The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Mr John Hayes): On 24 May it was announced that a further £50 million would be invested in further education infrastructure to support the development of new college facilities. This is in keeping with the Government's determination to make further education a key priority.
In that spirit, I am pleased to inform Parliament that the Government are today launching the College Investment Fund, and that the Skills Funding Agency will from today begin the process by which this extra resource is to be invested.
Many colleges up and down the country are still reeling from the effects of the crisis last year in the capital investment programme, which forced a review by Sir Andrew Foster that criticised
"failures in the general management and financial management of the Learning and Skills Council".
While this Government are unable to undo the previous mismanagement of the FE capital programme, I fully recognise the crucial significance of ensuring the teaching and learning facilities in our further education colleges are up to date and fit for purpose.
Indeed, I am determined to ensure that colleges across Britain are the best they can be.
That is why the Government are so keen to support those colleges that did not previously benefit from large-scale public investment. For that reason, the £50 million additional capital will be available to all those further education colleges that have received less than £5 million in total grant support from the Learning and Skills Council since 2001.
Today, the Skills Funding Agency will write to all eligible further education colleges and confirm that they will each receive a share of a £30 million renewal grant. This will support 153 colleges across the country that have yet to benefit from significant capital funds. Each will receive approximately £225,000. I am advised that such investment is expected to facilitate considerable additional private finance.
The remaining £20 million will be made available to colleges through an enhanced renewal grant. Approximately 20 colleges will have the opportunity to add to their renewal grant, by bidding to build their total allocation to £1 million. Again it is anticipated that these grants will leverage substantial additional private finance, providing final projects of significant value.
Applications for the enhanced renewal grant will be assessed using key criteria, including the existing condition of bidding colleges' estates and facilities; resulting benefits
to learners; and the contribution which each applicant's proposals make to the regeneration of their local community. Projects will be expected to meet exacting design standards, ensuring a built legacy of which all concerned can be proud.
The Skills Funding Agency and an expert panel will assess and prioritise all applications, with a view to announcing successful bids by the end of this summer. Crucially, all projects will have to be completed in time for learners to benefit from the new facilities by the start of the 2011-12 academic year.
I will be writing today to all Members of Parliament regarding this important announcement, and asking them to encourage eligible local colleges to apply for this new fund.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Mr Edward Davey): I am pleased to announce that the Government have today written to the Low Pay Commission setting out the remit for their 2011 report. I would also like to take this opportunity to set out our response to the Commission's 2010 report which was published on 25 March 2010.
The remit for the Low Pay Commission's 2011 report
The Low Pay Commission is asked to:
Monitor, evaluate and review the NMW and its impact, with particular reference to:
the effect on pay, employment and competitiveness in the low paying sectors, with particular reference to the competitiveness of small firms;
the effect on the pay structures and employment of different groups of workers, including in particular different age groups, women, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and migrant workers.
Review the labour market position of young people, including those in apprenticeships and internships.
Review the levels of each of the different minimum wage rates and make recommendations for October 2011.
Review the arrangements for the apprentice minimum wage.
Report to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills by the end of February 2011.
The Low Pay Commission's 2010 report
The main recommendations put forward by the Low Pay Commission concern the rates of the minimum wage and an apprentice minimum wage. The Commission have recommended that the adult hourly rate of the minimum wage should increase from £5.80 to £5.93 and reaffirmed the recommendation in their 2009 report that the adult rate should also apply to workers aged 21. They have also recommended increasing the development rate (which will cover workers aged 18-20 years) from £4.83 to £4.92 and that the rate for 16-17 year olds moves from £3.57 to £3.64. They recommend that these changes take place in October 2010.
The Commission has also recommended that there should be a single apprentice minimum wage rate of £2.50 per hour for those apprentices currently exempt from the national minimum wage; that is, all those under the age of 19 and those aged 19 and over in the first 12 months of their apprenticeship.
The Government accept these recommendations.
In addition, the Government accept the Commission's recommendations that there should be specific guidance on the national minimum wage for the entertainment sector; and that HMRC investigates whether contract and agency cleaners in the hotel sector are receiving their entitlement under the national minimum wage for their hours worked.
The Government note the Commission's recommendation that there should be a commitment, as a minimum, to maintaining current funding in real terms for monitoring and enforcement of the national minimum wage until at least March 2014.
Government's response to individual recommendations in the Low Pay Commission's 2010 report
We recommend that the adult minimum wage rate should increase from £5.80 to £5.93 from October 2010.
We recommend that the youth development rate should increase from £4.83 to £4.92 and that the 16-17 Year Old Rate should increase from £3.57 to £3.64 from October 2010.
We recommend that the accommodation offset should increase from £4.51 to £4.61 per day from October 2010.
We recommend that non-employed apprentices are excluded from the apprentice minimum wage and continue to be exempt from the national minimum wage.
We recommend that the apprentice minimum wage be applied as a single rate to those apprentices currently exempt from the national minimum wage. That is all those under the age of 19 and those aged 19 and over in the first 12 months of their apprenticeship. The wage should cover both those employed on traditional contracts of apprenticeship and employed apprentices on government-supported level 2 and 3 schemes.
We recommend that all hours of work and training (relating to both on-the-job and off-the-job) under an apprenticeship should be counted as hours for which the apprentice wage must be paid. All hours should be paid at the same wage rate.
We recommend that the apprentice minimum wage be set at an hourly rate.
We recommend the apprentice wage is set at a rate of £2.50 per hour and is introduced from October 2010.
We recommend that in England transitional arrangements are put in place so that current apprentices retain a contractual entitlement to at least £95 per week for the remainder of their apprenticeship or until they are entitled to the national minimum wage.
We recommend that the Government include the review of the apprentice minimum wage rate and arrangements in our annual terms of reference.
We recommend that the Government produce, in conjunction with interested parties, sector-specific guidance on the national minimum wage for the entertainment sector.
We recommend that HMRC investigates whether contract and agency cleaners in the hotel sector are receiving their entitlement under the national minimum wage for their hours worked.
We recommend that the Government commit, as a minimum, to maintaining current funding in real terms for monitoring and enforcement of the national minimum wage until at least March 2014.
The Government consider that effective enforcement of the national minimum wage is extremely important; however we do not believe that it would be appropriate to accept a recommendation that would commit the Government to the allocation of resources for future years.
Copies of the Low Pay Commission's remit and the Government's response to the Commission's 2010 report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Richard Benyon): I am pleased to be appointed as Waterways Minister as I am familiar with the public benefits the waterways provide and I am making this statement to set out how I intend to take forward inland waterways policy for England and Wales. The Government consider civil society has a very valuable role to play in delivering public services as part of our commitment to creating a big society. We will therefore be continuing to look in detail at whether a third sector model would be appropriate for British Waterways, including the possible inclusion of the Environment Agency's navigations as the other navigation authority grant aided by Government. My Department will be engaging a wide range of stakeholders in this work, and liaising with the Scottish Government. However I must make clear that, given the Government's overriding objective of reducing the financial deficit, no decisions on such a change will be taken until after the forthcoming spending review. In the light of this I have also decided not to proceed now with a new Government waterways strategy and I will review the situation following the spending review.
The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington): In the interest of the House and on behalf of Government I am depositing in the Library a full list of explanatory memorandums submitted by the Government from 12 April to 9 June. This covers the period of Dissolution and the subsequent weeks during which the parliamentary scrutiny Committees have not met.
I will also deposit a full list of EU documents deposited by the Government in the Library of the House during the same period.
I would invite members to examine both these lists and to raise any questions of policy in the usual way or via correspondence. It is vital that the House has a chance to scrutinise the work of Government and to consider policy. This is particularly true of our EU business.
As noted by the Foreign Secretary to the House on 3 June, we are looking to improve parliamentary scrutiny of decision-making in Europe and ahead of ministerial Councils.
The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Andrew Lansley): Today I am publishing a document setting out the revisions to the NHS operating framework for 2010-11. The document has been placed in the Library and copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office.
In now moving towards a health service which puts patients at the heart of decision making, which focuses on quality and outcomes not processes, and with more devolved responsibilities, this short document sets out a number of areas subject to immediate change.
The Department will cease to centrally performance-manage the previous Government's targets on 18-week waiting times and access to primary care. More clinically relevant accident and emergency indicators will be developed for 2011-12. Locally led plans should deliver improvements in median waiting times and access.
The coalition Government are committed to stopping top-down reorganisations of the NHS that have got in the way of patient care. To that end, a moratorium is in place for future and ongoing reconfiguration proposals. All current and future reconfiguration proposals will need to meet four new tests as I set out in the document; and can go forward, if and when they do so.
I shall set out that primary care trusts (PCTs) should accelerate the process to transform community services with clear deadlines.
I have asked each strategic health authority (SHA) region to now go further, faster, to release all possible resources to meet demand and quality challenges. The overall ceiling for management costs in PCTs and SHAs will now be set at two thirds of the 2008-09 management costs (£1,509 million), the ceiling will therefore be £1,006 million. In aggregate, PCTs and SHAs will need to save at least £222 million in 2010-11 and a further £350 million by the end of 2011-12.
I am asking NHS organisations to ensure that they demonstrate similar discipline to central Government on consultancy, marketing and information, communications and technology spend, recruitment, and centralised procurement for goods and services.
The number of best practice tariffs shall be expanded where payment is linked to best practice care, as well as expanding the list of never events so that no payment is made for services, which compromise patient safety.
I announced on 8 June 2010 my intention to make hospitals responsible for patients 30 days after discharge, one of the key health commitments in the coalition agreement. If a patient is re-admitted during that time, the hospital will not receive any further payment for the
additional treatment. Making hospitals responsible for a patient's ongoing care after discharge will create more joined-up working between hospitals and community services and may be supported by the developments in re-ablement and post-discharge support. This will improve quality and performance and shift the focus to the outcome for the patient.
These are the only changes I am making in-year. The remainder of the NHS operating framework 2010-11, which was published on 16 December 2009, still stands and I expect the NHS to play its role when partnership approaches are needed to secure better outcomes.
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