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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Tuesday, June 16

Daily Covid-19 Brief: Tuesday, June 16

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.

The Government has confirmed a U-turn regarding the provision of free school meal vouchers during the summer holidays

  • Around 1.3million children will be eligible for the Covid summer food fund which will cost circa. £120million.
  • A campaign that gained much traction by the England footballer Marcus Rashford led to the rethinking of the government’s policy. This decision has been welcomed by the Labour Party who stated “this is a welcome U-turn […] and a victory for the 1.3million children who were at risk of going hungry this summer.”
  • Shadow Education Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey also called on the Government to confirm that this new money will be for the direct provision of free school meals to all eligible children.
  • Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran urged the Government to combine the free schools voucher scheme with an urgent uplift in child benefit and a ‘catch-up premium’ to ensure “every child has the best start to life.”

Labour presses for emergency summer Budget

  • Shadow Chancellor, Dr Anneliese Dodds MP, has called for the Government to bring forward the autumn budget into July to protect UK jobs during the recovery.
  • Dr Dodds called for the budget to prioritise unemployment, improve skills training, providing support for those who have lost jobs, and to consider extending the furlough scheme.
  • The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is expected to deliver a modest stimulus package in July, as the UK looks to recover, but has played down rumours that this will amount to a full budget.
  • The Treasury has said that they want to be able to view the full extent of issues before making irreversible spending decisions.

Welsh Economy Minister Ken Skates has announced the Welsh Government will be developing a comprehensive employability and skills support package to support the post Covid-19 Welsh economic recovery

  • The plans include offering everyone in Wales over 16 advice and support to find work, self-employment opportunities, or secure a place in education or training.
  • Support will also be provided to support the most affected by Covid-19, including young people, BAME communities, and disabled people.
  • Mr Skates also urged the UK Government to extend support for Welsh people on the Government’s furlough and self-employment support schemes.

Other UK COVID 19 news 

  • A cheap and widely available drug called dexamethasone can help  cut the risk of death  by up to a third in patients who are seriously ill with coronavirus, UK experts have said. The low-dose steroid treatment is considered a major breakthrough in the fight against the deadly virus.
  • BEIS have announced the clinical researchers will begin human trials of a new coronavirus vaccine developed by researchers at Imperial College London.
  • The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released new figures which show the number of workers on UK payroll fell more than 600,000 between March and May with the number of people claiming out-of-work benefits jumping sharply to nearly three million. However overall UK unemployment rate remained steady at 3.9%.
  • The Northern Ireland Executive have confirmed that hotels, bars, restaurants and cafes can reopen from 3 July. Self-catering accommodation such as caravans can also open from 26 June.
  • Doctors have called for the recommendations of a report into the impact of Covid-19 on black, Asian and minority ethnic people to be implemented immediately.
  • Teachers say their pupils are doing less or much less work than they would normally at this time of the year, as most remain out of school, a study has found. Head teachers believe around a third of pupils are not engaging with set work, according to the report by the National Foundation for Educational Research.

World COVID 19 news

  • Peru’s economy sank 40% in April on a year-on-year comparison, its worst-ever percentage drop, amid a lockdown imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19, government figures show.
  • The Chinese capital Beijing has put more neighbourhoods under lockdown and boosted testing as it tries to contain an outbreak of coronavirus. There were 27 new cases reported on Tuesday, bringing the total to 106 people over five days.

Private sector updates

  • Bosses from the restaurant sector, including Pizza Hut, Wagamama and Itsu, have warned the prime minister the sector faces mass job cuts without more help.
  • Greggs, the British high street bakers, is planning to reopen about 800 shops for takeaways on Thursday – and the rest of its 2,050 or so outlets from early July.
  • Poundstretcher is considering closing more than half of its UK stores as part of a survival plan.

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