Public Policy

November 5, 2020

Covid-19 Impact Brief: Thursday, November 5

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Each week, our Public Policy team will be reporting on the latest weekly news in the evolving situation. 

Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced the extension of the Furlough scheme up until the end of March 

  • Sunak confirmed the Furlough Scheme will pay 80% of salaries and that it will be extended until the end of March.
    • Sunak said the scheme will be available to all the devolved nations and will be reviewed in January “to decide whether economic circumstances are improving enough to ask employers to contribute more”.
    • Sunak also confirmed that the employment support scheme for the self-employed will now provide those who are self-employed with 80% of their average trading profits for November rather than 40%. To ensure payments are timelier, the Government is also bringing forward the claims window from 14 December to 30 November.
    • Businesses are also set to receive Local Restrictions Support Grants if they are forced to close, with further funding being given to Local Authorities to support businesses more broadly.
    • The new measures come as the Bank of England announced another £150 billion of quantitative easing.
    • The Bank expects the economy to shrink by 2% in the final three months of 2020, before bouncing back at the start of 2021, assuming current restrictions loosen.
    • This means the UK economy is now expected to shrink by 11% in 2020, instead of the 9.5% the Bank had projected in August. It said that the economy would not reach its pre-pandemic size until the start of 2022, having previously said it would return to the level in 2021.
    • The Bank also expects unemployment to peak at 7.75% in the middle of next year, from 4.5% currently. This would be the highest rate since 2013.

 

MPs vote for proposals for a new one month-long lockdown in England

  • The lockdown came into effect today and will expire on 2 December. MPs baced the measure by 516 to 38 with 32 Conservative MPs voting against the new lockdown. The new restrictions include:
    • People urged to stay at home, except for education, work (if it can’t be done from home), exercise, medical reasons, shopping for essentials, or to care for others.
    • People must not meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble
    • You can meet one person from outside your household in an outdoors public space. Children under five don’t count.
    • Support groups of 15 or fewer people are allowed, including those for new parents or people recovering from addictions
    • Children can move between homes if parents are separated
  • All pubs and restaurants must close (takeaways and deliveries can continue)
    • All non-essential shops must close (click-and-collect services and deliveries can continue)
    • All personal care facilities must close, including hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons, tattoo and massage parlours, and those offering body and skin piercing. Staff cannot offer these services in people’s homes
    • Supermarkets, food shops, off-licences, petrol stations and pharmacies can remain open
    • Bike shops, hardware stores, dry cleaners, banks, post offices, garden centres, motorway services stations, waste and recycling centres and pet shops can also remain open
    • Medical services can continue, including dentist and optician appointments
    • Libraries can remain open for click-and-collect services, and to allow IT access
    • Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work. People can still visit potential properties, purchase a new property and move into a new property during this time
  • Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will not be allowed, apart from in exceptional circumstances
    • Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people. Linked ceremonial events such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 15 people
    • Apart from funerals, places of worship will only be open to allow individual prayer or services to be broadcast to the congregation
  • Schools, nurseries, colleges and universities will remain open
    • Staff and pupils at secondary schools (Year 7 and above) must wear face coverings in communal areas outside the classroom
    • Childminders and nannies can continue to provide childcare, including in people’s homes
    • Students who live at university must not return to their permanent home until the end of term
    • Workplaces can stay open if people cannot work from home – including construction and manufacturing
    • Those who are clinically vulnerable are advised not to go to work if they can’t work from home

 

The Welsh government has announced  a roadmap out of lockdown

  • The Welsh government has maintained that its lockdown will end on 9 November. Similarly Northern Ireland maintains its partial lockdown will end on 13 November.
    • In Wales, all businesses closed during the lockdown, such as shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs and gyms will be allowed to reopen on 9 November, but customers will still be required to maintain two metre social distancing and wear face masks in enclosed public places.
    • From 9 November two households  in Wales can form a bubble and will be able to meet in their own homes.
    • Up to 15 people can meet for organised activities indoors, rising to 30 outdoors
    • There will be no travel restrictions within Wales, but people can only leave the country for essential purposes like work during the English lockdown.

 

Other news

  • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced that businesses across the UK are set to benefit from £134 million investment to support the UK’s greenest, most innovative businesses during the pandemic. Projects include servicing offshore wind turbines autonomously, using AI to reduce beer waste in the brewing process and converting seaweed into compostable packaging to tackle plastic waste. The investment is part of the Government’s commitment to support risk takers to bring their novel ideas to market.
  • The Government has extended the suspension of the Minimum Income Floor for self-employed Universal Credit claimants, meaning that self-employed people will continue to receive Universal Credit based on their current actual earnings. The suspension will now be until the end of April 2021.
  • The Department of Transport has announced  Transport for London (TfL) has secured a £1.8bn government bailout, to keep Tube and bus services running until March 2021. The Government will make up all the fare revenue which TfL has lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic through this support package.
  • The Department of Health and Social Care has announced that everyone living or working in Liverpool will be offered Covid-19 testing, regardless of symptoms. This is the first pilot of the Government’s new whole city testing approach. It is hoped that the repeat testing will find more positive cases and therefore break chains of transmission.
  • The NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens announced that NHS England has been placed on level 4 alert due to the rise in Covid-19 patients. Level 4 means NHS England will take over coordination of the health service’s response to the pandemic, in collaboration with local commissioners.
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