Category Archives: News

Defence Secretary Commissions New Report To Step Up Support For Service Families

The new study will examine the support available to the different members of military families, including spouses and partners, and children

Ministry of Defence

Ministry of Defence

A new study that will assess the support available to military families has been commissioned by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

The report will be authored by Andrew Selous MP, who has previously served in the Honourable Artillery Company and the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. It will analyse the different experiences of service family members, focussing on;

  • Spouses and civil partners
  • Long term partners
  • Children and dependents

The report’s findings, which will be completed by summer 2019, will consider the diverse needs of service families and assess whether the current support on offer is meeting these needs. The study will also allow the MOD to further enhance the delivery of vital support for military families.

The MOD supports service families in many aspects of their lives, including housing, education, and spousal employment.

As part of the study, Mr Selous will engage with key stakeholders, including the three single service families federations, service charities, and the Covenant Fund Trust, which makes grants to support the armed forces community.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

The success of our armed forces would not be possible without the constant support of the service families, who are often the unsung heroes of the military community.

I’m always inspired by their unfaltering fortitude, and the pride they take in in their loved ones’ service. I’m delighted that Andrew will be considering how we can best support them, as they support those who are keeping this country safe.

Andrew Selous MP said:

I have been a long-term champion of the importance of healthy and respectful couple and family relationships across society. As a nation, we rely on the strength of our Armed Forces to keep us safe. The nation in turn, has a duty to support and strengthen service families to help them perform a challenging role to the best of their ability.

I look forward to leading this critically important study, at the request of the Secretary of State, to assess the current needs of military families and to advise on the support they need.

The MOD has continued to bolster its funding for service families, allocating £5 million to the Education Support Fund, which supports the children of military personnel, and investing £68 million into the improvement of family accommodation.

Last year saw the launch of the Armed Forces Flexible Working Act, which enhances serving personnel’s ability to serve part-time, should their circumstances change, and the announcement of a new scheme to support spouses’ employment, providing vocational training.

£2.5 Million To Boost International Exchanges For Schools

Funding will ensure more disadvantaged pupils can experience other cultures

Secondary Pupils

Secondary Pupils

Thousands more young people will have the chance to take part in international exchanges and visits thanks to a new £2.5 million programme, the Education Secretary announced today (19 January).

Schools in England will be able to apply for grants to take pupils aged 11 and above to visit partner schools around the world, giving them the chance to experience different cultures, improve language skills and build independence, character and resilience.

The programme, which will be principally focused on supporting children from disadvantaged backgrounds, will be run in partnership with the British Council – whose own research has found that only 39% of secondary schools run international exchanges. For independent schools, the figure is 77%.

As education ministers from around the world prepare to gather in London for the Education World Forum, Damian Hinds has stressed the importance of ensuring disadvantaged young people don’t miss out on the life-changing experiences and academic opportunities offered by overseas visits.

Evidence shows that businesses are increasingly looking for employees with international experience and language skills – and, according to a British Council survey, almost two-thirds of university language students said that an international exchange helped inspire them to choose their degree course.

The programme will build on the government’s work to encourage more pupils to study a foreign language, including their inclusion in the English Baccalaureate. Since 2010 we have seen 45% more entries in GCSE Chinese and 51% more entries in GCSE Spanish.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

I want every child to have a world-class education, and that includes the opportunity to experience other cultures and go to places they wouldn’t normally visit – whether that’s practising their Mandarin in China or learning about American history in the US.

School exchanges are so valuable, bringing subjects such as modern languages and international history to life as well as helping pupils develop into confident, independent and well-rounded young people.

As Britain leaves the European Union, it’s more important than ever to show how much we value international opportunities, language-learning, and ensuring our young people have a global outlook – something I’ll be discussing with education ministers from around the world at Education World Forum.

This investment will help schools who may not have much experience organising trips abroad to ensure their pupils don’t miss out on all the fantastic benefits these experiences can bring, encouraging children to broaden their horizons and aim high throughout their education and beyond.

Sir Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of the British Council, said:

Pupils keep the memory of a school trip abroad for the rest of their lives – it is an important first step in understanding the world. It encourages children to think about working and studying overseas and sows the seeds of international co-operation that we encourage in young people all around the world.

The programme’s focus on disadvantaged pupils was also welcomed by schools.

Geoff Lumsdon, headteacher at Seaham High School in County Durham, said:

This programme will expand students’ international horizons and experience, delivering on our school’s vision to help the young people of Seaham to achieve the highest possible outcomes and to make a valuable contribution to the global society in which we all now live.

Many of our students receive the Pupil Premium and we do our utmost to ensure equality of opportunity so that all of our pupils feel safe, secure, and are free from prejudice and able to develop a mutual respect for others. This is an exciting opportunity to ensure every young person can access international and multicultural experiences so they are ready to take on the challenges of the 21st century – and we would be delighted to participate.

Funding will be targeted at schools with above-average numbers of pupil-premium students. Over the course of the programme, it is estimated that trips could be funded for 2,900 pupils. Young people will be encouraged to stay with host families abroad where possible, maximising their opportunity to practise language skills and be fully immersed in another culture.

To make the scheme as easy as possible for schools to take part in, there will be a simple application process, grants to cover the administrative cost of organising trips, and seminars to help schools without much experience of international visits find partner institutions abroad – in Europe or further afield.

Schools will be able to register their interest on the British Council website from Monday.

Decommissioning Delivery Partnership Celebrates 3 Years Of Delivery

A large amount of the work reducing the hazard and risk on the Sellafield site is done by our supply chain partners

Organisations within the Decommissioning Delivery Partnership are involved with specialist decommissioning programmes on the Sellafield site

Organisations within the Decommissioning Delivery Partnership are involved with specialist decommissioning programmes on the Sellafield site

Specialist jobs such as demolishing chimneys, taking the water out of nuclear storage ponds and dismantling asbestos lined buildings require experts in their field.

The Decommissioning Delivery Partnership is a framework made up of these nuclear specialists, which Sellafield Ltd has been calling on since April 2016 to carry out vital decommissioning work.

So far 34% of the partnerships spend has been with SMEs, much greater than the 20% committed by the lot delivery partners at the outset.





APS Attack Survivor Ahmad Nawaz Awarded Points Of Light Award

He was recognised for his work as an anti-radicalisation youth activist

APS attack survivor Ahmad Nawaz awarded Points of Light Award

APS attack survivor Ahmad Nawaz awarded Points of Light Award

Ahmad Nawaz, who survived the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar in 2014, has become the third Pakistani to be awarded a Point of Light.

Mr Nawaz has addressed thousands of students at various schools in the UK and at events organised by the United Nations, encouraging communities to unite and fight extremism together.

British PM Theresa May commented his work in a letter:

The work that you do to educate young people about extremism and radicalisation is invaluable – and the fact that it comes from your own experience is testament to your incredible personal strength and resolve. Your recent appointment to the National Counter Extremism Advisory board demonstrates the positive impact of your work. You should feel tremendously proud and I wish you the very best with your continued endeavours.

Mr Ahmad Nawaz said:

I am deeply honoured to be recognised as a ‘Point of Light’ by the Prime Minister. It has propelled me to do more of the positive work that I do for the society. I would like to encourage other young people to do the same in order to have a society free of extremism and violence.

Ahmad Nawaz is working with the Home Office and has recently been appointed a member of National Counter Extremism Advisory board. He is also a winner of the No2H8 Crime Young Upstander Award for his courage and conviction.

Further Information

About the Points of Light award

  1. The Points of Light awards recognise outstanding volunteers every day of the week – people whose service is making a difference in their communities and whose story can inspire others to creative innovative solutions to social challenges in their own communities and beyond.
  2. Points of Light began in America under President George H. W. Bush and today over 6,000 US Points of Light have been recognised. The scheme has the support of all living US Presidents.
  3. Since 2014 the UK Prime Minister has been recognising a daily Point of Light from the UK, with more than 900 volunteers now recognised.
  4. Commonwealth Points of Light is a continuation of this programme with a special series of awards recognising inspirational volunteers throughout the Commonwealth, coinciding with the UK being the Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth for the next two years. One volunteer from each of the 53 Commonwealth countries was recognised in the days leading up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April 2018. Following the success of this programme, Her Majesty The Queen decided to continue this work and award one volunteer from each Commonwealth country every week leading up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda in 2020.
  5. More information, including details of other Commonwealth Points of Light recipients, can be found on the website:

For updates on the British High Commission and the Chevening Programme, please follow our social media channels:

UK Signs New Israel Tax Agreement To Boost Investment

A new agreement signed today (17 January) with Israel is set to boost investment between the UK and the Middle Eastern country

HM Treasury

HM Treasury

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride today (17 January) signed a Protocol to update our double taxation convention (DTC) with Israel.

The Protocol to the UK/Israel DTC will facilitate investment in Israel by UK companies in a number of ways, including a reduction in the rates of Israeli tax payable on dividends paid from Israeli companies to the UK. Israeli investors into the UK will benefit from the same reductions on UK tax.

It also introduces modern anti-avoidance provisions that ensure only those companies engaged in genuine business activity can benefit from the treaty, and allows for the exchange of information between the UK and Israel.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride said:

This agreement will facilitate UK investment into Israel by removing tax barriers to cross-border trade. It will also provide important protections against those who seek to use the treaty for tax avoidance purposes.

I’m delighted to sign this deal with such a close ally, and pleased we now have a treaty that reflects the latest international standards. It is a sign of the continued excellent cooperation between our two countries.

Total trade in goods and services between the two countries increased by 2% last year, reaching £3.9bn in the year to July 2018.

The UK’s leading exports to Israel are machinery and electrical equipment, while pharmaceuticals account for more than 70 per cent of Israeli exports to the UK. Israeli companies are major suppliers to the NHS.

With Israel’s strong GDP growth, low inflation and falling unemployment rate, it continues to be a growing market for UK companies. Israel has an excellent reputation for innovation and invention and is a world centre for R&D.

The new Protocol provides UK companies with reduced rates of Israeli tax on dividends, interest and no Israeli tax on royalties, while UK Pension Schemes will suffer no Israeli tax on payments of dividends and interest. It also implements standards agreed as per the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project.

The signature of this agreement follows the signing of a separate Protocol to the UK’s DTC with Cyprus. Former government staff, including ex-servicemen and women, drawing a pension in Cyprus were due to pay higher rates of tax from this year, under an agreement signed last March.

Treasury ministers agreed in December to a five-year delay to the tax changes after listening to the concerns of those affected.

Mr Stride said of the Cyprus Protocol:

This agreement is great news for many of our highly valued ex-servicemen and women in Cyprus, who would otherwise have faced a big tax rise this year. I was determined to do the right thing by them.

This Protocol addressed concerns about how the DTC would apply to some individuals and so allows individuals to choose which basis of taxation they want to apply to their government service pensions.

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