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Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 16 February, 2021

The articles below have been drawn together by the policy and analytical community within the Council. Information is correct at the time of writing, 10am on 15 February. 

Covid-19

  • As of 14 February, a total of 13,290 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. A total of 405 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have died within 28 days of a positive test for Covid-19. (Statistics provided by Public Health England.) PHE reporting shows that, between 1 - 7 February, Covid-19 activity continued to decrease nationally, including reductions in overall case rates and positivity rates.  
  • More than 15 million people in the UK have now received a first Covid-19 vaccination. Almost 128,000 first doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been given to people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. People over 70 who have not yet been vaccinated against Covid-19 have been encouraged to book an appointment via an online NHS portal, without receiving a letter. Covid-19 vaccine trials for children aged 5+ are reportedly due to begin this week. 
  • Free PPE will be given to unpaid carers who do not live with the people they care for.

Brexit

  • A new £20 million Brexit Support Fund will help small businesses understand changes to rules governing trade with the EU. Grants of up to £2,000 will be available to pay for practical support.  
  • Freight flows into and out of Europe from Kent have reportedly returned to February 2020 levels. 

Economy

  • Official figures show that the UK's yearly GDP decreased by 9.9% in 2020, the largest recorded annual fall. 
  • The Local Government Finance Bill for the next financial year has been debated in Parliament, with contributions from some of Cornwall’s MPs. The Settlement has been confirmed at £51.3 billion, an increase of £2.3 billion on the previous year. 
  • Research by the Financial Conduct Authority has found that the number of UK adults with low financial resilience increased from 10.7 million to 14.2 million during 2020.  
  • The Prime Minister has reportedly advised that it is “too early” for people to book summer holidays, domestically or internationally. Some holiday companies have seen a 300% increase in bookings compared to the same time last year. 

Education

  • The Government has said that schools should not be used as polling stations for the May local elections if alternatives can be found. 
  • A report examining teacher assessment data from 6,000 primary schools has concluded that Year 1 pupils experienced the greatest drop in their learning during the pandemic. Younger children took longer to catch up when they returned to in-person teaching. 
  • 81 professional development hubs for teachers across the UK are to open later this year. 
  • The Rural Services Network (RSN) has responded to the Government’s recent Skills for Jobs White Paper, which proposes reforms to post-16 technical education. The RSN highlights that rural requirements and land-based colleges are not mentioned. 

Environment

  • A new £10 million Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund will provide grants of up to £100,000 to help charities, local authorities and businesses develop nature projects in England to attract private investment. 

Equality and diversity

  • ONS data shows almost 60% of people who died from Covid-19 in 2020 were disabled, despite comprising just over 17% of the study population. The risk of death tripled for people with severe disabilities. 
  • New analysis by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows one third of UK households with children under 5 live in poverty. 56% of lone parent families with young children are poor. 
  • A Parliamentary Select Committee has found that the pandemic has had an unequal economic effect on men and women due to existing inequalities; over-representation of women in some job fields and the Government overlooking caring inequalities that disproportionally fall on women. 

Health and care

  • The Government has published a White Paper on Health and Care, setting out proposals to reorganise the NHS. Planned changes include a legal duty for the NHS and local authorities to collaborate and an end to the requirement for NHS contracts to be tendered. 
  • A report by the County Councils Network has found that tens of thousands of adults with care and support needs could live more independently if social care continues to be delivered by councils, rather than the NHS or central government. 

Housing

  • Starting later in 2021, councils will have a duty to ensure survivors of domestic abuse and their children can access support in safe accommodation. £125 million Government funding will be provided. 
  • The current ban on bailiff evictions has been extended until 31 March. Landlords are still required to give 6 months’ notice to tenants before starting possession proceedings.  

Consultations

  • The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is seeking views on potential measures to eradicate bovine tuberculosis in England. Deadline 24 March 2021. 
  • The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is consulting on draft revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework, implementing the recommendations of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. Deadline 27 March 2021.   
  • The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is seeking evidence on how to take local factors into account in the Government’s flood and coastal defence investment programme. Deadline 29 March 2021.
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