The former boss of the Post Office is handing back her CBE after mounting pressure over the Horizon scandal.
More than 700 sub-postmasters were prosecuted based on data from the faulty IT software between 1999 and 2015, with some going to prison for false accounting and theft.
A new STV documentary, Mr Bates vs The Post Office, brought the scandal back into the public eye with more than a million people signing a petition to strip Vennells of her CBE.
She was the chief executive of the Post Office between 2012 and 2019, and was awarded her CBE in 2019 for services to the Post Office and to charity, despite ongoing legal action launched by 555 sub-postmasters two years prior.
During her seven-year tenure, the Post Office repeatedly denied any problems with the Horizon system, which was manufactured by Japanese technology company Fujitsu.
Vennells said she was "truly sorry for the devastation caused to the sub-postmasters and their families, whose lives were torn apart by being wrongly accused and wrongly prosecuted as a result of the Horizon system".
She added that she has "listened" to sub-postmasters and others calling for her to return her CBE.
Jo Hamilton, who was wrongly convicted in 2008 of stealing thousands of pounds from her village shop in Hampshire said "it's a shame it took just a million people to cripple her conscience".
The UK Government has been considering ways in which justice can be sped up for wrongfully convicted sub-postmasters.
Today’s business includes:
Scottish Government Debate: The Impact of UK Government Asylum Policy and Legislation in Scotland
Members’ Business: S6M-11664 Protecting FCDO Jobs in East Kilbride (in the name of Collette Stevenson)
The following committees are meeting this morning:
Criminal Justice Committee
Economy and Fair Work Committee (Key agenda topics include: Just Transition for the North East and Moray)
Education, Children and Young People Committee
Today’s business includes:
Oral Questions: Science, Innovation and Technology (including Topical Questions)
Prime Minister’s Question Time
Ten Minute Rule Motion: Scottish Law Officers (Devolution)
Legislation: Finance Bill: Committee of the Whole House
Legislation: Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill: Third Reading
Westminster Hall debate: Musculoskeletal conditions and employment
Westminster Hall debate: Tidal range energy generation
Oral Questions (Lords): HMRC’s processing of tax returns
Oral Questions (Lords): Payment account terminations, and local branch closures of NatWest
Oral Questions (Lords): Legislation to reverse the convictions of fraud of sub-postmasters by the Post Office as a result of Horizon software
Legislation (Lords): Automated Vehicles Bill – committee stage (day 1)
Grand Committee Orders and regulations: Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunal (Composition of Tribunal) Regulations 2023
Grand Committee Orders and regulations: Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (High-Risk Countries) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2023
Grand Committee Orders and regulations: Data Reporting Services Regulations 2023; Draft Securitisation Regulations 2023
Sixth Delegated Legislation Committee – Debate on the draft Immigration (Health Charge) (Amendment) Order 2023
Work and Pensions Committee – Oral evidence session on Defined benefit pension schemes
Science, Innovation and Technology Committee – Oral evidence session on UK Astronomy
Environment and Climate Change Committee – Private meeting on Electric Vehicles
Business and Trade Committee – Oral evidence session on the performance of investment zones and freeports in England
Energy Security and Net Zero Committee – Oral evidence session on Heating our homes
Treasury Committee – Oral evidence session on Bank of England Financial Stability Reports
Today’s business includes:
Gypsy Traveller Sub-Committee
Aberdeen City Council:
No scheduled business
- NEW: Consultation: Consultation on devolving powers for a Scottish Building Safety Levy. The UK and Scottish Governments face common challenges around remediating historical building safety defects, such as defective cladding, and are both committed to ensuring that the housing sector makes a fair contribution towards the associated costs. The UK Government has announced its intentions to introduce a Building Safety Levy in England. The Levy will apply, subject to any agreed exemptions, as a tax on residential buildings requiring building control approval in England, with revenues being used to fund building safety remediation in England, such as those affected by unsafe cladding. In its 2023-24 Programme for Government, the Scottish Government announced its intention to seek the transfer of powers to introduce a new tax in Scotland, equivalent to the UK Government’s Building Safety Levy for England. This consultation seeks views on the devolution proposal, including any evidence to inform consideration of the potential for the new tax to create or incentivise economic distortions and arbitrage within the UK. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 19th February.
- NEW: Consultation: Long duration electricity storage: proposals to enable investment. Long duration electricity storage can provide an important contribution to decarbonising our energy system. For example, it can store renewable power and discharge it during periods of low wind. However, evidence suggests that it faces investment challenges under current energy market frameworks, meaning it has struggled to deploy at scale at present. This consultation sets out the Government’s intention to develop a cap and floor mechanism to overcome the investment barriers it has identified. The consultation seeks views on several elements of the approach, including eligibility criteria for assessing applications, the design of the cap and floor mechanism and our proposed options for delivering the scheme. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 5th March.
- Consultation: Distributing tips fairly: draft statutory code of practice. The Department for Business and Trade is consulting on the draft statutory code of practice supporting measures in the Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023. The purpose of the Act is to ensure that all tips are passed to workers without deductions. For more information or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 22nd February.
- Consultation: Protecting and enhancing the security and resilience of UK data infrastructure. The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology is seeking views and evidence to inform the development of proposals to improve and assure the security and resilience of UK data infrastructure. The proposals focus on third-party data centre services, which face: security threats such as cyber-attacks, physical attacks and insider threats; resilience risks resulting from hazards such as human error and extreme weather; and/or limited information-sharing and cooperation across industry, and with HM Government, which hamper our ability to appropriately identify and address risks. The proposals focus on a new proposed statutory framework applying to UK-based data centre services provided to third parties, but potentially applicable in future where other risks are evidenced. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 22nd February.
- Consultation: UK Emissions Trading Scheme: future markets policy. The UK Emissions Trading Scheme Authority is seeking views on a number of proposals to develop future markets policy. The Authority is review ETS markets policy to ensure that it remains fit for purpose and is effective in managing the risks faced by an established and maturing scheme. This will help to maintain stable and effective market conditions that will continue to incentivise decarbonisation in the traded sector. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 11th March.
- Consultation: UK Emissions Trading Scheme: free allocation review. The UK Emissions Trading Scheme Authority is seeking views on proposals to alter the free allocation methodology for the stationary sectors to better target those most at risk of carbon leakage and ensure that free allocations are fairly distributed. This will broadly focus on 4 key areas: how they account for emissions and activity; benchmarks; the carbon leakage list; and additional factors they might want to introduce to free allocation methodology. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 11th March.
- Consultation: New threshold for businesses accessing the Energy Ombudsman. The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero are consulting on a proposal to amend the Gas and Electricity Regulated Providers (Redress Scheme) Order 2008 to expand access to redress against energy suppliers to small businesses without having to involve the courts. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 31st January.
- LAST CHANCE TO RESPOND: Consultation: Draft legislation – Income Tax (Digital Requirements) (Amendment) Regulations 2024. From April 2026, Making Tax Digital (MTD) for Income Tax, will apply to relevant persons (unincorporated businesses and landlords) with business and/or property income over £50,000 followed by those with income over £30,000 from April 2027. The Income Tax (Digital Requirements) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021 No 1076) set out the requirements that relevant persons must comply with under MTD for Income Tax. These include the use of MTD-compatible software to keep and preserve their business records (business income and expenses) digitally, send quarterly updates of their records to HMRC, and submit an end of period statement to HMRC. The draft regulations published here amend the 2021 regulations and reflect recent government decisions, some of which were announced at Autumn Statement 2023. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 12th January.
- Consultation: Carbon capture and storage (CCS) Network Code: updated Heads of Terms. The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero are seeking views on the CCS Network Code, part of the new regulatory regime describing arrangements between CO2 network users and transport and storage companies. The CCS Network Code will set out the various commercial, operational and technical arrangements that will govern the use of these networks. It will provide the framework for seeking a connection, commissioning, and operating, plus other arrangements including on governance, disputes, data management and liabilities. For more information, or to respond to this consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 16th February.
- Consultation: Proposals for a Heat in Buildings Bill. Like many other countries, Scotland has a legal target to reach ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions. The way we heat our homes, workplaces and other buildings is the third-largest cause of greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland. There is no way to meet our legal obligation to reach ‘net zero’ without changing the heating systems in the vast majority of our buildings. The purpose of this consultation is raise awareness of the Scottish Government’s proposal to make new laws around the heating systems that can be used in homes and places of work (which includes: reconfirming that the use of polluting heating systems will be prohibited after 2045; require those purchasing a home or business premises to end their use of polluting heating systems within a fixed period following completion of the sale; introducing a new law that will require homeowners to make sure that their homes meet a reasonable minimum energy efficiency standard by 2033; and require private landlords to meet this minimum energy efficiency standard by 2028) and to invite views of a variety of stakeholders on those proposals. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 8th March.
- LAST CHANCE TO RESPOND: Consultation: Introducing a Contracts for Difference (CfD) Sustainable Industry Reward. The government is proposing to introduce a Contract for Difference Sustainable Industry Reward (CfD SIR) from CfD Allocation Round 7 onwards. The CfD Sustainable Industry Reward aims to help accelerate the deployment of low carbon electricity generation, specifically offshore / floating offshore wind, by addressing some of the recent challenges identified by the industry. The Reward could provide greater revenue support to projects that take meaningful action to increase the economic, environmental and social sustainability of offshore and floating offshore wind deployment. It could also work with other government policies aimed at increasing the rate of deployment of offshore and floating offshore wind. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 11th January.
- DEADLINE APPROACHING: Consultation: Hiring agency staff to cover industrial action. The purpose of this consultation is to seek views on whether government should repeal regulation 7 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 (“the Conduct Regulations”) which prevents employment businesses supplying agency workers to cover the duties normally performed by a worker who is taking part in a strike or other industrial action. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 16th January.
- Consultation: Consultation on analogue community radio licensing. This consultation seeks views on the future approach to the licensing of analogue community radio stations, and the current restrictions on the capacity of stations to raise money through advertising and sponsorship. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 31st January.
- Consultation: Democracy Matters. Somebody, somewhere is making decisions on your behalf. Democracy Matters conversations have already started to explore whether far more of these decisions could be made by communities themselves. This is a key and connected part of the wider Local Governance Review which is looking across all of Scotland’s vital public services to consider how power and resources should be shared between national and local government. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 28th February.
- DEADLINE APPROACHING: Consultation: Building standards enforcement and sanctions. In Scotland, a Ministerial Working Group was set up following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017, to review building and fire safety regulatory frameworks. The Group commissioned two reviews of building standards; one to cover compliance and enforcement and the other fire safety. The Review Panel on Building Standards Compliance and Enforcement identified the need for improving aspects of the building standards system (covering procedural compliance, built compliance and enforcement of both procedural matters and non-compliant work). As part of this review, the Scottish Government is now consulting with a view to strengthening several existing provisions. For more information, or to respond to the consultation, please click here. The closing date for responses is 15th January.
- Support: Develop your workforce with Skills for Growth. Skills for Growth is a diagnostic service that helps you identify skills gaps in your business and find ways to fill them. Skills Development Scotland (SDS) will work with you to understand the skills your business needs, help you create a detailed people skills action plan and direct you to the right support. For more information or to apply, please click here.
- Support: Techscaler. Techscaler is a Scottish Government programme that helps people to start and scale tech businesses. Techscaler membership provides tailored support for founders and leaders of tech start-ups. For more information or to apply, please click here.
- Support: DigitalBoost Health Check. Take a Digital Health Check to find out how your business could improve its digital performance. Just answer 12 questions about your current approach to discover where you could do more with technology and how to boost your online presence. For more information, or to do your own check, please click here.
- Support/Training: The Princes Trust Explore Enterprise Course. The Prince’s Trust Explore Enterprise Course consists of up to seven online sessions providing information and support on the basics of self-employment, HMRC and finance, pricing and sales, marketing, networking, cashflows, and business plans. These sessions are open to individuals aged between 18-30, who are resident in Scotland and been trading for less than 2 years. For more information, or to sign up, please click here.
- Support/Funding: Guidance on how to apply for Innovate UK funding opportunities. Innovate UK provides grant funding, loans and procurements for UK-based businesses to support research, development and innovation. This guidance explains what types of funding opportunities are available and how to apply through their Innovation Funding Service. For more information, or to access the guidance, please click here. Details on the various live funding options are available here.
- Support/Funding: UK Tradeshow Programme. The UK Tradeshow Programme offers government support to help UK businesses attend or exhibit at overseas trade shows more effectively. For more information, or to apply, please click here.
- Funding: Low Emission Zone Support Fund for Businesses. Eligible Scottish micro businesses and sole traders can apply for a £2,000 grant when they dispose of a vehicle that is not compliant with the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) standards in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee. For more information or to apply, please click here. The closing date for applications is 31st March 2024.
- Funding: Scottish Co-Investment Fund. The Scottish Co-investment Fund (SCF) is designed to address a finance gap (up to £1.5million) alongside Scottish Enterprise's accredited co-investment partners. This fund is designed for Scottish start-up, early-stage or growing companies seeking investment to develop products and/or markets. For more information, or to apply, please click here.
- Funding: Innovation Funding Service. Innovate UK supports UK-based businesses to invest in research, development and innovation through grant funding, loans or procurements. A variety of innovation competitions are currently open, with the full list and details of eligibility available here.
- Funding: Foresight Scottish Growth Fund. The Scottish Growth Scheme is a package of financial support of up to £500 million for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Scotland. Backed by the Scottish Government, it aims to help businesses grow. This equity funding can be used for a variety of purposes, including working capital, capital expenditure and growth funding. For more information or to apply, please click here.
- Funding: SME Loan Scheme. This loan is for small to medium-sized businesses in Scotland and can be used for the installation of energy-efficient measures such as lighting and heating upgrades, double glazing, insulation and more. For more information or to apply, please click here.
- Funding: UMi Debt Finance Scotland. This funding is managed by UMi Debt Finance Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government and provides loans of £25,000 to £250,000 to eligible small and medium enterprises to help them grow. Loans can be used for a variety of purposes including working capital, capital expenditure and growth funding. For more information or to apply, please click here.
- Funding: District Heating Loan Fund. The District Heating Loan Fund is managed by the Energy Saving Trust on behalf of the Scottish Government. It provides capital loan funding of more than £1 million to organisations in Scotland that use renewables technologies to build out heat networks. For more information, or to apply, please click here.
- Funding: Heat Network Fund. This Scottish Government fund encourages commercial interest and investment that will help make the most of Scotland's vast potential in the low carbon sector and contribute to the positive progress already made in reducing Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions. Eligible projects must be large-scale and based in Scotland. As well as helping reduce emissions, successful projects should also have positive social and economic benefits for Scotland. For more information or to apply, please click here.
- Funding: Workforce Innovation Voucher. The Workforce Innovation Voucher scheme can be used to support innovation to develop a company’s workforce in partnership with a college or university – for example, a new or enhanced workplace business processes, workplace practice or innovative business expertise. Interface provides support with finding a suitable academic partner who has the right specialist expertise to progress your Research and Development project. For more information, or to apply, please click here.
- Funding: National Lottery Open Fund of Organisations – Creative Scotland. The National Lottery Open Fund for Organisations is a funding programme for artistic, creative and cultural organisations based in Scotland. Organisations can apply for between £1,000 and £100,000 to support creative activity that lasts up to 18 months. For more information, or to apply, please click here.
Funding: Green Heat Innovation Support Programme. The Green Heat Innovation Support Programme provides grant funding, competitive procurement and other forms of support to help Scottish-based companies or companies looking to invest in Scotland develop innovative products, services or business models that address the challenges of green heating. For more information, or to apply, please click here.