The Cornwall We Know

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Welcome to The Cornwall We Know, where you will find a variety of intelligence and insight, selected from internal and external sources, to help inform our understanding of Cornwall and the impact that COVID-19 has had on our residents and businesses.

Welcome to The Cornwall We Know, where you will find a variety of intelligence and insight, selected from internal and external sources, to help inform our understanding of Cornwall and the impact that COVID-19 has had on our residents and businesses.

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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 6 April, 2021

    14 days ago
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    The articles below have been drawn together by the policy and analytical community within the Council. Information is correct at the time of writing, 10:00am on 1 April.

    Covid-19

    • As of 31 March, a total of 14,052 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. A total of 464 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.) 
    • England has moved to the next stage of the Covid-19 restriction “roadmap”. Outdoor gatherings of 6 people or 2 households are now permitted, including in private gardens. Formally organised outdoor sports can now take place, involving any number of people. 
    • Parents and carers of children who have been advised to self-isolate will now be eligible for a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment.
    • An Office for National Statistics survey shows that over 1 million people in the UK reported having symptoms of long Covid, in the 4 weeks to 6 March.
    • A survey for Public Health England has reportedly found that under 25% of people with Covid-19 symptoms get a test, and only around 50% of those with symptoms fully self-isolate.

    Economy

    • The Treasury has announced a series of proposed changes to the UK tax system, including legislation to prevent second home-owners from registering for business rates unless the property is a genuine holiday let.
    • New research led by Newcastle University has found that the welfare system does not deal equitably with the irregular and volatile nature of rural incomes, making residents in rural areas more vulnerable to poverty.
    • A Government-funded scoping study into Cornish lithium will assess if it is feasible to develop a sustainable UK supply chain by constructing an extraction plant to produce low-carbon lithium hydroxide from a hard rock source in St Austell.

    Education

    • As a snapshot, on 25 March, 99.8% of state-funded education settings in England were open, with 90% of students attending in-person education. 84% of pupils with an education, health and care plan (EHCP) attended in-person on the same day. 
    • report by the Local Government Association has found that existing educational inequalities and learning gaps have been worsened by the pandemic to the extent that they will not be remedied by a rapid “catch up” programme.

    Equality and diversity

    • The independent report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities has found that racial inequities in education and jobs have narrowed in the UK, although inequalities remain at the highest levels of employment. 
    • Official statistics show 14.5 million people - a record number - were living in poverty in the UK in the year to March 2020. 4.3 million children - 31% of all children in the UK - were living in relative poverty (calculated against median income).

    Housing

    • A Parliamentary committee has recommended that multiple short-notice extensions to the ban on evictions during the pandemic are replaced with a “coherent exit plan”. The committee also suggested that Government should create a support system to deal with rent arrears that have built up over the last year.

    Justice

    • A Parliamentary committee has published a report on the impact of Covid-19 on the courts and tribunal system, finding that the shift to remote hearings was hardest for the most vulnerable people involved in the justice system. The pandemic has also exacerbated barriers to accessing legal representation.

    Consultations 

    • Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee is holding an inquiry into adult social care, including the way it is overseen, financial sustainability and the impact of Covid-19. Evidence can be submitted until 12 April 2021.
    • The Home Office is consulting on changes to the asylum system and policies on illegal migration. Deadline 6 May 2021.
    • The Treasury has issued 25 consultations, discussion documents and calls for evidence concerning its overhaul of the tax system. There are a range of deadlines between 1 June and 13 July.
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  • Policy and Intelligence newsletter - 23 March 2021

    27 days ago
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    The articles below have been drawn together by the policy and analytical community within the Council. Information is correct at the time of writing, 0900 on 22 March. 

    Covid-19

    • As of 21 March, a total of 13,908 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. A total of 465 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.) 
    • The UK medicines regulator has confirmed that available evidence does not suggest the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine causes blood clots.
    • Shielding advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people is to stop from 1 April.
    • Prominent health charities are calling for people with cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other health conditions to take up Covid-19 vaccination offers.

    Economy

    • The Covid-19 Insight Dashboard shows St. Ives, St. Austell and Newquay had the highest furlough take-up rate of 22% as of January 2021, with Truro and Falmouth seeing the greatest increase since December 2020 (to 19%).

    Education

    • 94% of primary school and 89% of secondary school children were having in-person teaching as of 15 March, the highest rate since the start of the pandemic.
    • Households of children attending nurseries, and nursery staff, can now access regular lateral flow tests.

    Environment

    • Forest for Cornwall and Defra have announced a new collaboration, the National Woodland Creation Partnership pilot, which aims to improve regional tree planting. 

    Equality and diversity

    • Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation highlights the experiences of low-income families in the first six months of the pandemic, making recommendations on jobs, social security, housing, the digital divide, and access to information and support.  

    Housing

    • The Covid-19 Insight Dashboard shows that the average house price in Cornwall is around £11,000 higher than the UK average, with prices increasing by 11.5% since December 2019, compared to 7.1% for the UK. Pressures on the local housing market as a result of the pandemic are likely to be seen in some areas as demand exceeds supply.

    Transport 

    • Highways England has issued a call for smaller, local companies to participate in its Chiverton to Carland Cross upgrade, which will see 9 miles of dualling on the A30. So far, 65 businesses have expressed an interest, 60% of them from Cornwall.

    Consultations

    • The Home Office has reopened a consultation on crimes considered as violence against women and girls. This will inform the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy. Deadline 26 March 2021.
    • The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is seeking views on possible changes to the bovine tuberculosis policy. Deadline 21 April 2021.        
    • The Treasury is consulting on raising the minimum pension age from 55 to 57 in 2028 and seeking views on the proposed protection regime. Deadline 22 April 2021.
    • The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is seeking views on changes to the “Flood Re” scheme. Deadline 26 April 2021.
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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 16 March, 2021

    about 1 month ago
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    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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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 9 March, 2021

    about 1 month ago
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    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 8 March. 

    Covid-19

    • As of 7 March, a total of 13,724 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. A total of 458 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 monitoring shows South West Covid-19 case rates per 100,000 continue to be the lowest in the country, at a rate of 43.2

    Devolution

    • A cross-party group of MPs has been holding an inquiry into central government’s role in making English devolution a success, and will be launching their report today (Tuesday 9) via a free webinar.

    Democracy

    • LGA research on public definitions of “local” and attitudes to civic participation following Covid-19 has found that many people lack information about how to participate in change. Some do not trust local authorities, believing that any participation may not yield results.

    Economy

    • The Government's 2021 Budget was published on Wednesday. A special edition of this newsletter, available on our website, sets out the main points.
    • Analysis by The Observer reportedly shows that the 45 places given £1bn from the Towns Fund are in local authority areas which have experienced over £2.4bn worth of cuts since 2010.
    • Nearly two thirds of self-employed workers are worse off due to the pandemic, even when Government support is considered, according to new research from the LSE.
    • As of January, a total of 49,592 people were claiming Universal Credit in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic and an increase of 115.7% compared to January 2020. For more details, see Cornwall Council’s Covid-19 Insights Dashboard.

    Education

    • New PHE guidance (not legislation) recommends that face coverings are worn in the classroom by pupils in Year 7 and above, as well as staff teaching those age groups. Primary school staff are advised to wear face coverings when physical distancing between adults is not possible.
    • PHE research reportedly shows that school staff are at no greater risk of being infected with Covid-19 than other working-age adults.
    • An extra 350 mental health support teams in schools and colleges will be in place by 2023, helping 3 million children. Expanded community mental health services will support 22,500 more children by 2022.

    Environment

    • report by the Social Market Foundation suggests that the UK is unlikely to reach its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 without equitable access to electric vehicle charging points. 35% of renters surveyed said it was impossible to install a charging point in their homes compared to 17% of homeowners.

    Equality and diversity

    • The Government has responded to the Women and Equalities Committee’s report, “Unequal Impact? Coronavirus and BAME people”, highlighting the creation of a new Equality Hub which brings together units working on disability policy, gender, LGBT rights, equality legislation, ethnic disparities and social mobility. 

    Transport

    • In January and February 2021, Cornwall's commuter volume was at around 45% of pre-pandemic levels, as shown in Cornwall Council’s Covid-19 Insights Dashboard. The number of people working on site rather than at home in the same period is higher than in April 2020.

    Consultations 

    • The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs want to know what you think about the plan to prohibit the release of common pheasants and red-legged partridges on European Protected Sites. Deadline 15 March 2021
    • The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is calling for evidence in their review of the Gambling Act 2005. Deadline 31 March 2021.
    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy invites views on the design of a new UK-wide trade subsidy control regime. Deadline 31 March 2021.
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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - Budget 2021 Special Edition

    about 2 months ago
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    Budget 2021 Special Edition 

    03 March 2021

    As an attempt “to level with people over Britain’s public finances”, today’s “Budget for Recovery” has set out the first steps towards reducing the biggest peacetime deficit in Britain’s history. Forecasts show the UK Government has borrowed £355bn this year; next year this is expected to be £234bn. Measures to reduce the gap between Government tax income and spending include an income tax freeze and a higher corporation tax from 2023.

    Previously the LGA estimated that a further £2.6bn was needed to cover Council cost pressures and non-tax income losses of 2020/21 in full. Under the new Budget, local authorities are expected to receive over £3bn of further support to address Covid-19 pressures. Local authorities will be "fully compensated" for income loss due to the extension of the 100% business rates relief programme, as well as receiving new burdens funding for administrative and IT costs. No additional local election funding was mentioned in the Budget and there will be no extension to the Hardship Fund, which enabled local authorities to provide an additional discount to Council Tax bills. 18% of Cornish Households have received council tax support.

    The pandemic has exposed the challenges facing our adult social care system, and the need for long-term reform. The budget does not address funding for adult or children’s social care specifically, and also omits preventative programmes.

    The Chancellor was expected to use the Budget to insist the Government has not lost sight of its election promise to ‘level up’ the UK. Cornwall receiving ‘priority 2’ status under the new levelling up fund indicates this Government does not consider Cornwall an area “most in need of levelling up in England”. The prioritisation is based on a combination of metrics including need for economic recovery and growth, need for improved transport connectivity and need for regeneration. Cornwall is identified as a priority for the UK Community Renewal Fund. All other opportunities for Cornwall are through competitive bids.

    With the Cornish economy still at a standstill and the impact of Brexit being felt, the extension of furlough until the end of September, an extension of the self-employment income support scheme, and extra funding announced for the hospitality and cultural sectors will provide vital support for Cornish businesses.

    Cornwall has seen a 114% increase in Universal Credit claimants since November 2019. The weekly £20 universal credit uplift until September will be a welcome respite. However, anticipating a further rise in unemployment when furlough does end, the Budget already includes a new flexi-apprenticeship scheme to allow people to work for more than one employer; cash incentives for firms taking on apprentices; and an extra £126m of funding for traineeships, funding 40,000 placements. 

    To underline the importance the UK places on reducing carbon emissions ahead of the G7 and COP26, the Budget includes details on the UK’s first ‘green gilt’ and funding opportunities to promote renewable energy production. Fuel duty will, however, be frozen for the 11th consecutive year.  

    Details on a new Spending Review later this year are to follow. The Budget did not include any further detail on a business rates review or the Fair Funding Review.

    Personal finances 

    On income tax, the threshold for paying the basic rate will rise to £12,570 next year. For higher-rate payers, the threshold will be £50,270. Both rates will stay the same until 2026.

    The National Living Wage will rise to £8.91 from April. 

    National Insurance rates will remain unchanged.

    The Lifetime Allowance will be maintained at its current level of £1,073,100 until April 2026.

    The adult ISA annual subscription limit for 2021-22 will remain unchanged at £20,000.

    Top up for universal credit (UC)

    The weekly £20 universal credit uplift will continue until September. 

    • The number of households in claiming UC in Cornwall has increased by 114%, and 400% in Isles of Scilly since November 2019 (StatXplore, 2020). 

    Stamp duty and mortgage guarantee scheme

    The Chancellor announced that the up-to-£500,000 "nil-rate band" for stamp duty will finish at the end of June, rather than the end of March. 

    The Budget also contains a mortgage guarantee scheme to help people with small deposits get on the property ladder, with incentives for lenders to offer more 95% loans.

    Covid-19 Recovery

    The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) expects the economy to be 3% smaller in 5 years’ time than it would have been without the pandemic. OBR projections see the economy growing by 4% this year, 7.3% in 2022 and 1.7%, 1.6% and 1.7% in subsequent years.

    Business 

    The total Covid-19 support package in 2021-2 will be worth £352bn.

    The furlough scheme will be extended until the end of September, at an 80% rate until the scheme ends. Firms will be asked to contribute 10% in July and 20% in August and September.

    • CIOS remains the third highest upper tier authority in furlough take-up rate at 19%, closely following Torbay UA and the Isle of Wight UA (HMRC, 2020) 

    There will be a £5bn restart grant scheme for businesses in the retail, hospitality, accommodation, leisure and personal care sectors. Grants of up to £6,000 will be available to non-essential retail that will be allowed to reopen from mid-April, while grants of up to £18,000 will be available to hospitality businesses that reopen later. 

    • In Cornwall, 6,615 businesses (27% of all local businesses) and 80 businesses (41%) in the Isles of Scilly could be applicable for these grants (ONS, 2020).

    The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be extended for 4th (February-April) and 5th rounds (July-September), worth 80% of average trading profits, up to £7,500. The scheme has been expanded to include people who became self-employed in FY 2019-20, if a tax return had been filed by midnight on 2 March: this could benefit 600,000 people. 

    • Cornish residents have claimed £66.3m from the SEISS, as of January 2021 and £0.5m by IOS based residents. This grant would support 63,400 self-employed residents in Cornwall (Nomis, 2020b). 

    The Bounceback Loan Scheme and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Schemes will end, replaced with a new loan scheme to run until the end of the year. Businesses can apply for loans of £25,000-£10m, with a Government guarantee to lenders of 80%.

    The 100% business rates relief scheme for eligible hospitality, retail and leisure businesses will continue until the end of June, followed by a 66% discount until the end of the year. 750,000 businesses nationally are likely to benefit. 

    There will be an extension of the temporary VAT reduction from 20% to 5% for the hospitality sector until the end of September, then a 12.5% interim rate for next 6 months. VAT in general will not be increased.

    Corporation tax will rise to 25% from April 2023. A new small profits rate (at the current level of 19%) will be created for businesses making below £50,000 profit. A tapered rate will apply between £50,000-£250,000, meaning only 10% of firms will pay the full 25% rate. Our working assumption is that this rise is unlikely to affect many Cornish businesses, which are typically small or micro in size.

    A “super deduction” for 2 years, worth an estimated £25bn, will allow companies to reduce their tax bill by 130% of the value of their investment when they invest in their own businesses.

    Local authorities will distribute £425m in additional discretionary business grant funding, part of the £5bn Restart scheme.

    The Help to Grow Scheme will subsidise (at 90%) a 12-week national curriculum delivered by business schools for 30,000 small and medium-sized enterprises over 3 years. 100,000 small and medium-sized enterprises will receive a voucher for 50% of approved productivity-enhancing software costs, up to £5,000.

    There will be an extension to the programme which allows small and medium-sized businesses to claim back up to two weeks of eligible Statutory Sick Pay per employee from the Government.

    Culture, sport, leisure and tourism

    A £300m extension to the Culture Recovery Fund will support theatres, museums and galleries, including an extension of the Film and TV Restart Scheme. A £90m scheme will support Government-sponsored national museums in England. 

    • A Cornwall Council Cabinet report shows that 80% of respondents to a Creative Kernow survey said they had suffered direct financial losses, totalling £4.07m. 23.6% of respondents were not eligible for any Government support (Creative Kernow, 2020).

    A £300m sport recovery fund will support major spectator sports, including £2.8m for a bid for the 2030 Men’s football World Cup. £25m will be invested in grassroots sports and £1.2m will mitigate the financial effects of Covid-19 on the UEFA Women’s Euro football competition.

    A new £150m Community Ownership Fund will help grassroots groups take over local pubs, theatres and sports clubs at risk of closure. 

    A £100m National Leisure Recovery Fund will support publicly-owned leisure facilities in England during the pandemic.

    A specific tourism support package would have been welcomed, but was not included in the Budget.

    Apprenticeships 

    There will be greater incentives offered to firms taking on apprentices, doubled to £3,000 for each apprentice. £126m will be available for traineeships in England, funding 40,000 placements. 

    £7m will be provided for a new “flexi-job” apprenticeship programme in England, that will enable apprentices to work with a number of employers in one sector.

    Local Economy

    Duty and tax

    The VAT registration threshold will remain at £85,000 until 2024.

    Corporation tax will rise to 25% from April 2023. A new small profits rate (at the current level of 19%) will be created for businesses making below £50,000 profit. A tapered rate will apply between £50,000-£250,000, meaning only 10% of firms will pay the full 25% rate.

    • The tax rise for large corporations is unlikely to affect many Cornish businesses, which are typically small (10%) or micro (89%) in size (Nomis, 2020b).

    Levelling-up fund

    The Government has published the prospectus for the £4.8bn UK-wide Levelling Up Fund, providing guidance for local areas on how to submit bids for the first round of funding starting in 2021-22.

    Capacity funding will be allocated to local authorities most in need of levelling up in England, as identified in the index published alongside the prospectus. Cornwall has been given a ‘priority 2’ status of 3 levels. Bids from categories 2 and 3 will still be considered for funding on their merits of deliverability, value for money and strategic fit, and could still be successful if they are of exceptionally high quality.

    UKSPF / UK community renewal fund

    The Government has launched the prospectus for the £220m UK Community Renewal Fund alongside the Budget. This will support communities across the UK in 2021-22 to pilot programmes and new approaches as the Government moves away from the EU Structural Funds model and towards the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Funding will be allocated competitively. The Government has identified 100 priority places, including Cornwall, based on an index of economic resilience to receive capacity funding to help them co-ordinate their applications.

    Freeports 

    Eight new English Freeports will be based in East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe & Harwich, Humber, Liverpool City Region, Plymouth, Solent, Thames and Teesside.

    UK infrastructure bank

    The UK Infrastructure Bank, located in Leeds, will co-invest alongside the private sector in infrastructure projects. It will have an initial capitalisation of £12bn. The bank will replace some of the activities of the European Investment Bank (EIB) but “will provide more targeted support than the EIB and will be better aligned with the UK Government’s objectives.” It is intended to be operational in an interim form from spring 2021.

    Build back better

    Publication of the Government’s ‘Build Back Better: Our Plan for Growth’.

    Net zero carbon economy

    £20m to fund a UK-wide competition to develop floating offshore wind demonstrators and help support the Government’s aim to generate enough electricity from offshore wind to power every home by 2030. 

    The Government will make an offer of support, in principle, to the Able Marine Energy Park on Humberside following the conclusion of the competition to upgrade ports infrastructure for the next generation of offshore wind. The Government will also sign a memorandum of understanding with Teesworks Offshore Manufacturing Centre on Teesside to support the development of another offshore wind port hub.

    £68 million to fund a UK-wide competition to deliver first-of-a-kind long-duration energy storage prototypes that will reduce the cost of net zero by storing excess low carbon energy over longer periods.

    £4m for a biomass feedstocks programme in the UK to identify ways to increase the production of green energy crops and forest products that can be used for energy.

    Plans for at least £15bn of green gilt issuance in the coming financial year, to help finance critical projects to tackle climate change and other environmental challenges, fund important infrastructure investment, and create green jobs across the UK.

    The £375m UK-wide ‘Future Fund: Breakthrough’ will invest in highly innovative companies such as those working in life sciences, quantum computing, or clean tech, that are aiming to raise at least £20m of funding.

    Towns funds

    Over £1bn funding for a further 45 towns in England through the Towns Fund, supporting their long-term economic and social regeneration as well as their immediate recovery from the impacts of Covid-19.

    Migration

    The Chancellor announced an elite points-based visa by March 2022. Within this visa there will be a ’scaleup’ stream, enabling those with a job offer from a recognised UK scale-up to qualify for a fast-track visa.

    Council finances and services 

    Council finances 

    Local authorities in England were given £6.5bn in 2020-21 to respond to the impacts of Covid-19, in addition to £1.6bn awarded in 2019-20. Total support to date is over £8bn. In 2021-22, local authorities are expected to receive over £3bn of further support to address Covid-19 pressures.

    No additional local election funding was mentioned in the Budget.

    No extension to the Hardship Fund, which enabled local authorities to provide an additional discount to Council Tax bills for 3 million working-age people, was announced for the next financial year. 

    • In December 2020, 18% of Cornish Households received council tax support (Cornwall We Know, Jan 2021) 

    Local authorities will be "fully compensated" for income loss due to the extension of the 100% business rates relief programme, as well as receiving new burdens funding for administrative and IT costs.

    Covid-19

    The UK's Covid-19 vaccination rollout will receive an extra £1.65bn to help it reach its target of offering a first dose to every adult by 31 July. 

    • 186,549 people in Cornwall have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. 98% of over 80s in the Duchy have received their first dose (Public Health Cornwall, 2021).

    An extra £50m will enhance the UK’s vaccine testing and research capability, provide support for clinical trials and fund acquisition of samples of new variants of Covid-19. The world’s first study into the efficacy of a third dose of vaccine will be supported.

    £500 Test and Trace support payments in England will be paid until the summer.

    The Government has previously announced a further £400m funding in England for the Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) from 1 April, taking total COMF support across 2020-21 and 2021-22 to £2bn. The fund will cover additional public health activities in 2021-22, with more details to follow. 

    An updated Covid-19 contain outbreak management framework for local areas will be published in March, setting out how national and local partners will continue to work with the public at a local level to prevent, contain and manage outbreaks. An enhanced toolkit of measures to address Variants of Concern will be unveiled at this time.

    Supporting the most affected (tackling health inequalities)

    The Government will provide an additional £10m in 2021-22 to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, to deliver charitable projects and initiatives across the UK that support veterans with mental health needs, ensuring that veterans can access the services and support that they deserve.   

    The Government will provide an additional £19m towards tackling domestic abuse, including £15m in 2021-22 across England and Wales to increase funding for perpetrator programmes that work with offenders to reduce the risk of abuse continuing, and £4m between 2021-22 and 2022-23 to trial a network of ‘Respite Rooms’ across England to provide specialist support for homeless women facing severe disadvantage. This comes on top of the £125m announced at SR20 for local authorities to deliver the Domestic Abuse Bill’s new statutory duty to support victims.

    The budget includes a lifetime commitment to continue the Thalidomide Health Grant beyond 2022-23 in England when existing funding runs out.

    Following the £1bn education catch-up package announced last year, the government is making available £700m of further funding to help young people in England catch up on lost learning as a result of Covid-19.This new package includes a one-off £300m Recovery Premium for state primary and secondary schools, £200m to expand tutoring programmes and deliver early language support, and £200m for secondary schools to deliver face-to-face summer schools. This funding will help ensure children have the opportunity to make up for lost learning and are able to progress and fulfil their potential.

    Adult and Children’s Social Care is not addressed in the Budget.

    References

    Nomis, 2020a APS (Annual Population Survey)

    HMRC, 2020, COVID Job Retention Scheme (Feb, 2021)

    ONS, 2020 ‘UK Business: Activity, Size, Location’; Table 1

    StatXplore, 2020 ‘Universal Credit by Households, by Local Authority’

    Creative Kernow, 2020 Cornwall's Creative Manifesto 2021-2025

    Cornwall We Know, 2021 ‘COVID Insights Dashboard’

    Public Health Cornwall, 2021 ‘CIOS Weekly Dashboard Summary’

    Nomis, 2020b ‘UK Business Counts (2020)

     

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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 2 March, 2021

    about 2 months ago
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    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 1 March. 

    Covid-19

    • As of 7 February, a total of 13,651 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. A total of 452 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.)  
    • The UK’s Covid-19 alert level has been decreased from 5 to 4, indicating there is less risk of the NHS being overwhelmed. 
    • PHE monitoring shows South West Covid-19 case rates per 100,000 are the lowest in the country, at a rate of 68.1. 
    • Councils are reportedly to be given extra funding to provide food shopping and care support to those self-isolating with Covid-19, following growing concerns that people are not remaining in quarantine. 

    Data

    • The Centre for Data Ethics Innovation (CDEI) has reported on changes to local authorities’ data use during the pandemic, including obstacles to using data to innovate and research on public attitudes to data-use. The CDEI is particularly keen to help rural and district councils maximise the benefits of data and data-driven technologies.

     Economy

    • The Local Restrictions Support Grant, for businesses required to close under the current lockdown, will be extended until the end of March.  
    • 700,000 shops, pubs and other businesses are reportedly to be offered Government grants of up to £18,000.  
    • Provisional Job Retention Scheme figures for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly show that 44,400 people were furloughed as of 31 January: this represents 19% of eligible employments, a higher proportion than for the UK as a whole. 
    • Provisional Self-Employment Income Support Scheme figures for Cornwall show that 24,400 claims were made up to 31 January: a 60% take-up rate, proportionally lower than in the UK as a whole. 

    Education

    • School and college qualifications in 2021 will be determined primarily by teacher assessment, with no algorithmic standardisation. 
    • A £700 million plan to tackle lost learning due to the pandemic has been unveiled by the Government. Small group and one-to-one tutoring will be expanded, and provision over the summer will be made for pupils most in need.  

    Elections

    • Planned legislation will allow anyone who is self-isolating due to Covid-19 to access an emergency proxy vote for the local elections, up to 17:00 on election day, 6 May. 
    • In-person political canvassing is reportedly to be permitted for the local elections. 

    Equality and diversity

    • The Government has published a report on understanding and tackling Covid-19 disparities experienced by ethnic minority groups. Findings show some reduction in inequality between the first and second wave, but with very mixed results across different ethnic minority communities.  
    • People on low incomes are highly aware of healthy food choices, but cannot act on this information for economic reasons, according to new research by the University of York. This suggests educational interventions are unlikely to address inadequate nutrition in low-income groups. 

    Housing

    • The Annual Rough Sleeping Snapshot, which estimates the number of people sleeping rough on a single night, suggests 29 people slept rough in Cornwall in autumn 2020, compared to 24 people in 2019 and 53 people in 2018. 
    • Research by the Social Market Foundation suggests nearly 800,000 homes could be repossessed if mortgage-holders suffer a loss of income. Over a quarter of those affected work in manufacturing or retail. A ban on home repossessions will expire on 1 April. 

    Consultations  

    • The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is seeking views about their proposals to amend certain food legislation in England. The proposed changes reflect the UK’s new trading relationship with the EU and would ensure compliance with World Trade Organisation rules. Deadline 22 March 2021
    • The Department for Transport are consulting on draft environment objectives that they propose setting for the spaceflight regulator, and associated guidance on how the regulator should implement the objectives. Deadline 24 March 2021. 
    • The Department for Education is inviting comments on their review of the high needs national funding formula (NFF) to local authorities for children and young people in England with special educational needs and disability (SEND) or who require alternative provision (AP). Deadline 24 March 2021. 
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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 23 February, 2021

    about 2 months ago
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    The articles below have been drawn together by the policy and analytical community within the Council. Information is correct at the time of writing, 0930 on 22 February. 

    Covid-19

    • As of 21 February, a total of 13,504 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. A total of 434 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.)
    • The Government has set out its “roadmap” for removing lockdown restrictions. 
    • Every UK adult will reportedly be offered a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of July.
    • An extra 1.7 million people with multiple risk factors (including ethnicity) for Covid-19 have now been asked to shield.  

    Economy

    • Eligibility for the Seafood Response Fund will be expanded to include fishing businesses facing decreased demand from UK and international hospitality sectors, in addition to businesses experiencing disruption to EU exports.
    • Unitary authority capital expenditure per person is 44% higher in urban areas than rural areas, new research commissioned by Britain’s Leading Edge and other organisations shows. 36% more affordable homes per 100,000 people are built in urban places compared to rural ones. 
    • Resolution Foundation analysis shows that almost 2 million people aged 18-64 have not worked for at least 6 months, either due to full furlough or unemployment. 
    • The number of destitute UK households rose from 197,400 to 421,500 last year, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research has found. 2-adult households are destitute if they live on £100 or less per week after housing costs.
    • The Chancellor will reportedly extend the furlough scheme until the summer, and prolong business rates relief for the retail, hospitality and leisure industries.

    Education and children

    • From September, the Government will ban vulnerable children under 16 from being housed in unregulated independent or semi-independent placements, intended to help older children develop autonomy before leaving care. Extra investment will be provided for local authorities to create more places in children’s homes. 
    • 50% of parents who had personally home-schooled said it was negatively affecting their well-being in January 2021, compared to 28% in April 2020, according to the ONS.

     Elections

    • Staff shortages and a lack of available venues could reportedly cause problems in May’s local elections, with some councils asking pandemic volunteers to help at poll stations. 

    Equality and diversity

    • A new Mental Health and Income Commission report has found that people with common mental health problems, like anxiety and depression, earn on average 68% of the typical annual incomes of people without those conditions - a gap of £8,400 a year. 

    Housing

    • Resolution Foundation research shows 9% of social renters were behind with housing payments in January 2021, compared to 6% of private renters and 2% of people with a mortgage. 24% of private renters have seen a fall in income since the start of the pandemic, compared to 16% of working-age mortgage holders. 
    • Museum of Homelessness research has found that deaths of homeless people rose by 37% in 2020 compared to 2019.

     Events and workshops

    • Cornwall Area of Outstanding National Beauty is hosting a Growing Greener virtual conference on 25 February, giving updates on Environmental Land Management Scheme trials. A Growing Greener interactive workshop on 4 March will enable residents to contribute to the Local Nature Recovery Strategy. Both events are free to attend. 

    Consultations and campaigns

    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is seeking views on various aspects of the Clean Heat Grant scheme design. Deadline 05 March 2021.
    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is consulting on a proposed approach to cluster sequencing for carbon capture, usage and storage. Deadline 10 March 2021. 
    • The Department for Education is seeking views on the Get Help Buying for Schools service delivery model for schools to buy goods and services. Deadline 11 March 2021. 
    • The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is inviting feedback on new requirements for organisations wanting to provide or use digital identity products. Deadline 11 March 2021.
    • The House of Lords Select Committee on Public Services is calling for evidence as part of its inquiry into The Role of Public Services in Addressing Child Vulnerability. The committee is keen to hear from anyone working directly with children and families, or those with experience of collaboration between public service organisations focused on children. Deadline 19 March 2021. 
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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 16 February, 2021

    2 months ago
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    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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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 9 February, 2021

    2 months ago
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    The articles below have been drawn together by the policy and analytical community within the Council. Information is correct at the time of writing, 0930 on 8 February. 

    Covid-19

    • As of 7 February, a total of 12,904 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. A total of 360 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.) 
    • In the week to 27 January, nearly 83% of in-person Covid-19 test results were received within 24 hours, the highest rate since July 2020. 
    • PHE reporting shows that, between 25 - 31 January, Covid-19 activity decreased nationally, including reductions in overall case rates and positivity rates. Covid-19 cases are falling much more slowly in the UK's poorest regions, according to figures reportedly verified by the House of Commons Library. 
    • 1 in 7 people in England would have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies in the 28 days up to 18 January 2021, according to ONS analysis.  
    • Deaths involving Covid-19 accounted for 46.6% of all deaths in care homes in the week to 22 January, the highest proportion of such deaths since the start of the pandemic. 
    • The UK is on target to offer all over-50s and clinically vulnerable people a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by May. 
    • Early results from a new study show that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offers only limited protection from mild to moderate disease against the South African Covid-19 variant. No participants in the 2,000-strong trial were hospitalised or died, but it is not yet known how well the vaccine works against severe disease, since the subjects were young and healthy. Developers are likely to have a version of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine which protects against this variant by the autumn. Ministers say that the vaccines being used in the UK at the moment seem to work well against the dominant strains of Covid-19 currently in the country.  
    • A new partnership between the Government and vaccine manufacturer CureVac has been formed to rapidly respond to emerging Covid-19 variants, with 50 million additional vaccine doses to be provided if needed. An extra 40 million doses of the Valneva vaccine have been purchased, and will be manufactured in Scotland if regulatory approval is given.  
    • From 15 February, anyone coming to the UK from a country on the Government’s travel ban list will be subject to a 10-day mandatory “hotel quarantine”. Quarantine will have to take place in a Government-approved hotel and will be at travellers’ own expense. 

    Democracy

    • The Government has confirmed that May’s local elections will go ahead, with the Cabinet Office publishing a delivery plan. £92 million of Government grant funding will support making local elections Covid-19 secure. Masks will be compulsory, and voters will be asked to bring their own pen or pencil. 

    Economy

    • Cornwall is one of 22 areas to have successfully bid for Government funding to support projects which involve a county-wide approach to developing or improving local heritage lists. Detailed proposals will now be worked up for approval, with funding paid via Cornwall Council through a section 31 grant. 
    • The Bank of England has forecast that the UK economy will strongly rebound in spring 2021 due to the Covid-19 vaccine programme, although the economy is likely to shrink by over 4% in the first quarter of the year. 
    • The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that local authorities face a £1.3 billion shortfall in expected council tax revenues in the current financial year, although Government grants will make up 75% of the deficit. Council tax revenues have not been affected equally around England throughout the pandemic: revenues in the most deprived fifth of local authority areas fell by 1.2% in the first half of 2020 - 21, but grew by 2.4% in the least deprived fifth. 
    • The Chancellor has announced that businesses will be given an additional 6-month extension on repaying Government support loans issued during the pandemic. Businesses now have a total of 18 months before repayments must start and can opt for a 10-year repayment term rather than the original 6 years. 

    Education and children

    • The Education Secretary is reportedly to announce that universities will have a phased return to in-person teaching from 8 March. Ofsted has said that it will continue to carry out inspections remotely until at least March 8. 
    • An Education Recovery Commissioner has been appointed to oversee a comprehensive catch-up programme for children who have missed out on learning during the pandemic.  
    • A Department for Education survey shows 6% of local authorities have more than 10% of social workers unavailable due to Covid-19, lower than the peak of 13% in May 2020. The total number of children who started to be looked after since May 2020 is 28% lower than the same period in 2016 - 19, suggesting that there may be under-reporting of vulnerable children. 
    • PHE data shows a decline in childhood vaccinations. MMR vaccination counts were 8% lower at the end of January 2021 than in the same period in 2019. PHE warn that there may be further impact on primary immunisations as the pandemic continues. 

    Environment

    • Funding for the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) - which provides facilities for people without private parking to reliably charge their electric vehicles - will continue into 2021/22. The Transport Secretary has written to councils encouraging them to apply to the £20 million fund, including those who have already successfully bid for support. 
    • Less than 5% of the Government’s £1.5 billion Green Homes Grant Scheme has been paid out, after 5 months of the programme’s operation: the fund is due to close in March 2022. It aims to encourage the replacement of fossil fuel sources with renewable alternatives, as well as improving energy efficiency, in 600,000 homes, with grants of up to £10,000 available. 
    • Some of the most polluting businesses in the country – such as steel, pharmaceuticals, food and drink – will be able to apply for a share of £40 million Government funding to help cut their carbon emissions and reduce energy bills. The money could contribute to replacing gas with hydrogen fuel or using heat recovery technology to generate electricity. 

    Housing

    • A new Resolution Foundation study suggests that the Government will not meet its target of ensuring that 300,000 homes a year are built by the middle of the decade. Slightly fewer than 96,000 homes were constructed in the first three quarters of 2020, with the pandemic having a significant impact on housing supply. 

    Consultations 

    • The Office of Rail and Road is asking for comments on the proposed guidance document Principles for Managing Level Crossing Safety, which sets out safe level crossing practices. Deadline 25 February 2021.
    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is consulting on a proposed cost recovery scheme to fund the new UK domestic nuclear safeguards regulatory regime from April 2022. Deadline 09 March 2021. 
    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is also seeking views on a new Supply Chain Plan questionnaire as part of the application process for low carbon electricity producers to enter a Contract for Difference allocation round. Deadline 11 March 2021.   
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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 2 February, 2021

    3 months ago
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    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 1 February.

    Covid-19

    • As of 31 January, a total of 12,408 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. A total of 323 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have sadly died within 28 days of a positive test for Covid-19. (Please note that fatality statistics are provided by Public Health England, and differ from those generated by the Office for National Statistics, which record all instances of Covid-19 being listed on the death certificate, even if there is no positive test result.)  
    • The number of deaths recorded as associated with Covid-19 in the UK has now exceeded 100,000. 
    • The most recent Government Statistics on NHS Test and Trace (14 - 21 January) show that the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 decreased by 17% compared to the previous week. However, in the most recent week, twice as many people tested positive compared to the start of December. Turnaround times for in-person swab tests under Pillar 2 (for the general population) have substantially improved in comparison to the previous week, and are shorter than they were at the beginning of December. 71% of in-person test results were received the following day, compared to 54% in the previous week. 7% of the close contacts of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 were not reached by NHS contact tracers, the same as the previous week. 
    • New measures relating to international travel have been announced, with anyone wishing to travel out of the UK having to declare a valid reason for doing so. Reasons will be checked, and travelers may be sent home and fined if invalid reasons are given. A review of travel exemptions is currently underway. People arriving in the UK from countries subject to the travel ban, who have a right to enter the country (such as citizens or permanent residents), will have to quarantine in “isolation hotels” for 10 days. Travel corridors are currently temporarily closed and anyone coming to the UK must have had a negative Covid-19 test in the previous 72 hours. 
    • UK trials of a new Covid-19 vaccine, from US company Novavax, have shown 89% efficacy. The UK has bought 60m doses, to be manufactured in Teesside. MHRA approval will now be sought.

    Devolution

    • On February 2, the Leader of Cornwall Council, Cllr Julian German, will give evidence to the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee as part of their inquiry into The Evolution of Devolution: English Devolution. A transcript of the evidence session will be published subsequently. 
    • West Yorkshire’s £1 billion devolution deal has now been signed into law. A mayor and Mayoral Combined Authority will be created, overseeing new powers relating to transport, housing, regeneration and adult education. 

    Economy

    • The University of Exeter's Environment and Sustainability Institute is hosting an online event titled "Banking on a Just Transition: Why Small is Beautiful and Money is Mutual". The CEO of South West Mutual, Tony Greenham, will ask what kind of bank is best suited to facilitate a socially just transition to a net zero society. Discussion points will include why money is a social relationship, not a commodity, and why smaller banks can serve the parts of the economy that big banks cannot reach. South West Mutual is seeking to establish the region’s first purpose-led mutual bank. Thursday 4 February 1 - 2 pm, registration is free. 
    • The unemployment rate during September - November 2020 was 5%, 1.2 percentage points higher than a year earlier and 0.6 percentage points higher than the previous quarter, according to the Office for National Statistics. In the three months to November 2020, the redundancy rate reached 14.2 per thousand, a record high. 
    • Provisional Job Retention Scheme figures for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly show that 33,300 employments were furloughed as of 31 December, representing 15% of eligible employments. This is proportionally higher than in the UK as a whole, where just over 3.8 million employments were furloughed as of 31 December, representing 13% of eligible employments. 
    • Provisional Self-Employment Income Support Scheme figures for Cornwall show that 20,500 claims were made up to 31 December, representing a 51% take-up rate. This is proportionally lower than in the UK as a whole, where just over 1.9 million claims were made, comprising a total take-up rate of 57% of the eligible population. 
    • HM Revenue and Customs figures on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme for Cornwall show that 863 restaurants made claims for a total of nearly 1.9 million meals. This is the second-highest total number of meals claimed by a Local Authority area in the UK, behind Birmingham. Cornish restaurants claimed just under £10.7 million, an average of £12,300 per outlet. The average discount per meal was £5.66. These figures only apply to businesses with 25 or fewer participating outlets nationally, which served 107 million meals of the 162 million meals claimed by restaurant chains of all sizes
    • A call has been issued for projects providing research and innovation support in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. £3 million of funding, with a minimum value of £500,000, is available from the European Regional Development Fund. The deadline for outline applications is 8 February 2021. 

    Education

    • The Prime Minister has announced that the Government hopes to begin allowing in-person teaching from 8 March. Current arrangements for free school meals will be extended for eligible pupils until they are able to return to classrooms. £300 million of new funding will be provided to schools to help with tutoring, with the Government planning to develop a summer schools programme. 

    Environment

    • Key findings from the State of Nature: Cornwall 2020 report have been released, ahead of the full report’s launch in early spring: they show that much of our local wildlife is in decline. The report, resulting from a collaboration between Cornwall Council’s Environmental Growth Team, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the University of Exeter, is based on huge volumes of local species and habitat data collected largely by volunteer ‘citizen scientists. Nearly half of terrestrial mammals are found in fewer places in Cornwall than in 1980 and nearly half of our breeding birds are in decline. Whilst the report paints a generally gloomy picture, it does include some good news, detailing where concentrated conservation efforts have brought species back from the brink of local extinction. These findings are key to Cornwall’s Local Nature Recovery pilot, one of only five national pilots testing a new approach for nature, as set out in the Environment Bill. You can have your say on what is needed for nature’s recovery by completing the Nature Recovery Plan survey before 14 February 2021

    Equality and diversity

    • Citizens Advice has warned that one in six households are finding it hard to afford broadband during UK lockdowns, effectively shutting people out of access to online services such as applications for support. The organisation is calling on the Government to force broadband providers to offer affordable tariffs: currently, just 3 out of the 13 biggest providers offer affordable tariffs for people on low-income benefits. 

    Housing

    • The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, has announced plans for local communities to be given the authority to set design standards for every new development. Builders and developers will be required to ensure properties are in keeping with the character of the surrounding area, and planning applications which do not meet these criteria can be automatically rejected. A new Office for Place will support the implementation of a national design code, to be followed by councils when considering planning proposals.

    Consultations and campaigns

    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is calling for evidence on how the exemptions from the requirement for an electricity licence currently operate, and whether changes to the regime are needed to reflect Government aims and objectives. Deadline 01 March 2021. 
    • The Family Procedure Rule Committee is seeking views on proposed amendments to Part 6 (Service) and new rules in Part 7 (Procedure for Applications in Matrimonial and Civil Partnership Proceedings) of the Family Procedure Rules 2010. Deadline 02 March 2021
    • HM Treasury is seeking stakeholder views on the Government’s assessment of the VAT challenges created by the Sharing Economy, where businesses and individuals connect with customers directly through digital platforms. Deadline 03 March 2021. 
    • The Department for Education is seeking views on proposed changes to the statutory guidance on Keeping Children Safe In Education with a view to making changes for September 2021. Deadline 04 March 2021. 
    • HM Revenue and Customs is seeking opinions on the potential design of the Making Tax Digital system for incorporated businesses and other organisations within the charge to Corporation Tax. Deadline 05 March 2021. 
    • The Cabinet Office Disability Unit is seeking the views and experiences of people with disabilities, as well as carers and parents, or anyone with an interest in disability issues. Opinions will feed into the development of a new National Strategy for Disabled People, planned to be launched in Spring 2021. If you are unable to complete the survey yourself or need alternative formats, information to support this is available. Deadline 23 April 2021
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