and effectiveness of our Conflict, Security and Stability Fund (CSSF) programming in Colombia which has been consistently evaluated as high performing, including in our most recent Annual Review. Since 2015, the UK has committed £82 million through the CSSF to support the peace process and improve stability and security in Colombia. Our funding is providing valuable support to the Colombian Government's rural development and reintegration programmes, transitional justice mechanisms, and strengthening law enforcement capability to counter narcotics and illicit finance both in Colombia and across Latin America. The most recent programme summaries of CSSF programmes in Colombia are published on GOV.UK. [https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/conflict-stability-and-security-fund-programme-summaries-for-the-americas-2021-to-2022]
No consignments were returned once they had entered Northern Ireland for customs purposes. Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) controls are the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs (DAERA). In 2021, approximately 180 consignments were returned by DAERA, or less than 0.001 per cent of the total. In 2022, approximately 140 consignments were returned by DAERA, or less than 0.0001 per cent of the total.
No goods were returned once they had entered Northern Ireland for customs purposes.
The UK Government is committed to defending freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) for all, and promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities. We work with the UN, G7, and other multilateral fora to promote FoRB. The Prime Minister's Special Envoy for FoRB, Fiona Bruce MP, has written to the Malaysian High Commissioner to the UK about the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh, lodging her interest on this issue.
It is our longstanding policy to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. We have not raised this specific case with the Government of Pakistan. We continue to urge Pakistan to ensure due process and adherence to international human rights obligations. We press for speedy and fair trials for those accused and urge the Pakistani authorities to ensure the safety of those released.
There are no plans to discuss protocols for flying flags on the President's vehicle with the US, including in relation to the President's recent visit to Northern Ireland. The choice of which flags to fly on US official vehicles would be a matter for the US authorities.
The Government took significant steps to make the Protocol work in its current form - committing to over £500 million in support to businesses since January 2021, including; delivering an unprecedented Trader Support Service (TSS) and Movement Assistance Schemes to help traders manage these new requirements (costing £346.2 million cost of running the TSS between August 2020 and February 2023) delivering four major IT systems, including the declaration, transit, safety and security and goods movement systems. The Movement Assistance Scheme, in place until December 2023, has already provided more than £10 million of support to businesses, covering the cost of more than 60,000 certificates and almost 3,000 inspection hours. The Government has pledged a further £150 million for a Digital Assistance Scheme to provide an end-to-end digital solution for agrifood certification.
The response to disinformation in Germany is a matter for German authorities. The UK and Germany are working closely together in response to Putin's aggression in Ukraine, working with the G7 and NATO to isolate Russia and support Ukraine. We share analysis and insight and co-operate through a range of fora. At the UK-Germany Strategic Dialogue on 5 January 2023, the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs confirmed our continued cooperation on Ukraine with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.
A response was sent to the Honourable Member on 19 December 2022.
The Government has regular conversations with the European Commission at both official and Ministerial level.
The Minister of State for Asia and the Middle East sent a response to the Honourable Member on 24 March 2022.
The former Minister for Europe, Chris Heaton-Harris MP responded to the correspondence in question on 28 January. I thank the Hon. Member for East Londonderry for his engagement on this important issue.
We have taken note of reports from the Christian non-governmental organisation, Open Doors.
The UK is concerned by the arrests of religious leaders and reports of their continued maltreatment by the Government of Cuba. We have raised our concerns over ongoing detentions directly with the Cuban Government, both in London and Havana. We are clear that all Cubans should have the right to protest peacefully, and that detention must not be used as a tool to restrict freedom of expression, assembly, and religion or belief. The UK was one of the first countries to call for the Cuban people to be allowed to express their views freely and peacefully following the Cuban Government's response to demonstrations on 11 July.
I responded to the correspondence in question on 28 January. I thank the Hon. Member for East Londonderry for his engagement on this important issue and apologise for the delay.
The UK is deeply concerned by the appalling devastation caused by the volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga. While full details of the humanitarian impact are still unknown, it is estimated that up to 80,000 people will have been affected. Her Majesty's Government has been working with partners on options for support, helping to ensure a coordinated regional response.
On Friday 21 January, the UK sent supplies to support the humanitarian and disaster relief effort on Australia's HMAS Adelaide. 17 pallets are on board, including 90 family tents, 8 community tents and wheel barrows. All of these items were requested by the Tongan government.
In addition, HMS Spey has now set sail for Tonga, loaded with additional items including fresh water and medical supplies.
The UK is also funding the deployment of crisis experts through the United Nations. They will support the Tongan authorities to coordinate the international response.
The UK-funded International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) has also released £345,000 to support Tonga. The UK has committed a £6 million contribution to the DREF through an annual £1.5 million donation 2020-2023.
Officials at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office have been following the arrangements for this event. I am pleased that confusion over the tickets allocated to away fans has now been resolved. Fans travelling to the game should follow local rules, and consult FCDO travel advice for France.
The removal of Nigeria from the list of Violators of Religious Freedom is a matter for the Government of the United States of America alone.
The Government is committed to defending freedom of religion or belief for all, and promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities. This is one of the Government's longstanding human rights priorities. Through our co-founding membership of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, we work with other countries, including the United States of America, to advocate for the rights of those who face discrimination or persecution because of their religion or belief.
We are clear that all Cubans should have the right to protest peacefully and that detention must not be used as a tool to restrict freedom of expression, assembly and religion. The UK was one of the first countries on 12 July to call for the Cuban people to be allowed to express their views freely and peacefully. We have raised our concerns over ongoing detentions directly with the Cuban Government, both in London and Havana.
Healthcare - including the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and vaccine certification - is a devolved competency. As such, Her Majesty's Government did not approve the Northern Ireland COVID-19 vaccine certification for international travel. Once the Department of Health in Northern Ireland had finalised its vaccine certification, officials communicated this to Malta who had included vaccine status in their entry requirements. Entry to Malta is a sovereign issue so it would be for the Maltese government to decide whether the certification met their requirements.
Healthcare - including the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and vaccine certification - is a devolved competency. As such, Her Majesty's Government did not approve the Northern Ireland COVID-19 vaccine certification for international travel. Once the Department of Health in Northern Ireland had finalised its vaccine certification, FCDO officials communicated this to host governments who had included vaccine status as part of their entry requirements. Entry to a particular country is a sovereign issue so it would be for the host government to decide whether the certification met their requirements.
The UK Government condemns recent abductions and killings of students, healthcare workers and civilians in Nigeria's northern states, including Kaduna State, and calls for the release of those still held captive. Both Christian and Muslim communities have been affected.
We regularly raise concerns over insecurity, including kidnaps, with the Nigerian Government. For example, I [Minister Duddridge] discussed the impact insecurity has on education with the Nigerian Foreign Minister and Minister of State for Education in July in the margins of the Global Education Summit.
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.
The UK is concerned about violence against all communities, whatever their religion or belief, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The violence is symptomatic of a broader picture of instability in eastern DRC. We continue to urge the DRC Government and the UN to work together to protect civilians from ongoing violence and address the root causes of conflict. During my visit [Minister Duddridge] to DRC in November 2020, I discussed the importance of addressing these issues with President Tshisekedi.
We are committed to ensuring the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO) has a mandate focused on the protection of civilians and that vulnerable communities remain central to the UN's work in DRC. We are providing approximately £52 million of financial support in 2020/21 and three military staff officers to support the mission. Our six-year, £70 million, peace and stability programme is also helping communities secure land access, construct critical infrastructure and access income-generation opportunities in DRC.
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