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HEALTH

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. John Hutton): The next meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council will be on 6 and 7 December. Items on the agenda relating to health will be covered on 6 December.

Items for discussion are: a co-ordinated approach to combat HIV/AIDS in the European Union and its neighbourhood; European Commission proposals for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the
 
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Council on medicinal products for paediatric use; and the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on nutrition and health claims made on foods.

I will attend for the United Kingdom.

Health Ministers will have a public debate on HIV/AIDS, where they will be asked to focus on next steps for both European Community and national level action.

This will be followed by a first council discussion of the European Commission proposal on paediatric medicines, which aims to encourage the development of medicines for children. There will be a presentation by the European Commission, followed by interventions from some member states.

There will be an exchange of views on the proposal to regulate health and nutritional claims on food labelling. Discussion will be structured around the Dutch presidency questions on the key issue of nutrient profiling, the proposed method to identify foods or categories of foods which will be permitted to make claims.

Ministers will be asked to adopt the draft council conclusions on a European response to emerging zoonotic diseases. The UK can agree to adopt these conclusions as currently drafted.

Under any other business, the Dutch presidency will report on progress made to establish the council's public health working party meeting on a high official level, which had its first meeting on 23 November 2004.

The European Commission will also present the interim report of the high level group on health care and medical services.

At lunch on 6 December, Health Ministers will also discuss pandemic preparedness planning.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Independent Race Monitor

The Minister for Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Desmond Browne): My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has today placed in the Library of each House his response to the second annual report produced under section 19E of the Race Relations Act 1976 by Mary Coussey, the Independent Race Monitor, which was placed in the Library of both Houses in July. The Race Monitor has a statutory duty to report to Parliament via the Home Secretary on ministerial authorisations made under section 19D of the Race Relations Act enabling immigration staff to discriminate on the basis of nationality or ethnic or national origin in the exercise of their functions.

Home Office Autumn Performance Report 2004

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Blunkett): The Home Office autumn performance report 2004 has been published today by command of Her Majesty. Copies of the report are available in the Vote Office and in the Library. The report is also available on the Home Office website.

The report sets out the progress we have made towards achieving our public service agreement targets.
 
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The report shows we have made significant progress. Crime has fallen dramatically and people's fear is following suit. Police performance is improving and the justice gap is continuing to narrow. Our correctional services are operating effectively, we have expanded drug treatment and asylum is increasingly under control. Our work to increase race equality and community engagement is beginning to show real results: there are now 1.6 million more volunteers than in 2001, and more black and minority ethnic police officers than ever before.

Police Grant (England and Wales)

The Minister for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety (Ms Hazel Blears): I have today placed in the Library a copy of the Home Secretary's proposals for allocation of police grant for England and Wales in 2005–06. The Home Secretary and I intend to implement the proposals subject to consideration of any representations and to the approval of the House.

This Government are continuing to deliver on law and order. Our programme of reform and improvement for the police service in England and Wales over the past four years has been matched by a significant increase in resources for policing. On a like for like basis, expenditure on policing supported by Government grant or spent centrally on services for the police has increased by 39 per cent. or over £3.0 billion between 2000–01 and 2005–06. This substantial increase has helped to both support the reform agenda and deliver the things that we all want to see. Crime is down and there are record numbers of police officers, police staff and community support officers.

We have recently set out our programme for further change. On 9 November we published "Building Communities, Beating Crime: A Better Police Service for the 21st Century". This is an ambitious agenda for sustainable improvement in policing. We are aiming for the spread of neighbourhood policing, with improved responsiveness and customer service; further modernisation of the police workforce to ensure that the service is fully equipped and able to deliver these changes; and greater involvement of communities and citizens in determining how their communities are policed. We are committed to working with the service, police authorities and their partner agencies in delivering safer communities across our country.

The national policing plan for 2005–08 was published on 24 November. This too puts the law abiding citizen at the heart of policing, with the police working in partnership to create and maintain secure and confident communities. Our key priorities are to reduce overall crime; provide a citizen-focused police service; take action with partners to increase sanction detection rates; reduce people's concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour; combat serious and organised crime and counter the increased risk from terrorism.

The police funding settlement will support the priorities outlined in the Plan. The police will receive sufficient resources to enable them to provide an efficient and effective service to the public. We have listened very carefully to the concerns raised by the policing community. The Association of Police Authorities and the Association of Chief Police Officers made available
 
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their own surveys of projected cost increases for 2005–06. These have been taken into account in determining Government increases in grant.

Total provision for policing to be supported by grant in 2005–06 will be £11,833 million. Central Government revenue grant funding direct to police forces will increase by 5.1 per cent. This includes an increase of 4.8 per cent. in total formula grant and more than £760 million in specific grants. Taken together with the increase in central funding for police communications, IT and support services, this provides an increase in supported spending of 6.7 per cent. overall.

The overall 6.7 per cent. increase or £746 million includes police formula grants, specific grants, capital related grants, direct Home Office spending and the formula spending on which revenue support grant is based. It also includes counter-terrorism and security, and international and organised crime funding.

For formula grant, the Home Secretary and I have added £194 million in Home Office Police Grant to last year's general police grant provision. There has also been an increase of £156 million in Revenue Support Grant and National Non Domestic Rates from ODPM and the Welsh Assembly. This will give police authorities maximum scope to determine their own spending and help authorities manage down financial pressures next year. This extra money has enabled us to increase police formula grant by 4.8 per cent. in 2005–06.

Last year we took the exceptional decision to provide a broadly standard rate increase in general grants in recognition of the financial pressures on all authorities. This year we will again provide a minimum increase for all police authorities but we have been able to return to a better reflection of the funding formula. The settlement provides a funding floor of 3.75 per cent. This will benefit 26 police authorities who under application of the formula without damping would have received £103.6 million less. Increases for other authorities, above the funding floor, range up to nearly 6.9 per cent. This approach balances financial protection for all police authorities with distribution of additional resources to areas where need is greater. Above-floor increases will help authorities facing rapid population growth and those that have faced ceiling restrictions in the past.

The minimum increase of 3.75 per cent. in general grants is substantially above police pay increases and inflation. Police Authorities, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Police Authorities have impressed upon me the particular pressures they face in the coming year. I am responding to their concerns with what is one of the highest police settlements in recent years. To help meet those pressures, particularly on police pensions, police grant overall and the floor level include a special 0.25 per cent uplift, around £20m that would not otherwise have been provided. I do not intend to claw back the £20m in future years, but equally we will not take it into account when calculating grant increases in 2006–2007. The effect will be that grant increases in 2006–2007 will be calculated as increases on a baseline from which the 0.25 per cent. uplift has been removed.

Pressures on policing change over time and the way in which we assess police authorities' relative need for grant support has to develop. As the National Policing Plan 2005–08 explains, we are reviewing the formula that underpins police grant, in association with the service.
 
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We are examining the factors that drive demands on the police and will take account of those factors at local level which are known to affect levels of criminality. We will be updating the formula in the light of new data, and we are exploring the possibility of linking performance expectations and resource allocation and the extent to which specific grants can be incorporated in general grant. We are also supporting wider Government consultation on three-year rather than annual grant settlements and collaborating with the Lyons Review of Local Government funding.

The settlement continues to take account of our commitment to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the police service. We expect, for the three years from 2005–06 to 2007–08, the Police Service to deliver efficiency gains of 3 per cent. per annum, half of which are to be cashable gains. Guidance on efficiency plans for 2005–06 has been issued this week.

The Home Office, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Police Authorities are committed to working in partnership to deliver cumulative year on year improvements in the value for money to deliver the efficiency targets. Future police grant allocations will be considered in the light of police authorities meeting the target for efficiency improvements.

This is an excellent settlement. If police authorities deliver efficiency gains, and exercise judicious financial planning, there is no reason for police authorities to set excessive increases in police precepts on council tax next year. The Government's policy in relation to council tax increases of less than 5 per cent. has been clearly set out by my right hon Friend the Deputy Prime Minister and my hon. Friend the Minister for Local and Regional Government.

In this statement, I want to outline provision for support for the police service in England and Wales.

The police grant settlement

We propose to distribute the settlement as set out below. The table includes funding for both local and central spending.
Table 1: Police funding settlement for 2005–06compared to 2004–05

2004–052005–06 Increase
£m(1)£m(1)£m(1)%
1. Direct funding for police authorities:
Home Office Police Grant4,3804,5741944.4
Revenue Support Grant/ Business Rates 2,8893,0451565.4
Total General Formula Grant7,2697,6193504.8
Assumed Local Funding(002)1,6991,753543.2
Total Formula Grant Spending Provision8,9689,3224044.5
Specific Grants for police authorities 708766588.2
2. Capital Grants & Support35535830.8
3. Central Spending
Policing(003)49165316233.0
Crime Reduction16417284.9
Counter Terrorism, International and Organised Crime(4)40151211127.7
Grand Total11,08711,8337466.7


(1) Figures rounded to £ million.
(2) Product of policing share of assumed national council tax.
(3) The £162 millon increase represents mainly £65 million for the Bichard agenda; an extra £47 million for Airwave core charges; £23.5 million for Criminal Justice Systems (IT); £15 million for ANPR and £10 million for NAFIS.
(4) Includes provision for NCS/NCIS (£257 million), Serious and Organised Crime Agency (£24 million) and counter terrorism.



 
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Police funding proposals within the Local Government finance system are being announced by the Minister for Local and Regional Government today, and by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Provisional general policing grants (i.e. Home Office Police Grant, Revenue Support Grant and National Non Domestic Rates) for English & Welsh police authorities in 2005–06 compared with 2004–05 are given in Table 2.

Amending Reports

The Amending Report for 2003–04, to take account of changes to ONS population data, was set out in my written statement of 18 November. Amending the settlement requires 10 police authorities to pay back formula grant. We have therefore adjusted 2005–06 grants to ensure that any authority owing money under the Amending Report will be able to pay it back and still be left with at least the floor grant increase over 2004–05. The consultation period on the Amending Report 2003–04 will end on the same date as the consultation on the funding settlement proposals 2005–06 on 11 January 2005.

Welsh police authorities

The Home Secretary has for several years provided additional funding to ensure Welsh police authorities receive at least a minimum increase in grant in line with English authorities. This additional support (£14m) will continue in 2005–2006 and is included in Table 2.

There are to be minor boundary changes affecting South Wales and Dyfed Powys, taking effect from 1 April 2005. These changes are not yet reflected in the figures in Table 2 but will be incorporated into the final Police Grant Report put to the House.

Metropolitan Police funding

Grant for the Metropolitan Police Authority will increase from £1,822 million to £1.928 billion, a cash increase of £106 million or 5.8 per cent. Including an extra £4.2 million from the Amending Report for 2003–04, the cash increase is £110.2 million. As part of general grant, I have increased the formula provision for the Metropolitan Police national and capital city functions by £10 million to £217 million. The Metropolitan Police will receive separately provision for counter-terrorism. The Metropolitan Police will also receive a range of specific grants including London Allowance payments (£34 million) and free officer travel (£3.0 million).

Specific grants for police authorities

In addition to increased general grants, police authorities will continue to receive extra funding through a range of specific grants for particular schemes. Targeted grants were introduced as a direct response to what the police service and the public told us they wanted. Specific grants enable us to target funds to the areas where they are particularly needed. We have again tried to minimise provision for specific grants next year to maximise general grants which may be spent at the discretion of police authorities. Total provision for specific grants in 2005–06 is £766 million.
 
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Specific grants for 2005–06 compared with 2004–05 are set out at Table 3.

The main specific grants are:

Crime Fighting Fund: £277 million will be made available to forces in 2005–06 to continue to support the costs of officers recruited through the Crime Fighting Fund. A further £8 million to cover pay inflation has been included within the general grant uplift. This Fund has been remarkably successful in helping the police service boost its strength which reached a record level of 139,728 in August 2004. Subject to forces maintaining their strength, we will continue to pay for the 9,650 police officers recruited through the scheme by a combination of specific and general grant.

Counter Terrorism: As last year, we will continue to provide additional funding to the Police Service to enable it to respond to the increased threat from international terrorism. We will be providing the Metropolitan Police with some £61 million in 2005–06 for ring-fenced counter terrorism funding. Provincial forces in England and Wales will receive £35 million of revenue and £8 million of capital in 2005–06 for dedicated counter terrorism work. This will be allocated following full consultation with the Association of Chief Police Officers and individual forces. In total the Police Service of England and Wales (including the Metropolitan Police) will receive £96 million of revenue and £8 million of capital to enable it to counter the increased risk from international terrorism.

Basic Command Unit (BCU) funds: £50 million will again be provided for BCUs. These are at the forefront of local policing. The grant is targeted towards forces with BCUs in high crime areas to help reduce crime in partnership with Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships. All forces in England and Wales receive a share of the grant. Next year will be the third year of the Fund. BCU Commanders will have discretion locally to pool their BCU allocations with the new Safer and Stronger Communities Fund if they wish.

Special Priority Payments: The pay and conditions package agreed by the Police Negotiating Board in May 2002 introduced new elements into police pay such as payments for the most experienced officers who can demonstrate a high level of professional competence and extra rewards for officers in the most difficult and demanding posts. For 2005–06 I have again split the allocation. A further £9 million (making £18 million) has been included in general grant. £69 million will be available as a specific grant, an increase of £9 million over the provision for 2004–05.

Community Support Officers (CSOs): CSOs free up police officer time, provide reassurance and have powers to deal with aspects of anti-social behaviour and low level crime. For 2005–06, we have allocated £49.5 million for continuing support of CSOs recruited in the first three rounds from 2002 onwards. In addition to this, I announced on 24 November the introduction of a Neighbourhood Policing Fund which would provide initially £50 million to be spent on additional CSOs to bring us up to our target of 5,500 by 31 March 2005. We have allocated £13 million for the last quarter of this financial year and £37 million for continuation funding in 2005–06.

Rural Policing Fund: £30 million is again provided for the particular needs of the 31 forces with the most widespread populations. There is no change to the formulae underpinning the fund.
 
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Airwave: Specific revenue grant for Airwave locally determined or 'menu' services will be made available to ensure that all forces will have received the sums originally promised when Airwave was first introduced. Payments have been made as Airwave became 'Ready for Service' in each force. Delays in rollout in some areas have meant that some forces have not yet obtained the full amount of originally promised funding. A final £17.3 million will be paid to 26 forces. Forces were notified of their allocations on 20 October.

Street Crime Initiative: This was launched by the Prime Minister in April 2002 and the initiative successfully brought down levels of robbery by 24 per cent. in its first two years. There has been a further 15 per cent. reduction across England and Wales in the first quarter of 2004–05. The aim of the initiative was to bring down levels of robbery which had climbed steeply. We have achieved this aim. Funding was due to cease at the end of 2004–05, however we have retained a residual specific grant in 2005–06 of £6.5 million to ensure that the benefits of the initiative are not lost and that we retain our capability to tackle mobile phone theft and other robbery. This will be allocated to forces with the biggest challenges.

Other specific grants

We will make available funding for the following: 75 per cent. of the cost of the London and South East Allowances (£55 million).

Funding support for the cost of free travel for Metropolitan and City of London officers (£3.2 million).

DNA Expansion Programme. Approximately £46 million grants will be available to continue support for this and the successor Programme, the Forensic Integration Strategy (FIS). The DNA Expansion Programme has helped to demonstrate the value of the effective use of forensics and FIS will help to build on this.

Police authority capital

The Home Secretary and I intend to allocate provision of capital grant for 2005–06 later this month.

Central spending on policing

Central spending on policing will total £653 million. This includes funding for Airwave core charges, DNA, funding to develop the Bichard agenda, National Strategy for Police Information Systems, Criminal Justice System (IT), Police Information Technology Organisation, Centrex, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and National Automated Fingerprint Identification Service (NAFIS).

Serious Organised Crime Agency

We are also establishing the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill recently introduced into Parliament. This agency will mean a step change in how we fight and defeat organised crime and the harm that is caused by it. The harm is currently estimated to be at least £20 billion a year to the United Kingdom. It will be a new organisation with a new operation that will bring together the functions of NCS and NCIS, which will be abolished as a result, as well as the serious drug trafficking and organised immigration crime aspects of Customs and the Immigration, Service. The costs of these constituencies will transfer into SOCA once it is established in April 2006. The cost met by the Home Office in 2005–06 is estimated at £24 million.
 
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Anti-Social Behaviour

The Home Office is investing £75 million over 3 years to 2005–06, including £25 million next year, to deliver many of the commitments in the 'Together tackling anti-social behaviour' action plan.

Safer and Stronger Communities Fund

The newly created Safer and Stronger Communities Fund will bring together existing Home Office and ODPM funding streams. This Fund will total a minimum of £210 million in 2005–06, the Home Office contributing a minimum of £70 million resource and £20 million capital. The police service, subject to the agreement of other local partners, will be able to draw upon these funds to support local crime reduction initiatives.

Asset Recovery Police Incentivisation scheme

This scheme boosts asset recovery by giving forces a direct stake in the proceeds they generate from the work. The police service will receive one third of the total assets recovered over and above £40 million in 2004–05. This will increase to one half in 2005–06 with the maximum benefit available to the police of £65 million.

Pensions

We are addressing the financial pressures of police pensions. Overall costs have grown steadily in recent years but are expected to increase more sharply in 2005–06 because of historic recruitment patterns. From
 
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2006–07 new arrangements for funding pensions will protect forces from extraordinary fluctuations. For 2005–06 the Home Secretary and I are providing some general relief.

The Government Actuary's Department has used the most recent data from each force to calculate cost projections for 2005–06. These have been used to allocate pensions provision in the general grant formula. For the future, we are reviewing current arrangements to make pensions' costs more predictable and manageable. Police authorities would continue to meet police pensions, funded by employer and employee contributions and topped up by central Government if that were insufficient to meet the audited pensions bill.

Conclusion

We have listened carefully to all stakeholders in determining this settlement. We are continuing to provide the resources the police service need to work effectively and matching reform with investment. The proposals will ensure that all forces in England & Wales receive a fair share of resources. There is a guaranteed minimum increase in general grants for all police authorities but resources are also being targeted to where resources are needed most. The settlement will allow us to maintain record police officer numbers as well as expand the growing number of Community Support Officers, who are reassuring the public and helping to reduce crime and fear of crime.
Table 2: Police grant allocations by English end Welsh police authority

2004–05Allocation(1)2005–06Allocation(1)Change2003–04AmendingReport2005–06AllocationNet of ARChange
Police Authority£m£m%Change £mChange £m%
English Shire forces
Avon & Somerset162.2170.14.85%0.0170.04.83%
Bedfordshire62.165.24.91%-0.265.04.58%
Cambridgeshire73.477.96.15%0.178.16.35%
Cheshire107.2111.33.75%0.2111.53.95%
Cleveland86.890.94.72%0.291.14.92%
Cumbria59.662.14.13%-0.261.93.76%
Derbyshire101.2105.03.75%0.0105.03.75%
Devon & Cornwall166.8173.03.75%0.0173.03.75%
Dorset63.666.03.75%0.066.03.75%
Durham84.287.84.30%-0.487.43.77%
Essex160.9167.03.75%0.0167.03.75%
Gloucestershire58.961.13.77%0.061.13.77%
Hampshire190.5197.73.75%0.0197.73.75%
Hertfordshire104.8108.83.77%0.0108.83.77%
Humberside114.6118.93.75%0.2119.13.95%
Kent182.6189.53.75%0.0189.53.75%
Lancashire182.9190.84.33%0.4191.24.53%
Leicestershire102.0107.85.66%-0.3107.55.38%
Lincolnshire60.663.44.54%0.063.44.54%
Norfolk82.285.94.51%-0.585.43.92%
North Yorkshire72.775.43.75%0.075.43.75%
Northamptonshire64.367.85.49%0.167.95.69%
Nottinghamshire127.6133.44.52%-0.5132.84.09%
Staffordshire109.2113.33.75%0.0113.33.75%
Suffolk66.068.53.75%0.068.53.75%
Surrey88.291.53.75%0.091.53.75%
Sussex158.1164.03.75%0.0164.03.75%
Thames Valley212.7220.63.75%0.0220.63.75%
Warwickshire49.851.84.06%0.051.84.06%
West Mercia107.7111.83.75%0.0111.83.75%
Wiltshire60.662.93.91%-0.162.93.76%
Shires Total3,324.03,460.94.12%-1.03,459.94.09%
English Metropolitan forces
Greater Manchester393.2412.64.93%0.8413.45.13%
Merseyside248.4257.73.75%0.5258.23.95%
Northumbria221.4232.24.88%0.4232.65.09%
South Yorkshire178.0185.74.33%-1.0184.73.77%
West Midlands399.3426.76.86%0.8427.57.07%
West Yorkshire298.9313.74.96%0.6314.35.16%
Mets Total1,739.11,828.55.14%2.21,830.75.27%
London forces
GLA—Police1,822.01,928.05.82%4.21,932.36.05%
City of London(002)32.735.7N/AN/AN/AN/A
London Total1,854.71,963.8N/AN/AN/AN/A
English Total6,917.87,253.24.85%5.47,258.64.85%
Welsh forces
Dyfed-Powys(03)50.352.23.75%0.052.23.75%
Gwent(03)71.174.14.17%-0.373.83.77%
North Wales(03)75.278.34.06%-0.278.03.76%
South Wales(03)168.2174.53.75%0.0174.53.75%
Welsh total364.9379.13.90%-0.5378.63.76%
TOTAL7,282.77,632.34.80%4.97,637.24.87%



(01) Rounded to the nearest £100,000. Grant as calculated under the Local Government Finance Report (England) and Local Government Finance (Police) Report (Wales). This includes the Metropolitan Police special payment, and the effects of floors and ceilings.
(02) Figures for the City of London relate to Home Office Grant only as calculated in the Police Grant Report (England and Wales). Revenue Support Grant is allocated to the Common Council of the City of London as a whole in respect of all its functions. The City is grouped with education authorities for the purposes of floors and ceilings.
(03) Welsh base positions are adjusted to account for the transfer of PFI funding out of RSG.




 
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Table 3: Specific grant allocations in 2005–06compared with 2004–05

2004–052005–06 Variance
£m£m£m%
Crime Fighting Fund279217-2-0.7
Counter Terrorism84961214.3
PNB Special Priority Payments50691938.0
London & SE Allowances (incl Pay Lead & Travel)5258611.5
Basic Command Units505000
Community Support Officers4150921.9
DNA5246-6-11.5
Neighbourhood Policing Fund133724184.6
Rural303000
Airwave Grant—mainly Menu Costs72417242.9
Wales floor141400
Street Crime256-18-72.0
Other119-2-18.2
Total specific grant708766588.2


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