Intelligence Bulletin - 21 July, 2020
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have released their most recent wave of indicators for the UK economy and society. Some of the headline findings were:
- Between 15 and 28 June 2020, 90% of businesses in accommodation and food services reported increased operating costs because of the implementation of safety measures, according to the latest Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS)
- The proportion of adults shopping for things other than basic necessities increased to 19% from 13% in the previous week, according to the latest Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN).
- 41% of businesses were providing pay top-ups to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, covering 71% of their furloughed workforce
- In accommodation and food services, 90% of businesses reported increased operating costs because of the implementation of safety measures
- Between 3 July and 10 July 2020, the volume of job adverts remained at just under 50% of their 2019 average
- GDP fell by 19.1% in the three months to May, as government restrictions on movement dramatically reduced economic activity.
- Council leaders have urged the Government to provide further details on the promised compensation for loss of income due to the pandemic. Cllr Carl Les, CCN spokesperson for finance, said: ‘We await the publication of the detail for the government’s compensation scheme for lost income in council fees and charges. However, it is crucial the government brings forward an ‘income guarantee’ for lost council tax and business rate income, which pose the largest financial risk to councils over the coming period.’
- West Berkshire Council are the first in the UK to launch a local government green bond. The council aims to raise £1m from its citizens to fund solar panel installations on five council-owned buildings. The bond uses Community Municipal Investment (CMI) developed by Abundance, which allows councils to offer a regulated investment directly to their residents for the first time.
Health and Wellbeing
- The ONS has released its most recent infection survey pilot study. They conclude that the number of people in England testing positive has decreased since the start of the study and has now levelled off. They estimate around 1 in 2,300 individuals within the community population in England had COVID-19 within the most recent week looked at, from 6 July to 12 July 2020. This equates to an estimated 24,000 people (95% credible interval: 15,000 to 34,000).
- During the most recent week (6 July to 12 July), we estimate there were around two new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 individuals in the community population in England, equating to around 1,700 new cases per day (95% confidence interval: 700 to 4,200). Between 26 April and 8 July, 6.3% of people tested positive for antibodies against COVID-19 on a blood test, suggesting they had had the infection in the past.
- The Government has now said it will allow Councils to have named patient data on those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the area. Local Government have said that the lack of this data had been hampering their efforts to monitor and react to local outbreaks. The article in The Observer includes commentary from Andy Burnham who has been a lead campaigner for local government receiving full data and in a more timely fashion from central Government.
- Herefordshire Council has said there is no indication that COVID-19 has spread from Rook Row Farm, which was put into lockdown after 74 of its employees tested positive for the virus. The Chief executive of the council, Alistair Neill said that over 70 had recovered and returned to work and that they were working with Public Health England to monitor the local area and that “at this stage there is no evidence of any community infection”.
- The Government has suspended the publication of death toll figures for the UK over fears the data may not be accurate. The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has ordered a review into the figures. Academic experts have highlighted that Public Health England reports the death of anyone who has ever tested positive for COVID-19, regardless of when the test occurred and the length of time between the test and the person’s death. It does not consider that some of these people may have recovered and been discharged from hospital into the community and then unfortunately died from an unrelated cause.
- Councils will get new powers to shut down premises in a bid to control the spread of coronavirus as we head towards the next phase of the pandemic, the Prime Minister has announced. He continued: ‘From tomorrow, local authorities will have new powers in their areas. They will be able to close specific premises, shut public outdoor spaces and cancel events. These powers will enable local authorities to act more quickly in response to outbreaks where speed is paramount.’
- Councils have been awarded £62m to help accelerate the discharge of people with learning disabilities and/or autism from mental health hospitals. The Community Discharge Fund will help move people into more appropriate care settings or into their community by paying for community teams, accommodation and staff training.
- A survey of over 14,000 adults by the mental health charity Mind has revealed that existing inequalities in housing, employment, finances and other issues have had a greater impact on the mental health of people from different Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) groups than white people during the coronavirus pandemic.
- More than 140 prisoners have been housed in hotels and B&Bs after being released during lockdown. Some of these have been released early to prevent overcrowding and infection risks in prison. The ministry of justice says all offenders are thoroughly risk-assessed before being released. The hotels were not provided with details of the offence the person had committed and electronic monitoring equipment would be installed in an offender's hotel room to ensure they abide by a curfew.
- The Duke of Cambridge has said that COVID-19 has given us an opportunity to crack homelessness. The Duke visited The Light Project in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, which has helped to house over 150 people during lockdown. The Prince said, “This pandemic has been truly horrendous for everyone - I'm really hoping that the slivers of positivity and the slivers of goodness that might come out of this is in the homelessness side of things.”
- This is well timed as Secretary of state for housing, Robert Jenrick, unveils a new £266m fund to help vulnerable people move into long term accommodation. The Next Steps Accommodation Programme will provide new tenancies for around 15,000 vulnerable people who were moved into accommodation during the pandemic.
- The Affordable Housing Commission has published a 12-point housing recovery plan, which puts social and affordable housing at the heart of the recovery. The measures include returning housing grants to the previous levels, reforms to Right to Buy and Permitted Development Rights, and caps on rent rises. It also proposes a new Housing Conversion Fund to enable social landlords to buy unsold homes and other properties.
Society and Social Welfare
In their latest edition of Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain, which covers the period 8-12 July 2020, the ONS have found the following:
- 6 in 10 adults (61%) who have left their homes have worn a face covering to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) – an increase from last week (52%).
- Just over 4 in 10 (41%) adults had family or friends visit them in their home over the last week, and for those aged over 70 years this rises to 5 in 10 (50%).
- For the first time half of working adults (50%) reported they had travelled to work in the past seven days, a slight increase on last week (48%).
- When meeting up with other people over a half of adults (55%) always maintained social distancing, with just over 1 in 20 (6%) saying they rarely or never maintained social distancing.
- Nearly 3 in 10 adults (27%) said they would be comfortable or very comfortable to eat indoors at a restaurant compared with 2 in 10 adults (20%) last week.
- Among those that had left their home, nearly 1 in 10 adults (9%) visited a barber or hair salon this week and a further 1 in 10 (10%) left home to eat or drink at a restaurant, café, bar or pub; a further 15% collected take-away food or drink from a restaurant, café, bar or pub.
- During the period 8-12 July the most common reasons for leaving home were:
- A new guide to help councils engage with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been launched by the LGA. Sir Richard Leese, chair of the LGA’s City Regions Board, said: ‘Local government can play a key role in driving a sustainable recovery that meets the needs of local communities and businesses.
- A report released by the Children’s Commissioner for England says that early years services are failing to target the children that most need support. Anne Longfield, argues the system needs a complete overhaul, with too many children from disadvantaged families falling behind before they even start formal education. The report calls on the Government to create a ‘Best Beginnings’ strategy bringing together the Healthy Child Programme, the Early Years Foundation Stage, Children and Family Hubs, antenatal services and the Troubled Families Programme.
- YouGov asked British people how they feel about their family income. 8 surveys took place over the course of May and June. 64% of respondents said there had been no change in their household finances in the preceding month. 23% of people said their financial situation had deteriorated and 10% said it had gotten better. A third of respondents said their cash levels hadn’t changed over the last month and won’t change over the next year. This group accounts for around a third of Britons (34%). The graph below illustrated people’s thoughts on how the situation will change in the next year.
- The Office for National Statistics have published a subnational ageing tool which can be used to compare current and projected indicators of ageing across local authorities, regions and countries in the UK. The data is based on 2019 estimates and 2018-based subnational population projections.
- The RAC is calling for revenue from car tax to be ring-fenced to pay for local road maintenance after they didn’t see a significant drop in car damage due to potholes even though traffic on the roads dropped by as much as 60% in April to June. The RAC said drivers are now 1.5 times more likely to suffer a pothole breakdown than in 2006, when it first started collecting data.
- Tourism in two areas named as the best seaside towns "to avoid crowds" needs a balance between welcoming visitors and dealing with coronavirus, locals say. A UK wide poll held by consumer group Which? Saw St Mawes in Cornwall and Dartmouth in Devon top the list but St Just in Roseland Parish Council for St Mawes say there is increasing concern from residents and businesses about social distancing.