Fifty First Report Contents

Instruments relating to COVID-19

Changes to business practice and regulation

Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (Coronavirus) (Extension of the Relevant Period) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/375)

33.This instrument extends several temporary measures, which were introduced by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 and earlier statutory instruments,14 beyond their current expiry dates:

34.We note that although the Explanatory Memorandum only describes some of the expected impacts of these measures, the full Impact Assessment that was prepared for the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill includes in its Annex an economic assessment and an assessment of the regulatory impact of these temporary measures.19

Draft Combined Heat and Power Quality Assurance (Temporary Modifications) Regulations 2021

Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (Temporary Modification) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/346)

35.These two instruments modify temporarily the certification process for the Combined Heat and Power Quality Assurance Scheme which certifies energy efficient Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants20 across the UK as Good Quality. Such certification is needed for schemes to access financial incentives, including environmental tax exemptions, such as exemptions from the Climate Change Levy. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) says that the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions mean that some previously Good Quality CHP operators may not qualify for such incentives in 2021 based on their 2020 operational data and would lose financial support as a result. These two instruments therefore provide a 12-month easing of the certification process to allow CHP operators, which have demonstrated that COVID-19 has had a direct impact on their performance, to submit their 2019 operational data instead of their 2020 data for 2021 certification. BEIS says that this will allow them to remain certified and claim appropriate benefits in 2021, providing continuity of financial support and preventing a further financial hit to CHP operators in 2021.

Higher Education (Registration Fees) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/304)

36.This instrument reduces the registration fees which the Office for Students charges higher education providers by approximately 3% in real terms for the academic year 2021–22. The Department for Education (DfE) says that the reduction aims to remove some of the current financial burden on higher education providers during the pandemic. The smallest providers21 will continue to be exempt from the registration fees. DfE says that, as announced on 10 September 2020,22 the plan is to reduce registration fees by a total of 10% in real terms over two years in recognition of the difficult financial environment for higher education providers, so a further 7% reduction is planned for the 2022–23 academic year.

Valuation for Rating (Coronavirus) (England) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/398)

37.This instrument ensures that rateable values in the current 2017 rating lists, which are used in the calculation of business rate bills, will continue to be based on the economic factors, market conditions and the general level of rents which prevailed at the valuation date for those lists of 1 April 2015. This will be done by assuming, for the purpose of assessing rateable values, that there were no interventions to control COVID-19. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government explains that without this instrument rateable values would be reduced as a result of public health interventions during the pandemic, leading to a reduction in business rates income for local government and HM Treasury. The next revaluation will take effect on 1 April 2023 and will reflect market rental values at 1 April 2021.

Travel

Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) (Amendment) (No. 12) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/447)

38.These Regulations amend the International Travel Regulations23 to add further countries to the “red list”, in Schedule B1, of countries and territories subject to enhanced measures. The Joint Biosecurity Centre has advised that Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and the Philippines should be added to the red list. This means that with effect from 9 April, international arrivals from those countries have been required to enter managed quarantine.

Law and order

Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) (No. 2) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/362)

39.This instrument extends the prevention of evictions from residential premises, except in the most serious circumstances, from 31 March 202124 until the end of 31 May 2021. The exemptions first introduced in November 2020 still apply; for example, evictions may still take place where the court is satisfied that the case involves trespassers, anti-social behaviour, nuisance, domestic abuse in social tenancies, false statements, substantial rent arrears exceeding six months’ rent or the death of the occupant.


14 See for example SI 2020/1031, SI 2020/1349 and SI 2020/1483.

15 A statutory demand can be made to ask for payment of a debt from an individual or company. The individual or company will have 21 days to pay the debt or reach an agreement to pay it.

16 A ‘winding up’ petition is an application that is made to the court to close or ‘wind up’ a company that cannot pay its debts.

17 The termination clause provisions prohibit contractual terms that allow contracts to be terminated if a customer enters an insolvency procedure.

18 Wrongful trading may apply where creditors have incurred losses as a result of a company being allowed to trade beyond the point at which insolvency proceedings were inevitable. In such cases a court may require a director of the company to contribute to the company’s assets from their personal assets.

19 BEIS, Impact Assessment for the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill (April 2020): https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-01/0146/SIGNED%20-%20IA%20Insolvency%20and%20Corporate%20Governance%20Enactment%20Stage.pdf [accessed 13 April 2021].

20 CHP is an energy efficient technology that allows generation of both heat and power on site, providing fuel and carbon savings compared to separate generation.

21 These are so-called micro-entities which have 300 or fewer Full Time Equivalent students and also meet two or more of the following conditions: a turnover of not more than £632,000; a balance sheet total of not more than £316,000; and average number of employees of no more than 10.

22 BEIS and DFE, Reducing bureaucratic burden in research, innovation and higher education (10 September 2020): https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reducing-bureaucratic-burdens-higher-education/reducing-bureaucratic-burdens-on-research-innovation-and-higher-education [accessed 8 April 2021].

23 Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/568).

24 When the previous instrument expires, Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) (No. 2) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/164).




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