Parliamentary Questions

Parliamentary Questions

Kevin Hollinrake MP – Community Development Finance Institutions (69147)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what support his Department plans to provide to community development finance institutions across the UK.

Answered by: John Glen MP Economic Secretary to the Treasury

9 November, 2021

The Treasury recognises the vital role that non-banks, including Community Development Financial institutions (CDFIs), play in the provision of credit to SMEs. It remains grateful for the way the sector has responded to the current crisis. The Government remains committed to promoting competition and widening the funding options available to UK businesses. Our position has always been that the Government does not provide capital to financial institutions, who must source their own funding. For those lenders accredited under the government-backed Recovery Loan Scheme, it is worth noting that they can benefit from the transfer and assignment of the guarantee. The government made this allowance in response to a request from alternative lenders support their ability to access funding.

Kate Osborne MP – Bank Referral Scheme (69209)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans his Department has to review the bank referral scheme and increase the (a) diversity of lending options and (b) availability of constructive support for rejected businesses.

Answered by: John Glen MP Economic Secretary to the Treasury

9 November, 2021

The Government published a statutory Post-Implementation Review of the Bank Referral Scheme in December 2020, which is available here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/1946/pdfs/uksiod_20151946_en.pdf(opens in a new tab).

The Government remains committed to fostering a strong, diverse and competitive financial services sector to ensure that UK SMEs can benefit from high quality products and services at efficient prices. That said, I should be clear that after SMEs are referred to alternative lenders under the Bank Referral Scheme, the decision of whether to offer finance is at the discretion of each lender, subject to their commercial considerations.

Furthermore, the Government recognises the vital role that alternative lenders have played in the provision of credit to SMEs and is grateful for the way the sector has responded to the current crisis. It remains committed to promoting competition, and widening the funding options available to UK businesses, and as such, we will continue to review our policies and work with the sector to achieve those outcomes.

Kevin Hollinrake MP – National Crime Agency: Staff (62780)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many accredited financial investigators the National Crime Agency has employed in each of the last five years.

Answered by: Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP Minister for Security and Borders

4 November, 2021

The National Crime Agency (NCA) currently has 174* accredited financial investigators (FIs). Figures for previous years are not held. The number of FIs does not directly equate to the volume of financial investigative work undertaken by the NCA, as criminal investigators progress money laundering cases, with the support of the FI network where required.

*These figures may include FIs who are on a career break, have recently left the agency, or have moved into a non-FI role (either temporarily or permanently).

Kevin Hollinrake MP – National Crime Agency: Staff (62781)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will publish the (a) budget, (b) headcount, and (c) the number of accreditations issued to financial investigators for each year in the last five years by the National Crime Agency’s Proceeds of Crime Centre.

Answered by: Rt Hon Kit Malthouse MP Minister for Crime and Policing

2 November, 2021

(a) budget

The total spending of the Proceeds of Crime Centre (POCC) over in each of the last five financial years is in the table below. This covers a range of costs, for example pay, overtime, travel, training delivery costs.

Financial year 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22 (year to date[1])
£ 982,365 962,650 874,568 937,167 501,138

(b) headcount

The headcount of the POCC now, and at the end of the preceding four financial years, and the year to date is in the table below.

March 2018 March 2019 March 2020 March 2021 October 2021
Staff in post 14 15 16 18 20

(c) number of accreditations

The number of new accreditations given to Financial Investigators (FIs) by the POCC is set out below. The POCC also provides accredited FIs with Continuous Professional Development assurance and advice. In addition the POCC does a variety of work beyond new accreditations for FIs, including accreditations to non-FIs, providing non-accredited training, and acting as expert advisers across Law Enforcement.

Financial year 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22 (year to date[2])
Financial Investigators accredited 201 241 151 119 140
Confiscators* accredited 143 118 83 51 47

*Confiscator accreditation can be gained by experienced FIs in order to hold additional powers.

[1] As of the 26th October 2021

[2] As of 28th October 2021

Kevin Hollinrake MP – Money Laundering (62779)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many and what total value of (a) fines have been imposed and (b) assets confiscated as a result of action taken by the National Crime Agency in relation to money laundering and other economic crime in each of the last five years.

Answered by: Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP Minister for Security and Borders

2 November, 2021

The National Crime Agency do not issue or collect court fines.

For assets confiscated by the National Crime Agency see the Annual Asset Recovery Statistical Bulletin 2020/21 published in September, which contains data going back to 2016. This is available here: Asset recovery statistical bulletin: financial years ending 2016 to 2021 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

William Wragg MP – SMEs and Net Zero – 22 October 2021 (56370)

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support SMEs operating in the UK to transition to net zero.

Answered by: The Rt Hon Greg Hands MP Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

22 October 2021

This Department is taking many steps to encourage SMEs to transition to Net Zero and to support SMEs through the barriers which prevent the transition. These steps are detailed below. Information and engagement Ahead of COP26, BEIS has launched the Together for Our Planet Business Climate Leaders’ campaign, which has encouraged over 1,900 small and micro businesses across the UK to join the Race to Zero by making the SME Climate Commitment. Addressing energy efficiency In order to help SMEs overcome barriers to investing in energy efficiency we launched the Boosting Access for SMEs to Energy Efficiency innovation competition. The competition offered up to £6m to fund the development of new, innovative market solutions that can provide businesses with tailored energy efficiency advice, as well as simplifying the energy efficiency investment processes through the creation of one-stop-shop platforms. Access to Finance I have recently given the British Business Bank a new mission to drive sustainable growth and prosperity across the UK, and to enable the transition to a net zero economy, by supporting access to finance for smaller businesses. Between 2014 and the third quarter of 2020 a total of £160m has been invested into clean technology businesses by equity funds backed by the British Business Bank. Small businesses can access the government grants available for plug-in vehicles which help reduce the up-front purchase price of electric vehicles. Eligible cars, costing less than £35,000, can receive a grant of £2,500. Small vans can receive up to £3,000 and large vans up to £6,000.

William Wragg MP – Regional Mutual Banks Competition – 20 October 2021 (56365)

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to identify potential failures in the insolvency industry; and whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a single regulator and ombudsman to oversee that industry.

Answered by: Paul Scully MP Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets

20 October 2021

The Government welcomes the efforts to establish regional mutual banks in the UK. The Government is also committed to seeing a highly competitive banking sector, working in the interests of all consumers and businesses across the country, and recognises the potential of regional mutual banks in achieving this goal. HM Treasury officials have been engaging with prospective mutual banks over challenges to their establishment. The Government has the power to relax competition rules where there are exceptional and compelling reasons of public policy to do so. The Government does not use these powers lightly as under normal circumstances, a sector should be able to operate in a way that is compatible with competition law. We will consider requests for public policy exclusion orders where the exceptional and compelling reasons of public policy have been demonstrated.

William Wragg MP – Insolvency Profession – 21 October 2021 (56362)

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to identify potential failures in the insolvency industry; and whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a single regulator and ombudsman to oversee that industry.

Answered by: Paul Scully MP Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets

20 October 2021

The Government is currently reviewing the arrangements for regulation of the insolvency profession and will shortly publish proposals for consultation.

Julian Knight MP – Community Development Finance Institutions – 22 October 2021 (56342)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to mandate large bank investment through social lenders such as Community Development Finance Institutions.

Answered by: John Glen MP Economic Secretary to the Treasury

20 October 2021

The Treasury recognises the vital role that non-banks, including Community Development Financial institutions (CDFIs), and challenger banks play in the provision of credit to SMEs. I would like to take the opportunity to reaffirm that the Government recognises the vital role that CDFIs play in the provision of credit to SMEs and is grateful for the way the sector has responded to the current crisis. It is worth noting the Government remains committed to promoting competition and widening the funding options available to UK businesses. Whilst there are no plans at this time to mandate large bank investment through social lenders like CDFIs, I should be clear that all lenders accredited under the government-backed Recovery Loan Scheme can benefit from the transfer and assignment of the guarantee, which is something that alternative lenders requested to support their ability to access funding.

Julian Knight MP – Equity Investment Funds – 20 October 2021 (56385)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether the British Business Bank’s Regional Angels programme will be extended through funding from his Department.

Answered by: Helen Whately MP Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury

20 October 2021

The British Business Bank’s Regional Angels Programme provides early-stage equity capital to smaller businesses with high growth potential across the UK. The British Business Bank’s funding for the next three years will be set out at the Spending Review.

Julian Knight MP – Term Funding Scheme – 15 October 2021 (57071)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to extend the Term Funding Scheme to non-bank lenders to improve alternative financing options.

Answered by: John Glen MP Economic Secretary to the Treasury

15 October 2021

The Term Funding Scheme (TFS) is a monetary policy tool of the independent Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of England. Therefore, it is not appropriate for the Government to comment on its conduct or effectiveness. The separation of fiscal and monetary policy is a key feature of the UK’s economic framework, and essential for the effective delivery of monetary policy. We will continue to work with non-bank lenders to support their participation in the new Recovery Loan scheme following the closure of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS).

Kevin Hollinrake MP – Heat and Buildings Strategy – 3 September 2021 (42002)

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he plans to publish the Heat and Buildings Strategy.

Answered by: The Rt Hon Anne Marie Trevelyan MP Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change

3 September 2021

The Government is planning to publish a Heat and Buildings Strategy in due course. The strategy will set out the immediate actions we will take for reducing emissions from buildings, as well as our approach to the key strategic decisions needed to achieve a mass transition to low-carbon heat.

Kevin Hollinrake MP – Economic Crime – 27 July 2021 (35777)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many full-time equivalent staff have been employed by the National Crime Agency to tackle economic crime in each of the last three years.

Answered by: The Rt Hon Kit Malthouse MP Minister for Crime and Policing

27 July 2021

In terms of the operational response, the Agency has a wide range of capabilities and functions that operate across different threat areas including economic crime. We are unable to provide a figure for the number of full-time equivalent staff who have been employed by the National Crime Agency (NCA) to tackle economic crime for the past three years as many units contribute to the efforts in different and varying amounts. However, we are able to report on the number of staff within the Economic Crime Command which includes the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) and the UK Financial Intelligence Unit (UKFIU). The following table contains the approximate number of full time equivalent (FTE) staff for the Economic Crime Command, UK Financial Intelligence Unit and NECC since 2018. This is therefore a partial figure that does not reflect, for example, officers in Intelligence and Investigations Commands who conduct work in this threat area.

ECC (NECC and UKFIU) FTE (approximate)
2019 FY end 240
2020 FY end 300
2021 FY end 350

An important element of tackling economic crime and illicit finance is by denying criminals the benefit of their crimes. This disrupts organised crime groups and illicit finance flows and on this we have achieved some significant successes. The NCA’s success in denying criminal assets over the same three years totals £646.5m, which could have derived from any serious and organised crime threat. This demonstrates one element of our impact across all illicit finance for which we have readily available data.

Kevin Hollinrake MP – National Crime Agency’s Budget – 19 July 2021 (35778)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how much and what proportion of the National Crime Agency’s budget has been spent on tackling economic crime in each of the last three years.

Answered by: The Rt Hon Kit Malthouse MP Minister for Crime and Policing

19 July 2021

The National Crime Agency (NCA)’s overall budget is distributed across the agency according to need and operational priority. As serious and organised crime threats change, the agency retains the ability to flex its resources to react. It is not possible to provide a breakdown of budget allocated to tackling economic crime as there are a number of agency wide capabilities and functions that all commands have access to. We are, however, able to provide the total expenditure by the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) which provides a partial figure of expenditure for our overall response to tackling economic crime. The NCA Annual Report and Accounts provide the following Gross Expenditure over the past three years: 2018/19 – Gross expenditure for the Prosperity Command – £22.0m (Note the NECC was formally launched on 31 October 2018, before which the NCA’s Prosperity Command fulfilled some of the same functions. In the 2019/20 Annual Report, an apportionment of £6.7m in 2018/19 was made for the NECC.) 2019/20 – Gross expenditure for the NECC – £30.0m 2020/21 – Gross expenditure for the NECC – £35.5m An important element of tackling economic crime and illicit finance is by denying criminals the benefit of their crimes. This disrupts organised crime groups and illicit finance flows and on this we have achieved some significant successes. The NCA’s success in denying criminal assets over the same three years totals £646.5m, which could have derived from any serious and organised crime threat. This demonstrates one element of our impact across all illicit finance for which we have readily available data.

Peter Dowd MP – Retrofit Funding – 14 June 2021 (10424)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether the new UK Infrastructure Bank will have a mandate to offer loan guarantees for at-scale retrofit projects.

Answered by: Kemi Badenoch MP Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury

14 June 2021

As set out in the Budget, the UK Infrastructure Bank will have a broad mandate to offer support across different sectors. This includes being able to support retrofit projects that contribute to achieving net zero emissions, where the Bank’s investment criteria are met. The Government will provide further guidance on the investment parameters for the Bank in the Framework document to be published at launch. The Bank will have a range of financing tools at its disposal including senior debt, equity, hybrid products and guarantees.

Kevin Hollinrake MP – Mutual Banks – 18 May 2021 (806)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to establish mutual banks from dormant funds in banks.

Answered by: John Glen MP Economic Secretary to the Treasury

18 May 2021

The Government welcomes the efforts to establish regional mutual banks and recognises the importance of diversity in the banking system. Officials have been engaging with prospective mutual banks over their efforts to raise capital and look forward to further discussions. Banking Competition Remedies Ltd (BCR) was established in 2018 as the independent body to implement and oversee the NatWest (previously RBS)-funded Alternative Remedies Package (the Package), including the £425m Capability and Innovation Fund (CIF). This consists of 23 pre-determined grants divided into five pools (A – E). Each pool has a distinct pro-competition purpose based on criteria agreed between HM Treasury (HMT) and the European Commission. Eligible financial services providers competed for these grants to improve their financial products and services available to SMEs, and to improve their capability to compete with NatWest in the provision of banking services to SMEs. Most of the grants have now been allocated, except £5m worth of funds returned to BCR in January 2021. BCR intend to run a ‘Pool F’ consultation process for the returned funds in August 2021 and bodies eligible for pools A, B or C will be able to apply. BCR is independent from government and has sole responsibility for evaluating applications and allocating grants to eligible bodies under the CIF. HMT plays no role in the ongoing delivery of the Package and does not have any influence over the decision-making process. BCR has responsibility for communicating information regarding the Package to the market. Further information on the Package, including eligibility criteria and timelines for implementation is available on BCR’s website. The distribution of dormant accounts money is governed by the Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act 2008. Following the government’s commitment to expanding the Dormant Assets Scheme, the Dormant Assets Bill was introduced to the House of Lords on Wednesday 12 May. The government recognises the public interest in how this funding is spent in England and has concluded that some increased flexibility in determining this would be beneficial. The Bill therefore amends the approach to restrictions in England in the 2008 Act to mirror the model used for the devolved administrations. This is intended to allow the Government to respond to public feedback and evolving social and environmental needs in England over time by setting the causes through secondary legislation, which is subject to due consultation and parliamentary approval. Should the measure pass, the Government intends to launch a public consultation on the causes to which future funding can be distributed in England.

Kevin Hollinrake MP – Mutual Deferred Shares – 18 May 2021 (807)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to bring forward regulations for Mutual Deferred Shares under the Mutuals’ Deferred Shares Act 2015.

Answered by: John Glen MP Economic Secretary to the Treasury

18 May 2021

The Government has consulted widely with industry representatives in considering whether to lay secondary legislation to enable mutual insurers to raise equity by issuing Mutual Deferred Shares. Mutual insurers and their representatives made clear that Mutual Deferred Shares would only be issued if they both qualified as Tier 1 regulatory capital and would not alter the tax treatment of the issuing mutual. The Government’s decision in 2018 not to lay secondary legislation was taken based on an assessment that it was not possible to design Mutual Deferred Shares to meet both these conditions. The Government is committed to supporting the mutuals sector, but continues to have no plans to bring forward such legislation.