Twenty Seventh Report Contents

Instruments relating to COVID-19

Public services

Draft Representation of the People (Proxy Vote Applications) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2022

38.These Regulations extend for a further 12 months existing temporary changes to the rules governing various elections in Great Britain. This is to allow for late urgent applications up until 17:00 on polling day to vote by proxy on grounds of a requirement to self-isolate or in response to coronavirus-related medical advice. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities explains that the current arrangements were introduced in 202135 and are due to expire on 28 February 2022. Given the continuation of the pandemic, the extension is intended to ensure that people who are required to isolate at short notice are still able to vote.

Private Storage Aid for Pigmeat (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/21)

39.These Regulations extend the window for applications under the temporary Private Storage Aid (PSA) scheme for pigmeat in England. The PSA scheme enables meat processors to store slaughtered pigs for between two and six months so that they can be preserved safely and processed later. The PSA scheme was launched in November 2021,36 as part of a package of measures to address supply chain disruptions in the pig sector and shortages of butchers which are in part a result of the pandemic and have led to a backlog of pigs on farms (see also paragraphs 1 to 13 above). The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told us that of 14 January 2022, three PSA applications had been received, totalling 220 tonnes of de-boned cuts for six months storage.

40.This instrument extends the window for applications to the earlier of noon on 31 March 2022 or noon on the last working day on which the declaration of exceptional market conditions in the pigmeat sector from November 202137 has effect. According to Defra, the declaration has effect for three months and is due to expire on 10 February 2022. This means that the window for applications will close at noon of that day, or, if the Secretary of State makes a further declaration to extend the effect of the November 2021 declaration, at noon on 31 March 2022.

School and Early Years Finance (England) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/27)

41.This instrument provides instructions to local authorities on how to set their education budgets. The instrument establishes the parameters which local authorities must use to determine schools’ budgets, and the budgets which are allowed to be retained centrally, and sets out how local authorities are to allocate funding to maintained schools and private, voluntary and independent providers of free early years provision through locally-determined funding formulae. The Department for Education makes these Regulations annually; this instrument will therefore apply only to education budgets for the 2022–23 financial year.

42.The instrument includes provision to account for the cancellation of assessments in 2021 due to the pandemic, so that local authorities will use 2019 assessment data as a proxy for both the 2020 and 2021 reception and year 6 cohorts when setting a low prior attainment factor in local funding formulae which allows local authorities to give additional funding to schools in respect of their pupils who had low scores in previous assessments. This is in line with changes made after the cancellation of assessments due to the pandemic in 2020.

Law and Order

Wills Act 1837 (Electronic Communications) (Amendment) Order 2022 (SI 2022/18)

43.The Wills Act 1837 (Electronic Communications) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Order 2020 allowed38 the use of video-link technology in the witnessing of wills. The measure is intended to support testators who are making a will when forced to self-isolate as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and where there are practical difficulties in observing normal will-making formalities. This instrument extends the provision by two years to 31 January 2024. The Explanatory Memorandum states that this also reflects the Government’s intention to conduct a substantive review of the case for reform of the law in this area.

35 Draft Explanatory Memorandum to the Representation of the People (Proxy Vote Applications) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021.

36 Private Storage Aid for Pigmeat (England) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/1269), SLSC, 22nd Report (Session 2021-22, HL Paper 116).

37 Defra, ‘Pigmeat: declaration relating to exceptional market conditions in the pigmeat sector’ (11 November 2021): [accessed 24 January 2022].

38 Wills Act 1837 (Electronic Communications) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Order 2020 (SI 2020/952).

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