Intelligence Newsletter - 4th August, 2020
Local Impact and Updates
- Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer visited Falmouth on Wednesday (29 July) and called for the Government to provide more support for staff working in tourism and manufacturing. Sir Kier said Cornwall was expected to lose out on around £800 million worth of income due to the pandemic and that business and communities in Cornwall had told him they are struggling with social distancing and the shorter tourist season.
- The visit comes after Labour analysed ONS data which showed that areas heavily reliant on tourism saw a rise in the number of people seeking unemployment benefits in recent months is an average of 65 percentage points higher than in other areas.
- Our Network has published an updated slide deck on the Economic Impact of COVID on Cornwall. The document looks at Cornwall's economic context, bringing together analysis of known data and applications of Tortoise Media, ISER research and Center for Towns Exposure. Have a look at our documents sections on this page!
- The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee have published a new report looking at national infrastructure spending. It concludes that the overall aims are poorly defined and may lead to money being wasted as the spend may not lead to the culture change required for the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. They also say more local input is required into these schemes and that it should be sought at an earlier stage.
- The ONS has released its latest data on the effects of COVID-19 on the UK economywith the main points being:
- The accommodation and food service activities sector reported the largest percentage of businesses starting to trade within the last two weeks after a pause in trading, at 33%.
- The accommodation and food service activities sector reported the highest proportion of the workforce returning from furlough leave, at 18%, followed by the arts, entertainment and recreation sector and the construction sector, both at 15%.
- Of businesses continuing to trade, the wholesale and retail trade sector had the highest percentage of businesses reporting that their turnover increased, at 22%.
- 38% of businesses continuing to trade reported that capital expenditure had stopped or was lower than normal because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Health and Wellbeing
- The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have reported on the Government’s handling of social care during the pandemic. They have called the Government’s approach ‘slow, inconsistent and, at times, negligent’. They also describe the decision to discharge 25,000 patients into care homes in March and early April without testing for the virus as ‘shocking’ and an 'appalling error’. They don’t only lay blame for the tragic consequences for those who rely on social care with the Government’s recent decisions but also the years of funding cuts and delays to policy reform for the sector.
- The Health Foundation have also released analysis revealing the devastating impact the pandemic has had on social care in England, echoing the points made by the Public Accounts Committee.
- Swim England has warned that only a fifth of local authority owned swimming pools opened on the day Government restrictions allowed them to and that 30% of facilities would likely stay closed for the next six months as the cost of reopening appears to be prohibitive. They have welcomed a report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee into the COVID-19 impact on the sector which says the Government must work with councils to ensure necessary funding is in place to preserve leisure facilities.
- ONS have published a Personal Well-being Interactive Maps that looks at Life Satisfaction, Worthwhile, Happiness and Activity.
- The County Councils Network reports that England’s largest councils say government should set out its plans to reform social care this year but warn against a ‘knee-jerk’ centralisation of the system in the aftermath of Coronavirus. This follows speculation in the press that control for social care commissioning and provision could be moved from local government to the NHS. They site examples where local government have stepped up to support social care providers during the pandemic and say councils want to work with local NHS organisations to provide solutions to the current issues.
- The Children’s Society annual survey of children’s well-being has shown that nearly 1 in 5 children aged 10-17 in the UK have reported being unhappy with their lives as a whole during the coronavirus lockdown. This is equivalent to 1.1million children. This has increased from between 10 and 13% over the last five years. The organisation has published a report titled “Life on Hold” which also finds that 50% of parents expected coronavirus to harm their children’s happiness over the coming year.
- The Government’s Health and Care Monthly Update for Augustreports that:
- The prevalence of adult smokers in the UK continues to fall across all age groups in 2019
- There was a low point in the number of referrals to talking therapies in April 2020
- Women are progressively delaying childbearing with a steady increase in fertility rates for women aged over 40 years since 1978
- The number of patients who die following hospitalisation continues to decrease.
There is more detail on each of the reports above including datasets.
Social welfare and society
- The Economic Affairs Committee (a Lords Committee) has called for reforms to Universal Credit as it said the policy is failing millions of people and driving the increase in foodbank use and rent arrears. In their second report ‘Universal Credit isn’t working: proposals for reform’, they call for the Government to introduce a non-repayable two-week grant to all claimants, tax credit debt to be written off, and an increase in the standard allowance.
- The number of council referrals of suspected child victims of modern slavery in England to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) has risen from 127 in 2014 to 1,971 in 2019. Children accounted for 91% of all referrals made by councils in 2019, according to the figures. The LGA is calling for specific funding to help disrupt and tackle the crime through regulatory services and provide support to the victims. They also warn that the pandemic could leave people more vulnerable to exploitation by businesses.
- According to a YouGov poll, 18% of Britons say that despite the many negative effects the pandemic has caused, it has had a positive effect on them. This appears to be slightly more common in men than women (21% of men vs 16% of women). The graph below shows the breakdown of different groups and whether they feel they have been positively or negatively affected and to what extent. Key workers top the list of those that feel the pandemic has had a large negative effect on them.
- Another YouGov poll has also shown that the use of facemasks is significantly up as 57% of people report having worn a facemask in the previous fortnight. This is up from 38% on 12 July. This follows the Governments new rule on face coverings being required in all shops from 24 July.
- The New Local Government Network (NLGN) have published a report called “Community Mobilisation: Unlocking the potential of community power” which provides four strategies for rapidly mobilising local mutual aid groups to ensure the most vulnerable are provided for during the pandemic. They site case studies that demonstrate good practice and cover ideas like local area coordination, community land trusts and participatory platforms.
- The Rural Services Network have been looking at whether more people are looking to escape to the countryside, how this has been impacted by COVID-19 and what this means for rural places. They site the ONS Opinions and Lifestyle Survey which found that 28% of adults are planning changes to their relationship, job or home after we have recovered from COVID-19. 35% of these respondents wanted to move home. The report explores the evidence and discusses the possible impacts for the countryside.
- Breathable billboards have been installed at three locations in London to encourage local authorities to build clean air into their recovery plans from the COVID-19 pandemic. The billboards from Global Action Plan include an image of flowering lungs that react in real-time to localised pollution data to show if air quality is good or approaching illegal levels. These accompany a new report and toolkit funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity who argue there is a detrimental health link between COVID-19 and air pollution.
- This may be a timely initiative as Friends of the Earth report that 1,360 sites across England exceed the Air Quality Objective for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels, although this is down from 1,591 locations the year before.
- ‘Unearthed’, a journalism project by Greenpeace UK, has reported that waste incinerators are three times more likely to be built in the UK’s most deprived neighbourhoods than the least. Incinerators that are currently proposed, are in the planning process, or being built also reflect this trend. Nearly half are set to be built in the UK’s top 25% most deprived neighbourhoods. Incinerators are on the rise globally due to an international waste crisis but those living in the vicinity complain of noise, litter and increased traffic. The article explores the effects and causes for the locations of the incinerators in more depth.
- A report published by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee says that at least 90,000 new social homes should be built every year but that existing funding mechanisms mean local authorities and social housing providers are ‘at the limit’ of what they can deliver. They believe this target could be reached in five years if the Government increased funding and made some policy reforms to reduce the predicted cost of providing these new homes.
- The charity Shelter has published a report which says nearly one in five (17%) private renting parents, which is the equivalent to over 450,000 adults are not more concerned their family will become homeless as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. YouGov carried out polling on behalf of Shelter which found that 15% of these people had cut back on food and 20% were taking on debt to help pay their rent since lock-down. Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “As rescue and recovery packages roll in, the government needs to prioritise building safe homes that everyone can afford. Cuts to stamp duty are not a solution when you’re struggling to keep a roof over your head, and terrified of becoming homeless at the hands of this crisis.”