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Covid-19 Recovery Brief: Wednesday, July 8

Covid-19 Recovery Brief: Wednesday, July 8

Each day, our Public Policy team will be reporting on the latest news in the evolving situation. To view the previous day’s summary, please click here.

Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has delivered his Summer Economic Update

  • The plans included a number of measures to ‘Support, Create and Protect’ jobs.
    • A temporary change to stamp duty – immediately increasing the threshold to £500,000.
    • A new £2bn “Kickstart Scheme” to create high quality six month work placements for 16-24 year olds who are on Universal Credit and deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment. The Government will pay young people’s wages for up to six months. It will amount to a grant worth around £6,500 per young person.
    • Additional £111 million this year for traineeships in England, to fund work placements and training for 16-24 year olds.
    • Temporary cut to VAT on food, accommodation and attractions from 20% to 5% until January 2021.
    • New job retention bonus for employers who bring back furloughed staff. With a £1,000 bonus per employee who returns to work. However firms must pay at least £520 each month to returned staff.
    • “Eat out to help out” vouchers that will give diners 50% off their meals out up to £10 per head, when they eat on from Monday to Wednesday in August.
    • The Government will provide an additional £32 million funding over the next 2 years for the National Careers Service.
    • Introduction of a new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1st August 2020 to 31st January 2021.
    • Additional £17 million this year to triple the number of sector-based work academy placements in England in order to provide vocational training and guaranteed interviews for more people.
    • The Government will fund a Construction Talent Retention Scheme to support the redeployment of workers at risk of redundancy.
    • The Chancellor announced a £3 billion Green Homes Grant. This will provide at least £2 for every £1 homeowners and landlords spend to make their homes more energy efficient, up to £5,000 per household. For those on the lowest incomes, the scheme will fully fund energy efficiency measures of up to £10,000 per household.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that Scotland will provide air corridors with the 39 countries on the “green list” already agreed by the UK Government

  • However, Sturgeon also announced that she could not give air corridors to “amber countries” which have higher prevalence of Covid-19 than Scotland, such as Spain and Serbia, people returning from both countries will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
    • Last week the UK government announced that quarantine in England would not be required for passengers returning from either Spain or Serbia.
    • Sturgeon stressed it would not be possible for travellers to avoid quarantine in Scotland by flying into an English airport and then travelling to Scotland, because passenger information would be shared with Public Health Scotland.
    • Sturgeon insisted that Scottish travellers from England, or indeed Scots who travel to Portugal then journey to Spain overland, will not be able to avoid these spot checks.
    • The new arrangements will come into effect on 10 July.
    • Sturgeon said that she hoped to lift the exemption for Spain as soon as possible and would review the decision on 20 July.

Other UK news

  • The Conservative Party conference will be moved to an online format, following Labour and Lib-Dems decision to do the same.
  • The Northern Ireland Executive has agreed indicative arrangements for the resumption of indoor weddings, civil partnerships and baptisms. All indoor marriage ceremonies and baptisms in can resume from 10 July.
  • The Department for Work and Pensions has announced that face-to-face assessments for benefits will remain suspended, but kept  under review.
  • New figures have shown that over one million Bounce Back loans worth £30.93bn have been approved for small businesses.
  • The technology firm Smiths Group has said it will help produce a blood-based Covid-19 antibody test approved by the UK healthcare regulator.
  • Boohoo has ordered an independent review of its UK supply chain following reports that workers at a factory in Leicester were not being allowed to socially distance.
  • Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed almost half of all UK employees worked from home in April – at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

World news

  • Ireland expects 1 million people to have downloaded a voluntary app to trace contacts of Covid-19 patients within 24 hours of its formal launch, which its health service operator said would make it the most successful launch in the world.
  • The European commission has struck deals with drugmakers Roche and Merck KGaA to secure supplies of experimental treatments for Covid-19
  • Ministers who have recently had contact with Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro are being tested for coronavirus after he announced that he was infected.
  • Italy has called for new precautionary measures for passengers travelling to EU countries from outside the bloc to contain the spread of coronavirus.
  • The Netherlands shut its borders to people from Serbia and Montenegro again, a week after opening them, citing a rapid rise in coronavirus infections in both countries.
  • Two prestigious US universities, Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), are taking legal action against the US government over an immigration rule they say will force international students to leave the country. Under the rule, introduced by the Trump administration, foreign students would be barred from staying in the country if their colleges don’t hold in-person classes this autumn

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