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 our understanding of Cornwall and the impact of various data points/ information that has affected 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 our understanding of Cornwall and the impact of various data points/ information that has affected our residents and businesses.

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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 8 December, 2020

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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

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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

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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

    over 3 years 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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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 17 November, 2020

    over 3 years 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 15 November, a total of 3,280 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. Over the last seven days, 560 people in the Duchy have tested positive, at a rate of 88 per 100,000 population: this contrasts with 250 positive tests per 100,000 people across the whole of the UK. A total of 151 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have sadly died within 28 days of a positive test for Covid-19, with 3 fatalities in the last week. 50,000 people in the UK have now died of Covid-19, using the most commonly accepted measure (death within 28 days of a positive test).


    • Interim results for a Covid-19 vaccine produced by the US company Pfizer and German firm BioNTech suggest it is 90% effective. It is not yet clear if the vaccine is disease-modifying (protecting individuals from the worst symptoms) or epidemic-modifying (preventing transmission to others). The vaccine has not yet been peer-reviewed or completed all safety checks, but these are likely to be expedited. The UK has ordered enough doses for 1/3 of the population, with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation due to decide who receives vaccines first.


    • The Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock MP, told the House of Commons that GP surgeries will deliver up to a thousand vaccinations a week in special clinics. Media reports suggest that NHS England is planning to be ready for this program by December.


    • 600,000 rapid-turnaround Covid-19 test kits (“lateral flow antigen tests”) were sent to some local authorities last week, enough for 10% of residents in those areas. It is anticipated that this will allow weekly testing for priority and high-risk residents, detecting a greater number of asymptomatic cases. Cornwall is not on the initial allocation list.


    • 20 care homes in Cornwall, Devon and Hampshire are piloting a new scheme to allow designated visitors access to rapid Covid-19 testing. In conjunction with PPE, this should allow meaningful visit to care homes without the need for physical barriers.


    • The most recent Government Statistics on NHS Test and Trace (29 October - 4 November) show that positive Covid-19 test results continue to rise, with an increase of 8% compared with the previous week. Turnaround times for in-person swab tests under Pillar 2 (for the general population) have considerably improved in comparison to the previous week, but are longer than they were at the end of June. 71% of in-person test results are 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, the same as the previous week.


    Brexit

    • The House of Lords has voted to remove clauses in the Internal Market Bill which would give the Government authority to override parts of the legally-binding Brexit agreement between the UK and EU. The Bill will now be sent back to the House of Commons, which is likely to reinstate the clauses. 


    • Talks between the UK and EU on a trade deal are continuing this week, with media reports suggesting that this is the final week talks are likely to take place. An EU summit on 19 November is reported to be the final deadline for an agreement, as the heads of EU countries would have to ratify a trade deal before it came into force at the end of December.


    Devolution

    • Lord Heseltine, the former Deputy Prime Minister, is reported to have said that the Government is moving away from commitments to devolve power to English regions, following disagreements with the mayor of Greater Manchester over financial support for more stringent local lockdown measures.


    Economy

    • Cornwall airport has closed until at least mid-December, due to a lack of demand. Staff have been furloughed. The airport hopes to reopen to meet an anticipated pre-Christmas surge in travellers. Cornwall Council agreed in September that £5.6m of money allocated to the Cornwall spaceport could be diverted to the airport if Government funding was not forthcoming.


    • Quarterly statistics on Universal Credit (UC) show that in August, just under 38,000 households in Cornwall had at least one person claiming UC, up from 22,000 in March. Of those households, 13,000 contained a dependent child. Nationally, 4.5 million households had at least one person claiming UC in August, compared with 2.7 million in March.


    • Only 22% of England’s biggest councils are confident that they will be able to balance their budgets next year without “dramatic reductions to services”, according to a survey conducted by the County Councils Network. 56% of respondents reported that measures to tackle Covid-19 would be harmed by service reductions and 60% said that there would be a “fundamental reduction in frontline services”.


    • The Government has announced that £2.2bn will be made available as grants to businesses, delivered by local authorities. Local Restrictions Support Grants can be requested by rate-paying businesses who have either been required to close under the new national restrictions, or who have not been able to provide their typical in-person service. As an example, a business which has a property with a rateable value over £15,000 and less than £51,000 may be eligible for a cash grant of up to £1,400 for each 28 day period of national restrictions. Under the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG), local authorities will receive £20 per head of their local population, as a discretionary fund for businesses which have been severely impacted by Covid-19 restrictions. The ARG will cover the four-week national restrictions currently in place.


    • The Government has announced the creation of a new Office for Investment, to attract foreign investment into the UK. The office will be part of the Department for International Trade, and aim to “resolve potential barriers” – such as regulatory constraints and planning issues – which might otherwise block key strategic investments.


    Education

    • report by Ofsted into the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on children in England has found that some young people worst-affected by school and nursery closures have “regressed” in basic skills and learning. 


    • The Welsh Government has cancelled GCSE, AS and A-level exams in Summer 2021, replacing them with externally set and marked assessments, delivered under teacher supervision in the classroom. Education Minister, Kirsty Williams MS, said that this would allow teaching to continue throughout the summer, and that universities had confirmed they would accept these qualifications.


    • University students in England will be permitted to travel home for the Christmas holidays between 3 - 9 December (the “student travel window”), using staggered departure times. In-person teaching will stop by 9 December, moving online for the rest of term. Where possible, students will be tested for Covid-19 before they travel, as part of a mass-testing programme for universities.


    • In the week to 5 November, 99.6% of state schools across the country were fully open, a slight drop from 99.7% the week before half term, while attendance in all state schools has risen slightly to 89.3%, from 89.2%. As a snapshot, on 5 November, 38% of state-funded secondary schools and 11% 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.


    Equality and Diversity 

    • November 18th marks the start of Disability History Month, coinciding with new research undertaken by YouGov into the experiences of 1,000 Britons living with disability. The research has been undertaken to mark the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act: landmark legislation that makes it unlawful to discriminate against people due to their disabilities. The legislation has since been consolidated within the Equality Act of 2010, which reached its tenth anniversary this year. The research by YouGov considered a range of issues affecting people with disabilities, highlighting that 59% of adults with a disability report “encountering at least one problem when looking for work” and almost half felt that “existing legislation is not robust enough to protect the rights of the disabled”. 


    Consultations and Campaigns 

    • The Public Accounts Select Committee is calling senior officials from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to answer questions on: the impact of Covid-19 on local authority services and budgets; local authority responsibilities in the pandemic, particularly in relation to social care, tackling homelessness and providing services; the future of local authority financial sustainability; and housing, including the impact of Covid-19. Evidence on these topics is requested by 20 November 2020.


    • The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has launched an inquiry into the immediate and long-term impact that Covid-19 is having on the homeless, rough sleepers and those in the private rented sector. Deadline 27 November 2020.


    • Public Health England is asking for feedback from employers and front-line workers to inform the development of the Community Health and Wellbeing Worker apprenticeship standard. Community Health and Wellbeing Workers consider the causes of poor health and wellbeing, and aim to help people understand the services or support available in their local area. Deadline 27 November 2020.
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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 10 November, 2020

    over 3 years 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 8 November, a total of 2,720 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. Over the last seven days, 304 people in the Duchy have tested positive, at a rate of 53 per 100,000 population: this contrasts with 243 positive tests per 100,000 people across the whole of England. A total of 148 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have sadly died within 28 days of a positive test for Covid-19, with three fatalities in the last week. (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 (22 - 28 October) show that positive Covid-19 test results continue to rise, with an increase of 8% compared with the previous week. Turnaround times for in-person swab tests under Pillar 2 (for the general population) have again improved in comparison to the previous week, but are still longer than they were at the end of June. 62% of in-person test results are 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, the same as the previous two weeks. 10 million people in the UK have now been tested at least once for Covid-19.


    • Cornwall Council’s Intelligence Network has released the latest update of the Covid-19 Renewal and Recovery dashboard. The dashboard presents key metrics of the impact of the pandemic on local communities and will be updated monthly. Among the highlighted issues are: 
      • A steep rise in the number of people receiving Universal Credit. In September 2020, nearly 50,000 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly were on Universal Credit, 15% of the working age population.
      • Anti-social behaviour (ASB) incidents were rising during and after the first national lockdown. Town centres are experiencing an overall rise in ASB linked to a complex picture of street drinking, drugs and the presence of Organised Crime Groups.
      • Social Care services received more safeguarding referrals for children and young people after the first lockdown. Social workers are reporting an increase in the intensity and complexity of cases.


    • The Office for National Statistics has published an overview of Covid-19 related data collated between March and October. By combining information on all aspects of the pandemic, the review provides a narrative of how society and the economy have been impacted. Themes covered include levels of infection, impact on mental health, mobility, and trade and retail sales.


    • The UK’s first mass-testing initiative for Covid-19 started on Friday 6 November. Everyone living or working in Liverpool will be offered a test, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms of the virus. Some tests will give results within an hour, without needing laboratory processing. It is hoped that a successful pilot could see similar schemes rolled out to the rest of the country, although some media reporting has cited concerns about thousands of potentially false negative results.


    • Family and close friends are to be allowed to visit residents of care homes in England during the second national lockdown, according to new Government guidance. Outdoor visits with one other person are permitted, as well as indoor meetings where Covid-secure facilities are provided, such as floor-to-ceiling screens.


    Brexit

    • Negotiations between the UK and EU on a post-Brexit trade deal are continuing, with in-person talks scheduled to resume in London this week. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson MP, said that although progress had been made, “significant differences” remain between the two sides, particularly on fisheries and state aid for businesses. The transition period will finish on December 31, 2020, with UK access to the single market and customs union due to end at this time.


    • The Institute for Government has warned that devolved administrations, local authorities, and businesses could be overwhelmed by the end of the transition period and that the Government has not done enough to ensure they are prepared for what comes next, regardless of whether a deal is struck. 


    Education

    • £170 million of additional Government funding for free school meals over the Christmas holidays has been announced. This funding, distributed by local authorities, will also provide help with bills. A further  £220 million programme to cover healthy food and activities for children from low-income families will be extended during school holidays in 2021.


    Environment

    • The Environment Bill has resumed passage through Parliament after a pause due to Covid-19. The Bill aims to deliver the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, with legally binding targets for air quality, biodiversity and water efficiency, as well as creating a new Office for Environmental Protection (OEP). The OEP will be an independent body, holding Government and public-sector organisations to account on their environmental commitments. It will have enforcement powers to ensure net zero emissions are reached in the UK by 2050.




    Housing

    • Cornwall is one of ten places in England to receive extra Government funding to provide accommodation for those currently sleeping rough. In total, £15m will be made available to areas with a high number of rough sleepers. Criticism came from homelessness charities who argued the money would “run out quickly” and was “not nearly as extensive as what we saw in March, yet the threat from the virus remains the same”. 


    Security

    • The UK’s terrorism threat level has been raised from “substantial” to “severe”, following a series of Islamist terrorist attacks in France and Austria. The Home Secretary, Priti Patel MP, said that people should be "alert but not alarmed…This is a precautionary measure…and is not based on a specific threat”.


    Consultations and Campaigns

    • The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities is asking for evidence on ethnic disparities and inequality in the UK to help inform a new review. Deadline 30-Nov-20.


    • As part of a Root and Branch review of the parole system, the Ministry of Justice is conducting a public consultation on making some parole hearings open to victims of crime and the wider public. Deadline 01-Dec-20


    • The Treasury is seeking views on its proposals for continuing to meet past commitments to public servants regarding the full indexation of public service pensions. Deadline 30-Dec-20.


    • The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is asking for views on plans to increase the use of remote electronic monitoring on English registered fishing vessels and vessels fishing in English waters. Deadline 30-Nov-20.
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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 3 November, 2020

    over 3 years 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 1 November, a total of 2,385 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. Over the last seven days, 309 people in the Duchy have tested positive, at a rate of 54 per 100,000 population: this contrasts with 228 positive tests per 100,000 people across the whole of England. A total of 145 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have sadly died within 28 days of a positive test for Covid-19, with no fatalities in the last week. (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 Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced that England is to enter a new national lockdown from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December. This will replace the current local tiered restrictions, assuming that a House of Commons vote to approve the measures passes on Wednesday. Under the lockdown, people will be instructed not to leave their homes unless it is: for work which they cannot do at home; for childcare or education; for medical reasons; to exercise outside or visit outdoor public areas; to shop for necessities; to fulfil caring responsibilities or to meet people within an exclusive support bubble. One person from a different household (excluding support bubbles) can be met outside, but not in private gardens.


    • Under the new restrictions, all non-essential retail businesses are to close, although click and collect orders will be permitted. Entertainment venues and personal services businesses are also to close, as well as all leisure facilities. Weddings and civil partnerships will not be allowed apart from in exceptional circumstances, although funerals can continue with a maximum of 30 mourners. The furlough scheme, which had been due to finish at the end of October, will be extended until 2 December.


    • The most recent Government Statistics on NHS Test and Trace (15 - 21 October) show that positive Covid-19 test results continue to rise sharply, with an increase of 23% compared with the previous week. 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. 47% of in-person test results are 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, the same as the previous week.


    • A new large-scale study conducted by Imperial College London shows that antibody responses to Covid-19 decline sharply over the weeks or months following infection. 6% of the English population had antibodies to the virus at the end of June, but only 4.4% had antibodies at the end of September. Infected people who did not show symptoms are likely to lose antibodies more rapidly than those who were symptomatic. The health minister, Lord Bushell, said that “testing positive for antibodies does not mean you are immune to Covid-19”.


    Brexit

    • After seven days of talks in London, the intensified EU-UK negotiations have now moved to Brussels. Fisheries access and competition rules for businesses remain the most difficult issues to resolve. Any deal will need to begin the formal ratification process by mid-November, meaning there is little time for agreement: although the EU has claimed that positive progress is being made. 


    • The hauliers’ association, Logistics UK, has warned that failing to reach a trade deal with the EU could lead to a 30% rise in import charges for everyday goods, making household shopping more expensive. The association is also concerned that limits on lorry access permits for UK entry will harm businesses throughout the country, with a fourfold shortfall in available documentation.


    Education

    • In the week 16 - 22 October, 99.3% of state schools across the country were fully open, a slight drop from 99.7% the previous week, while attendance in all state schools has dropped slightly to 86.2%, from 89.2%. Government analysis states that this “fall in attendance is largely due to an increase in Covid-19 related absence”. The number of children attending early years settings has risen to 770,000, compared to 761,000 in the previous week. As a snapshot, on 22 October, 55% of state-funded secondary schools and 20% 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, an increase on the previous week’s figures.


    Environment


    • Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Cornwall Council have partnered up to launch a county-wide autumn seed search; asking local people to collect, grow and plant tree seeds in Cornwall.


    • The Government has published a policy paper on the Nature Recovery Network, outlining how it will create the network by restoring and enhancing England’s wildlife-rich places. It comes as the Prime Minister promised to protect 30% of land by 2030, with an extra 400,000 hectares protected to support the recovery of nature.


    Housing

    • A coalition of charities, including Shelter and Friends of the Earth, have written an open letter expressing their concerns about a lack of affordable housing under proposals to deregulate planning in England. The letter, to Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, highlights that developers could build up to 50 homes without including any affordable housing.


    • Analysis of Government data by CPRE: The Countryside Charity has found that rural homelessness has more than doubled since 2018, to nearly 20,000. Research commissioned by the Rural Services Network and other charities suggests that affordable housing can boost disadvantaged peripheral economies, with every 10 affordable homes supporting 26 jobs.


    Consultations and Campaigns

    • Our Safeguarding Children Partnership for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has just launched a month-long child exploitation campaign, called ‘CE the Signs’. The campaign aims to increase public understanding of child exploitation, raise awareness of the signs and indicators to watch out for and to educate people on the routes for reporting concerns. Everyone is asked to take a second look at any signs that they spot and ask themselves: could it be exploitation? To get involved, use the hashtag #CEtheSigns and see the CIOS Safeguarding website for campaign materials and further information.


    • The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency are asking for views on new draft guidance on the licensing of biosimilar products (newer versions of existing drugs, which work in the same way, but are often cheaper). Deadline 15/11/2020


    • Written submissions on Tree Planting and Woodlands are sought by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. The committee wants to understand whether Government targets are the right ones; if the correct types of trees will be planted in appropriate places and whether enough is being done to protect existing woodland. Deadline 19/11/2020.  


    • The Department for Work and Pensions is calling for evidence on challenges to in-work progression in low pay sectors, as well as examples of good practice. Deadline 20/11/2020. 


    • The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is seeking comments on the draft text of the Aarhus Convention National Implementation Report. The Aarhus Convention is a United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) treaty which provides access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters. Deadline 27/11/2020.  


    • A relaunch has been announced of a Department for Education consultation on changes to the regulation of independent educational institutions. Previous contributions do not need to be resubmitted. Deadline 27/11/2020
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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 27 October, 2020

    over 3 years 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 25 October, 2,105 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have tested positive for Covid-19. Over the last seven days, 171 people in the Duchy have tested positive, at a rate of 30 per 100,000 population: this contrasts with 201 positive tests per 100,000 people across the whole of England. A total of 145 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have sadly died within 28 days of a positive test for Covid-19, with no fatalities in the last week.


    • The Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, has said that modelling suggests between 53,000 and 90,000 people in England are being infected with Covid-19 each day, a far higher number than people testing positive via the NHS Test and Trace system.


    • 17 regions are in Tier 2 (high) of the new three-tier alert system for England, according to the most recent Government information, updated 24 October. Four regions – Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Liverpool City and South Yorkshire – are in Tier 3 (very high), meaning that pubs, bars and indoor sports facilities are closed for approximately 7 million people. Guidance has been issued for residents of those areas to avoid travelling outside the vicinity. Cornwall remains in Tier 1 (medium).


    • Charities and local businesses across Cornwall and England have announced they will provide free food during half-term to children who usually qualify for free school meals. Pressure is growing on the Government to reverse its decision not to provide food vouchers for children from low-income households during the holidays, following the high-profile campaign led by footballer Marcus Rashford.


    • The most recent Government Statistics on NHS Test and Trace (8-14 October) show that positive Covid-19 test results have risen sharply since the end of August. Turnaround times have lengthened for in-person swab tests under Pillar 2 (for the general population) although the average distance that people have to travel for an in-person test has slightly declined. 40% of the close contacts of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 were not reached by NHS contact tracers.


    Brexit

    • Intensified daily trade talks between the UK and EU have resumed in London, with agreement still to be reached on state aid rules (the extent that governments can legally support businesses), fishing rights and enforcement mechanisms. The UK’s transition period out of the EU will end on December 31 this year.


    Economy

    • The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP, has announced changes to the Government’s Job Support Scheme – which will replace the furlough scheme from next month until the end of April 2021. The revised scheme will require businesses to contribute 5% of employees’ pay for unworked hours; the Government will pay 62%; and 33% will not be paid. At least 20% of employees’ typical hours must be worked to qualify. Self-employed people will be eligible for grants of up to 40% of their previous earnings. Local Authorities in Tier 2 areas will be able to allocate grants of up to £2,100 per month to hospitality and leisure businesses, rising to £3,000 per month in Tier 3 regions. 


    • The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, has allocated an additional £919 million of non-ringfenced funding to Local Authorities in response to financial pressures generated by Covid-19. Cornwall Council is due to receive nearly £46 million of this funding across four tranches. Support worth £100 million is to be made available for Council-run leisure centres across England, with each area receiving at least £100,000 – although funding allocations are still being decided by Government departments.


    • The Government will not be carrying out its planned three-year Comprehensive Spending Review, due to the economic uncertainty caused by Covid-19. A one-year review will instead be announced in November. The Chair of the Local Government Association, Cllr James Jamieson, commented that a single-year settlement “makes it incredibly difficult for [Councils] to plan how to provide the local services…communities rely on”.


    • A new report by The Health Foundation has found that almost 300,000 people were turned down for benefits between March and July this year. The majority of claims were rejected because of ineligibility, mainly because claimants or their partners were earning too much or because their savings were above the £16,000 threshold. Half of those rejected were graduates, while another third had worked in professional or managerial roles. 


    Education

    • 99.7% of state schools across the country are fully open, a slight drop from 99.8% last week, while attendance in all state schools has dropped slightly to 89.2%, from 89.8% last week. The number of children attending early years settings has risen to 761,000, compared to 753,000 last week. (This data relates to 9 - 15 October, the most recent period available.) As a snapshot, on 15 October, 46% of state-funded secondary schools and 16% 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.


    Social Care

    • The House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee has published a report on funding social care and the caring workforce, arguing that the sector must immediately receive investment of £7 billion to stave off “market collapse”. Some care providers are withdrawing services from clients who are funded by local authorities, focusing on those who can afford to fund their own care. The report also notes the “extraordinary sacrifices” made by carers during the Covid-19 pandemic, and urgently calls for “appropriate pay, professional career structures and parity of esteem with NHS [workers]”.


    Charities and Equality

    • Healthwatch Cornwall recently surveyed 1,800 local people on the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown. Respondents spoke of the impact of isolation and separation from family on mental health and well-being, often reporting greater loneliness, declining motivation and exacerbation of existing mental health issues. A minority of the people replying to the survey had positive impacts to report, focusing on the benefits of homeworking, reduced travel time and “having a break from the usual pressures”.


    • Save the Children and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have found that 38% of families receiving Universal Credit “had to rely on” assistance from charities for food or children’s clothing in August and September. 60% of respondents to a new survey said that they had gone into debt in the same period, while 50% reported being in rent arrears or behind on bills.


    • The National Association for Youth Justice has released a report on issues affecting children in custody in 2020. Measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Young Offender Institutions included halting visits from families, lawyers and social workers, as well as a reduction in the minimum time that children had to legally be out of their rooms each day: 1.5 hours, compared with a 14-hour minimum before the pandemic. The report also found that the overrepresentation of Black and Minority Ethnic children in custody has worsened over the last ten years, with more than 50% of children in custody now coming from a BAME background.


    Consultations and Campaigns

    • Ofsted are seeking views on proposed changes to the way it inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass). Alterations would be effective from February 2021, and include a requirement for Cafcass to complete a self-evaluation. Deadline 11/11/2020.


    • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are calling for opinions on proposals to extend the Warm Home Discount scheme from 2021 to 2022, along with more minor changes. Deadline 11/11/2020. Relatedly, the BEIS Committee will examine the Government’s Building and Heat Strategy in November. 


    • The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) plans to introduce a new duty for local authorities to support victims of domestic abuse in safe accommodation, as part of the Domestic Abuse Bill. MHCLG are seeking views on the allocation of funding to local authorities relating to this new duty. Deadline 13/11/2020


    • The Local Heritage List campaign has funding available to create county-wide registers of historically significant buildings and monuments. It is encouraging expressions of interest from local authorities keen to take part in the campaign. Deadline 13/11/2020
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  • Policy and Intelligence Newsletter - 22 October, 2020

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

    Covid-19

    • As of 20 October, 1,892 people in Cornwall have tested positive for Covid-19, with 174 in the last seven days. This is a rate of 331 per 100,000 population and contrasts with a rate for the whole of England of 1,150 positive tests per 100,000 people. A total of 145 people in Cornwall have sadly died within 28 days of a positive test for Covid-19, with no fatalities in the last week.


    • 17 regions are in Tier 2 (high) of the new three-tier alert system for England, according to the most recent Government information, updated 16 October. Two regions - Liverpool City and Lancashire - are in Tier 3 (very high), meaning that pubs, bars and indoor sports facilities are closed. Guidance has been issued for residents of those areas to avoid travelling outside the vicinity. Greater Manchester will move into Tier 3 from midnight on Thursday 22 October, following ten days of discussion between Government and local authorities, which did not end in agreement. Cornwall remains in Tier 1 (medium).


    • Wales will implement a two-week “firebreak” lockdown from Friday 23 October. All non-essential businesses will close, including pubs, restaurants and hotels. Only the first two year-groups in secondary schools will return after half-term while the lockdown is in progress, although primary schools will have normal attendance requirements. Socialising with people outside one’s household - either indoors or outdoors - will also be prohibited.


    • Police Services in England have been given access to the NHS Test and Trace data of people who have been instructed to self-isolate, as stated in the Department of Health and Social Care’s updated guidance on privacy information relating to testing for Covid-19. There have been media reports that the office of the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has expressed “significant reservations” at the move, warning that it may discourage people from seeking testing.


    • Longstanding health inequalities in the UK are likely to have amplified the impact of Covid-19. The Global Burden of Disease study, published last week in the medical journal The Lancet, shows how the UK has the lowest healthy life expectancy in western Europe due to preventable diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. This, in turn, contributes to high Covid-19 mortality, according to The Lancet.


    Brexit

    • The Cabinet Office Minister, Michael Gove MP, has said in an Oral Statement to Parliament that “as things stand” a free trade agreement with the EU “will not now happen” before the end of the transition period on 31 December. The Minister cited the EU’s refusal to intensify discussions, hold talks on all the days available and “engage on all the outstanding issues” as reasons for negotiations breaking down. 


    • The Government has launched a “time is running out” campaign to encourage businesses to prepare for a no-deal/Australia-style exit from EU transition arrangements.


    • At the time of writing, the House of Lords is debating the UK Internal Market Bill, which seeks to ensure seamless trade between the nations of the UK and Northern Ireland. The debate will include a Motion to Regret some of the Bill’s contents.


    Devolution

    • The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee has launched an inquiry into “The Evolution Of Devolution: English Devolution”, holding its first public evidence session on 20 October. The Committee will hear evidence on the key challenges that the Government’s White Paper on devolution will need to address. A transcript of the evidence session is likely to be available by the end of the month.


    Economy

    • The Governor of the Bank of England has said that the UK faces “an unprecedented level of economic uncertainty” and that growth may be lower than expected. The credit rating agency, Moody’s, has recently downgraded Britain’s credit status due to the effects of Covid-19 on the economy and uncertainty around Brexit.


    • The Work and Pensions Select Committee has recommended that new applicants for Universal Credit are provided with a grant to cover food and heating costs during the five-week period before benefits start being paid. Although advances on future payments are available, the Committee concluded that this left claimants with insufficient funds to meet basic needs.


    • Rural broadband coverage across the UK now stands at 80%, in comparison to 97% of urban regions, according to analysis by the National Audit Office. The Superfast Programme has been rolled out most successfully in “easier-to-reach” areas, meaning that “left behind” properties are predominantly in rural and remote parts of the UK. The report also finds that some residents in rural areas with poor broadband connections have felt a sharper impact during the pandemic.


    Equality and Diversity

    • The Education Policy Institute has recently published research showing that the proportion of male Black and Minority Ethnic teachers in England is now 17%, broadly representative of the population as a whole.


    Voluntary Sector

    • The charity Carers UK has conducted a survey of nearly 6,000 unpaid family carers, with 74% of respondents saying they are exhausted due to their caring responsibilities throughout the pandemic. 64% of those who replied to the survey said that they had not been able to take any breaks since March, with 81% providing more care now than they were before the national lockdown.


    Consultations

    • The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government are calling for expressions of interest for a funded project which aims to improve mental health through green social prescribing – linking people to nature-based activities such as community gardening. Deadline 23/10/20. 


    • The Department of Health and Social Care are seeking evidence to help inform a new review into improving the health and development outcomes of babies and young children in England. Deadline 23/10/2020. 

                

    • The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy are requesting information from coastal landowners or developers with an interest in supporting the UK’s offshore wind manufacturing sector. A new offshore wind manufacturing investment support scheme is offering potential support. Deadline 30/10/2020. 


    • The Geospatial Commission has partnered with Innovate UK to create a £2 million transport data location competition to support the future of mobility for the UK. Deadline 04/11/2020. 

                

    • The Education Select Committee is seeking written evidence to understand the extent to which current arrangements provide support for home educated children.  Deadline 06/11/2020. 
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  • Intelligence Bulletin - 12 October, 2020

    almost 4 years ago
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    Local impact

    Health

    • The average number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in Cornwall has remained relatively stable over the past week. While the total number of detected cases has risen to above 1700 cases since March, the 7-day average for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly currently stands at 26 cases. That is an increase compared to the average of 4.1 cases on 1 September, but so far it is not a drastic spike as seen in the North of England. The infection rate in Cornwall stands at 294 cases per 100,000 resident population.


    Economy

    • Despite the Coronavirus pandemic, construction of the Spaceport Cornwall is to begin this month. The first satellites could be put into space via aircraft taking off from Newquay in early 2022.   The project is estimated to create 150 new jobs and generate £200m worth of Gross Value Added.
    • Cornish Cinema chain WTW has urged people to support the industry. The company which operates cinemas in Newquay, St Austell, Truro and Wadebridge tweeted it was understandable that not everyone was ready to go back to the movies, but suggested to “come in and buy a coffee, popcorn ... to take home, or buy a gift card”.
    • Heritage attractions across the south west have been given financial aid to help them during the coronavirus pandemic. 433 organisations will receive a share of £67 million from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage. Among the Cornish sites receiving money from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport are the Lost Gardens of Heligan (£606,400), the Bodmin and Wenford Railway (£260,000), Truro Cathedral (£146,000) and the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre (£53,200).


    National impact

    Health

    • The government is introducing a new three-tier alert system for England. Regions will be classified as being on ‘medium’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’ alert. Areas on the highest alert level will have to introduce temporary closures of, for example, gyms and certain hospitality venues. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced last week that employees who work for UK firms forced to shut by law because of coronavirus restrictions are to get two-thirds of their wages paid for by the government.
    • The Royal College of Surgeons in England has warned of a “tsunami of cancelled operations” over the winter. A survey run by the organisation shows that the vast majority of its members have not yet gotten back to pre-pandemic treatment levels for routine surgeries. The situation is expected to get worse as the virus is becoming more prevalent again and operations are likely to be cancelled to free up beds for Covid-19 patients.
    • The number of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in the UK has reached a new high. The 7-day average climbed to more than 15,500 last week. The peak during the ‘first wave’ in April/May this year was an average of 5,000 daily cases. However, more cases are being detected now due to increased testing capacity.
    • The North of England and Northern Ireland are currently among the UK regions with the highest infection rate in Europe. Figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control also show that the UK still has the highest number of deaths in Europe.
    • More than two thirds of people who tested positive for Covid-19 had no symptoms on the day of the test. New analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics’ Infection Survey shows that 86% of infected people reported none of the main symptoms of the illness, namely a cough, or a fever, or a loss of taste or smell. Researchers are calling for a more widespread testing programme to capture this “silent” transmission.


    Economy

    • The UK economy is unlikely to bounce back to pre-Covid levels any time soon. ONS data shows that although the UK’s economic output grew by 2.1% in August, it still remains 9.2% below the GDP level seen in February of this year. Some economists interpret the slowdown in growth as a sign that Britain had never been on course for a rapid V-shaped recovery.
    • Less people in England have the opportunity to take up an apprenticeship as a result of the pandemic. Provisional Department for Education figures show that lockdown measures have drastically reduced apprenticeship starts. There have been 58,000 apprenticeship starts reported between 23 March and 31 July 2020; fewer than the 108,000 reported for this period last year.
    • The Covid pandemic is hitting low-income families particularly hard. A study of households on Universal Credit or Child Tax Credits, published by the charity Save the Children, revealed that nearly 40% of families had to rely on help from charities for food and clothes over the past two months. A quarter (26%) are already cutting back on electricity and heating.
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