Written Statements

Monday 14th December 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Written Statements
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Monday 14 December 2020

Operations of the UK's Counter-Terrorist Asset Freezing Regime:1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020

Monday 14th December 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Written Statements
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John Glen Portrait The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (John Glen)
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Under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010 (TAFA 2010), the Treasury is required to prepare a quarterly report regarding its exercise of the powers conferred on it by Part 1 of TAFA 2010. This written statement satisfies that requirement for the period 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020.

This report also covers the UK’s implementation of the UN’s ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaeda asset freezing regime (ISIL-AQ), and the operation of the EU’s asset freezing regime under EU Regulation (EC) 2580/2001 concerning external terrorist threats to the EU—also referred to as the CP 931 regime.

Under the ISIL-AQ asset freezing regime, the UN has responsibility for designations and the Treasury, through the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), has responsibility for licensing and compliance with the regime in the UK under the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaeda (Asset- Freezing) Regulations 2011.

Under EU Regulation 2580/2001, the EU has responsibility for designations and OFSI has responsibility for licensing and compliance with the regime in the UK under Part 1 of TAFA 2010.

EU Regulation (2016/1686) was implemented on 22 September 2016. This permits the EU to make autonomous Al-Qaeda and ISIL (Da’esh) listings.

Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2020-12-14/HCWS645/.

[HCWS645]

Energy White Paper

Monday 14th December 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

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Alok Sharma Portrait The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Alok Sharma)
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Today the Government have published the energy White Paper which sets out the strategic vision for how we will transform our energy system to build a cleaner, greener future for our country, people and planet.

Building on the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution, this White Paper provides further clarity on the practical actions that will shift our energy system from one reliant on fossil fuels to one that makes us a world leader in clean energy. We will do this in a way that creates jobs, as we build back greener from covid-19. And we will protect the most vulnerable in society by keeping bills affordable as we transition to net zero.

Consumers

We want to create a fair deal for consumers, protecting the vulnerable and fuel poor with support of £6.7 billion; increasing competition to drive better products and services, saving money on bills; and giving us warmer, more comfortable homes to live in.

The White Paper sets out a raft of measures to help households to save money on their bills. We will support the lowest paid through a package of measures that could save families in old inefficient homes up to £400. This includes extending the warm home discount scheme to 2026 to cover an extra 750,000 households and giving eligible households £150 off their electricity bills each winter. This is on top of the £2 billion green homes grant announced by the Chancellor, extended by a further year in the 10-point plan.

We will also keep bills affordable by making the energy retail market truly competitive. This will include offering people a simple method of switching to a cheaper energy tariff and testing automatically switching consumers to fairer deals to tackle “loyalty penalties”.

Putting consumers at the forefront of our approach means not just deploying measures that save energy, but making markets efficient, incentivising energy companies and consumers to choose clean energy, and making sure the rules that govern the market are swift to adapt to new technologies. We will make sure our energy system and networks are fit for the low-carbon transition by consulting on new strategic guidance for Ofgem, legislating for competition in onshore networks and delivering greater co-ordination of offshore networks. We will also encourage the development and uptake of innovative tariffs and products, and ensure customers have more transparent and accurate information on carbon content when they are choosing their energy services and products.

Creating jobs and growth

The energy White Paper comes at a vital time of rebuilding. It reinforces commitments made in the 10-point Plan to support a green recovery from covid-19 through investments in new infrastructure, and technology that will grow the economy, supporting many thousands of jobs and creating new business opportunities at home and abroad.

We estimate that measures in this White Paper could support up to 220,000 jobs in energy by 2030, many in clean industries such as carbon capture usage and storage, offshore wind and electric vehicles. Many of these jobs will be created in our industrial heartlands, supporting our promise to level up the whole country and leave no one behind.

Clean energy transformation

We will transform our energy system from one that is 80% based on fossil fuels today to one that is consistent with net zero. This will see us changing how we heat our homes and travel. It will lead to a doubling in how much electricity we use and the emergence of a new hydrogen economy.



The White Paper reaffirms our commitment to 40GW offshore wind, including 1GW floating wind, by 2030, and sets out £160 million of support for offshore wind integrated manufacturing hubs. This will support our world-leading offshore wind sector in delivering 60% UK content, and up to 60,000 jobs by 2030.

We have also committed to work with industry to aim for 5GW of hydrogen by 2030 which will unlock £4 billion in investment and support up to 8,000 jobs, and will develop low-carbon industrial clusters by 2030 by putting in place the framework required to mobilise investment.

Low-carbon electricity will be a key enabler of our transition to a net zero economy with demand expected to double due to transport and low-carbon heat. Our trajectory will see us have overwhelmingly decarbonised power in the 2030s, and fully decarbonised electricity generation by 2050.

New nuclear power

The White Paper is clear that nuclear power will continue to be an important and proven source of reliable clean electricity. With existing nuclear power plants due to cease generation by the end of the next decade, we need to take action to secure our future energy sources. Therefore, the Government are today confirming that we are entering negotiations with EDF, in relation to the Sizewell C project in Suffolk. EDF has proposed two reactors at the site, based on the design of Hinkley Point C, with a combined capacity of around 3.2 gigawatts of low-carbon electricity. By replicating Hinkley Point C, EDF believes it could be built more cheaply.

No decision has yet been taken to proceed, and the successful conclusion of these negotiations will of course be subject to full Government, regulatory and other approvals, including value for money. I will keep the House informed as we progress our discussions with EDF. And if we do reach a successful outcome, this would lead to tens of billions of pounds of investment into the UK and thousands of jobs during construction.

Today the Government are also publishing responses to the consultation on the regulated asset base (RAB) funding model, which involves an economic regulator granting a licence to a company to charge a regulated price to users of the infrastructure. The funding model is based on private investment and is used in many significant infrastructure projects. Such a model could help secure private investment and cost consumers less in the long run. Following the consultation, the Government will continue to explore a range of financing options with developers, including the RAB model. In particular, we will also continue to consider the potential role of Government finance during construction, provided there is clear value for money for consumers and taxpayers.

UK emissions trading scheme

To support businesses to decarbonise, the Government are today confirming a new and ambitious UK emissions trading scheme (UK ETS) will be in place from 1 January 2021. This new UK carbon market will be the foundation on which the UK achieves net zero emissions cost-effectively.

The scheme has been designed by the UK Government jointly with the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive and is a crucial step towards net zero, and will bring benefits for business, trade, and innovation.

The UK ETS will replace the UK’s participation in the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS) and will be a market-based measure which will provide continuity for participants. The UK ETS will initially apply to power stations, energy-intensive industries, and aviation.

Our UK ETS is more ambitious than the EU system it replaces—from day one the cap on emissions allowed within the scheme will be reduced by 5%, and we will consult in due course on aligning it with net zero.

The UK ETS will also allow us to expand carbon pricing across the economy and encourage innovation in emerging decarbonisation technologies. We have committed to exploring expanding the UK ETS to the two thirds of uncovered emissions, and will set out our aspirations to continue to lead the world on carbon pricing in the run-up to COP26. This will also include how the UK ETS could incentivise the deployment of greenhouse gas removal technologies. In addition to this, the UK is open to linking the UK ETS internationally in principle and we are considering a range of options, but no decision on our preferred linking partners has yet been made.

As we move out of the shadow of coronavirus, this energy White Paper opens the door to exciting new opportunities for our country, creating new jobs as we build the economy of tomorrow. Taking action now ensures the UK is set on the path to ending its contribution to climate change while enabling UK industry to seize new opportunities.

[HCWS642]

Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime: Designations

Monday 14th December 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

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Dominic Raab Portrait The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs and First Secretary of State (Dominic Raab)
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On 10 December, I imposed asset freezes and travel bans on 11 individuals and an asset freeze on one entity under the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020.

This was the third set of designations under this regime since the regulations were laid in July 2020. Criteria for designation under the regime include involvement in violations of the right to life, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the right to be free from slavery. These designations address serious violations of human rights in Venezuela, Chechnya, Pakistan and Gambia, including extra-judicial killings and torture.

In Venezuela, the sanctions target figures in the Maduro regime who are responsible for killing and torturing protestors, especially during the period from 2016 to 2017. The designation of senior officials in Chechnya holds to account those responsible for the campaign of persecution of Chechnya’s LGBT community which has included extrajudicial executions and torture. In Gambia, the designations include former president Yahya Jammeh, who was responsible for extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, kidnappings, torture; and rape during his tenure as president between 1994 and 2016. We have designated one former senior member of the Pakistani police for his involvement in a series of extrajudicial killings.

The full list of designations is below:

Venezuela

1. Rafael Bastardo: Commander of FAES (Special Action Forces) until 2019;

2. Remigio Ceballos Ichaso: Head of the Strategic Command Operations of the Bolivarian national armed forces (CEOFANB);

3. Fabio Zavarse Pabon: Commander of the National Guard (GNB).

Russian Federation

4. Magomed Daudov: The spokesperson/chairperson of the parliament of the Chechen Republic;

5. Aiub Kataev: Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation in Argun;

6. Apti Alaudinov: Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of the Chechen Republic and Major General of the Police;

7. Terek Special Rapid Response Unit.

The Gambia

8. Yahya Abdul Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh: former president of the Gambia;

9. Yankuba Badjie: former director general of the Gambian National Intelligence Agency (NIA);

10. Zineb Jammeh: former first lady of the Gambia and wife of Yahya Jammeh.

Pakistan

11. Anwar Ahmad Khan: former senior superintendent of police (SSP) in Malir district, Karachi.

[HCWS640]

Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council

Monday 14th December 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

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Wendy Morton Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs (Wendy Morton)
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Between Monday 23 and Thursday 26 November, 2020 I chaired, with Baroness Sugg, the eighth UK-Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council. The meeting was held virtually and was attended by OT leaders and elected representatives from Anguilla, Ascension Island, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St Helena, the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Tristan da Cunha and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The themes of discussion at this year’s Council included the impacts of the covid-19 global health pandemic; the constitutional relationship; economic resilience; the UK’s exit from the European Union; trade; border security; prisons; protecting the vulnerable (including mental health, domestic violence and children); the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Instruments Implementation (III) code; environmental protection and COP26.

The Prime Minister addressed the Council. Other ministerial colleagues attending discussions included the right hon. Lord Goldsmith (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, my right hon. Friends the Minister for Security, the Minister for the Armed Forces, the Under-Secretary of State for International Trade, the Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health and the Under-Secretary of State for Transport.

Members of the Council set out a number of important commitments and areas for joint work in the year ahead.

We discussed the impacts of the covid-19 global pandemic, where the territories expressed their thanks to the UK for its support. We also discussed the constitutional relationship and held discussions on economic resilience, trade and the UK’s departure from the EU, where we confirmed our commitment to supporting the overseas territories in building successful and resilient economies and to taking the needs of the territories into account when negotiating new trading relationships and when considering new funding programmes.

We discussed how we could better support vulnerable groups in the overseas territories, committing to strengthen mental health systems, to identify opportunities and take measures to tackle domestic abuse, and to explore whether a children’s commissioner role or similar might be appropriate for each territory.

We recognised the importance of the biodiversity of the territories and agreed to work together on ambitious action to tackle climate change at COP26 and agreed to work together on compliance with international maritime conventions.

We also set out programmes of work to support border security and prisons in the territories.

We agreed a joint communique which was issued following the conclusion of the conference and was published on the gov.uk website.

The communique and an associated press statement reflect the commitment of the Governments of the overseas territories and of the UK to continue to work in partnership to achieve the vision set out in the June 2012 White Paper: The Overseas Territories: Security, Success and Sustainability.

In line with our commitment in the White Paper, we will continue to report to Parliament on progress by Government Departments.

[HCWS641]

Overseas Territories: Publicly Accessible Registers of Company Beneficial Ownership

Monday 14th December 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

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Wendy Morton Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs (Wendy Morton)
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On 15 July 2020 a written ministerial statement [HLWS361/HCWS369] welcomed the statements from eight overseas territories committing to introduce publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership. In a welcome step forward, the British Virgin Islands’ Government have also committed to adopt publicly accessible registers, meaning that all on the United Kingdom’s inhabited territories are committed to adopt such registers. This is a major change, and the unanimous action from all the overseas territories demonstrates their commitment to tackle flows of illicit finance.

As the next step in the process, the Government are publishing a draft Order in Council, which has been prepared in accordance with section 51 of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018. The draft order sets out the Government’s expectations of how the territories will adopt publicly accessible registers. The draft order has been published on gov.uk with a short accompanying note.

The draft order sets minimum requirements for what the UK Government deem to be a compliant publicly accessible register of company beneficial ownership in the overseas territories. This includes the form that the register must take and the information that must be made available such that it would be broadly equivalent to that available in accordance with the provisions of part 21 A of the UK Companies Act 2006.

The draft order sets out a minimum definition of beneficial ownership. This encompasses both direct and indirect control over companies and includes, but is not limited to, control through shareholdings, voting rights or the right to appoint or remove a majority of directors. Where a territory attaches a percentage to the type of control the draft order sets out that this cannot be higher than 25%.

The information on an individual must include their name, country of residence, nationality, month and year of birth and the nature of their control over the company.

It is the Government’s view that only those territories with companies registered in their jurisdiction need to produce registers, and that territories’ registers should be a proportionate reflection of the number of companies registered in their jurisdiction.

By introducing publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership, the overseas territories are showing that they are responsible jurisdictions and a collaborative partner to the UK. This builds on the exchange of notes arrangements which sees the territories with financial centres share invaluable company beneficial ownership information with UK law enforcement agencies at short notice. A statutory review of these arrangements last year found that they are working well and are providing our law enforcement with invaluable information to support ongoing investigations.

In the light of the firm commitments from all of the inhabited overseas territories to adopt publicly accessible registers, the UK Government have decided that it is now not necessary to make the order under section 51, but will keep this under review.

The UK Government are spearheading an international campaign to encourage more countries to commit to publicly accessible registers by 2023. The UK will continue to work with all territories to support their implementation of publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership by the end of 2023.

I am sure that members of the House will welcome the publication of this draft Order in Council.

[HCWS643]

Blood Donation

Monday 14th December 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

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Matt Hancock Portrait The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Matt Hancock)
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I would like to inform the House that the Government, along with the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Government, will be updating the blood donor selection criteria. This move will enable men who have sex with men in a long-term relationship to give blood from summer 2021.

In 2011, the lifetime ban on blood donation by men who have sex with men was lifted following an evidence-based review by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO). This introduced a deferral period of 12 months for men who have sex with men since their last sexual contact with another man. In 2017, the UK reduced this period to three months. These changes did not impact the safety of the blood supply in the UK.

Since then, the Government have taken steps to explore if further changes can be made to the deferral period for men who have sex with men, without risking the safety of the blood supply. At the request of the Department of Health and Social Care, the ‘For Assessment of Individualised Risk’ (FAIR) steering group was established at the beginning of 2019. The group reviewed whether the UK Blood Services could move to a more individualised blood donor selection policy.

The steering group reported to SaBTO in October 2020, advising that a more individualised risk-based approach to the blood donor selection policy could be taken without risking the safety of the blood supply. SaBTO reviewed the report and formally recommended that the Government implement the changes proposed by the FAIR steering group.

The Government have accepted this recommendation. This will mean a change to the current three-month deferral period for all men who have sex with men to a gender-neutral selection policy, where deferrals are based on higher-risk behaviours associated with acquiring infections.

This policy change will mean that anyone who has had the same sexual partner in the last three months will be eligible to donate and men who have sex with men will no longer be asked to declare if they have had sex with another man, making the criteria for blood donation gender-neutral and more inclusive.

This is a progressive and welcome step forward, reducing limitations for men who have sex with men to donate blood and creating a fairer system for blood donation. In implementing these changes, the UK will take on a world-leading role as one of the first countries to recognise that a risk-based approach for men who have sex with men does not pose a safety risk to blood donation.

The Department of Health and Social Care is working with NHS Blood and Transplant and devolved administrations to implement changes which we anticipate will be rolled out by summer 2021. We will have monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure the safety of donors and patients, including continued monitoring of both acute and chronic infections in new and regular donors. The changes will be reviewed in 12 months.

The report from the FAIR steering group can be viewed here at: https://www.blood.co.uk/news-and-campaigns /news-and-statements/fair-steering-group.

[HCWS646]

Homelessness and Rough Sleeping: Substance Misuse Support

Monday 14th December 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

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Kelly Tolhurst Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (Kelly Tolhurst)
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At spring Budget 2020, the Chancellor announced funding for substance misuse treatment and recovery services for vulnerable people sleeping rough in England. Today, I am announcing the allocations of this year’s funding, totalling £23 million across 43 priority areas in England with the highest level of need, in addition to three pan-London projects. I am also announcing that this funding will be backed by a further £52 million next year, enabling these individuals to continue to access specialist support.

We recognise the importance of understanding the needs of people sleeping rough so that they can access the right support. Through the rough sleeping initiative and our Everyone In response, we have worked closely with local authorities to get a much better understanding of this at a local level. We have also undertaken national research over 2019-20, interviewing over 500 people with experience of rough sleeping across different areas in England to better understand their support needs and use of services. The full report will be published on gov.uk shortly.

From this research, we know that many people sleeping rough have substance misuse support needs, and many face challenges in accessing the support they need. These vital funds will provide the specialist support needed, to enable these individuals to rebuild their lives off the streets and move towards longer-term accommodation. It will include evidence-based drug and alcohol treatment, such as detox and rehab services. It will also fund wraparound support which is key to engaging people in drug and alcohol treatment services and improving access, such as co-occurring mental health and substance dependence workers and peer mentors. Public Health England’s regional teams and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s expert rough sleeping advisers have worked closely with each of the 43 local areas to develop their plans for this year’s funding.

This funding is a critical part of the Government’s commitment to ending rough sleeping and to transforming the lives of some of the most vulnerable in society. Backed by significant Government support, these plans are part of over £700 million being provided to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping this year. By September, our ongoing Everyone In scheme had successfully supported over 29,000 vulnerable people; with over 10,000 in emergency accommodation and nearly 19,000 provided with settled accommodation or move-on support.

The recently announced £15 million protect programme and our winter support package, which includes a £10 million cold weather fund and a £2 million winter transformation fund will build on the continuing successes of Everyone In and ensure that we protect the most vulnerable from the dangers of covid-19 over the coming months.

Meanwhile, our Next Steps accommodation programme has made available the financial resources needed to help prevent as many of those accommodated during the pandemic as possible from returning to the streets.

We are also putting in place an unprecedented level of support to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping over 2021-22 with an additional £254 million resource funding. This takes total resource funding in 2021-22 to £676 million, a 60% increase compared to the 2019 spending review.

This funding will be supported by wider Governmental work to improve outcomes for the most vulnerable people in our society. For example, the Government recently announced £46 million for a new programme—Changing Futures—to provide better outcomes for adults experiencing multiple disadvantage, including people experiencing homelessness and substance misuse support needs. The prospectus for the Changing Futures programme, asking for local area expressions of interest, was made available on 10 December.

We are working at pace to prepare for the delivery of next year’s funding and will set out further detail about how areas in England can access this additional support under the substance misuse programme shortly.

I encourage all relevant partners and local authorities to consider how they can best use the available support to protect the most vulnerable.

[HCWS644]

UK’s Future Trading Relationship with Australia: Update on Negotiations

Monday 14th December 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

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Elizabeth Truss Portrait The Secretary of State for International Trade (Elizabeth Truss)
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The third round of free trade agreement negotiations with Australia took place between 23 November and 4 December. During the two weeks, negotiators completed 46 discussions, spanning the breadth of the free trade agreement.

For every area, text was shared before the round. Both sides continued to have detailed textual discussions, and negotiators are now in the process of consolidating texts in several chapter areas. These include digital, telecommunications, customs, rules of origin, procurement, and cross-cutting provisions such as dispute settlement. Discussions in these chapters indicated areas of common understanding, where progress could be made.

We held detailed technical discussions on text in areas such as investment, professional business services and financial services, including on regulatory co-operation. Across all areas of the free trade agreement negotiation, we identified areas of convergence and some areas of divergence. Both sides are regularly engaging with domestic stakeholders to ensure our respective proposals are informed by their views.

Both sides exchanged their initial goods market access offers before the round. This exchange of goods market access offers is an early milestone, and the speed at which this stage has been reached demonstrates the momentum behind these negotiations. Discussions on market access will continue in parallel with discussions across the free trade agreement.

During the negotiations, the Secretary of State for International Trade had a call with Senator Simon Birmingham, and they agreed on the need to maintain momentum ahead of the next round.

After this round we have agreed to a number of intersessional discussions to ensure the pace is continued heading into the next round.

Below is a summary list of those areas discussed in the round, which continued to take place by video conference:

Anti-Corruption

Competition

Customs and trade facilitation

Development

Digital/e-commerce

Environment and clean growth

Financial services

Goods

Good regulatory practices

Government procurement

Innovation

Investment

Intellectual property

Labour

Legal and institutional provisions

Telecommunications

Trade remedies

Rules of origin

Services, including movement of natural persons, professional business services, international maritime transport services and delivery services

Small and medium-sized enterprises

State owned enterprises

Sanitary and phytosanitary measures

State-to-state dispute settlement

Technical barriers to trade

Transparency

Trade and women’s economic empowerment

Any deal the UK Government agree will be fair and balanced and in the best interests of the whole of the UK. As we will in all negotiations, we remain committed to upholding our high environmental, labour, product and food safety, and animal welfare standards in our trade agreement with Australia, as well as protecting the NHS.

[HCWS639]

Plan for Jobs Update

Monday 14th December 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

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Thérèse Coffey Portrait The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Dr Thérèse Coffey)
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The Government’s plan for jobs is already supporting people back into employment. Jobcentres are open across the country, including 262 Jobcentres that recently started opening on Saturdays, and we are now making over 750,000 contacts a week. With an extra 7,000 work coaches already in place, we are on track to meet our commitment to double the number of work coaches by the end of this financial year. While many claimants are ready to move back into work, others may need additional support including acquiring work experience, training or new skills.

For young people especially, a lack of work experience can be a barrier to stepping on to the jobs ladder. That is why, through our kickstart scheme, we are funding the creation of new job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds, with work coaches referring young people to prospective employers who are able to spread the start date of job placements over the next year.

After inviting expressions of interest from employers in September, young people started benefiting from the first placements in November. We have seen a brilliant response from employers with over 32,000 roles already approved. Vacancies have been created with employers large and small and across a range of sectors, including construction, digital and technology, logistics and manufacturing. Processing of applications is now proceeding at pace and we hope to see many more of our young claimants starting placements early in the new year.

In delivering kickstart, it is important that we use taxpayers’ money carefully to ensure the quality of the wraparound support to young people and avoid fraud. Therefore our processes have rightly been rigorous in assessing applications made directly from employers and those made through a kickstart “gateway” where employers, particularly smaller ones, can receive help such as from a local authority or charity. We have over 200 “gateway” organisations now approved with a significant number of roles. However, we know our processes have led to a number of employers and organisations not being approved, particularly applications by sole traders, whether directly or through gateways.

We are continuing to review and improve our assessment and control processes, including those on financial due diligence. For example, currently there is only one route for sole traders to be involved in kickstart and that is through a gateway that provides a PAYE service as part of their support. We have now approved a new gateway, operated by the Federation of Small Businesses and in partnership with Adecco Working Ventures, to provide such a route. Other organisations are considering creating similar models.

Disabled people receiving support through Access to Work are eligible for kickstart placements and these will be actively promoted by our work coaches and national employment programme teams. I am pleased that a number of people on kickstart have come from particularly disadvantaged groups and we will continue to make our work programmes appropriately inclusive.

Other parts of our plan for jobs agenda being delivered by DWP include SWAPs, JETS and JFS: sector work-based academy programmes, job entry targeted scheme and job finding support. The number of referrals and starts made to SWAPs has exceeded our initial estimates and we are seeing thousands of people being supported through our other schemes. In light of this uptake and to ensure that we can continue to support claimants we are taking steps to increase the number of placements available on the SWAPs scheme.

Work is also under way on Restart, our long-term unemployment programme, that will support over one million individuals. We have issued our invitation to tender for the programme to start in summer 2021.

Our plan for jobs is the most ambitious employment programme ever undertaken, particularly the scope and extent of kickstart. I encourage members of the House to work with local employers to ensure kickstart helps provide a flying start for our young people.

[HCWS647]