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Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 16 March, 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, 1000 on 15 March. 

Covid-19

  • As of 14 March, a total of 13,818 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. A total of 461 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.)
  • New analysis of rapid lateral flow tests shows fewer than 1 in 1,000 tests give a false positive.
  • Homeless people and rough sleepers will now be included in vaccine priority group six, as they are more likely to have undiagnosed conditions and lack regular healthcare access. 
  • A cross-party Parliamentary committee has criticised the Government for failing to adequately explain data used to support crucial decisions during the pandemic.

Census

  • Cornwall Council has launched the Let’s Tell Them We’re Cornish/Leveryn Dhedha Agan Bos Kernowyon campaign to encourage everyone who identifies as Cornish to say so on the 2021 Census. Respondents can tick the box marked ‘other’ under the nationality, ethnicity and language questions and then write ‘Cornish’.

Economy

  • Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the UK’s GDP shrank by 2.9% in January following lockdown measures, 9% below GDP levels in February 2020.

Elections

  • 25% of the population are reportedly less likely to vote at a polling station due to the pandemic, and 73% would like voting in May’s elections to be made easier, according to a survey by the National Education Union and campaigning group Hope Not Hate.

Environment

  • Cornwall Council has been awarded nearly £300,000 from the Woodland Trust to contribute to Forest for Cornwall’s aim of planting 8,000 hectares of woodland in the coming years. Cornwall is one of eleven local authorities to benefit from the Emergency Tree Fund.
  • Drilling for a 3-mile geothermal well at the Eden Project, as the first step to providing  renewable energy, will reportedly begin in mid-May, following delays caused by the pandemic. Funded by Cornwall Council, the European Regional Development Fund and an institutional investor, the project aims to remove Eden’s carbon footprint by 2023.

Equality and diversity

  • Social Mobility Foundation research shows 56% of the public believe the pandemic has increased social inequality.
  • ONS analysis shows women’s well-being was more negatively impacted during the first year of the pandemic than that of men. Women were more likely to be furloughed, work from home much less and spend more time on unpaid domestic work than men.
  • An Institute for Government and Social Security Advisory Committee joint report on lessons learned from the pandemic has recommended that changes are made to Universal Credit and re-training, with a wider reassessment of the aims of the benefits system. 
  • The Traveller Movement’s new report examines access to education for members of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. Recommendations cover educational provision at 14-16 years, vocational qualifications, traineeships and apprenticeships, A-levels and ethnicity-based bullying.

Housing

  • The current ban on bailiff enforced evictions has been extended again, until 31 May. Landlords will continue to be required to give 6 months’ notice to tenants before starting possession proceedings, until the same date.

Local authorities 

  • The National Audit Office has found that, despite making a “major contribution to the national response to the pandemic”, local authorities’ financial positions are a “cause for concern”, with budgets balanced by making cuts to services and using reserves.

Consultations

  • The Environment Agency has completed its preliminary generic assessment of the environmental aspects of General Nuclear System Limited’s UK Hualong pressurised (water) reactor (UK HPR1000) and wants your views on this assessment. Deadline 04 April 2021.
  • The Ministry of Justice is consulting on the proposal to transfer most assessments of civil and family legal aid bills of costs, from HM Courts and Tribunals Service to the Legal Aid Agency. Deadline 10 April 2021.
  • The Department of Health and Social Care wants your views on reforms to the Mental Health Act to make decisions about care more patient-centred. Deadline 21 April 2021.      
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