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 - 26 January, 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, 11 am on 25 January. 

    Covid-19

    • As of 24 January, a total of 11,477 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. A total of 270 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 most recent Government Statistics on NHS England Test and Trace (7 - 13 January) show that positive Covid-19 test results decreased by 15% compared to the previous week, the first fall since the start of December. Turnaround times for in-person swab tests under Pillar 2 (for the general population) have improved in comparison to the previous week, but are still longer than they were at the beginning of December. 53.7% of in-person test results are now received within 24 hours, compared to 31.5% 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, following substantial changes to the way that contacts in the same household are counted - as detailed in previous newsletters.
    • The Department of Health and Social Care, Imperial College London and market research firm Ipsos MORI have published interim findings from the eighth REACT report examining the levels of Covid-19 infection in the general population. More than 142,900 volunteers were tested in England from 6 to 15 January. The findings show Covid-19 infections increased by 50% from early December, with 1 in 63 people infected.
    • The Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, has warned that the new UK variant of Covid-19 is transmitting between 30% and 70% more easily than the initial strain, and may be as much as 30% more deadly. A new national advertising campaign has been launched urging people to stay at home.
    • At the time of writing, more than 6.3 million people in the UK have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. The Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, has emphasised the importance of continuing to follow Covid-19 physical distancing guidelines, even after vaccination, as the effects of the vaccines on transmission rates are not yet known. In a recent statement, he highlighted that 25% of hospital admissions for Covid-19 are for people under 55.
    • People in high-risk minority ethnic groups should be prioritised for coronavirus immunisations, alongside a targeted publicity campaign, say public health experts and MPs, amid growing concerns about vaccine scepticism. The Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has also raised concerns, after research from the latest annual UK Household Longitudinal Study suggested up to 72% of Black people were unlikely or very unlikely to have the jab.

    Democracy

    • A Local Government Information Unit survey of English local authorities has found that more than two thirds of respondents suggest it would be more achievable to hold local elections in autumn, rather than May, as currently scheduled. 11% believe elections should take place as planned, with 14% preferring a summer poll. 66% of respondents were "very concerned" about elections taking place as planned, highlighting problems with making polling places Covid-19 secure, as well as recruiting and training workers.

    Economy

    • The Resolution Foundation’s third Living Standards Outlook assesses how the hoped-for post-pandemic economic recovery might translate into a recovery for living standards. The analysis focuses on working-age households, projecting household disposable income for different economic groups. The report suggests that the outlook for equitable living standards looks difficult, due to factors such as the planned withdrawal of additions to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits; an expected increase in unemployment in 2021-22; stalled income growth following EU Exit and the financial crisis. The impact for those on lower incomes and those living in or close to poverty is likely to be particularly hard. The Foundation predicts that a further 1.2 million people, including 400,000 children, will fall into relative poverty, with 23% of the UK population living in relative poverty by 2024-25.
    • A new report by the Centre for Cities think-tank has found that that the Covid-19 pandemic could make the Government’s levelling-up plans four times as difficult for some parts of the country, with a risk that the South will be levelled-down. Levelling-up is now contingent on 634,000 people outside London and the South East finding secure and well-paying jobs, compared to 170,000 in March 2020. The think-tank suggests making the temporary £20 Universal Credit boost permanent, and re-introducing the Eat Out to Help Out scheme when safe to do so.

    Education and early years provision

    • The Education Secretary will reportedly announce soon that children will not return to in-person teaching next month as planned, with education leaders expecting a mid-April or May return.
    • A new £7.6m Health and Well-Being Fund, set up by the Department of Health and Social Care, will support projects aiming to reduce health inequalities experienced by new mothers and babies. The Fund's focus is on deprived areas and mothers in Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic communities. Trelya in Penzance is one of 19 projects to receive an award, which will help the early intervention charity expand to include specialist provision for children under 2.5 years old and pregnant women.

    Consultations

    • The Insolvency Service is consulting on changes to the monetary eligibility criteria for Debt Relief Orders (DRO) for the most vulnerable with relatively low levels of unmanageable debt and no means with which to pay their creditors. At the end of the DRO period (usually 12 months) the debts included within the order are written off. Deadline 25 February 2021
    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is seeking views on bringing forward the deadline for phasing out unabated coal-fired generation in Great Britain to 1 October 2024. Deadline 26 February 2021.
    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is seeking views on the proposal to allow low-income workers who are not able to secure the number of hours they would like from their current employer to seek additional work elsewhere. Deadline 26 February 2021.
    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and HM Treasury are seeking evidence on greenhouse gas removal methods, and views on policy mechanisms that could incentivise and facilitate their development and deployment. Deadline 26 February 2021.
    • The Department of Health and Social Care is asking for opinions on whether the temporary measure allowing both pills for an early medical abortion to be taken at home should be made permanent. Deadline 26 February 2021.
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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter 19 January 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, 11am on 18 January.

    G7 Summit

    The Carbis Bay estate in Cornwall will be hosting the G7 Summit between the 11th and 13th of June 2021. The leaders of the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the USA and the EU will be joined by the by the leaders of Australia, India and South Korea to discuss plans for international economic recovery. International delegates will also be staying at the Tregenna Castle Resort and other locations in neighbouring St Ives and around Cornwall. Cornwall Airport Newquay and the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth will play an official role in the Summit, with Falmouth hosting UK and international media. Julian German, leader of Cornwall Council said the Summit is an opportunity to show the "crucial role" that rural areas like Cornwall will play in the decarbonised, digitised world of tomorrow. Visit Cornwall estimates the total economic impact for the region will be £50 million.

    Covid-19

    ·            The case rate in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly remains below the national average and fell by 14.8% in the seven days to January 12 with 1703 people returning a positive test during this period. The positive test rate in Cornwall is 0.2% (297.8 per 100,000).

    ·          From 4am today (18 January 2021), all UK travel corridors are closed to people without a legally permitted reason to travel. Any travellers returning to the UK must self-isolate after arriving in the UK, even with a negative test. Tests are required three days before travel.

    ·          The Times reports that people over 70 years of age will begin receiving letters today (Monday 18 January 2021) inviting them to arrange their coronavirus jab appointments. It is expected that more than 5.5 million people will be eligible, joining the four million over-80s, care home residents and health service and social care staff that have already been vaccinated.

    ·          The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust is contributing to the National COVID-19 Chest Imaging Database (NCCID) which is combining over 40,000 CT scans, MRIs and X-rays from more than 10,000 patients across the UK to create a database that can speed up diagnosis of COVID-19, a quicker treatment plan and a greater understanding of whether the patient may end up in a critical condition.

    ·            As of Thursday 14 January 2021, 35 confirmed and 12 probable cases of the South African variant of SARS-CoV-2 variant have been identified in the UK. There have also been eight confirmed cases of Brazilian variants of the virus identified in the UK. The spread and significance of these variations remains under investigation.

    ·            The Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi has said councils will have the granular vaccine take up data they need to understand how successful the vaccine rollout has been in their areas. Mr Zahawi is understood to have made a commitment that directors of public health will have the data they need to  tailor efforts to reach those who have not yet taken up the offer of a vaccine, but no date has been given for sharing local or middle layer super output area data, which public health directors have been calling for.

     

    Brexit

    ·         The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will chair a new Cabinet committee to identify EU-derived regulations that restrict business freedoms in the UK. The prime minister will meet with 30 senior business leaders today (Monday 21 January) to discuss regulatory freedoms and reforming EU rules, in a plan to turn the UK into the “Singapore of Europe” the Times reports

     

    Devolution

    ·          Devolution is to be part of one of five strands in a new curriculum being developed to overhaul training for civil servants improve Civil Service skills and expertise the Cabinet Office has announced.

     

    Economy

    ·            The budget deficit continues to rise very sharply with the pace of government borrowing picking up again in November 2020 to reach £32 billion, the highest monthly total since May. Year-to-date borrowing now stands at £241 billion, far exceeding the pre-virus annual record set at the peak of the financial crisis (£158 billion).The Office for Budget Responsibility’s November forecast reports the government response to the coronavirus has caused the UK economy to shrink by 11% in 2020, the deepest recession in over 300 years. The government will borrow almost £400 billion this year, generating the highest budget deficit since 1944 and generating public debt in excess of 100% of GDP for the first time since 1960. The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Economic Update speech on 11 January 2021 reported the loss of over 800,000 jobs since February 2020 with the economy now 6.7% smaller than it was before the Covid crisis.

    ·            The government intends to legislate to expand the Dormant Assets Scheme to include over £800 million in additional unclaimed assets from the insurance and pensions, investment and wealth management, and securities sectors for social and environmental causes.

    ·            The bidding process for providers on Tier 1 of the Department for Work and Pensions’ Commercial Agreement for Employment and Health Related Services framework (CAEHRS) for contracts under the new Restart scheme has commenced. The scheme will give Universal Credit claimants who have been out of work for at least 12 months individually tailored support to find jobs in their local area. Bidders in Cornwall will need to show how they will tailor their offer to local conditions in the South West Contract Package Area (CPA) and work closely with employers, local government and other service providers to identify skills gaps and growth sectors and complement the wider landscape of support. The Restart programme has invited the Local Government Association, Core Cities Group, the LEP Network, and the Combined Authorities to help coordinate input from local partners into the design of the tender question for each CPA, and to provide nominees for involvement in bid assessment. DWP expects contracts to be awarded in Spring 2021, which go live in Summer 2021. 

     

    Education

    ·            The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson launched an independent review on Friday 15 January 2021 to investigate children’s social care. Over a third of children who have left care (39%) are not in education, employment or training, compared to 13% of all 19-21-year-olds and just 13% progressed to Higher Education by age 19 compared to 43% of all other pupils. The review will be chaired by Josh MacAlister, a teaching graduate of the government’s Teach First initiative in 2009 and founder of the charity Frontline in 2013. The Local Government Chronicle have questioned the independence of Mr MacAlister reporting that Frontline received £45 million in 2019 from the government for its programmes and is chaired by Camilla Cavendish, a former advisor to David Cameron who last year led a review of adult social care for the Department of Health & Social Care, adding that Mr MacAlister has “no relevant experience or background professionally or personally in children’s social care”.

    Environment

    ·            A map showing the river catchments polluted by abandoned metal mines in Cornwall and Devon, including where measures are in place to manage this pollution was published by the Coal Authority. This map shows the rivers in Cornwall and Devon that are polluted by at least one metal, which includes cadmium, lead, zinc, copper, nickel, arsenic and iron, due to abandoned metal mines. Black triangles show abandoned mine waste sites that are causing serious environmental harm.

    ·            A Cambridge engineering firm CVE, specialising in clean energy, is part of a consortium of organisations that have won an InnovateUK grant worth £15 million to dramatically reduce the installation costs of the world’s largest offshore wind farm in the North Sea. CVE has adapted its latest high-tech welding technology to reduce the fabrication time and cost of the wind turbine foundations by up to 25%

    Equality and diversity

    ·           The Department of Health and Social Care have announced a major reform of the Mental Health Act in a white paper which aims to tackle the racial disparities in mental health services, better meet the needs of people with learning disabilities and autism and ensure appropriate care for people with serious mental illness within the criminal justice system”.

    ·            survey into the effects of the coronavirus on voluntary community sector organisations operating in Cornwall has found 88% of responding organisations had seen a drop in income, in conjunction with a 48% increase in outgoings and a 61% increase in demand for their services. Respondents reported that the most pressing needs in the community include mental health and isolation, poverty (food and fuel) and digital exclusion. 10% of responding organisations stated that their financial future was uncertain, or they were unlikely to survive the next financial quarter.

    ·            The Government Equalities Office reports a 7% increase in the understanding of the gender pay gap regulations in 2019  with 89% of employers saying they had a good understanding. 23% of organisations report complying with gender pay gap regulations is a high priority.

    Housing

    ·               The Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP announced plans on Saturday 16 January 2021 to reform the ‘Right to Contest’ under the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980. The new proposals called the ‘Right to Regenerate’ would make the sale of unused Council-owned land the default position, unless there were compelling reasons not to and make it easier for members of the public to challenge councils and other public organisations to sell vacant plots of land and derelict buildings that had been kept too long without being used or had no clear plans for use in the near future. The proposals would also apply to unused publicly owned social housing and garages. The Secretary of State will act as an arbiter to ensure fairness and speedy outcomes in all cases. The proposals have the support of the National Community Land Trust Network and Civic Voice and are now open for consultation until the 13 March 2021.

    ·               The Guardian reports Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rough Sleeping & Housing Kelly Tolhurst has resigned following ‘devasting’ family news. 

     

    Consultations and Campaigns

    ·               The Home Office are seeking your views on enhanced security for particularly powerful rifles, introducing licensing controls on miniature rifle ranges, and tougher controls on ammunition. Deadline 16 February 2021.

    ·               The Home Office are seeking your views to help inform the development of the government’s next Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy. They are particularly keen to hear from people who may feel underrepresented in previous strategies or who feel their circumstances were not supported by existing services. Deadline 19 February 2021.

    ·               The HM Treasury are consulting on how the UK regulatory framework for financial services needs to adapt to our new position outside the EU. Deadline 19 February 2021.

    ·               The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are seeking views on how the industry is approaching the financing and deployment of renewable technologies, and how this may change in the future. Deadline 22 February 2021.

    ·               The Department for Education are seeking views on the revised standards for boarding schools and residential special schools in England. Deadline 23 February 2021.

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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter – 12 January, 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, 11 am on 11 January. 

    Covid-19

    • As of 10 January, a total of 8,748 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. A total of 199 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.) 
    • As of 3 January, the most recent date for which figures are available, 1,296,432 people in the UK have been given the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
    • 1,325 people in the UK died due to Covid-19 on Friday 9 January, the highest daily toll of UK Covid-19 deaths. More than 3 million people in the UK have now tested positive for the virus. A new “act like you’ve got it” Government advertising campaign has been launched, fronted by the Chief Medical Officer, to urge people to stay at home. 
    • The Office for National Statistics estimates that over 1.1 million people in the community in England had Covid-19 during 27 December - 2 January, equivalent to 1 in 50 of the population. In London, the rate is likely to be 1 in 30 of the population.
    • The rate of hospital admissions in England for patients with Covid-19 increased to 27.8 per 100,000 people in the week ending 3 January, almost double the previous week’s rate of 14 per 100,000 people. In the week ending 25 December, deaths involving Covid-19 represented 24.6% of all deaths in England, compared to 22.5% in the previous week.
    • MPs voted to approve the new national Covid-19 lockdown restrictions by a 524-16 majority, on Wednesday 6 January. The measures have been authorised for 12 weeks.
    • The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock MP, has said that every UK adult will be offered a Covid-19 vaccine by autumn 2021. A third Covid-19 vaccine, Moderna, has been given emergency approval for use by the UK regulatory authority. The Government has ordered 7 million doses, but these are unlikely to arrive in the UK until spring. 
    • 7 new mass vaccination hubs have been announced for England, including Bristol in the South West. There are due to begin operation this week. Community testing for asymptomatic people is to be rolled out to every local authority area in England, using rapid lateral flow tests.
    • The latest survey data from the Office for National Statistics shows that, between 22 December - 3 January, compliance with most measures to inhibit the spread of Covid-19 remained high. 90% of adults reported always or often washing their hands after returning home; 97% said they used a face covering and 89% avoided physical contact outside their home. 85% of people surveyed reported that they would be likely or highly likely to have a vaccine when available, compared to 78% during 10 - 13 December.
    • The Office of National Statistics surveyed people about their Christmas activities compared to their plans for the holidays, finding that 44% of respondents said they had formed an exclusive Christmas bubble on Christmas Day: 50% of respondents said they had planned to do so when asked between 10 - 13 December. 18% of those who replied to the survey said it was difficult or very difficult to follow Government rules over the holiday period – 48% of these respondents said that this was because they had already made plans for Christmas before the rules changed.
    • Trading Standards teams in some local authorities have warned that fraudsters are offering scam vaccine appointments by phone or via texts which are linked to a convincing-looking fake NHS website. Victims are encouraged to input their bank details. The Local Government Association has urged anyone contacted about a vaccine to remember that the NHS will never ask for payment or bank details; require you to send a text to confirm the booking; or ask you to press a button on your keypad when on the phone.

     

    Democracy

    • Confusion continues about whether local elections in May will go ahead, despite Covid-19 concerns. Some newspapers report that elections are likely to take place as planned, while others cite Cabinet Office contingency preparations for polls to take place in June, July or September instead. The County Councils Network has said that clarity is needed due to the scale of the challenge presented by Covid-19.

     

    Economy

    • A Parliamentary committee has reportedly warned that rural areas could be without  fast broadband for years, given a “litany” of Government failures in its high-speed coverage programme. The Conservative manifesto commitment of gigabit broadband by 2025 was deemed “unachievable” by the Public Accounts Committee, with concerns that peripheral areas could be left behind. Cornish constituencies comprise 4 of the 10 areas in Britain with the slowest broadband, according to Ofcom.
    • The latest analysis from the Office for National Statistics shows that, between 30 November - 13 December, 84% of UK businesses were trading, up from 80% between the 16 - 29 November. Excluding businesses which have permanently ceased trading, 11% of the workforce were furloughed, a decrease from 16% between the 16 - 29 November.

     

    Education

    • Head teachers’ unions have warned that schools cannot meet demand for in-person places while reducing social mixing, with some schools reporting a 50% attendance rate. Government advice now states that parents and carers who are critical workers should keep their children at home if they can, although school places are still available if this is not possible.
    • The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has said that existing catch-up programmes need to be “rocket boosted” in light of new school closures, and that a commission should be launched to consider how disadvantaged children will make up education time that has been lost. The Commissioner added that every school should have a mental health counsellor.

     

    Environment

    • Cornwall Council has launched a nature recovery engagement hub. Whether it's wildflowers for pollinators, more trees to fight climate change, more green spaces in our towns, or a habitat or species someone is passionate about – residents can submit their views to help shape our Nature Recovery Plan.
    • Awards to distilleries have been made from a £10 million Government fund to cut carbon emissions and support the creation of green jobs in the industry. The funding aims to enable carbon reductions equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road each year. Bennamann Ltd, in Cornwall, has been awarded over £46,000 to develop the use of fugitive methane as a fuel.   

     

    Equality and diversity

    • The Institute for Fiscal Studies has published a summary of research from the evidence-gathering phase of the Deaton Review of Inequalities. The report has found that:
    1. Covid-19 has worsened inequalities between graduates and non-graduates, with a 17% reduction in non-graduates doing any hours of paid work in the 3rd quarter of 2020, compared with a 7% reduction for graduates – who are less likely to work in locked-down sectors.
    2. Between March - July 2020, Covid-19 mortality rates were twice as high in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived. 
    3. Students at private schools were twice as likely as those at state schools to have daily online lessons during lockdown.
    4. The pandemic has had very different impacts on people of different ethnicities, with some black groups experiencing Covid-19 mortality rates that are twice as high as some white groups. Some ethnic groups have also experienced an uneven economic effect, as they are more likely to work in locked-down sectors. 
    5. Pensioners have reported becoming financially better off, on average, during 2020. Younger people have suffered the worst effects of income reduction and job losses.

     

    • A report by the Resolution Foundation has highlighted the unequal impact of the pandemic during the first lockdown:
    1. 3% of 35- to 44-year olds in a household from the top third of income distribution lived in a damp home, compared to 9% of those from the bottom third. 
    2. Children in lower income households were more likely to experience overcrowded households, poor internet access and a lack of garden.
    3. 16% of women reduced their work hours to care for children, compared to 9% of men. Mothers were also around 33% more likely than fathers to lose their jobs during the first lockdown. Among non-parents, job losses were balanced by gender.
    4. 50% of people with savings of under £1,000 reported that they had to draw down on these during lockdown, compared to only 19% of people with savings in excess of £20,000. 

     

    Housing

    • The current ban on evictions will be extended until mid-February, amid reports that 70,000 households have been made homeless since the start of the pandemic. £10 million of additional funding has been announced for councils in England to help accommodate rough sleepers.

     

    Consultations and campaigns

    • The Environment Agency seeks views on proposed new guidance for regulated facilities with an environmental permit to mechanically treat metal waste in shredders. Deadline 08 February 2021.
    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and UK Export Finance are consulting on how to further enable an accelerated growth in UK clean energy exports. Deadline 08 February 2021
    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is seeking views on how mortgage lenders can help householders improve the energy performance of their homes. Deadline 12 February 2021.
    • The Department for Transport is seeking evidence from anyone with an interest in rural mobility and transport innovation, for their development of a rural strategy for the future of transport. Deadline 16 February 2021.          
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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 5 January, 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, 9am on 5 January. 

    Covid-19

    • England entered a national lockdown in the early hours of 5 January, which will last until at least mid-February. Scotland has also entered a national lockdown; Wales and Northern Ireland are already in lockdowns.
      • The whole country is under a stay at home order, apart from a small number of exceptions such as collecting essential food and medical supplies; attending medical appointments; providing care; a single session of exercise per day in one’s local area; or travelling to work when it is unreasonable to work at home.
      • All schools and colleges are closed for in-person teaching, apart from for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. Summer exams will not take place as normal, with more details to come from the Department for Education.
      • Students entitled to free school meals will continue to receive them.
      • Household mixing is banned, apart from support and childcare bubbles, with the exception of exercising outdoors with one person not in the same household.
      • Clinically extremely vulnerable people are advised to begin shielding again, and will be written to by the Government.


    • As of 4 January, a total of 6,917 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. A total of 191 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.)

     

    • There is no Government Statistical Bulletin on NHS Test and Trace to report on this week: the Department of Health and Social Care will return to its normal release schedule from 7 January. 

     

    • The Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advising that the two doses can be given 12 weeks apart. The first and second doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will now also be given 12 weeks apart, in a change to the initial schedule. The first doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine were given to recipients on Monday 4 January.

      

    Brexit

    • The UK has now left the European single market and customs union. The UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU received a majority vote in favour by Members of Parliament on 30 December, and is now law after receiving Royal Assent.

     

    Economy

    • The Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP, has announced investments from the Future High Streets Fund totaling £830 million for 72 areas. The money will help towns and cities recover from the economic effects of the pandemic, while also promoting long-term growth. In Cornwall, Penzance has received a provisional funding offer of more than £10 million.

     

    Education

    • A subcommittee of SAGE (the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, which provides advice to Government), the Children’s Task and Finish Group, has published an update to its 4 November paper on Children, Schools and Transmission. The paper finds that “increased transmission [is] occurring amongst school children when schools are open, particularly in children of secondary school age” although “it is not possible to quantify the extent of transmission taking place specifically within schools”.

     

    • A nationwide poll conducted by the National Deaf Children’s Society has found that only one in two children with hearing impairments are currently receiving necessary specialist support during the second wave of the pandemic, predominantly due to social distancing requirements and the self-isolation of some teachers of the Deaf.

     

    Equality and diversity

    • The Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee has published a report on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on disabled people. Titled “Unequal Impact? Coronavirus, Disability and Access to Services”, the report finds that people with disabilities have “suffered…profoundly adverse effects” from the pandemic. These include a disproportionate number of deaths; unequal access to food; potentially discriminatory treatment in health and care settings; and worsening problems in education.

     

    Consultations and campaigns

    • The Home Office is seeking views on the aggregate amount of grants proposed for the police in England and Wales for 2021 to 2022. It also includes the proposed amount of grant for each local policing body. Deadline 15 January 2021.

     

    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy seeks views on a proposed temporary easement to the 2021 Combined Heat and Power Quality Assurance (CHPQA) certification process to support CHP operators impacted by Covid-19. Deadline 29 January 2021.

     

    • The Department for Transport asks if they should stop the longer semi-trailer (LST) trial ahead of schedule. The trial is testing whether using LSTs leads to journey reductions, with a consequent decrease in congestion and emissions. Deadline 01 February 2021.

     

    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Companies House have opened three consultations on a new set of principles to limit corporate director appointments, how to improve the quality and value of financial information available on the UK companies register, and on new powers for Companies House to query, remove and amend information on the public register. Deadline for all three consultations is 03 February 2021. 
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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 22 December, 2020

    4 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, 9am on 21 December.

    Covid-19

    • The new strain of Covid-19, recently identified in London and the South East, is now considered by Government to be spreading more rapidly and easily than previous strains. It may be up to 70% more transmittable. As a result of this increase in transmissibility, significant changes have been made to the tiered system of local restrictions as well as arrangements over Christmas:
      • A new Tier 4 “stay-at-home” level has been announced, covering London and parts of the East and South East of England. It includes restrictions very similar to the national lockdown. People should not enter or leave Tier 4 areas.
      • People in Tier 4 areas cannot meet other households indoors (apart from support bubbles) including for Christmas. Only one other person can be met outdoors.
      • Planned relaxations to rules previously permitting indoor gatherings of up to 3 households over 23-27 December will now only be allowed on 25 December, with no overnight stays. This applies to all tiers, including Cornwall’s Tier 1. Everyone has been encouraged to “only form a Christmas bubble if you feel you absolutely need to”.

    • As of 20 December, a total of 4,352 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. A total of 180 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 most recent Government Statistics on NHS Test and Trace (3 - 9 December) show that positive Covid-19 test results have slightly increased compared to the previous week: 6.2% of those tested were positive, compared to 5.9% in the previous week. Rapid lateral flow test results are not counted in these statistics. Turnaround times for in-person swab tests under Pillar 2 (for the general population) have worsened in comparison to the previous week, and are longer than they were at the end of June. 60% of in-person test results are now received the following day, compared to 65% 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, following substantial changes to the way that contacts in the same household are counted - as detailed in previous newsletters.

     

    • 10 European countries have halted or have said they will halt flights from the UK. France closed its borders to UK passengers or accompanied freight for 48 hours from the evening of 20 December. Unaccompanied freight can still travel from the UK to France, and accompanied freight can travel from France to the UK, although haulage companies may not wish to send drivers into the UK if it is unclear when they will be able to return. Dover’s ferry terminal has also closed to “all accompanied traffic leaving the UK” as a result, with the Department for Transport asking the public and particularly hauliers not to travel to Kent ports or any routes to France for 48 hours. 5 mile tailbacks have been seen on motorways around Dover. Eurostar is not running services from London to Paris, Brussels, Lille or Amsterdam on Monday or Tuesday this week, although trains to London from Paris are continuing to travel. Medical supplies coming into the UK are reported to be unaffected by the transport bans, but some disruption is anticipated to supplies of food and other goods. Residents of Tier 4 areas are not permitted to travel abroad, except for limited work purposes.

     

    • Clinical trials have begun of the Valneva Covid-19 vaccine, developed in Scotland. The UK has pre-ordered 60m doses.

     

    • Special schools, secondary schools and colleges in England will be eligible for rapid Covid-19 lateral flow testing from January. All staff will have access to weekly tests. Students and staff will have access to daily testing if they are a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case. Pupils in the same bubble as a positive Covid-19 case will not have to self-isolate if they agree to daily testing. 

     

    • ONS analysis suggests one in five people who contract Covid-19 will have “long Covid” symptoms which persist for five weeks, with one in 10 having symptoms for 10 weeks. Symptoms can include fatigue, pain, breathlessness and brain fog.

     

    • A survey by the Royal Society for Public Health has found that 76% of the UK population would agree to have a Covid-19 vaccine jab. People from BAME communities as well as those from low-income groups are less likely to want to take the vaccine.

     

    • All of Wales is now under Tier 4 restrictions, with a “stay-at-home” order in place, and only two households will be allowed to meet on Christmas Day. Scotland will allow eight people from three households to mix on Christmas Day, and has restricted travel to and from England, unless travellers have a reasonable excuse, such as work, education, healthcare or childcare. The Northern Ireland executive is permitting Christmas bubbles to form on a single day between 23 - 27 December, to accommodate those working on Christmas Day, and has asked residents only to travel if absolutely necessary.

     

    • The latest ONS Covid-19 Infection Survey has found that there is substantial variation in the presence of antibodies (suggesting that people have had the virus) in people living in different regions, with approximately 13% in London compared with around 4% in the South West. 

     

    • The Chief Medical Officer’s Annual Report highlights that Covid-19 is likely to have an impact on health in the UK for many years to come, due to the direct effects of the virus and the indirect effects of postponing the diagnosis and treatment of other conditions. The report also finds that people in deprived areas have higher levels of ill health and disease, and that more people are suffering from chronic health conditions - particularly in rural areas, due to higher elderly populations and less accessible health facilities.

     

    Brexit

    • The EU has warned that time is running out to agree a trade deal, emphasising that there is now only a “narrow” path to an agreement, with sticking points remaining – particularly regarding fishing rights. Boris Johnson has warned that no deal is now “very likely” unless the EU changes its position “substantially”. Whether or not a deal is agreed, there will be a range of impacts on Cornish businesses and residents from the UK’s departure from the single market and customs union, some of which were recently were reported by Cornwall Council to the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Leadership Board.

     

    • Trade deal talks continued over the weekend and more will take place this week, although a deadline for the European parliament to ratify any agreement before the end of the year was missed on Sunday.

     

    Devolution

    • The Leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer MP, has announced that he wants substantially increased decentralisation of powers from Westminster under a future Labour administration.

     

    Economy

    • The furlough scheme and Government-backed business loans will be extended until the end of April.

     

    • Changes to Government procurement rules will allow councils to restrict contract bids to local companies only. The plans, mentioned in a new green paper, will allow limitations on public works contracts of up to £4.7m, as well as goods and service contracts up to £122k. The Government hopes that this will promote local growth and recruitment as part of its levelling up agenda. 

     

    • New economic analysis from EY (formerly Ernst Young) has found that since the start of the pandemic, the South West has had the largest regional contraction in employment (4%) and the largest regional increase in unemployment (2.6 to 4.1%). The South West is likely to lag behind the UK average for economic productivity and employment for the next four years. The region’s economy is predicted to contract by an average 0.2% per year while employment falls 0.4% per year. The research also finds that focusing investment on cities to assist nearby towns is unlikely to work in all parts of the UK: in order to genuinely level up, a place-based approach is required, recognising local difference. Local strengths need to be built on, such as regional specialisations in manufacturing. The report suggests that important lessons can be learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, such as the growth in effective homeworking and related positive impacts on well-being. A continued emphasis on homeworking in future could allow a geographical rebalancing of the economy, again helping to level up regions once seen as peripheral.

     

    • Cornwall Council’s Economic Growth Service have produced an updated report on the ‘Economic Impact of Covid-19 on Cornwall’. The report is available on Let’s Talk Cornwall and highlights the known economic impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on Cornwall, including that it has been more severe (than for other parts of the UK) due to the importance of the visitor economy to the county, and the high levels of self-employment and small proportion of employment within large businesses.

     

    • The Government has announced a £2.2bn funding increase for local authorities, including money for council tax reduction for vulnerable families; a local tax income guarantee to compensate councils for lost revenue from business rates and council tax; rewards for building new homes; additional support for rough sleepers and an increase to the Rural Services Delivery Grant. The provisional local government settlement funding assessment for Cornwall for 2021 - 22 shows that the Council will receive £157.3 million, £0.3 million more than in 2020 - 21.

     

    • HMRC’s latest statistics on measures introduced to support the economy in response to the Covid-19 pandemic show that, as of 13 December, 9.9 million jobs were furloughed from 1.2 million employers, with the total value of claims made standing at £46.4 billion. Claims for the third tranche of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme opened on 30 November, and as of 13 December there had been 1.7 million claims made, to a total value of £4.8 billion. 

     

    • A report by Citizens Advice has found that the pandemic has had a significant impact on household finances and debt levels, with 7.3 million people (14% of UK adults) reportedly behind on their bills. 45% of people with children have a lower income than before the pandemic, whilst 36% of those who have lost income have depleted their savings. The report also reinforces patterns identified in other recent studies, particularly the uneven effects of the pandemic. For example, 28% of people currently struggling to their bills are from BAME ethnicities, compared to 11% of people from White ethnicities. The report suggests that economic recovery will be hampered by current debt levels, with 75 - 80% of respondents saying they were likely to spend less on eating out, clothes, home improvements and entertainment.  

     

    Education

    • In the week to 10 December, 99.2% of state schools across the country were fully open, a slight drop from 99.5% in the previous week, while attendance in all state schools dropped slightly to 84.6%, from 85.5% in the previous week. The number of children attending early years settings dropped to 792,000, compared to 795,000 in the previous week. As a snapshot, on 10 December, 60% of state-funded secondary schools and 21% of state-funded primary schools reported that they had one or more pupils self-isolating due to contact with a potential Covid-19 case within the school, both representing decreases on the previous week’s figures. Between 19 - 21% of schools had more than 30 pupils self-isolating due to contact with a potential Covid-19 case within the school, the same as the previous week.

     

    • Secondary schools and colleges in England will operate a staggered return to in-person teaching in January, with classroom teaching restarting for all students on 11 January. Full-time online learning will be provided from the start of term.

     

    • Ofsted’s third report into the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on children shows continuing harm, particularly for the most vulnerable. Multiple rounds of isolation have reversed progress students had made since September, while remote learning’s effectiveness varies and is hard to establish. Many children with special educational needs or disabilities are not attending school, are struggling with remote learning, and may be more susceptible to neglect or abuse. There has been an increase in homeschooling, with many parents stating that their children will not return to mainstream education until the pandemic has finished. 

     

    • The Office for National Statistics has started a new series of surveys estimating the prevalence of Covid-19 in schools in England. 103 schools participated in the survey, across a range of local authorities with both high and low prevalence of the virus. The report’s authors emphasise that information is not intended to be applicable to the whole country and that findings are not statistically significant. Of the schools surveyed, 44.8% had no infections, while 27.6% had one current infection and 27.6% had between two and five infections. Overall, 1.24% of pupils and 1.29% of staff were infected at the time of the survey.

     

    • A greater proportion of people working in mainly urban areas have a qualification at NVQ four (equivalent to a Higher Education Certificate or BTEC) or higher, compared to those working in principally rural areas, according to statistics published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In 2019, Workers in rural areas were slightly less likely than their urban counterparts to have received on-the-job training, with rates of 12.9% compared with 13.5%. The percentage of people with at least one qualification has risen in both rural and urban areas since 2011.

     

    Environment

    • Two river restoration projects costing nearly half a million pounds have been completed on the River Camel and its tributaries, removing obstacles to the movement of migratory fish, preventing banks from eroding and reducing sewage discharge. The work has been carried out by the Environment Agency and Natural England, partnering with West Country Rivers trust.

     

    • The Coastguard and RNLI have jointly launched a Winter Coastal Safety Campaign, reminding people of the dangers of the coast at this time of year. Everyone is reminded to stay well back from cliff edges, check tide times before setting off to visit the seaside and take a mobile phone for safety.

     

    Equality and diversity

    • The Office for National Statistics has found that Covid-19 mortality rates in people of Black African or Black Caribbean ethnicity was between 2 - 2.5 times higher than people of White ethnicity, in the first part of 2020. The researchers ascribe this to a range of factors, including a greater exposure of some ethnic groups at work. Working-age Black and Asian men are more likely to work in occupations with a higher risk of death involving Covid-19, such as taxi driving, security and cleaning. People of minority ethnic groups also comprise more than 25% of dental practitioners, medical practitioners and opticians. Large households have a higher Covid-19 risk, and the report finds that people aged 70 years and older, from a South Asian ethnic group, are more likely to live in a household with multiple generations.

     

    • In research titled Coronavirus and the Social Impacts on Different Ethnic Groups in the UK: 2020, the Office for National Statistics has found that the mental health of people from an Indian ethnic group may have been particularly badly impacted by the pandemic, with higher scores than other ethnic groups on measures of mental health difficulties. The research also finds that around half of working-age adults from a White British and Other White background said that they were working fewer hours than normal in April 2020, compared to 33% of respondents from Indian, Black, African or Caribbean or Black British ethnicities. 27% of people from Black, African or Caribbean or Black British ethnicities were finding it very difficult or quite difficult to cope financially, compared to 7% of people from Other White ethnic groups and 8% of people from Indian ethnic groups.

     

    Housing

    • The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published the initial findings from its rough sleeping questionnaire, based on interviews with 563 respondents. The report found endemic overlapping vulnerabilities among the people surveyed: 83% had a physical health need; 82% reported a mental health problem and 60% had a substance abuse issue. 15% of respondents had been in prison over the past year. 75% had previously approached a local authority for help with accommodation, with 48% contacting a local authority for assistance between 1 - 5 times over the last year. 

     

    • The latest Office for National Statistics data on the deaths of rough sleepers shows that 778 homeless people died in England and Wales in 2019 - the highest level since records began in 2013. 111 registered deaths in 2019 were in the South West, where the rate of death has more than doubled since 2013. In Cornwall, there were four deaths recorded in 2019, with a further two deaths estimated to have occurred in the period. 37% of total fatalities in England and Wales were caused by drug poisoning, while 14% were suicides. The mean age at death for rough sleepers is 46 years for men and 43 years for women.

     

    • A planning application for 3,000 homes on 130 acres of land has been submitted for Langarth Garden Village near Truro. The Council-led development will include 200 care-assisted homes, 50 units for students or health workers, two primary schools as well as restaurants and offices. 48% of the development will be green spaces, and there will also be a community farm and renewable energy park.

     

    • A report by Shelter, titled Homeless and Forgotten: Surviving Lockdown in Temporary Accommodation, shows that more than 250,000 adults and children were homeless, living in temporary accommodation during the first phase of the pandemic. This is the highest number in 14 years. The number of people in temporary accommodation in March, April and May this year rose by 6,000, and temporary accommodation often lacked basic facilities such as a kitchen. Almost everybody living in temporary accommodation interviewed by Shelter said it was impossible to maintain social distancing.

     

    • Between 2019 - 20, just under 12,000 households were on the housing waiting list in Cornwall, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

     

    Consultations and Campaigns

    • The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is seeking evidence on the shark fin trade in the UK to assess whether action is needed to deal with unsustainable consequences of the trade. Deadline 04 January 2021

     

    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is seeking views on increasing the mutualisation threshold for the renewables obligation scheme supporting renewable energy generation. Deadline 19 January 2021.

     

    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is seeking views on proposed updates to the existing eco-design and energy labelling requirements which currently apply to light sources and separate control gears. Deadline 27 January 2020

     

    • The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is calling for views on permitted development rights, change of use and speeding up planning permission for public service infrastructure. Deadline 28 January 2021

     

    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is seeking views on the design of the proposed Green Heat Network Fund (GHNF) scheme, a funding programme to help new and existing heat networks move to low and zero carbon technologies.  Deadline 29 January 2021.

                

    • The Environment Agency wants your comments on their proposed charges for the UK Emissions trading scheme. Deadline 29 January 2021.

     

    • The Department for Education is calling for evidence on study and qualifications at level 2 and below for students aged 16 and above. Deadline 31 January 2021.

     

    And finally… 

    • There will not be a Policy and Intelligence Newsletter on 29 December, but we’ll be back on 5 January. Happy holidays!
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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 15 December, 2020

    4 months ago
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    The articles below have been drawn together by the policy and analytical community within the Council. This newsletter can also be found on our website.

    Covid-19

    • As of 13 December, a total of 3,995 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. Over the last seven days, 104 people in the Duchy have tested positive, at a rate of 18 per 100,000 population: this contrasts with 166 positive tests per 100,000 people across the whole of England. A total of 173 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 Covid-19 self-isolation period changed on Monday 14 December from 14 days to 10 days in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, following a review of evidence by the Chief Medical Officers. The new procedure has already come into force in Wales. 
    • The most recent Government Statistics on NHS Test and Trace (26 November - 2 December) show that positive Covid-19 test results continue to decrease from their peak at the start of November. Turnaround times for in-person swab tests under Pillar 2 (for the general population) have improved in comparison to the previous week, but are longer than they were at the end of June. 65% of in-person test results are now received the following day, compared with 54% in the previous week. 14% of the close contacts of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 were not reached by NHS contact tracers. 
    • As mentioned last week, from 18 November NHS Test and Trace changed how it counts the close contacts of people testing positive for Covid-19. People under 18 are no longer individually contact traced: rather, the service tries to contact one parent or guardian in the household, regardless of the number of young people who may be affected. From 27 November, a further change was introduced: adults in the same household can now also be traced collectively by a single phone call, rather than each adult being contacted individually. This has led to a further apparent increase in the proportion of close contacts of people testing positive for Covid-19 reached by NHS Test and Trace.
    • More deprived parts of the country have poorer national NHS Test and Trace success rates than less deprived areas, according to research by the Health Foundation. Nationally, an extra 9,000 positive cases and 43,000 of their close contacts would have been reached between May - November if tracing was as successful in the most deprived areas as in the least deprived. Cornwall is in the third quintile of deprivation, with 80% of positive Covid-19 cases and 66% of their close contacts reached.  
    • Research by the Nuffield Trust shows that Covid-19 has had a more severe impact on hospital waiting times in rural areas than in cities. In April 2020, there was a 66% drop in the number of patients in rural trusts receiving a first oncology appointment compared to April 2019. For urban areas over the same period, the decrease was 59%. NHS trusts in peripheral communities have had to spend more on temporary staffing costs during the pandemic: 8% of their personnel budget, compared with 6% for more central parts of the country. The researchers also found that rural areas do not receive their “fair share” of additional NHS funding.

     

    Brexit

    • The Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission released a joint statement on Sunday 13 December saying that they would “go the extra mile” and extend discussions on a trade deal past a deadline which had been expected to be reached at the weekend. It is thought that issues still to be agreed upon include rights for EU fishing vessels to operate in British waters; a “level playing field” for businesses (similar rules on government subsidies and employment practices to minimise competitive advantages); and a dispute resolution method.
    • Cornwall Council will maintain its Brussels office after the end of the transition period this year. The leader of the Council, Julian German, said "I think it is really important that we are continuing to reach out to our friends and partners in Europe, that we continue to have access for our businesses and that they have that intelligence, and that we can help to make trade and relationships as smooth as possible post-Brexit."
    • With the Government emphasising the “strong possibility” of a no-deal exit from the single market and customs union, VAT-registered businesses have been contacted by HM Revenue and Customs with information on new trade arrangements with the EU from 1 January.

     

    Economy

    • The monthly ONS survey, Coronavirus and the Impact on Output in the UK Economy shows that GDP is 7.9% lower than in February 2020, but has risen by 0.4% compared to October 2020 - the sixth consecutive month of growth. The manufacturing sector expanded, led by a 6.8% rise in vehicle production. There has also been growth in health, wholesale, retail and motor trades, but a decline in hospitality.
    • The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced an extension to protection from eviction for businesses affected by Covid-19. The “final extension” will end in March 2021. A review of commercial landlord/tenant legislation has also been announced. 
    • The Economic Affairs Committee of the House of Lords has published a report titled Employment and Covid-19: Time for a New Deal. The committee calls for Government to focus on job creation schemes rather than wage subsidies, in order to head off a potential rise in unemployment in 2021. The Government is also urged to fix the UK’s social infrastructure, by creating more social care workers and increasing investment in childcare.

     

    Education

    • In the week to 3 December, 99.5% of state schools in England were fully open, a slight increase from 99.2% in the previous week, while attendance in all state schools rose slightly to 85.5%, from 83.5% in the previous week. The number of children attending early years settings fell to 795,000. As a snapshot, on 3 December, 63% of state-funded secondary schools and 22% of state-funded primary schools reported that they had one or more pupils self-isolating due to contact with a potential Covid-19 case within the school, both representing decreases on the previous week’s figures. Between 19 - 21% of schools had more than 30 pupils self-isolating due to contact with potential Covid-19 case within the school, a slight decrease on the previous week.
    • Colleges and secondary schools in Wales moved to online learning on Monday 14 December in order to try to halt the spread of Covid-19. The Welsh Government said that, although nearly 50% of schools in the principality have not had any Covid-19 cases since September, open education settings can contribute to wider social mixing. Wales will implement serial testing for all schools from January: pupils identified as close contacts of a Covid-19 case will be asked to self-isolate or take a rapid lateral flow test at the beginning of the school day. All school staff will be tested weekly.
    • Pupils in Kent, Essex and London will undergo mass testing, using new rapid lateral flow tests, as Covid-19 infection rates in 11-18 year-olds rise.
    • The leader of Greenwich Council has asked all schools in the borough to close from Monday 14 December (apart from for vulnerable children and for the children of key workers) due to the highest infection rates in Greenwich since March. Lessons will move online. This is in contravention of Department for Education direction, which has reportedly written to schools threatening legal action if they close early for Christmas due to Covid-19 concerns. 
    • A recent ONS pilot survey looking at Covid-19 and its effect on higher education students found that 57% of respondents reported a decrease in their mental health between September - November 2020. 29% reported being dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their academic experience in the autumn term. An estimated 56% of students will return home for Christmas.
    • The Department for Education's Vulnerable Children and Young People Survey shows 3% of local authorities have more than 10% of social workers unavailable due to Covid-19, lower than the peak of 13% in May 2020. 23% of local authorities reported that 10% of their residential care workers were unavailable due to Covid-19. The total number of referrals in the first week of November was 12% lower than the usual number at that time of year, and the total number of children who started to be looked after since May 2020 is 29% lower than the same period over the past three years, suggesting that there may be under-reporting of vulnerable children.
    • 100 children and young people from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities will receive additional support from a new £400k fund, providing tutoring and catch up programmes to make up for lost time in education due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Students from these communities are likely to have been disproportionately affected by disruption to schooling this year, principally due to digital exclusion and poor access to public services.

     

     

    Environment

    • The Local Government Association has published its Climate Change Survey 2020, which draws on insights from Directors of Environment or equivalent from councils in England – 29% of local authorities responded. Nine out of ten respondents had declared a climate emergency, and 80% of local authorities surveyed had officially set a goal of becoming carbon neutral. Eight out of ten councils who responded had been affected by a climate-related incident since 2015.

     

    Equality and diversity

    • New Office for National Statistics analysis shows considerable differences in the levels of unpaid work between men and women, exacerbated by the national lockdowns. In March - April 2020, women typically spent 55% more time on unpaid childcare than men, and 44% more time on unpaid household work. This disparity increased by September - October this year, by which time women spent 99% more time on unpaid childcare than men, and 64% more time on unpaid household work. When paid work is included, women continue to do more work than men in total.

     

    Health

    • NHS trusts have received a share of £600m to address maintenance backlogs, such as improving ventilation systems, upgrading electrical infrastructure and replacing lifts, with projects completed by March 2021. Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has been allocated £102k for five projects, while Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust has received £1.7m for seven projects.

     

    Housing

    • 2,000 of England’s councillors - 10% of the total number - have written to the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP, to express their concerns with the Government’s proposed reforms to the planning permission system. The councillors objected in particular to the new planning algorithm and the removal of the public’s right to be heard in person at local plan examinations.
    • new £46m fund to provide more coordinated support for people with overlapping vulnerabilities has been launched: the Changing Futures Scheme. The Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing has invited local organisations including councils, police and charities to form partnerships and bid for money to improve outcomes for multiply disadvantaged people with mental health needs and substance misuse issues, as well as those facing homelessness, domestic abuse and involvement with the criminal justice system.

     

    Voluntary sector

    • The Children’s Minister has announced £4.4m in funding for Covid-19 response programmes run by large-scale children’s charities. A new National Centre for Family Hubs will improve access to family services across the country. 
    • Applications for a new Local Connections Fund of £4 are now open. Community groups can apply for the money, aimed at reducing loneliness resulting from Covid-19 restrictions.

     

    Consultations

    • The Treasury is seeking views on how to tailor the prudential regulatory regime to support the unique features of the insurance sector and regulatory approach in the UK. Deadline 19 January 2021.
    • The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is asking for opinions on ending the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening in England and Wales, where the journeys begin in or transit through either region. Deadline 21 January 2021.    
    • The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is seeking views on proposals to strengthen the regulation system for UK-registered architects and improve professional competence. Deadline 22 January 2021.   
    • The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is asking for opinions on their plans to reduce ammonia emissions in England by regulating the use or sale of solid urea fertilisers. Deadline 26 Jan 2021.
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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 8 December, 2020

    4 months ago
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    The articles below have been drawn together by the policy and analytical community within the Council.

    Covid-19

    • As of 6 December, a total of 3,850 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. Over the last seven days, 143 people in the Duchy have tested positive, at a rate of 25 per 100,000 population: this contrasts with 150 positive tests per 100,000 people across the whole of England. A total of 169 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 most recent Government Statistics on NHS Test and Trace (19 - 25 November) show that positive cases of Covid-19 have declined sharply, with a decrease of 28% compared to the previous week. Turnaround times for in-person swab tests under Pillar 2 (for the general population) have continued to improve in comparison to the previous week, with 85% of in-person test results now received the following day. 27% of the close contacts of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 were not reached by NHS contact tracers over the period. Although this appears to be a substantial improvement on the previous week, NHS Test and Trace has changed how it counts the close contacts of people testing positive for Covid-19: people under 18 are no longer individually contact traced. Rather, the service tries to contact one parent or guardian in the household, regardless of the number of young people who may be affected.

     

    • The Government has published its “Analysis of the Health, Economic and Social Effects of Covid-19 and the Approach to Tiering”. The paper states that without national restrictions, deaths resulting from Covid-19 and due to increased demand on the NHS would have been much higher. The authors say that it would “not be meaningful” to “estimate the specific economic impacts of precise changes to individual restrictions”. Speaking about the analysis, the Chair of the Treasury Committee has said that “there is little here that sets out how the different tiers might impact on…specific sectors and regions” and has criticised the lack of additional economic analysis of the new tiered system.

     

    • The Government has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use, following a positive recommendation from the medicines regulator (MHRA). The vaccination programme will begin this week. 

     

    • New Government guidance on care home visits has been issued. “Working age” residents may visit friends or family outside the care home, in accordance with local tiered restrictions and subject to the agreement of the care home. A risk assessment must be carried out, and people living in care homes cannot form a bubble with other households. Over the “Christmas Bubble” period of 23 - 27 December, care home residents of working age can only visit one other household, where all members of that household have had a negative Covid-19 test. Care home residents over working age should, according to the guidance, only leave the care home under exceptional circumstances such as in end-of-life situations. 

     

    • Families and friends have been able to visit care homes indoors from 2 December if a negative Covid-19 test is received before the visit. A million tests and 46 million pieces of free personal protective equipment are to be sent out to care home providers during December to facilitate this. However, Greater Manchester County Council has instructed care homes not to use new lateral flow tests for Covid-19 for visitors, due to concerns about the level of resource and clarity of guidance required to safely use the tests.

     

    • University students have been asked to stagger their return to campus in 2021 over a five-week period, to reduce transmission of Covid-19. Medicine and courses which rely heavily on in-person teaching will be prioritised, while instruction in other subjects will continue online. All students are expected to have returned by 7 February, and will be offered Covid-19 tests when they arrive.


     Brexit

    • Direct trade talks between the EU and UK have restarted in Brussels, following a telephone conversation on Saturday between the Prime Minister and the president of the European Commission. The UK is due to leave the single market and customs union in three weeks.

     

    • The new points-based immigration system for people wishing to work in the UK opened on 1 December. Applicants for five-year skilled worker visas will be awarded points for their knowledge of English, as well as being in receipt of a job offer at the appropriate skill level, with a salary of at least £25,600. Other visas have also opened, such as the Start Up visa, for people intending to establish a business in the UK for the first time.

     

    Economy

    • The Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP, has announced that local authorities in England will be allowed to extend normal opening hours for shops in England over the Christmas period and into January.

     

    Education

    • In the week to 26 November, 99.2% of state schools across the country were fully open, a slight rise from 99% in the previous week, while attendance in all state schools was at 83.5%, similar to the previous week. The number of children attending early years settings has risen to 826,000, compared to 806,000 during the previous week. As a snapshot, on 26 November, 68% of state-funded secondary schools and 26% of state-funded primary schools reported that they had one or more pupils self-isolating due to contact with a potential Covid-19 case within the school: both figures are lower than the previous week. On 26 November, 23 - 25% of schools had more than 30 students self-isolating due to potential contact with a Covid-19 case within the school, compared to 25 - 27% in the previous week.

     

    • Ofsted’s Annual Report has been published, highlighting the substantial fall in the number of child protection referrals made to local authorities since the first national lockdown in March. While numbers rose after schools reopened to all pupils, they have not returned to levels seen before the pandemic, raising concerns that there are cases of child abuse or neglect which are not being detected. The report suggests that disruption to community health services may also have directly affected the ability of safeguarding partners to identify children most at risk.

     

    • Students taking GCSE, AS and A-level exams in 2021 in England will benefit from more generous marking, be given advance notice of some topics covered in exams, and be able to take in aids such as formula sheets. Students unable to sit their exams at the normal time due to Covid-19-related disruption will have alternative papers available in July. A new expert group will examine how the pandemic has varied in effect for students in different parts of the country.

     

    Environment

    • New emissions targets have been announced by the Government, with a minimum of a 68% reduction in greenhouse gases (compared to 1990 levels) to be achieved by 2030. If successful, this would be the fastest rate of emissions reduction seen in any major economy.

     

    Equality and diversity

    • International Human Rights Day is marked by the United Nations on 10 December, with 2020’s theme “Recover Better - Stand Up for Human Rights”. The UN is seeking to ensure that human rights are central to recovery efforts, stating that the Covid-19 crisis “has been fuelled by deepening poverty, rising inequalities, structural and entrenched discrimination and other gaps in human rights protection. Only measures to close these gaps and advance human rights can ensure we fully recover and build back a world that is better, more resilient, just, and sustainable.” 

     

    • The UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission has issued a report into the effect that Covid-19 has had on equality and human rights. It highlights the unequal economic impact of the pandemic, with poverty most likely to rise for groups including young people, disabled people and ethnic minorities. Inequalities in remote education provision have disproportionately affected ethnic minorities, pupils needing special support, and students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Steps to limit the spread of Covid-19 have also hindered disabled people from effectively participating in the justice system.

     

    Farming

    • The Government has set out its agricultural transition plan for 2021 - 24. Direct subsidy payments to farmers will be reduced and eventually stopped between 2021 - 27, but farmers will be paid to improve the environment, reduce carbon emissions, and provide better animal welfare. Grants will be paid to help farmers reduce their costs or retire, and money will also be available for new farmers.

     

    Housing

    • Office for National Statistics analysis of the UK House Price Index shows that average UK house prices increased by 4.7% over 12 months to September 2020, compared with a rise of 3% over 12 months to August 2020. Average house prices are now at a record high of £245,000. The South West has seen a higher price increase than any other English region, with a rise of 6.4% over 12 months to September 2020, compared with a rise of 3.2% over 12 months to August 2020. However, house prices in the South West have still not exceeded the level they were at before the economic downturn of 2007.

     

    Voluntary sector

    • The food charity FareShare will receive £16m in Government grant funding to distribute to at least 4,000 local food charities across England this winter, as part of the wider winter package to support vulnerable people. 

     

    Consultations and campaigns

    • The Department for Transport is seeking views on a possible trial of higher maximum weight limits for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). HGVs carrying rail freight currently have a lower max. payload weight than HGVs carrying road freight. Deadline 04 January 2021.

     

    • Ofsted is asking for views on proposed changes to their statistical release on further education, as well as skills inspections and outcomes. Deadline 08 January 2021

     

    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is seeking views on annual tolerance levels associated with smart meter installation targets for energy suppliers and the level of reporting thresholds for large energy suppliers. Deadline 11 January 2021.  

     

    • The Department for Education is asking for views on whether post-16 qualifications at level 3 should continue to be funded alongside A levels and T Levels. Deadline 15 January 2021

     

    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is seeking views on proposals for changes to Supply Chain Plans and Contracts for Difference, to enable continued support for new low-carbon generation and to encourage the growth of sustainable supply chains. Deadline 18 January 2021. 

     

    • The Treasury is conducting a conducting a consultation on its Future Regulatory Framework (FRF) Review. This examines how the UK regulatory framework for financial services needs to adapt to our new position outside of the EU. The key aim is to achieve an agile and coherent approach to financial services regulation in the UK. Deadline 19 February 2021
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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 1 December, 2020

    5 months ago
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    The articles below have been drawn together by the policy and analytical community within the Council.

    Covid-19

    • As of 29 November, a total of 3,706 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. Over the last seven days, 257 people in the Duchy have tested positive, at a rate of 45 per 100,000 population: this contrasts with a rate of 176 per 100,000 people across the whole of England. A total of 164 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 most recent Government Statistics on NHS Test and Trace (12 - 18 November) show that positive Covid-19 test results in England have declined compared to the previous week, with a decrease of 9% compared with 5 - 11 November. Turnaround times for in-person swab tests under Pillar 2 (for the general population) have improved in comparison to the previous week, with 79% of in-person test results now received the following day. 40% of the close contacts of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 were not reached by NHS contact tracers, roughly the same as the previous week.

     

    • The Government has published its Covid-19 Winter Plan, setting out changes to the tiered system of regional restrictions which will replace the national lockdown ending on 2 December. The “stay at home” requirement will end, although people in all tiers are asked to work from home where possible, probably until April 2021. Shops, gyms, personal care services and leisure will reopen. Collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume if socially distanced. The “rule of six” for meeting outdoors will apply, replacing the ban on only meeting one person not from the same household or support bubble. Pubs and restaurants will continue to be closed, apart from takeaways, in Tier 3. Alcohol can only be served with a meal in Tier 2. Local authorities will not be negotiated with, and there will be no variation between regions in the same tier. Cornwall will be one of only three areas in Tier 1 (medium) when tiered Covid-19 restrictions come back into force on 2 December.

     

    • relaxation to the tiered restrictions will apply to the whole country between 23 - 27 December. A maximum of three households can exclusively form a temporary “Christmas bubble”, and are allowed to meet in private homes, stay overnight and attend places of worship together. Travel throughout the UK to form the bubble will be allowed during this period.

     

    • England will change its 14-day quarantine rules for international arrivals not on the “travel corridor” list from 15 December. Passengers will be able to pay for a Covid-19 test after 5 days of isolation, with quarantine ending on a negative result.

     

    • A Cabinet Office policy paper titled Transmission Risk in the Hospitality Sector sets out four different types of evidence to support the conclusion that "hospitality venues are a significant risk for transmission". Impact analysis of restrictions in the UK and abroad suggests that the R number has only been consistently reduced below 1 where substantial limitations on hospitality venues have been implemented.

     

    Brexit

    • A confidential Cabinet Office document, setting out the reasonable worst-case scenario for the UK economy in 2020 - 21 has been leaked to the media. The paper warns that there is a “notable risk” of simultaneously occurring crises including severe flooding, pandemic flu, Covid-19, co-ordinated industrial action and the end of the Brexit transition period. The briefing warns that supply chains are expected to be disrupted, while stockpiles have been reduced during 2020 and cannot easily be replenished. There are unlikely to be overall food shortages, but low-income groups “will be most at risk of food insecurity if there is a no-deal Brexit”.

     

    • The Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) report accompanying last week’s Spending Review laid out the implications for the UK economy of leaving the EU. The impact of the deal currently being sought by the Government is forecast to see gross domestic product (GDP) 4% lower than it would have been if the UK had remained in the EU. If output is able to return to pre-pandemic levels once a vaccine is rolled out across the country, the impact of leaving the EU on the economy could be greater than that of Covid-19 in the long term. 

     

    • If a trade deal is not reached with the EU, the OBR projects another 2% drop in GDP in 2021. Other impacts from a no deal scenario include adding an additional 0.9% to the projected peak unemployment rate of 7.4% in July - September 2021. The OBR also estimates that the £6bn in additional annual tariff revenue accumulated from a no deal Brexit would be offset by the reduction of GDP, with borrowing forecast to be £11 - 12bn higher in the next three years.


    Economy

    • The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP, set out his 2020 Spending Review on 25 November. A special edition of this newsletter covered the key points, and can be found here.

     

    • Latest statistics on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme show that, as of 30 September, 15,700 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly were furloughed, comprising 7% of the 227,000 jobs eligible for furlough.

     

    • new report by debt charity Turn2Us has found that 4.2 million more people run out of money before their next paycheck, compared to before the pandemic started. 18 million people have had to take on debt since March. Financial resilience is particularly low in Universal Credit claimants, with 20% reporting that they always run out of money.

     

    Education

    • In the week to 19 November, 99% of state schools across the country are open, a slight drop from 99.6% last week, while attendance in all state schools has dropped to 82.9%, from 86.5% last week. The number of children attending early years settings has risen to 806,000, compared to 801,000 last week. As a snapshot, on 19 November, 73% of state-funded secondary schools and 29% of state-funded primary schools reported that they had one or more pupils self-isolating due to contact with a potential Covid-19 case within the school. Also on 19 November, 25 - 27% of state funded schools had 30 or more pupils self-isolating due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside the school.


    Environment

    • Cornwall Council is one of 55 local authorities to have successfully bid for a share of £74m under the Government’s Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery scheme. The funding will support making homes for low-income families more environmentally friendly, including the installation of loft and underfloor insulation, low carbon technologies and solar panels. Details of the funding allocations have not yet been published.

     

    Transport

    • Development funding has been awarded to a “Mid Cornwall Metro” railway project, aiming to create a coast-to-coast service connecting Newquay, Par, St Austell, Truro, Penryn and Falmouth.

     

    Voluntary Sector

    • New research from a consortium of universities is exploring how local authorities and community partners are tackling social action and partnership during the Covid-19 pandemic. As part of the “MOVE” project (“mobilising volunteers effectively”), the universities of Sheffield, Hull and Leeds have been examining how to understand, scale and maximise the effectiveness of volunteer responses to Covid-19. The way that local authorities and their community partners have been managing challenges through the pandemic is a key component of the research, which has incorporated findings from stakeholder interviews. The report identifies potential post-Covid-19 models of social action and community partnership, offering some reflections for local authorities wishing to add to the lessons they have learned from the pandemic.  

     

    Consultations and Campaigns

    • The Maritime and Coastguard Agency requests comments on the proposed revision of MGN 630, which amends the process for existing vessels to demonstrate that they can legitimately register as a fishing vessel. Deadline 13 December 2020.

     

    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is seeking views on the proposed 2021 - 22 budgets and levies for the Low Carbon Contracts Company and the Electricity Settlements Company. Deadline 14 December 2020.

     

    • The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is seeking views on the implementation of a new model for shared ownership that reduces the minimum share from 25% to 10%. Deadline 17 December 2020.

     

    • The Department for Transport invites responses to an independent review, led by Sir Peter Hendy, on how transport can support economic growth and quality of life across the UK. Deadline 30 December 2020

     

    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is seeking views on proposals around raising energy performance standards for the domestic private rented sector in England and Wales. Deadline 30 December 2020
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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - Chancellor’s Spending Review 2020 Update

    5 months ago
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    This briefing gives an initial overview of the main announcements made on 25 November by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his Spending Review 2020.


    Growth Forecast

    Growth slowed to 1.1% in September. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) expects GDP to shrink by 11.3% in 2020. 2.1% real-terms growth is assumed for the years after 2020-2021. A swift rollout of an effective vaccine could see GDP back at pre-virus levels by the end of 2021. Without a vaccine, GDP is unlikely to return to pre-virus levels until the end of 2024.  

    Debt & Borrowing Forecast (% of GDP)

    Public sector debt as a share of GDP is likely to rise to 91.9% in 2020-21, rising to 97.5% by 2026. The OBR forecasts that spending on debt interest as a % of GDP falls further this year, despite higher borrowing, due to historically low interest.  

    Borrowing is predicted to peak at £393.5bn in 2020-21 (19% of GDP), falling to 3.9% by 2026.

    Bank Rate 

    The bank rate will be reduced to 0.1%.   

    Covid-19

    The Government will have spent £113bn to support the public sector’s response to Covid-19 by the end of 2020-21. The public sector will receive a further £38bn to support the Covid-19 response this financial year, and £55bn to respond to Covid-19 in 2021-22, £21bn of which is currently an un-allocated contingency fund.   

    The Government has spent or committed £6bn to develop and procure Covid-19 vaccines. Of that total amount, £733m will be allocated to the UK Vaccines Taskforce in 2021-22 to purchase successful vaccines and £128m to research & development and vaccines manufacturing. Further funding will be made available from the Covid-19 reserve if needed.  

    £15bn in 2021-22 will provide enhanced Covid-19 testing capacity and £163m will increase supplies of key medicines for treating Covid-19 patients.  

    Overall Spending

    Core day-to-day spending (not including Covid-19 spending) will grow at an average of 3.8% a year in real terms from 2019-20 to 2021-22. Overall core day-to-day spending, excluding exceptional funding to fight Covid-19, will rise to £384.6bn in 2021-22, the fastest rate in 15 years.  

    There will be £100bn of capital investment in 2021-22, a £15bn real-terms increase on 2019-20.    

     Local Authorities and Public Sector 

    The Government will provide local authorities with over £3bn to address Covid-19 pressures. This includes £1.55bn to meet additional expenditure pressures as a result of Covid-19; £670m to support the more than 4m households that are least able to afford council tax payments and an estimated £762m to compensate local authorities for 75% of irrecoverable loss of council tax and business rates revenues in 2020-21.

    Social care authorities will be able to charge an adult social care precept of up to 3%

    Full details of the proposed Local Government Departmental Expenditure Limits settlement for 2021-22 will be set out shortly by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Local authorities’ Revenue Support Grant will be increased in line with inflation and core spending power will be increased by an estimated 4.5% in cash terms.

    The referendum threshold for increases in council tax will remain at 2% in 2021-22.

    £16m will be provided to support modernisation of local authorities’ cyber security systems.

    There will be a public-sector pay freeze in 2021-22, apart from NHS staff and low-paid workers. Public sector workers earning less than £24,000 will receive a minimum £250 increase.  

    £200m will be committed from 2021-22 to fund a second round of pilots under the Shared Outcomes Fund (SOF). The first round of pilots included drug treatment programs, offender rehabilitation to 5G towers, drone technology and offshore wind provision.

    Housing, Planning and Infrastructure

    As part of a multi-year capital spend, there will be £20bn of investment underpinning the long-term housing strategy, including £7.1bn for a National Home Building Fund and over £12bn for the Affordable Homes Programme.  

    The existing New Homes Bonus scheme will be maintained for a further year with no new legacy payments.

    Flood and coastal investment in England will be doubled to £5.2bn over 6 years.  

    £100m, in addition to an existing fund of £400m, will be provided in 2020-21 for housing delivery and regeneration, including the development of brownfield sites and regenerating estates.  

    £2.2bn of new loan finance will support housebuilders across the country. This includes delivering Help to Build for custom and self-builders, and funding for small to medium enterprises and modern methods of construction.

    £12m will advance the Government’s planning reform agenda helping to accelerate housing and infrastructure delivery.

    £150m will help some of the poorest homes become more energy efficient and cheaper to heat with low-carbon energy, with a further £60m to retrofit social housing. The Green Homes Grant voucher scheme will be extended with £320m of funding in 2021-22.  

    £122m in 2021-22 will support the creation of clean heat networks, helping to meet the target of installing 600,000 heat pumps by 2028.  

    The Government will reform the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) lending terms, ending the use of the PWLB for investment property bought primarily for yield, which presents a risk for both national and local taxpayers.

    Levelling Up 

    A new multi-year £4bn Levelling Up Fund for England will support local infrastructure, investing in projects worth up to £20m each, such as bypasses and local road schemes. £600m will be available in 2020-2021, with open competitions launched next calendar year.    

    A new UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) will ensure that total domestic UK-wide funding will match current EU spending, reaching an estimated £1.5bn per year. It will focus on areas of deprivation in the UK, including former industrial areas and coastal communities. £220m of additional funding will help local areas prepare over 2021-22 for the introduction of the UKSPF.

    Health and Social Care

    NHS spending in 2021-22 will increase by £6.3bn, with core resource budgets growing to £147.1bn. Core capital budgets will grow by £2.3bn in cash terms compared to 2019-20, delivering a 13.4% average real terms increase per year.

    £3bn will be provided in 2021-22 to support the NHS recovery from the impacts of Covid-19, including £1bn to begin tackling the backlog in elective procedures and carry out extra checks. £2bn will boost mental health support, invest in the NHS workforce and help ease existing pressures in the NHS caused by Covid-19.  

    There will be £300m of new grant funding for adult and children’s social care, in addition to the £1bn announced in 2019 that is being maintained in 2021-22.

    £2.1bn will be provided to local authorities through the improved Better Care Fund which will be pooled with the NHS to help meet adult social care needs and reduce pressures on the NHS.

    An additional £260m for Health Education England in 2021-22 will allow the training and retention of NHS staff, including increasing the mental health workforce.  

    £4.2bn will be allocated in 2021-22 for NHS operational capital investment to allow hospitals to refurbish and maintain their infrastructure. An extra £165m in 2021-22 will be ringfenced to replace outdated mental health dormitories with single en suite rooms.  

    £2.1bn will be spent on buying and storing PPE, meeting expected demand and maintaining a 4-month stockpile across 2021-22.  

    £9.4m will be invested in improving maternity safety, including through pilots aimed at reducing incidence of birth-related brain injuries.

    Farming 

    £2.4bn will be spent in 2021-22 to maintain the current annual budget to support farmers. Funding for fisheries in England in 2021-22 will be maintained with £13.5m.

    Business Rates and Loans

    £519m will support continued delivery of Covid-19 business loans in 2021-22, including a 12-month interest free period for some loans.  

    The business rates multiplier will be frozen in 2021-22, saving businesses in England £575m over the next five years. Plans for business rates relief will be announced in 2021. Local authorities will be fully compensated for this decision.

    Business rates baselines will not be reset in 2021-22, with existing 100% business rates pilots, such as in Cornwall, maintained for a further year.

    The British Business Bank’s Start-Up Loans scheme will be expanded by £56.5m in 2021-22.  

    Consultations 

    The Government is undertaking a fundamental review of the business rates system and is currently considering responses to the call for evidence. A final report setting out the full conclusions of the review will be published in spring 2021.

    The Government will consult on reforms to the New Homes Bonus shortly, with a view to implementing reform in 2022-23.

    Environment, Waste and Recycling

    £12bn will begin to fund the recently-announced Green Revolution plan, with the intention of galvanising private investment. £1.9bn will be spent on charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and consumer incentives.  

     A £1bn Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Infrastructure Fund will help establish four CCS clusters by 2030, capturing up to 10 megatonnes of carbon dioxide a year by 2030. A £240m Net Zero Hydrogen Fund and £81m for hydrogen heating trials will help achieve the goal of developing 5 gigawatts of low-carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030.  

    The Government will introduce mandatory reporting of climate-related financial information across the economy by 2025 with the vast majority of requirements in place by 2023. The UK will also implement a green taxonomy that defines which economic activities tackle climate change and environmental degradation to help better guide investors.

    £92m has been announced for the Nature for Climate Fund to help the UK restore more peatlands and plant England’s share of 30,000 hectares of trees a year by 2024. This will include expansion of the Urban Trees Challenge Fund and new investment in Community Forests, supporting an additional 1,000 green jobs. 

    Funding for National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty will increase to more than £75m, with a further £7m to progress the England Coast Path and Coast-to-Coast National Trail.

    An additional £40m investment in nature recovery will be provided through an extended Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

    Defra will ensure producers take more responsibility for packaging waste, introduce a deposit return scheme, and implement consistent collection of waste – including food waste – in every local authority in England by 2024.

    Unemployment 

    Unemployment currently stands at 4.8%, compared with 3.8% in 2019. The OBR expects unemployment to peak at 7.5% in Q2 2021, falling to 4.4% by 2024.  

    A £2.9bn 3-year Restart Programme will support over 1m unemployed people to find work. A £2bn Kickstart programme (for which some funding has already been announced) will create over 250,000 jobs for young people.  

    Defence 

    Defence will receive additional funding of over £24bn in cash terms over four years. This will cover a long-term programme of modernisation in the space and cyber domains and allowing the UK to forward-deploy more naval assets to protect shipping lanes. A new Space Command will also be established.

    £6.6bn of research and development funding has been announced for Defence, covering artificial intelligence, future combat air power and other technologies.   

    Roads, Transport and Freeports

    £58bn of multi-year investment has been confirmed for road and rail across the country.

    £2bn will be provided to the Department for Transport to ensure continued operation of the railways in 2021-22. 

    £19bn of transport capital investment will be spent in 2021-22, including £1.7bn for local roads maintenance and upgrades.    

    £300m in 2021-22 will drive transformation of bus services. Funding will initially be targeted on any further Covid-19 support that may be required. £120m in 2021-22 will support delivery of over 800 cleaner, greener, quieter zero emission buses. This will help deliver the first All Electric Bus Town by March 2021. 

    £10m of resource funding, and the first tranche of a total of £175m of capital funding, in England – partly funded from the Towns Fund – will establish Freeports as national hubs for global trade and investment, promoters of regeneration and job creation, and hotbeds of innovation.

    Education and Apprenticeships

    The schools budget will increase from £47.6bn in 2020-21 to £49.8bn in 2021-22 – an uplift of £2.2bn. £83m will be spent in 2021-22 to ensure that post-16 education providers can accommodate the expected demographic increase in 16 to 19-year-olds.

    £138m will fund in-demand technical courses for adults, equivalent to A level, and to expand the employer-led “boot camp” training model. 

    £127m will continue to support people to build the skills they need to get into work, including funding for traineeships, sector-based work academy placements and the National Careers Service.

    £110m, including £50m of capital investment, will drive up higher technical provision in support of the future rollout of a Flexible Loan Entitlement to test and develop innovative models for local collaboration between skills providers and employers.

    £220m will be spent on the Holiday Activities and Food Programme to provide enriching activities and a healthy meal for disadvantaged children in the Easter, Summer and Christmas holidays in 2021. This will form part of a Flexible Childcare Fund.

    £165m will be provided to local authorities through the Troubled Families programme, providing intensive support to families facing multiple interconnected problems.

    From August 2021, employers who pay the Apprenticeship Levy will be able to transfer unspent levy funds in bulk to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a new pledge function. Unspent levy funds will still expire after 24 months. 

    The Government will introduce, from August 2021, a new online service to match levy payers with SMEs that share their business priorities from April 2021 allowing employers in construction, followed by health and social care, to front-load training for certain apprenticeship standards. The Government will explore whether this offer can also be made available in other sectors. 

    During 2021-22, the Government will test approaches to supporting apprenticeships in industries with more flexible working patterns, including consideration of how best to support apprenticeship training agencies. Incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice introduced in the Plan for Jobs will be extended to 31 March 2021.

    Investments of £1.8bn will be made in 2021-22 to maintain and improve the condition of school buildings. £300m in 2021-22 will fund new school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities, almost four times as much as the Government provided to local authorities in 2020-21. 

    £64m will be provided in 2021-22 for the Student Loan Company, including for its transformation programme. 

    £72m in 2021-22 will support the commitment to build 20 Institutes of Technology.

    £44m will be provided for early years education in 2021-22 to increase the hourly rate paid to childcare providers for the Government’s free hours offers. This is on top of the £66m increase confirmed in 2019. 

    South West

    809,900 jobs were supported in the South-West by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. 439,000 claims were made in the region under both tranches of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. Over £4bn in loans offered to 107,689 South-West businesses by the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.  

    Digital Infrastructure, Science and Innovation

    Nearly £15bn will be invested in research and development in 2021-22. The Government has provided an ambitious multi-year settlement for the National Academies and UK Research and Innovation’s core research budgets. These will grow by more than £400m on average per year for the next three years. UK Research and Innovation will next year open its grant competitions to the dispersed network of outstanding public sector labs across the country in everything from 5G through to climate change programmes.

    £260m will be spent on digital infrastructure programmes, including the Shared Rural Network for 4G coverage, Local Full Fibre Networks, and 5G Programmes.   

    An uplift of over £400m on average per year until 2023-24 will be available for core UK Research and Innovation science.

    £490m will be available in 2021-22 for Innovate UK core programmes and infrastructure to support ground-breaking technologies and businesses.

    £200m in 2021-22 will fund the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, to develop new decarbonisation solutions and accelerate near-to market low-carbon energy innovations.

    The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has been allocated over £3bn of new funding for;

    • providing over £1bn towards the construction of 4 new Carbon Capture and Storage plants by 2030
    • confirmation of over £1bn to make progress towards delivering investment in the energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation of schools, hospitals and homes.
    • £160m to upgrade portside manufacturing capabilities to help build the next generation of offshore wind farms. 
    • £240m to support industry to produce low-carbon hydrogen at scale and over £80m to test its use in heating buildings. 
    • £525m towards the development of a large-scale nuclear project and advanced nuclear technologies.
    • £500m to be spent in the next four years on the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries and support for associated supply chains.

    BEIS has been allocated £557.5m capital funding for the British Business Bank (excluding Covid-19 business support schemes), including: 

    • £422m for the Bank’s planned activities in 2021-22, providing access to finance to small businesses across the UK and supporting them to grow. 
    • £56.5m to fund an expansion of the Bank’s Start-Up Loans scheme
    • Resources to make £270m in new commitments to support priorities in innovation and growth and regional finance.
    • 50.7m for business support programmes to improve SME productivity through leadership, management and technology adoption.
    • £50m next year, as part of a £250m commitment to building a secure and resilient 5G network

    Communities

    £254m of additional funding will tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in 2021-22. 

    £25.8m will increase the value of Healthy Start Vouchers to £4.25 in line with the recommendation of the National Food Strategy. Local authority spending through the public health grant will also continue to be maintained. 

    £573m will be provided by the Disabled Facilities Grants and £71m in the Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund, supporting people to live independently for longer.

    £30m of funding, instituted in 2019, will continue to be provided to tackle child sexual exploitation.

    £98m of additional resource funding, bringing total funding to £125m, will enable local authorities to deliver the new duty to support victims of domestic abuse and their children in safe accommodation in England. 

    £165m of resource funding for local authorities through the Troubled Families programme will provide intensive support to families facing multiple interconnected problems. 

    £150m will continue to strengthen our cultural and heritage infrastructure, including through the Cultural Investment Fund enabling continued investment in the Heritage High Streets programme. £320m will be provided for galleries and museums.

    £100m of capital investment will fund Department for Culture, Media and Sport-supported bodies working across culture, heritage and sports

    Sport England will receive £60m to increase participation in sport and support community projects.  

    £100m will deliver the National Citizen Service and fund investment in youth facilities. 

    The Towns Fund will regenerate high streets, town centres and communities, providing £621m in 2021-22. 

    National Living Wage

    The National Living Wage for people aged 23 and over will rise by 2.2%, from £8.72 to £8.91, from April 2021. Rates for age groups between 16-22, and apprenticeships, will also increase.  

    Policing and Justice

    Police and Crime Commissioners in England will be able to increase funding in 2021-22 with a £15 council tax referendum limit on a Band D property.

    £400m will help recruit 20,000 additional police officers by 2023, with a further 6,000 police officers in place by the end of 2021-22. Over 5,000 of these officers have already been recruited. 

    Additional funding will be provided to the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure it is fully equipped to improve its response to rape and sexual assault cases.

    £63m will tackle economic crime, including support for the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC), along with £20m for Companies House reform

    £337m will help the criminal justice system in England and Wales recover from the effects of Covid-19. This includes £275m to reduce backlogs in the Crown Court caused by Covid-19 and £40m to offer additional support to victims of crime, including victims of domestic abuse. 

    £119m of additional funding will support the ongoing response of the wider justice system to Covid-19. This includes £76m to further increase family court and employment tribunal capacity to reduce backlogs and £43m to ensure that courts and prisons remain Covid-safe. 

    The Government will also provide new funding to support prison leavers at risk of homelessness into private rental tenancies. 

     Further Information

    The full Spending Review, including executive summary, is available here.  

    The Local Government Chronicle has said that the £2.5bn boost for local authorities spending review “falls far short”. 

    The LGA responds to the spending review. 


     

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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 24 November, 2020

    5 months ago
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    The articles below have been drawn together by the policy and analytical community within the Council.

    Covid-19

    • As of 22 November, a total of 3,525 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. Over the last seven days, 407 people in the Duchy have tested positive, at a rate of 71 per 100,000 population: this contrasts with 252 positive tests per 100,000 people across the whole of England. A total of 160 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 there is no positive test result.)

     

    • The most recent Government Statistics on NHS Test and Trace (5 - 11 November) show that positive Covid-19 test results continue to rise, with an increase of 11% on the previous week. Turnaround times for in-person swab tests under Pillar 2 (for the general population) remain similar to the previous week, but are longer than they were at the end of June. 69% of in-person test results are now received the following day. 39% of the close contacts of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 were not reached by NHS contact tracers, a very slight improvement on the previous week.

     

    • Analysis from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests that the rapid increase in Covid-19 infections seen between August and November has slowed in recent weeks. Between September and October, 4%-6% of the population had Covid-19 antibodies, suggesting most of the population is still vulnerable to the virus. ONS data also shows that nearly a quarter of young people had had physical contact indoors with somebody not in their household or support bubble. Secondary school-age children are currently the most likely to test positive for Covid-19.

     

    • US biotech company Moderna have announced that early trials of their Covid-19 vaccine suggest 95% effectiveness. However, the trial group was comparatively small, with 95 participants, and further testing will be required. The UK Government has purchased 5m doses, likely to be available no earlier than spring 2021. Oxford University, partnering with AstraZeneca, have announced that their Covid-19 vaccine is up to 90% effective at preventing symptoms, with early indications that it may also stop the spread of the disease. The UK government has purchased 100m doses of the vaccine.

     

    • Large-scale trials of a partly UK-funded Covid-19 vaccine, from pharmaceutical company Janssen, started last week in the UK. 6,000 volunteers will take part over the course of the trial to test safety and efficacy, which is expected to run for 12 months. This is the third potential Covid-19 vaccine to enter clinical trials in the UK.

     

    • An unmanned aerial vehicle consortium has secured Department for Transport funding to deliver PPE and Covid-19 testing kits to communities in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. One of the companies involved, Windracers, is supported by Cornwall Innovation - managed by Plymouth University on behalf of Cornwall Council.

     

    • The Director of Public Health England, Dr Susan Hopkins, has suggested that the tiered restriction system will need to be strengthened after the national lockdown ends. Tier 1 restrictions, which applied to Cornwall before November, are said to have had “very little effect”. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson MP, is expected to have made a statement to Parliament on Monday 23 November on changes to the system of tiered regional restrictions which will come back into force after the national lockdown ends on 2 December. Some tiers are likely to include tighter limits, although there may be a relaxation between 22-28 December. (The statement had not been made at time of writing.)

     

    • The House of Lords Public Services Committee has published a report following its Public Services: Lessons from Coronavirus inquiry. The Committee concluded that councils and service providers had put in place “remarkable innovations” to respond rapidly to the pandemic. However, the Committee raised concerns about inequality of access to public services; over-centralised delivery of public services; and a lack of public service provision during the Covid-19 pandemic for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups, as well as members of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities; homeless people; and those with complex needs.

     

    Brexit

    • The Department for Education has reportedly written to schools, instructing them to stockpile long-life foods, to prepare for “possible changes to their food supply chain” after a no-deal Brexit. The General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, Paul Whiteman, said that there is “almost nothing that any school can meaningfully do to mitigate the effects of Brexit”. 

     

    • Media reports suggest that talks are likely to continue this week by videoconference, with no date set for a resumption of in-person talks after a member of the EU delegation tested positive for Covid-19 last week.

     

    Economy

    • The latest HMRC statistics show that 21,800 people in Cornwall were receiving furlough payments on 31 August, out of 226,000 jobs that would be eligible for furlough.

     

    • The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, will provide an update to Parliament on 25 November on the results of his one-year spending review. A special edition of this newsletter will be issued on 26 November with details.

      

    Education

    • An Oxford University study has shown that young children suffer increased emotional problems, as well as attention deficits, after a one-month lockdown. Older children have decreased emotional difficulties but greater than usual issues focusing.

     

    • Research by the Local Government Association suggests that more than a million school-aged children in England could be missing out on full-time education. The report highlights a rise in home-schooling (with some councils reporting a 200% increase between September-October this year), and raises concerns that there may be insufficient oversight.

     

    • Details have been published for the Government’s Catch Up Premium to support children following Covid-19 school closures. With some exceptions, schools will receive £80 for each pupil from reception to year 11. Special schools will get £240 for each place for the 2020 to 2021 academic year. A £350m National Tutoring Programme has also been announced.

     

    • In the week to 12 November, 99.6% of state schools across the country were fully open, the same as last week, while attendance in all state schools has dropped to 86.5%, from 89.3% last week. The number of children attending early years settings has risen to 801,000, compared to 754,000 last week. As a snapshot, on 12 November, 64% of state-funded secondary schools and 22% of state-funded primary schools reported that they had one or more pupils self-isolating due to contact with a potential Covid-19 case within the school.

     

    Environment

    • The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson MP, has announced plans for a £4bn “Green Industrial Revolution” which could create 250,000 jobs. Proposals include ending the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030; quadrupling the UK’s offshore wind capacity; expanding the use of nuclear power; and increasing the use of hydrogen as a heat source, with a town heated entirely by hydrogen by 2030.

     

    Housing

    • The Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP, has launched The Charter for Social Housing Residents, a White Paper containing social housing reforms, including greater protection for tenants and a stronger regulator with powers to monitor landlords.

     

    Consultations and Campaigns

    • The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has invited evidence on the approach the Government should take to local government funding as part of the 2020 Spending Review. The Committee also seeks views on the impact of another one-year spending review instead of a multi-year settlement, and what the key features of that settlement should be (including for Adult social care as well as financial challenges arising from lost income and local taxes as a result of the pandemic). Deadline 27 November 2020. 

     

    • The Competition and Markets Authority is consulting on proposed updates to its published guidance relating to procedural guidelines on mergers under the Enterprise Act 2002. Deadline 04 December 2020

     

    • The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is leading an Independent Faith Engagement Review, examining how the Government should engage with faith groups in England. Deadline 11 December 2020

     

    • A collaboration between Government departments is seeking views on a possible total restriction of online advertising for products high in fat, sugar and salt. Deadline 22 December 2020.

     

    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is seeking views on proposals around raising energy performance standards for the domestic private rented sector in England and Wales. Deadline 30 December 2020

     

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