Covid-19 Recovery Brief: Thursday, August 27
Each week, our Public Policy team will be reporting on the latest weekly news in the evolving situation. To view the previous week’s summary, please click here.
The Government has announced self-isolation payment for low-income workers
- From 1 September, workers from parts of England where there are additional Covid-19 restrictions will be able to claim up to £182 (£13 a day) if they have to self-isolate.
- The scheme will be applicable to those who claim Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit and cannot work from home. The payment will not reduce any other benefits that a person may already receive.
- People will need to provide evidence before receiving the benefit – including, for example, proof of a positive test, a message from NHS Test and Trace and a bank statement – and the money will be provided within 48 hours.
- The England-wide scheme will begin with a trial in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham, where there have been tighter lockdown measures after a rise in cases.
- If the payment is successful it will be “quickly” rolled out to other areas with high infection rates.
UK and devolved governments have introduced measures requiring the limited use of facemasks in secondary schools
- In England, facemasks use will only be required in areas of the country with additional Covid-19 restrictions. The guidance states that face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils in secondary schools when moving around the school. It will not be necessary to wear masks in the classroom.
- This revised approach will also apply to further education colleges and will be reflected in guidance to universities, but not to children in primary schools where the risks to children are lower.
- The change in advice was influenced by the WHO’s recent statement which suggests that children aged 12 and over should wear masks under the same conditions as adults.
- The measure comes after the Scottish Government mandated that pupils and teachers in every secondary school in Scotland will have to wear a face-covering in corridors, communal areas and school buses from 31 August.
- Similar measures will also be introduced in Northern Ireland where pupils and teachers in every secondary school will have to wear a face coverings in corridors, communal areas (but not on buses) from 31 August.
- Meanwhile the Welsh government has recommended the use of face coverings within secondary schools but have left it to the discretion to schools and councils to decide if they become mandatory.
- The European Commission has presented proposals to the Council for decisions to grant financial support of €81.4 billion to 15 Member States under the SURE instrument. SURE offers temporary Support to mitigate the unemployment risks of Covid-19. Under the proposal, Italy will receive the highest funding (€27.4 billion), followed by Spain (€21.3 billion). The proposals for each of the 15 countries can be found here.
- The latest public sector finances from the Office for National Statistics showed that debt has exceeded £2 trillion pounds for the first time in July, £227.6 billion more than at the same point last year. Borrowing in July is estimated to have been £26.7 billion, £28.3 billion more than in July 2019.
- Around 1.3 million passengers arrived in the UK by air in July, according to figures published by the Home Office. This was higher than the average for April, May and June when there were fewer than 200,000 arrivals by air each month, but 89% lower than the total of 11.1 million in July 2019
- Gyms, swimming pools and indoor sports courts will be able to reopen in Scotland from 31 August rather than 14 September. On 24 August, organised outdoor contact sports and some outdoor live events, among other facilities, were allowed to reopen. Under new legislation which will come into force on 28 August, Scottish police will have the power to break up and disperse large indoor gatherings.
- The Chief Regulator of Ofqual, Sally Collier has resigned after the controversial awarding of exam results this summer. The Ofqual Board has asked Dame Glenys Stacey to assume a temporary leadership role as acting Chief Regulator until December 2020. Chair, Roger Taylor will remain in post.
- A limited number of small scale outdoor performances and sporting events are set to be trialled in Wales as part of the phased approach to the safe reopening of the events industry. Initially three small events, limited up to 100 people and with strict risk assessments, will be held later this month across Wales.
- Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced the launch of the Acceleration Unit, to speed up road and rail upgrades. The Unit will be made up of a team of specialists who will join the Department for Transport in order to tackle delays to infrastructure projects and drive forward progress for passengers.
- The Northern Ireland Executive have introduced new restrictions reducing the numbers of people who can gather indoors and outdoors, including in domestic settings. Before the extra restrictions up to 10 people from four households can meet indoors, and 30 in a garden. The number that can now meet indoors is six people from two households. Meanwhile the number of people that can meet outdoors has been reduced to 15.
- Northern Ireland has launched Tourism NI’s new Experience Development Programme. The programme will include capital grants of up to £200,000 to help tourism providers develop new and enhanced tourism offerings that will support recovery and growth. The programme will also allow for up to 80% funding for private/voluntary sector organisations and up to 50% for the public sector towards eligible costs of implementing these enhancements.
- Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has lifted restrictions in Aberdeen. Aberdeen is now broadly in line with the rest of Scotland, with restaurants, pubs, casinos and other hospitality premises permitted to open this week.
- The UK Government has confirmed that they will contribute £32.5m investment in the Moray Growth Deal for Scotland, with the Scottish Government also giving £32.5m and a further £35.8 m from various partners.
- The Department for Health has announced £588m in order to provide up to 6 weeks of funded care and support for people being discharged from hospital. This funding could help pay for additional support such as domiciliary care, community nursing services or care home costs. NHS Continuing Healthcare (NHS CHC) assessments for those needing long-term care or support will resume from September.
- Grassroots music venues will receive funding as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. The £3.36 million Emergency Grassroot Music Venues Fund is being shared across 135 venues who had applied for support. An additional £1.1 million was added to the original £2.25 million allocation following the demand for help.
- Residents in Oldham, Pendle and Blackburn have been told not to socialise with anyone from outside their household. Businesses including restaurants and pubs, workplaces and childcare settings will remain open.
- Funding to deploy low carbon heat in existing social housing has been fast tracked to support Scotland’s economic recovery from Covid-19. Most of the funding will be used to support the start of construction and shovel-ready projects. It will also reduce heating bills for social housing tenants and provide financial support for the installation of heat pumps, with biomass boilers and integrated low carbon heat solutions.
- Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney has announced £11.6 million of funding for local authorities to raise the attainment of care experienced by looked after children and young people.
- BEIS has announced a new productivity institute as part of a £37m investment to boost UK wage growth and living standards. £32 million of funding will go to the UK Productivity Institute in Manchester and £5 million will go to the London School of Economics to help their work in identifying how the UK’s most innovative products, services and technologies can be distributed evenly across the economy.
- The Government has extended the temporary ban on evictions for one month